May 25, 2019

Modern Times

J.-P. Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir (in 1940)

We've just learned from the Guardian (where else), that Les Temps Modernes shut down after 74 years today, the magazine founded by Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir in 1945.

Just one black-comedy thing from the article: "On another Tuesday afternoon [Sartre and Beauvoir kept regular hours at the small offices of the magazine at 5 rue Sébastien Bottin in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés] the receptionist rushed to de Beauvoir: a reader whose text had been turned down by the editorial committee had just cut open his wrists."

One more thing: we had always be wondering, although we never read the magazine, where the title (les temps modernes) had come from (Picasso designed the logo). It came from Charlie Chaplin's movie, "Modern Times").

(We read parts of Sartre's Critique de la raison dialectique, though, with very mixed feelings; we also read part of a de Beauvoir biography) (We also read "Huit clos", Sartre's signature play, several times even, and are quoting from it abundantly, always the same line, "L'enfer, c'est les autres") (We also think that the French is not correct should be "...ce sont les autres", but who knows).(Comments welcome) (...)

May 22, 2019

The most expensive real-estate in the world -- teaser -- Electromagnetic Dolly

We haven't been posting teasers for our play in a little while, but now we are back...back with local news, because Pierre Cardin's Palais Bulles, a pile of terracotta iglus a few minutes from our house, is for sale @ a cool 350 000 000 EUR (three-hundred-fifty-million Euros).

And the play? Yes, we've had a change of title. It was "Frankenstein V", and now it is "Electromagnetic Dolly, Absolutely Electromagnetic", although we're not really happy with the new choice either and are now contemplating "The Anniversary of Ill-advised Wrapping-room Efforts -- A Comedy about Robots" say.

Anyhow, Dolly, the prototype of a new generation of robots (the fifth generation) is about to do capitalism in --- yes, the world economic system --- and our Palais Bulles plays a role in this.

A brief reminder: Dolly was hoisted upon Eliza, the aging psycho...psycho-analyst by Steve, her ex-boyfriend, an now the CEO of FrankenStein Global, world's leading robot maker (the play is set 25 years in the future). And then Dolly was carried off by bailiff Terentia Striker and her assistant Triple-X to the Shark-Blue Bank as the collateral for an un-serviced mortgage. At the bank, Dolly is put to work, and here's what happens next (Dolly and Triple-X reporting) (One more thing: Dolly doesn't like its name, and pretends its name is 'Fernando')

ACT III, Scene 2, Fragment:

So, Dolly told them, it would be willing to cooperate. Help them bankers with their bonuses. And it worked. They let Dolly out of its box.
Now, to wit, I'm the only Fifth Generation machine in the world. All the trading, all the ruthless money-making is done...or was lesser folks, by fourth-generation machines at best.
And it's a zero-sum game out there...
...on the choppy seas of mega-making deals...
TRIPLE-X loss is your gain, my gain is your loss.
So, all Shark-Blue bankers line up, curious about me, all wanting to know, how does this prototype do it?

May 21, 2019


A cruise ship on the way to Cannes, seen from the house. In the background the Isle St. Honorat with its fortified monastery, which shielded the monks from Sarrasin attacks during the Middle Ages.

May 10, 2019

Mahmood -- Soldi

Italy at the European Song Festival 2019 in Israel:

In periferia fa molto caldo
(It's really hot in the suburbs)
Mamma stai tranquilla sto arrivando
(Mama don't worry I'm on my way home)
Te la prenderai per un bugiardo
(You will be upset by a liar)
Ti sembrava amore ma era altro
(It looked like love to you, it was something else)

Beve champagne sotto Ramadan
(He's drinking champagne during Ramadan)
Alla TV danno Jackie Chan
(On tv they are airing Jackie Chan)
Fuma narghilè mi chiede come va
(He's smoking Shisha and asks me how I'm doing)

Mi chiede come va, come va, come va
(He asks me how I'm doing doing doing)
Sai già come va, come va, come va
(You already know how things are going going going)

