Blog Blabs, January-February 2009
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    February 20, 2009

More notes of a food fiend

I have another food article up today, about my favorite trade fair,
on Paris Update.

  February 7, 2009

Social studies: I won't shut up,
so I must be telling the truth

        I'm always amazed and fascinated by people, and there are many, who seem to think that incessant, belligerent bluster should be accepted as proof of good faith.

        Lawyers and politicians do this as a matter of course, of course, but the latest example I observed first-hand took place not in court or in Congress, but at my local supermarket.

        I was waiting in the checkout line when the security guard stopped a kind of scruffy-looking guy with a backpack, apparently on suspicion of shoplifting. The guard quietly and politely asked the gentleman to open his backpack for inspection, but he refused to comply, instead launching into a frenzied, rabid tirade that he apparently thought would "prove" his innocence.

        The thrust of his argument was rather weak, i.e. that he shouldn't be suspected of being a thief because he didn't, by his own reckoning, look like one.

        It was quite an admirable performance, actually. The guy seemed to be able to yell continuously without inhaling. His line of discourse, delivered at metal singer volume and auctioneer speed, went like this:

        "What? You think I stole something? You think I'm a thief? Look at me! Do I look like a thief? No I don't! You know why? 'Cause I'm not a thief!
What's a thief look like? Not like me! I didn't steal anything! You think I did? Why? Because I'm a thief? I'm not! Do I look like one? No! You think I do? If I was a thief what would I look like? A thief? What do they look like? Like Me? Thief? Look! What? You think? Me? Thief? Not! Huh?" etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.

        Whole minutes went by while I was waiting to check out, and when I left he hadn't let up in the slightest. For all I know he's
still there, pleading his case. ("How many times do I have to tell you I'm not a thief? A million? OK, I will: I'm not a thief! Not me! Do I look like a thief? . . . ")

        In fairness, maybe the guy didn't look like a thief. Sure as shit sounded like one, though.

    January 28, 2009
True story from a more innocent era   

        My wife Nancy getting stopped by department store security today because a salesperson failed to take the anti-theft strip out of a recently purchased hat reminded me of something I witnessed at an airport some years ago.

        It happened in about 1990. I was at Charles de Gaulle to get a flight to the States. Of course they were scanning all carry-on luggage and making everybody walk through a metal detector, but in retrospect I would have to say that the security guidelines weren't quite as stringent back then as they are now.

        I say this because right in front of me was a tall, massive gentleman wearing thick multiple layers of clothing and carrying an infant on his back in one of those elaborate baby carriers with so many straps and buckles and metal clasps it probably weighed more than the kid. He was also carrying an attache case, which he dutifully laid on the conveyor belt to the X-ray chamber, or whatever that thing is, and then he walked through the metal detector.

        Which lit up like Chinese New Year and beeped like a Beijing traffic jam. But before the security people could react, the guy started gesticulating madly over his shoulder and yelling, "IT'S THE BABY! IT'S THE BABY!!! IT'S THE BABY!!!!!" Whereupon he grabbed up his attache case and strode briskly away.

        And get this: the personnel did nothing.

        I made a mental note to check if he was on my plane, considered asking the security guys why they didn't recheck him, decided that it wouldn't be worth the hassle they were likely to give me for telling them how to do their jobs, and went to my gate.

        There were no hijackings or bombings that day, so I guess it really was
THE BABY!!!!!!!!

        January 20, 2009      
A new (to you) piece on a new (to me) site

     And I have a new(-ish) piece up on a new (to me) satire site. Check out "Boorish pickup lines inspired by the recession, paired with rejoinders for women who don't suffer boors lightly" on Yankee Pot Roast.

      If you just came from YPR, check out some of the back issues, like for instance:

        Honesty in personal advertising (on The Big Jewel)
        Secrets of numerology revealed
        Three modern-day interpretations of Zeno's Paradox
        Meet the poet (on The Big Jewel)

   January 21, 2009      
More notes of a food fiend

        I have a new food article, this time about obscure vegetables, on Paris Update.

    January 18, 2009      
Literary parlor game:
Did you hear about this?

        For no particular reason I was thinking today about a guy I met at a party in about 1995. A bunch of us were talking about this and that and the conversation turned to books and recent fiction. The young man in question piped up with what he thought was a trenchant anecdote to illustrate the sad state of literature today.

