Monday, December 29, 2008

Year in Review

See full size image
2008 began and ended with Tommy Boy. In January, he, um, well, what do you call it when you don't win? I don't really want to say it. But that's what he did at the Super Bowl. We were stunned. What's up with that? Instead, we got to watch Eli Manning throw a ridiculous pass for a bizarre catch and an impossible win. We ended the year with T proposing to Giselle in a private jet with four dozen white roses. Here's my question. Isn't it red roses that symbolize love? Aren't white for funerals? I'm just saying.
Gisele Bundchen
In the fall, TB blew his knee out and now we're not even in the playoffs.

Okay, let's give all that a big WHATEVER.

More happiness in Boston in the springtime:

Kevin Garnett (left), Ray Allen (center), and Paul Pierce (right) celebrated in the Celtics locker room after their NBA championship victory.


Harold Pinter , playwright and 2005 Nobel Prize winner for Literature. He won for being dark, dark, weird, and more dark.
Bobby Fischer, mate to your queen
William F. Buckley Jr., most elegant of all wrongheaded pundits. No one can cross their legs like he did. Trust me on this.
Charlton Heston, welcomed into heaven by seraphim, celestial chariots, and a phalanx of rifle-toting rollerskating angels. ROCK IT, BABY! LET'S GET THIS PARTY STARTED!
Yves Saint Laurent, whose monogram adorned every wedding gift given in late 60s-early 70s, including towels sent to me, lovely bride of that era. I thought someone made a mistake and did not get my initials right. Thank god I left that out in my thank you note. Have worried about this late at night.
Cyd Charisse, whom I saw in person at a taping of the Mike Douglas Show in Philadelphia in 1974.
Jesse Helms, who died on July 4 which doesn't really seem right. Glad he didn't see the election.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, author of the unreadable Gulag Archipelago
Studs Terkel, who looked like a mummy for the last ten years of his life.

Heath Ledger and Brad Renfro, that kid who was in the Grisham movie The Client. Always sad and who will be next year's?
Tim Russert
Paul Newman
George Carlin

Becky Motew for $5000 on left front canine

No Country for Old Men (one of the worst ever, about a guy who travels around with an oxygen tank killing people in black and white and no music)


A day after his trade from the Red Sox, Manny Ramirez was introduced to the Los Angeles media Friday evening.

Chinese women gymnasts claim first Olympic team crown

Most Attractive Person to Visit #10 Downing Street in London and in Paris:

And finally, best snack in America for fourth year in a row:
A bientot, dear reader. love,becky

Friday, December 26, 2008

Paris Notes

Chocolate souffle with deep overkill chocolate sauce from a silver serving boat at The Souffle on Boulevard St. Honore.
Avocat de Navigator--fresh avocado with brown sauce poured over it--what, I thought? Brown? But it was superb. This at the Navigator on Rue de Gallande.

Little yogurts in tiny glass jars--creamy and delicious


Pastries and unsalted butter--going into a swoon now

Creme fraiche

Something called Iles (islands) de ?????? in a sundae dish at the Galeries Lafayette cafeteria.


Mona Dearest

That guy Pablo and his buddy


St. Denis, patron saint of Paris, beheaded with a sword at the top of Montmartre, but who then reputedly walked for two miles preaching a sermon. You've really got to know your stuff by heart if you're going to try that.

See what I mean?

Winged Victory

Venus de Milo

Others have said it before me, but you could walk for days in the Louvre (or as they say on Monty Python, the Louvrah) and never take it all in. A better idea might be to sit for an entire day in one room and try to absorb it. This appeals to me. Get one thing right, you know? I love the portraits gazing down, faces from a time long past that are still with us. Thanks to my recent Rosetta Stone training, I was able to read the descriptions of the paintings and most (well.....) of the newspaper. As far as comprehending what was spoken to me, um, that's another story for another day.

Most streets are identified in this manner and you'd think it would be easier to figure out where you are.

I'm on the corner of Rue Such and So and Rue Whatever. So why doesn't it show on the map? I'm near the Grande National Palais of Grand Grandness. I'm standing in front of it, but which way is that on the map? If I go this way, I could end up going dead opposite of where I want to go.

WTF are we?

Things are so much more understandable in our room at the hotel.