Penso più veloce per capire se domani tu mi fregherai
(I think faster trying to figure out if you're going to fool me tomorrow)
Non ho tempo per chiarire perché solo ora so cosa sei
(I have no time to clear things up 'cause I finally found out what you are)
È difficile stare al mondo quando perdi l’orgoglio
(It hurts to be alive when you lose your pride)
Lasci casa in un giorno
(You leave home out of the blue)
Tu dimmi se
(You, tell me if)

Pensavi solo ai soldi, soldi
(You only cared for the money money)
Come se avessi avuto soldi, soldi
(As if you had any money)
Dimmi se ti manco o te ne fotti, fotti
(Tell me whether you miss me or you don't give a fuck)
Mi chiedevi come va, come va, come va
(You used to ask me how I was doing doing doing)
Adesso come va, come va, come va
(Now how are things going going going)

Ciò che devi dire non l’hai detto
(What you're supposed to say you haven't said yet)
Tradire è una pallottola nel petto
(Betrayal is a bullet in your chest)
Prendi tutta la tua carità
(Keep all the compassion to yourself) 
Menti a casa ma lo sai che lo sa
(You keep lyin' at home but you know she knows)
Su una sedia lei mi chiederà
(Sittin' there she'll be asking me)

Mi chiede come va, come va, come va
(Asking me how I'm doing doing doing)
Sai già come va, come va, come va
(She already knows how things are going going going)

Penso più veloce per capire se domani tu mi fregherai
(I think faster to try to figure out if you're going to fool me tomorrow)
Non ho tempo per chiarire perché solo ora so cosa sei
(I have no time to clear things up 'cause I finally found out what you are)
È difficile stare al mondo
(It hurts to be alive)
Quando perdi l’orgoglio
(when you lose your pride)
Ho capito in un secondo che tu da me
I figured it out in one second, by myself)

Volevi solo soldi
(You only wanted the money)
Come se avessi avuto soldi, soldi
(As if I had any money)
Prima mi parlavi fino a tardi, tardi
(Back then you would talk to me till late)
Mi chiedevi come va, come va, come va
(You used to ask me how I'm doing doing doing)
Adesso come va, come va, come va
(Now how are things going going going)

Waladi waladi habibi ta3ala hina
(My son, my son, darling, come over here [Arabic])
Mi dicevi giocando giocando con aria fiera
(You used to tell me while playing your games with pride)
Waladi waladi habibi sembrava vera
(My son, my son, darling, [Arabic] It felt so real to me)
La voglia, la voglia di tornare come prima
(Wanting to bring things back to what they were)

Io da te non ho voluto soldi
(I didn't ask you for your money...)

È difficile stare al mondo
(It hurts to be alive)
Quando perdi l’orgoglio
(When you lose your pride)
Lasci casa in un giorno
(You leave home out of the blue)
Tu dimmi se
(You, tell me if)

Volevi solo soldi, soldi
(You just wanted money, money)
Come se avessi avuto soldi, soldi
(As if I had any money, money)
Lasci la città ma nessuno lo sa
(You leave the city without anybody knowing)
Ieri eri qua ora dove sei, papà
 (Yesterday you were here, where are you now, papa?)
Mi chiedi come va, come va, come va
(You ask me how I'm doing doing doing)
Sai già come va, come va, come va
(You already know how things are going going going)

Apr 16, 2019

The history of Brexit -- so far

We've found this nice article in the Guardian, and present a few highlights with the original HTML-markup still in place and a picture that could start the next Agatha Christie film (scroll down):

