Picture amphi_mog.jpg Just so you don’t think for a moment that I am out there having fun when I leave this blog unattended for weeks on end…

Note that this snapshot entirely fails to convey the real Soviet-era ambiance of my 8am-1pm weekly Tuesday lecture: attended by twelve hardcore students huddled in a 300-seat auditorium, fighting sleep and hypothermia, with the dreary droning of a disinterested lecturer as background lullaby.

Can I get a Hell Yeah for advanced graph theory?!?

Hell… zzz

Picture CIMG1479.JPG A somewhat public-interest announcement for once:

If you are in Paris today and looking for a way to spend an early evening, there’s a free pyrotechnics show near la Villette (19th arrondissement) tonight at 9pm. Seems like the weather should be nice, but I’d bring a warm sweater and a tarp to sit on.

We went yesterday and it was a good time. Much flames and explosions to be marvelled at.

Only downside, was the very forgettable smooth jazz soundtrack to the whole thing. If the sound of elevator-riding saxophones deeply offends your ears, I recommend you bring your iPod or large amounts of psychedelic substances.

Access map (in PDF format)

I dunno if this week’s forecast of warm temperatures and summery sunshine, coming after a full month of rainy Winter in August, is Parisian Gods’ way of saying “Look, I’m sorry for what happened, I’ll treat you better from now on”…

But if it is, then consider this my most heartfelt “Too little, too late” break-up letter.

Lining in front of me this morning at the subway ticket counter: a vastly overweight woman wearing offendingly stretchy pseudo-designer clothes and tacky sunglasses, extra large Starbucks latte in one hand, giant glazed donut of same, in the other, busy yapping with another equally attired woman in the loudest yankee accent this side of Jersey…

Just when I’m about to turn the volume up on my headphones, I get a glance at the tiny flag proudly pinned to her backpack and nearly fall over laughing.

Oh yea. She looked Canadian alright. Nearly had me fooled too.

Yesterday, I had convincingly authentic Japanese food for the first time in Paris and felt it deserved a mention here.

Issé restaurant (“tempuras & tapas”) has a soberly stylish decoration and seemingly caters to a large japanese-speaking clientele, both reassuring points when compared to the flurry of Chinese-speaking sushi chefs and horrifyingly cheesy pseudo-oriental kanji signs, customary of most other places that claim to offer Japanese cuisine in this city.

The menu there is classic, yet not stereotypical, which means a lot of small dishes, no ramen, and only a few makis on offer. Somewhere between a typical Tokyo restaurant and a high-end izakaya (lots of the same food, but less greasy): we had loads of tempuras (shiso, seafood, a bunch of other veggies… even mozzarella…), seaweed salad, agedashi tofu, and a couple other dishes. All great and tasty (ok: I reckon my agedashi tofu is better, but I may be biased) and infinitely more reminiscent of the whole Tokyo experience than many a j-food joints on rue Saint Anne.

Prices were about average to high, but very reasonable for the quality of food (around 20-30 euros/person for dinner and a drink).

And for those who ever lived in Japan: sit there, sipping an iced ohlong-cha with schochu and nibbling on edamame, and I swear you won’t be able to shake the natsukashiness away.

If you happen to live in France, 9pm to 10:30pm tonight is possibly the best time of the decade to:

  • Safely drive a formula 1 at top speed through Paris.
  • Play a little soccer game with your friends on the Champs-Elysées, possibly using the Arc de Triomphe as goal.
  • Have unimpeded sex on top of the Pyramide du Louvre.
  • Rob Banco do Brazil’s headquarters in Paris with a bottle opener and a shopping cart.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a quiet romantic evening, I’d stay out of Brazilian restaurants.

Anyway: we’ll be on the Pont des Arts with some fine food and a bottle of red wine, enjoying the quieter surroundings until late, quite likely all night, if Brazil’s pummelling of the French goes as planned.