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Newsletter No.5
24th, March, 2005

Dear "Paris Set Me Free" Visitor,

Welcome to the latest issue of the unique
Creative Paris Newsletter
"Kiss That Frog"


1) SPONSOR'S SPACE ! - The Great People Who Keep Us Going !
2) Introduction - Welcome to the City of Light & Love!
3) Parisian Picks - photos
4) Paris Daze - personal notes
5) Pause Poétique - contributions welcome
6) Photo Competition - win a great Paris book
7) History Corner - this is.. Paris
8) Weird & Wonderful - strange & obscure facts & findings
9) Hint of the Week - not a lot of people know this, but...
10) Readers' Letters - have your say
11) Quote of the Week - Paris inspired...
12) This Week's Special Offer!
13) Contacting Us, Related Links and Subscription Info
14) Copyright notice

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This week's sponsor is Cambridge University Press, the oldest printing and publishing house in the world. They are 'dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge', and produce, notably, some of the finest English language teaching materials in the world. Check out their web site for more information, and if you are interested check out our sister site The Frankly Fabulous Language Fun Farm, and read our review of their latest publication. Or not. The choice is yours. You know the score.

If you are interested in publicising your Paris-related site, event or product here, do let us know and you'll become an official Kiss That Frog sponsor (and help us to survive at the same time)! We'll let you know the details and we can work out the best way to promote your wonderful services, publication, business or products through Paris Set Me Free and Sister Sites. Ask a small amount of money or even better a reciprocal arrangement for promoting the site through your publication or business - please get in touch!

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2) Introduction

Welcome, Paris-Lover and Friend!

The sunset, as seen from the window of the computer room at the British Council - not a bad view to file one's nails to. It's looking across the Invalides Esplanade, which used to seem strange to me, the idea of invalides having an esplanade, but now I'm used to it. In fact, the palace which is now a military museum and Napoleon's tomb used to be a military hospital, I believe, housing, quite logically, invalides. Hence the name.

Spring seems to be here quite early this year, and on the official start to the season, my companion and I strolled through a pleasant Paris park with no worries in the world for a few hours, eating ice-cream, watching peacocks, flattening daffodils, the works. See the brand new photo competition section below for a chance to win a great book about Paris if you can guess where we were!

Paris is a magical place when the spring finally breaks and the terraces are invaded again. I saw blossom on the cherry trees two days ago, and the air seemed fresh and promising.

Reminded me of my days on the barge on the Seine at Port Marly, near Saint Germain en Laye, a lifetime ago.

Time and moments are slipping by folks, like the river itself. Make sure you're making the most of today, because it's the only one we've got...

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3a) Parisian Picks (part 1)

I first had the idea for the Paris Rainbows theme when I was living out in the sticks in with a friend who had saved me from one of the debacles of my life. I was on my way to the train station and I saw the most wonderful rainbow in the back window of a car which had one of those shiny silver sun reflectors installed. Then, to my astonishment, a few seconds later, I saw a poster advertising something with another multi-coloured display.

That was just the beginning. From then on, as often happens when your sensibility has been piqued, I started seeing rainbows everywhere. Which lead to the ever-expanding Rainbow Days section on this site.

I don't have prerequisites or limitations on my rainbows. They can be lacking a colour or two (one hue short of a rainbow), they can be still or in motion, human or inanimate, gaudy or chic. I don't care. What I am looking for is colour - lots of rainbow colours together - in an explosion of cheerfulness and passion. Other areas of my life can be dark and sinister - this isn't one of them!

The sheer joy I experience when I come across yet another, completely unique and unexpected Paris rainbow is impossible to express. So just enjoy the pictures and if some of the magic rubs of maybe you will start seeing your very own Paris Set Me Free rainbows. I'd be delighted to hear from you if you do!

Shop windows are a major source for rainbows, and I'm showing you two recent examples here. One is from a lovely art shop on the way to one of my jobs. The other was stumbled across just wandering the streets as is my wont.

3b) Parisian Picks (part 2)

It's really amazing how often you do find all six of the colours together, namely red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. Officially, I believe we should say that a rainbow is red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, and I learnt the mnemonic "Roy G. Biv" through a tyranic chemistry teacher which has stuck with me for about thirty years, so I guess it must be true. Then again, this guy used to totally flip and throw board dusters at us and shout and swear and strike the fear of Darwin into us when we hadn't done our homework. And guess who had never done his homework... ahem!

