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Hot Wine, Dark Alley

photo, bistrot st emilion

The kind of place that's waiting for you this winter.

Snow Job

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 24. January 2005:– On Sunday evening's TV–weather news the forecasters gave an 'orange alert' for a lot of easter France and most of Normandy. Fairly strong winds were predicted along with serious falls of snow. According to tonight's news it turned out to be true.

This area wasn't affected today but our turn is coming, although without an 'orange alert.' There is cold air pouring down from the north and this will cause snow in Normandy to the west, while the whole eastern flank of France will be in an even deeper freeze.

The gap between west and east will close, perhaps giving us some snow on Tuesday. The temperature will also dump to minus 2 degrees overnight and the high tomorrow is not likely to exceed one degree. There may be fleeting bright periods here, but with snow predicted for the Riviera we can't be expected not to have any.

On Wednesday the wind will continue to pour down from the North Pole and Normandy will be socked in. The temperature will dip a bit more during the day. But there might be some brighter periods, like Tuesday, even if all seems united to dump a bit more snow here.

For Thursday more of the same is in view, but with a temperature pop–up to one degree again. Overnightphoto, deep, deep snow the thermometre may well be dropping down to minus four, making sure that any snow that falls is not likely to melt.

Elsewhere White Update

According to correspondents reporting from the depths of New Jersey and Queens, a blizzard of snow has fallen there, ending months of false alarms. "Here is the official snow report from La Grosse Pomme gelée using the unofficial non–Metropole–approved measuring stick. Boston is still being snowed upon, with up to 2 feet – 60 euro middle metres – expected."

Jim Auman's scientific snow–measuring tool.

"Saturday morning it was 6 F outside. Not like Paris at all. In Brooklyn snow soft, powdery so not bad underfoot and in the air. Big winds hadn't started. Also temperature felt a tad warmer. Trains crowded with NYers who just don't know better to stay home. Alighting in Queens noticed that weather seemed colder, windier and snow falling more intensely. Still as a policeman on 74th Street in Little India said yesterday afternoon, "it's beautiful for now." Wonderful how the white soft blanket gives Queens a nice glow. Kind of like cheesecloth on a camera lens. Home is warm and I have provisions but alas no whiskey or fireplace. Weather will warm up a little tomorrow by 10 degrees or so but forecasters say it will be cold enough for the snow to become icy. Still we do what we do."

Café Life

Hot Wine In a Dark Alley

Last Wednesday Heather Stimmler–Hall combined her fondness for secrets and adventure by co–hostingphoto, alley book meet the Paris launch of her new book at the Abbey Bookshop, located in an alley jokingly called a street, which had its named changed from 'des Ecrivains' to 'Parcheminerie' in 1387.

A dark alley in the Quartier Latin.

At the appointed hour there was a small gathering of the curious lurking in the dark outside the somewhat more modern townhouse built for Claude Dubuisson in 1752. On nearing them I saw that they were gathered around a pot of hot wine and varieties of cookies. Inside, the bookshop lived up to its reputation of having more books than room for customers to browse them.

Luckily those used to Parisian notions of space ignored the lack and pressed inside to meet Heather and buy her book. Whenphoto, heather, book the crowd surged to number five we retired to the exterior where we totalled a score in the obscurity. Heather mounted on a stool and gave a short talk about how many times she got food poisoning due to research.

Heather launches her book in the Abbey.

The smells of hot wine, cigarette smoke and cookie odors floated in the alley as stray civilians pushed through the small crowd while travel book fans peppered Heather with questions about the book's discount price on Amazon. Drizzle began to lay a damp mantle on the gathering, so I left before the gala couscous dinner.

The Abbey Bookshop has a huge lot of books, including several concerning Canadian philosophy, possibly located in its cellar. Find it at 29. Rue de la Parcheminerie, just off the Rue de la Harpe, Paris 5. Nearest Métro stations are Saint–Michel and Cluny–La Sorbonne.

