Three things from this month that I forgot to post.
Inexplicably missing from my top non-reissue records was the record I played second-most after Jon Hardy's, Transglobal Underground's Impossible Broadcasting. Most of these world-music-goes-dance things are indigestible stews of samples, or new agey tranceodelic crap, or condescending primitivist assemblages that are embarrassing to listen to. I have no idea who these people are, but as soon as they swing into "The Khaleega Stomp," with its infectious "WOO-hah!" chant, you know they're putting the dancefloor, instead of their own cleverness, first. Add to that Sheema Mukherjee, one of the baddest sitarists around, with a technique half Earl Scruggs and half Vilyat Khan, stir with a genuine sense of humor, and you've got yourself a great album. Check it out.
Sort of a followup to my "Listening to Trains" post from November: The cheap way to get to Paris from Berlin is often through Amsterdam, which means taking the Thalys, the French/Belgian/Dutch/German-owned fast train. Not as nice as either France's TGV or Germany's ICE, it still gets you there, albeit in cramped seats in a depressing red-brown interior. The announcements are in four languages, Dutch, French, German, and English, and up until this afternoon I thought I'd caught them in a weird German grammatical error, but checking in with a translator friend, it turned out to be yet another weird bit of German grammar I'd never encountered before. What's indisputably odd, however, is the English announcements, all of which start with an oddly-inflected "Ladies...and gentlemen," which sounds distinctly like the speaker is implying that you're in a car filled with drag queens and men. Still, it must be said that it's a nice service for monolingual English speakers. One way you know you've changed to Deutsche Bahn is that all the announcements are in German.
Finally, a wine bargain discovered at last Saturday's launch party for the magazine. That whole part of the country is known for its reds and, by some, for its rosés (Languedoc's big secret: great rosés), but I was offered a small glass of a white called Picpul de Pinet, which Robin had picked up at Monoprix, the low-end supermarket, for €2. "It's remarkably good," he said, and as I tasted it, his next-door neighbor, Paolo, said "Imagine drinking this with oysters." He's right, though: the wine's from down around Sète, and it's obviously perfect for that. People say that nobody respects Languedoc wines because they're so cheap, but I say if you can make a two-buck wine this good, that just leaves me more to spend on oysters!