Music Chronicles 6: Tricky Creatures & The Old London Voice

I went on using poems for music (do you have some for me I could use?). Today: Verlaine!

Léandre le sot,
Pierrot qui d’un saut
De puce
Franchit le buisson,
Cassandre sous son
Capuce,

Arlequin aussi,
Cet aigrefin si
Fantasque
Aux costumes fous,
Ses yeux luisants sous
Son masque,

— Do, mi, sol, mi, fa, —
Tout ce monde va,
Rit, chante
Et danse devant
Une belle enfant
Méchante

Dont les yeux pervers
Comme les yeux verts
Des chattes
Gardent ses appas
Et disent : « A bas
Les pattes ! »

— Eux ils vont toujours ! —
Fatidique cours
Des astres,
Oh ! dis-moi vers quels
Mornes ou cruels
Désastres

L’implacable enfant,
Preste et relevant
Ses jupes,
La rose au chapeau,
Conduit son troupeau
De dupes ?

Colombine

English Translation here: https://www.oxfordlieder.co.uk/song/5112

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.

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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 stole some pictures to clip it.

Have a great day!

Music Chronicles 5: The Past & The Little Queens

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.

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“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

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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?

Here’s a remastered version: https://soundcloud.com/user-894673824/dansez-les-petites-reines-24-04-2021-14-54-mastered

Good day!

Dansez, les petites reines,
Toutes en rond.
Les amoureux sous les frênes
S’embrasseront.

Dansez, les petites folles,
Toutes en rond.
Les bouquins dans les écoles
Bougonneront.

Dansez, les petites belles,
Toutes en rond.
Les oiseaux avec leurs ailes
Applaudiront.

Dansez, les petites fées,
Toutes en rond.
Dansez, de bleuets coiffées,
L’aurore au front.

Dansez, les petites femmes,
Toutes en rond.
Les messieurs diront aux dames
Ce qu’ils voudront.

“Intentions and Elegance”: Overthinking about Art

I read a good book about a… harpsichord player. I found ideas. Here they are.

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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?

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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?

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If you’re enthusiastic, do you master your work?

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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.

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A pretentious simplicity, does that exist?

Goethe : When an intention is too visible, it irritates

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Who plays – and how – the tango of strength/delicacy?

=====

Purity of the sensation, or of the landscape?

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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?

  1. Origin.
  2. Development.
  3. Blossoming.
  4. Refinement.
  5. Saturation.

Where? Examples?

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When can’t we prevent aggravation (or stop worsening)?

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Baudelaire: The restless crowd, whipped on by pleasure

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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?

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Which one is the most interesting? Beauty created by nature, or beauty created by men?

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Could you go that far, without the resistance of it?

Thanks for reading!

Dumb as a log and other things

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?

The game is to go on https://www.expressio.fr/expressions/con-comme-un-balai to find things in other languages. Dumb as… bean straw (Germany), like pigeons, like a back door…

Thanks for reading!

Reinette and Mirabelle have a lesson for us

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…

I love this little tale, saying two things :

  1. it can be cool to be ready to catch magic moments
  2. it is no big deal if it fails

Catch it next time! Voilà!

Thanks for reading!

Ambiguity & Types : Chronicle 59

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”.

Hmmm?

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”.

Zola about Manet

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…

Haecceity

Incompleteness gives untranquility.

  • Game of desires (I want what I don’t have), I buy it, it kills desire for a moment. A loop and a dodge.
  • Incompleteness born from boredom : “what can I do I don’t know what to do something is lacking but what”.
  • Media pressure to be rich or famous or happy.
  • Desire to be valued by people around, or… the world, and nobody really cares.
  • Linked to “lost childhood”, nostalgia from great old days that didn’t even exist.
  • Fado, Saudade…

How to adapt? What is adaptation? When is it positive, or negative?

Thanks for reading!

Radioactive Bees & a Conquistador : Chronicle 56

Who are the musicians you always come back to? Genesis and Mike Olfield, Pink Floyd and King Crimson, Blonde Redhead and Röyksopp, Brahms and Schubert. Like… if I had to “check” something, each time.

oOo

oOo

And there are some you keep coming back to… to explore, like Mahler (Sy 2 Part 2 as a cursed Waltz, Sy 4’s strange violin), or the ECM label : these are like continents to never finish to explore, discovering parts or mapping them, or deepening, digging, reading about to understand.

oOo

Currently with Egberto Gismonti‘s discography. Hmm… no. I go back to Eno’s Thursday Afternoon as a place of feather.

oOo

Conquistador is pierced, explorer lost, betrayed or imprudent?

oOo

In my “French toolbox”, I present tools for the mind, little tools. I really like to find structures, and patterns. You’ll find many books about tools. Some of them are from spirituality and self help, some other about manipulation and power. How to “win”. How to become a shark

Sun Tzu, for example, or “The Power” (Greene) are all about power, how to win, destroy an opponent. The war like an Art, a way to unfold invention, with tricks and knacks.