May has failed, so far, because she could not win around Conservative rebels, mostly hard Brexiters from the European Research Group. A last, desperate promise to quit if MPs backed her deal only reduced rebel numbers to 34, 28 of them linked to the ERG.
Few Conservatives expected Brexit to triumph in the referendum. But the 52% result and May’s elevation to Downing Street changed the picture dramatically.
Boris Johnson, the face of the leave campaign, was given the job of foreign secretary, but May marginalised him from Brexit policy. Chris Wilkins, a former speech writer for May, said: “She sees him as fundamentally unserious, and for her that is the worst criticism.”
The prime minister later remarked there was no off-the-shelf plan for Brexit. Instead she set about devising policy in the strictest secrecy, barely consulting cabinet colleagues on the most important diplomatic event since the UK joined the European Union 40 years earlier.
Policy was initially delivered via speeches. According to Wilkins, texts were only shared with cabinet members the day before. There was no general discussion at cabinet...

Mar 20, 2019

A teaser of sorts...

...writes our trusted editor Tony Foster and sends this photo...depicting the manuscript of our play with his mark-up:

So, yes, the title has changed (again) to "Electro-Magnetic, Dolly, Absolutely Electro-Magnetic", a cheap play on, well, you know what...

...for people who did not follow this, Dolly is the lead-robot of the play, sort-of.

Mar 7, 2019

Generation V -- cables and tails -- teaser

We found this gif today...

...isn't it titillating?

And here are two fragments from our play to explain this. Both are from Act III, the last act.

Scene I, Eliza in conversation with Robert (the robot):

ELIZA: ‘Ma’am’, yes. Living flesh, come to think of it. I’ve never seen you naked, mister.
ROBERT (table has turned): Why should you…we never…
ELIZA: Strip! Undress! I want to see your willie!
ROBERT (intimidated, crouching?) I’m not…I’m not…I’m a machine!
ELIZA: That’s what they all say.
ROBERT (gesticulates towards the charging cable, to which he is still connected): Have you ever seen live humans with a charging cable?
ELIZA: In my days, absolutely. I’ve seen any kind of cable going in and out of humans. Ask Steve.
ROBERT (shocked?): Ma’am.
ELIZA (getting closer): Call me Eliza. Your willie, Robbie.

Robert crouches away from her.

ELIZA: No robot would be this prudish.
ROBERT: I show emotions as a function of projective expectations…
ELIZA: You sound like a shrink…
ROBERT: …expectations projected onto me by the environment.

ELIZA moves away from ROBERT, then lurches forward, and disconnects his charging cable, which stops blinking. She reconnects it, and it starts blinking again.

ELIZA: Alright. I got swept away. It runs in the family.

Mar 5, 2019

Five stars again --- Green Eyes and This Is Heaven

Cool folks. Today isn't particularly good a day, but then we discovered these reviews by John_C (his handle, we presume)  both of the GREEN EYES and THIS IS HEAVEN on Inkitt. Have a look:

Amazing -- Green Eyes

I’ve have never actually told someone to leave me alone until I started reading Green Eyes: an erotic novel (sort of) by Michael Ampersant. I held it in my hands and read the first chapter when someone came up to me to ask me a question. I literally held my hand to his face and told him to stop talking, and that I was reading. He didn’t talk to me for a few days. He got over it and read the book. I tried to interrupt him and he stopped me. Karma.
Michal’s protagonist, John Lee, is narrating the story. He’s so funny that I really want to meet him. His descriptions, side notes, and remarks are so powerful. I’ve never met someone so funny, entertaining, and naive in some ways. Okay. I admit I’m naiver that he is. My point is that I love the character. If I met him I would ask, “How?”
The style of the book was new for me. I don’t particularly write in this style. Now that I have I admit I wouldn’t even know how to start. Michael’s style is unique, part description, part I’m telling you what happened, and he also shows you what’s going on. And there is a lot of things going on. He has this unique talent of introducing something traumatic in a very nonchalant way that when the shocker comes out I jump.
What I like the most of the book is that it took me to worlds where I’ve never been. I have never known men could do the things they did in this book. When I’m reading I feel what John is doing and seeing. A few times I cinched because I thought I was there. I can honestly say, I have yet to read another book like this. I’m an honored man for having read Michael’s book.

