Tuesday, December 2, 2014

New San Francisco

From time to time, Madame Le Chef and I take a walk along the Bay, south of the Baseball Park and next to the new UCSF campus. I've previously posted plenty of pictures from our rambles. The city currently has an insatiable demand for housing and a lot of construction is taking place in that area. San Francisco will remain a working port. (Please click.)








And there are still some large parking lots for the ballpark (here occupied by Cirque du Soleil).




They will certainly be filled in with housing. Construction is all around. In places they are building city blocks all at once.







Finished blocks are awaiting their residents.




The city is changing at a dizzying rate.





Sunday, November 16, 2014

True Detective

I've already mentioned my admiration for Cary Fukunaga's first two films. I was eagerly awaiting his next but instead of making a new film, he directed all eight episodes of the first season of True Detective. I should mention that in film, the director is the chief creative force, but with TV the headwriter/showrunner is the chief creative force and directors can come and go. So Nic Pizzolatto gets the major credit for the series and deserves it but I believe that the fact that Fukunaga was the only director led to the visual cohesiveness of the eight episodes and the tightness of the ensemble acting.

The show is set in Louisiana and follows two homicide detectives (Mathew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson) as they try to solve a ritualistic murder. The plot exists in three time periods over 17 years. The episodes are beautiful, crazy, scary, exciting drama. By Episode Four the viewer believes that our heroes face an immense conspiracy. By the final episode the scope of things has narrowed but the ending is still very satisfying. It's available on Netflix. I recommend it.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Le Quatorze Juillet

Bastille Day is a purely English term. The French call their national holiday The Fourteenth of July, just like we call ours The Fourth of July. Madame Le Chef and I have friends who spend part of every year in the small French town of Montsoreau where they own a house. The town is on the left bank of the Loire and has a particularly charming way of celebrating the national holiday.

They hold their celebration on the night of the thirteenth of July so people can go to the much larger fireworks shows in the nearby cities on the fourteen.

When it's almost dusk the band marches up the street to the town hall, playing. (Please click.)


They stop there while the mayor and some officials pass out Chinese lanterns with lighted candles to the little kids. This would never happen in the US. Think of the law suits.






Then when all the kids have lanterns and it's almost dark, the crowd of a few hundred follows the band down to the river and walks along it to the village square where there will be music later.



The fireworks are shot off from a barge in the middle of the Loire.





The next morning in the neighboring town of Fontevraud-l'Abbaye the more traditional civic ceremonies are celebrated with an Army honor guard.


Also members of the police, the fire department and the same band that played the night before in Montsoreau.


And of course, the mayor gives a short speech. (She's the small figure in front of the bush.)






Sunday, September 28, 2014

California

The bureau chief has even more photos of France that he will feature in the future, but now to celebrate the Golden State. None of these photos look like France. (Please click.)


Saw this tiny car on a nearby pier.


On the approach to the Golden Gate Bridge, a pink vision.








We got to talk to the owner of this purple wonder who was a very nice gentleman. If memory serves it's a 1932 Ford but now contains parts of at least four other cars of varying vintages.




This was glimpsed on the drive home along The Great Highway.






Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Tides of Brittany

They are the most extreme in Europe. This is the harbor at Cancale at high tide. (Please click.)


And at low tide.




Another part of the harbor at the two extremes.





This is the harbor at Roscoff at high tide.


And at low tide.


This is where we noticed that the owners of boats with keels do a clever thing. They attach poles to keep them from falling on their sides.





Here are some closer looks.





Saturday, August 23, 2014

Calvary

During our car trip through Brittany, we were driving down from some low mountains and out of a patch of rain when we hit the town of Pleyben and saw this. We immediately parked and walked back to take some pictures. (Please click.)


The dark sky made it look extra dramatic but it was pretty dramatic on its own.



We found out later that it was an excellent example of a parish close, a type of religious architecture unique to Brittany.


The sculptural part of the structure is a calvaire (Calvary) which depicts the crucifixion but also other scenes from Christ's life.


Although it was made in the 16th century it seems very medieval.


The Bretons are a Celtic people with their own language (although it's not widely spoken today) and their own religious traditions.


As we were photographing the calvaire the sky was lightening up.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Mulberry Harbors

The first place that Madame Le Chef and I stayed at in Normandy was a five minute drive from the French seaside town of Arromanche. This town was one of two locations where the British established temporary harbors during the 1944 Normandy landings. The harbors were built in England and towed across the channel. They were called Mulberry Harbors. The other harbor was set up at Omaha Beach but was destroyed in an intense storm on June 19, 1944. The same storm damaged the Mulberry harbor at Arromanche but it was repaired and continued to function till it was no longer needed. Part of it is still there like an abstract monument to the war.




These pictures were taken on a rainy day.



Danger!



This is a replica of the road ways that ran between the larger supports. This is part of a small but very informative museum on the harbors.