Archive for July 8, 2009


July 8, 2009 Leave a comment


The current issue of the New Yorker (July 6 & 13) has a profile of Nora Ephron by Ariel Levy. (See here for the abstract and a subscriber link to the full article.) I’m not a big fan of Ephron’s movies, and I’ve never read her essays, but I was curious, so I read it.

Various facets of Ephron’s life were discussed, but the article kept returning to her newest movie, JuliaJulie & Julia, due out next month. The movie is based in part on Julia Child’s 2006 memoir My Life in France, with Meryl Streep playing Julia Child.

The more I read about the movie, the more eager I became to read Child’s memoir. I finished the article yesterday afternoon and ordered a paperback copy of the memoir last night. It will come the day after tomorrow. So far so good. I will get to read it, and Gail will surely want to read it as well.

After dinner out tonight I was telling Gail about the Ephron article and the Child memoir. Before I could get to the part where I excitedly ordered the book for us, Gail said, gee, the memoir sounds familiar, she’s pretty sure she bought it. As soon as we got home, Gail pulled it out, in hardcover. The good news is, we both want to read the book. More good news — we can read it in parallel, thanks to the good fortune that we will soon have two copies.

Alternatively, we could give someone the paperback as a gift. That wouldn’t be regifting would it? I mean, it’s not like someone gave us the book and we’re now giving it to someone else. We gave it to ourselves. If we don’t read the new copy, we can still give it away like a new gift, can’t we?

Well, if you get a copy of My Life in France from us, you’ll know why.

Categories: Books, Family

Tour de France, Stage 5

July 8, 2009 Leave a comment


Today’s Tour de France stage ran from Le Cap d’Agde to Perpignan and was just under 200 kilometers. It had some modest climbs in the middle, but then was pretty flat, so I was anticipating a day for the sprinters and another opportunity for Mark Cavendish to blow the field away with his awesome ability. As often happens on such a day, a group of riders broke away soon after the start, six in all. We all know the script. They build a lead of a minute, or maybe 5 minutes, and then, with perhaps 20 kilometers to go, the peloton organizes itself and begins to close the gap. More often than not, they reel in the breakaway group, perhaps with 4 or 5 kilometers go to, so that the teams with the top sprinters have a few minutes to organize themselves and get the sprinters in position.

Sometimes the peloton cuts it a little too close for comfort, reeling in the lead group in the final kilometer. This makes for a dramatic finish. Some poor rider who himself has managed to create a gap with his fellow breakaway partners and enters the final k thinking he might just get the stage victory is riding like crazy, only to be cruelly swept up in the final 250 meters. The peloton at that point is doing double duty–working hard to close the gap even as it prepares for the final sprint.

Today was different. The peloton dutifully closed to within 30 seconds of the lead group with still over 10k to go, but then the lead group rebuilt its lead to over a minute. It began to look like they would keep the peloton at bay and the stage winner would emerge from among their group. With about 5k to go, Mikhail Ignatiev attacked, three went with him, and the lead group was reduced to four. Soon, as they came through a roundabout, the Frenchman Thomas Voeckler attacked and created a gap. If he could maintain it over the last 3k, he would win the stage. The peloton was not likely to catch up.

We then watched as Voeckler went all out, looking back every so often, until he could see Albert Timmer making a move. When he hit the 1k-to-go marker, it appeared that he had the race in hand. But he continued to look over his shoulder, and from the angle the camera gave us, there was Timmer in the distance, still not likely to catch him. Next we saw Voeckler looking back and we could see a sign behind him indicating 150m to go. He had about 100m left. He would surely win, and at last he knew it. He shook his head in disbelief, smiled, and pushed on. What we weren’t seeing at this point was the peloton sweeping in. Voeckler must have seen it. I don’t know if Timmer saw it. But just 7 seconds after Voeckler crossed the finish in victory, they came rolling through. Ignatiev survived, finishing second just barely ahead of the top sprinters. There was Mark Cavendish, grabbing third on the wheel of Ignatiev, and Tyler Farrar in fourth. It was stunning. Because we weren’t seeing or hearing about the peloton, I didn’t imagine they were anywhere near the leaders, but they were. They timed it ever so slightly late. If not for Voeckler’s heroics, it might have been a typical, ho-hum day, with the peloton zooming past the breakaway group somewhere in the final kilometer and Cavendish getting his 3rd stage victory in 4 days. Instead, Cavendish had to settle for finishing ahead of his sprinting colleagues, thereby getting the most points in the green jersey competition and increasing his lead.

This is what makes the Tour so great. You just never know. Sometimes breakaways work. The sprinters didn’t get to fight for the stage victory, but they did have a good race for 3rd in the end. And Voeckler’s victory was a popular one, both because he’s French and because he is a fan favorite since his strong performance in the 2004 Tour, when he was in yellow for days, holding off Lance for the overall lead.

On to Barcelona.

Categories: Sports