Yes, homework was never a particularly favourite pastime of mine, especially when the not insignificant world of wine, women, songs and sport had just shown itself to me in a deliciously unholy revelation. This guy was called 'Mr. McGee', and he was a nutter. He was a really nice guy actually, it's just that he totally lost it when we hadn't done our homework.

The trick was, to put yourself in a position in the class where you were either the first to tell him you hadn't done it, or the last, but never in the middle. If you were the first, then he was just mildly disappointed. If you were the last, he was suicidally resigned. But if you were in the middle, oh boy! Now THAT was an experience. He'd had time to get more and more worked up, and the only thing you could hope for was that YOU weren't the one he would finally explode at. Happy days, indeed. I'll tell you about the psychotic metalwork teacher and the sadistic fat geography matron one day...


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4) Paris Daze

So spring is here, so was the Olympic Committee, and here is another shot of the Assemblée Nationale, at night this time, along with Lady Eiffel sparkling splendidly and even the bridge is suitably kitted out too. The whole hog, in fact. Paris knows how to do this sort of thing. And I take pictures of it! Those French!

This could easily be one of the Rainbow Days series, as I think we've got all the colours in there. Pretty spectacular it was too, to be honest! Hats duly tipped to the organisers - good work, les gars.

I've still to capture La Samaritaine, which I believe is also rather spectacularly adorned in olympic-bid-supporting colours. I've glimpsed it from further along the Seine and was tempted to head down there but didn't have time.

After all this fun and nonsense we have, I suppose, Paris Plage to look forward to again, this summer. This is a weird, slightly distasteful Bacchanalian sand 'n' spray fest, where the mayor of Paris and his cohorts dump a bunch of beach on the banks of the Seine and call it a good time.

Actually, I like it, and I'm looking forward to reporting on it for you, dear reader, this year, although I've experienced it two or three times already. But for now it's daffodils and exposing of flesh for the first time in six months, which isn't a bad thing. I'll be trying to report on that for you too, given half a chance... Happy Springtide.

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5) Pause Poétique

I can't remember where I've already published this photo (I bet it's on this site...), and gone on about it at some length, which worries me, but anyway, here it is, this crazy shot of a... drain cover masquerading as a ribcage on a skeleton from a spaceship circling a mysterious planet in the constellation Sybius-3.

As for the poem, it's the poem that never was. It's just a word-collection really, for you to consider if you so wish. In fact, I've decided that the lines have no specific order, and that they can be interchanged at will. At the moment they are arranged in the most visually pleasing manner, resulting in a rather pleasing urn-vase-amphora kinda effect. I believe this may be the future of modern poetry as we know it. This remains to be seen.

For more poetry of varying degrees of suicidalness, go to my personal site, Mystic Rhythms, which has more than 200 of my original poems, as well as paintings and my life-long self-portraits treasury. "Treasury". I like that word. Treasury. I am truly a treasure, aren't I?

Bone Rattler

So run down, dreaming strange
Life flows by, feeling drained
Listening to trench-town
Reggae in my earrange
Don't forget the baned
Wrongside fence-town
Gunned down teariful
Seeming meaningful
Fleeing weariful

BBC web site
Well estranged
Keeps the bleary
Give me drowning
Reality a real blight
Cutting edge rhythms
Just erase the dreariful
Drink another cheeriful
Cancel out the frowning
Change the channel
Place the flannel
And blot it out

© Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free 2005


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6) Photo Competition

WELCOME! To the Brand New...

Kiss That Frog
Photo Competition!

It's very easy to enter, and you can win a great book on Paris (in English) like only Paris Set Me Free would know how to recommend! All you have to do is tell us where this picture is. The rather reflective / ground-scouring / caveman-type on the right in spring-time orange is yours truly, by the way.

If you know the answer, then send it in here and we'll announce the winners in the next Kiss That Frog newsletter. My only little condition is that you tell at least three people about the Paris Set Me Free site. I'll trust you, so just tick the little box to say that you have or will tell some of your friends who you think would enjoy the Kiss That Frog newsletter and all the other parts of the site.

I'd also be delighted to have your comments on the site, even if you don't actually enter the competition. Feel free to send in a message to brighten up my day, ok?!

  The Kiss That Frog - Photo Competition

 Yes, I will tell my friends about Kiss That Frog !