And our hotel was wonderful, the Mayfair on Rue de Rouget Lisle, half a block off the Rue de Rivoli and quite near Place de la Concorde where you can stand and imagine the guillotine slicing down.

Incidentally, I love the bathrooms in Paris. Even in restaurants and department stores, they are very private. the walls go up to the ceiling and down to the floor. Plus they flush with great force, making me think of the sewer scenes in Les Mis. Jean Valjean, are you down there? I did walk past the Victor Hugo house, but was late for something and lost and my feet were aching. I must have walked five miles a day minimum. I did not have comfortable shoes either. My choices were uncomfortable or less uncomfortable and I rotated them as the days went by.

The time change is daunting--six hours for this East Coaster, worse for people coming from the west or midwest. Every day I thought I was waking up in the middle of the night and it was like 10:00. Also I don't care for that military 17:21 hours or whatever. I am the one standing in front of the clock counting off on my fingers. OH OKAY, IT'S HAPPY HOUR. And speaking of that, take my advice. If you do not wish to feel like merde in the morning, do not drink a bottle of wine with dinner. Especially do not have champagne cocktails before the bottle of wine. The Today Show, if you could see it, quickly becomes The Today Show With a Stupefying Hangover.

How's that for wisdom? And how's this for an artistic photo?

Sacre Coeur a little cockeyed, no? A little syncopated, yes? More and less than you thought somehow.
And so Paris was that for me: baroque and rococo, filigreed and curlicued, embellished, turreted, and elegant. But at the same time down to earth and deeply evocative of a proud history. It is more beautiful than I could have imagined. I nod my head and tip my (new) hat.

A bientot

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I Am Not a Cat

Le Chat Noir This cat right here is famous of course, emblem of a well known twentieth century cabaret in Montmartre, frequented by Picasso and other artists and rascals. But I'm talking about nowadays and what the Parisians gossip about in private. The only way for a tourist to witness this is to sidle up alongside them at a stoplight or in the Metro (hopefully not illegally, cough cough), and you know, dear reader, that I would give my best effort in this regard. And so this is what they sound like, or I should say this is the translation of what their offhand remarks sound like to an ear americaine.
"I am not a cat."
Perhaps they are saying, "I was not a cat" or "I will not be a cat in the future" or even "I would not be a cat if you paid me."
I myself would cheerfully be a cat since I am already a bit snobby and picky, though warmhearted I think. Pushover might be closer to the truth.
But I digress.
Another thing they say a lot is "la." This I love. It is sprinkled throughout their sentences. Blah blah blah LA LA LA blah zheblah blah zhezhezheblah LA!"
And then they say "I am not a cat" again.
We stopped to ask a woman where the Galeries Lafayette was (were?) and she looked at us and gave us one of those wry Gallic gestures as if to say "you have two heads and not brains enough for one!" and replied "par la!". Of course it was right across the street. Pres de la rue. Dans la rue. Whatever the freaking rue.

My poor photography skills don't begin to show the magnifique!!! gorgeousness of the Galeries L holiday decs. This shows one corner only, but really, all the sides of the building are lit up grandly. Why didn't I turn around earlier when I was facing the broad spectacle of the whole lighted city block? Ah, mesdames et messieurs, I do not know! I am ze lazy bastard!

Here is one of the charming window displays, showing a table set for ducks and teddy bears and other stuffed characters who are getting into all kinds of mechanized high jinks. Each window sets a charming tableau --"look at that one going across on the trapeze!"--and I was so sorry I didn't have Maeve with me.

Here a man approaches the Louvre.
I do not know him but I know he is not a cat and is probably about to say so.

And c'est moi at the Louvre. It was quite warm and mild the whole week and only a short jacket was needed most of the time.

Okay, so the Louvre. I guess "oy" would be an okay descriptor. It's pretty much overwhelming and I am going to stop here for now because, mon cheries, I am WAY behind on my Christmas preparations and must get with it toute de suite. More to come, bien sur.

And so, dear reader, I wish you joy on this day and all days.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

from Paris

Just ze quick one to say bonjour, mesmdames et messieurs from La Belle France!!!  It is jaw-droppingly beautiful here as I expected and we are right near the Place de la Concorde, where they used to guillotine people--yeah!!!!  