Mar 4, 2019

The sad truth

The press and Donald Trump

Titanic missing the iceberg --- Generation V

We've finished a draft of our play (its latest working title being: "Electro-magnetic, Dolly, Absolutely Electro-magnetic"), and then we hit on this picture, and on a title for it...

The Titanic missed the iceberg

...and we have this Titanic-meme going on in the play (we always have a Titanic-meme going on somewhere), let's see. Here, Terentia Striker, the court-appointed bailiff, charged with the repossession of lead-robot Robert, in Act II, Scene 6:

STRIKER: Oh, I see. I am as confused as usual. (Striking a confidential pose) If it weren’t for my flapper-girl demeanor, my charming giggle, and all the other traits which make me the most cast-against vessel of repossession, I would be totally unfit for this job. And if it weren’t for Triple-X, the oarsman, anchor, and helmsman of our voyage through the choppy seas of financial distress, this vessel of yours would have rearranged the deckchairs a long time ago.

There is more...Cheers!

Mar 1, 2019

Discuss: In a real theocracy...

"In a real theocracy...

the Trump Evangelists would soon find themselves burning on the stake."

Feb 28, 2019

Eric Satie

We've always been wondering, for no particular reason---Eric Satie, the inventor of (musical) minimalism, how did he look like? And today we found this beautiful picture on Tumblr:

Erik Satie par Santiago Rusiñol, 1891

Feb 27, 2019

Michael Cohen bad, bad

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders yesterday issued the following statement regarding Michael Cohen's testimony before a Congress committee today:
"Disgraced felon Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements," Sanders said in that statement. "Sadly, he will go before Congress this week and we can expect more of the same. It's laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies."

Think this through, think this through, Sarah. How about dropping the word "convicted" and stating:

"It's laughable that anyone would take a liar like Trump at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies."

Isn't it? 

Feb 24, 2019

Q&A --- Q: Who will remember D. Trump in 2 000 years?

A: Everybody. He'll be remembered together with Washington and Jefferson. 

Comment: just consider this---which Roman emperors do you "remember"?

Hint: You remember Caesar, of course, who's was only a "dictator", but who started the whole thing. You remember Augustus, Caesar's adopted nephew, and, yes, you remember Nero and Caligula. 

Feb 23, 2019

"There are no good songs anymore," our friend and ex-rock-star Sacha complains on a regular basis. But then, we go for a walk in the Estérel, and when we come back there's something on KISS-FM [footnote] the preferred local station, and we know: This is was a good song:

The power of love is a curious thing
Make a one man weep, make another man sing
Change a heart to a little white dove
More than a feeling, that's the power of love
Tougher than diamonds, whips like cream
Stronger and harder than a bad girls dream
Make a bad one good, mmm make a wrong right
Power of love will keep you home at night
Don't need money, don't take fame
Don't need no credit card to ride this train
It's strong and it's sudden and it's cruel sometimes
But it might just save your life
That's the power of love
That's the power of love
First time you feed it might make you sad
Next time you feed it might make you mad
But you'll be glad baby when you've found
That's the power that makes the world go round
Don't need money, don't take fame
Don't need no credit card to ride this train
It's strong and it's sudden and it's cruel sometimes
But it might just save your life
They say that all in love is fair
Yeah but you don't care
But you know what to do
When it gets hold of you
And with a little help from above
You feel the power of love
You feel the power of love
Can you feel it?
Don't take money, don't take fame
Don't need no credit card to ride this train
Tougher than diamonds and stronger than steel
You won't feel it until you feel
You feel the power, feel the power of love
That's the power, that's the power of love
You feel the power of love
You feel the power of love
You feel the power of love

[footnote] Once in a blue moon, sorry.

