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Archive for the ‘Sundays’ Category

Vendredi matin, le roi, sa femme et le petit prince…*

In Absurdlandia, Animals, Artists, Food, Hautvoir, proto drafts, Sundays, Visual artists on July 17, 2016 at 11:03 am

*the title refers to a traditional French song in which the king, his wife and their little prince come visiting the singer on every day of the week. Since the singer isn’t in, the little prince says: in that case, we’ll come back tomorrow. And so on, until the singer runs through the days of the week.

Friday morning my sister and I went to the supermarket in Gaillac. So did a whole bunch of people on holiday for whom the supermarket visit was something of a family outing. Crowded parking lot, impatient parents, blocked alleys while grandpa waited for grandma to choose the one essential flavored tea among the seventy-eight varieties on display. All par for the course – and the main reason why I visit supermarkets as little as possible.

Can you call it a moment of zen when the experience borders on disgusted amazement? Zen of sorts, I suppose, that landed on me in the yogurt section.

Yogurt. A double alley lined with refrigerated containers. Yogurt for children, one label read (this meant either slurpies  with cartoon characters on them or containers with – yes, cartoon characters). Next, you had organic, health (different from the organic kind, presumably), lo-cal, flavored, with fruit at the bottom or fruit mixed in. Did they have yogurt for boys and yogurt for girls? Not that I noticed. Maybe I should complain.

In other words, senseless glut, aisle after aisle after aisle.

Yesterday, before she left for Canada my sister and I took in a exhibition of ceramics in neighboring Giroussens. With all due respect for the potter who finds fulfillment in reproducing stones out of clay, my preference went to a large amphora in the courtyard. Shaped like a traditional receptacle for oil, wine or grain, it is decorated with leaping goats, flying fish and fowl blowing on trumpets and other friends of dance and music. A small sample?

DSCN3076 With thanks to the potter Thierry Basile, whose name lurks at the bottom of the jar, along with a pair of used work gloves.

Assumptions

In Artists, Circus, Food, Hautvoir, proto drafts, Sundays on July 10, 2016 at 8:19 am

All traces of the street festival gone, this morning. Stalls going up for the Sunday market. I’ll do a quick run down before it opens. My sister arrives from Canada at some point between ten and noon. Someone wants to see me before that. One of those someones who may or may not show up. If he does, he will have unrealistic expectations. Some people cave in when the notion sinks in of what unrealistic means. Some don’t. Either way, the paths they follow are unpredictable.

Details. Over and over again. What makes this one tick and that one balk? What crucial detail am I missing in someone’s life story that may provide a few answers to puzzling behavior?

Assumptions in need of airing. Disappointments in need of mending. Connecting back to family – maybe some folks get too much but then, some folks don’t get enough.

***

Everyone tells me I missed the best show of the entire festival. A tight-rope walker who’s perfected the art of the stumble. Who balances his balancing bar on the wire, then sits off-center on the bar and so on. From a height of some seven meters, I’m told – each meter corresponds to some three years of training. So the man has been at it for some twenty-one years or so.

I wanted to see this but the boy who crossed the Meditteranean in a crowded dinghy and doesn’t like green bean salad, doesn’t like circus acts either. The two of us reach temporary understandings on some issues. Then, I discover the words we exchanged had different meanings at their landing site. Understanding someone across  cultural and personality divides – it’s a slow process.

For now, market, then whatever comes next.

 

Hard to beat

In and other spirits, Food, Hautvoir, Local projects, Music, news coverage, photography, proto drafts, Sundays on June 26, 2016 at 9:45 am

A few scenes stand out from last night’s outing. The ones that linger the most after less than four hours’ sleep have little to do with the purpose of the outing: a private party for a first presentation of a musical work by a friend. I provided some words and some voice to Ed Maurer’s fifty-minute composition called Pérégrination. The sixty or so guests enjoyed the performance, the food, the drinks and each others’ company.

Two of the kids held my attention most while I did my best to ignore the groaning board of forbidden goodies, the rum punch, the raspberry tiramisu etc. (Flash exposé: I blinked and faltered over the tiramisu.)

