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24. A house designed by a three-year-old is built.

1. A book describes works that the author has conceived but not brought into being. 2. The world is drawn from memory. There are missing countries, altered borders. [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Jul 14, 2014 - 12 comments

The Discovery of Oneself: An Interview with Daniel Mendelsohn on Proust

“What is the lesson you draw from your own existence?” This is the philosophy that Proust teaches us. Last year, the French magazine La Revue des Deux Mondes published an interview with Daniel Mendelsohn about his experiences reading Proust as part of a special issue on “Proust vu d’Amérique.” Translated from the French by Anna Heyward. [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Jul 2, 2014 - 9 comments

Learning languages with Muzzy, the clock-eating fuzzy alien

“Je Suis La Jeune Fille.” “Yes, that’s French they’re speaking. But no, these children aren’t French – they’re American!” If you grew up in the late 1980s and early 1990s, or watched children's TV programming from that era in the US or UK, no doubt you saw that commercial for Muzzy (formally titled Muzzy in Gondoland). The show was first produced by the BBC in 1986 to teach English as a second language, as seen in this playlist of five videos, and later expanded with Muzzy Comes Back in 1989 (six episode playlist). The shows were both translated in to French, German (playlist), Spanish (and the Spanish vocabulary builder), and Italian (Muzzy in Gondoland, Muzzy Comes Back).
posted by filthy light thief on Jun 28, 2014 - 32 comments

The goat says "Meh"

Visualize a comic book, in your language, and imagine what would be written in the text balloon coming from the mouth of an animal. Now translate it. Derek Abbott of The University of Adelaide (previously) has compiled "the world’s biggest multilingual list" of animal sounds, commands, and pet names.
posted by Room 641-A on May 21, 2014 - 20 comments

Manuscript Scholars, to the MeFi Van!

Identify mystery text, win $1000. "The collection of Homer editions in the Special Collections Research Center – the Bibliotheca Homerica Langiana(BHL) – includes a copy of the rare 1504 edition of Homer’s Odyssey that contains, in Book 11 (narrating Odysseus’s journey into Hades) handwritten annotations in a strange and as-yet unidentified script. This marginalia appears only in the pages of Book 11 of the Odyssey; nowhere else in the volume. Although the donor of the BHL is suspicious that this odd script is a form of 19th-century shorthand (likely French), he acknowledges that this hypothesis remains unsupported by any evidence offered to date." And he's willing to pay for that evidence.
posted by korej on Apr 24, 2014 - 31 comments

Notre professeur à pris sa retraite.

Dr. Pierre Capretz, who taught French at Yale University for several decades, passed away at the age of 89 on April 1st of this year, qu'il repose en paix. Capretz is best known for his 1987 PBS series of half-hour French-language lessons, French in Action, which combined language immersion using to a simple romantic-comedy narrative followed by a classroom-style review, featuring Professeur Capretz, of the narrative with emphasis on the concepts, vocabulary, and grammar. [more inside]
posted by Sunburnt on Apr 10, 2014 - 22 comments

On Engastration

His recipe calls for a bustard stuffed with a turkey stuffed with a goose stuffed with a pheasant stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a duck stuffed with a guinea fowl stuffed with a teal stuffed with a woodcock stuffed with a partridge stuffed with a plover stuffed with a lapwing stuffed with a quail stuffed with a thrush stuffed with a lark stuffed with an ortolan bunting stuffed with a garden warbler stuffed with an olive stuffed with an anchovy stuffed with a single caper - The Roti Sans Pareil or Roast Without Equal.
posted by The Whelk on Apr 5, 2014 - 70 comments

They'll be playing poker next

Chien drôle mange à table [slyt]
posted by mattoxic on Mar 11, 2014 - 20 comments

Foreigners Abroad.

