Thursday, 24 April 2014

Le retour d'un surnom

J'en ai déjà parlé en janvier et avant, de mon surnom de Chicou, qui m'a été donné par des amis français qui trouvaient que Chicoutimi, c'était exotique comme nom de ville d'origine. L'une de mes amies m'a appelé à nouveau Chicou lorsqu'elle m'a souhaité joyeux anniversaire. Ca fait presque quinze ans que l'on m'a donné ce surnom, ça fait plus d'une décennie que je ne l'entends plus. Alors? Alors rien. Ca fait étrange de me faire identifier par ce surnom, après toutes ces années.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Shakespeare's 450th birthday

I thought I was going to blog about St-George's Day, as it is today (I did not even need the Google Doodle to be reminded about it), however I discovered something far more important to commemorate: today is William Shakespeare's 450th birthday. The official one anyway, as we have contradictory data. If it is truly on St George's Day, it is very fitting. The English language owes a lot to Shakespeare. Literature too and not only the English one. The art of acting as well, obviously. We can safely sum it up by human civilization. And I will celebrate the Bard. Not tonight, but in a week time: after pondering about it, I have decided that I will go and see King Lear. Not directly on the stage of the National Theatre, but in a cinema nearby that shows the play live. I already purchased the tickets. I am very excited about it. Today, I was reminded about Shakespeare's birthday. Next week, I will rediscover who the Bard is celebrated.

Le régime de poisson

Le Carême est terminé, Pâques est également et déjà du passé (les fêtes arrivent toujours trop vite), cela dit je me rends compte que je n'ai pas changé de régime alimentaire. Ainsi que je le disais il y a peu de temps, ce n'est pas un gros sacrifice de m'en tenir aux poissons comme pièce principale de mon alimentation. En fait, je n'en mange pas encore assez régulièrement à mon goût et je veux corriger cette situation. C'est encore un luxe, donc. Vous pouvez voir ici la dorade que j'ai mangée pour mon repas de fête. Dure à battre. Je me rends compte et m'étonne à chaque fois que le poisson blanc a de la saveur.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The world is just awesome

This year's Google Doodle reminded me that today is Earth Day. I celebrated it by listening to the Discovery Channel's jingle, the one that could easily be the simplest, sweetest hymn to planet Earth (and beyond). I am uploading it on Vraie Fiction for the second time, now with both adverts on the same video.So here it is again.

Le mot du jour: végéter

Ca va faire bientôt un mois que je n'ai pas présenté de mot du jour. Voici donc celui d'aujourd'hui: végéter. Selon le Larousse, cela veut dire: "ne pas progresser, rester à un niveau médiocre, stagner". C'est bien entendu la seconde définition, la première a rapport aux plantes, mais elle ne m'intéresse pas. Au Québec, le sens de végéter est sensiblement différent. Le verbe y veut dire ne rien faire, perdre son temps ou procrastiner.

The Wallingford Bookshop

I am giving free publicity to a local business today. Usually it is a restaurant or a pub, this time it is something far rarer, in fact something that is becoming extinct in many places. Last Saturday, my wife and I went to Wallingford, a small town in Oxfordshire one of these little hidden treasures kinds of towns England has. Wallingford is so hidden that even its website has been abandoned for a while. The town is lovely in itself and contains many treasures within its treasure: an independent bookshop, simply named The Wallingford Bookshop. I mentioned it before. They do not have any website, but they have a Twitter account. I do not visit the place often enough, as I do not go very often to Wallingford and the bookshop is closed on Sundays, which seriously reduces the visiting opportunities for me.

Apart from the already commendable courage to maintain a local, independent business in a small town, especially a bookshop, this business is also one that actually knows about its business. It is small, but there are a wide variety of titles and every time I went there I found far more interesting titles than in chains, old classics, hidden gems (I am using the treasure metaphor abundantly). The staff is knowledgeable without being pretentious and is warm and friendly. Helpful, chatty when you feel like chatting (and I always feel like chatting in a good bookshop), spending time there is what book hunting is all about. Oh and the complimentary bookmarks look quite nice, with the logo you can see on their ensign. I will even say that since I came to this country, this has been so far my favourite bookshop.