Back to the two kids who were both there and not there. The first, a girl of about ten, sat on the ground next to a vertical rack of sausage grilling by an open flame. While I worked on the experiment devised by the Greek gods – i.e. the mortals eat the meat, the gods get their fill from the smell of the roast – the girl peered down into her lit-up phone, oblivious to everything around her.

The second, a boy of about the same age, held my attention longer. In fact, we established the kind of relationship an adult and a youngster manage sometimes. One where neither party intrudes on the other’s privacy but a bond occurs. The boy’s attention was taken up by four activities: attempts at sketching a lighted sculpture while listening to the music (didn’t work, too many people milled around); lying on his back, staring up at the stars while listening to the music; sitting at the table, observing the patterns made by wax dripping from the candles (and attempting predictions as to which would drip next); and, finally – somewhere between one and two AM, sitting on the grass again, near the pool, playing a game on an electronic device.

He left with his parents just before we did. Looked my way and sent me a brief one-finger wave. I reciprocated.

***

Faces. Photos of. Plus titles such as TNYT The Woman Who ‘Totally Understands’ Donald Trump. As irresistible as a serving of that devilish tiramisu.

***

But hark! what light breaks beyond that yonder window?  ’tis the sun, and I’d better get a move-on if I hope to work a nap into the day’s proceedings.

Medicinal, my dear Watson

In and other spirits, Animals, Artists, Current reading, Music, notes, proto drafts, Sundays on June 19, 2016 at 3:58 pm

I suspect we were the grungiest bunch of people seen in Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges in recent times. Traveling in the grungiest jalopies seen (or heard) in its vicinities too. For one, the pilgrims travel on foot (with excellent walking shoes and telescopic walking sticks). Their rain gear and backpacks: first rate. From what we saw of the locals, some favored traipses through the village with a faithful dog and a flock of sheep or resided inside medieval homes in a state of impeccable upkeep and drove cars better described as recent-model vehicles.

The music took them by surprise too. Many of the older residents who came to the concert looked stunned and attentive during the first set. But since they called in some friends to join them for the second set, I gather they found the experience a change from the usual Occitanian choir group or the classical ensemble in from Toulouse. (Although we discovered a fabulous gospel choir during the after-hours part of the evening).

The highlight, singing-wise: two songs inside the cathedral during an improvised stop (too windy and rainy outside, a few pilgrims followed us inside). Exceptional acoustics. For once, we could hear each and every one of the voices. Total harmony.

Four of us left the all night after-hour early (i.e. two AM).  For the time being, words fail in describing the home in which we slept – something like a museum, with the old woman who lives there in the role of caretaker of her family’s history.

She was born in that house, she told me as we left. Both she and her husband trained as pharmacists – the source of one of the collections in her  home. The old apothecary jars have names like laudanum or ipeca but also opium, cocaine or haschish “*but those were strictly for medicinal purposes then,” she said. This goes without saying.

For non-medicinal purposes, some of the singers brought bottles of rum and I lugged a large six-pack of mineral water. The rest of the spirits were free of charge – which goes part of the way in explaining why musicians may be poor but poor or not, they’re usually well soused and pickled by early morning.

My upstairs neighbor is singing right now. Off-key, as usual. I have some photos to download, some reading in want of doing, some laundry and some scribbled notes to sort through.

Next concert: Tuesday night in Albi. Final week of school coaching for this year.

*Almost forgot: and arsenic too.

Trivia

In Food, Hautvoir, Local projects, news coverage, proto drafts, RLB trivia, Sundays, TV on June 12, 2016 at 9:32 am

I’ll go with “A projectile is launched” for starters. This settles the inner debate on which media bit starts the parade. So: congrats to The Guardian for “A projectile is launched” instead of something like “Bored idiot throws beer bottle” as commentary for readers who want to know what’s going on in a photo where another bored idiot holds on to his beer and laughs.

The Guardian had tight competition from the Nouvel Obs on this one.  In its coverage of rampaging after a soccer game in Marseille, the Obs informs readers a man had “a malaise” that leaves him hovering between life and death at latest report. “A malaise” is the habitual French euphemism for heart failure. The Obs then proceeds to inform the reader said heart failure occurred after the man got shoved to the ground,  kicked ‘and possibly’ hit over the head with a metal implement. Hm. Perhaps he had a pre-existing heart condition?

