Monday, July 31, 2017

Arretez! C'est le French Language Police!

She says: "we are criticized for using too many anglicisms in our newspaper."
His response: OK (anglicism) Partons en debriefing (anglicism) pour faire la
check-list (anglicism) des items a updater (anglicism) dan les news (anglicism). 
("Let's have a meeting to make a checklist of words we should update.")

The French are sick of creeping anglicisms and have an entire organization devoted to dealing with this scourge: The Academie Francais. Here is the section of its web site devoted to Neologisms and Anglicisms on the AF web site

You can see why it's such an issue for the French - right across the English Channel (called la Manche by the French) is England and a thousand years of cultural exchange. 

And as if that wasn't bad enough there is the cultural dominance of the USA all over the world, and that means a double-whammy of English for the French.

The English language has no equivalent to L'Academie Francais in part probably because of the de facto dominance of English, and also because the English language has no problem with grabbing words from other languages. 

And then there's the fact that 29% of all English words already come from French and another 29% comes from Latin - and a lot of French comes from Latin. Paul at Langfocus thinks that English is a Germanic-Romance Language hybrid even though English is technically classified as a Germanic language.

The British have something to say about the French Language police:
Ask a French person to get back to you and they are unlikely to do so ASAP. The abbreviation is the latest term to fall foul of the Gallic word police, the Académie Française, which says it is 21st-century rubbish.
The Immortals, as academy members are known, have published a damning condemnation of ASAP in their ongoing campaign to protect what is known as "the language of Molière".
"This abbreviation of as soon as possible, which is far from transparent, seems to accumulate most of the defects of a language that hides its contempt and threatening character under the guise of modern junk," the Académie writes.
"The use of developed French forms would be more relevant and would not feature this unpleasant and restraining nature. It is a safe bet that the urgency of a request would be indicated in a more refined manner, and the answer would not be any slower."
It goes on to suggest dès que possible as the appropriate response.

 But although the English language is a thieving magpie, we certainly have our English-language purists in the US and it might be even worse in Canada in part because French is an official language there.

I feel like the French should relax - no matter how many English words they borrow from us - like we borrowed from them - French will never sound like English - it will always have that certain je ne sais quoi.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

More on the dirtbag left

Some more good critiques of the Dirtbag Left.

James Livingston:
What these ignorant yet arrogant little shits can’t fathom is the simple fact that the detachment of income from work, no matter what its social or intellectual provenance, means the decompositon of capitalism, because you can’t have capitalism without a labor market that correlates effort and reward in a legible and legitimate manner. Socialism resides in that decomposition—why not embrace and enlarge upon it, even in the fragmentary form of a UBI? 
But the moral of this story is larger. The Chapo crew are satirists who produce, as a matter of course, pure cynicism. Not mere irony, the “critical distance” we all need and use when we experience conflicting desires or points of view. Irony leads us into the world because it divides us between these possibilities, makes us want to test them. Cynicism via satire protects us from the world by teaching us how to abstain from its conflicts. 
But that is a way of saying that cynicism via satire protects us from politics as such. Is that we want, just now?

And Noah Berlatsky:
The dismissal of feminism is consistent throughout the podcast. Chapo doesn't treat feminism as a valuable movement or analytic framework. They treat it as a boondoggle, a distraction, and a joke. They argue that Wonder Woman's feminism is simply a way to sell imperialism through identity politics. Or they argue that William Marston, Wonder Woman's creator, was just a horny guy; the supposedly irreverent Chapo dismisses Marston's feminist commitments via prudish kink-shaming. At no point do the hosts ever admit, or entertain the idea, that women might legitimately lack heroic role models. They don't discuss the possibility that women are often excluded from lead roles in Hollywood, and that Wonder Woman in that way might address an actual inequality. They don't talk about other problems with representation either. The vigorous criticism many black women have made of the film isn't broached. 
Instead, Chapo devotes its energy to presenting feminism as useless and worthy of mockery. They discuss the Ghostbusters reboot and suggest that the sexist backlash to the film was just part of the girl-power marketing—as if the female stars of the series wanted massive amounts of sexist bile directed at them. They make a crack about "give your money to Wonder Woman"—referencing the "give your money to women" hashtag, which was an effort to highlight disparities in women's pay. The low point is when a guest blogger named Matthew Brady pops up briefly to sneer at his ex-wife, and then cracks "oh this film taught me jokes like that are wrong." His entire segment could have been lifted, virtually without alteration, from an MRA Youtube video.

I noticed the Mens' Rights Activist vibe too. 

What is most striking about Chapo Trap House and the dirtbag left is its problem with rape. Thanks to the Jeet Heer piece in The New Republic, Melissa McEwan talked about CTH host Felix Biederman's attack on her. And I've already blogged about Amber A'Lee Frost and Liza Featherstone's attitude towards rape, which is that rape isn't nearly so bad if you go to an Ivy League school. (Featherstone and her husband Doug Henwood both went to Ivy League schools.)

And one of the major components of Jacobinghazi was Amber A'Lee Frost mocking Sarah Kendzior for talking about rape threats.

Well nobody ever lost money sucking up to the Patriarchy - Camille Paglia, Katie Roiphe and Christina Hoff Sommers among others have built solid careers on it. And the existence of the Dirtbag Left and its hostility to feminism demonstrates that Patriarchy-servicing is not monopolized by the Right.

Meanwhile Henwood & Featherstone have been up to their usual hard-hitting journalism. 

