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mardi 2 décembre 2003

Interesting mailbox tonight (now that I've regained enough energy to check the stuff).
Alan Dale, the Blogcritic and writer (slapstick from ancient Greece to Jim Carrey) behind the fine 'Kill Bill 1' review I mentioned Saturday, wanted to know if the French were also quick to see the Tarantino-Godard (noteworthy Jean-Luc G site in English) connection. The answer being decidedly "yes".
But being a "Tarantino virgin" (as Alan dubbed me), I replied that Quentin T's latest at times reminds me more of Jean-Jacques Beineix, particularly what the early '80s enfant terrible did with over-the-top colour and camera work in movies such as 'La Lune dans la Caniveau' (aka 'Moon in the Gutter'), a controversial cult success starring the unlikely combination of Nastassja Kinski, Victoria Abril and that fearsome "ogre" Gérard Depardieu.
Soon after that came out in 1983, I had the bizarre pleasure of seeing the then young Depardieu, still in stevedore mood, get into a lively, drunken chair-fight in a famous bar on the city centre Place du Châtelet, where I happened to be with my girlfriend of the time.


For a French sci-fi buff whom I know to be among the Loyal 4 ¾, it's high time I passed on a couple of links drawn to my attention a while ago by the admirable and voracious reader Jean-Claude (with thanks, J.-C.).

Le Cafard Cosmique and FredSFWeb are an excellent brace of places which I've been keeping to myself for too long.
While French readers will find plenty there about Sci-Fi (and Fantasy) in translation, both sites are also ample evidence that this country has developed a thriving literature of its own in these domains.


The costly harassment of Noos, my wayward ISP, last month -- expensive in all the 'phone calls it cost to get my way up the heirarchy to people who would actually tell me what the hell was going on with this internet service sometimes provider -- appears to have paid off.
I doubt that I was the only client to hassle them at length over constant interruptions in service and not take bullshit for an answer, but I'm reliably informed that I was probably the most annoyingly persistent.
Thus I may flatter myself tonight for being in good part responsible for a letter in today's snail mail to all of their clients from the managing director, no less.
In the kind of correspondence I can't recall ever seeing before in France from a company boss, Mathias Hautefort is decent enough to tell us that "I'd like to explain to you personally what caused these interruptions and to give you our apologies for them".
He then not only does so, in much the same terms as I finally got from his colleagues in the way one extracts blood from stones, but adds: "I've asked those running our web portal to give you more relevant, factual and regular information as to the quality of our service."
That we customers be given such network "traffic reports" formed the key part of my insistent demands of top company staff.
A response like that does warm the cockles of the heart. If, along with a few other bloody-minded nuisances, I can achieve the same in my sporadic, published assaults on Apple for its often appalling after-sales service in France, then I'll be well pleased.


Which makes me wonder, quite seriously, whether I'm not far more use, socially speaking, as an "off-duty, off sick" trouble-maker and shit-stirrer than in at least 90 percent of what I'm back to doing now at the Factory. In light of the Terrible Truth that dawned on me yesterday, but that's another story...

9:53:50 PM  link   your views? []

"Seeing you there now is like you've never been away," said James, one of the nicest and brightest of a generally nice and bright bunch, my mates on the English Desk. "Or like it was yesterday!"
The reception I received on my return to the Factory was most touching, including a "Welcome back!" 'phone call or three and service notes saying the same even from several unexpected quarters of Africa.
At AFP, very little has changed, not that I had any good reason to imagine that it would have done in seven short months.

But I have changed, far more than I expected, for all the occasional introspection of this 'blog during the time of the Condition.
It was the Wildcat, that adorable thief of my heart, who last night inspired me in two incisive remarks to the title of this particular entry ... and a very deeply felt sentiment behind it that she did warn me it would be unwise to put online: a warning I've chosen to ignore only partly because I woke up to several most Trivially Vexing Things.
Thing 1 was the persistence of dullness, effing awful weather to dispel cheer, grey and damp enough to make the lights quite inadequate, cold enough to be unpleasant without a hint of crispness.
Thing 2 was switching on Radio 4 for 'Today' and finding the programme ousted again on long wave by mind-numbing cricket commentary from some far sunnier place, interspersed with the usual tedious, strained jokes.
Thing 3 was the early arrival in the next-door flat of hammers, drill and saw, thumping and grinding through the wall. The two plumbers who have been replacing this building's whole sewage system for the past couple of weeks couldn't be a friendlier pair and even kept a promise to change their schedule and see that my own bit of all that piping was completed before I went back to work.
So I don't hold the racket against them, but it remains infernal.
Thing 4 was the sheer nuisance of the "squitters". That dire aspect of the Condition has not suddenly disappeared and I can probably not expect it to do so completely ever again. Unless some research currently in hand in the United States eventually leads to an effective treatment.
But yesterday was World AIDS Day, which puts my own minor gut problems back into perspective again.

The last Thing was to find the morning anxiety and sense of intense pressure that come with life in the Factory almost altogether replaced by a wholly new and alarming feeling, one subject of evening catch-up chat with the Wildcat. And a sentiment she shares.
Indeed, a feeling she has had herself for so long that she has -- almost -- learned to consider it one of the most insignificant of her own petty or less trivial concerns.
Shall I 'blog it?
Shall I strip the Emperor?
Dare I forever, possibly, discourage a whole generation of aspiring journalists?
Shall I write the word that distinguishes we veterans of the profession, as it now strikes me most forcefully that we have become, from the starry-eyed, hopeful youths?

To be continued, I fear.
For however crushingly banal it may be, a discovery I've made quite surprisingly late, I suspect that the Terrible Truth will out.


Life, meantime, remains salvaged by science, poetry and music. Especially music. The iPod is the most sensible acquisition I have made in years!
My latest wonderful find, in the pursuit of remarkable voices of women, is young jazz singer Stacey Kent.
Since I don't much care for a few of the artists whose work she revisits in her new album, 'The Boy Next Door,' the Kid's insistence that I should get it at once left me unconvinced.
But the kid was right.
The likes of Perry Como and Burt Bacharach are one thing. The likes of Stacey and what she does to their standards is quite another. This girl is astoundingly good!

11:01:32 AM  link   your views? []

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