   Your Name:  

   Your E-mail Address:      

   Your Country:  

   Your Answer:

   Your Comments:


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7) History Corner - The Story of France, Part V

Last episode, we heard about the tragic disappearance of Neanderthal Man, starved out of existence by the sneaky Cro-Magnons, adept at inventing useful gadgets destined to contribute to the take over of all the best caves and hunting grounds on what we now know as the European continent. Let's find out what happened next.

Cro-Magnon - The Doubly-Wise Guy Artist

In 1868, in the place in France called Cro-Magnon, in the Dordogne which has now been reinvaded by another bunch of savages, the English <wink>, they found skeletons of the first 'doubly-wise' man - Homo sapiens sapiens. He was the first truly modern man, although I'll bet you any number of finely-honed arrow-heads he didn't do the ironing OR change the smelly nappies... The twice-clever smarty-pants invented the assegai (a nastily effective spear to you philistines), the harpoon and the needle. But most of all he distinguishes himself through that uniquely human penchant... the need to produce that sacred nectar for his newly spawned brain cells... ART.

Tall, Slim and Tanned - the pigs!

These new guys were taller than before, not dissimilar from today's Europeans, although they were stockier. They would have had pretty dark skin, and bodily proportions similar to today's West Africans. Funnily enough, their cranial cavity was a bit smaller than that of the Neanderthals! So have faith, those of you reading this column who have less than the average volume brain... size isn't everything - there's still hope, hang in there.

Bony Comfort

Dwellings found in eastern Europe were made with mammoth bones! The massive tusks, with the skulls buried for support, formed the framework for the structure. They then stacked up a solid construction of jaw bones and longer limb bones which served as support for the skin which covered the whole wonderful creation, providing admirable protection from the wind, rain and cold. Wish I'd had something like that when I went on holiday last summer to the not-always-sunny Ile d'Oleron, in the west of France, in an unchecked, ten-year-old tent, which hadn't stood the test of time too well.


Whacky Historical Notes:

The Spear & The Harpoon

Constructed with a very serious tip made of bone, stone or wood, binded to a wooden shaft, the spear was the hunting weapon par excellence!

Another excellent invention, the propulsor or accelerator (that's my invented word - there's probably a real one), appeared 20,000 years ago. It was a stick which  you slotted the end of the spear into, and which allowed you to launch it at speeds of up to 50 metres per second. That's quite fast. "Ouch - didn't see that one coming!" - quote from really upset Cro-Magnon-era mammoth, France, -22,000.



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8) Weird & Wonderful

There are times when you just have to stop and calm down a little. Here is a typical Parisian girl finallly deciding, after many minutes of deliberation, which bouquet she is going to take. But for the sensitive observer the problems don't end there.

Who is it for? A mother, a brother, a lover? Why is she dressed in black? To match the store front, weirdly contrasting, perhaps intentionally, with the rainbow of colours on display? What will be the reaction of the receiver of this simple bouquet? Why did she take so long to choose? Because she is hopeless at making up her mind, or because the person she is buying it for is worth a few minutes' reflection?

The name of the flower store is 'Monceau Fleurs'. And strangely, just two days later, I was on my way to a private lesson and saw the weirdest convoy of vans of the type used to transport glass shop windows, sporting enormous circles with 'Monceau Fleurs' emblazoned on them. I was rather taken aback, although 'coincidences' like this happen all the time, if we're open to noticing them.

I remembered the flower girl in black, and rainbow display, and the black shop front, and my wondering, and I wondered even more. There are so many people, all leading their little lives in this big city. I am often tempted to construct lives for them. I was shaken recently when someone close to me said they often have suicidal thoughts and that they would certainly be capable of doing it if pushed. Was it a cry for help? Lost in this busy city where everyone is so busy being stressed that they don't even have the time to see others feeling exactly the same. It is easy to make friends, but not always ones that stick around or prove to be genuine. Jobs are often unrewarding, employees are treated with disrespect by their poorly-trained managers, and you can often have the impression that you are simply working to work, or surviving to survive, with not much more to it than that. Which can lead to negative thoughts.

But there is humanity here too, and I believe that there is a heart which beats in Paris, if you can feel it. I look for this heart every day, and try to show it to you through my own words and photos. I have to believe it is there, or I could end up like all the lonely people out there dying to live, but simply living to die.

