Month: November 2012

Posted in Cross Cultural Comments

New York Fashion – Tucked In – by Bill Cunningham

After decades of dressed-down, often disheveled styles, a few men with high antennas are signaling a major new direction: pressed and tailored.

Bill describes the tendency as “the straw in the wind” – the direction that style is taking!

Here’s the video!

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Posted in Cross Cultural Comments

Thanksgiving Day, known in France as le Jour de Merci Donnant . Art Buchwald.

Le Grande Thanksgiving

By Art Buchwald
republished :Thursday, November 24, 2005

This confidential column was leaked to me by a high government official in the Plymouth colony on the condition that I not reveal his name.

One of our most important holidays is Thanksgiving Day, known in France as le Jour de Merci Donnant .

Le Jour de Merci Donnant was first started by a group of Pilgrims ( Pelerins ) who fled from l’Angleterre before the McCarran Act to found a colony in the New World ( le Nouveau Monde ) where they could shoot Indians ( les Peaux-Rouges ) and eat turkey ( dinde ) to their hearts’ content.

They landed at a place called Plymouth (now a famous voiture Americaine ) in a wooden sailing ship called the Mayflower (or Fleur de Mai ) in 1620. But while the Pelerins were killing the dindes, the Peaux-Rouges were killing the Pelerins, and there were several hard winters ahead for both of them. The only way the Peaux-Rouges helped the Pelerins was when they taught them to grow corn ( mais ). The reason they did this was because they liked corn with their Pelerins.

In 1623, after another harsh year, the Pelerins’ crops were so good that they decided to have a celebration and give thanks because more mais was raised by the Pelerins than Pelerins were killed by Peaux-Rouges.

Every year on the Jour de Merci Donnant, parents tell their children an amusing story about the first celebration.

It concerns a brave capitaine named Miles Standish (known in France as Kilometres Deboutish) and a young, shy lieutenant named Jean Alden. Both of them were in love with a flower of Plymouth called Priscilla Mullens (no translation). The vieux capitaine said to the jeune lieutenant :

“Go to the damsel Priscilla ( allez tres vite chez Priscilla), the loveliest maiden of Plymouth ( la plus jolie demoiselle de Plymouth). Say that a blunt old captain, a man not of words but of action ( un vieux Fanfan la Tulipe ), offers his hand and his heart, the hand and heart of a soldier. Not in these words, you know, but this, in short, is my meaning.

“I am a maker of war ( je suis un fabricant de la guerre ) and not a maker of phrases. You, bred as a scholar (vous, qui es pain comme un étudiant), can say it in elegant language, such as you read in your books of the pleadings and wooings of lovers, such as you think best adapted to win the heart of the maiden.”

Although Jean was fit to be tied ( convenable pour être emballé ), friendship prevailed over love and he went to his duty. But instead of using elegant language, he blurted out his mission. Priscilla was muted with amazement and sorrow ( rendue muette par l’étonnement et la tristesse ).

At length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence: “If the great captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me, why does he not come himself and take the trouble to woo me?” ( Où est-il, le vieux Kilometres? Pourquoi ne vient-il pas auprès de moi pour tenter sa chance ?)

Jean said that Kilometres Deboutish was very busy and didn’t have time for those things. He staggered on, telling what a wonderful husband Kilometres would make. Finally Priscilla arched her eyebrows and said in a tremulous voice, “Why don’t you speak for yourself, Jean?” ( Chacun a son goût. )

And so, on the fourth Thursday in November, American families sit down at a large table brimming with tasty dishes and, for the only time during the year, eat better than the French do.

No one can deny that le Jour de Merci Donnant is a grande fête and no matter how well fed American families are, they never forget to give thanks to Kilometres Deboutish, who made this great day possible.

2005Tribune Media Services

Art Buchwald – Video : The Last Word.

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Posted in Newsletters Cross Cultural Comments Reading


Deadlines. What a word ! Get it finished by then … or you’re … cooked!

Whether you set deadlines for yourself, or whether someone else sets them for you,  there they are. You can pick any date, any time of day … and you’ve got one ! A deadline. A date and time to be met, to be respected.

Mothers are among the first deadline-makers in our lives. From very, very early on in our childhoods we heard threats about the risks of not finishing on time : «No dessert until you finish your spinach! » or «If you aren’t ready in 5 minutes, we’re leaving without you!» «Time for your bath!»

