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photo, cafe st andre

Grog stop in the Quartier Latin.

Winter This and That

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 17. January 2005:– I had to look at tonight's TV– weather news twice. I have never seen a TV weather map like tomorrow's before. It made France look like a frying pan, tipped on edge on the stove, where the sausages were rolling around out of control busting all the egg yolks, and they were being blown from left to right into puddles of soja sauce.

At once, enough to make one hungry and very queasy – is the ship going to make it until noon? Not just scrambled eggs, but scrambled with everything, soup and nuts, in a hot, crazed mixmaster. My second look at it was no better at unscrambling meaning from it.

First off, there'll be a wind of 100 kph ripping un the Channel. Then some of this wind will be making a 30 degrees turn to the east, and blowing across France with gusts of up to 90 kph. 'Very disturbed' black – not just gray – clouds will be clipping along with the wind, and will be jetting rain on everything underneath.

This will hit the Paris area, maybe tonight, where weak sun will be struggling to show itself, and this is where the soja will hit the egg yolks, with some of the 90 kph winds angling up from the southwest. Look – if everything is going every which way on Tuesday, this is what I'm failing to describe.

In contrast, Wednesday will be simple. Out west there will be winds and clouds, and rain, but around here there will be some sunny periods and a lot of cloudy periods. Thursday will bephoto, greek food kiosk even more simple with flat blah clouds all day.

In the temperature department tomorrow should have a high of about 8 degrees, and then Wednesday will have a hump up to 10 degrees, and Thursday will be a notch higher again at 11 degrees.

Mediterranean food spot on a winter night.

There is no actual storm warning for tomorrow. There are no warnings for 'rotten' but this is what Le Parisien thinks we are to have. Just as well if the postmen aren't going to be delivering mail.

Café Life

Winter Comics Fever

In the darkness of January the interior of Angoulême in Cognac is brightened by primary colors for the 32nd annual Festival International de la Bande Dessinée – comics! – for four whole days – and nights! – of funnies.

This year's event takes place from Thursday, 27. January until Sunday, 30. January and will feature Zep, Scrooge, Dave Cooper, Hugo Pratt, Blake and Mortimer, with guest Yoshihiro Tatsumi, the father of the Japanese adult comics. Check the Web site for details such as the special air or SNCF combo rates for transport, lodging and festival entries. A simple three day entry for adults costs 19€.

Winter Camping

The homeless are sleeping all over the city as if it is a big, drafty living room. The other morning a young Afghan was on the sidewalk in the Avenue de Verdun when a policeman decided that his bedding was blocking the way to a telephone booth.

He gave the camper a ticket for 'camping sauvage,' which is probably illegal although you seldom hear ofphoto, creperie st honore this charge. The Afghan was apparently connected to associations who are helping him get legal papers, and did not get a fine on the spot.

Winter sales quick food booth.

However he may still get one if he gets a summons to appear at police court. I assume these are mailed out, and I know the camper gave the address of his illegal 'camping sauvage' campsite, but I really doubt that he gets his magazine subscriptions delivered there.

Digital Télévision Arrives

At noon today a button in the basement of the Tour Eiffel was pushed to launch Télévision Numérique Terrestre – TNT for short – to usher in the age of digital TV broadcasts. The tourist attraction also serves as the broadcasting antenna for Paris, but for the moment the new signals are experimental.

As explained on tonight's TV–news, manufacturers will use the signals to develop decoders that are necessary for ordinary TV sets to show the new channels. When decoders are available in March, they are expected to cost 100€.

Along with the new broadcasting standard, state TV distribution expects to broadcast 14 channels that will replace or supplement the existing five or six channels. The France–German cultural channel Arte will begin broadcasting around the clock rather than continue sharing its frequency with Canal 5. Additional programs that it once only offered on cable, will become free.

In principle the programs broadcast by TNT will be free, but the new transmission norm is capable of encrypting broadcasts for pay–per–view distribution.

Not much has been said about audio and video quality of TNT. Since no changes will be necessary to existing analog TV sets other than having a decoder, it is thought that the new transmission is merely a way placing more TV channels into an existing signal.

Zeppelin Reaches Japan

On Friday the new Zeppelin NT reached the Kobé region of Japan after an unconventional and somewhat roundabout voyage. The ship and crew began the trip from Friedrichshafen in July 2004, but had to interrupt the flight at Helsinki for lack of an overflight permit for Russia.

At the end of August the crew decided a flight over Siberia in winter might be dodgy so they took apart the airship and shipped it by sea from the Italian port of Tauro in December.

The 75–metre–long semi–rigid airship flew over Kobé for 40 minutes. It was purchased last March by the Nippon Airship Corporation and was supposed to follow the 1929 route of the 'Graf Zeppelin' to Tokyo. It is in Japan for the coming Universal Exposition which will take place from 25. March to 25. September near Nagoya.

Strikes of the Week

The major unions representing postal workers have called for a national strike tomorrow, and they will bephoto, cafe du musee gathering at the Assembly National at 13:00 to protest against government plans to allow private competition with the state postal monopoly. Postal services are expected to be seriously disrupted.

