I’m not sure if anything can still be done for the reputation of this blog, seeing how the past 24 hours have seen an unusually high amount of somewhat sensible, even possibly useful information put here. Frankly, I don’t know if my blogger’s ethics will ever recover.

I will try nonetheless.

Wars of the Geeks is officially over, silly inconsequent navel-gazing is now back for the month.

Let’s start by what should have been yesterday’s sum up of how to succeed at cooking an enjoyable Summer evening with friends. It goes a little something like this:

[steps sideways, does two entrechats and starts singing while tap-dancing to the beat]

  • Some second-hand equipment purchased for a fistful of euros on the outer rim of the Internets.
  • Cranberry juice + vodka + a splash of lemon juice + a dash of cointreau + a few wedges of lime + loads of ice, times a few gallons.
  • One lovably demented masterpiece of a Japanese movie recommended by S. a while back.
  • People (also: other people without blogs, but likeable nonetheless).

Shake but do not stir, serve fresh with cocktail straws.

Such a fabulous evening that our little Cinéma de quartier might very well be on its way to become a regular bi-monthly.


Then there also was yesterday’s recipe: another kind of enjoyable dish. Though it’s made of much harder-to-find of ingredients and I am not even quite sure I remember myself how the cooking process went.

If you absolutely want to try at home, I think it involved a bottle of contraband Absinth, eye-burning Japanese menthol eye drops, one of the most furious thunderstorm of the Summer and lots of Parisian girls running by in the street, wearing but thin blouses soaking wet from the sudden rain.

Also what appears to be a medium-sized rodent stuck to my living room table in a puddle of melted wax and solidifying liquor. But I will only be able to confirm that when I finish removing the few dozens glasses and beer bottles stacked over it.

I am back.

Or more exactly: I am back closer to an internet connection. Still somewhere down south, albeit in a more family-oriented settings.

These five days in the boondocks were absolute paradise and helped reminding me that, was the choice to come down between: big city and the internets on one side, friends, sun, fresh veggies, cheap wine and homegrown on the other, I’d easily slide toward the latter as a permanent way of life.

During my blissful stay in the heart of French Aveyronais region, I:

  • ate lots of delicious homemade food including chlada felfel, aligot, moroccan brownies and much more.
  • spent entire afternoons on a sun-drenched deck reading, chatting, smoking and overall doing absolutely nothing requiring electricity or a phone line whatsoever.
  • stunk to high-heavens of lemongrass essence the entire time, but didn’t get bitten by mosquitoes once.
  • spent hours excitedly exchanging musical tips and hundreds of bad-ass 70’s funk tracks
  • had to climb up a ladder to get to my bed (when I didn’t opt to stay in a hammock outside).
  • walked through a [small] open field of odoriferous plants with strangely shaped leaves and got to sample last year’s crop.
  • realized that buying and fixing a house somewhere deep in the country, away from civilization, wasn’t only a way to live a healthier, cheaper and simpler life: there are a few perks on the side.
  • spent a whole night playing poker while a fierce Summer thunderstorm raged outside (complete with flickering lights, blown fuses and all).
  • met Chucky, the mellow schnauzer, who has never been quite the same ever since he accidentally ate half a pound of mushrooms found drying under his master’s bed.
  • made two gallons of frozen margaritas and brought a few more converts over to the church of the Holy Citrus Tequila Cocktail.
  • did many other things that shall remain safely out of read from potentially underage eyes…

Back in P-town this week-end.

Picture martine_pics.jpg When I moved in, a few months ago, I had little time to spend on elaborate interior decoration. One of the only picture on the walls was a gift from Martine for my birthday last year.

When I finally decided to put more effort into redecorating my place, I immediately thought of asking her for a few more prints: she promptly mailed me a dozen of them, which arrived last month, although I was too busy fighting deadline psychosis at the time to do much more than file them in a corner and wait for brighter days. At long last this week, I was able to shop for some framing material and start hanging them on the walls.

And they look absolutely gorgeous!

For some reason, I have a stupendously high proportion of pro and semi-pro photographers amongst friends and acquaintances, and they all have beautiful works to boast of… But some of Martine’s pictures, on top of their moving aesthetics, have this striking liveliness and journalist-like veracity that make you feel like you are standing a few feet away, inside the picture. Her pictures are the closest to a stroll through the backstreets of Tokyo you will ever get without buying a plane ticket.

If you are looking for stunning photographs to decorate your life and bring a corner of Kichijoji’s parkside coffeeshops or a wandering Tokyo commuter’s smile into your existence, here is your chance: Go pick and order now!

What better occasion than a charmingly rainy Spring Sunday afternoon to take care of a long due tidying-up of my blogroll (that list of blogs found under the Links tab above)…

In fact, it was mostly an occasion to crash on the couch, procrastinate all day and do some reading while nibbling on the relics of yesterday’s food orgy, but having accomplished one tangible task, no matter how trivial, gives me a faint sense of accomplishment and somewhat helps relieve the guilt.

First off, I finally ditched the “linkroll”, as you are all probably subscribed to the same dozen blogs I and everybody on the net goes to, to get their fix in “quirky” humorous pieces of web lore. Real links of interest will make it into posts of their own from now on. But anyway, I do suspect your first motive for visiting this blog is not to find the latest in kung-fu-fighting cat movies or dorky teenagers lip-syncing to cheesy eurodance.