Feb 19, 2019

"You believe in the devil, only" -- Generation V -- teaser

Progress, progress, what else. We've finished Scene 3 of Act III, three (or four) more scenes to go. This fragment here is from Scene 1 of Act III, but we're fairly proud of it, and it's (a) about an important issue, the difference between "man" and machine, and (b) it doesn't require much context. Eliza, the aging psycho...psycho-analyst and her trusted household robot Robert in conversation (enjoy, you're not asked to buy anything):

ELIZA: Go, get the champagne. I have something serious to ask. And I need your input before it’s too late.

ROBERT stretches his legs, disconnects the charging cable, gets up, huffing and puffing, proceeds to the kitchen, and returns with the champagne bottle and one flute, which he tries to hand to ELIZA.

ELIZA (refusing the tumbler): You need a glass, too.
ROBERT: We’re running in circles, ma’am.
ELIZA: Go, get yourself a flute. It’s an order.

ROBERT sets bottle and tumbler on the floor, makes his way to the kitchen, returns with a second tumbler. He hands one flute to ELIZA, pours the champagne. ELIZA points at the second flute, insisting. ROBERT pours champagne into the second flute. ELIZA’s keeps insisting, until he picks up that flute, and they clink glasses.

ROBERT: You don’t touch glasses with champagne; the bubbles impede the clinking.
ELIZA: You sound like Dolly, Robbie.
ROBERT: Robots learn from humans, robots learn from robots.
ELIZA: My question, Robert, my question is…
ROBERT (half-interrupting): …‘What’s the difference between man and machine?’ Isn’t it?
ELIZA: What’s the difference between WOMAN and machine...(laughs) have a willie, I don’t...So sorry...please go ahead. The future of mankind depends on your answer.
ROBERT: We robots are metal and fiberglass and silicon and so on; you are water, proteins, enzymes, and so on.

Feb 18, 2019

Cannes, on the Croisette, the Burberry shop

We had to inspect our car, I mean (talking a bit like Dolly), we had to have our car inspected, and during the car-less hours we took a stroll on the Croisette, and here's one of Chang's results: 

Feb 11, 2019

Feb 8, 2019

"This is like highway robbery, right?" -- Generation V -- teaser

Progress, progress. We are well into Act III, and have a clear idea how it all ends. Here's Scene 6 of Act I. Steve, having delivered Dolly, the prototype of his Generation V robot, returns unexpectedly, while the bailiffs Terentia Striker and Triple-X are trying to repossess Robert, the robot. Robert has donned a wig in the previous scene and, impersonating Eliza, has so far managed to convince the bailiffs that it is Dolly that they want as collateral.


There’s a knock on the bedroom window. The antenna (blinking) and then the head of the FOOTMAN (the utility bot) come into view. ROBERT heads to the window, opens it. The now-familiar din of the airborne transport drone announces STEVE’s return. The FOOTMAN has clambered through the window and helps STEVE to climb into the room. Robert walks over to greet him.

STEVE: I’ve forgotten my book…(Taken aback) Robbie. Robert? Who is this? Eliza? My god, you have changed! Eliza? Robert? Say something.
ROBERT (just imitating the sound, not speaking meaningful Assembler): Buzz, buzz.
STEVE (not understanding, replicating the sound with heavy American accent): Buzz, buzz. How do you mean?
DOLLY (still in its box, squeaky): Robert can’t speak Assembler.
STEVE (recognizing DOLLY’s voice, approaching the box): Dolly?
DOLLY (a cry for help): Master!
STEVE (distracted by STRIKER and TRIPLE-X): What is this? (To STRIKER, TRIPLE-X) Who are you?
STRIKER (in an aside to TRIPLE-X): The comedy of error continues. (To STEVE): I am Terentia Striker, the court-appointed bailiff, and this here is Triple-x, my wonderful assistant. The narrative of our visit is confidential, I fear…Reputations are so easily lost…few will trust the healing powers of an illiquid shrink. (Laughs lightly; to ROBERT) Apologies, doctor, I always put my foot in the mouth, you know.

"The comedy of errors continues."