I should article about these, maybe one day – could be called “Mean Tools“, though this sounds unfair. Hmm. “Mean tools to use gently”?

oOo

oOo

In France when you write down a shoppin list you’ll add PH for Papier Hygiénique (for toilet paper – maybe you write TP in English?), or more often PQ, and why is that? We call it “papier cul”, ass-paper (AP?). Thus, we say : “Pécu”.

oOo

Thinking about Talk Talk‘s Shame and Tears for Fears‘ Shout, two “hymns” I had in ears when I was a young man. I remember that for Shout, the composer wrote all night long, knowing he “had something”.

The tropism : “I work and suddenly I know I have something big” is something to explore in the history of arts. What if it was a mistake? How to read it, as the result of big work? Chance? Acuteness?

oOo

Sshhh…

oOo

There’s an old classic in self help and psychology, which is that abandonment in childhood becomes dependancy in adulthood. These sound very much too easy (and it’s vague enough to be applied on every life), but, well…

Dependancy becomes here a mask, an armour against the fear of feeling the fiery bite of abandonment. It provides a frame. It can be cigarette, a constant need of approval, sex, sports, any dependancy, seen there has almost a shelter.

oOo

what happens when we seek coincidences

oOo

Words are “radioactive bees”, they move all the time, they irradiate meanings. When a bee watches herself into the mirror of another language, her image is blurry, multiple. She flies away, and the image hesitates to.

Yesterday I watched a bee : “Incentive“. Inducement. Motivation. Reward. So I was a bit lost. I wanted to write something about the fact that a good motivation, in life, was a genuine curiosity from the person you love.

But I wanted to express something about stimulation. It’s not even “seeked”, it’s a rush in a work one can get because you have someone in front of you asking actual questions. You get a fire, a light in eyes, because of the bond, and all, etc, etc.

Bzz bzz bzz.

oOo

Like a dream
the butterfly
in my fingers

oOo

To follow my previous article about carpentry/marquetry, I’d add this tool, which is to choose the other art, as a source of lateral thinking. If you’re blocked, stay on it, but choose a tool you don’t know very well. You’ll find, there.

Here are my articles tagged “Change” :

https://afrenchtoolbox.wordpress.com/tag/change/

Thanks for reading!

“My friends, keep your old friends”

Diderot, a French philosopher of the 18th, laments the loss of his old dressing gown, which he wore around the house for casual clothing. He bought an expensive new one, but regrets his old comfortable one.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denis_Diderot

440px-Denis_Diderot_111

He wrote :

“My friends, keep your old friends”

I like it : it’s the contrary of what you’ll read everywhere! The whole world seems to associate success and freedom to speed, goals and ignoring of the old and the past. I like to think the other way.

I love the tools here.

  • Starting from scratch is maybe less effective than adding a room to the existing house.
  • We sometimes don’t need to “replace” things, but use what we comfortably have.

I found the Diderot story in a French Chantal Thomas book, “Café Vivre”, made of two or three pages chronicles.

It’s a good book if you learn French : texts are short, and full of frenchness, I suppose. Curiosity, a way of inventing slow moments to contemplate the world, traveling, culture, It’s a happy book !

She talks about Patti Smith and Roland Barthes, Hokusai, Sade and Saint Patrick, about New York city in spring, old houses on the French seashore, swimming and Canada.

What old friends will you keep?

Thanks for reading!

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Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 9

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 9

 

How can people binge?

When I watched Stranger Things, it was one episode a day. The pleasure came from waiting for the next one. Also from… digesting each one, right?

In a restaurant, I take my time, I sip wine and I talk. I don’t eat everything in 5 minutes!

I was the type of kid who takes his time to eat the ice-cream, not the one who gobbles it down (gobble down or up?) in ten seconds.

I just watched Carnival Row, one episode a day. It’s very finely written, and it’s a joy to think and wait and assimilate the developements…

Yesterday, I began Tales from the Loop, calm, mysterious, different, elegant.

 

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Things to read if you’re bored but like it here :

https://afrenchtoolbox.wordpress.com/category/chronicle/

 

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There’s a Z movie named Piranhaconda – I watched the trailer, that was enough, right? I IMDBd it to find out many, many others low budget movies about stupid monsters (often with a shark, by the way). There’s a shark-octopus, a sharkenstein, a tornado of sharks, that was a very fun hour to explore this!

 

***

I remember the lukewarm winds of June. I’m 15 and the few last weeks of school year break something in me. Air’s warm, the sky is curiously blank, white, lukewarm, dazzling, boring. An emptiness. Cotton, sad cotton. With the climate change, this weathermood is here today, in April.

 

***

There were an interesting row of articles about social medias and how they put one in a “bubble” where we only read people who think like us. You can google “online social media bubble” to find examples.

NBC : “Seeing conflicting opinions in your feed causes psychological discomfort : not seeing them creates a warped reality.”

  1. It seems it can be caused by ourselves : we thumb along our feeds and purge it from imbeciles (“How could I follow that?”) – which are mainly those who don’t think like us politically 🙂
  2. But I also read about algorithms : medias want you to be pleased, therefore they want to show you.

