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photo, group, mark, heather, james

The 'Group of the Week,' sitting, from left, with
Mark, Heather and James.


Paris:– Thursday, 13. January 2005:– Today's Le Parisien says the weather this winter has gone crazy, and the paper isn't even thinking of France. Well, maybe a little bit on account of the spring–like times we are having.

But before you jump on a jet just wearing a t–shirt you should heed the paper's warning – it ain't gonna last. General Winter is just around the corner of the calendar. Temperatures 3 or 4 degrees above 'normal for the season' are finished.

This seems to be borne out by tonight's TV–weather news which has predicted a high of 7 forphoto, faux wine tomorrow – down from a scorching 8 degrees today! – and a further dip to 5 on Saturday with 5 for Sunday foreseen as well.

In the sky department we might expect some morning fog tomorrow if we bother to get up early enough, but the rest of the day might be kind of sunny around here.

On Saturday we are supposed to expect very blue skies over Paris. The problem will be anything–but–blue to the west and to the east. If our 'window of opportunity' shifts east a bit, there will be a lot of gray over our heads.

'Faux Wine of the Week' is really Bordeaux.

Then on Sunday, cloudy skies will lurk along the Channel, leaving the rest mostly semi–sunny if not better. But Saturday is the day when the sky might be steely blue so let's hope we'll be able to see it through our 'window.'

First '53rd Anniversary of the Week' Report

When I get on the Métro at Raspail the wagon isn't full of eager shoppers going to the 'Soldes d'Hiver' because they were on the train about five hours earlier, unless they were lazy sods. Posters in the stations remind passengers that shopping now is a smart thing to do, especially with money.

By Saint–Germain I am tired of it but I ride to Odéon for the sheer heck of it. Of course I haven'tphoto, winner, james macneil planned for this exit so it only takes the usual 10 minutes to get out of the station. On the boulevard ladies are walking around with big shopping bags full of small items from the chic boutiques, which probably haven't bottomed out at 50 percent off yet.

Luckily not many of these shops are in Dauphine and I am forced off the narrow sidewalk only three times. What a relief to be on the bridge regardless of its age! Cheap real estate over water allows wide sidewalks.

Contest winner James accepts terrific prize at long last.

Due to the sales the Quai du Louvre is appropriately deserted. I don't see anybody buying dogs or chickens, and I don't see any wonderful posters either. But the sidewalk is dry and sunlight is washing the club's café, which looks like it needs a paint refresher.

Shoppers aren't in the 'grande salle' either, but the club's number one member is. Heather Stimmler–Hall says that I am early and I could say the same for her, but it's too obvious.

Heather wonders if she is in the film, 'L'Un Reste, l'Autre Part,' which started yesterday, and has the poster is in this week's issue. This was an extra job she had, as a result of sitting around in the club's café waiting for movie scouts.

While I am wondering if the club's most famous author is in the film, James MacNeil arrives from Heidelberg. James swore up and down he'd be back 'in a couple of weeks' last June, after winning the fabulous Bumper–Sticker Slogan contest, but I've been carrying his second prize around non–stop for, oh, months now.

However when Heather asks James 'how things are going,' he concedes, "Just fair." "That's not very American," she observes.

Maybe James just got off the plane or train. He says he is in Paris 'for the soldes,' but adds "The sales have been on in Germany for a week already. I'm solded out," he says.

Heather decides to tell us about 'Desperate Housewives.' James turns to the 'Waiter of the Week' and points to a glass on a neighboring table. "Côtes du Rhöne?" the waiter asks and James says, "Bordeaux."

"Her husband is leaving because her hair is perfect," Heather says, about the TV show. Another character, according to Heather, died before the first episode. James says it was 19 degrees in Heidelberg yesterday.

Heather says Vélizy 'was hell' yesterday. She went there really early and there was no place to park. Vélizy is a suburban mall, but when its parking lot is full the next nearestphoto, teabag of the week place is Versailles, or Orléans. Heather is so annoyed about it that she's thinking of moving to the 9th arrondissement, where there are no malls to match the no parking.

One of the year's 'firsts' – the 'Teabag of the Week.'

Mark Kritz, a member of the club before it existed, arrives, asking who's been asking for him. Then he tells a story about a chair that fell apart, because his goal is to replace it with an identical chair. The problem is that the chair is so old that Ikea might not have any more. "It isn't in their 1997 catalogue," he says.

James begins an explanation that starts with Mannheim, which I don't know anything about. He hauls out a plastic bag with a label that says, 'Fruchtsaftbären, gummibonbons, 1 KG.' "For the club's 53rd week," he says. Then asks, "What's a 53rd week?"

This is a long story involving my French calendar that I'll skip. Last year it had 53 weeks. This year it has erroneous saints. The club meeting on 30. December was during the mysterious 53rd week.

"How long do they last?" Heather wants to know about the gummibären. "What flavors are they?"

James squints at the small label. "Glukosesirup, zucker gelatine, sauerungsmittel, öl,photo, fruchtsaftsbaren, gummi bonbon pflanzlich trennmittel: bienenwachs. Mindestens haltbar bis 03.05.2006." And flavors, "There's red ones, yellow ones..."

Continued on page 2...
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