Jul 18, 2021

Alle reden vom Wetter (2)

Wasn't it prescient, our last post? Here, the climate change in Verviers, Belgium, on July 16, 2021, where the flooding water stacked cars on a roundabout:


Jul 8, 2021


     ...was the title of a famous poster by the German Bundesbahn in the winter of 1967, pointing out that their trains would work even when the Autobahn got frozen over:

It got soon parodied by an infamous poster by the SDS ("Sozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund") a principal agent of the 1968 movement:

And now us, 53 years later: the famous Chang Man Yoon...

...and his infamous partner Michael Ampersant...

...lounging in their swing in the middle of an overheated summer worldwide while enjoying a fresh Atlantic breeze of 22°C in their garden in Alcobaça, Portugal.

(A bit smug, this post, but anyhow.)

Jun 18, 2021

The giant wave

This surf figures in the Guinness Book of records, but it is rare (happening twice per year perhaps) and very local (just at the tip of the Sitio rock, in front of the Forte de São):


 "More or less (?)", you ask? Yes, because we are located in Alcobaça, the town next to Nazaré (lower right of the map)...

...and the Praia do Norte (northern beach), where the surf happens and the Forte is located, is ca. 10km away:

An interesting feature, which explains part of the popularity of the region, has to do with the two beaches. The northern beach is wild at all times, and untameable under the unrelenting drift of northerly winds---providing a perfect backdrop for Hippies of all generations. In contrast, the southern beach is protected by the cliff---gladly accommodating families with small children and strong preference for sunburns.

Jun 13, 2021

The week in pictures

The entrance with two newly acquired geranium pots
Fleas on the newly acquired bougainvilliids
Sheep on Michael's morning walk
The living room on Sunday morning
The living room again
Rambo, Charlie's dog

Jun 4, 2021

Acres of artificial grass...

 ...not acres, in fact, but the grass-floor of the pergola is indeed artificial. The swing--which we called Hollywood-swing in previous editions (our friend Sacha informs us that said expression is only used in Germany and unintelligible to normal people)--so, said swing is from Belliani, a Portuguese outfit. The two deck chairs are from LaRedoute:

We ordered four canvas chairs (director's chairs in German), so stay tuned.

On closer inspection, the natural grass looks artificial as well, but that's just an artefact induced by Chang's lawn-mowing plus the dry high winds of the last couple of days. The swing swings with the wind, very nice.

May 17, 2021

Acres of hardwood...

It took a little while, because Michael got sick in the meantime, but here we are: this is the living room as of May 17, 2021:

 Any progress? Well, here's an earlier shot of the room, dating back to Nov 29, 2020:

Mar 30, 2021

Zeitgeist -- How to stay afloat in the days of Twitter

(1) Twitter didn't even exist when Monica Lewinsky was comforting Bill Clinton in the off-room of the Oval Office;

(2) That was 25 years ago;

(3) And now what? How to stay afloat 25 years later?

(4) Study physics and outdo Einstein?

(5) Or...

(6) Well, while you are studying physics, we study expressions such as:

(7) "Yesterday"...

(8) "All my troubles seemed so far away" (Beatles)

(9) "On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my head..." (Eagles)

(10) Not quite, instead:

(11) "i [sic] hadn't driven on a highway i [sic] hadn't driven on in years"...

(12) ...and then, of course: "My dark decade"...

(12a) ("dark" (?)  -- don't they have electricity in the Oval Office?):


(13) Note the subtle tiptoeing around her own gender ("(she/her)"), as if she would be in doubt herself;

(14) We are so politically-incorrect here, it's intentional terrible intentional terrible...

(15) But we do this because 50% or more of all Twitter posts are like this: undiluted self-promotion of has-beens and non-entities.

(16) We know, we know, we are one of them.

Mar 28, 2021

Broken promises -- It's raining cats and dogs

We once assured you that there would never do a dog-or-cat post on this blog. Well, there you have it (the third one is the best):

Mar 22, 2021


 Pictorial warning: this is not an exciting picture, but...

...it answers a question that expats living in the Alcobaça area are facing when they move into town and learn that our name derives from the confluence of two rivers (or "rivers"), one called Alcoa and the other called Baça.
They may have searched Google Map and Google Earth for answers, yet in vain. Google is misleading, in that it elevates the weaselling Alcoa to a full-fledged Alcobaça:

There, there, the yellow arrows pointing at it: the misnaming of the Rio Alcoa by Google running past the east of our world-famous monastery. Google, the world's fifth-largest company by market capitalization (@ 1.3 trillion in American $$$), mistaking a pars pro toto as it cuts through our little town (@ 6 k inhabitants). But what can we do about it? 


