Saturday, February 24, 2007

Big Yellow Taxi

I planned to bring down our brand new treadmill since last week but I’m just too lazy to do it just yet. I prefer to call it brand new even though it’s been gathering dust living in the loft for about two years. I could count the number of times that I’ve used it with my fingers and I don’t even have to use both hands. It’s a Saturday and it’s my first day off since we had our holidays last week. I’m lucky to be given the weekend off to be quite honest. So I had a very prolonged lie-in this morning. I work really hard in hospital, and I deserve some peace and just be slothful today. I will start milling about on a conveyor belt like a fat Uramaki roll in a sushi bar tomorrow.

With one skilled swipe on cold water that’s been dripping overnight from the faucet, at the same time making a mental note: need to ring the plumber, also take care of environment ho-hum, wiped the dry skank off my eyes, grabbed jacket and I was out to buy morning paper. The Independent Saturday Edition comes with a FREE hardback. Today’s freebie is “A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess. I’ve seen the movie version by Stanley Kubrick in one of those art house theatres that shows independent and foreign films 4 years ago, but can’t quite comprehend the dialogues as the characters speak in weird gibberish. The random acts of violence portrayed in the movie are all done to the strains of rip-roaring orchestral music by Beethoven that just reinforced my intuition: Classical music is made for torture. I learnt later that the movie was made in the 70's. The clever use of soundtrack is quite a landmark for films at that time and I don't know, it may have influenced modern day directors like Guy Ritchie or Quentin Tarantino. The newspaper will be featuring 25 more from a collection of Banned Books that have, “over the years been banned, censored, stifled, blue-pencilled, expurgated or burned in public. Their survival is a triumph of independent thought over the forces of repression, and a reminder of how exhilarating fiction at the cutting edge of the imagination can be.” So the paper says. I can’t wait what's next Saturday’s is.

( I'm going out to buy a newspaper. Ain't I clever to put the first picture in the end? Yup. The pictures should be viewed from the bottom up. That's how the story goes, really. )

A sad New Yorker decided to make a humongous political statement about the environment just like Joni Mitchell in her hit song “Big Yellow Taxi”: (all together now) “they paved paradise and put up the parking lot blah-blah…” I quite like the version by Counting Crows and Vanessa Carlton doing just the mmm-bop part. Whoever did this is probably just as homesick as I am. What would they think if I do the same thing with a tricycle in tacky paint work? I wonder if it’s legal to dump a decomposing old car in the middle of a driveway.
I’m definitely not getting inside a 70’s memorabilia.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007


The French are pretty shameless when it comes to public display of affection especially when they are dans le feu de l’action ( in the heat of the action ). One particular girl didn’t care that the crack of her derrière ( ass ) was aiming to eat the brioche au chocolat in my hand every time her boyfriend shoved his face on her. And not the least bothered that the sound of their spit as they exchanged it - put me off eating a favourite French roll: croissant packed with chocolate and hazelnut. No wonder I couldn’t give two lardy arses about Saint Valentine's Day. I was too tired coming home from the trip and had enough of this soppy lovin’ feeling to last me a lifetime.

People in France go nuts with their chocolate and hazelnut spread. Not only as a substitute for Viagra but also for Prozac. Apparently, a jar of Nutella sits alongside the weapon of choice in a suicide scene of every French teenager and jobless graduate who had a nervous breakdown.

The bus we took during the tour is packed with plump middle-aged tourists and young fit Parisiens like a tin of sardines but the view from the window was oozing with vitality, intrigue and appétit just like a Bernardo Bertolucci movie. I don’t know why, but every time I think of Paris, I remember that doggie style scene between Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider using butter as lubrication. Could be the reason why I got this very funny mental carnivale de l'erotique thing going to any food that I ate whilst I was there: Crème Brûlée, strawberries, cheese, crêpes and even a sandwich.