Thank god I have Paris, because it has saved me more than once. And if I had to anthropomorphosise, I guess Paris would have to be a 'she' for me, just like Lady Eiffel...

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9) Hint of the Week

Now, not a lot of people know this, but following on from the great success of the "Earth Seen From Above" (or something like that) exhibition a few years ago, the good old Paris Powers-That-Be have decided that a certain place will henceforth assume the statute of "Public Exhibition Space". And when we're talking about Paris, that has to mean something.

That was a long sentence. Let's slow things down A BIT! (Did you know, by the way, that every time we say 'bit', the French hear 'cock' (that is to say: penis)... just a thought...

So, my hint of the week has nothing to do with penises, but just a little with exhibitionism!

If you want to enjoy a wonderful walk with an eye-opening exhibition of photos then get yourself over to Le Jardin de Luxembourg, and you won't be disappointed.

This is a classic Parisian garden, where you can not only sunbathe and simply watch the people stroll by next to the lake, but also enjoy the ever-changing gigantic photo display right the way along the railings outside. One day my photos of Paris will be there - call me a dreamer! The nearest station is probably Luxembourg on the RER B train line, but it's just a stroll from plenty of metro stations. Let me know what you think!

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10) This Week's Featured Reader's Letter

Tom Andrego - New York, USA, said:

Hey, your site is cool! My dream is to visit Paris and you make me live it! I'm definitely doing to do it, and I'll see you in Paris, next year I hope.

Me and my wife are of Italian origin, and we love hearing about our roots, and we love Paris and your site! Keep it up man.

Thanks, Tom. I know that a lot of readers from the States have very deep feelings for the 'Old Continent' and I love helping you feel that you know it a bit better. In the end, there are no national boundaries, and doing this thing about the history of France is bringing home to me how much we are all of the same origins in the end. As it was in the beginning. - Sab

If you would like to send in a comment or suggestion, please do. Some or all of your contribution may be published in a future issue of Kiss That Frog!

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11) Quote of the Week

"In America only the successful writer is important, in France all writers are important, in England no writer is important, and in Australia you have to explain what a writer is."

Geoffrey Cottrell

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12) Special Offer

Tell a few people about the Paris Set Me Free site, and I'll send you high-quality versions of some of the best photos from the site to print out and enjoy, absolutely free! Also visit the PSMF Boutique (coming soon - check to see if it's live yet!) for other great Paris-related items and other special offers, including personal signed copies of my Complete First Collection of Paris- and Life-Inspired Poetry (32 poems from a genuine Modern Poet living the Parisian Dream) as read at Shakespeare & Co. (legendary Parisian bookshop and poetry-reading venue), no less!!!

Anyone who would like to sponsor Kiss That Frog in return for some publicity in this great newsletter, please get in touch!

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13) Contacting Us, Related Links & Subscriptions

You can contact us directly at info@parissetmefree.com .

You can visit the web site at http://www.parissetmefree.com where you can read previous newsletters and loads of other great Paris-related material which is being constantly added to, in particular the rich photo and writing sections.

Our sister sites include the Language Fun Farm, an innovative resource for teachers and lovers of English, and my own personal site, Mystic Rhythms, which is home to my paintings, poems and a large collection of creative self-portraits. All my photos and words directly relating to Paris can be found on the Paris Set Me Free site, of course.

We have various other projects in progress, which you are welcome to visit but which are as yet simply shells as we work on the ideas. These include an entrepreneurs' and creative person's club - Lazy Pig, and a life-optimisation site - Black Witch. And we also have a great name with no idea what to do with it: Hotch Potch. Any comments or ideas would be very welcome.

To RECEIVE notification of new Kiss That Frog newsletters, with links to all the sections, simply send an empty e-mail here.

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Please note that all the original words and pictures contained in this newsletter are copyright by default, even without this notice, but obviously the poems, photographs and articles in particular. NONE may be reproduced without the original artist or author's express permission. You are, however, more than welcome to send on this newsletter in its entirety, or the link thereto, to anyone you like, and indeed we very much hope you will do just that. If you do want to use any of the original photos, poems or articles contained herein then it is normally just a formality to ask the author for permission and then simply include an acknowledgement and a link with the new reproduction. Where I have included images I have found on the web to illustrate articles, I include the credit if possible. Please get in touch for further details here: copyright@parissetmefree.com


Thanks for reading! See you next time.

And tell people about it - please!

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All content  © Copyright Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free 2005



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