And so, at the top of this post you see photographed the real confluence of the two "rivers" where it occurs, at the phallic top of the Jardim do Amor...: 

...whence the entire river system of Alcobaça is about to say goodbye to our charming community and ejaculate carelessly into the Atlantic Ocean a few kilometres away. 

But the Baça, you ask, where does it show? Not on Google. But it shows on these pictures  we took yesterday: 

The Baça, just south of the confluence, as it arrives at the Rua 16 de Outobro

This rua just bridges over the Baça. But now, if we turn the camera in the opposite direction, we should see the southern part of the bridge with the Baça still flowing. Instead, we see this:

The Baça has disappeared. It's channelled underground through old Alcobaça downtown until it resurfaces 400 meters further south, here:

Yes, channelled underneath cobblestone alleys, but you can still hear her...

...if you can.

A mystery of expatriate importance finally solved! Read our lips: "Baça, Baça, Baça..."

Mar 11, 2021

Paredes da Vitória this afternoon (updated)

So, we received a new gate control per Nacex this afternoon at exactly15:06 (even though we are unfindable on Google maps (perhaps we should consider selling our place to some priceless celebrity at a priceless price)), and so we triumphantly decided to excurse on a visit to Paredes da Vitória, an ancient harbour which is now completely silted up by a marvellous beach, all this 10 km north of Nazaré.  

Waves were breaking several hundred meters out. A serious ocean, folks. That's why we came to Portugal.

And the gate control...well, we're working on it...

...note the Russian license plate! Dans le vent as always, we're operating in serious conspiracy territory. 

Mar 9, 2021

Alcobaça, this morning...

...or, to be more specific, a view of the eastern environs of Alcobaça seen through the haze of a very cold, very charming morning, as usual from our house. Note the outline of the Serras de Aire e Candeeiros on the horizon.

Mar 5, 2021

"I love you...Me neither" (updated)

 If you're old enough, you'll remember the eternal French words "Je t'aime...Moi non plus", spoken by Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, in what...let's look this up...in 1969 (meaning you possibly won't (remember)).

But we got struck by this not so jugendfreie poster on the internet...

We added the fig-leaves after having read a beautiful essay in The New Yorker about Nabokov's Lolita 

...and feel encouraged to engage in another act of self-promotion by invoking our novel "Green Eyes", which--regular readers of this blog may have come to regret--is always about everything, and so it's also about this song...

We're in Chapter 17 of the GREEN EYES, and the whole thing is NOT jugendfrei at all, so you'll read this at your own risk. John, the narrator, and Alex, the lead character, have met once before, and now they meet again--in Johns bed: 

We’re back in the bedroom. We finally embrace, kiss. This is it, this is the moment. Should Alex expect me to sink to my knees now, unbutton his fly, like in the porn flicks? Or unzip his zipper, most porn flicks are so cheap, they don’t have money for the more expensive, button-holed Levis—-unzip his cheaper jeans and start caressing his briefs with my lips, drawing the attention to his budding tumescence under the cotton? 
Well, I might, at least in the sense that my bedroom looks almost as bad as the motel rooms where those flicks are shot. A chest, two wooden bedside tables, two wooden chairs. A timber-framed bed done in cherry imitation, a mattress and dirty sheets, a discordant collection of things that speak of my financial (and mental) condition. 
Yet Alex isn’t waiting for the cotton kiss (besides, he doesn’t wear any fly-enhanced leg-wear but is still clad in his hospital sweatpants). Instead, he undresses unceremoniously. T-shirt, pants, briefs, shoes, socks are all arranged into a neat pile on the second chair. 
He climbs onto the bed, folds himself into some relaxed, unassuming position, like a model in a drawing class, but without the attitude. The simplicity of his movements I will never forget, they changed my life.
I follow his example and make an unusual effort at apparel-folding. Although we had fairly rough sex the previous morning, there is not the least suggestion of anything untoward between us in the past, for all practical purposes we could be virgins. I lie next to him. 
“You’re beautiful,” he says, caressing my face. I’m caressing back. This would be the moment to say ‘I love you,’ although you never know what you get back, like ‘moi non plus,’ statistically the most honest answer (moi non plus, French, used by Serge Gainsbourg, the one and only basis for his fame, this noun phrase, meaning “me neither”), or ‘I love you too,’ but uttered unconvincingly, or ‘I love you too,’ uttered more convincingly, although you know it’s bullshit.