Fathers could be just as bad but they often used just one pronoun for the word « deadline. » That word was « NOW» as in the imperative : « Listen to your mother. Now ! » (Or else !)

In our carefree worlds as children, we didn’t need to give ourselves deadlines. Somehow or another, nothing was so important that it had to be done, learnt, or finished by bedtime.

Then came school. And we began to encounter authority: the teacher, the one who taught Latin or Spanish or  … English or math … or in fact, anything that required some effort AFTER school.  In one word : homework.

« WORK » the beginning of the end! Not only the imperatives of  « You MUST » but, on top of that, « by Tomorrow!, Capital T. » « By Thursday.» Or else …

As we grew out of childhood and into adolescence and as we managed to meet deadlines or skirt them,  we learnt that a lot of adults were in fact « bluffing » about the dire consequences of not respecting deadlines.

Sometimes that was out of weakness … often, a reprieve, a warning, or the grace of forgiving kindness.

As we matured, we integrated the notion of deadlines into our mental routines. We put them on our agendas and calendars. We realized that they were everywhere. Your car needed its tune-up every 10 000 miles … you needed a tetanus vaccination one year and then again and then every 10 … And … yes… there was a deadline for sending in applications to schools or for work …  not to mention that in additon to your mother and and your father, you had an uncle too … and your Uncle Sam set a date for filing your tax return, too. And for paying.

While others plot out the deadlines they want us to observe, we make our own. Setting our own deadlines and setting deadlines for others is, in fact, the most human of activities. We like to do this so much that we not only set deadlines…. We have learnt to reset them, too. Over and over again. Free choice. Arbitrary? That’s not so sure.

We choose a date, a time, freely. And then we’re free to respect it or not.  We’re free to determine the consequences, set the sanctions and rewards, apply them … or not.

What time is it? 8:15 ? Already! I’d better finish this and post it before it’s too late!

Oh, what a powerful thing a deadline is!

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Posted in Cross Cultural Comments

New movies – Lincoln

Watch the trailer on the New York Times and comments by AO Scott.

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Posted in Cross Cultural Comments France Paris Paris Favoritz

Ron is back!

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Posted in Cross Cultural Comments

That ol’ lazy bug …

That ol’ lazy bug …

“Bug” is one of those perfectly English words which first of all conjures up an idea or image of an insect, especially the annoying kind … like a mosquito or a flea. The kind that silently hovers close, lands and bites before you know it. It gets you before you get it.

All kinds of irritating bugs, whether organically alive or digital are flying around. And while we might put on insect repellents to keep some of ’em away, there are those invisible viral bugs which have a mysterious way of pestering us and getting past our usual defensives, catching us on the sly. The ol’ lazy bug is like that. Like a little active demon … making YOU feel lazy.

Yep! That ol’ lazy bug … The one whose symptoms we have probably all known at some time or another. When you want to stay in bed under the warm covers a little bit longer; when you’ve got work to do but find every excuse (the real mean lazy bug makes you think excuses are reasons, by the way) not to do it; when “I’ll do that later” takes the place of “What gets done today doesn’t need to be done tomorrow.”

Well, rest assured that that ol’ lazy bug won’t get the better of you for too long. Because once you KNOW that it’s not YOU – but that little bugger who’s always saying “No” … that’s the true cause of your laziness, you’re already on the way to a complete, energetic recovery.

Unless you feed it through boredom, most of the time, the ol’ lazy bug dies pretty quickly. Gets suffocated by lunch with a good friend. Having a good time. Discovering something new. It hates the music you love, especially if you’re listening through headphones. Detests a sense of humor. Prefers dull colors to bright ones. Can’t stand anything happy, in fact. Or good. Like chocolate. Or chicken soup. Or Zen. Or running, swimming and playing sports. Even games, especially the competitive kind that you like to win.

The other thing the ol’ lazy bug can’t handle is … any sort of challenge or catastrophe! That’s just too much competition … ’cause that ol’ lazy bug feeds on your energy and when you’re needed elsewhere … why, that lazy bug just disappears or flies away lookin’ for another victim. Often cats and dogs, unless there’s a zoo nearby.

So if that lazy bug seems to have gotten under your skin, all you have to do … is open your eyes ’cause it hates light; open your ears ’cause it doesn’t like to hear; and then … open the windows ’cause it can’t stand fresh air and open the doors ’cause it doesn’t want you to go out and … open your heart, cause it’s a selfish little bug! Everything else follows naturally …

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Posted in Cross Cultural Comments

rainbow after the storm

After Sandy

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