jeudi 26 juillet 2007


Now this is impossible to believe. The French train system SNCF website recently won a poll on best website in France by internet users here. Not only does it not work half of the time-- notably their English language pages in particular-- but it has very limited information on the choices of trains anywhere!

Is this a comment on how often the French use the internet? Or are the other French websites such total crap that they make SNCF's look good?

mardi 24 juillet 2007

The good, the bad, and the queen

I went to a concert Sunday night at the Nuits de Fourviere, of the Good, the Bad, and the Queen, a band made up of someone from the Clash, someone from Blur, someone from the Verve, and someone else-- I forget. A supergroup, if you will. They play atmospheric, intense music and seemed a little posey and pretentious, in a good way. The opener was a band called the Serpent, which were completely derivative, yet catchy. Every song they played sounded like a different band: U2, Led Zeppelin. We said to each other, "This CAN'T be Stairway to Heaven! It CAN'T BE!" And it wasn't, although it sounded just like it.

lundi 23 juillet 2007


Saturday night I went out salsa dancing to a place called Mi Barrio Soleado, a sort of pan-Latino restaurant/nightclub with signs about Havana but food that made a few furtive attempts at Mexico. (We didn't eat there, I just found the menu amusing). I went with some friends from work. The biggest surprise was Ann, a Swede who had completely downplayed her salsa skills, and her husband Patrick, who turned out to be uber-salsa mavens. They tore up the dance floor like nobody's business. It turns out Patrick once danced on the professional salsa circuit. Plus, various Cuban people kept coming up to them and saying, "Ann! Patrick! Its been so long! How have you been!!" I was impressed. It is funny to learn something surprising about someone that you have known for a while.

Elisabeth, David, and I mostly stuck to merengue and tried not to do anything embarrassing. When it came to salsa, I figured a little hip swiveling goes a long way. That was the extent of it for my moves. Fortunately this wasn't Miami. The French people knew even less than we did.

samedi 21 juillet 2007


I had such a laugh with these that I figured I had to share them. How often do you need to share the sentiments "I want to be your rebound" or "I considered calling you recently"?

vendredi 20 juillet 2007

Arcade Fire

I went to the Arcade Fire show this week of the Nuits de Fourviere festival, a series of summertime concerts and performances in Lyon's Roman amphitheatre. It is high on the hill above Lyon, so as the sun sets you have a nice view of the city lights. Arcade Fire was very cool. They are from Montreal and there were so many band members on stage that it seemed a bit like all of Canada was there. They had a whole string section, and people playing cow bells, and there was someone singing through a bullhorn for a while.

The opening band was this country rock group called Herman Düne (complete with umlaut à la Häagen Dazs or Hüsker Dü). The lead singer looked like Mick Fleetwood and sounded like the love child of Willie Nelson and Richard Buckner. I was confused-- I know I haven't been back in the US lately, but has country rock come into style there without me realizing? It just doesn't seem plausible.

The pictures I took didn't really turn out so well... here is the crowd standing around waiting...

Here are the Arcade Fire.

jeudi 19 juillet 2007


Jon and Zoe went to the UK for a vacation and brought a gift back for me, a book that Zoe found very compelling called 'We need to talk about Kevin.' It won the Orange Prize last year. It is a fictional account of a mother whose son has gone on a school shooting rampage, Columbine-style. I'm reading it now and it is very disturbing but also very good.

mercredi 18 juillet 2007

lundi 16 juillet 2007


Last week I went with a group of women from work, Elisabeth, Silvia, Kasia, Mari, and Stephanie, down to the town of Vienne to see the jazz festival. It was Latin jazz night, and the headliner was Chucho Valdez, with Maraca Salsa as the opener.

It was a great show. Chucho Valdez is a total professional. He walked out, gave the audience a wave and then sat down to wow us all on the piano. Maraca Salsa was infectious dance-y music. In the picture here, Maraca Salsa is on stage. The head on the lower right of the photo is Stephanie's.

The show took place in Vienne's Roman amphitheater, and we had a great view of the sunset. Those Romans knew their acoustics. Unfortunately the Romans weren't so into assigned seating, and we arrived late so we couldn't all sit together. But several of us just went down to the front and danced anyhow.

Here is a pic of Chucho all lit up like a ghost by the lights.

dimanche 15 juillet 2007

La Fête Nationale

I was walking home on Friday and passed by a long string of military trucks and tanks, and I thought to myself, "What is going on?" Then I thought, 'Perhaps they should be doing that on the German border instead.' But it seems the typical 14 Juillet celebrations in France involve military parades and fireworks, and the president of the republic talks to the press about the state of the country and holds a garden party, although Sarkozy seems to have dropped the ball on his end of the events this year.

Last night I went to James and Sandrine's new apartment for their fête for la Fête Nationale. Their new apartment is in a high rise with views of the city, so we could all could view the fireworks (feu d'artifice). Sandrine joked beforehand that we should bone up on the Marseillaise. Oh dear! Of course I only have heard it when watching 'Casablanca'.

