the tragedy of Macbeth, new Coen film

As a lover of both Shakespeare and the Coen brothers’ films, I was thrilled to learn of this startling new movie written and directed by Joel Coen. The visuals are breath-taking. Can’t wait to see this!

“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”

Shakespeare. Macbeth. Act 4, Scene 1.

 

A brief synopsis: 

Three witches tell the Scottish general Macbeth that he will be King of Scotland. Encouraged by his wife, Macbeth kills the king, becomes the new king, and kills more people out of paranoia. Civil war erupts to overthrow Macbeth, resulting in more death.

 

Eric Zemmour, extreme right-wing candidate for the French presidency

Below is a very good video from Britain’s THE TELEGRAPH investigating Zemmour’s startling ascension in France. I do not support him. During the filmed interview with the editor of the Conservative magazine, Valeurs Actuelles, the editor said that Zemmour’s ideas were “reassuring” to many people. I don’t agree; to the contrary. One of Zemmour’s role models is extreme right-wing populist Viktor Orbán, the prime minister of Hungary. He also claims, and has said so publicly many times, that during World War II, Marshall Pétain who served as Chief of State of Vichy France from 1940 to 1944 (and who collaborated with Nazi Germany), protected and saved French Jews. It was only the foreign Jews, he says, that were rounded up and sent to the camps. Not true. Why on earth would Zemmour, a Jewish man himself, say such a thing? After the war, Pétain was tried and convicted for treason. 

But what does this have to do with the current problems and preoccupations of France today?  Zemmour is a timewaster, has never served in any political capacity, and has no viable solutions to any pressing problems.

Zemmour in Marseille just last week giving the middle finger to someone through his car window. Is this the image we want of a French president? Zemmour …dégage !

PROFILE (from Wikipedia) –

Early life

Born on 31 August 1958 in Montreuil, at that time in the Seine department, now part of Seine-Saint-Denis. His parents were Berber Jews from Algeria with French citizenship who came to metropolitan France during the Algerian War. He grew up first in Drancy and later in the Paris Château Rouge quarter. The son of Roger Zemmour (a paramedic) and his wife Lucette, a housewife, he has said he admires his mother and grandmother, as his father was often absent; he was raised by women “who taught [him] to be a man”.

Education

Zemmour graduated from the Institut d’études politiques de Paris in 1979. He subsequently failed twice to gain admission to the École nationale d’administration (ÉNA). Despite his failure to gain admission to the ÉNA, his status as a political journalist allowed him to be a member of the admissions committee of the school in 2006.

Personal life

Since 1982, Éric Zemmour has been married to Mylène Chichportich, a lawyer of Tunisian Jewish descent who specialized in bankruptcy law. She maintains a low media profile and never comments on her husband’s controversies. Together they have three children, two boys and a girl.

Here’s the video –

not much going on. and migrant crossings.

I don’t really have much to say, as I lead my humdrum life. But in these fraught days, humdrum is probably good. No drama is the best kind of life to live, is my opinion.

The Christmas lights went up on the Esplanade de la Défense a few days ago. I’ll take photos next week. Always uplifting as I walk home in the dark, or rather, to the metro station after work on cold winter nights. Our company Christmas party – cancelled last year due to Covid – is scheduled for December 9 (but could be cancelled yet again … due to Covid.)

I actually had a tiny drama when I went to my local hair salon and walked out with orange-colored hair. This is not the first time this has happened to me. I paid a lot of money, sat there from 2 pm to 5 pm, and walked out a very dissatisfied client. But what peeved me more than the hair is the fact that the French never apologize. They should learn to do so, it would make for improved customer relations. Where does this non-apologizing come from … do they learn it in nursery school? I say that because it seems to be ingrained, I’ve come across it time and again. As I sat in the chair with two hairstylists standing behind me – all of us looking at the horrific highlights one of them had done – and me saying “But it’s fluorescent colored!”, the apology I was waiting for was unforthcoming.

All they said was – “Can you come in again tomorrow?” They’re going to try to fix it. As if I have nothing else to do with my weekends.