11 French Tourist Tips For Visiting America. Tips For Russians. Tips For Japanese Visitors.
posted by The Whelk on Mar 6, 2014 - 162 comments

Fly through the air with the greatest of ease

Paragliding Circus [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 16, 2014 - 4 comments

"Little lost ligament" may explain why some ACL surgeries fail

In 1879, a French gynecologist / knee expert suggested that a tiny but very important body part existed. No one seemed to be in any hurry to test his hypothesis, although there was some desultory interest shown in the 1970s and 2000s. This Tuesday, two Belgian researchers (Steven Claes and Johan Bellemans) confirmed that the anterolateral ligament (ALL) exists and that about 97% of us have it. (Press release; abstract.) "The doctors wanted to know why some patients with ACL tears suffered from pivot shifts, or knee collapses, even after successful reconstructive surgeries. ... Patients with ACL tears were likely suffering knee collapses because of ALL injuries." [more inside]
posted by maudlin on Nov 6, 2013 - 15 comments

France in the NSA's crosshairs

Using documents leaked by US whistleblower Edward Snowden, Le Monde reports that the NSA has been intercepting French telephone communications on a massive scale. Under a programme called 'US-985D', the NSA is collecting not only metadata but recordings of telephone calls: From 10 December 2012 to 8 January 2013, 70.3 million French telephone calls were recorded.
These revelations came just as US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris on a pre-scheduled visit. Francois Hollande is not pleased.
posted by anemone of the state on Oct 21, 2013 - 166 comments

The Impossible Geometry of Fanette G.

Géométrie de l'impossible de Fanette G., après Felice Varini et Georges Rousse.
posted by klangklangston on Oct 7, 2013 - 10 comments

All I do is photoshop / I don't need a reason

Dizzee Rascal's new music video "I Don't Need A Reason" is probably the most giffable video ever made.
posted by boo_radley on Sep 1, 2013 - 28 comments

Amélie: The Broadway Musical

French film Amélie (2001) is going to be adapted into a Broadway musical by American composer Dan Messe (Hem), who will be creating new music for the score. Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet is disgusted by these plans, but sold the rights anyway to support a charity.
posted by Lush on Aug 26, 2013 - 78 comments

Speaking in foreign tongues

The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates has spent the last few months in Paris specifically studying French. His latest dispatch, "Or Perhaps You Are Too Stupid to Learn French," looks at how hard it is to apply the rules of new language in real time, while fighting with one's perceptions and limitations (Other dispatches are here).

Washington Post writer Jay Matthews asks if learning a foreign language is worth it and recounts his own struggles studying Chinese. Another WaPo writer, Elizabeth Chang, recalls her experience in learning Arabic.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Aug 22, 2013 - 200 comments

Avez-vous déjà vu?

Avez-vous déjà vu... ...une girafe avec un collier? (...a giraffe with a necklace?); ...des moutons qui organisent un pique-nique? (...sheep who're organising a picnic?); ...une poule très très riche? (...a very, very rich chicken?); ...la fée fagot qui a oublié ses lunettes? (...the wood fairy who forgot her glasses?) [more inside]
posted by metaBugs on Aug 21, 2013 - 34 comments

What I want, what I really really want.

Frenchmen dance a Spice Girls medley ...in high heels.
posted by The Whelk on Jul 25, 2013 - 21 comments

Haunted by the Future

Enki Bilal: Haunted by the Future -Paul Gravett on the Yugoslavian/French comics superstar.
posted by Artw on Jun 16, 2013 - 9 comments

Here we glimpse a future in which all mysteries are solved

Toute la mémoire du monde (1956: 21 minutes) is a remarkably lovely documentary short by Alain Resnais about the Bibliothèque nationale de France in the age of print. Via The Funambulist. [more inside]
posted by theodolite on Jun 8, 2013 - 5 comments

La Petite Mélancolie - Photographic Life

La Petite Mélancolie (NSFW)
Is mainly a French photo blog which has plenty of excellent timesink in it. From Hannah Hoch to Romy Schneider and from Edward Steichen to Jorge Caceres
It is difficult to describe this site which sometimes verges on the pornographic but also has many pages on surrealists such as Paul Eluard and Jacques Prevert,
as well as other avant garde people such as the Czechs Karel Tiege and Milan Kundra.
posted by adamvasco on May 25, 2013 - 7 comments

Au revoir, Georges Moustaki.