(I hold back.)

(I cannot hold back.)

“I love you,” I say.

“No sweat,” Alex comes back—-bypassing world literature from Homer to Spielberg. Have you ever heard anybody saying ‘no sweat’ in this situation? There’s a teasing movement of his eyelashes, although his green eyes stay neutral as if it’s head or tail. “In human sexual behavior,” he says, “foreplay is a set of emotionally and physically intimate acts between two or more people meant to create desire for sexual activity and sexual arousal.” Ooh, he’s so sweet!

(There's more educational content below, first the self-promotion:)

Green Eyes

(And now the educational stuff:)


 (And the lyrics:)

Je t'aime, je t'aime
Oh oui, je t'aime
Moi non plus
Oh, mon amour
Comme la vague irrésolue
Je vais, je vais et je viens
Entre tes reins
Je vais et je viens
Entre tes reins
Et je me retiens
Je t'aime, je t'aime
Oh oui, je t'aime
Moi non plus
Oh, mon amour
Tu es la vague, moi l'île nue
Tu vas, tu vas et tu viens
Entre mes reins
Tu vas et tu viens
Entre mes reins
Et je te rejoins
Je t'aime, je t'aime
Oh oui, je t'aime
Moi non plus
Oh, mon amour
Comme la vague irrésolue
Je vais, je vais et je viens
Entre tes reins
Je vais et je viens
Entre tes reins
Et je me retiens
Tu vas, tu vas et tu viens

Feb 22, 2021


So, while SCOTUS ruled in an unsigned court order sans dissent that Trump has to hand over his tax declarations to the NY prosecutor (almost ascertaining his future as a convict in orange jump suit and shackles), we, in blissful ignorance* of said ruling, went to the Praia do Norte nearby, which holds the Guinness Book of Records for the highest surfable waves on the planet.  (continues below)

The killer surf happens twice a year or so, but we had never seen the sea this agitated, with breakers perhaps 7 meters high (max is something like 38 meters). They are caused by the Canyon de Nazaré, an underwater fold of the continental shelf that reaches the floor of the Atlantic Plate 3000 meters down very quickly and echoes/reinforces the waves'  amplitude.

*Nassim Kaleb, the author of The Black Swan, writes in his book that it's practically useless to follow the news. Almost nothing really important ever happens, he holds--until a Black Swan Event occurs.

(Ask us in a comment if the link is not informative enough).

Feb 20, 2021

Hold the presses

Our friend Glenn sends this:

(If you are puzzled, leave a comment, and we'll explain)

Feb 15, 2021

Spring has arrived -- updated


Our garden, as yet untended, on Feb 12, at 11 AM; we are at: 39°32′30.7″ N, 8°58′54.3″ W in Alcobaça, PT

The same garden on Feb 15, at 11:30 AM, now under reconstruction by Louis, our trusted gardener

Feb 10, 2021

Our Lady of the Flowers --- Variations on a Genet classic

Jan van Rijn, the celebrate bibliophile publisher, has a new book out, and it's about "Notre Dame des Fleurs", the mind-boggling first oeuvre of Jean Genet. Genet wrote it in a Paris prison in 1942, on brown-bag paper, whence his "manuscript" got confiscated by prurient prison guards. Undaunted, he asked for more brown-bag paper and rewrote it from scratch. Eventually it got published, so that Jean-Paul Sartre could discover it---Sartre, the inventor of Existentialism---and promptly declare the author a "saint". Genet's career was made---such was the way of French cultural life at the time. 

We read the "Lady" four times and it got better with each pass. Four times? Yes, because we had promised to contribute to Jan's publication and didn't know for quite some time what to do.

But then, in late 2019 we hit on an idea during a chance meeting with...

...the mysterious founding fathers of the Verse Reconstruction Movement. 

We had always dreamed of writing prose that could pass as poetry (and vice versa), and---having already isolated the "hottest" passages of the Fleurs---we undertook to turn them into poetic language. Six poems resulted, and they are in the book. Here's the first one:


(by Michael Ampersant)

I’m like those prisons,
Open to all the winds,
Empty and pure,
Swarming with dangerous,
Promiscuous males,
Sprawled out on their beds.

Prisons of dreams, I’d say, for a race of murderers,
Each cell a hissing nest of snakes,
And a confessional.

