As the days count down to a precious "peu" before our voyage to Cannes, you can smell the French in the "h'air." This morning's L.A. Times, par exemple, had a front page feature, insouciantly penned by Amy Harmon, concerning the French culture's frank disdain for the computer-driven multi-media world, entitled "Why The French Hate the Internet." My favorite quote comes from Sorbonne history teacher Vincent Gourdon, who says, of his students:
"They think they are going to study by using the Internet, but the question is not to find all the information, it is to think about it. . . It's like TV. It gives the illusion of thinking, and in this, there is a danger."
Or as professional thinker, philosopher Paul Virilio rants in Le Monde Diplomatique, "It has to do with some kind of choking of the senses, a loss of control over reason of sorts. Here lies a new and major risk for humanity. . ."
Ma tete eclate! Excusez-moi while I go for a stroll down the virtual Champs-Elysee web site to clear my mind...
And speaking of minds, just as Nino predicted to me personally in a psychic download Friday, famous seer Jeanne Dixon died in Washington, D.C. over the weekend. She wanted to be a "legitimate" actress but became a phoney instead and married family friend, James L. Dixon who entered into a partnership with movie producer Hal (pass me that) Roach in a L.A. auto agency.
And speaking of "acting" -- or "acting it out" -- Times Wire Reports (reports) that a Brazilian soap opera star murdered his (redundantly) sexy Brazilian co-star in a "brutal case of life imitating art." He portrayed the role of Bira, "a jealous and brooding man" who was rejected by his co-actor Daniell Perez's character, "the fiery Yasmin", in the hot nightly stripshow "Body and Soul." Perez was not cremated and the show will continue, but has been renamed simply "Body..."
Real life "acting-it-outress" Tonya Harding is fighting her lifetime U.S. Figure Skating Association-imposed ban and may end up skating for Bolivia (sources say...)
Sweden's automobile, the Volvo is actually named after a Latin word which means "It's moving!" Considering the winters in Sweden, my pal Hamilton Camp adds, "That's a real good sales point."
TOKYO - Japan, a land famed for sudden fads, has a new craze -- the virtual pet, described in this article sent to me by Andy Petboy Milder:
The new object of consumer desire is the latest in high-tech "cuteness" -- an electronic bird creature the size of an egg that has sold out everywhere and is now only available on the street at more than 20 times its retail price of $16. You can feed it, stroke it, carry it in your pocket and even take it to the bathroom -- all with the push of a button. But watch out, if you don't care for your "tamagocchi" -- the Japanese word for "lovable egg" -- your pet will die before your eyes and before its time. The tamagocchi starts life as an endearing, bird-like image on the screen of an egg-shaped keyring device. It changes from a chick to a fully grown adult in around 10 days.
However, the owner must feed, groom and soothe the digital creature or else see it waste away and die from neglect. The owner may choose to feed the creature digital sweets or food and enjoy its sounds of delight, or "play" with it by pressing buttons in response to the creature's movements.. "And when you clean up its droppings, it jumps up and down and looks really happy. So you stop thinking of it as just a picture," a middle-aged woman said.
Psychologist Takahashi Tomita believes the action of caring for one's own lovable, pocket-sized pet responds to a deep, instinctive need not satisfied in modern Japan's urban society. "This instinctual desire is not being satisfied nowadays as most people living in the city can't have pets." A high school girl told a television interviewer she feels the toy is teaching her traits useful for later life. "It's great because it teaches me to be a parent," she said.
"I paid 50,000 yen ($420) for mine. It's supposed to sell for 1,980, but the shops are all sold out," said a middle-aged office worker. Motofu's advice to virtual pet owners was to suspend reality and think of their pets as real creatures. "It's not a game. You're looking after a space creature whose lifespan depends on how you care for it," she said.
Here's a business letter of recommendation passed on to us from Wayne Moosebreath Newitt:
"During John's time with us , I have always found him
working studiously and sincerely at his table without idling or
gossiping with colleagues in the office. He seldom
wastes his time on useless things. Given a job, he always
finishes the given assignment in time. He is always
deeply engrossed in his official work, and can never be
found chitchatting in the canteen. He has absolutely no
vanity in spite of his high accomplishment and profound
knowledge of his field. I think he can easily be
classed as outstanding, and should on no account be
dispensed with. I strongly feel that he should be
pushed to accept promotion, and a proposal to administration be
sent away as soon as possible."