Au revoir, Georges Moustaki. The French chansonnier, who got his start writing for Edith Piaf, and later had a lengthy career of his own, has passed away. His simple, languid, contemplative songs include "Le Métèque", "Ma Solitude", "Votre Fille a Vingt Ans" and many, many, many more. He was 79.
posted by Capt. Renault on May 23, 2013 - 8 comments

Our pet chimpanzee ruined my life, claims stepdaughter of French singer

"Soon, however, with the strength of eight men, Pépée became an uncontrollable tyrant who would strip guests – including once a government prefect and wife – of their clothes and valuables, bite others who failed to accede to its whims and once stole a baby, which it took to the roof despite Leo waving a toy pistol at it and shouting: "Daddy's not happy. Daddy's going to shoot."
posted by unSane on May 22, 2013 - 40 comments

English and Dravidian

Many languages have "high" and "low" layers of vocabulary. But in most other languages, the two sets are drawn from the same source. By contrast, contact between Old English and French, Dravidian languages and Sanskrit, Japanese and Chinese, Persian and Arabic, and other pairings around the world have created fascinatingly hybrid languages. These mixed lexicons are, for linguistic and social historians, akin to the layers of fossils that teach paleontologists and archaeologists so much about eras gone by. Some people even think English is descended from Latin, or Kannada from Sanskrit. That’s frustrating not only because it’s wrong, but also because the reality is far more interesting. - The Economist, Unlikely parallels (via)
posted by beisny on May 15, 2013 - 31 comments

International Art English

"The internationalized art world relies on a unique language. Its purest articulation is found in the digital press release. This language has everything to do with English, but it is emphatically not English. It is largely an export of the Anglophone world and can thank the global dominance of English for its current reach. But what really matters for this language—what ultimately makes it a language—is the pointed distance from English that it has always cultivated. " - Triple Canopy magazine on why do artists' statments and press releases sound so utterly odd and confusing.
posted by The Whelk on Apr 26, 2013 - 45 comments

Found: unused space shuttle

No big deal, just found an abandoned space shuttle.
posted by latkes on Apr 18, 2013 - 43 comments

Ils Sont Cools/They Are Cool

Ils Sont Cools/They Are Cool. French rap Power Rangers at the Acropolis. And doner. (SLYT)
posted by eddydamascene on Apr 11, 2013 - 5 comments

You've Seen the Pattycaking Catz, But Maybe Not the French Ones (SLYT)

Dansons la cupucine...those Pattycake-playing kittehs with a French soundtrack. Poom! Dear God, although I swore I'd never SLYT, I cannot.stop.laughing. POOM!
posted by kinetic on Mar 27, 2013 - 45 comments

Les érections de Stephen Harper

Les érections de Stephen Harper. (SL video) (SFW). Speaking in French, Prime Minister Stephen Harper asks the hard questions about Canadian "érections". (Via MontrealMemes)
posted by Capt. Renault on Mar 17, 2013 - 16 comments

I'm A Princess

French group Golden Mustache contemplates the sex lives of various video game characters (video, English subtitles, surprisingly SFW, wait for Tetris)
posted by The Whelk on Mar 17, 2013 - 23 comments

The track to nowhere

Travellers passing through the Beauce region in France may have noticed this strange, lonely concrete structure raised on pillars over the fields. This is the 18-km long elevated track built in the 1960s for testing the Aérotrain (WP, video compilation turn off your speakers unless you love Queen), a propeller or jet-and-rocket driven high-speed (400 km/h) monorail that was supposed to revolutionize train travel (a visit by Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell). However, the French government preferred the less expensive and less futuristic TGV and the project was mothballed in 1975. The Aérotrain's inventor, Jean Bertin, died a few months later. All Aérotrain prototypes were destroyed except one.
posted by elgilito on Mar 11, 2013 - 32 comments

ENGLISHWOMEN: Express surprise that they can have pretty children.