I should dig and brook the idea (can I say that?) that I’m probably like everybody affected by that.

(I’m a little intrigued by the verb “to brook” – what’s the difference with “to bear”? How to use it?)

Also, I regularly follow and explore feeds of people on Twitter, fascinated. Exploring Twitter with hashtags is a good exercise. I did it with #floridamorons today, reading the both sides, detecting complexities…

 

***

So I just finished Bill Bryson’s “One Summer: America, 1927”, a crazy year for sure, meeting prohibition, Lindbergh and Babe Ruth, Rushmore mont and Ford, Sacco & Vanzetti…

Wiki says Bryson “helps the reader to understand life and the universe as integrated wholes and yet simultaneously as variegated collections of details.”.

Interesting and hilarious at times, it’s also a bit bitter, because the end of the books tells us how all these people died one by one, decade after decade. Life sounds sometimes really like a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury. You read about all these people and their acts, and hop, six feet under. Made me think a lot.

And oh, these unbelievable presidents before Roosevelt !

That put me in front of that : I can tell things about US presidents after the war (and remember things – I was born in 66), but nothing before Roosevelt. There begins a dark blurry territory : Hoover, Coolidge, Harding…

So now I’m reading a classic : Allsop’s The Bootleggers. Oh my, a crazy era! The perfect example of an idea which sounded great and had the worst consequences…

 

***

I write more and more in Quora.com – in French, it changes me from here, and it’s a pleasure to share what I learned. I shoud’ve been a teacher 😉

 

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Stay safe ! Thanks for reading!

 

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 8

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 8

Reckless ou irresponsible?

Confinement makes us TRY to understand others. I can really get that some guys become crazy without running everyday. In some parts of France (like in Paris), it’s forbidden to jog from 10 AM to 7 PM – to provide some quietness for the rare people who have to go outside to refill the fridge. So, well, they run before, and after. Good.

I never understood runners, though I tried. Is it just a way to get outside, get some air and some change? Or a goal for health (“I’m bored running like an idiot but it’s good for my body”)? Or a drug thing : waiting for the “after” moment, when one slops down in their sofa, drowned in pleasure endorphins?

Out on the plain, running like hell

Or stupid questions about exploding domestic violence in confinement times : “How come people marry violent men? Was this inner trait really invisible at the time?”. Yeah, I suppose, and I shut up.

Questions, questions. What about these three Types?

  • The first is the proud strong halfwit hammerhead, standing on “Nobody tells me what to do!”.
  • The two is the young moronic featherhead, vaguely laughing, partying all night in crowds.
  • The three is the exhilarated religious boss, “God protects us from coronavirus” (with the help of certain psalms, probably). Churchurlishness…

Then death comes around. With this disease, you just drown, suffocated. It’s the sad concept of “too late regret”. It’s universal, in all countries.

Empathically, trying to understand people. It’s a discipline!

***

To write this I had big laughs with the English synonyms of “idiot” (adjective or noun). I get the nuances (in violence or funnyness), but I really don’t know about chucklehead, goon, halfwit or schmuck. I guessed about the rustic countryside colors of oaf, yokel, lout. But what about bungler, klutz, simpleton or churl? Words are linked with bad manners, others with ungainliness or ways of sitting.

When one ESL like me begins to dig into a vocabulary field, even a funny field like this one, there’s a feeling of terrible loss : I know nothing!

***

Yesterday I watched Episode 2 of Carnival Row, with pen and paper – in English with English subs. In less than an hour, I wrote unknown nuggets : aught, lively, hoof, ghastly, quackery, snug, squander, shuddering, passerby, beget, shrine, pall, to preen.

Pfff !

Then I search : aught in “For aught I know!”, lively in an order : “Now go!”, hoof for the foot of horse but also as a verb (the GREAT “She had a flat tire, she had to hoof it to work”), and if ghastly is dreadful or horrible, what’s the difference?, and is snug comfortable or tight-fitting (positive or negative radioactivity?), and squander and waste? Is a pall a coffin? What’s that interesting verb, to pall (a domain, a person?), or to cast a pall over? Etc, etc.

I love it, but it’s exhausting!

***

I watched Underwater (2020) – a group of scientists at the bottom of the ocean encounters creatures after an earthquake destroys their laboratory. Everybody seems to hate this movie (because it looks like Alien, or because many people hate Kristen Stewart). Stewart is great, the beginning is surprising, the monster is Cthulhu-esque, and it’s very stressful. Cons? Some strange ellipses, a so-so sense of locations, scrambled lights at times. The characters (and the way we meet them, the way they talk) are strangely realistic, it’s also a problem (we don’t know them enough, maybe). I’d give a 6/10.

***

If you’re alone and not allowed to go, you have to find something to explore. Today let’s think about battles.

Interesting battles, what are they? You have to choose one, which IS an activity.

You can choose a star, like the D-Day, Austerlitz or Gettysburg. I’d choose elsewhere. Antietam or Wagram.

