I've finally learned how to pronounce the name of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Once you get into the habit of pronouncing the syllables smoothly and rapidly, they just roll off the tongue: mah-meud ah-mah dee-neuh jad. A couple of days ago, he was interviewed for the first time by French TV, and he came across (in an erratic context of language translation) as a very ordinary guy. Too ordinary, in fact, to be true. The French often apply a silly expression to individuals who talk as if they might be sneering slightly and trying to avoid an authentic contact. They say that he/she has a tête à claques (slappable face). Watching him trying to avoid the direct questions asked politely by the calm French journalists, I couldn't help feeling that it would be fun to slap Mahmoud's bearded face. But I realize that my reaction is a variant of an obsession whenever I see a guy sporting a beard like a banner, for alleged religious reasons. I feel like taking out a can of pink aerosol paint and giving his beard a few spurts, to make it stand out even more clearly. [For red and purple robed cardinals of Rome, I would use white paint, or maybe simply the traditional technique of cream tarts.]
We learn this morning that Ahmadinejad won't be visiting New York as planned to address the UN Security Council. He claims that his delegation couldn't get their US visas in time. If it's true that the US embassy in Switzerland was sluggish in supplying these documents, it's indeed a shocking predicament, like missing a train because the ticket seller had stepped outside for a smoke. Let's await explanations.