You too can sound like tedious Second Empire bourgeois making small talk if you follow Flaubert's Dictionary of Received Ideas! A satrical collection of cant, cliche, and "expected" opinions of the French middle-classes around 1870 - List Of Entrees alphabetical - List by subject.
posted by The Whelk on Feb 28, 2013 - 14 comments

Albert Dubout

Albert Dubout (1905-1976) was a highly popular and prolific French cartoonist and illustrator, whose works were ubiquitous in France from the 1930s to the 1970s: Dubout illustrated books, film posters (notably those of Marcel Pagnol), magazines, advertisements, postcards and some of his cartoons were eventually adapted as a movie. Today, Dubout is best known as the creator of the Dubout couple (movie version; figurine version), consisting of a very large, full-bosomed, dominating, angry-looking wife with a diminutive, hapless and mustachioed husband in tow. Dubout's work is often highly detailed, and images larger than the tiny ones available on the official website are shown under the fold. [more inside]
posted by elgilito on Jan 26, 2013 - 2 comments

Métafiltre, DemanderMéta and ParlerMéta

For non-anglophones, the English names of worldwide brands, music bands and other cultural items are both ubiquitous and slightly mysterious. Here what the English (plus some German, Spanish and Japanese) names of 52 brands/logotypes and 30 musicians/records look like when very loosely and somewhat lazily translated in French. Some extras can be found in the comments (note: annoying pop-up at the start).
posted by elgilito on Jan 22, 2013 - 72 comments

Olivier Messiaen's "Vingt regards sur l'enfant-Jésus"

To say that Messiaen's Vingt Regards sur L'Enfant-Jesus (Twenty Contemplations on the Infant Jesus) is a masterpiece is a gross understatement. Over sixty years after its composition, it has rightfully earned the recognition of being one of the most important piano works of the 20th century. ... [It] is one of the most personal and intimate pieces Messiaen ever wrote, and it gives the listener a close look at Messiaen the person. Messiaen was a deeply religious person, and although his faith influenced every single piece he wrote, the Vingt Regards is almost like his own personal spiritual diary. - Keith Kerchoff [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen on Dec 13, 2012 - 16 comments

Wie??

Polish names are hard for Germans. The Danish language is hard for the Danes. Singing in French is hard for New Zealanders. (MLYT) (Previously: An English-esque song that is hard for English speakers.) [more inside]
posted by narain on Dec 8, 2012 - 17 comments

The Stupid and Evil Magazine

In 1960 humorist Georges Bernier, author François Cavanna and comic artist (and artistic director) Fred Aristidès began publishing the satirical magazine Hara Kiri, which attacked the French establishment, including politicians, the government and Catholic Church. In 1961 and 1966 it was temporarily banned by the French Government. The magazine's covers were often tasteless, NSFW, "famously perverted, bizarre and highly creative and at the time, and in fact even by today's standards in a league of their own." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 4, 2012 - 16 comments

Suspiciously familiar...

Y est-ce deux dés? (not exactly what it says on the tin) [more inside]
posted by BungaDunga on Nov 25, 2012 - 24 comments

Cambodian Trees

Cambodian Trees by Clément Briend. "La culture cambodgienne est habitée par une spiritualité qui crée une conscience du monde peuplée de génies et d’esprits. Dans le paysage d'une ville endormie, la nuit fait apparaître ces figures divines sur les arbres, permettant ainsi leur incarnation. Par ces projections nocturnes, nous pouvons alors toucher la magie qui illumine leur regard sur le monde." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Nov 16, 2012 - 6 comments