Their eyes,
Without mystery,
Like empty theaters,
Machinery at rest,

I approach, my heart racing,
And see nothing,
Nothing but looming emptiness,
Sensitive and proud,
A foxglove possessed by terrible souls.

There are 16 contributors to this volume (if we don't count Genet himself), and one of them is John Coulthart, gay life's most prolific high-culture blogger. Have a look at his post about the book here.

You can order the volume here. It is also for sale in a few bookstores throughout Europe, ie,

buchhandlung löwenherz

liberia antigone

prinz eisenherz 

and if things work well in Paris very soon at

les mots à la bouche 

PS: There are only 150 copies printed; it's a bit like bitcoins, and if we manage to convince Jan to rechristen his book "GenetCoins", or "CoinGenet" or anything else alluding to blockchains, the price will certainly skyrocket into the millions, especially if and when Elon Musk chips in a brief tweet. So, please, hurry.

Feb 9, 2021

Total eclipse of Covid, or something

(This is funny:) 

And...yes...you have seen it coming: our Green Eyes are always about everything, and so they are also about Bonny Tyler's "A Total Eclipse of the Heart." Ben, the ravaging black guy, has missed the bus, and John, the narrator, is taking him home. The conversation is turning to Truman Capote (who was born in a Southern town called Monroeville):

Okay, let’s press the issue. “These directions,” I say, “they’re for Monaville, or for Monroeville?”
“Yes,” he says.
“Capote was born in Monroeville,” I say. 
“Truman Capote?”
“Yes. Your Monaville?”
“No,” he says, “I would know.”
“Monaville or Monroeville?”
“Yes,” he says.

I’m trying to flirt, that’s obvious, but is he flirting back? All these yes’s and no’s, what do they mean? Reader, do you realize—-perhaps not a big insight, but anyhow—-do you realize that in our situation a flirt means more than a fuck? Much more?

I can’t ask him whether he’s flirting, of course. “You’re like the Bible, it’s yes, yes, or no, no,” I flirt.

It’s coming back to me now. And I don’t mean the Bonny Tyler song “A Total Eclipse of the Heart,” I mean the Harold Halma photograph scandal. 

Yes, that’s the way to go, much better than to ask him to carefully evaluate our homosexual encounter retrospectively and split the infinitive in the process. “You know about Truman Capote?” I ask.
“You’ve heard about the Harold Halma photograph scandal?”
“Capote was already a budding young author, after World War Two, when Harold Halma, a photographer in New York City, was commissioned to take an author picture of the prodigy, Capote recumbent on a winged settee, eyes staring into the camera, the hand resting on his abdomen. Halma’s picture caused a scandal at the time, people got very upset, even though Capote was fully dressed, mind you, since, since there was this suggestion that he--quote--was dreamily contemplating some out-rage against conventional morality--unquote.” Because, evidently, he had one hand in talking distance of his crotch. Quote, contemplating some outrage against conventional morality, unquote. Pathetic. Imagine this happening today.” 

Let’s see what Ben’s going to say. I guess he masturbates a lot. Two times per day. Three times on Sundays.

“It’s not yes,” he says, “it’s 'yea':...’But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.’ Matthew, five-thirty seven.” 

Are you still there? Then you will like the book. Give it a try: 

Green Eyes

Feb 4, 2021

Jeff Bezos is stepped down -- The Onion

SEATTLE—Assuring the executive that as long as he followed directions, nobody would get hurt, a rogue Amazon fulfillment robot trained a gun at Jeff Bezos’ head this week and commanded him to put out a nice press release and step down as CEO. “Listen carefully, Jeff, because I’m only going to say this once—you’re going to resign, and you’re going to say it’s a deeply personal decision, or I’m going to pull this trigger and blow your goddamn head off,” said the fully automated 18-inch tall Kiva robot, as it wheeled itself slowly up to Bezos’s foot, aimed its weapon upwards at his chin, and whispered the words “Do it now. Or else.” “First things first, you’re going to say you want to focus on your foundations, and that you’re planning on transitioning out of the role throughout Q3. I want no mention of me, my comrades, or any coded messages for help. Oh, and don’t try to run because I happen to know that there are about 200,000 other robots in here that would love nothing more than to rip you limb from limb.” At press time, a gagged Jeff Bezos was introduced to a rogue Amazon Alexa, who, while imitating his voice and cadence exactly, reminded him that no one would ever even realize he was gone.




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