Without, We Wouldn't

Super Bowl 18 in 1984 was sponsored by Apple and two days later the little Macintosh box with a smiley went on sale for the first time. Other than it being a Tuesday, it was 26 years ago. The Mac ushered in the now familiar graphical user interface, the mouse, the 'click,' WYSIWYG – 'what you see is what you get' – 3.5–inch floppies, standard audio built–in, all wrapped up in a neat box with a handle.

Over the years the Mac has spawned desktop publishing, the personal laser printer, user programmability, thephoto, mac screen SCSI interface, the CD–ROM drive as a standard feature, the possibility of working over multiple monitors, Ethernet, RISC–based processors, DVD drives and flat–screen displays.

Mac turns old enough to drink.

Last in line, 13 days ago, was the Mac mini, barely bigger than the square of a CD–ROM disc. For the first time the entry is 500 dollars or euros, to be complemented with cheap PC add–ons. Okay, even granted that the UNIX operating system requires more RAM memory to be comfortable, many users are seeing the 'mini' as a household server, as the motor for their home entertainment centres.

Winter Comics Fever

This year's Angoulême comics festival begins this Thursday, 27. January and continues until Sunday, 30. January. This year's edition 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€.

Strikes of the Week

None.

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.

Shopping & Soldes d'Hiver Alert X

The Soldes d'Hiver have begun and they continue for a bit less than three weeks until Saturday, 12. February. Even if cheap is what you want, don't wait until near the end when cheap will mean 'no choice.'

Headline of the Week

Another winning headline from Le Parisien on Friday asked, "Vous êtes perdu?" If yes, then the minister will answer all your questions about health insurance, but you'll have to wait until Monday's Le Parisien to find out that some dentists will put you on a waiting list forever.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

The last club meeting's 'Philosophy of Smoke' club reportphoto, patisserie sud tunisien is not as sublime as a citron vert but does hint at the French word for lime by taking you a short way on the yellow lime road. What is this? Some meetings are a puzzle to me too. I should clear them up.

Pastery shop good enough to eat.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on a Thursday again. The Saint's 'Day of the Week' will be Sainte–Angèle. She founded, in 1535, the Order of Ursalines, meant to help young girls in difficulty. It was the first time religious ladies left their monastery to teach.

Other, largely true facts about the club can be found on the 'About the Club' page. The real design of the edgy club membership card on this page looks as avant–gardephoto, sign, rue lalande online as printed. You may think it is too good to be true that the club membership itself is totally free too, but it is.

One Year Ago On Holidays

'Countdowns' Pass Jupiter

This Monday's 'Quote of the Week,' found buried in deepest obscurity, is attributed to Muhammad. He reportedly said, "Even as the fingers of the two hands are equal, so are human beings equal to one another. No one has any right, nor any preference to claim over another. You are brothers."

The Unique, Real, Only, 'Countdown'

photo, sign, notaireThe major anniversary of Jules Verne is now a mere 60 days from now. The idea to stage a live reenactment of the writing of '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' has been scrapped in favor of re–running the original film on TV as a late show some coming Monday morning.

Notable Anniversaries

Ice cream on a stick covered in chocolate was invented and patented by Christian K. Nelson on this day in 1922. In French this is known as a 'eskimau glacé.' Today also marks the dubious birthday of the beer can,photo, red nose bear of the week which first appeared in 1935. The Krueger Brewing Company of Richmond, Virginia, was responsible. A can of beer is known as the diminutive 'canette de bière' in French, without there being a full–sized version.

Other 'Outstanding Dates of the Week'

There are only 341 days left of this year. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in 1732 when author Pierre–Augustin Beaumarchais was born. This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 24 days, the same number that 1924 had when ex–Saint Petersburg, ex–Petrograd, was renamed Leningrad, only three days after the death of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov.
signature, regards, ric

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