Friday, December 14, 2007

La Nuit des Mèmes Vivants !

There is yet another insidious meme shambling its way around the internets and this one is - gasp! - Frenchified! Yet despite the aroma of cheese and surrender - concepts intimately familiar in American political life, right, you fucking cowards on both sides of the aisle? Ooh, look! A Muslim! We're all going to die in a jihad! Oh no, it's David Broder ready to write a fierce cocktail screed against us! You can have whatever you want, Mr. Bush! But I'm digressing. Je m'excuse - it carries the odd title of quatre par quatre. That's 4x4, something uniquely American in all of our rugged individualism. Can't you just smell the flannel, English Leather and burning fossil fuels? Anyone have that Lee Greenwood song queued up?

So, thanks to mon amie, Marjorie, I've been infected yet again. That sounds terrible, doesn't it? But it's truly not that bad. There is a cure for it. Like a bullet to the brain. Sarah Polley sure was hot in that flick, wasn't she. Sorry, momentarily overwhelmed by naughty thoughts. Anyway, onto the meme. Boy, this scratch sure is itchy...

What four things do you love most about living in France? I don't live there, and sadly, likely never will - sniff - permit me a moment to compose myself - sob - alright, I'm feeling better, like a Manly Man, like a Jamal Lewis touchdown run! Let's get it on! Steroids! Flex! Oh yeah, the answers:

1. The man-made and cultivated sights, for starters. I like old stuff. France has a lot of old stuff. The cathedrals at Rouen and Reims, the Roman amphitheatre at Fréjus, Giverny, the Pont Neuf, Versailles, the Place Vendôme, the Eiffel Tower (okay, this one isn't that old, but you see where I'm going with this)....

2. The natural sights. The Seine, the Loire river valley, the Norman cliffs, the Alps, the Mediterranean.

3. The cafés. I must second my tagger on this. Though the idea of writing in a Parisian café, absorbing the sights, sounds, smells and hopefully, through the wonderful and very true phenomena of osmosis, the creative powers of France's finest still permeating the atmosphere, is probably about as cliché as it gets, there's a reason for its continual allure. I may not end up living there, but someday, I will write there. And have a drink or three.

4. Paris. Duh.

What four most memorable jobs have you had? Oh, none of them have been quite memorable in any kind of joyous, effervescent and/or sexy way. I've never been the assistant to a beautiful and witty writer or a sorcerer with actual magical powers. In fact, I haven't had that many jobs at all since I've been with my current employer for the last three centuries.

1. In high school, I used to cut the grass and trim the hedges for the various clients of my old man. It doesn't get more generic or unmemorable than that, but this one guy had a strikingly beautiful and curvaceous daughter about a year older than I. Always seemed like it never rained as much as I wanted it to. Grow, you goddamn grass, grow!

2. In the summer before I went off to matriculate at the University of Akron, I worked for the city driving a truck around town cutting the lawns of old chicks and dudes and painting the fire hydrants a hideous shade of nearly day-glo yellow. It was quite low-stress and we were outside a lot, so it was the last time I had anything remotely resembling a tan and we'd bust our ass in the early morning before the heat arrived so we could spend the rest of the day driving around listening to Zeppelin while looking for ladies to ogle. A few of the public pools had the secluded tree thing going on, so we had to worry less about the big boss man busting our adolescent fun.

3. Once at the aforementioned university, I worked in the stockroom of the chemistry department making sure that things were, well, stocked up and preparing samples for the various lab experiments. My boss was quite the weirdo. He definitely had the potential serial killer vibe working, but that was probably just a side effect from years of inhaling the fumes of the strange, acidic concoctions. I mean, I'm here, aren't I? At the time, there were a few labs that had fallen into disuse but hadn't yet been cleaned out, so we would go scavenging and end up with unused rolls of magnesium - always fun to set alight! - and chunks of sodium. Drop it in water and watch it fly up and bust a hole in the plaster ceiling. Once upon a time, we came across a nearly-full tank of helium and decided to tie about six or seven large garbage bags together to a small weighted object - I can't remember exactly what we used - filled them up, and launched the makeshift dirigible from the roof. I believe it made its way past the student center before it got caught on a very tall tree. Your tax dollars at work.

4. Compared to the rest, I'd say my current job has occasionally had some memorable-like qualities, but since I must keep my secret identity safe from the DHS, I will refrain from saying any more on the subject. How's that for answering a question with a non-answer? I should run for office.

Four quirky things about the way I eat (and drink):

1. What a silly question. I eat with grace and decorum.

2. I don't think there's anything quirky about the way I eat or drink.

3. No, seriously, I'm an average Joe. You know, I scarf down my food.

4. Wait, here's one. When I'm finished, I can't simply toss the silverware in the middle of the plate, even though within minutes I'll be washing everything. They must rest to the side, the handles safely out of the way of the last drops of gravy, the juice of sliced fruit, the remaining kernels of corn.

What are your four favorite foods? Ah, one area where my Francophone-ness becomes Francophony. Le fromage? Je l'aime, mais je ne l'adore pas. I'm very American in mes goûts.

1. Beef stew. Homemade of course, with a thick, flavorful saucy soupy goop, soft chunks of carrots and potatoes, everything nice and hot, perfect fuel for those long winter nights of writing and writing and writing. Seriously, I could eat beef stew every day until I croak from beef poisoning.

2. A really good hamburger with all the trimmings: a superb cheese, mustard, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, pickles - dill or sweet, depending on my mood, onions. It sounds simple, but if you do the meat right to where it's bursting with flavor and all but melts in your mouth, then this'll top any faux fancy dish you can place before me.