Then begins your researches. What’s history around? Who are the generals? The opposing forces? What about the battlefield, the terrain? Phases? Prelude? Ending? Events? Aftermath?

But also : where to find maps? What books to read? History? Remembrances (of whom : officers or soldiers?)? Where is the place today? Is there a way to go visit it? Is there a forum on the Web, where people who know this battle could help you?

There’s an editor I know : https://ospreypublishing.com/ – they have numerous leaflets about many battles.

It should get you busy for a few days…

Thanks for reading! Sorry for my English…

Stay safe!

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Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 7

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 7

 

Again, funny to see the whole planet becoming “more balanced”, and massively. Super rich sportsmen or business bosses giving up indecent money, people getting sick pay, health and other important workers being paid more… With…

…positive consequences, less noise, less pollution, less tourists, people thinking and having time, instead of running everywhere like fools.

 

***

Serendipity lead me to listen to Mozart‘s 14th piano concerto, played Maria Joao Pires.

I’m a Brahms & Schubert lover, and my tendency is to walk along time, exploring other XIXth and XXth century composers. Therefore, I need to make an effort to listen to Beethoven, and even more to Mozart. I hear the clichés, I often guess “what will happen” in the music, etc.

But my experience, my love and constant exploration of Schubert today (instead of, for example, Bartok), I’m now capable of hearing some magic in the weave

 

***

Watched a Blu-ray : The Leopard (1963).

The Prince of Salina, a noble aristocrat of impeccable integrity, tries to preserve his family and class amid the tumultuous social upheavals of 1860’s Sicily.

So cleverly done that it lets you in turmoil and ecstasy. Such finer points in the dialogs and acting… Masterpiece!

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After All the President’s Men (with Jason Robards) and The Leopard (with Claudia Cardinale), the next movie will be Once Upon a Time in the West (with both). I love to create chains with movies… (and it’s, like The Leopard, directed by an Italian).

Chains of Movies Wandering

***

Some analysts imagine that this epidemic will change society, in these terms :

  1. De-globalization. Some things have to be decided and producted inside the country (medicine, for example).
  2. Rise of public expenses to help employment and companies.
  3. Understanding that the whole population has to have healthcare and that a country’s health system should… heal people instead of making profit.

…like some plans after WWWars, for example. Well we’ll see.

 

***

I found this name : Rita Streich; here she is in the Musetta’s Waltz Song. A fascinating voice, new to me. Like coming from an old time…

 

***

One can’t stop wondering WHY are there so many cruise boats in activity, knowing that “The World Health Organization declared the outbreak to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020“.

 

***

“Any port in a storm”, it’s an easy-to-understand idiom, but it’s very new to me. It contains some philosophy, right?

Maybe “might makes right”, or nécessité fait loi (necessity make law, or rules) for… what must be done must be done…

 

***

Here’s a quote from Paul Valéry :

The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself for an oracle, is inborn in us.

And this one :

En matière de discussion, j’appelle adversaires honorables, ceux qui ne tiennent pas tant à “avoir raison” qu’à améliorer leur organisation d’esprit, qui preferent leur esprit à leur amour-propre.

In terms of discussion, I call honorable adversaries, those who are not so much interested in “being right” as in improving their organization of mind, who prefer their mind to their self-esteem.

 

 

Thanks for reading! Stay safe!

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Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 6

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 6

 

Jünger writes :

It seems that in particularly looted regions, one found refuge in arts like in lifeboats, mostly in poetry and music.

 

***

Types of confinements? Sometimes we look like prisoners of course, or castaways, shipwrecked sailors (oh I read so many books about this “type”, very curious about what they did and how), but also otakus, those people who do not want social contact at all, hermits, waldgängers

But I prefer to place myself in the role of these two guys in Jünger’s fable On the Marble Cliffs : the narrator and his brother live in a hermitage, a closed retreat, a life of refinements and quietness, with plenty of books and a garden. Outside, there’s a village and surrounding hills, “who feel increasing pressure from the unscrupulous and lowly followers of the dreaded head forester”… Brrr!

 

***

New words I discovered yesterday : bollix (but, verb or noun?), stake (but, wager, and bet??).

Each new word is like a “hole plugged” and filled, and in the same time it appears like an enigma, a radioactive element full of questions : When do people use this? What is the difference between it and its synonyms? Etc…

 

***

This epidemic made me think about Social Medias. To find informations, accounts, opinions…

  1. Facebook is useless. Who uses the search bar here? And if you find a good text from a doctor on the web, do you ask him as a friend on Facebook to follow him ? Nope. It’s just fun, voilà.
  2. Twitter is better but need constant adjustments, I love the way I find new persons and things through retweets.
  3. Reddit is great, à ma grande surprise, because it’s moderated. There you can follow a person, but you mostly follow a subject.

