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We Get Blitzed

photo, don, digital nikon

Today's 'Group of the Week' is Don, his camera and his hat.

No Sports News

Paris:– Thursday, 9. December 2004:– I've been snookered again. So–called 'stainless' blue skies have not been seen here since, oh, not for a really long time. This week's predicted ones didn't make the rendez–vous.

The official reason is a high–pressure layer that has trapped cloud close to the ground, creating a self–perpetuating bowl of gray moss over our heads. Plus, even with a little breeze, it is cold – 2 degrees today – and damp and bleakly miserable. It calls, loudly, insistently, for pots of hot rum.

The forecast for the next few days featured quite a number of partly– shrouded sunballs. Extrapolating yesterday and today on to Friday, I am going to guess that sunballs tomorrow are about as likely as Australian surfers on the Seine wearing boaters.

Tonight's low is supposed to be zero, if it is not already below it. Friday's high has been forecast to be 5 degrees, and Saturday's too, with an uptick for Sunday to six.

The sun may creep out and shine on you if you are lounging on the shores of the Mediterranean, but there's no hope for anything of the kind on the fair shores of Paris Plage. The palms have been sent to Morocco for the winter and the deck chairs are on holiday in Rio, waiting for the big kick–out at Carnival.

Did I forget Sunday? Officially the northeast will be littered with the hiding sunballs, and if we are extraordinarily optimistic we will believe in some timid sunshine here. Hah! I've been burned and I expect nothing of the kind. Put in the rum and light the fire under the kettle.

The 'Fab Two' Club Report of the Week

After the uneventful ride on the Métro to Châtelet I am wondering what is wrong with the Rue de Rivoli until I notice that there are industrial–sized concrete pots full of sand on the sidewalks, supporting green telephone poles that are in turn holding up decor over the street. In daylight, as weak as it is, it gives the street a frontier look – maybe like a oil–boom town in the Amazon.

It is possible that when it's totally dark the hanging tubes will look like colorful exclamation marksphoto, club mural, non fumeur suspended above the busy street. Very Christmasy in other words. Meanwhile, the surface of the sidewalks has been reduced by a third in places, so that rubbing elbows with Parisians is a distinct possibility.

Tastefull kitsch in the club's area of the café.

Since I am not thinking of awarding myself any cheap but modish clothing for Christmas, I leave the Rue du Rivoli to its own devices, and scan all of Samaritaine's windows. These are low–key indeed, but so is Samaritaine these days.

It is gloomy and damp out. Few other pedestrians are underway. I buy a Parisien and scoot along to the club's café, La Corona. The bar's team are thinking about polishing it, but they've done it twice today already.

A few travellers are in the café's 'grande salle' ending their lunches. A couple of minutes after I take my spot in the club's area a couple take the club's end table. They do not appear to be aspiring members, or the club looks too uninspiring to join. They order, among other things, fat frites. Two plates full.

The paper's big headline is 'L'ANGOISSE.' This is followed by no funny news whatsoever. Luckily member Don Smith arrives and installs himself on the other side of the club's table.

Don looks around and sees no other members. I do the same and I don't see any either. Don leans forward and says, "Good." I lean toward him and say, "What?"

"I might have an idea for your problem," Don says. I think, which problem? I have so many. Solutions, I have too few. It might be my lucky day, so I listen. Carefully.

Don tells me he has an extra blitz for his camera. He tells me he does not have an extra battery for his camera, despite all the salesman's efforts to get him to buy another. But he got the extra blitz–light for some reason.

The speed–light is joined to the camera by radar. There's no cable. If he turns on the camera's mini–flash, the two blitzes flash too. He wonders if my old camera can make the blitzes flash.

After telling me his battery is a powerful explosive, we decide to try it. He sets the two blitzes on the table, one pointing at the ceiling, the other pointing somewhere else.

Ready, aim, fire. The Nikon's mini–light flashes once or twice and the two blitzes go off. It's like 14. July. He does it again, aiming at my café. He does it again, aiming at my nose. I try mine, and the blitzes don't react. But he does it again and I do it too. Flash, flash, flash, flash.

If there were many people in the café they might think something odd is going on. A joe in a black hat is pointing this black cannon across the table and this other joe across the table is pointing a silver derringer at him, and these blitz–lights are going off, flash, flash, flash. It is the 'Group Blitzorama of the Week.'

When we catch our combined breaths,photo, reverso window hardly any spots in the eyes, Don asks if I've seen the Christmas decor on Rivoli. Since I have, I ask him for a 'City of the Week.'

Don comes from some place on the Pacific west coast where it rains 300 days a year and on every Sunday, so he doesn't want to tell me the name. But every club meeting needs a 'City of the Week' so I harass him until he gives up Ghrost.

Inside, outside, mirrors, menus, the blues.

Ghrost, somewhere near Bremerton, is a crossroads gas station with maybe a grocery store in it. Don insists it's the kind of place that is doomed to never disappear, thus making it a legitimate 'City of the Week.' The rest of what Don remembers about it is forgettable. In any case he doesn't think he's going back there.

With the meeting about half over and there still not being any members other than Don, we decide we can talk about whatever we want. Actually this can be done at any club meeting, but we take liberties.

I tell Don the story in the New York Times today, about the guy who built a camera that can take pictures of mushrooms on the moon, from earth. The only problem is that the print is the size of a football field, and it has to be printed by hand.

