The Frogmarch

"I've got to pull up my stakes and roll, man." --Jean-Jacques Libris de Kerouac

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Few Words

Sincerest apologies to those of you who rush to the 'puter each morning immediately upon waking to see if there's anything new on The Frogmarch... these past two weeks we've been on vacation in Italy. A week in Venice and a week in Umbria, with a Riviera stopover on the way back--all very successful and enjoyable, with photos and whatnot to come once I get my camera unloaded and so forth, deal with the bills that have piled up, and, uh, get our heat and hot water working again.

Yes, just as with the last time we went to Italy, our chaudiere--the infernal-combustion device that heats our water and the radiators-- has gone into Cylon mode (The chaudieres were created by man. They evolved...they rebelled).

I had hoped to pop into a cybercafe once or twice while in Italy, but the opportunity never arose; in Venice we were too busy trying to cram in as many museums/churches/historic sites/boat trips as possible, and in Umbria there just aren't many cybercafes around in towns without stoplights. Oh well.

Hopefully there are still a few of you out there who haven't deleted this site from your Bookmarks for good.

Monday, April 14, 2008

It's Hockey Night in the Rhône Valley!

The sporting hierarchy in France goes something like this:
1) Soccer
2) Also Soccer
3) More Soccer
4) Rugby (especially popular in the Southwest)
5) Formula 1 racing
6) Cycling (poised to drop after last year's Tour doping fiasco)
7) Basketball
8) Handball (actually looks really fun)
9) Swimming (there's this one French woman who's pretty good. And prone to nudity, which helps keep her in the papers)
10) Tennis
11) Golf
12) Judo (apparently the French are pretty good...who knew?)
13) Hockey Sur Glace, aka ice hockey.

A low profile means low ticket prices (€6/€3 for kids, and there are usually half-price coupons in the paper), so every now and then Boog and I head down to the Patinoire Charlemagne to see Les Lions play the good ol' hockey game (the best game you can name). The seats are general admission, so even if you show up late you can usually find seats just up from the glass toward one of the ends, or right behind the benches if you're so inclined. (photo: this kid hopped the rail and grabbed a puck that came over the boards right after I snapped the picture. I woulda grabbed it myself if I hadn't been putting the camera away. Rotten kid)

The atmosphere isn't quite Maple Leaf Gardens: there's music pumped in, but it consists of the PA announcer potting up an obnoxious Hi-NRG! eurodisco radio station at breaks in the action. Still, there's a hard core of fans who bring in drums and chant soccer-style, all wearing their Lyon jerseys, which are covered in more logos than a NASCAR driver.

The standard of play, too, isn't exactly NHL-quality; while some teams in this league are fairly decent, there's a wide disparity in talent between the top and bottom of the standings, leading to some horrific slaughter (in this particular game Lyon beat Cherbourg 12-1). There are flubbed odd-man rushes and beach-ball shots let in from the blue line, and tape-to-tape passes and cleanly finished checks are rare. Still, lots of end-to-end action as the players go at it as if leaving their day jobs depends on it.

Boog of course wants to go check out the snack bar, so we wander to the concourse at the first intermission. [Visible as the tents at upper left in this photo.] No Dippin' Dots, no nachos, no SuperPretzels, but they do have beer and hot dogs; the latter are served in the French style, in which a baguette-like bun is impaled lengthwise on a heated metal cylinder, then mustard is squirted into the resulting steamy orifice to anticipate the penetration of the hot, dripping meat. (I cover Boog's eyes so he doesn't see this openly-displayed concupiscence.)

At intermission there is the tomfoolery typical of minor-league sports; some kids come out and shoot pucks from the redline for a chance to win a jersey; a new model of delivery van (brought to you by your Rhône-Alpes Fiat Dealers) cuts some rad doughnuts on the ice [photo].

After the intermission, when the zamboni has gone back in its garage and the players warm up for the next period, the goalies put their own nets back up [photo; note Air Canada ad on the boards, eh]. This kills me for some reason. Do they do their own laundry, too?

So it ain't the big leagues... still a lot of fun for not much money, something hard to find in France these days.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Photos in search of a blog post

Four photos taken just after sunset from the Grande Roue, the big Ferris Wheel that goes up in Place Bellecour every winter. It was disassembled and trucked away in the beginning of March, but I never got around to finding a blog topic to go with the pictures.

So here ya go. Probably worth your while to click on the photos to enlarge; excuse the railings.

First photo: Liftoff, facing north. Rue de la Republique and the Pathé theatre at the right; touristy but not-half-bad pizza place at center.

Second photo: Same direction from about 10 o'clock on the wheel. Large dome of the Hôtel-Dieu at right, smaller twin towers of the horlogerie at center, just outside our bedroom window.

Third photo: High noon on the wheel, looking across the Rhône to the Crédit Lyonnais tower (aka le Grand Crayon).

Fourth photo: Turning 90 degrees left, looking across the 2nd arrondissement toward the slopes of the Croix-Rousse and the Monts d'Or in the distance. Vieux-Lyon at left.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I Was Extremely Disappointed To See That He Had Arms

Interesting piece from the NYT on the bellringer at Cathedral Notre-Dame in Paris.

There was a joke I used to tell--not so much a joke as an Icelandic-saga-length shaggy dog story containing not one but two groan-inducing puns, which as punch lines become secondary to the actual telling of the joke--that centered on the Cathedral's search for a bellringer to replace the famous Quasimodo. Sadly, the Times piece has no mention of this gentleman's identical twin brother.