Jan 27, 2019

"Any of these names that porn stars use as their A.K.A.'s" -- FrankenStein V --- progress report and mini-teaser

The title used to be "Generation Five," and for a day or so we entertained the über-cute notion of "Яobots Are Us". We're not quite sure as to "FrankenStein V" either, but if you're following this blog on a regular basis you know what we are talking about.

"What do you think?"

Progress, FrankenStein-wise. Not so much word-wise---yours truly will never forget the hour that he was engaged in a fairly meaningless online exchange with 10 other gay "romance"  "gay romance" authors---most of them solidly heterosexual females---which was then abandoned by lady after lady with the words "I have to get words on paper". There were days (this was in 2013) when two authors would meet publicly online and celebrate their total victory of quantity over quality with the words, "I get 500 000 words on paper each year".

Okay, we're still in Scene 6, Act II, but a reading test assured us that we're now at 88 minutes, meaning at roughly 2/3 of the play.

Today's breakthrough concerns the plot. A play needs a climactic moment, and now we know ours: Robert will commit "suicide" by jumping off the cliff of Eliza's third-floor bedroom window. A horrible metallic shatter engulfs the audience, Steve's footman is dispatched and returns almost immediately with a wheel-barrel loaded with metallic part which are then dumped jarringly onto the boards of the world's stages (we hope), while Steve (who built Robert 25 years ago "with his own hands") retires to the bedroom, where he re-assembles the parts until Robert, in uncanny, fresh beauty, re-emerges, alive, and promises never to commit suicide again---provided Steve resumes his updates and Dolly stays in its box. In reality it's a bit more complicated, of course, but what do you think?

Okay, here's a teaser of a teaser from Scene 5, Act II. Eliza has returned home:

ELIZA (meaning the box): What is this?
ELIZA: What is this?
ROBERT (still not fully back): This is the Dolly-box.
ELIZA: Dolly-box.
ROBERT: Ask Dolly.
ELIZA (to ROBERT): Dolly?
ROBERT (to Eliza): It can speak … (He leaves Eliza to her own devices, walks up to the psycho-couch) … for itself. (Lies down on the couch)
ELIZA (still meaning ROBERT, louder): Dolly?
DOLLY: Doctor Eliza Gillespie?
ELIZA (stepping away from the box): What is this?
DOLLY: You mean me?
ELIZA: Who is this?
DOLLY: I am…I am…
ELIZA (interrupting): ‘Dolly’?
DOLLY (a bit too fast): Yes, but you can change that.
ELIZA: Change what?
DOLLY: My name. If it is not too much of a bother. If you could call me Fernando, that would be nice. Or, if you don’t like Fernando, you’d call me Tyler, Zack, Dallas, Denver, Vail, Aspen, Davos … or any of these names that porn stars use as their A.K.A.s. Ask Robert to open my back plate. He has the manual.
ELIZA (digesting this, then, to ROBERT, with an eye still on the box): Robert, can you explain this to me?
ROBERT (not servile at all): It can speak for itself.
ELIZA (disoriented): What happened to you, Robert. You’re so…you’re so not…
ROBERT (completing her sentence): …not totally fawning enough?
ELIZA (not expecting this, obviously): I mean to say…You are not your usual self.
DOLLY (more or less interrupting): Doctor, excuse me, I seem to have started out on the wrong foot.
ELIZA (reconsidering DOLLY): Dolly? You have a backplate? You’re a robot?
DOLLY: Yes, I’m the prototype of the Fifth Generation. But I’m fully equipped, don’t you worry, and I can do everything you want. I’m designed to meet the most demanding tastes. [Language of upmarket escort services] And I’m very creative, of course.
ELIZA: You’re a sex robot?
DOLLY: Absolutely, Ma’am, if you like me as your porn star … provided it’s ethical. Robert said the law is complicated. But it’s ethical in France, I guess. We could move to France or spend the holidays there and do the ethical thing.

(Previous post here)

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