Sunday morning. The phone works again and did not ring once, thanks to the fact this is Sunday morning. Meaning, no one at the door yet, and a quiet phone. Considering how unquiet life was yesterday at the same time, I find the quiet anything but boring.

I’m even relaxed enough to ponder the expression ‘artificial intelligence’ in a mellow and mature way – no tantrum, no throwing of the phone through a closed or an open window. The ‘artificial’ part of the intelligence becomes self-evident when you hit the glitches. Leaves you wondering about the human intelligence involved in setting up a stupid system though.

To whit: a message appears on the screen of your basic service phone. “Your phone service will be cut off in the next 48 hours if you do not pay your bill“, the message reads. A second message scrolls by: “Please call the following number to pay your bill“. Problem number 1: the basic service phone takes in messages to which I can’t respond (because of the unpaid bill). I manage to access the client service platform online and discover problem number 2: the clever human behind the artificial intelligence forgot to write the necessary instructions concerning a back payment.  Ergo, the system missed the payment for the month of May (less than 8 euro) because there wasn’t enough money in the account – the sick dog took priority over the phone bill.  The system picked up on the June payment and left the May bill outstanding. I paid; the system acknowledged payment. Reinstatement of calling privileges took longer but that’s all right. It’s Sunday morning, the phone is quiet and so am I.

Save for a passing comment, I’ll leave the rest of the trivia for fiction. Granted, an old woman getting punched and stomped for her handbag isn’t trivial for the woman; not trivial for her neighbors either. The boy made the mistake of turning his face toward her. She recognized him and identified him for his photo on file at the gendarmerie. Her right arm is in a sling and her flea-sized dog with the horizontal ears still pretends he’s a force to contend with. The woman’s local slugger/stomper is fifteen years old.

Sunday morning and the sun’s out. Late-late dinner with a Tunisian family last night.The evening continued with TV time, straight from a Tunisian channel. Soap opera involving a lot of bunched-up eyebrows and rapid fire shouting matches, followed by a Price is Right type show where a woman won three hundred thousand dinar (one hundred and fifty thousand euro) and another, ten. All of this in Arabic, obviously. A great opportunity for concentrating on facial expressions and other forms of body language.

 

 

As we do not go marching

In as you see fit, dreams, Hautvoir, proto drafts, Sundays on June 5, 2016 at 7:10 am

Three years ago in Toulouse, a bunch of ultra right-wingers beat up and killed a young man who was part of an anti-fascist movement. Yesterday, several hundred marchers marched in Paris to slogans such as “We don’t forget”, “All cops are bastards”, “Everybody hates the police”, “No fascists in our quarters, no quarter for fascists”, etc. There followed some predictable exchanges with the police. How any of this was supposed to serve the cause for which the young man died three years ago, I fail to appreciate.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in a flooded section of Paris, several hundred migrants in leaky tents had their water supply cut off. A local team of activists did their best to keep the men, women and children fed, if not dry, to the resounding indifference of everyone, save the ones battling exhaustion, anger and discouragement – their own and that of the folks drenched to the skin.

***

Sunday morning. From winter-like, the weather turned to full summer here yesterday. On the market place below where I live, the temperature registered at 37° C. Cloudy sky this morning, two of the market stalls were up and the chicken man was setting up business when the dog and I came back from the morning stroll.

***

Writing away from the previous piece of fiction. Maybe I’ll get the synopsis done on the previous; maybe not. Finding my way into the world of published writers may turn out to be a pipe dream, since I’m not willing to invest much energy in solving that part of the equation. Pipe dreams are important, if they get you to do what matters most. From what I see of human interactions, my published writing would either go down to the remaindering pile or get a few people excited over stuff in my writing that made no sense to them. etc. Instead of writing, I’d spend my time angsting over what people say or don’t say about something I wrote.  I put that pipe dream aside next to the pipe dream of the one and only love that’s supposed to keep you soaring. I don’t discount the power of either one. Often and for long stretches, you have to learn to do without both except as longings. Longings are important too. Lots of energy bottled into them. You need that energy on some of the slower days. Plus “longing” has a finer sound to it than “pipe dream”.