My guess is that The Atlantic "stole" the title because they hadn't heard of Featherstone's advice column. Although the idea of The Nation having a personal advice column as if it was Glamour magazine, and that it hired someone as self-absorbed as Featherstone to give anybody personal advice is utterly absurd. My assumption is that Featherstone has a good friend in the hierarchy at The Nation and they wanted to give her an income stream as a personal favor. And the same goes for Amber A'Lee Frost, who has a personal advice column at The Baffler. Although reading the questions they print, I fully expect they just make them up themselves.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

On y va à French 203

I have finished my third French language course and am registered for French 203. At the rate I am going I will have completed the last of the Expert level French courses in 2019.

In addition to classes at FIAF here are some of my resources for learning French:

Thursday, July 27, 2017

23 and me and no real surprises

I got my results back from 23 and Me and there was no exciting new information - my genes indicate pretty much what you would expect - 97% Northwestern European of which almost all is British & Irish, with a small amount of French/German and and other "general Northwestern European." 

The tiny specs of Africa DNA probably go way way back to the pre-out of Africa days. 

Slightly more interesting, but not unexpected - I have a fairly high expression of Neanderthal DNA - 74% higher than other 23&Me customers. But of that, according to 23&Me, the only Neanderthal variant I have is associated with height - it's supposed to make you a little bit taller. And since I am about an inch or so taller than the average height of American women, I supposed that's valid.

One thing I was really impressed by was the estimate that my French/German connection was from between 1750 and 1840 - I already blogged about this - a cousin of mine traced some of my paternal ancestors to France - on the German border to the early 1700s

Which of course wasn't a surprise, but rather a confirmation that this genetic testing is pretty accurate.

The Oceania DNA was the wildcard - I didn't expect anything outside of Europe or Africa and that ancestor is from between 1690 - 1780. 

Also interesting, I am more ethnically French than my French teacher, who is from Morocco. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Oh baby

Justin Trudeau in Rolling Stone:

Then he gives the press corps a high-five. 
"The back and forth between the press and government is essential to any good democracy," he says. "When you're at your best, it reminds us and challenges us to be at ours. So thank you all for your tireless work."
Where are we? Narnia? Coachella recovery tent? 2009? We are in Ottawa, Ontario, a mere 560 miles from Washington, D.C.

And yet, we are half a world away. Join me as we visit a nation led by a man who wore a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy T-shirt on national television, rides a unicycle and welcomed 40,000 Syrian refugees with open arms.

This article arrives just in time for Donald Trump's disgusting and perverted speech at the Boy Scout jamboree.

Imagine for a half-second what would have happened if Obama or either Clinton had ever alluded glowingly to a yacht sex party in a speech to a bunch of kids. Fox News headquarters in Manhattan would have sunk halfway to the earth's core from the weight of all the outrage.

I have some issues with the Rolling Stone piece on Trudeau. It says 'His critics call him "shiny pony."' but even a quick Google search on trudeau, shiny pony indicates what I could have told author Stephen Rodrick - the expression was invented by, and almost exclusively used by Trudeau-obsessive Ezra Levant.

But I did love the ending:
Trudeau heads back toward his three-car motorcade that stops at all red lights. In the hall, a couple hundred kids hold signs that say "Hope" and "Respect." They grab his sleeve and then skitter away wearing giant smiles. It would have been corny if it had not been so goddamned beautiful. This is Trudeau's vision of what a country can be. His land races toward inclusion, while our nation builds walls and lusts for an era of vanilla homogeneity that ain't coming back. At this moment, Justin Trudeau's Canada looks like a beautiful place to ride out an American storm.
Bonus Rolling Stone article about Trudeau & Macron.

Oh dear god this man is killing me.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Chapo Trap House: KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!

Felix Biederman is the Zod in the middle
Back in November 2014, on my very first encounter with Doug Henwood, I knew what a shithead he was.

And I found it bizarre that Katha Pollitt, who had written a column defending the Great Satan of brocialists, Sheryl Sandberg, considered herself a friend of his, in view of Henwood's contempt for "lean-in" feminism - code word for feminism which considers the actual lives of women - all women - important, rather than the kind of feminism Henwood considers appropriate:
“The side of feminism I’ve studied and admired for decades has been about moving towards that ideal [of a more peaceful, more egalitarian society], and not merely placing women into high places while leaving the overall hierarchy of power largely unchanged.

The idea that putting women in high places is the same as "leaving the overall hierarchy of power largely unchanged" is typical addled-brain misogyny of the Dirtbag left, and one of the reasons why they hate Hillary Clinton so much. They don't accept that a woman as president means anything at all as far as the hierarchy of power. Because women's lives mean nothing to them - except the lives of their romanticized concept of the proletariat and 20-something Sanders-supporting earthmothers and of course brocialist helpmeets who have attended private colleges and never get their hands dirty doing anything except changing their laser printer cartridges.

Well I don't think Pollitt is friends with Henwood anymore - I found him attacking her on Twitter this past June.

Now the thing is, there is nothing in Pollitt's column that Henwood should have any problem with - but Henwood reflexively attacks any real feminists in favor of his Dirtbag left ladies auxiliary who claim to be the real feminists - you know the feminists who care about things that Dirtbag men care about, not that women shit.

The reference to Zod in the graphic at the top of this post is pretty funny. It's in reference to the article by Jeet Heer I talked about yesterday, which begins:
On a recent episode of the popular podcast Chapo Trap House, co-host Will Menaker used a memorable metaphor in addressing calls for unity on the left. “Republicans in control of politics, that’s the problem,” he began. “However, to the pragmatists out there and the people who don’t like purity in politics, yes, let’s come together. But get this through your fucking head: You must bend the knee to us. Not the other way around. You have been proven as failures, and your entire worldview has been discredited. You bend the knee to us and then let’s fucking work together to defeat these things, not with fucking means testing or market-based solutions but with a powerful social democratic message.”
LOL - you must bend the knee to us. KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!!!