If you think the US national anthem is violent, it ain't got nothing on the Marseillaise. Here is one translation I found online:

Arise children of the fatherland
The day of glory has arrived
Against us tyranny's
Bloody standard is raised
Listen to the sound in the fields
The howling of these fearsome soldiers
They are coming into our midst
To cut the throats of your sons and consorts

To arms citizens
Form your battalions

March, march
Let impure blood
Water our furrows

vendredi 13 juillet 2007

Carré d'agneau

People at work have been talking about the cooking classes at L'Atelier des Chefs. Zoe suggested taking a lunchtime class so I jumped at the chance. We made carré d'agneau, croûte de thym et citron confit, avec mitonnée d'aubergines, which is basically rack of lamb with this lemon thyme crust and an eggplant side dish. It was delicious and didn't seem all that difficult, although we shall see if I can actually replicate it!

The chef had various advice like how you should never season eggplant until right before you serve it. Who knew? He also taught us a new and interesting way to chop vegetables, which I don't think I can easily explain here.

I took photos with my cell phone camera. We'll see about the photo quality. Here is the group stirring the aubergines. At this point the lamb was in the oven-- we had browned it first.We decorated the plates with a little swirl of very thick balsamic vinagrette.
Afterwards we sat outside and ate our creations. Zoe's hands are in the foreground.
Here is the recipe...
Une viande de L'atelier des Chefs

Carré d'agneau, croûte de thym et citron confit, mitonnée d'aubergines

Ingrédients pour 6 personnes
6 carrés d'agneau de 2 ou 3 côtes chacun,
1 citron jaune,
1 citron confit,
1 échalote,
4 brindilles de thym,
4 aubergines,
1 gousse d'ail,
Huile d'olive,
sel fin et piment d'Espelette,
1 oignon.

60 g de chapelure,
10 cl de vin blanc,
5 cl huile d'olive.

Eplucher et couper les aubergines en petits dés d'environ 1 centimètre sur 1 centimètre.

Eplucher et ciseler l'oignon et l'échalote en petits dés.

Dans une cocotte chauffer l'huile d'olive et suer l'oignon avec une pincée de sel. Ajouter les dés d'aubergine, saler cuire 2 minutes puis ajouter un verre d'eau, la gousse d'ail écrasée sous la main, couvrir et cuire pendant 10 minutes à couvert, rectifier l'assaisonnement de sel et piment d'Espelette.

Couper en petits dés la peau des citrons confits. Bien rincer à l'eau froide. Presser le jus d'un citron. Effeuiller le thym. Assaisonner les carrés d'agneau avec le sel fin.

Dans une poêle chaude, colorer les carrés en les saisissant rapidement dans de l'huile d'olive pendant 4 à 5 minutes. Les réserver, ajouter dans la poêle les échalotes, le citron confit et le thym. Cuire 2 minutes, déglacer avec le vin blanc et le jus de citron, réduire d'un tiers et ajouter la chapelure. Arroser de chapelure au citron les carrés d'agneau, de poivre du moulin et finir la cuisson au four à 230°C pendant 5 à 6 minutes. Dès la sortie de cuisson laisser reposer sur une assiette les carrés pendant 5 minutes.

Dans une assiette plate, disposer un dôme d'aubergines et poser un petit carré, décorer avec des herbes fraîches.

lundi 9 juillet 2007

Tour de France

The Tour de France started this week, although for some reason it is acting all expat and has hardly been in France at all so far. The bicyclists went from Londres to Canterbury and aujourd'hui are zipping around Belgique. I guess the Tour is pro-Europe (unlike Sarkozy).

Right now some dude named Fabian Cancellara is in the lead, although it really just started.

It is interesting to see that they are going to Tignes and Val d'Isere, where I went snowboarding earlier this year. That is some steep terrain.

I thought it would be cool to see, although I guess they are not coming so close to here. Julien said he went to see it once and all of the bicyclists zip by so quickly you can hardly see them.

samedi 7 juillet 2007

Walk in the Parc

Unfortunately I don't have a camera anymore, since it was stolen in Rome (sigh) so I thought I would post some pictures that I took a few weeks ago, when I went for a walk here in Lyon around the Parc Tete d'Or. French parks and gardens tend to be much grander and formal compared to gardens in the US.
Lyon is warm enough to grow magnolias.

Stopping for a snack...
The Parc also has a zoo with a new African area, where you can get quite close to the animaux.
My friend Zoe thinks that French children, particularly little boys, have very cute clothes. I am not sure this kid's outfit is particularly dressy, but just as an example...

vendredi 6 juillet 2007

Congratulations Leah and Kent!

Congratulations to Leah and Kent, who are getting married tomorrow in the Bahamas. I wish I could be there. All the best to you both!

Endless spring

I am not sure if the weather is always like this is France, but it just has never really gotten all hot and summery. Today we probably reached the high 70's, which is the hottest it has been in several weeks. A couple of days ago we had a high of 63. It felt so cold in the office this week that I had to wear a wool sweater.

Tonight I went to dinner at one of my favorite moules-frites places, L'Eau Salée. Yum! It has a little nautical theme inside with a boat on the wall. The moules are just delicious.

jeudi 5 juillet 2007

What's your Japanese subculture?

I took this test online, and I found out...

You Are a Henna Gaijin!

You're not Japanese, but you wish you were!
You can use chopsticks with your eyes closed, and you've memorized hundreds of Kanji.
You even answer your phone "moshi moshi."
While the number of anime videos you've seen is way higher than the number of dates you've been on, there's hope.
Play the sexy, mysterous gaijin, and you'll have plenty of Japanese meat.
What's Your Japanese Subculture?

You can also find out: What kind of sandwich are you? (Grilled Cheese)
Where does your inner Californian belong? (San Diego)
What's your rapper name? (Mad Mafia)