 

 

 

Bleary’s a good word too

In Hautvoir, Local projects, Revision, RLB trivia, Sundays on May 22, 2016 at 7:53 am

A local journalist put up the woman’s post on his Facebook page. I shared it on mine. Until yesterday or the day before, the woman was stationed in Egypt for a French newspaper. Following the crash of the Egyptian plane, her desk chief asked her to stay away from the “factuals” and do a paper on the families’ grief, plus some questioning on potential Egyptian responsibility. She refused. They fired her.

She refused because she hadn’t met any of the families since they don’t want to meet the press. With no details on the causes for the crash, she refused to imply anything whatsoever. She did the right thing. Therefore, good luck to her. Doing the right thing doesn’t sell the evening paper. Doesn’t sell the morning one, either.

In more local news, my body went on semi-strike yesterday and seems to have the same leanings today. I spend more time nodding off than I do getting things done. Why, I don’t know. After three prolonged naps yesterday, I fell into bed at seven pm and slept through till six am. I’m just about ready for another snooze. Revision proceeds accordingly.

Meanwhile, more glitches on an email account: I receive messages but can’t reply. Comes a point when the aggravations don’t even aggravate anymore. You just nod off and snooze instead. I guess the body knows best.

(You must add a title and categories, woman.)

(Huh? What? Who’s…oh, yes, title. categories. Then, I can sleep?”

(Yes.)

(OK… Do you know I don’t even feel like having coffee?)

(That’s weird.)

(Weird. I like that word.)

Context: a story of

In Artists, Collage, Contes d'Exil, Current reading, Drafts, Hautvoir, Local projects, Music, Revision, Story material, Sundays, Theater, Visual artists on May 15, 2016 at 8:07 am

Something like finding the right word order for a sentence. Or where to hang a painting to best effect. Bits of scenes: where best to introduce in the flow. There’s a strong visual element involved in the space where one of the characters hides out. The visual element blocks further development into words for the moment. Image in transition from the visual to the verbal.

Context of another kind: in their first version, the words and sentences occurred in something I wrote over fifteen years ago. They were part of the final scene in a series of interlocking pieces. A few months ago, a musician friend asked me to speak a few words in the mix he was composing, based on Beethoven’s Allegretto in his seventh symphony. I used some of those words, spoken by a fictional old woman walking her way from Crimea to a point beyond Lake Baïkal.

Last night, my friend had me listen to those same words spoken in Soninke in one of the final pieces of his composition called Pérégrination. The speaker: a young man from Mali. The words I walk, I walk, I walk take on yet another meaning, given the iterations that brought him to our street five months ago.

Triumphant highs – brief. Crashing lows – always too long. No point in being told I’m “too intense”. What can I do about it, except acknowledge the intensity of the highs and the lows, and manage my life as best I can with the head I’ve got. I have no idea how life fares from inside someone else’s head, no matter how much I may attempt to imagine such in fiction.

Story: Bits of living – my own, that of others – like pieces of puzzle or bits of paper getting shifted around for the “best” fit, whatever best means under the circumstances.

Still re-reading Joyce Carey’s The Horse’s Mouth. At one point yesterday, chapter 13 felt like an odd piece of autobiography, save for the fact I never was a painter, let alone someone by the name of Gulley Jimson. But still in my mind’s eye from long, long ago: Cézanne’s painting of men playing cards. Something like a page holder in one of the unfinished scenes.

A moment of foolery, or *

In Current reading, Drafts, Food, Fun, Games, Hautvoir, Revision, Sanford Meisner, Sundays, Theater on May 8, 2016 at 7:58 am

*or why I don’t waste my money on buying the magazines, but read those I find devoid of their sealed plastic covering :

The five-page article gives telling anecdotes from the lives of young persons born to the toiling/unemployed classes (known as classes populaires in these climes) who’ve taken the social elevator through access to the better schools frequented by those young persons born in the upper classes (known as la classe supérieure in the singular around here). This is followed by a two-page interview with a woman who describes the social climbers as trans-class – something like transgendering applied to social categories. In this interview, the woman informs the readers that no one is responsible for his or her class of birth.