        His story went essentially like this:

        "Hey, did you hear about this? There's some guy who lives in some godforsaken isolated tiny town on the coast of Newfoundland where there's absolutely nothing to do all day, so just to keep himself occupied over the years he's kept a log of all the ships he sees coming and going out in the Atlantic, and last year somebody got a hold of his journal, published it and it won the Pulitzer Prize!"

        (If you don't happen to "get" this, here's what he was actually referring to.)

        Based on this example, the possibilities are endless:

        Hey, did you hear about this? There's this teenage kid who was going to some la-dee-dah prep school on the East Coast and one day he goes nuts and runs away and when they finally find him they put him in an asylum somewhere where he has all these therapy sessions with a psychiatrist, and the psychiatrist publishes transcripts of the kid talking and the book becomes like this anthem for a whole generation!

        Hey, did you hear about this? There's this rich English guy who never needs to do a minute of work and all he ever does is get into trouble and then rely on his valet to get him out of these hopeless predicaments, over and over again. So he starts writing down his ridiculous "adventures", publishes them in books and earns millions of dollars and the valet doesn't get a cent!

        Hey, did you hear about this? There's this old guy in Cuba who's like retired or something so all he ever has to do is go fishing every day but he never catches anything. Then one day he finally catches this huge fish but by the time he tows it back to port it's all eaten away by sharks so he ends up with nothing again, but he sells his story to Life magazine and it wins him the Nobel Prize in Literature! 

        Hey, did you hear about this? There's this pervorama child molester who murdered this woman, kidnapped her 12-year-old daughter and drove all over the country raping her in motel rooms until the cops finally caught him, and then he published his diary and the book is hailed as a modern classic!

        Hey, did you hear about this? There are these two bums who stand around on the same street corner all day every day waiting for this friend of theirs who never shows up. So one day this "avant-garde" playwright comes along and hires them to go up on stage and wait for their supposed friend there, in front of an audience and everything, and that's his play!

    January 9, 2009      
True story: Simone      

         I lived for many years in the part of Montmartre known for its relatively high population of transvestites, some of whom were performers at the drag show nightclubs on Rue des Martyrs and the rest of whom were prostitutes.

        One prominent neighborhood character was an overweight middle-aged cross-dresser named Simone, who lived kitty-corner across from my building. I'm not sure if Simone performed on stage or in sparsely-furnished hotel rooms, but she was "on" all the time, cheerfully greeting and chatting with everyone she crossed paths with all day long. She was a real sweetheart and everyone who knew her liked her.

        One day I was at the local minimart picking up some coffee and paper towels and noticed that the checkout line was much longer than usual. When I joined the queue I realized why: Simone was at the cash register having a long conversation with the checker and in the process entertaining everyone no end.

        Apparently she was a few francs short of the total (this was before the new currency, the euro, was introduced) and the checker, who of course knew her, was telling her not to worry, to pay next time, and Simone was, typically, milking the situation for all it was worth, searching and researching her handbag and prattling on and on about "What a stupid little BITCH I am! Oooh I can't believe I could be such a silly BITCH! An empty-headed BITCH!" etc., etc., etc.*

        Meanwhile, standing at the door was a very tough looking guy wearing ratty hoodlum clothes -- torn-up jeans, denim jacket, high scuffed-up black boots, etc. -- and he was staring at Simone with a look of annoyed exasperation.

        I immediately took him for one of the toughs who hang out around the punk clubs on the boulevard a couple of blocks away. I figured he had stopped in to buy beer, saw this histrionically flaming queen and was waiting for a chance to do a little fag-bashing. Honestly, I thought I was going to be a witness in a criminal trial in the near future.

        But when Simone finally finished her "bit", she picked up her bag of groceries, turned to the guy at the door and said, "Cheri, could you be a dear and carry this for little me? Off we go now!"

        And off they went together. One sauntering, one sashaying.

*For those of you who speak French, the word that kept coming back in her rant was "conne", as in "Qu'est-ce que je suis CONNE! Oh quelle CONNE!! Comment puis-je etre tellement CONNE?!" etc. You see the implications. And the difficulty in translating it with all its levels of meaning in less than about 200 words.


Copyright 2009 by David Jaggard. 
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About the translation / traduction of Air France Madame Magazine and Nancy Li