new Elton John Christmas ad

Who doesn’t like Elton John? No, really. I don’t know anyone who dislikes the King of Pop. I grew up with Elton. I have a vivid memory of cruising on Friday and Saturday nights in my Toronto suburb, me and my gal pals: Sandy, Lynda, Colleen and Tracy. Sandy had her mother’s car: a gigantic boat-like Pontiac, a Grand Prix I think it was. Massive. It was the 1970s and I was a teenager. We’d drive around all night, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes mixed with weed and singing at the top of our lungs. The 8-track cassette that was in the tape deck was Elton John Greatest Hits and our favorite song was Bennie and the Jets.

Be-Be-Be-Bennie and the Jets. Remember?

Of course, there was also Rocket Man, Your Song, Daniel, Tiny Dancer, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, and oh, so many many more. Around midnight we’d meet up with the local boys at Ice Queen and gorge on double cheeseburgers, fries and chocolate shakes. 

Anyway, fast-forward four decades and John Lewis department store in Britain has crafted a heart-warming Christmas ad this year.

From The Guardian newspaper –

The John Lewis advert is bookended by the singer performing Your Song at his first piano in what is supposed to be the sitting room of his London home. The middle charts his path from school and pub gigs in the London suburb of Pinner to pop mega-stardom, complete with technicolour outfit changes that include a stars and stripes sequinned suit and pink mohican.

With a little poetic licence the ad traces the singer’s musicianship back to the Christmas gift of a piano in the early 1950s, when the then Reginald Dwight was growing up under the watchful eye of his mother and grandmother. One scene, which re-enacts him nervously playing at a school recital, is expected to bring tears to the eyes of thousands of parents of would-be musicians.

“I hope audiences will watch this and really enjoy the national treasure that is Elton John,” said Craig Inglis, customer director at John Lewis & Partners.

 

making baking breaking bread

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I don’t know about you, but I’m going to put all the troubles of the world aside and bake some bread. I saw the above photo, and decided it was something I kneaded (pardon the pun.) Not just to eat, but to make. There’s something very satisfying about dense, delicious, high-fibre rye bread. It’s also delicious toasted. Yesterday I ate a bowl of sweet potato-butternut squash soup (homemade), and it cried out for a slice or two of rye. Making your own bread isn’t that difficult. Thanks to Paul Hollywood’s recipes below, he’s made it user friendly. It’s important to buy good quality organic flour, not the industrial stuff. This recipe calls for rye flour and white flour.

It also calls for treacle. Treacle! I’m not sure where I’m going to find that in France … I don’t even know how to say it. (Just looked it up, it’s mélasse, as in molasses.) Although I’m not sure they’re quite the same thing.

Anyway, sometimes it’s time to turn off the toxic news, listen to some music or a good podcast, and bake some bread.

Qui sème bon grain récolte bon pain. (He who sows good grain, harvests good bread.)

Enjoy!

https://www.bbc.com/food/rye_flour

https://www.bbc.com/food/chefs/paul_hollywood

Trump in France, rain, war cemeteries …

65th anniversary of the Normandy invasion of the allied forces

What an immense embarrassment … to himself, to the USA, but mostly to the fallen dead. Trump the Dump has crossed so many lines we’ve all lost count, but this … this takes the cake. He is a national, no, an international disgrace.

Today is Armistice Day. But instead of honoring those who fought and died for America, Trump has cancelled his visit to Belleau, the American war cemetery in Normandy. Why? Because it’s raining!

Trump has not only dishonored all veterans and active duty, he has dishonored our flag. The same flag he accuses others of dishonoring by kneeling during the National Anthem. No one who has ever kneeled during the National Anthem disgraced our country, our flag and most importantly our military personnel like Trump has done today. Not even close.

This is the same man who mocked Hillary Clinton for fainting after she stood through a long memorial service when she had flu?

It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary — and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago.

Make America Great Again. Indeed! And this from an individual who has never served in the military, thanks to a string of deferments that enabled him to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War.

The cemetery has 2,288 grave­sites honoring those who died. The names of 1,060 more Americans who went missing and whose bodies were not recovered are engraved on the walls of the site.

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Here’s the link to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Normandy, France –
https://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries-memorials/europe/aisne-marne-american-cemetery#.W-f2F_ZFyas

And here’s a résumé of the day’s events in Monday’s The Guardian –

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/11/thumbs-up-from-putin-as-trump-rains-on-armistice-parade

Christine and the Queens

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Her name is Héloïse Letissier and she was born in Nantes on the west coast of France. She’s a singer, songwriter and producer. Such a charming vintage name, Héloïse, which of course reminds one of the highly popular Eloise books for children. Authored by Kay Thompson in the 1950s, the books feature a six-year-old precocious girl, an enfant terrible, who lives in The Plaza Hotel in NYC.

Before forming her solo musical group, Christine and the Queens – in London – Héloïse studied theater and dance. She was inspired by Michael Jackson and Pina Bausch. Her work combines music, performance, art videos, drawings and photography.

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She spends most of her time in London now. Her English is excellent. She’s been nominated for, and has won, many musical awards. Here’s an interview with her on British television:

 

Saturday brunch

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We’re currently enjoying a 4-day weekend here in France. Thursday and Friday it rained, but today was sunny, dry and cold. A perfect day to meet up with friends for brunch. Emerging from my lair where I had been holed up for two days, I jumped on the metro and crossed town.

