27 June 2006

Fußball Weltmeisterschaft Sidebar Content

I should have set this up earlier, but have been too lazy and/or busy to do so. In any case, for the rest of the World Cup, you'll find all the latest from Germany in the sidebar via my hand-crafted World Cup podcast channel and reading list. You too can drown in the sea of content that has already swallowed me whole...

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20 June 2006

L'affiche publicitaire française (1)

Hooray! I've finally found someone in Winnipeg that sells Orangina in a nice, big 1750mL bottle. Much better than paying $2 for a tiny little bottle on Osborne, Corydon or Provencher. You know Orangina, right? That wonderful little French drink that's not much more than carbonated water and orange juice, the Orangensaft mit Sodawasser that I so enjoyed during my boyhood trip to Europe. But it's not just that it tastes better and is more refreshing than any soft drink you've ever had. There's also the legendary iconography created by Bernard Villemot, of which the poster featured here is the best known example. I must confess that the whole Orangina experience somehow transports me to the Côte d'Azur, perhaps during the earlier part of the twentieth century, and I can just imagine myself relaxing at Antibes or Juan-les-Pins, enjoying the sun and sipping a surprisingly refreshing citrus-based carbonated beverage. Ridiculous, certes, but much more enjoyable than living in the real world. If any of this resonates with you, then you will certainly want to visit the Virtual Orangina Museum, and to see more of the work of Bernard Villemot. If you're really hardcore like me, then you will also want to pick up the beautiful book (see below for purchasing information) that came out last year featuring Villemot's best posters (Hoëbeke, 2005).

European poster art, especially the art of the French advertising poster of decades gone by, has always fascinated me. In the future there will be more posts related to this most agreeable of topics.

To buy the book, choose the option nearest you: [Canada] [France]

17 June 2006

Ghana Is The Name We Wish To Proclaim

Ghana is the name
We wish to proclaim
We will be jolly, merry and gay
The sixth of March Independence Day

Being the essentially ignorant occidental person that I am, I don't really know too much about Ghana. Aside from having had my coiffure handled by a Ghanaian chap back when I used to have hair, the only thing evoked by the former Gold Coast was Lord Kitchener's seminal 1956 Calypso Birth of Ghana (written and recorded during his time in London):

Great song, don't you think? It's available on an amazing compilation record entitled London Is The Place For Me.

And now they've gone and done this. They've convincingly beaten the Czech Republic team that dismantled the American selection just a few days ago. Amazing! I was just listening to a Belgian podcast that was lamenting the lack of an African surprise so far in this Weltmeisterschaft, and as if on cue Ghana produced just that. Good on them. Now I have three things to think of when I think of Ghana.

Back at the Ghanaian barbershop, they were pretty satisfied with their performance in their opening match against Italy. I can only imagine the mayhem that went down there today...

11 June 2006

Divided in Dortmund

So I'm watching the footie live from Dortmund today: Trinidad & Tobago vs. Sweden. But who to support? My father is from Trinidad & Tobago, but my maternal grandfather's family come from Sweden. Result: one confused Canadian. My well-known europhilia ended up giving way to my natural propensity to root for the underdog, however in the end it didn't matter, so the equilibrium of my competing origins remains intact. Whew!

As an aside, isn't it amazing that in such an americanised country like ours it is possible to see all 64 world cup games live on basic cable, with repeats throughout the day? And those with digital television can see them all in high-definition. There are even Canadian channels offering the matches in French, Italian, Spanish Portuguese and Chinese. It reminds me of 12 years ago when I was watching the World Cup from Austria on Eurosport and I could just press a button on the remote control to cycle through commentary in all of the major European languages. Of course here it's spread out over several channels and not all languages are available for all matches, but still, it's comforting to know that our technology is almost as good as 12 year old European technology.

01 June 2006

Avec Jean-Marie, je n'ai plus de peine

Those of us who are baffled and dismayed by the continued popularity of the far-right in France (can 31% of the population really be wrong?), less than one year away from the presidential election, can at least take comfort in the extremely good taste employed by the extrême droite when choosing campaign music. Have a listen to this ditty from 1997, composed in the zouk style of Caribbean music brought over by the brown people they so detest.

Avec Jean-Marie, je n’ai plus de peine... Great lyrics! Peine... Jean-Marie Le Pen. Get it? Who says the Front National doesn't know how to have a good time?

In trying to understand the two sides of this coin of French malaise, viz. the riots in the suburbs on one hand and the popularity of the far-right on the other, I found this succinct little mise en scène produced by Arte Radio to be most instructive. Imagine the French political class to be the incredibly out-of-touch, inept, inefficient and unresponsive customer service department of a large company. Then imagine yourself as a French citizen trying to connect with it via the main switchboard...

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