It's no surprise that Henwood would be involved with these people - his seething hatred for liberal women makes him a perfect fit.

No surprise, Henwood also attacks Joy Reid. 

Henwood and his gang are awful human beings. 

Unfortunately the screen cap at the bottom of this post doesn't show Henwood chiming in because of course he would, but Henwood had long since blocked me on Facebook for being too non-compliant and so when I'm logged into my Facebook account I can't see anything he writes. I only know he participated in the shit-fest because someone else posted their screen cap of the same thing on Twitter. 

I didn't know who Felix Biederman was at the time I took the screen cap, but now I do - he's one of the three Zods shown in the New Republic article about Chapo Trap House and the Dirtbag left. And Biederman's hatred for any liberal who does not kneel before Zod is crystal clear in his comment in support of the sniggering middle-aged mean-girls Amber A'Lee Frost and Liza Featherstone cackling over the possibility of one of their Dirtbag gang trolling Sady Doyle. Biederman says: "that's cool. she got really upset." 

David Duhalde, Deputy Director at Democratic Socialists of America also chimes in: "I want to troll her bad..."

Here is Biederman attacking a woman for talking about being raped. No doubt Amber A'Lee Frost, Liza Featherstone and Doug Henwood and all the gang at Chapo thought this was hysterical.

Does anybody think that if these assholes managed to achieve the socialist regime of their dreams we'd be any better off than with capitalist misogynists and sociopaths?

For some reason, the blog post from January 2016 where I originally posted the image is getting lots of attention lately, based on my analytics statistics. It's possibly due to Frost being mentioned in the recent Jeet Heer article in the New Republic. 

The real disappointment in the image below is Corey Robin, whom Krugman has mentioned with approval on several occasions. Unlike the rest of them, Robin seems to have some things of value to say.

Krugman probably doesn't care, but most of Robin's friends hate Krugman as much as anybody else who refuses to KNEEL BEFORE ZOD.


Monday, July 24, 2017

The dirtbag left - our old feminist-hating pals Doug Henwood, Liza Featherstone and Amber A'Lee Frost

I haven't been thinking about Doug Henwood and his ladies auxiliary much since the election, but I was pleased to see that Canadian journalist Jeet Heer is on their case. And instead of "The Radical Chic" which is what I had been calling Henwood and company, Heer calls them "The Dirtbag Left" which apparently Amber A'Lee Frost herself came up with. I would have used the term "Shithead Left" myself, knowing what I know about Henwood, Featherstone and Frost but Dirtbag is more family-newspaper friendly so that's OK.

In this era of an alt-right president and mouthpieces like Breitbart, Chapo Trap House is the leftist media outlet that best understands the power of dominance politics and answers it in kind. If Trump insulted his way to the presidency, Chapo is insulting the Democrats to move the party leftward, using mockery and derision to push for a socialist America. There’s clearly a market for such content: The show is extremely popular, generating more than $70,000 a month in Patreon subscriptions, outdistancing the other top podcasts on Patreon by nearly three to one. 
Chapo is the flagship show of the Dirtbag Left, a phrase coined by co-host Amber A’Lee Frost to describe a take-no-prisoners style of American socialism that’s ascendent in the age of Trump. While examples of the Dirtbag Left can also be found in publications like The Baffler, Current Affairs, and podcasts like The War Nerd and Street Fight Radio, Chapo remains the purest example of the species. “It’s a movement that uses many of the tactics of the online alt-right—humour, memes, Twitter trolling and open animosity—while remaining committed to progressive leftist ideology,” John Semley wrote earlier this month in Maclean’s. “A given Chapoepisode sees the hosts yukking it up at the expense of hacky mainstream media op-eds (New York Times columnist Ross Douthat is a favourite target of the gang’s derision), or critiquing the limp, liberal identity politics of the recent, and much-lauded, Wonder Woman movie.”

The comparison Semley draws with the alt-right is apt. On substance, Chapo upholds the democratic-socialist politics of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, but in style it is much closer to the vituperative, insulting, shock-jock tactics used not just by Twitter users with Pepe the Frog avatars, but Trump himself. The response of mainstream liberals to these tactics on the right has been to double down on the importance of civility. “When they go low, we go high,” as Michelle Obama famously said. But the Dirtbag Left has no use for civility, and instead wants to counter the alt-right’s mudslinging in kind. Their slogan could be, “When they go low, we go into the gutter.”

I still maintain that the Dirtbag Left attacks liberals and the Democratic party with such regularity that I would not be at all surprised if one day it turns out that it is being supported by right-wing billionaires.

Dipshit trophy wife Liza Featherstone of course is represented on the Dirtbag network banging on about "lean-in feminism" because the Dirtbag Left actually hates feminism more than just about anything but they are too chickenshit to come right out and admit it so prefer to use code like "lean-in" and "bourgeois" and "neoliberal" - but any familiarity with their mindset will eventually bring you to the understanding that Featherstone & company hate feminism because it's about issues pertaining to women as a group, and the Dirtbags don't consider pay parity and men dominating discussions and other non-farmworker employment issues of any value.

Because the Dirtbag Left wants women to know that all those icky women's issues will be taken care of after the revolution comes, so STFU and stop caring about Wonder Woman.

I'm glad that actual journalists are writing about this tight little clique of douchbags, and I'm glad they have a worthy name now too.