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I love this photo. H. on the left was born in Denmark, the boy is Swedish. Around the table four languages were spoken – Swedish, Danish, French and English. Living multiculturally and multilingually is very enriching.

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The delicious soup came from here; check out this website for amazing recipes –

http://www.kathrynbruton.com/recipes/

the brilliant Kate Tempest

Europe is lost, America lost, London lost
Still we are clamouring victory.
All that is meaningless rules
We have learned nuthin’ from history.

Hostile, worried, lonely,
We move in our packs and these are the rights we were born to …

Live porn streamed to your pre-teen’s bedrooms …

England! England! Patriotism!
And you wonder why kids want to die for religion?

Massacres, massacres, massacres, new shoes.
Kill what you find if it threatens you,
No trace of love in the hunt for the bigger buck
Here in the land where nobody gives a fuck.

English rapper and poetess, Tempest’s words perfectly capture the zeitgeist of our times. Nominated Best Female Solo Performer at the 2018 Brit Awards, she has received wide critical acclaim for her written and live work.

The video is harsh. But then, so are our times.

stop with the shame game!

If I hear or read the word “shame” one more time, I’ll scream. It’s everywhere, and it’s doing us no good at all. I speak for men and women alike.

STOP TELLING US THAT WE’RE SUPPOSED TO FEEL SHAME.

It’s Sunday morning here in Paris, I’m sitting on my chaise longue, mug of steaming café au lait in hand, and reading an article in The Washington Post entitled I was sexually assaulted. Here’s why I don’t remember many of the details. It’s written by Patti Davis, daughter of Ronald and Nancy Reagan.

“Roughly 40 years ago,” the article begins, “I showed up at a prominent music executive’s office for an appointment that had been scheduled suspiciously late in the workday.” She goes on to write that the music exec snorted a few lines of coke and then raped her on the leather couch.

“He was against me, on top of me — so quickly — with his hands under my skirt and his mouth on mine, that I froze. I lay there as he pushed himself inside me. The leather couch stuck to my skin, made noises beneath me. I remember leaving afterward, driving home, the night around me glittered with streetlights and alive with people out at dinner or bars. I felt alone, ashamed and disgusted with myself. Why didn’t I get out of there? Why didn’t I push him off? Why did I freeze?”

Forty years ago was 1978. Back then, sexual harassment, assault and abuse was barely on the radar. It was rampant. I know because I was there. And why should Patti Davis, 25 at the time, feel ashamed and disgusted with herself? What did she do wrong? This is a classic abuse story that happens every single day in the lives of women all over the planet: an unaccompanied, unsuspecting woman innocently shows up at a man’s office for an appointment. She thinks she’s there for an interview. But she’s wrong because it’s a set-up. She was targeted in advance by a sexual predator. In truth, the young woman walked straight into an ambush.

Now why should she be the one who feels shame/shamed/ashamed?? And what about the rapist? What does he get to feel?

Notice the pattern? She blames herself, not the rapist. He gets off scot-free and, not quite believing his exoneration, is all too ready to do it again.

FEELINGS OF UNWORTHINESS

I partially blame the media, especially women’s magazines like ELLE and others, who propagate shame while devoting articles and attention-grabbing headlines to the subject. I believe that shame is the new hot topic being peddled today. Why? Because it sells. Oh, and have you noticed? Shame is inextricably linked to its cousin, guilt. SHAME and GUILT. Feelings of unworthiness. Exploiting the insecurities (real or imagined) of others has made many people (authors, “life coaches”, TED Talk  speakers) rich. They cash in on it. Shame on them.

FORGIVE YOURSELF, we’re told. For what? I’ve done nothing wrong. Or how about this quote from Dr. Brené Brown who has tapped deep into the shame game:

You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging. 

Dr. Brown, I will decide how flawed or imperfect I am, not you. As for telling me that I am worthy? How dare you assume that I ever believed otherwise.

Here’s a random excerpt lifted from a back issue of ELLE online. Notice the language (my markings in red) –

Why Do We Find It So Hard To Admit When We Feel Ashamed?

In 2017, women are supposed to feel self-assured and super-empowered, yet shame remains a pervasive and defining force in our internal lives, often governing everything from our relationships to our career choices. So why do we find it impossible to talk about?

How comfortable would you be to confess over brunch that you are so deeply impacted by a sense of existential worthlessness that, some days, you struggle to pick a work skirt? At a guess, not very. Although shame is a powerful, persistent emotion, it remains, in itself, shameful. And never more so in an age when young women are meant to feel universally empowered and self-assured. But at a deeper level, we remain as susceptible to the primal pull of shame as ever. Our bodies, our choices, our careers, our devices and, most of all, our interior lives are now the battleground of shame (they are???), where the call for “empowerment” is a more acceptable way, simply, of asking to feel less bad.

Feel less bad?? Don’t listen to this toxic stuff. Believe it for what it is: self-serving propaganda that betrays women by making them feel bad about themselves.

So what if you don’t feel shame?

I’ve never felt it, because I have nothing to be ashamed about. Oh, alright, when I was a kid I stole a box of Rowntree’s Black Magic chocolates from under the Christmas tree. I ate them all, stashed the empty box in my sock drawer, then told my parents that it was the cleaning lady who did it. What can I say? I was a chocolate junkie from the age of 5. My father telephoned our cleaning lady (it took me two decades to realize that in fact he pretended to telephone her), said that she denied it, and eventually found the empty chocolate box in my drawer. Now that’s shame.

Have a beautiful, shame-free Sunday.