Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Heavy heritage

During my wonderful three-year stint with Pierre Schaeffer at the Service de la Recherche de l’ORTF, I had countless encounters with amazing individuals. Some of them were linked, in one way or another, to the sombre period of the Nazi occupation of France, and the glorious French Résistance.

Michel Anthonioz [1947-2009] was a friendly soft-spoken colleague whose major contribution, in the context of our Schaefferian research group, was his fascination with the New World hippies described by our sociologist friend Edgar Morin in his Journal de Californie. I never knew with certainty whether Michel Anthonioz himself had actually been in direct contact with this Californian world (probably not), or whether he was simply fascinated by his contact with Morin.

Once, in a rare moment, Michel explained to me that he would like to create some kind of a documentary film about the life of his mother: Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz [1920-2002]. At the time, I wasn’t yet familiar with the exploits of this woman, but I understood that my friend Michel was faced with some kind of an unspoken creative barrier at the level of his heavy heritage.

Michel is no longer with us… and I can’t even find a photo of my friend on the web. I remember him as a highly emotional person. Tonight, Michel’s mother will enter the Panthéon in Paris. It’s a terrible pity that he won’t be there to witness the events…

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sacred nonsense

I’m disappointed. This outrageous Monty Python sketch should have been censored in every self-respecting god-fearing Christian nation throughout the world. Not only does it contain images of half-naked children; it also has kids pronouncing in song the pornographic word “sperm”… which is really a bit too much.

For optimal viewing, click on YouTube and full screen

This dark video contains more than enough to shock dignitaries of the Roman Catholic Church. And I would hope that such mother-fuckers are indeed profoundly shocked.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Yanks in control of an Aussie Eden

If I were still residing out in my native land, I would surely react strongly to this ugly case of a total sell-out to American capitalism. Click here to see what I’m talking about. Settled down in France, far away from this sad situation, I can’t do much, and I no longer really care too much. Australia, after all, has become a total sell-out to global capitalism. Aussie voters—including the much-celebrated social wage-earning class known as battlers—are solely concerned with paying off the mortgage on their dull little homes. So, who gives a brass razoo (or a fuck, for that matter) about the presence of Yankee capitalism on an exotic West Australian island.

All the same, I’m immensely saddened by this story. But there’s surely worse to come…

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Hairy hues

The name of this pretty fellow is Nasser Ben Ali al-Anassi. He was proud to claim credit for ordering the Charlie massacres in Paris.

Now that the nasty bastard has been droned, we may never know the intriguing secret of the method he used to obtain a multicolored beard. Was the subtle watercolor effect the result of artistic brushwork? I suspect that he was keen on Yemeni soups with exotic spices.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Registration of a birth in England

Having examined countless BMD records [births, marriages and deaths] in the context of my personal genealogical research, I was delighted to come upon this copy of a quite ordinary birth record, bearing today’s date.

Click to enlarge

The informant was the child’s father, who signed the registration simply by means of his given name: William. He and the baby’s mother, Catherine Middleton, have unusual occupations. The father apparently earns his living as a prince of the United Kingdom. And the mother works in the same kind of job, as a princess of the United Kingdom. As the saying goes, it takes all sorts to make a world. As for the offspring, a girl, she was born 3 days ago in a Westminster hospital. I always feel a little sorry for babies born in the middle of big cities. But I realize they're capable of growing up just as happily as us country kids.

They sound like a nice little family. The only thing that upsets me a little is the terribly complicated name they’ve given to the baby, composed of no less than 9 terms: Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge. What I mean to say is that I know a couple who simply named their little female baby Zoé. I reckon they would have been happy with the single letter Z... except that the registry office wouldn't have agreed. But everybody, of course, has different attitudes towards inventing names for babies.

