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Toot for Toontrek

photo, terrace, boulanger, patissier

No café, no bar, just a terrace.

Blink for Belly

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 1. August 2005:– This seems to be the summer when weather gurus are starting to say that the increased temperatures, the rains and the droughts, the winds and the storms, just may be caused by record worldwide levels of air between the earth's surface and the edge of inner space.

Of course it isn't the air itself at fault, but the sludge in the air. Up where the jetstream flows the airways are full of jets flying hundreds of thousands of tourists from one continent to another and across continents, mountains, oceans, and every one of these jets spews out half–burned kerosene, which, when mixed with the catalyst of the sun's rays, evaporates.

Meanwhile here in Paris no jets fly overhead unless they are very high, so much so that if anything goes wrong they can land safely in Brussels or Marseille. This means on the ground that it may start off sunny tomorrow but by afternoon it will become more cloudy, and the temperature may be around 24 degrees regardless of how many jets fly over.

Wednesday might be somewhat better if you can overlook some feeble clouds near the Channel, but the highphoto, climbers, paris plage may be no more than 23 degrees. Last week when a low temperature like this was predicted, it was always became three of four degrees more.

For Thursday Wednesday's feeble Channel cloud shifts across France to the east, and everything here stays the same, mostly sunny, except for a predicted temperature of 24 degrees, up a puny degree again. Elsewhere in France water supplies are short and there are restrictions in many locales, including in some coastal areas surrounded by water.

Once again Météo Jim, located somewhere in New Jersey, sends an alarming weather note about possible climate change. Although still inappropriate, the remainder of Météo Jim's forecast for Pommeland weather this week is soothing:–

Silly Haboob Right Here

Until a cool front arrived on Thursday, the entire East Coast was in the grips of a heat wave. Pommeland was truly la Grosse Pomme cuite au four and Boston was la Ville aux fèves cuites au four. Temperatures since then have been in the low 80 anglograd, with much lower humidity. This should continue until Tuesday when the 90/90's return. Not only baked but also Pommeland à la vapeur. Les gazons de Pommeland are turning browner and browner every day. C'est le thermidor à la sécheresse.

Less poetic, the hydro center at Camp Springs, Maryland, foresees August beginning and continuing warm and humid with a daily chance of showers, but it is a weak front, with a retrograding mid–level positive anomaly working towards Greenland and Iceland with negative NAO, etc, until next Sunday. On a practical note, increased Arctic melting has been noticed so place your beach towel a bit further back from the water's edge.

Café Life

Toot for Toontrek

At first I didn't know it was Sue Burleigh on the phone. I should have been expecting her call because she told me about her 'Toontrek' last spring, and I got an email saying she'd made the first stop in Dublin. Here in Paris already? Why sure, we can meet, so that's what we did on Wednesday.

Sue is a nurse at Blandford Hospital in Dorset, and she thinks she is a cartoonist – which she is, having done cartoons for papers in the UK and for her employer, the NHS. Unlike some of us lonely people Sue is also a member of Britain's Cartoonists' Club and other orgs, plus she has a cute Landrover ex–ambulance named 'Murdoch.'

At first Toontrek was to be done with Murdoch, but the poor dear was left at home because Sue's trek involvesphoto, sue burleigh, toontrek visits to cartoonists in Ireland, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Italy, Spain, all in no more than 80 days.

Without Murdoch, Sue Burleigh on the beach, looking for toons.

The idea is to collect cartoons from everybody, with the drawings to be published in a book, to raise money for the charity Comic Relief. While working together with the Cartoon Art Trust in London, Sue's other objective is to promote lady cartoonists like herself.

So she called me. I don't read press releases so off I went to Montmartre to talk to the lady on a trek, forgetting of course to take my cartoon contribution. Our recognition signals worked fine in Sue's hotel lobby, but the day was gray when we set out on our own trek, from Montmartre to Paris–Plage. Within 200 metres the rain began, so we parked in a handy café until the sun came out to fry the puddles.

Sue said that Iran had canceled and Lebanon had been added. There may be other changes to Toontrek's itinerary but these should be reflected on the Wheelbrace Web site.

We talked about the solitary nature of the work – doing cartoons is work! The French must be more solitary, without the professional clubs, with just the big comic festivals like at Angoulème in January.

But mainly what we did was walk – possibly too far. On one of my 'tours,' slightly lost until the surprise find of the Avenue de l'Opéra, which must have moved east from where it usually sits. I worry now that Sue's visit to Brussels may require the ambulance she left behind, but once you are on a Toontrek you have to keep on... gliding.

Egyptian Outpost

On the way to Sue's hotel in the Rue d'Orsel there are a great number of medium and small shops peddlingphoto, au tresor de paris, coin d'egypte textiles and fabrics, but the one that caught my eye was called Au Décor de Paris. Hanging off its front were party clothes you seldom see in the boutiques around Saint–Honoré, or even in Tati.

Whatever you need for an Egyptian evening.

I asked the helpful Monsieur what it was all about and he said, "It's a little corner of Egypt," or the Middle East or north Africa, if you are in the market for appropriate duds to wear while belly–dancing. The shop has two other outlets nearby, one called Royal Spectacle, which is what the one I was looking at seemed to be. Do men belly–dance?

In the Weeds

Without your aid, Metropole is in danger of becoming a busted dot–com. Please take a look at thesupport facility today and dump all you into it. Your 'Ed' is still deep in the weeds up to his skinny neck.