I’m not surprised about this Freudian fascination with the most celebrated landmark – The Eiffel Tower. Like the rest of them tourists, I was transfixed to the romantic view. Then I suddenly had butterflies in my stomach. Or more like worms clamouring for food. We got off at Champs Élysées and took a lovely long walk in the most beautiful avenue in the world.
Dining in a restaurant is really tricky. The waiters can be a real pain in the derrière. Most can speak English but they have this weird view that most people, even tourists can also speak French. You must at least know how to twaddle a bit no matter how unintelligible it is just to get their attention:

"Répondez blah-blah, s'il vous plaît." ( I know it means respond if you please -that RSVP note they usually put at wedding invites, but if you mumble it rather quickly, the waiter may take it that you would like to see the menu, please. ) Otherwise, your bum will bleed quicker on a chair waiting for them to serve you than you would if you swallow and crap a dozen Big Macs. Then there is the nightmare of actually reading the menu. Whatever you like just avoid the word: "escargot". It’s better to eat lumps of green grass / things drenched in olive oil than a row of terrestrial snail in their shells swimming in yellowish goo of butter. I had it before. Not very pleasant.

The wine list is another. The girlfriend was quite good at this. Like a true connoisseur she read it aloud punctuating her words with oh’s and ahh, I’ve tried this before and that, or something: it was like watching Chinese movies - I didn’t understand a word but I liked it. I noticed she picked the second cheapest bottle. Uh, huh. I bet she was bluffing. The steak was a bit dry but not bad. I’d preferred it if they drowned it in gravy though, and not piped a silly heart-shaped trim of sauce around it.

The dessert was scrumptious.

The rest of Paris pics are here:
City of Lights, Gastronomique, Disneyland

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Pardon, Je Descends Ici

Tried to cram in all the best bits of Paris in one day, but failed. I really thought I already mastered the Metro (the city's own version of underground tube or the subway) from the 2 other visits I did of Paris in the past, but still got lost and almost ended up in an unknown town very far from the city. By just scuttling off the intricate rail transport network ad libitum, we unwittingly got on Réseau Express Régional - a commuter train that takes you to unpronounceable faraway French suburbs.

After nearly memorising all of Ooh La's pretty, pretty loops and jangly guitars from The Kooks 'Inside In Inside Out' album, we managed to get back to Châtelet Les Halles in the heart of Paris - apparently the world's largest underground subway station, and arguably the world's busiest: second only to Shinjuku in Tokyo. By the time we got out of the tunnel and seen the light, the weather is already a bit grumpy and temperamentally unsympathetic. Good thing that the five day travel-pass allows you to just hop in and out of any form of transport: bus, subway, boats etc. Otherwise - my carefully messed up hotel-room-dried fringe would have wilted, and I would have ended up looking like a wet salmon soused overnight in bad marinade.

"Whoa!" That robot stuck on the glass panel is supposed to clean the museum. "I can't wait to get in!" Then I noticed the sign. The Louvre is apparently closed on a Tuesday. The girlfriend was amazed I could read and understand French. She didn't see the English small print. "Oh, darn!" Just what we needed. Not that I've not seen that famous muse of da Vinci yet - but after reading the Dan Brown novel, I just so wanted to see her again. Never mind the long queue and the horrible eau de cologne tourists had a bad habit to slap their mug with. Web geek abbreviation of the day: MALPT! "Merde A La Puissance Treize!" which is "Shit to the thirteenth power" in unsophisticated Anglaise chav-speak. We also didn't have the time to see:

Le Musée d’Orsay
Sacré Coeur
Le Pantheon
La Conciergerie
The Eiffel Tower

Actually got to the four legs of the Eiffel. Then the skies pelted us with hailstones the size of pitted prunes. What a shame.

[ more of my lovely pics of Paris here ]

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Smiley Sweeties

Thanks for putting up with my perpetual whingeing. I had enough of it to be quite honest. This dark taste for wretchedness is pulling me down. I felt this rather horrid cold won’t go away. I spent loads of time tired in bed feeling really down and hardly had any appetite to eat. Thanks for all your wicked suggestions to help beat this horrible, horrible affliction. And yes, a little wank under the sheets might help. Thanks, Bryan. But nah. I’m just hungry, really. I need to eat.

So. I went to the shops this morning and look! Sweet yummies.

I couldn’t find anything more with the highest Glycemic Index to blast away my brain’s serotonin levels.

Who needs a happy pill when you can have a smiling gumball for 20 pence?

I’m also going to be on blog leave for two weeks. A bientôt!!! I’m going to Disneyland Paris on Saturday. One week of eating pommes frites. Not freedom fries or bloody stupid chips.
Au revoir.