ALSO - best tweet on the subject ever.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Trudeau is in Nova Scotia and I'm not

As it says on the web site of the Nova Scotia radio station Country 100.7:

It's a chance many may never get again, to see the Prime Minister up close.
Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie and his children arrived in Nova Scotia today, landing at the Yarmouth International Airport just after 11am.
Many people in town noticed a ten plus car motorcade, and clued in that the PM would be arriving in Yarmouth.
Dammit. I won't be in Nova Scotia for another three weeks. It would have been nice to see les Trudeaux in person. *sigh* I will just have to settle for hearing about Justin's dad Pierre in Trudeau Stories.

And gazing upon another photo of J-TRU.  That's mon premiere ministre d'amour!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD week at the Film Forum

I only just found out about this event at the Film Forum. They are playing some of the best New York City-based movies ever, and some cult ones too. I have to at least see DOG DAY AFTERNOON on the big screen.

I remember seeing articles about this movie when it was first released. I didn't care about the movie itself but in the earliest stage of adolescence I thought Al Pacino was very attractive. And of course what androphile would not consider him cute in this movie?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Another free concert in Central Park

Makes the rents on the Upper West Side worth it.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

RIP St. Andrews

Although to be fair the waiters at
St. Andrews were not quite this hot in general...
I've been taking people to St. Andrews restaurant in the Times Square area for well over a decade, but when I tried to do it last Friday I discovered they had gone out of business. I can't find anything online about why. NYMag gave it a strong review and I always enjoyed it. And where else can you go to see men in kilts? Well apparently there's a place in the West Village.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

North Korea is evil

My ex-boyfriend's father escaped from North Korea when he was young. He's in his 70s now - North Korea has been a hellhole of evil for at least fifty years now.

Why have we allowed North Korea to be so evil for so long?

An American was apparently tortured to death in North Korea and North Korea has paid no penalty for that, as far as I can tell. Why? 

Monday, July 17, 2017

When worlds collide: Damon & Jo & 23 & Me

I was just blogging about Damon and Jo a month ago.

And I just sent my saliva to 23andMe a few weeks ago (results still not available yet.)

And then on Facebook I see that Damon and Jo are advertising for 23 and Me. They are sure coming up in the world.

I'd rather Damon & Jo be the face of 23&Me then the creepy animated character they had.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Enchantment

Dude can rock a tux
I went to see The Enchantment. My actor pal Matt DeCapua played a lady-killing sexyman, although the literal killing is done by the lady herself.

I was intrigued by the provenance of the play which was written by a 19th-century Swedish woman, Victoria Bennedictsson, who slit her own throat and left the play unfinished.

But I was nervous because one of the selling points of the play is its connection to two Scandinavian plays written by contemporaries of Bennedictsson, Hedda Gabler by Ibsen and Miss Julie by Strindberg. As I've mentioned on this blog, I'm not a big fan of Scandinavian plays - and you can throw Chekov in there too even though as a Russian he's not technically qualified.

I don't like Hedda Gabler and I hate the misogynistic Miss Julie. I thought a piece in Ms. Magazine about a Neil LaBute adaptation of Miss Julie, from a few years ago, has a perfect synopsis of the play:
On a midsummer night at Julie’s father’s estate, the patriarch is away and thus the servants are at play at an offstage party in the barn. Miss Julie takes a break from dancing with her servants, which is scandal enough, to flirt with Jean and have a few drinks in the kitchen. An overt display of sexuality and mutual seduction culminates in sex, after which Jean proposes they run away together and open a hotel. When Julie says she wants to go with him but cannot supply him with the seed money (the money is all her father’s, obviously), Jean turns cold, calling her a whore... 
And then he convinces her to kill herself.
Miss Julie is considered a classic and is produced again and again in spite of its extreme misogyny and  unbelievable ending.

The Enchantment is mainly a long suicide note. The author killed herself over a man who rejected her. The play indicates that the man decides, too late, to make the protagonist of the play his wife, which is not only unbelievable in the context of what we've been told about the character in the rest of the play, but also is so obviously an example of a "you'll be sorry when I'm gone" wish fulfillment.

If Bennedictsson wrote the play and then killed herself in a spectacularly gruesome way in order to be remembered post-mortem, she certainly did succeed: her play is being produced internationally, in addition to her (possible) influence on Ibsen and Strindberg. Meanwhile, the man whom Bennedictsson allegedly killed herself over, George Brandes, is, I'm guessing, mostly unknown outside of Denmark.

I suspect the translater/adapter Lexen was reluctant to make changes to the original work in order to retain the purity of the author's intent - but a suicide note is not the best original source for a contemporary play.

And the set for this production was wrong in that a small stage was made even smaller by a doorway which partitioned off a quarter of the stage to indicate a garden, which was barely used - not enough to warrant cramping up the stage that way, anyway.

But that's nothing compared to the problems of the script. The Village Voice review of this production of The Enchantment was pretty harsh, especially in reference to the male actors, but I thought that was unfair. The review notes:
Ironically, in a piece about the female gaze, the men seem to have been chosen for their beauty alone — it might be a power reversal, but it’s not quite the one we’re looking for.
But I believe the critic is blaming the casting and performances for what is really a problem with the playwright's handling of the male characters. Benedictsson uses male characters the way many playwrights even up to the present time use female characters - for support, for exposition and for objects of desire. Benedictsson's male characters are the suitor and the brother and the sexyman - mirror images of the thankless roles female actors complain about all the time. 

And about the much-touted Swedish "realism" - I doubt that these plays were especially realistic in staging or content even when they were first written. The ending of Miss Julie is especially absurd - I seriously doubt many Swedish women were so easily talked into killing themselves for having extra-marital sex, especially before any pregnancy was discovered.