  • Arrival: Plane is 2 hour late. A dozen obnoxious sunburnt thirty-something, straight from Club Med Pataya, manage to ward 200 people off the whole luggage area thanks to their skillful use of carts and an utter disregard for basic courtesy. Oblivious to the sign reading “Information” hanging over his head, counter guy basically laughs in my face when I show up to ask where bus #305 departs. Finally sends me in the opposite direction. Welcome to France.
  • Caffeine consumption for last 3 days before turning in paper: Regain Black (3 bottles), Black Black chewing gums (2 packs), Red Bull Extra (1 can), Pure Arabica ground coffee (approx. 2 gallons).
  • Monkeys: Of course, aforementioned caffeine dosage made it somewhat difficult to sleep, even after report was finally completed. You wouldn’t believe the sort of useful stuff you learn, watching French TV at 4 in the morning. Did you know that, when you put a baboon in front of a large mirror, said baboon will never tire of attacking or threatening its own reflection, whereas the only other primate, beside Man, able to finally realize it is standing in front of itself, are chimpanzees. These critters are so smart, it’s crazy! Never will I call the POTUS, “chimpy”, ever again: that’s just mean to our brother chimpanzees.
  • Schoolmates from way back then are all finished or finishing with their studies. Most of them have embarked on lucrative careers in finances abroad. Some are getting married. A frightening number has already started investing in real estate. All in all makes me feel like I’m growing old backwards.
  • Picnic: The monastic life ended just in time for a delicious picnic organized by a bunch of French bloggers, blessed by one of the last few days of sunny Parisian weather for the year, and amidst the gorgeous setting of the Parc Floral de Paris. The oddities of my own internal clock, conjugated with the counterblow of two months of frenetic studies suddenly screeching to a halt, made for a rather contemplative, slightly sleepy and altogether not very talkative dr Dave, but it was nice to see the sun again after all this time.
  • Partying did take place. Maybe it was jetlag kicking in, or maybe my body had learnt to metabolize caffeine on its own by then, but I finally regained enough energy for a couple long evenings, busy arguing over world domination plots, drinking champagne and checking out the mind-blowing view of the city from Pierre’s terrace (technically the highest appartement within the limits of Paris, and definitely showing). Some much-needed comforting that Parisian life can be more than grey skies and malcontent cab drivers.
  • Language: Pierre noted that my French was substantially better this time around. Granted, “better” here, is the difference between a masterfully trained foreign spy and an authentic native, but Pierre’s notorious anal-retentiveness toward the French language gives extra importance to such compliment. I hang it on spending my entire month in French textbooks and going additional lengths to stay immersed in the language, so as to avoid some of the distracting back-and-forth that usually goes in my head when I try tackling a Math question in French. It’s a sad reality that, no matter how fluent a language, you will lose it if not practicing daily. Conclusion being that I ought to do something to keep things going in that direction, especially if I’ll be residing there in three months. Expect a special announcement very soon.
  • Airport: I now officially hate Paris CDG airport with a passion. I might even contemplate running over a few employees with my cart, next time I’m there. On the other hand: props to the lovely Cathay Pacific airline employee who did her best to get me on next-day’s flight back, at no cost, and even though they were in no way responsible for the retarded information counter agent who sent me to the wrong terminal on the other side of the airport (a grand total of 80 minutes to get there, realize his mistake and rush back to the correct one: enough to miss my plane).
  • Home sweet home. It’s good to be back in Tokyo. Three more month to come to terms with it and prepare psychologically to move to Paris for a more substantial duration.

Small quid pro quo today reminded me of an old conversation:

Tomomi: But Dave-san, is there really a difference between English and American?

dr Dave: Of course there is. British are civilised people. Americans are ruthless barbarians: they couldn’t make a cup of tea to save their life.

T: Maajii-de?!?

drD: When Americans try to make tea, they use cold sea-water and don’t even bother taking the leaves out of the box. And that’s Boston we’re talking about. The further west you go, the worse it gets.

T: Aa, so-ka, so-ka. It all makes sense now.

Anything I can do to bring greater cultural understanding between people.

The Dangerously Trilingual Thaïs may have posted the funniest straight-faced geeky post ever (in French).
Or how a serious warning about Linux installs compatibility starts sounding like the latest Beatrix Botter volume (translation mine):

Whatever you do, do not launch an apt-get dist-upgrade to the new version (still under development) “Breezy Badger” at this time. […] My install, essentially “Hoary Hedgehog” on a base of “Warty Warthog“, worked very well until that fateful moment […]

Thaïs, Dangereuse Trilingue s’il en est, expose ses malheurs informatiques. Je crois que je n’ai jamais autant ri à la lecture d’un compte-rendu de compatibilité entre installations de logiciels:

Quoi que vous fassiez, ne lancez pas un apt-get dist-upgrade vers la version (encore sous développement) « Blaireau Jovial » (« Breezy Badger ») en ce moment. […] Mon install, principalement « Hérisson Chenâtre » sur une base de « Phacochère Verruqueux », marchait parfaitement bien jusqu’à ce moment fatal […]

Mais où se cache donc Lapin Soyeux?