There are really useless and hilarious and interesting SubReddits, like /aww, /damnthatsinteresting, /kamikazebywords, /technicallythetruth, /oddlystatisfying, /birdsforscale or /catsstandingup, or /hmm.

https://www.reddit.com/r/CatsStandingUp/

 

***

I think it’s a common human law : people don’t really think, and they feel invincible. When the epidemic began to expand out of China, if you were a minimum informed you knew you had to buy some food, wash your hand, and avoid crowds.

I began to follow the /coronavirus Reddit and read accounts of young guys in Italy telling that they were mocked if they wore a mask. “It’s just a flu” will become a phrase people will remember in the future, as a symbol of hurdy-gurdy-stupidity. Today they have almost one thousand deaths per day, in Italy…

Today we hear about Spring Break parties or about guys in the world arguing like “Nobody will tell me what to do and when to do it”. These things shall pass, for two reasons :

  1. Stupidity and not listening, with consequences (maybe regrets)
  2. “No Choice”, sadly, with consequences too

When in India or Mexico or Africa we have confinement, people have to go out because they are not paid if they don’t work, or they massively move to go home (which is far elsewhere), or it’s so crowded in cities that when you go erranding, you’re packed, want it or not.

 

***

In the constant irony of life, there’s religion. In many place on the planet – and each one has its own “God”, right? – religious gatherings lead to explosions/disseminations of cases, therefore deaths. Very curious to see this range of religious or conservative milieus – because what? Hmmm. Example in France :

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-france-church-spec/special-report-five-days-of-worship-that-set-a-virus-time-bomb-in-france-idUSKBN21H0Q2

 

 

Thanks for reading! Stay safe!

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Have a nice day! Stay safe!

 

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 5

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 5

There’s one newsletter I follow, more professional, by the MIT, it’s here :

https://forms.technologyreview.com/coronavirus-tech-report/

***

Watched a duo, great movies : The Post (Spielberg – 2017), and All the President’s Men (Pakula – 1976), same newspaper (Washington Post), same executive editor (Ben Bradlee, by Tom Hanks and Jason Robards). Interesting concepts (freedom of the press, sources, decisions, investigation methods), strongly increased by this pleasure : comparison between the films. The bonuses on the Blu-rays are fantastic!

When the pleasure is in the comparison

In a way, the second movie is the following of the first, though it’s been directed 40 years before. I LOVE to couple movies, like Fellini‘s 8 1/2 and Allen‘s Stardust Memories. It can be a remake, or a ‘connected’ film – which is the case here.

***

When I was a teenager I suddenly understood why music was so… pleasantly toxic to me sometimes, with Ennio Morricone or Mike Oldfield for example. I know people love music for different reasons – energy, memories, genre, a voice, virtuosity, lyrics. My reason is the pleasure given by modulations.

I found an article in French, you don’t have to read it, just click on the two YouTube movies. The guy gives examples of typical “Floating Harmonies” invented by John Williams in Harry Potter or Indiana Jones. It’s here : https://compositiondemao.com/harmonies-flottantes/

You have have an… unexpected torsion in the middle of it, before it goes back to normal.

Williams does this all the time, it brings magic to a melody, therefore you can’t forget it. The Vader (The Imperial March) theme is based on this trick :

On this page ( https://www.leandrogardini.com/single-post/2017/02/12/The-Williams-Modulating-Themes ) , watch the Minority Report (first movie). His “Floating Harmonies” decisions make him modulate the melody (at 0’56”, 1’45”, 2,07″).

This makes me think that Morricone and Williams are the best movie music composers. This makes me adore Joni Mitchell, Mike Oldfield, Abba, Röyksopp, or… Puccini!

  1. Modulating Solos : The Pat Metheny Swervy Syndrome
  2. The Strong Liquors of Dissonances
  3. “Pick the Quarter Best”, a Quincy Jones pattern
  4. Passages, Modulations, Transitions
  5. The Abba/Puccini syndrome

Of course I’m interested in… what would be a modulation elsewhere, in poetry or architecture, literature or blogging…

***

So I read that Miles Davis is the Pablo Picasso of Jazz, like Federico Fellini is the Picasso of movie makers. If you’re bored, this is a trio : there’s material here for a couple of months.

***

Agnes Obel, again. In the vast terrible ocean of soft female voices with a piano, she’s with her cousin Vienna Teng. Here she sings with a male voice (which is herself with treatments), it’s delicate and sophisticated, and I love the mysterious lyrics…

Hmm, there are floating harmonies here, right?

For our love is a ghost that the others can’t see

***

My godfather passed on this week. It is a mess for the funeral (only 20 persons allowed). He was in his nineties, and he sometimes talked to me about when he was a kid when Germans occupied his village, the coming of the Americans after the D-Day in the summer of 1944. My father was an orphan when he was a little boy, and Ernest was next to him for years to help…

He’s the guy on the bike :

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Thanks for reading! Stay inside!

JP

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 4 – Cheesers & Chocolaters

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 4

 

This morning I read about a little family whose daddy’s a stressed man who can not function properly if he doesn’t run his good 12 km (7.5 miles) everyday, thus he watches TV all day long.