Maybe it's because nowadays the realism is so extreme that playwrights like Annie Baker (I'm actually not sure if any other playwrights are imitating her in this) include long paint-drying silences which do a perfect imitation of life, but there's nothing realistic about the opening scene of The Enchantment, in which the sexyman strides in and immediately starts in on the seduction patter. He's written much too chatty and obvious for the irresistible Frenchmen he's supposed to be.

But maybe compared to the artifice that came before in Swedish theater, this is what passes for slice of life.

In any case, I think there is some worthwhile material in this play, but it needs some work to make it a satisfying piece de theatre.

One more observation I have - the play seems to be saying that "free love" is dangerous in its impact on some people. But the play does not actually make the case. Because, would the pain experienced by Louise in being rejected by Alland be any better if instead of declaring himself unbound to any one woman, he just up and married someone else? It seems to me that would be even worse. I suspect far more people have killed themselves because of rejection in favor of a single real rival than dozens of potential rivals. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Macron woos Trump to Paris not Pittsburgh

My honeys at G20
To borrow a phrase from Wonkette, whoah if true:

I assumed that Macron invited Trump to France for Bastille Day in order to try to coax him back into the Paris accord, but I didn't expect him to get results so quickly:
"On climate we know what our differences are," Mr Macron said in Paris on Thursday, adding that it was important to move forward.

Speaking alongside Mr Macron, Mr Trump then hinted that the US could shift its position but failed to elaborate.

"Something could happen with respect to the Paris accord," he said.

Mr Trump added: "We'll see what happens."

I expect that Macron realizes most of Trump's opinions on important political issues are incredibly shallow - based on ignorance and whoever has spoken to Trump last. No doubt Macron saw his chance to use his considerable charm to flatter Trump right back into the fold.

If Macron can't do it, then the job will be up to Justin Trudeau.

And if neither Macron nor Trudeau can do it, then it cannot be done.

We will see.

Meanwhile the French media was having a good time over Trump's handshake with Brigitte Macron:

(Brigitte Macron does not escape Donald Trump's bizarre handshake.)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Le jardin français

Part of the Conservatory Garden in Central Park

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Oh oh oh oh oh, you don't have to go-oh

So I'm in the supermarket and I vaguely hear a rhythm, a familiar rhythm over the PA system and I realized it was D'yer Mak'er. I rocked out to it a little, I admit, just this side of making a complete fool of myself - I like to think.

It still sounds good to me. But I still find it weird to hear what once was considered "hard rock" being played in the supermarket. Because dear baby Jesus I am so fucking old.

Sheryl Crow pronounces the title in the South Jersey mode.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Someone told me...

My French teacher turned the class onto the music of Carla Bruni (now the wife of former French president Nikolas Sarkozy, particularly her justifiably popular Quelqu'un m'a dit.

It's a lovely song and also, it seems to me, quintessentially French in its quasi-philosophical lyrics interrupted by the refrain in which the singer hopes she is still loved by some unnamed individual.

But not just the content - the way she briskly clips along is just like French speakers - talking too fast for anglophones to keep up.

Here are the lyrics in French:
On me dit que nos vies ne valent pas grand chose
Elles passent en un instant comme fanent les roses.
On me dit que le temps qui glisse est un salaud
Que de nos chagrins il s'en fait des manteaux
Pourtant quelqu'un m'a dit.
Que tu m'aimais encore
C'est quelqu'un qui m'a dit que tu m'aimais encore.
Serait-ce possible alors?
On me dit que le destin se moque bien de nous
Qu'il ne nous donne rien et qu'il nous promet tout
Paraît que le bonheur est à portée de main
Alors on tend la main et on se retrouve fou
Mais qui est-ce qui m'a dit que toujours tu m'aimais?
Je ne me souviens plus c'était tard dans la nuit
J'entends encore la voix, mais je ne vois plus les traits
Il vous aime, c'est secret, lui dites pas que je vous l'ai dit
Tu vois quelqu'un m'a dit
On me dit que nos vies ne valent pas grand chose
Elles passent en un instant comme fanent les roses
On me dit que le temps qui glisse est un salaud
Que de nos tristesses il s'en fait des manteaux
Pourtant quelqu'un m'a dit
Que tu m'aimais encore
C'est quelqu'un qui m'a dit que tu m'aimais encore.
Serait-ce possible alors?

The refrain is translated as:
That you still loved me
Someone said you still loved me.
Can it be true?
And the lyrics...
They say our lives are not worth much
Passing in an instant like fading roses.
They say that time is a bastard
Who makes coats out of our pain.
But someone told me (lyrics)
They say fate mocks us,
Promising everything, giving nothing,
Happiness is within reach
But we get nothing but craziness.
But someone told me (lyrics)
But who is it who always told me you loved me?
I do not remember, it was late at night
I can still hear the voice but I can not see the features
"He loves you, it's secret, do not tell him I told you"
You see, someone told me ...

Ooh intrigue.

The first line of the refrain has a handy demonstration for why French (or I supposed all Romance languages) is difficult for anglophones - the word order is mixed up:

The line is:
Que tu m'aimais encore
Which is literally translated as "That you me were loving still"

The concept is easy enough to grasp in writing, but when you're listening to someone speak French you're constantly going back to earlier in the sentence. Like "OK so they said "you were loving still... who? - oh right, the "m" which stands for "me" is tacked onto the beginning of "were loving" so that's who.

Oh and "encore" can mean both "again" which is how English-speakers know it but at the same time also means "still." Because of course it would.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

On sait jamais

Voting for himself

I don't know how many times I've watched French in Action at this point, but I'm only now realizing that in a couple of episodes the phrase "on sait jamais" (one never knows) appears several times. 