3. Pizza. Yet one more ubiquitous food that can easily be overlooked, but if prepared properly, c'est magnifique ! Plus, you have so many options available to you. One could say that pizza is the Lego of foods. I can swing any way on this, be it straight or with a wide stance, but the only requirements are that a spicy, but not overpowering pepperoni, be part of the proceedings and, above all else, a fabulous sauce. The sauce, not the cheese, mes amis, is by far the most important ingredient. Cheese is merely structural. If you're hankerin' that much for le fromage, go chow down on a chunk of camembert or sharp cheddar.

4. A bowl of cereal. J'adore la céréale. Breakfast, dinner, late night snack, halftime chowdown, and there's no effort involved. What, you expected some haute cuisine? I'm still a lazy American, so let's not stretch the bounds of reality, okay?

Four recipes you cook all the time?

1. A multitude of chicken recipes. Yeah, a nebulous answer, but it's cheaper than beef, and when you have four mouths to feed, you find ways to stretch your food dollar. And given that it's a very versatile animal when dead, your options are nearly unlimited.

2. I am the Earl of Sandwiches. Slap a little butter or spicy mustard on some French bread, lightly toast the slices, toss a combination of meat, cheese or whatever you wish, heat them in the oven for a bit, et voilà, instant goodness.

3. Pizza. Usually with the premade crusts, sometimes with the homemade, it's a good way to give in to deliciousness while avoiding the 47 lbs. of sodium in each fast food pie.

4. A bowl of cereal. Can't you read? I'm a lazy, lazy man.

The taggees: Freida Bee, Mary Ellen and dguzman. Standard disclaimers apply with one addition. All the Francophiles I know skulking on the internets have already been tagged, I think, so feel free to substitute the country of your choice unless you've been hiding your love of Rameau from me. In which case, for fucking shame...I'm so hungry...let me eat your brains...brains...BRAINS!


Candace said...

Ah, the joys of the late-night bowl of cereal. Do you also like breakfast foods for dinner - like bacon and eggs?

Randal Graves said...

Oh absolutely, one can eat breakfast foods at all hours of the day! And don't forget the pancakes with butter and syrup. Real maple syrup, not that HFCS garbage.

Freida Bee said...

Candace, I believe what you are referring to is Brupper... in our house. Yes, real maple syrple!

A meme? How original. En la mañana, Señor Meme. (Isn't that a French word?)

Mary Ellen said...

When my kids were young they used to love to have breakfast for dinner. My husband didn't, though, so on the one day a week that he taught a late class, that was our special treat. Of course, it was the real maple syrup...which I warmed up before pouring it on the pancakes! Mmmm......

Mary Ellen said...

Oh I forgot about the tag...that sounds like an interesting one.I have a lot of Frenchies reading my blog and who occasionally will comment. I'll have to think of something to annoy a nice way, of course. I'll get to this next week. I'm slammed this weekend at home. My son is sick, again. (sigh)

Randal Graves said...

Freida Bee, you know damn well I'm not very original.

Même = generally means the same, or even, as in the same thing, or even this.

Mème = our 'meme.'

And that has been Today's French Lesson as taught by a guy who has no business teaching.

ME, the real maple syrup is the only way to go. Have you guys ever had that real maple candy? Now that is also a treat. And now, I'm also hungry, so, thanks. :)

Randal Graves said...

ME, certainly no rush on it. And by all means, annoy them. ;-) Hope your son feels better soon!

Betty C. said...

Hey, fellow cereal-lover! That was the snack of choice I used to serve to my friends in high school. I think they were not especially amused. But then I dragged out the fish and chip TV dinners. That shut them up.

Randal Graves said...

You really can't go wrong with cereal. Especially when the competition is an under-flavored collection of aluminum-foiled pseudo-food!

b said...

I make a mean bowl of cereal myself, but I don't like to brag! ;-) I'm with you on the pizza thing, too. I like cheese but I too believe that pizza is more about the sauce. The cheese is necessary but a great sauce (and crust) is more important for me as well.

Randal Graves said...

THANK YOU! I think you might only be the second person I've ever met who agrees with that infallible truth. Sauce and crust, that's where it's at!

Anonymous said...

I'm with you, Randal, a good cheeseburger is a wonderful thing. It's now I test a restaurant. If they can do a good cheeseburger, it's a good restaurant.

Anonymous said...

It's How I test....not Now.

Anonymous said...

Pizza, burgers and cereal oh my! These are a few of my favourite things (but was too full to think clearly when I did my meme) la la la la la la.

Randal Graves said...

dcup, certainly an excellent exam to excise doubts of exceptionality. I don't know why I just did that.

colleen, because you had probably just finished a burger!

My Inner French Girl said...

Merci, Randal, for playing!

I can see that you and I and LBR will have to make sure that we reserve plenty of time during our Paris meet-up to write in a cafe. Maybe if we sat around long enough, they'll erect a plaque with our names on it on the wall behind the table. I'd better write that damn bestseller.

Ooo, I forgot about pizza! Here's a memorable one I had in Japan, which turned me off pizza there for an entire year: a cup of grease, corn, inch-thick raw onions, fish flakes, seaweed, and a couple of other unidentified "bits." The nausea couldn't come fast enough.

Apparently, one can ruin pizza.


Randal Graves said...

And I better write something. You can have the blockbuster novel. I'll just follow along on your coattails.

That's not pizza, that's a cruel torture device used in Guantanamo. UGH.