One thing I can tell you is don't try and go into the Metro system without a ticket.  In some places there are only machines to sell you tickets and they can be quirky and picky, unlike the French people who have been unfailingly nice and helpful.  I was standing in a crowded Metro car very close to being guillotined by the closing door when a young woman appeared in front of me and handed me my glove which I had dropped back outside of the car.  She smiled and disappeared and after risking her arm and wrist too.

So meanwhile, back at the ticket selling machines. "Patientez," they tell you as you try and figure out the instructions.  Uh, okay, I'm being patient.  But WHERE THE F do I put the money?  And why, sob, oh why don't you like my credit card?  Last night we could not buy a ticket no matter what we did.  We had the money for it, but couldn't make it happen.  Well, what do you think we did?  Jumping the Turnstile by Becky Motew, only we didn't have to jump that one, just walk through closely behind someone else.  I cannot remember any other criminal act  in my past.  

Confession?  It felt rather liberating.

Later, bebe.
A bientot,

Monday, December 15, 2008

Okay on the Ridiculous, but Where is the Sublime?

As many of you know, we endured an ice storm last Thursday night. My power is STILL not back. AAAAAAAAARGH. It looks like I will be leaving on my trip tomorrow from an empty shell of a house. Any house where you can't flush is an empty shell in my opinion.

Anyway, dear reader I have been camped out in the sumptuous
digs of my dear friend Chris, to whom I am everlastingly thankful. Not only that, but we have had a few laughs as well.

Every now and then I learn how special I am. I learned it this time when the rest of my street got hooked up to power on Saturday but lucky MOI did not. That's because my very special power line got zapped and disattached from my house. It hung like a weeping willow for two days until my very nice electrician fixed it today. Since National Grid already went up and down my street repairing and bestowing cheer and electricity, they don't plan to come back until oh, maybe Thursday.

Well, here's where I will be on Thursday.

National Grid this.
Eiffel Tower

A bientot, dear reader,
Watch for exciting photos to come!!!!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Excitement Builds

Op�ra Bastille

I bought tickets to the Paris Opera Bastille and paid for them online. No sweat. The screen I used was mostly English. This morning I had an email from them that said among other things, "thank you for trusting us."


I'm sure that was meant in all sincerity and I'm sure it's merely a form that they use, but my reaction was this: GULP.

"Bonjour. Thank you for trusting us because very few people do. They can be so unforgiving, yes? One petite divulgement of a few thousand cartes de credit and poof! The people, they are nervous and crazee. But ah that is life, is it not?!"

Okay then, if you have been given my credit card information, however inadvertently, by the Opera Bastille, please don't use it, okay? I trust you. Je t'aime. No wait. I won't go that far.

I am about to finish up Level Two of Rosetta Stone. It's a whole lot of sailboats and sailing, again not what we will probably be doing.
"Excusez-moi. Is that the pen of your aunt going by on that bateau? Perhaps you had better reach out and try to --- oh mon Dieu, I am so so desolee.

And they do crack me up when they show pictures of bad weather, worse weather, and the worst weather. For "le pire," the worst, they show a twister. Now that WOULD be bad.
Especially on a sailboat, one would think.

Trying to finish up finals, grades, etc., but I'm a bit distracted.

A bientot


Monday, December 08, 2008

A Brief History of Language

I always have the same reaction when I pick up a dictionary.

Do you mean those are ALL the words? That's IT? I don't know. The total number of pages seems pretty small to me.

Webster's French-English DictionaryThe French-English dictionnaire that I am using seems REALLY small, probably because it doesn't include "existentialist" or "psoriasis." It's good on yellow bicycles, though, and "how much is that."

So here's what it is.

It's all code, this language thing. I am really amazed at human ingenuity. I mean some of us over here on the English side, back when we were in our caves and sort of sitting around of an evening, not trying to waste the fire, mind you, but relaxing---one of our lot looked down at those extremity things that he used all day to poke things with, and said "hands. These are my hands." And then probably at the same time [and maybe he'd just finished some of those wildebeest-flavored CheezIts] he coined the term "fingers."

"Huh?" said his buddy, or more correctly "uuunh?"

"God, you people are stupid," this genius said, or I guess he acted it out in a Charades kind of communication. But it made him get up and start to pace around the cave. "Do you think we can just always grunt and groan when we want something? Are we going to live all our lives like animals? Like brutes?"

"Brute this," his buddy said.

"Shut the f up," everyone else yelled, trying to catch a few winks before the next horrible crisis occurred, like a flood or childbirth or measles.