It's a good expression. And very true although sometimes it's hard to remember, when life seems endlessly grim and predictable and hopeless, as it has so often for me in the past eleven years.

You can see his original world tattoo before it was
augmented with aboriginal artwork
Thinking over the political careers of my 21st Century men, of the three, only Justin Trudeau's life and career seems entirely predictable.

Since Trudeau was a baby, people including Richard Nixon had been predicting he would become prime minister.

And not only that, his choice of his wife Sophie was absolutely typical: pretty, blonde, a few years younger and from the same social background - in fact she was a classmate of his youngest brother and they knew each other slightly. Then they had three adorable children. 

Trudeau did declare, when he was in his early twenties that he would never go into politics but by the time he was in his late thirties he was a member of Parliament.

But this is a good time to show Trudeau at perhaps his hottest - this is a still from the video in which he declares he does not want to be a politician, but rather a teacher. He famously was a drama teacher for a few  years - it's one of the things people like the detestable Ezra Levant harped on when Trudeau first got into politics.

Meanwhile Obama was born to a black father and white mother at a time when it was still illegal for whites and blacks to marry in some parts of the United States. Then he was raised by a single mother, who was kind of hippie, and who took him all over the world in her academic pursuits. And in spite of all this, he had enough confidence in himself to run for president of the United States. And win.

Speaking of Obama, I see that felon Dinesh D'Souza is still as ugly on the inside as he is on the outside. But it boggles my mind that he and the 6.4 thousand people who liked this tweet believe the insanity they do. It's like they are literally space aliens who do not perceive the world as we do. They believe that good is bad and bad is good. It's as if the planet Bizarro World really exists and they come from that planet.

How is it possible they believe in such bullshit? By any known human metric Donald Trump is not only a horrible human being but is clearly the worst president we've ever had. He golfs more than any other president, he knows less about the way our government works than any other president - and he is most likely a traitor who colluded with Russia. You really have to wonder what is wrong with Dinesh D'Souza - other than being a criminal, of course.

With thousands of wackos like D'Souza in the United States, it still blows my mind that Obama was ever elected. I certainly never expected to see a black president in my lifetime.

And speaking of improbabilities, I am pretty sure that when Mrs. Auzière the high school drama teacher (the same job held at one time by Justin Trudeau) realized that something was starting between herself and one of her students, and she was weighing the pros and cons of leaving her husband with whom she had three high-school aged children, a thing that was not on her pro list was: "if I choose Emmanuel he will become rich, marry me in ten years and then he will become president of France."

Such an occurrence is not even so much improbable as unimaginable. Even besides the president of France part, what are the odds of a romance with such a young man (Macron was maybe eighteen by the time they had sex the first time) turning into marriage, let alone marriage with a woman 24 years older, and then that marriage lasting another ten years and counting? It would seem far more predictable for Brigette Auzière to leave her husband to go off with her irresistible young lover only to have him leave her a few years later when she was in her mid-40s and the chance of finding a worthwhile man to have a relationship with almost impossible, and she ends up alone for years or maybe forever. As I know from experience. Although my younger man was only 8 years younger and in his late 20s when we began.

And then there's the belief Macron had in himself that he could become president of France at such a young age and with so little actual government experience, and without an established political party. And yet he tried it, in spite of the odds, and he succeeded.

On sait jamais.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

L'incident de la Cordon Bleu

Macron: "Moi, j'aime bien les cordons bleus"

I think the documentary on Macron, "La Coulisse de la Victoire" has been instrumental in increasing Macron's popularity, and it seems like the favorite part of the documentary for the French is when Macron has stopped for lunch on the road at some kind of IKEA-style shop with a cafeteria, and he gets shot down when he asks for cordon bleu - he's told that its on the menu for children.

You can see them making brief, goofy videos about the incident on Youtube here, and here and here.

I mean, it's kinda cute, but he barely reacts at all to being denied cordon bleu and immediately says: OK, I'll have the salmon then.

But for whatever reason, the French think this is amazing. Maybe because he seems like a typical Frenchman and not the banquier despised by the left nor the immigrant-lover despised by the right. Peut-etre. 

Europe 1 media wrote an article about the best bits in the documentary and this was the top of their list.

My favorite parts are when he giggles over being hit with an egg, and when Macron returns after the first round debate and asks his team how he did and somebody says that Richard Ferrand fell asleep and Ferrand's all "no I didn't" and Sibeth Ndiaye who in my opinion is the star of the documentary second only to Macron himself goes "we all saw you dude."

The dude who made the film talks about it here. One of these days I will be able to understand everything they say. On sait jamais!

The Goguettes made a song about it. Which I still don't know French well enough to catch more than about 20% of the words. Merde!

Friday, July 07, 2017

More about Canadian doucebags ~ Halifax edition

And speaking of asshole Gavin McInnes, it appears that his "Proud Boys" decided to make trouble during an event for indigenous people in Halifax Nova Scotia. Great, can't even get away from McInnes and his neo-Nazis for my vacation in Halifax.

Ezra Levant, who probably paid them to do it, of course wants to turn around and paint them as martyrs.

 I missed this story in The Walrus written by a staffer who passed himself off as a Canadian alt-righter to go on a cruise with Levant and his true believers. I enjoyed the cover illustration by frequent New Yorker cover artist Barry Blitt. The article though didn't have nearly as much about Levant as I would have liked. Not that I expected The Walrus to speculate on Levants sexual orientation, but he's barely quoted at all.