This made me think about boredom, with the consecutive metaphors we find on the social medias – confinement is like being in a prison (home), or in an animal in a zoo.

I wrote this article – Big Boredom – about the ways people find to fight.

  1. Evasion, with pills, alcohol or drugs?
  2. Engagement, with politics or religion, rules?
  3. Moderation, with culture, knowledge, watching the world?
  4. Pushing limits, with speed, danger, exploration?

One seems possible with booze (how do you buy drugs if you’re not allowed to go outside?), but without seeing people and staying inside, it could lead to disaster, right? Two is possible on the Internet, with the ridiculous risk to become an angry fool wanting to change others (hahaha). Three sounds wise. And Four is out of the question – or maybe you can throw yourself into domestic bodybuilding (push-ups).

 

***

Heroes are people working in hospitals. But some other heroes are those who go on working because they are essential to society : delivery guys, cashiers, funeral people, mailmen…

Some companies in France will pay 1000 Euros ($1076) for this month to employees who kept working during this crisis. And next month?

 

***

OK there’s a new hashtag : #quarantinediaries

I found an interesting article about how hashtags are misused :

 

***

We alternate movies. One evening is for happy, funny, easy movies, the other evening is for a bit more serious movies. We don’t binge. I find it awful, exhausting.

Yesterday we watched a children movie, “The Secret Life of Pets 2“. It immediately came to me that it was a film for children… made for children.

Most Pixar movies are, for example, children movies made for adults, or “made also for adults”. Many little boys ADORE “Cars”, but don’t understand the plot :

While traveling for the final race of a Cup against, the famous Lightning McQueen accidentally damages the road of a small town and is sentenced to repair it. McQueen has to work hard and finds friendship and love in the simple locals, changing its values during his stay, and becoming a true winner.

Two-years-olds adore. Lightning McQueen, fast car! (that’s all). Many kids like characters and a few twists and turns, but they simply don’t understand the movie. It’s often the case with Star Wars…

Here, the plot is simple, the characters are cute, it’s full of colors, the evil character is simple, and… it’s fun!!

I always watch this dial in movies for kids : where’s the “adult dial” here, where is it?

 

***

There’s a scandal in France concerning a diary written Leila Slimani, for whom the quarantine is a “fairy tale”. Confinement when you have a country house is cool, it’s like a big holiday, she watches the horizon. If you want to read some French, Google her name + “journal”. For example :

https://www.marianne.net/debattons/billets/journal-du-confinement-la-vie-un-peu-trop-rose-de-leila-slimani

https://diacritik.com/2020/03/19/le-journal-de-confinement-de-leila-slimani-est-un-conte-cruel/

 

***

The medias like to show idiots in malls with dozens of toilet paper packs. Hoarding, panic buying. Yeah, that’s too much, but if you’re informed and know that you’ll be quarantined, you have to “stock up” food. I began way way before the decision – I was just watching how things were moving – I was buying double at the moment : cans, rice, who knows. I don’t have a car thus I had to, little by little.

This disease is a mess. If you need a respirator, you’re intubated for 3 weeks! I read Chinese diaries. You don’t get the virus if you don’t get out at all.

Confined, you are allowed to go errand, but, well, let’s do it the less possible, OK? Therefore, you fill your car, go home, and stay there. That’s not hoarding, that’s normal!

Yesterday I’ve seen a man walking in the street with a single French baguette. Come on, guys!

 

***

A writer here made a Twitter survey : what, apart from alcohol which is non-negotiable, is the food you have to stock up? It seems that two camps appeared :

  1. Cheesers
  2. Chocolaters

 

You? 😉

 

***

It is true that we all look like people in Hopper’s painting…

 

***

I met two Latin expressions recently :

Hic Sunt Dragones

Wiki : Here be dragons” means dangerous or unexplored territories, in imitation of a medieval practice of putting illustrations of dragons, sea monsters and other mythological creatures on uncharted areas of maps where potential dangers were thought to exist.

  • I thought that we were today in a Hic Sunt Dragones state in the world. Uncharted territory!
  • I thought also about… when you are in the beginning of exploring a new cultural field (Italian cinema? Civil War battles? Picasso’s sculptures?). This state of hungriness.
  • I thought about when we begin a new love story. We are then… deterritorialized, right?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Here_be_dragons

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

Wiki : Sic Transit Gloria Mundi” is a Latin phrase that means “Thus passes the glory of the world”.

So it’s said as a reminder of the transitory nature of life and earthly honors. Therefore it could also be “Memento mori” (remember that you must die), This too shall pass, and Vanitas. There’s a whole development about Memento Mori on Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sic_transit_gloria_mundi

Wherewhen do people use these? I should Google it a little to find out…

In the end : nunc est bibendum (now is the time to drink)

 

Thanks for reading! Stay safe!

 

 

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Deterritorialization is a funny tool/dial to use!