As much as I deeply dislike Boris (Bojo) Johnson, I have to agree with him concerning the migrant crisis. From the French shores, thousands of migrants – aided and exploited by smugglers – attempt to cross the English Channel in unsafe dinghies, small boats and rafts in order to reach Britain. Many of them die. What I don’t understand is – why are they so eager to go to Britain? Is it because they speak English, and not French, and can therefore find work and integrate more easily? If it’s to join family members, then surely a family repatriation scheme would be better than risking their lives in a dinghy to join them.

Bojo sent a letter to President Macron saying it was France’s responsibility to monitor and detain migrants from crossing the Channel, and asked him to take back the migrants who have freshly-arrived in Britain. France’s reaction, or rather, non-reaction vis-à-vis the migrants, especially in the winter months, is lamentable. Their non-reaction is like the non-apology: aloof and circumspect. Non-committal.

Miffed now because of the letter, French interior minister, Gerald Darmanin, told Priti Patel, the British Home Secretary, that she was no longer welcome at Sunday’s European meeting on migrant issues after 27 people died making the English Channel crossing on Wednesday. Completely counter-productive.

Here’s an article in The Guardian about the conditions migrants live in, where they’re from and what their hopes are –

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/26/he-didnt-come-back-the-grim-camps-from-where-refugees-set-off-for-uk

 

Elton John and George Michael – Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me

Sometimes I’ll spend a Sunday afternoon sitting on my chaise longue with my laptop watching and listening to golden oldies (my fave songs from the past) on YouTube. Cold and drizzly and gray outside, today’s a perfect day to stay indoors. This coming week, cold weather with possible snow and “polar conditions” are forecast.

Here’s the video I was watching earlier. 123 million hits. I love the part when Elton comes out – the audience goes wild. I love Elton. His songs – Rocket Man, Daniel, Bennie and the Jets, etc – were an important part of my growing-up years. (I love G.M. too. Another tragic premature death).

flag day, to honor the victims of the November 2015 terrorist attacks

To honor and pay tribute to the victims of the horrific November 2015 terrorist attacks that took place in several different locations around Paris, the good citizens of France were invited to hang flags from their windows and balconies. And if a flag wasn’t handy, well…use your imagination!

bras3 chairs3 towelsflag fourflag eightflag sevenflag oneflag sixflag and hands

Incidentally, President Macron recently changed the color of the French flag, but no one noticed. The blue is now a darker, navy blue.

Gudrun Sjödén

Cult Swedish designer, Gudrun Sjödén, opened her first store in Stockholm in 1976. Her eco-conscious, fanciful designs have been called Pippi Longstocking: comfortable, colorful clothes crafted from natural fabrics and with a Nordic design. Tunics, loose-fitting trousers, generous-sized tops with scarves, leggings and the layered look. When I popped over to London on the Eurostar, I’d make sure to visit her boutique near Covent Garden and buy an outfit or two. Gosh, I miss London. I haven’t been since August 2019 (mainly because of COVID.)

There’s also a Gudrun Sjödén boutique in Soho, NYC at 50 Greene Street. But not in Paris. Years ago, I bought a tunic top that I’ve worn and washed so often it now has a hole in it. Which is why I’m looking to order another one from their website. You can too!

https://www.gudrunsjoden.com/en-gb

lunch at the Bistro St. So in Lille

I’ve been taking the kids to the “parc rouge” (the red park) for thirteen years now, ever since the eldest son – now 20 – was seven years old. Now it’s his little brother, 9 years old, who I take to the park and then to lunch across the road.

It’s not really called the red park, we call it that because the metal gates surrounding it are painted red. Its official name is Le parc Jean-Baptiste Lebas. The weather was autumnal: crisp, cool and sunny, the lawns littered with fallen leaves.

Directly across the road is the Gare Saint Sauveur, a former goods station with some of the buildings converted into an exhibition area and a terrific bistro that I love. Great food, service and ambience at reasonable prices.