(A second note from the Branch manager followed:)
"John was present when I was writing the report mailed to you
today. Kindly read only the alternative lines 1,3,5,7...
for my true assessment."
The 'Car Talk' show (on NPR) with Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers have a feature called the 'Puzzler', and their most recent 'Puzzler' was about the Battle of Agincourt. The French, who were overwhelmingly favored to win the battle, threatened to cut a certain body part off of all captured English soldiers so that they could never fight again. The English won in a major upset and waved the body part in question at the French in defiance. The puzzler was: What was this body part? This is the answer submitted by a listener:
"Dear Click and Clack: Thank you for the Agincourt 'Puzzler,' which clears up some profound questions of etymology, folklore and emotional symbolism. The body part which the French proposed to cut off of the English after defeating them was, of course, the middle finger, without which it is impossible to draw the renowned English longbow.
This famous weapon was made of the native English yew tree, and so the act of drawing the longbow was known as "plucking yew". Thus, when the victorious English waved their middle fingers at the defeated French, they said, "See, we can still pluck yew! PLUCK YEW!"
Over the years some 'folk etymologies' have grown up around this symbolic gesture. Since 'pluck yew' is rather difficult to say (like "pleasant mother pheasant plucker," which is who you had to go to for the feathers used on the arrows), the difficult consonant cluster at the beginning has gradually changed to a labiodental fricative 'f', and thus the words often used in conjunction with the one-finger-salute are mistakenly thought to have something to do with an intimate encounter. It is also because of the pheasant feathers on the arrows that the symbolic gesture is known as "giving the bird".
Unwise dog-breeding practices have eroded the desirable qualities of many popular breeds so we advocate truth in advertising for downsized yuppie puppies of the '90s, or perhaps redefining breeds thusly:
Substandard Golden Retrievers could be marketed as Silver or Bronze Retrievers.. .Springer Spaniels with insufficient bounce could be Ringer Spaniels. . . Irish Wolfhounds not up to chasing Ireland's nonexistent wolves could be Irish Snakehounds (easily dyed green for camouflage and St. Patrick's Day parades).. .Venerable Bernard - has a not-quite-saintly disposition. . .Plasmahound - anaemic, but resistant to blood-borne pathogens. . . Doberperson Pinscher - wimpy but politically-correct.. . Euro Shepherd - the ISO 9000 'standard;' devoid of territorial instinct, easily paper-trained.. . Whymarner - won't obey commands without a good reason.. . Laborer Retriever - OSHA's ill-fated experiment in industrial rescue.. . Daxhund - official Star Trek mascot, bred in zero gravity to alleviate spinal problems of overextended wiener-dogs.. . Beijinginese - a progressive Peoples' Dog with good taste. Often gets taken for a wok. Librarian Husky - a working breed of the great indoors; can be trained to pull heavy cartloads of books.. . Leagle Hound - its papers are in order; chases ambulances pro bone-o.. . Freshweiler - can't rot because it's loaded with antibiotics and preservatives. Nonbiodegradable roadkills may become an environmental problem.
(And then, expanding upon RCA's lead, genetic engineers could produce specialized, patentable corporate breeds:)
Borders Collie - throws the book at shoplifters. . Singer Spaniel - can make minor repairs on sewing machines. . Microsoft Mutt (tm) - drives mice, sticks head out of Windows 95 (at the risk of anti-trust lawsuits).
-- By way of BOONDOGGLES by Joanne (email@example.com) and Frank (firstname.lastname@example.org)
From my shirtail cousin, Chris Yoder (who urges you to visit the steam-powered Yoder Website at http://www.genealogy.org/~yoder/) comes this sweet and sour food-for-thought:
What was the best thing before sliced bread? . . If corn oil comes from corn, where does baby oil come from?. . How do they get a deer to cross at that yellow road sign?. . If it's tourist season, why can't we shoot them?. . . What's another word for thesaurus? . . Why do they sterilize the needles for lethal injections?. . What do they use to ship styrofoam? . . Why is abbreviation such a long word? . . Why is there an expiration date on my sour cream container? . . How do you know when it's time to tune your bagpipes? . . Is it true that cannibals don't eat clowns because they taste funny? . .and . . When you choke a smurf, what color does it turn?
© 1996/2002 by Phil Proctor