And the Walrus has another article about the way Levant's employees like Gavin McInnes are pretty damn anti-Semitic:
No, there is something more fundamental going on here. This is about more than just the ideological pathologies of one weird Canadian media company. It is about a warped new ideological arena where Zionists and creepy Nazi apologists are willing to overlook their differences in service to a common hateful cause.
The entire Trump-Brexit-Le Pen phenomenon has shifted the conversation from informed discussion to wild gestures and hysteria, especially on any issue connected to Islam. Whether it’s Alex Jones and his conspiracy theories, or the US President and his fake-news fetish, anything goes. Outrage is the currency of the new right, and McInnes is a master of the genre. While he makes it look easy, few media commentators have either the hate, or the lack of scruples, to perform this shtick convincingly. And Levant apparently isn’t prepared to give up the clicks that this star generates.
The cruise story maintained that Levant really believed in what he was doing. This second article seems to be arguing that Levant really doesn't care how hateful the rhetoric of the people he employs, as long as they make money for him.

I maintain he's a self-hating closeted gay man who is well-practiced in living an integrity-free life and therefor has no trouble turning his back on his Jewishness either.

Thursday, July 06, 2017


Garth admired Gavin McInnes.
Another one-side relationship
Since yesterday's post about my old enemy Laura Garth I have been reading her blog.

I'm fascinated by her so much because I knew her, we were briefly part of the same social circle and she had an impact on my life, if only to speed up my eventual divorce. 

We had much in common but I was blessed by a father who would never imagine sexually abusing his children, and she was cursed with a father who did abuse his children. And that makes a big difference

I certainly had my share of troubles as a single mother, failed relationships, etc., but Garth seems to have run into especially rough times thanks to her choice of a husband made when she was already in early middle age. Apparently he was an emotionally-controlling scam artist who she claims stole a whole bunch of her money.

After she got away from him, she found a relationship that apparently made her happy, although as she admitted it was rather one-sided. She wrote after he died:
While I have written frequently about the largely one-sided open relationship I had with Axel and the importance of negotiation in a relationship, what I haven’t written about is how easy that “negotiation” was between us. Since I was so in love with him, it was easy to say and believe that whatever made Axel vital and full of enthusiasm for life and love was OK by me. Since variety was the spice of his life, variety it would be.
I made the condition however that pillow talk about yours truly be preempted by the phrase, “buy the book,” but otherwise wholly trusted his judgment as well as awareness of “safe sex”.
We didn’t know that he was going to die of a sexually transmitted disease that had likely been incubating for decades but for which he attributed to his being a first responder to Katrina in terms of the shock to his system and immune system. 

After several months of illness he died, in 2015. Garth died of a heart attack a year later.

She had it rough. But she seems to have decided that the real source of all her problems, and the world's problems is feminism.

According to her blog, she did attempt to remain sexually active after her boyfriend died. I don't know if she was successful or not, but the cognitive dissonance is bizarre. She greatly admired hard-core misogynists like Gavin McInnes, who absolute despise women who are not young. Men's Rights Activists believe that women hit "a wall" at around the age of 30 after which we are completely undesirable as sexual partners. 

Garth's existence was an affront to the belief-systems of McInnes and his ilk.

How could she not be bothered by this?

I think the answer most likely for her and other women like her who support organized misogyny is to believe they are different from other women, as Garth's blog post I am Not Like Other Women demonstrates.
Not only do I sympathize with many of men’s complaints against women, I can empathize. As a large woman curiously deprived of protection or chivalry as a young girl now fully expected to be self-reliant, strong, and independent because I wasn’t presented with an alternative and who was also a victim of a vindictive spouse (vindictive toward all humanity it would seem but most particularly my phenotype and archetype) and have been intimate with many (many!) male victims of domestic violence and abuse, of course I have empathy with Men’s Human Rights Advocates. In fact, I take it a step further. I am more than willing for my rights and all rights of women to be rolled back just so that I won’t have to be the scapegoat of the next feminist petty dictator or bureaucrat who decides that it is my responsibility to pay for all her personal grievances. I have female ancestors who made history—huge differences in civic life—who did so without even the dubious benefit of “the vote”. I’m eager for a regression to The Stone Age. I’m strong and resourceful. Bring it on!
So she joins with insane misogynists like Gavin McInnes against women - for not protecting her well enough from men "as a young girl."

It's a struggle when I read the far-right nuttiness on her blog and Facebook posts, but I can't help but feel bad for her ultimately, ending her life dying of a heart attack that could probably have been prevented by the Obamacare that she despised, seemingly alone and alienated from virtually everyone, with nothing to do but blog and especially post anti-liberal messages on Facebook, which she averaged 20 times a day in the weeks leading up to her death.

My friend Bob remained in touch with her which I find remarkable - Bob - AKA "Reverend Bookburn" has a political outlook exactly the opposite of Garth's and yet they remained friends, if distant ones. I don't know how it's possible to be friendly with someone who stands for everything you spend your life fighting against, even if you've known them since you were young adults.

The levels of self-loathing of a woman who admires a pathological misogynist like Gavin McInnes must be off the map. 

RIP Laura Garth.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Nourishing the Predator: Recipes to Preserve and Enhance Virility in the Dominant American Male

Taki's Magazine, A Voice for Men, etc. Garth loved all the biggest misogynists

I can't say I thought much about Laura Garth since I last saw her, which was when I was still married to my ex-husband. So it surprised me how much hatred I still had for her when I happened upon her on Facebook a few years ago, through a mutual friend of ours.

My daughter was born in November and then we had a New Years party at our apartment/hippie hangout in Palmyra New Jersey. And so there I was, with an infant in my arms and Laura Garth decides to makeout with my husband. The fact that he didn't push her away was the beginning of the end for our marriage, which is just as well, in retrospect but at the time I had a full-blown freakout.