The evening before, I had taken my 9-year old companion to a DVD shop at around 7 pm. It’s a place that I frequent often (I have a huge DVD collection) because there must be over 100,000 DVDs on offer, all years, all genres, all nationalities. I could spend hours there. But after about 20 minutes my companion complained that his back hurt because he was standing for too long.

“What?” I exclaimed, flipping through a row of DVDs. “You’re 9 years old and you’re complaining of back pain?” I suffer from lumbago. I’ll tell you about back pain, my little friend. (He confessed later that his back didn’t hurt, he was just bored and wanted to leave.)

So I quickly bought two DVDs: Bunny Lake is Missing (a 1965 British psychological drama film directed by Otto Preminger) and The Grifters (a 1990 American neo-noir crime thriller film directed by Stephen Frears) and out we went into the night in central Lille. We ended up in a pocket-sized sushi restaurant. We both agreed that it wasn’t as good as the sushi we had in Paris in August.

The Bistro de St So is a super casual, welcoming place filled with young parents and their kids who are encouraged to run around in a safe place while the parents catch up with their friends. Incidentally, the good people from Lille are twenty times friendlier and more relaxed than Parisians.

I chose the roast chicken with stuffing, mushrooms and roasted squash because it looked autumnal. My companion had the children’s menu of fish and chips.

I couldn’t resist the dessert which was a sort of butternut tart with a citrusy cream and chantilly (whipped cream). Eating it was a beautiful experience.

Back to Paris on the Sunday afternoon train.

off to Lille with homemade cinnamon raisin bread

One of my favorite activities is to stand in my small kitchen space, listen to the radio or a good podcast (or an author interview on BBC Radio 4), and make or bake something. I find it relaxing and de-stressing. The reward at the end is something delicious that you made yourself.

In view of my trip to Lille tomorrow morning (a city in the north of France, not far from the Belgian border), I decided to make two cinnamon raisin loaves, one for my friend and his kids, the other for another friend who Photoshopped something for me. I wish I knew how to use Photoshop, Inkscape and all the other graphic design software. If I had my career to do over again, maybe I’d be a graphic designer, I don’t know. It’s true that you can teach yourself, but what with my full-time job and my book-writing on the weekend, who has time?? I barely have time to read a book and am actually looking forward to the train trip tomorrow (it’s only an hour) to crack open a new novel I recently bought: Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers.

There are many excellent recipes on the internet for this bread. I prefer whole-grain flour rather than white, as used in The Smitten Kitchen’s recipe (link below).

whole-grain cinnamon swirl bread

Chapon chocolate

Sunday Paris Oct 13th - 6th arr 083

The good news is that Chapon Chocolatier is located far from my apartment. Far away on the other side of town, across the river on the Left Bank. (I live on the Right Bank.)

The bad news is … well, there is no bad news, other than the fact that Chapon Chocolatier is closed on Monday mornings.

Patrice Chapon has won numerous awards for his chocolate concoctions. But the biggest prize should go to the four bowls of rich, silky mousse in the shop window. As I stood in the hankie-sized shop, at least eight people pressed their faces to the window to gaze in at them. Each mousse is made from the cocoa beans of a different region: Madagascar, Venezuela, Ecuador. Each mousse has varying degrees of sweetness and intensity. In the cold weather, thick take-out hot chocolate is on offer.

Sunday Paris Oct 13th - 6th arr 085Sunday Paris Oct 13th - 6th arr 088

Does chocolate make you happy?

Sunday Paris Oct 13th - 6th arr 090

Studies show that eating chocolate affects the levels of endorphins in the brain, thus causing feelings of euphoria.

Sunday Paris Oct 13th - 6th arr 089Paris street April 2013 007

Here’s my euphoria: buying some Chapon chocolate then heading to the café directly across the street to stand up at the counter, order a double espresso and slowly savour the coffee and chocolate together.

Cocoa and coffee bean heaven. Amen.

69 rue du Bac
Paris 75007 (7th arrondissement)
Metro: Rue du Bac