Hot snacks for the culturaly enightened.

Also beginning at 20:00 on Tuesday and lasting for 36 hours, major unions of rail workers have called for a national strike against SNCF services. The bulk of this strike will be on Wednesday, continuing until 8:00 on Thursday.

The strike is timed to coincide with the unveiling of the rail operator's budget project, which is said to call for the layoffs of 3590 rail workers. Union spokesmen warn that rail traffic will be adversely affected for the duration of the strike. Public transport within Paris should not be affected by this strike, but suburban train and long–distance rail services will be.

Chinese New Year

The official date is Wednesday, 9. February and next year's official animal is the rooster. Several arrondissements host Chinese New Year festivities, which include the dragon parade, which leaves from the Hôtel de Ville at 15:00 on Sunday, 13. February. Expect parades on the same weekend in Chinatown.

Skate Note

If you've never been skating on the Tour Eiffel, it's time to shake a leg and glide over to the Champ de Mars because the final day for elevated ice will be next Sunday, 23. January.

Shopping & Soldes d'Hiver Alert IX

The Soldes d'Hiver have begun and they continue for a bit more than four weeks until Saturday, 12. February. The best stuff may be gone already, but what's left may get even cheaper.

Headline of the Week

Le Parisien's winning headline this week is "Paris, c'est bouché" which appeared last Thursday. When traffic doesn't move it is because of 'bouchons,' and Paris has a lot of these, caused by various construction projects designed to speed public transport at the expense of the automobilistas.

Support Member's Books, Dept. III

Heather's big news is about her Paris adventure guide book's official launch in Paris. This will happen on Wednesday, 19. January, at 20:00, at the Abbey Bookshop. This is in the 5th arrondissement at 29. Rue de la Parcheminerie, just off the Rue de la Harpe. Go early and buy a dozen copies so that there's room enough to stand inside the place.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

The last club meeting's 'Gummibären! Kilowise!' club report continuesphoto, food kiosk, rivoli to be a sublime as a gumdrop. We awarded ourselves prizes, gifts, cards, and generally had a late Christmas, again.

More street eats.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, which is the day after Wednesday exactly as usual. The Saint's 'Day of the Week' will be Saint–Sébastien, who is actually mentioned on my calendar. Born at Narbonne, Sébastien was a hired archer for Diocletian, but was condemned to be stuck with arrows like a pincushion, but was saved by a friendly Roman widow. Diocletian then ordered Sébastien to be wiped out with baseball bats.

Other, mainly true facts about the club can be found on the 'About the Club' page. The virtual design of the edgy club membership card on this page looks as leading–edge online as printed. Even if you think it is too good to be true the club membership itself is totally free too.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 9.03/O4 – 12/19. January – for this double issue the Café Life column began with, 'A Red New Year for the Champs–Elysées.' The Café Metropole column was titled, 'Triumphant Return of the Countdowns.' There was one feature headlined 'Sunday at the Fleas with Moules–Frites.' The repeat Scène column had the title of 'L'Année de la Chine.' The Café Metropole Club update for 15. January featured the 'Wisconsin–sized Dinner Plates' report. The update for the 22. January meeting was titled, the 'Find of the Week' report. Laurelphoto, sign, rue du roule Avery signed 'My Love Affair With Paris' and 'A Nice Mix of Art, History and Sex' appeared a week later. There were six new 'Posters of the Week' and the caption for Ric's weekly cartoon was, "Not from the 'Soldes d'Hiver!'"

This Was Metropole Three Years Ago

Issue 7.03 – 14. Jan 2002 – the Café Metropole column started the issue with 'Wonderful Weather Is Not Here.' The 'Au Bistro' column was headlined, 'Funny New Money Works Fine.' There was a feature article titled 'The Euro Winter Sales – Another Once and Only 'First.' The Scène column's title was 'Shopping' Is Not Paris' Only Attraction.' The Café Metropole Club update for 17. January was titled, the 'Chicago a Close Second – Paris First' report. There were four January–type 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was improbably captioned, 'Black Is Out!'

'Countdowns' Reach Titan

Today's 'Quote of the Week,' rescued from last week's obscurity, was uttered by Martin Luther King, Jr. He said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

The Unique, Real, Only, 'Countdown'

photo, metro, samaritaineJules Verne's major anniversary is now a mere 67 days from now. The genial idea to stage a scale reenactment of '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' in the aquarium at the Porte Dorée came to nothing because the museum has far too many Piranhas in its tanks.

More than Enough Anniversaries

As Albania's only National Day recedes ever further into the dim past, it is with great pleasure that I announce the anniversary of Albanian hero Gjergj Kastrioti–Skënderbeu, in 1405. Today also marks the date of the first publication of 'Popeye.' The creation of the spinach–quaffing sailor was in 1929 and the artist's name was Elzie Crisler Segar.

Today's Other 'Outstanding Dates of the Week'

There are only 348 days left of this year. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in 1342 when Philippe II of Burgundy was born but did not become king. This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 17 days, the same number that 1706 had when Benjamin Franklin was born.
signature, regards, ric

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