There’s another minor detail, of a puzzling nature. I’m incapable of fathoming out the family’s simple surname. Concerning the mother, there’s no problem: she was a Middleton. On the other hand, the father’s surname is hard to define. But that’s neither here nor there. I may have already said that it takes all kinds to make a world.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Energy where it's wanted, at home

In France, the production and distribution of electricity have always been handled by a gigantic state-owned monopoly, EDF [Electricité de France]. A decade ago, sensing that private citizens were interested in the installation of solar panels on their rooftops, EDF set up a subsidiary named EDF ENR.

Imaginative graphic designers replaced the first letter of EDF by a lower-case “e”, announcing apparently (somewhat tardily) the start of the monopoly’s Internet era. As for the appended ENR acronym, these three letters designate a clumsy French notion that might be translated as distributed new energies. It’s a clumsy expression in the sense that “renewable” would be a more relevant adjective than “new”, whereas the idea that energy should be distributed (instead of being stored up in a mysterious piggy bank?) seems to be self-evident. Appending an awkward three-letter acronym to an existing long-established three-letter acronym smacks of amateurishness. In a nutshell, there’s simply too much coded data in the new logo for it to be effective.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The proof that this EDF ENR entity is a flop is the fact that it is now being served up to citizens in all sorts of spammish circumstances. Hardly a week goes by without my receiving spam phone calls from mysterious callers who know my name and address, but can’t quite pronounce “Skyvington”. They always start out by claiming that they’re phoning me on behalf of the illustrious old-time EDF monopoly. Claiming that they’re on a technological mission, they say: “If I understand correctly, you’re the owner of a property at Choranche. Is that correct?” And that’s the moment at which I tell them politely to fuck off…

After talking about this situation with my son François Skyvington, I realize that I’m not alone in being pursued by unscrupulous people who would like to make themselves out to be representatives of EDF ENR. François has even invented a panoply of imaginative scenarios for getting fun out of getting rid of these spam merchants. The guiding principle is simple. The callers have your name, address and phone number… but they know nothing more about you. So, you can really have fun in leading them up all kinds of garden paths.

• If you’re really nasty and intrepid, you can of course produce unexpected gasps to simulate an on-line heart attack. But you might have to explain to your local authorities, later on, that you don’t know why an ambulance and a police vehicle have arrived at your house. It's preferable, for local credibility, to avoid such a Cry Wolf event.

• A simple solution is The Man from Snowy River syndrome.
There was movement at the station,
for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses—
he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding
where the wild bush horses are,
And the stockhorse snuffs the battle with delight.
In a nutshell, in the middle of your caller’s explanations about solar panels on your rooftop, you suddenly scream out: “Shit, the stallion has just escaped onto the highway!”

• An amusing variation on this theme of a sudden major happening is what I might refer to as the My friend the pope syndrome, which is quite simple to enact. You start out by explaining calmly to your caller, concerned with solar panels, that you do in fact live at a high altitude, where the sun’s impact would be optimal. That gets your caller excited. You go on to explain to your caller (who, of course, knows fuck all about the true geography of your abode) that your house is located on a mountainous pinnacle that entices all kinds of visitors. Then you scream out: “Hey, I have to interrupt our conversation. My friend the pope promised me that he would drop in today. Holy shit! There’s a papal helicopter hovering over the house. I must leave you, because His Holiness has just landed on my front lawn.”

• My son François is a moralistic fellow, like me (not surprisingly). One of his pet themes (with which my dog Fitzroy and I happen to agree wholeheartedly) is that we should go out of our way, whenever the occasion arises, to establish momentary contacts with unknown individuals whose paths happen to cross ours, even for a fleeting instant. François is therefore the unexpected friend of isolated individuals at autoroute stations, for example, who receive his payment in the middle of the night. Often it's no more than a simple greeting, enhanced by reflections about the weather. He delights in introducing a tiny but real element of human contact into all kinds of otherwise robotic situations. And this is no doubt the exceptional quality of my son that has led to his successful career as a French TV host…

Let me get back to the substance of the present article: the reason why I started out talking about the production and distribution of electric energy. A major earth-shaking announcement has just been made.

Click here to see the explicit details.