We Have the Yellows

photo, rue des abbesses, saturday night, rain, scooter Saturday night, rue des Abbesses.

You Thought the Blues Were Bad?

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 26. May:–  They have rolled up the red carpet in Cannes and Sean Penn is no longer president of this year's jury. The winner was a film about kids in a Paris school, called Entre les murs. Twenty–four of them were in Cannes over the weekend and got a surprise invitation to ascend the red carpet, and be featured on tonight's TV–news. The story was written by a teacher, François Bégaudeau, and he played his part in the film. The ending, in real life, seemed happy, which I can't say for the weather.

France All Yellow

It just goes to show that feel–good fiction has no effect on the weather but everybody already knew that. Tonight's TV weather show showed all of France as yellow, which means a minor state of alert. Especially compared to Corsica, which got the rating of orange.

For Tuesday we were told to expect a crummy swath from south to north with a shorter swath within being even crummier, worse down south. While a temperature of 23 will be better than chilly, it will probably also be humid, like Strasbourg where 32 was forecast. Semi–sunny with stormy outbreaks was forecast for Wednesday, along with a high of 22. On Thursday, finally, we may be treated to some semi–better skies, with a mild temperature of 23 degrees, perfectly suitable for a club day.

photo, sign, window, shutters, flowers

Historical observations from Météo Jim suggest baseball sometimes. A minor quirk to be sure but I don't understand why Fleet Week was unmentioned. Here then, the ultra brief version of how it will be in and around greater Pommeland:–

Torn On the Dotted Rain

This weekend was Memorial Day and is the first fully official holiday in Pommeland and Greater Parts Thereof since New Year's when just about everybody has a day off. It is the unofficial start of the summer season, although July 4 is the official demarcation date.

For the first time in many weekends, there is no rain in Pommeland. A blue sky dotted with an occasional cloud will send temperatures into the mid 70s a–grad. This will lead into Monday with the same sky and a chance for the thermometer to break the 80 a–grad mark.

On Tuesday the dots of clouds will form an unbroken line of clouds and bring on rain showers. The temperatures will fall back into the 70s and the clouds will form dots again. This will bring the merry month of May to a close and usher in June.

photo, sign, window, flowers

A la prochaine, Météo Jim

Café Life

Curdled Pastis

Not every Saturday night is a winner. Sometimes your own birthday is not a winner. Everybody knows about those New Year Eves' that weren't winners. Let's face it – you can put on a clean shirt and slick your hair and pull yourself together and put on your best whistle, head out for the highlife with your toes ready to tango, and come back with yellow pictures that look like curdled pastis.

There's a thing about digital photos. In the old days with film you shot your stuff and gave the cartridge to the drug store. If the photos came back all yellow you could scream and bang on the pill counter, and they would give you your money back, and you could buy a sixpack of aspirins to get over that wonderful once–in–a-–lifetime event that you turned yellow. It was the drug store's fault.

These days the whole caboodle is different. First, if you are lazy, you just set everything to auto. If they come out a bit yellow nobody will notice because everybody's are a bit yellow and maybe they are supposed to be that way. But if you aren't lazy and you think that the yellow is overdoing it – like the dreaded redeye! – you can fiddle with software, and a lot of it has the auto too. Oooops, the yellow's gone and so has the red. Most people don't care.

photo, grace listens and listens Grace always listens, listens.

If I hadn't started with this in '95 with a Brownie–type push–the–button and hope–for–the–best, I wouldn't be where I am now. With the most intelligent camera I ever owned. It can see in the dark, it compensates for my age jitters and you can turn the bell and whistle off. Pretty snazzy!

It doesn't hurt that I started with that one–button full–auto Brownie. The contortions I had to go through to get usable photos! You don't want to know. Those were the darkroom years. Fix, fix, fix. My second digital camera was a lot better. Better? It was a Cadillac of a camera. I was married to it. I ran it five years until I had the moola for the next best thing.

Each of these upgrades has increased the intelligence of the camera, and when I put it in a situation that it can't quite handle, then I can fall back on that fix, fix, fix, I learned. But the whole idea is to avoid that and use the time I used to spend in the digital darkroom for something useful, like watching 5€ DVDs on my super TV.

Everybody knows white men are stupid. My new camera is very intelligent, can see in the dark, etc. But I haven't been too happy with that, so I thought a little flash, a little speedlight – a blitz! – could help out. You know, like one of those paparazzis, like shooting Amy Winehouse from a safe distance when she feels like socking the world in an eye. Those hand–held midnight photos without a flash may be wonderful but they are a bit cruddy. So I got a flash.

photo, grace's red shoes Grace's red shoes.

Partly because Grace Teshima had one of her soirées Saturday night, to boost young artist Matthew Grabelsky who has spent a couple of years in Florence learning how to flourish a brush like one of those 16th century dudes who used to call the Pope and the Medicis boss.