Mutation Process can’t be stopped

Gilles Deleuze quote : “Lodge yourself on a stratum…

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 3

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 3

 

I live in Lille, a city in the North of France. The neighbor country here is Belgium. When I was young in the eighties, most of university students were listening to Radio 21, a Belgian “music and news” radio, the only one in French – a part of Belgium speaks French – which aired Indie Rock at the time. David Sylvian, Clan of Xymox, but also Marrs, it’s there that I discovered some treasures…

Radio 21 disappeared, split into a radio for teens and another for adults, called Classic 21, which of course I listen – I prefer Pink Floyd, Supertramp and Police than Rihanna or Ed Sheeran.

Yesterday at 8 PM, dinner time and on radio, the news. Something like : “At 8 PM tonight, people in Belgium, confined in their appartments, applaud at their window, together, to say thank you to the nurses and doctors who fight the coronavirus”. I opened my window and immediately heard the whole neighborhood here doing the same.

 

***

The majority of French humans understand the meaning of mandatory “Stay Home”. Only, I’ll be outside every two weeks for food, with my signed paper in my pocket. A few idiots though go on happying on beaches and along rivers, to socialize and see the spring and the sun. One city today (Nice) decide a curfew after 8 PM. Others will probably follow. Many cities including Paris have to close parks for this reason.

 

***

Watched An Officer and a Gentleman, great romantic drama! I searched a little, to find that it’s been directed in Fort Worden, which is in the labyrinth of sea/land NW of Seattle. It’s always interesting to discover “normal” places in American movies, I mean elsewhere than New York City and L.A..

Should re-watch Urban Cowboy (with Debra Winger too).

 

***

Netflix or TV channels or Blu-rays?

I separated my TV from the cable channels in 2000. I was annoyed by the fact that I had to choose from “what was proposed to me”. Even with 400 TV channels, I had to watch what someone decided to air. Nope.

Thus I own a big collection of DVDs, then Blu-rays. I choose what I want, when I want. Netflix and her cronies are for me a lukewarm swamp, where I can choose, OK, but from what?

What if I wanted to watch an old Bergman, or a silent movie from John Ford, or a documentary about Kupka or Joni Mitchell?

 

***

Book : David Lodge autobiography. Music : Mozart Concertos for piano (Perahia).

 

***

I have another blog about photography, where I “try things” about a place, a thing. It’s, therefore, about the idea of variation. Some photographers, admittedly, say that for a given place, there’s only one… place to take a good photography. Of course one is tempted to shake their head, but I admit it makes me think. Here it is :

https://qeht.photo.blog/

Locked home, joggers and duck hunters are sad, but readers and photographers are not. They can play home.

 

***

I read in a Claude Roy diary, as he’s around 70 years old, that he would like to reach this season, this state : “Le temps du cœur triste et de l’esprit gai” – the time of the sad heart and the merry spirit.

What could that mean?

 

Have a nice day! Stay safe!

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Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 2

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 2

Like many of us, I suppose, I read (in French and English) the news every morning. I will have to think about… distancing about it, though. One could easily be overwhelmed by this epidemic mess.

Curiously or not (Twitter is really a mess), I find informations on Reddit :

https://www.reddit.com/r/Coronavirus/new/

I know why : Reddit is a social media made on… topics. Each group is moderated. Thus it’s rich and adult. There’s a sister Subreddit, more professional, here :

https://www.reddit.com/r/COVID19

***

I watched Yesterday (2019) : “A struggling musician realizes he’s the only person on Earth who can remember The Beatles after waking up in an alternate timeline where they never existed.” – that’s pretty good!

***

It’s too early for real good news, but I watch : China is recovering, Italians sing at the balcony, people try to help the eldest, dolphins visits ports in Mediterranean sea, and Venice waters are clear and transparent for the first time in decades. Dramatic times, but plenty of best things will blossom from all this, I’m sure…

***

I know nothing about economics, but I find interesting that some countries ruled by right-wing and conservatism (lower taxes, free market capitalism, deregulation), in a time of crisis, have to begin to think and act like what they call “Socialists”.

Instead of letting the market “decide” (and companies die), they inject billions in the system to “help”. Instead of letting people die home (or letting the “no sick leave” people go to work – and infect colleagues), they talk about free testing for everyone, of taking care of people who need it instead of the eldest and health “insured”, and injecting big money in the system.

Imagine a right-winged president somewhere clinging to his system, watching the collapse of banks, all booksellers and many things, and refusing to take charge of the health of the poors, just because it’s what the Right does? “It’s the invisible hand of the market, only the strongest will survive, good”.

I think that, in history, many social progresses have been made during big recessions, epidemics and wars… I should check this tomorrow.

https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/491302-in-a-crisis-even-conservatives-turn-to-progressive-economic-policies

***

I’m definitively not a tourist, and I respect those 10% who visit a country with respect and cultural curiosity. Therefore I can not help being amazed to see Venice and Paris transformed in quiet deserts, and no buses around the Pisa tower and the Taj Mahal. The pollution plummeting is also something…

***

Watching Fellini Roma (1972), a necklace of scenes about the city. It’s brilliant, sewed with incredible short pure magic moments (the welders next to a tramway, flashing lights in a street, some priests climbing stairs). The ring road scene begins normally with traffic jams, cars and toll booths, and begins a crescendo with a film crew with a crane, heavy rain, a horse, smoke, an accident, ruins. It’s so good and crazy that I have to stop the movie.