Existential cat

Le Mew
posted by Mblue on Nov 1, 2012 - 19 comments

Typical Pentagon boondoggle

The Global Language Online Support System (or GLOSS), produced by the Defense Language Institute in sunny Monterey, CA, offers over six thousand free lessons in 38 languages from Albanian to Uzbek, with particular emphasis on Chinese, Persian, Russian, Korean, and various types of Arabic. The lessons include both reading and listening components and are refreshingly based on real local materials (news articles, radio segments, etc.) rather than generic templates. [more inside]
posted by theodolite on Oct 11, 2012 - 23 comments

Richard Olney

Like all shrines, this one is on a hill, and built into solid rock. Richard Olney saw it first in 1961 on an excursion south from his adoptive home in Paris. Olney, whose The French Menu Cookbook was recently judged the best cookbook ever by this magazine, immediately knew he had found his proper place on earth. [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen on Sep 24, 2012 - 12 comments

There once was a postman who designed scarves for Hermès....

Portrait of the Artist as a Postman. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 24, 2012 - 8 comments

Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin

By general consent, Jean-Siméon Chardin was one of the supreme artists of the eighteenth century and probably the greatest master of still life in the history of painting. - Robert Hughes [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen on Sep 1, 2012 - 7 comments

Rock and roll / Rock et roll

While Quebec’s status as the only primarily French-speaking province in Canada has resulted in a distinct cultural industry—particularly with regard to film and music—the province still enjoys many cultural products from English Canada. While movies and TV shows are often subtitled or dubbed into French, it is rare that the same is true of music. A notable exception is the music of Toronto-based Big Sugar. [more inside]
posted by asnider on Aug 30, 2012 - 19 comments

Happy Birthday, Julia

Tomorrow would have been Julia Child's 100th birthday. To celebrate, PBS Digital Studios offers: Julia Child Remixed. They also have created a celebration page, complete with an infographic, recipes, quotes, videos and more. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 14, 2012 - 52 comments

In French, 'Sloth' is 'Paresse'. You know, like Paris?

The Seven Deadly Sins in Animated GIFs (via Cartoon Brew) Also in French. From usually-not-animated cartoonist Boulet (French site) (English site) who has recently translated some funny comics about 'insect-brain' influences (ponies & DIY), aging and dying (and 'The Mortal Tango'), human memory defragging, the 'movie of your life', imagination (childhood vs. grown-up), how geeks will save/take over the world and things that threaten New York
posted by oneswellfoop on Jul 26, 2012 - 15 comments

I prefer a ruin to a monument.

A liquor store in Amsterdam. A veteran in Bagdad. A family in Rome. A WWII veterans memorial in Berlin. A house in Oxford. Edouard Levé photographed towns in the United States that shared names with famous cities. He photographed fully-clothed actors reenacting scenes from rugby and pornography [nsfw]. He also wrote some novels, influenced by Oulipo. Autoportrait, describes his life in 120 pages of unordered vignettes and brief, declarative sentences—"The girl whom I loved the most left me. [...] I am uneasy in rooms with small windows." and so on. His fourth novel, Suicide, is a one-sided conversation between an anonymous narrator ("I") and his friend ("you"), who committed suicide twenty years ago. It's a painfully intimate meditation on the act and its fallout on its own merits—"Your life was hypothesis. Those who die old are made of the past. Thinking of them, one thinks of what they have done. Thinking of you, one thinks of what you could have become. You were, and you will remain, made up of possibilities."—but few will read Suicide unburdened with the knowledge that Edouard Levé killed himself several days after completing it, at the age of 47. [more inside]
posted by spanishbombs on Jul 7, 2012 - 7 comments

Habit de...

Costumes grotesques et métiers de Nicolas de Larmessin. (Coralized)
posted by griphus on Jun 21, 2012 - 14 comments

Speak white

Speak white.
posted by - on Jun 16, 2012 - 48 comments

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