With this stunning revelation in mind, I return to the day a young man by the name of Pierre – whose dad is a mason and his mom a lingère – goes for a meal at his new girlfriend’s home. On the menu: something to which he refers as purée de patates (that’s mashed potatoes for the likes of most English speakers). The girlfriend’s mother gently chides him: no, no, these aren’t mashed potatoes, she says, this is un écrasé de pommes de terre (the closest translation I can think of: a smash of earth apples.)

If there’s an afterlife – and Molière not otherwise occupied – he’ll be glad to learn Les Précieuses Ridicules are alive, thriving, and pursuing their mission of civilizing the great unwashed.

Five magazine pages of learning how to wear your Ralph Lauren shirt so as not to give away the fact you were born and raised in a ZEP. That’s a Zone d’Education Prioritaire i.e. the kind of town in which I live and where I coach school kids and – gasp! – get paid to do it too. No benefits, no paid holidays, but paid, Madame I gently inform you, so I can buy my own potatoes, hold one up and ask it for the plain truth: “Life form, how dost thou prefer to be eaten – boiled, fried, mashed or smashed?”

***

Meanwhile? Meanwhile, in Act 5 Scene 1 of Twelfth Night, or what you will,  Orsino, Duke of Illyria, asks Feste how he fares and the following ensues :

Feste : Trully, sir, the better for my foes and the worse for my friends.

Orsino: Just the contrary, the better for thy friends.

Feste: No, sir, the worse.

Orsino: How can that be?

Feste: Marry, sir, they praise me and make an ass of me. Now my foes tell me plainly I am an ass: so that by my foes, sir, I profit in the knowledge of myself, and by my friends I am abused: so that, conclusions to be as kisses. If your four negatives make your two affirmatives, why then, the worse for my friends and the better for my foes.

The rest is excellent too. But I digress because, writing-wise, I’m still trying to figure out scene breaks and where the reader goes next. Revising, in other words.

May Sunday

In Animals, Artists, Food, Fun, Games, Hautvoir, Local projects, Music, news coverage, Revision, Sundays on May 1, 2016 at 7:47 am

When I left off as cook’s helper last night at Brigade Papilles (translation: The Tastebud Brigade), the men had set up the apéro section for today’s event, and started on the dining hall. I hope they leave the banners from Les Plasticiens Volants‘ production of Little Nemo in Slumberland. What about the models for the giant balloon figures, I asked. With some seventy people in the hall at lunch time, don’t they risk getting damaged or stolen? Nobody seemed concerned. I assume they have their reasons.

Fine weather, although chilly for an outdoor May 1st celebration and fund raiser for RESF (Réseau Education sans frontières). No chillier than marching with banners while chanting El Pueblo Unido Jamas Sera Vencido. Healthier too, given the tear gas and truncheon doctrine of the present authorities. A never-ending spiral. With cameras on both sides of the demonstrations, Facebook provides opportunities for compilations of the worst excesses. Anger builds and the scenes  become as senseless as watching opposing bunches of primates hooting insults, hurling rocks, kicking and dragging one another. Human primates have the advantage, if you will, of tear gas, water cannons and plastic bullets, molotov cocktails… and the list goes on. As for all-out war, I’ll pass on singing All we are saying is Give Peace a Chance. I doubt weapons manufacturers keep the song on their playlist – unless they have a peculiar sense of humor.

Théâtre du Rugissant leaves for a final residence this week, before the opening of its new show. School holidays end. A court decision should land tomorrow or Tuesday concerning three of the four young men from Mali awaiting news on their fate. In my personal world, reading, writing and revision get tucked into the days, like special treats squirreled away. But last  night was straight to Slumberland, and tonight promises an exhausted collapse into bed.

The dog? Left off the leash for a few minutes, she managed to scarf garbage again this morning. The ongoing head-scratcher:  how to keep a dog healthy in a filthy environment.