Then Don tells me about the lens he didn't buy. This is the famed 'defocus' lens. This lens focuses perfectly well, but has a special feature that allows the user to fuzzy–focus it. Too much detail in that portrait? Use the fuzzy–focus lens!

I can hear the Métro rumbling underground and I can feel it vibrating through my shoes. If you wanted to take photos of mushrooms on the moon from inside this café the Métro would probably defeat you.

Shooting Don across the table, hand–holding and using available light – not much of this today – it would be perfect to have the 'defocus' lens. 'Yeah, Don is unsharp. I owe it all to my wonderful fuzzy–focus lens.'

May as well get under the table, lie on the floor, and shoot through the table bottom. 'Yeah, I used myphoto, blitz, don, nikon custom–made wood penetrating lens.' Any idiot can handle auto–focus, it takes real skill shooting through wood. Almost as much as with a 1948 Brownie at midnight in the catacombs.

But Don, you know Don, he's got everything photographic. He says, "Say you are making a portrait of somebody 80 years old. Use the 'defocus' lens and they may look like they're only 55."

Who blitzed who with what?

Put this way, of course, there's a lot of possibilities. But Don says he's got some shopping to do. I say that Tomoko will be showing up any minute and he should wait to see who she comes with today. If it was Ringo Star last week, it might be – golly, Tomoko might show up with Zeppo Marx.

After Don leaves, the couple at the club's end table feel that it's safe to stay on for a while. Monsieur Ferrat comes by while I'm reading the paper again and asks if there have been any members present today. Yeah, I think, we got blitzed. The Métro underground is tickling my feet. Outside on the Quai du Louvre and crossing the Pont des Arts, there's a wind that peels the smile off my face.

The Answer of the Week

Last week, member in good standing, Rita, wanted to know – what is the name of the part of the anatomy that is in the centre of the face between the bottom of the nose and the top of the upper lip? The answer has been supplied by the time of today's club meeting, today, but where is Rita? No matter – the mystery word is 'philtrum.' Thanks to all who sent answers so speedily.

Sight of the Week

Glittering Rodeo Drive in Hollywood, decorated with 20 hand–made chandeliers made by Baccarat. Valued at $50,000 each, the classy light show is getting a mixed reception from Angelos. Some think Rodeo Drive is already too nifty. On the other hand some visiting oil magnates think the chandeliers would look nice in the Middle East, and they are making offers for them. Meanwhile, Rue Mouffetard merchants are wondering when the city intends to supply this year's promised holiday kerosene lanterns.

Shopping & Soldes d'Hiver Alert

Sunday shopping is the order of the Christmas season with many shops of all sizes intending to be open on 12. and 19. December. For afterwards, the official word is that the coming Soldes d'Hiver will begin on Wednesday, 12. January and continue for a bit more than five weeks until Tuesday, 22. February. Bring hard money.

About the Café Metropole Club's About Page

Today's club meeting 'report,' totally lacking an any 'Sense of the Week,' had at least a mention of frites. Thephoto, corona terrace 'About the Café Metropole Club' page has a lot of fussy fine print, but you can skip it and not miss anything vital. In case you do decide to skip everything, all you need to know about the club can be found out by joining it on any Thursday you happen to be in Paris.

Colorful but cool café terrace in December.

You can become a real member for ever of this online magazine's real, live, and free club by becoming a member hyper–rapido on a Thursday by signing–in yourself during a meeting in Paris, in the café's 'grande salle.' If you read this paragraph, you can skip the preceding one.

The club's 'rules' evolved into legendary folk tales, concocted by the club's members a darn long time ago. The club's other distinction is that it is the only club related to an Internet magazine that operates with no forms to fill out, no newsletter, regardless of how many requests there are for one. To unsubscribe to or disconnect, you need do nothing, not even unsignup.

When, What, Why Not, Who, Where, How?

The club meetings start about 15:00, on Thursday afternoons and drift off around 17:00, on the same Thursday afternoon in the western European Time zone – which is really 'CET' for short and not 'UZZO' although it sometimes is – and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm. Club meetings are held in Paris. If the club's secretary gets a better offer, where is it?

Be fiendishly clever at a meeting – like being at one – and become somewhat notorious for a few minutes if you are in any mood at all. True 'firsts' are welcome, with 'true' having approximately the same point value as 'Of the Week,' especially if crossroads are concerned. 'True' is honestly acceptable too, if it's legitimately 'first.'

There's just one note of caution – you may have any one or more personal reasons for being unfindable via the Web. If so, be sure to inform the club's secretary that you prefer to be '404 – not found' by Web search engines before becoming 'found' in one of these club reports. If in doubt, Google yourself.graphic: club location map

Former 'rules' continue to be 'former' week after week after week, month after tedious month, year after boring year, and have been eliminated from the club's hyper–volumes of archives except for all the originals still online buried in the deep and dark basements of western Montmartre.

Talking to other club members at meetings is an encouraged activity rather than optional if there aren't any. If there's a free chair, sit – wherever you like, or haul one over from another part of the café. What you say will likely be much appreciated by other members present if there are any that are listening, and there usually are one – and if it should chance to be written here, as tons of it is, haphazardly.*

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because this week's only 'Food of the Week' was sugar, in lumps, for the secretary's café.

The café's location is:

Café–Tabac La Corona
2. Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny – or – 30. Quai du Louvre
Paris 1. Métro: Louvre–Rivoli, Pont–Neuf or Châtelet.
Every Thursday from 15:00 to 17:00.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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Waldo Bini