For something a little different, paintings that look like something. A China teacup with its gilding glittering and you can almost see the teabag, and the roses above are so rosy and their thorns are so sharp. A guy whose white–balance comes out of a paint tube. For that kind of style, for that kind of detail, I decided to get a flash.

First off I was surprised it worked. I test–shot a lampshade. I read the user manual. It said, read the camera's user manual. I even read a user manual written in French. I adjusted the camera. What could go wrong?

photo, yellow peril, jazz ladies, sophie and liz Deluge of yellow – sorry, Blues Ladies!

At first nothing went wrong. There was the new blitz bouncing off the ceiling and lighting up my targets. Nobody getting it right in the eyes. Flash, flash, flash. Of course my technique might not be perfect – there's a difference between using next–to–no light and having all you want, need.

Then I met the blues–jazz lady from Chicago. Look up Liz Mandeville if you want. She was wearing a dark dress of petits pois and when she was getting ready to leave she put on a very red hat. Liz was with another blues–jazz lady, Sophie Kay, a blond from Paris, also with the petits pois. How could I resist?

photo, wet sidewalk, abbesses, rain, evening Wet, wet, wet, for us.

Six shots, all yellow. Where, oh where, did that yellow come from? It was like the camera was full of egg yolk. Ugh. Other photos, uncorrected, had yellow too but I could throttle it back. With Liz and Sophie it just wasn't possible. What a deception. What a loser I am. What a bummer of a Saturday night!

When I left I shot a couple of cafés. The camera was still set for the flash but it was turned off, so it just did its regular job of seeing in the dark. I got Grace's red shoes too. I guess I should keep them in mind. If all else fails Grace always has her red shoes, lots of orange juice, some pretty classy painters and a lot a real interesting folks to swap tales with. But before I go back I'm going to shoot the old lampshade a few more times.

Some of you may be a bit disappointed that I didn't write more about Matthew or about the orange juice I had, or about Grace's red shoes, or about the 90 year old monsieur I met who said he'd filmed the first Olympics for television, the Queen's coronation, and news for Ed Murrow. He looked at my camera and said, "That's nothing! Those early TV cameras were bigger than Wurlitzers. Full disclosure – he didn't say Wurlitzer. But they were big.

photo, sophie kay, liz mandevilleBetter light for Sophie and Liz.

To ease your disappointment with my slovenly, no, strike that. I ordered a Digital Grey Kard online. This is for tricking a digital camera into a correct white balance when shooting in a yellow hell. It came in the mail today, two days too late for Saturday night. But I promise that by next week I will have it tested, maybe even with the flash, and you'll see the results right here. Paris – white balanced!

Whispers, Rumors, White Lies

This popular feature which began last week gets a swift chop this week on account of Willy, my number one son who just blew in this afternoon from Dublin. At the moment he is watching Blade Runner on the superwide TV. Every once in a while the DVD movie surround sound kicks in with an explosion or a siren and I just can't make up stuff while it's going on. He doesn't know it yet but I'm going to get him to read the user manual for my phone so I can find out where the menu is hidden. When I find it then I'll be able to turn off the alarm. Either that or I'll find out who phones me every night at 19:29 and 19:32.

photo, twingo, fiat 500, smartA Fiat 500 sandwiched between
a Twingo and a Smart.

Soldes d'Eté Déjà

This old chestnut again. Like the annual winter sales, the summer sales happen once every year. This is programmed to happen even without any summer. In fact, the less summer there is, the more stuff there will be on sale. However since the goods on sale are priced in euros your possible savings might be slight. The sales will begin on Wednesday, 25. June, and the wild shopping times roll on until 2. August.

photo, sign, window, flowers

The Best Café Metropole Club

Club meetings with a minor passel of members are fine with me. Last week there we were, à trois. Other members and new candidates are welcome too. The next Thursday that everything at the Café Metropole Club will be 100% new, will be on 29. May, a few days before our tax deadline. All members–in–any form, any standing, of any sort will be welcome even if you feel like waiting for your refund.

Repetition here is slated to end someday but slogs on forever. Two dubious facts and several false rumors about the club are on a page called the About the Club Webpage. Readers who have actually read it, and one or two may have, may become club members without personal risk or other fees.

photo, sign, window, shutters, flowers

The Ex–Question of Schleswig–Holstein

Some of you have might have been thinking that it is appropriate and fair to recall that it was today in 961 that little Otto II, seven years old, was crowned as bi–king to his father Otto I, in Aachen, as it is still known these days. The only daughter of Przemysl II and his second wife Ryksa, the daughter of Sweden's Valdemar I, married Venceslas II today in 1303, thus becoming Queen of Bohemia and Poland. A bit later in 1828 a kid 16 years old turned up in Nüremberg. Folks still wonder about Kasper Hauser. On this date in 1889 the first elevator of the Tour Eiffel began operation. Engineer Eiffel originally proposed to build the tower in Barcelona but the city fathers turned him down because they thought it was too weird. In Paris many thought it was an eyesore and hoped it would be dismantled after its concession ended. That's our little world, folks!

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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