Laura was a whack-job even then, with weird personal boundaries as a result of being sexually molested by her father, a minister. I once had an argument with her father - who happened by our hippie hangout one night - over "Why I Am Not A Christian" by Bertrand Russell. I took Russell's side, of course. This was before we all were aware of the molestation. Looking back it's possible he wanted to get in my pants too. There's no telling what other kinks are possible with a daughter-molester, and especially the perv factor of getting it on with a barefoot and pregnant red-headed seventeen year old, which I was then. I had assumed at the time he was impressed by my erudition and debate skills but now that I think about it... 

In any case, I had not given a rat's ass for my ex-husband for decades. But still, I ended up in a Facebook scream fight with Laura Garth, and I said some things I'm not proud of, and which are inexcusable in spite of her own extreme nastiness. And then I blocked her. 

But in truth it was especially easy to refrain from forgiving Garth when I discovered she was a champion of Men's Rights Activists. And I don't mean a casual supporter. She was hardcore and adopted the nom-de-plume Caprizchka and wrote a freaking book - self-published, but still - called, and I kid you not: Nourishing the Predator: Recipes to Preserve and Enhance Virility in the Dominant American Male.

And if that isn't enough, here is Garth promoting Doug Henwood's "My Turn" on Facebook.

Yep, like I said, Garth loved all the biggest misogynists.

I spite of our opposite political views, Garth and I had quite a few things in common besides growing up in South Jersey: like me, she made a living as a technical writer. And she kept a blog.

I actually didn't know how extreme Garth's political views were at the time I blocked her. My animus towards her was more personal than political. And I may never have known, but for whatever reason I happened to be thinking of some especially nasty thing she said to me and I was suddenly possessed by curiosity to see what the hell she was up to. So I unblocked her.

She was up to nothing. She died last August.

I feel bad for her - she clearly had a life so fucked up that her bitterness turned into hatred against herself and other women.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Back among the living

In the Pinetum
I catch a cold once a year, on average. This year's cold was a doozy. I caught it the day after my last class in French 201 and I have been down for the count until yesterday. That's almost three freaking weeks!

I still blogged of course, it takes more than a cold to stop me from blogging. Hell I blogged the same day I had an operation to remove a spot of cancer from my kidney three and a half years ago. And anyway, I was too weak to do much else besides sit around on my sofa and blog.

I finally walked further than two blocks away from my apartment yesterday and it was so great. Normally I like to have a destination when I go for a walk or else I feel like an aimless loser but yesterday, taking a leisurely walk through Central Park was the destination.

To be fair I did leave my apartment for a whole three hours to attend the first class of French 202 last Tuesday, but that was a big mistake. Right in the middle of the class I had to run out because of a massive coughing attack - I thought I was going to die. One of my classmates later reported the others and our teacher were worried about me, so ferocious-sounding was the coughing they could hear in the hallway.

So I learned my lesson and stuck close to home after that. Although since I can work from home I didn't miss a lot of work, only two days, although I can't say I was at my most productive the other days. But I did skip my next French class - luckily we have off today for the Fourth of July so by Thursdays class I hope to be good as new with all my homework completed.

So I'm glad to be done with that damn cold, hopefully for at least another year.

I was sorry I was missing out on the strawberry update but I wasn't missing much. The only thing I found close to a fruit was this little burnt out thing. Oh well, considering how shady it is I guess that's what I should have expected.

The Pinetum was wonderful. It smelled even better than usual - it was dusk and a quick thunderstorm had freshened everything right up. Also since it was dusk there were fewer tourists around than usual and I had the place almost to myself.

There's a semi-enclosed area of the Pinetum with a semi-circular bench inside and there is almost always somebody in there already, but not last night. I had it all to myself. This area probably has a name but I don't know what it is. I should have looked around for a plaque.

Path to the enclosed area

No matter how deserted Central Park is though, you can never forget you're in the middle of a city with all the racket going on. The helicopter in this photo looks far away but it was really loud from where I sat. Oh well, life in the big city.

The Jackie Onassis Reservoir at dusk.

Monday, July 03, 2017

More Can-American theater inroads

Well in addition to someone from the National Theatre School of Canada crashing at my apartment a couple of weeks ago, and my planned road trip in August to see Trudeau Stories, I have made another Canadian theater connection, this time to SoulPepper - I contacted them thanks to this article which said in part:
“We need to have colleagues and collaborators thinking about issues outside our borders,” he said. He wants to work with Americans, and since the American theater is not going to come to Soulpepper, Soulpepper is going to it. The company will place itself in New York long enough, and offer a wide enough selection of its work, to give audiences and theater professionals a sense of what it does.
Mr. Schultz hopes to foster discussion, both formal and informal, with fellow artists. Ideally, new relationships will follow with theater makers he already knows by name and reputation who don’t yet know him or his company. July is meant to be an introduction.
I offered to help give them publicity - I suggested they might want me to run an offer on the weekly NYCPlaywrights email blast (every Saturday at 5PM) for a voucher for a pair of free tickets to see the show(s) - which they took me up on. I gave the voucher away within 30 minutes of the weekly email going out.

Then I discovered by way of this article that Justin Trudeau, the man himself, had tweeted about SoulPepper. Wow. Shows you how tiny Canadian society is that the Prime Minister would tweet about a theater company performing shows in the US.

The only way you'd catch Donald Trump tweeting about an American theater company in Canada would be to attack them for the audience's reaction to a member of his administration, or for their portrayal of Julius Caesar or to insult the physical appearance of one of the female cast members.

Meanwhile Trudeau is playing Trump hard.