Thanks also to those who have written words of encouragement, and with suggestions for resolving this situation. By this you have indicated you want Metropole to continue rather than see me retire to a life of dire boredom, watching reality TV.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

The report about last Thursday's club meeting was not wholly about 'Aha, Wagga Wagga!.' This was the 'co‐City of the Week' along with Santa Monica, although they are not related. Like other items in the club reportphoto, roue libre, paris plage Wagga Wagga is not made up, being true and real, as well as a 'first,' just like Santa Monica. The big surprise of the week was that we celebrated the club's 300th meeting without going overboard about it.

Bikes on the beach, all for rent.

The weekly Thursday meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on a Thursday again, and for a change it'll be an ordinary day. The Saint's 'Day of the Week' will be Saint–Jean–Marie Vianney. This 'Saint of the Week' became a priest in 1815 when the church would take anybody it could get, and it gave Jean–Marie Ars, a village with 200 souls worth saving. A lousy preacher, Jean–Marie was good at confessions and became a saint because of it while he was still active, but because of basic incompetence, he died worn out in 1859.

Just as likely real notions about the club can be found on the 'About the Club' page should you happen to glance at it. The silly design of the club membership card on the page looks as unlike a membership card as a Tati bag, but it isn't rose–colored. Nearly free of cost, the club membership itself is worth something without actually being anything valuable.

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issues 8.30/34 – 21. July/21. Aug 2003 – this month–long issue's Café Life column mentioned the still astonishing 'Lobsters' Short Lives in New England.' The Café Metropole column musically had 'Django, Johann, and Edith.' The first Au Bistro's headline was 'Al Gore Continues Six Months' of Non-Candidacy.' The other Au Bistro column was more shy with, ' A New Seven–Word 'News' Report.' Then there was a modest feature titled, 'No False Modesty for Paris Plage.' The two Scène columns were repeats. Updates for the Café Metropole Club meetings began on 24. July with the 'Nearly All Sports' report. Then on 31. July there was the 'Island of the Week' report followed by the 7/14. August reports done by Linda Thalman. Thephoto, sign, place fernand mourlot update on 21. August ended the summer series with the "It Rained Like Sparerods" report. There were four lonely 'Posters of the Month' and Ric's weekly cartoon was summer–like with the caption, "Where's this beach we're going to?"

This Was Metropole Four Years Ago

Issue 6.31 – 30. July 2001 – the week's issue began with Café Metropole column silliness with, 'Hot' Weather Looms!' The Au Bistro column had more local news with 'Lawyer To Sue for 'Right To Drive.' There was a real link to a real Scène column, titled 'Paris In August!' The report for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 2. August was headlined by the dozing secretary as the 'Major New 'City of the Week' report. There were four absolutely average 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was more upbeat than in previous weeks, with "Two Glasses of Water."

Shining Moment 17

For the 22nd time almost in a row, this is not about some musty old saint, but instead is a famous 'Quote of the Week,' about technical stuff. Karl Popper said, or may have written, "Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve." Yes, but what's the answer?

If the Past Is Any Indication

Today marks the date in 1914photo, sign, rue bervic that Germany declared war with Russia. This came four days after Austro–Hungary declared war with Serbia following the assassination of the Archduke in Sarajevo. France ordered a general mobilization on 3. August and Germany declared war with France the day after, and invaded Belgium, which was minding its own business. The war was expected to be short but lasted four long years and nothing was the same afterwards.

Old Patapsphysics

It was on this date in 1902 that the United States bought the Panama Canal from France. Ferdinand de Lesseps, after building the Suez Canal, started construction in Panama in 1880. After a terrible time, the United States paid De Lesseps' company 40 million dollars for the privilege of finishing the ditch, which saves 18,000 miles on the round–trip from New York to San Francisco if you are going that way.

Greatest Czech of the Week

Although it was decided in May by Czech television, and although his nomination was rejected in January, mythical Czech Jára Cimrman did not make the list of the top ten Czechs of all time, being edged out of the spotlight's glare by King Charles IV, Tomás Garrigue Masaryk, Václav Havel, and Bedrich Smetana in number ten slot.

It is only today that the Los Angeles Times notes the oversight of the noted Czech – explorer, inventor, playwright, philosopher and all–round Central European renaissance man of the world from the top ten list. Friends of Czechs are dismayed that for all of his achievements on the world's stage today's citizens of the Czech Republic have such a weakened sense of disrespect, choosing merely to vote for real people. As Jára Cimrman himself would have said, "I am truly skeptical about this honor. If I am optimistic I deserve to be shot."

Language of the Week

Germany felt that German was weird and decided to 'reform' it in 1996 after talking it overphoto, garbage cart, broom with Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Trilingual Luxembourg gave the idea a pass. In 1880, as a nation–building measure, Prussia gave an exclusive concession to the dictionary editor Duden, to produce the definitive version of the German language. But time moves on – somewhat slowly – and hearings were held – for years and years – and a court decided it was legal, so the 'reform' has been phased in. The seven–year transition ended yesterday, and today German is officially 'reformed.' As of July last year, 77 percent of Germans polled thought the spelling 'reform' to be silly, senseless or foolish.

Other, 'Unique Dates of the Week'

There are only 152 days left of this year, which means this year has nearly evaporated. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in the year 10 BC when Claudius was born. This odd duck grew up to be the Roman emperor, for a whole 13 years. This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 213 days, the same number that 1798 had when Napoléon lost his ships on account of the aggressive behavior of Rear–Admiral Horatio Nelson during the Battle of Aboukir Bay. The British were worried that Napoléon might try to build the Suez Canal.
signature, regards, ric

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