Fellini is complicated and very rich, he fills the viewer with amazement and sounds, symbols and complex structures. It’s brilliant and exhausting. I don’t mind to watch these extraordinary films… in pieces. In between, I read, I think, I smile!

Antonioni/Fellini/Visconti & other trios to operate on…

***

Tonight I’ll watch An Officer and a Gentleman (1982 – the best Richard Gere – and with Debra Winger!).

If you want some reading about movies, here’s some in my blog :

https://afrenchtoolbox.wordpress.com/category/movie/

Thanks for reading! Stay safe!

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Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, Day 1

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 1

 

March 17, 2020. From noon today, no one is allowed to go outside in France, except for food or medication. One must print and fill and sign a paper, a sworn statement, to show to the police. Get a fine if you don’t have it.

 

***

Confinement is also the word in French, and we write quarantaine. “Quarante” means forty in French. The idea comes from Hippocrates (it’s also in the Bible, the idea of separation, etc), who said that 40 days is enough for a disease to… appear if someone is sick.

 

***

I read a few weeks ago about Wuhan and China that the big population blocus of millions of humans would probably lead to a Baby Boom in autumn – which makes sense. I thought about the big blackout of New York (is it 1965 or 77?) which lead to babies 9 months ago – but is this true of an urban legend?

Mmmh they also talked about a big divorce boom – which makes sense TOO. Many couples stay married because they really don’t have time to be together, busy busy busy. When they have to, it can lead to many interesting developments…

 

***

Empathically I think about those who are old or alone, but also about those who live with a mean person (spouse or mothers-in-law) or… a teen!

 

***

We have food for about 2 weeks, therefore we did not have to queue for hours before supermarkets, where French humans are since this morning. I chose delivery, and I’ll run errands on Friday, when it’ll be calmer (well, I’m not sure of this, but).

 

***

Many stores on the planet open only for the eldests for one hour BEFORE the crazies rush into toilet papers and food.

 

***

There are the same old good advices about distance, sneezes and hand washing, but I also read that anti-inflammatory pills (like Ibuprofen) are not recommended if you get sick (it can make it worse), and also, if you go outside and have to wash you hands, that one should get rid of rings and jewelry (which seems logical : those a good nest for little demonic viruses.

I have a thought for my colleague who would never quit the bunch of wristbands she keeps all life long. Here’s something to read :

A Microbiologist Tells You Exactly How Gross Festival Wristbands Are

 

***

Little by little the whole planet gets quieter. People have to stay in their house, in their apartment. They have to find something to do, be creative, read, find movies. It slows the planet.

This is what introverts do all the time. Thinkers, quiet persons, loneliness lovers. These people will adapt. They watch their books and films collection with a smile and some appetite. It’s the moment to dig deeper into complex or long things : John Ford or Hitchcock movies, Proust or Dante books. It’s the moment to learn, too.

It’ll be harder for the others. I think of them. Sports obsessed. Party goers. Managers.

I think of Susan Cain’s book : Quiet, The Power of Introverts.

https://afrenchtoolbox.wordpress.com/2020/03/07/quarantine-introverts/

 

***

I live in the North of France. The climate seems to be similar to Seattle in America. It’s the North! We just had WEEKS of rain and drizzle, and like a storm every sunday. Everybody was tired of this endless winter.

The FIRST day of the quarantine, today, the sky is absolutely perfectly blue. This is NOT cool.

 

Thanks for reading. Stay safe!

 

PS : If I were passive-aggressive, I could have written : “It’s blue sky today the first day of confinement, that’s sooo cool”. But no.

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Cloche – French idioms with “bell”

Here are a few bell French idioms :

Déménager à la cloche de bois (“to move at the wooden bell”) is to go out without paying. To do a moonlight flit.

Etre sous cloche (“to be under a bell”) is to be preserved, protected, with a negative sound to it. To be put under a cover.

Quelle cloche ! (“what a bell !”) : what a numpty, what an idiot!

Se taper la cloche (“to help myself with the bell”) is to have a real feast.

Avoir un autre son de cloche (“to have another bell sound”) is to get another story, another version of it.

Se faire sonner les cloches (“to have my bells rung”) is to get a good telling off.

 

So a cloche is a bell, but also an idiot (as a name and an adjective), and also a dome (a bell cover).

A bell tower is named “un clocher” (say : “closhey”), which is often used to say a village. If someone is attached to his village, il est attaché à son clocher (his bell tower).

The verb “clocher” (it could be “to bell”) means it’s not quite right. Il y a quelque chose qui cloche : something is wrong.

Un clochard is a tramp, a homeless person.

Avoir un esprit de clocher (“to have a bell tower spirit”) is when you want to stay with the opinions of a group.

 

Voilà ! Have fun!

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