"I'm telling you right now," the true and upright homo sapiens said, "This is my finger. Watch me put it right in your eye."

Somewhere over in another cave, somebody looked down and had the same epiphany, but for some reason that has been lost through history, said "les mains" and "doigts" instead. Don't ask me how, but he thought they meant the same thing as "hands" and "fingers." Go figure. That's the French for you.

So anyway, they started using their code and we started using ours.

Their code is nearly incomprehensible.

Sorry, I don't really mean that. But they talk too fast. They try to use the code far too rapidly for good understanding. But the really weird thing is our dictionaries are nearly the same size.

And I find that meaningful. And hopeful. And sad.

This is a busy week for me, dear reader. Tests and papers and lots of code.

A bientot


Friday, December 05, 2008

Why Christmas Does Not Suck This Year

Because I am going to Paree, I will not be able to host my normal party or have my normal events. Quel dommage! Je suis desolee! NOT. It is giving me tremendous holiday zest, naturally.

In celebration, dear reader, I have a few bloopers just in from the recent round.

"You can sing up for a credit card at this store if you dare."

"It is a shame that a woman who suffered a fatal car accident can't smoke marijuana if she needs it."

"That's a lot of government money going to waist."

See full size image

That was one fowl-smelling car, let me tell you.

"...a group of disabled minority population, living in poverty without their consent."

"Underage drinking is a problem throughout the Untied States."

"There would be a lot more room for sex offenders, murderers, etc., if we didn't pay so much attention to the little things like marijuana."

My latest fun occupation, dear reader, is reading aloud from French Wikipedia. It is wicked fun. I understand about half of it, but I so love twisting those words around.
A bientot

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

More Differences between Arkansas and Massachusetts

Britney Spears Velveeta Cheese Many feel there's only one word for Velveeta cheese, though they differ as to what that word is. Some say YYYYUCK ; others a pronounced YYYYYYYYYYYYYUMMMMMMMMM.
I can go either way on this. In Arkansas Velveeta is the preferred ingredient for cheese dip, the kind with Rotel chili peppers mixed in that you can make in the microwave. You eat it until you're sick, like Cool Whip (see previous post). Also you put Velveeta on top of a lot of casseroles along with corn flakes, Ritz crackers, and other inventive garnishes. In the words of one Arkansan: "Martha Stewart can kiss my ass."
In Massachusetts they serve brie and hotsy totsy cheese nobody ever heard of, like from a goat or whatever.

This is a very big difference. Coke is it in Arkansas. Coke is king. There is nothing else. You could have a garage full of Pepsi or Sprite or any soft drink, and people will leave your house and drive to a store to buy Coke instead. This actually happened at my brother's house on Thanksgiving, so I know what I'm talking about. Coke isn't bad, but I have gone over to other drinks in my years in Massachusetts. Here they drink pomegranate all-natural calcium-added vitamin potion and weird stuff like that.


Are you not going to put Velveeta in that?

Is that not the coolest thing?

Are we not going to go 85 on this highway?


Both states have speeders and road ragers. In Arkansas, the speeders are laid back. They recline comfortably against the back of their seat as they press the pedal down. They drive with one arm. When they see someone they know, they lift the index finger of that arm just so-- from the top of the steering wheel in salutation. They barely move. Hey man. Hey dude. Whutchup to? Here's an Arkansas joke for you. A cop pulls a farmer over to the side of the road.

"You got any ID?"

"'Bout what?"

Chitta boom.

In Massachusetts the speeders are intent. Their veins throb. Their complexion reddens no matter what their ethnicity. Blood pressure shoots up to unacceptable levels and voices get raised. In Arkansas, they might have a gun on the roof. In Massachusetts, it's hidden in the glove compartment.


If it's Thanksgiving Day in Arkansas, you get your tree UP. RIGHT NOW, GIRL. In Massachusetts, that is not done. We wait until later, sometimes much later, but then we leave it all up for weeks, basically until it's a firetrap.

Anyway, here's the most dapper of all gentlemen in either state, my dad who just celebrated his 93rd birthday. He is as genial and affable and smart and fun to be with as he ever was and we are immensely lucky to have him with us. He's shown here with some chick who has done nothing but eat Velveeta and Cool Whip for three days.
A bientot, dear reader.