Le temps de lire de la "vraie" littérature

Petit retour sur mon anniversaire hier. Ma mère m'a donné comme cadeau L'orangeraie de Larry Tremblay. Ce sera le prochain livre sur ma liste de lecture, enfin par cela je veux dire le prochain roman, sans compter donc les autres bouquins commencés. Les livres s'empilent allègrement sur les étagères de ma bibliothèque, mais ça fait longtemps que je n'ai pas lu de la "vraie" littérature, enfin autre chose que de la littérature policière. Je comptais me nourrir l'esprit de littérature plus consistante, bref. Pas que j'aie des préjugés contre les romans policiers ou la littérature populaire, au contraire je lis surtout ça à l'année longue. Mais justement, parfois c'est bien de lire autre chose et de me rappeler que j'ai étudié la littérature. Et Larry Tremblay est un auteur brillant, que je soupçonne d'avoir écrit un futur classique.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Medusa and a birthday memory

This picture was taken at the Natural History Museum, it is from a section that was still uncompleted when I went, showing the statue of Medusa next to a earthly(volcanic?) phenomenon. I do not know exactly what the section will look like and what exactly it will be about, although I assume it will show how natural phenomenons may be at the origins of old myths such as this one. In any case, I found the statue of Medusa very impressive. I grew fond of Greek mythology in general and the myth of Medusa and Perseus in particular watching Clash of the Titans as a child. Then I knew very little about Greek mythology, but the movie gave me a crash course.

Soon after, on my eight birthday (I think it was my eight birthday, it may have been earlier), I received my first book about Greek mythology.  As it was my birthday today, I had a thought about it.

Fêter sous l'orage

Ah, le mois d'avril! Il est printannier, par conséquent caractériel et prompt à la trahison. Au milieu de l'après-midi, alors que ma femme et moi sortions pour aller dîner pour ma fête, on a entendu un coup de tonnerre. Puis un autre. Ensuite, il a commencé à pleuvoir des cordes. Puis, après quelques minutes à ce régime, la grêle a commencé à tomber, comme si des cailloux blancs tombaient du ciel. Ca a fini par se calmer, mais le temps a été tempétueux pendant un bout de temps et la journée a été assez misérable. Comme si le ciel voulait célébrer mon anniversaire en me rappelant comment avril peut être. Je sais, c'est une pensée un peu mégalomane. Cela dit, c'est le premier vrai orage de l'année et je ne m'en plaindrai pas: j'aime les orages.

What happened on a 21st of April

It is my birthday today. I learned from the Google Doodle that the 21st of April was also the birthday of Charlotte Brönte. I read her sister Emily, but not her. A strange anniversary for Google to celebrate: the 298th year of her birth. But it made me look for what happened on a 21st of April, the times in history when the date witnessed an important event. The first thing I noticed is of course the alleged Founding of Rome by Romulus. Being into Roman legends and history, this is something I am happy to have my date of birth associated to. And Romulus is also one of the legendary figures I particularly like, being called the "son of the she-wolf". I love wolves. So that's it, the 21st of April is the date when Rome was born, from the legendary labor and ambition of a man fed by a she-wolf. Kind of cool.

La fête après Pâques

C'est ma fête aujourd'hui, j'ai 37 ans (aarrgghhh!) Cette année, ça tombe tout juste le lundi de Pâques. Je suis par conséquent et heureusement en congé. Mais ce qui est plus important, c'est que c'est le lundi de Pâques, ce qui m'arrive assez souvent. En 2019, ma fête tombera pile sur Pâques. C'est moins pire que d'être né le jour de Noël. Cela dit, enfant, j'associais ma fête avec LA fête, je croyais que les deux étaient la même chose. J'ai d'ailleurs plus de souvenirs de cette association quand j'étais enfant. Enfin plus des images que de moments précis en mémoire, mais c'est de l'enfance que je me rappelle surtout des Pâques qui tombaient sur ma fête.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Holy Shroud (Preti)

Happy Easter everyone! For the occasion, I downloaded here a humorous, but somewhat controversial video, about the Holy Shroud of Turin. This is an episode from Preti (Priests). Maybe my favorite, as it shows the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church regarding the treatment of evidence. Not only is it funny, but it is also in Italian. I find it very refreshing that Italians can voice their skepticism towards the claims of the Catholic Church.

Joyeuses Pâques!

Cette photo a été prise de la page Facebook des Pères trappistes. Une image du chocolat de ma région pour célébrer Pâques et me rappeler des Pâques de mon enfance. Le chocolat de la région à Pâques n'a rien à envier à celui des grands centres, ou à celui que je retrouve ici. Enfin bref, où que vous soyez, Joyeuses Pâques, mais vous manquez quelque chose si vous ne célébrez pas une fois dans votre vie au Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Bagels for Good Friday

There are some religious, and more precisely Catholic, traditions which I love to follow in a twisted, Godless way. One is to eat fish on Good Friday, which I did yesterday... But what a meal it was: classic bagels with smoke salmon. And not just every bagels: the ones from St-Viateur. My way of fasting. I used to do this every year in Montreal, heck almost every Friday was an excuse for bagels, but here it is difficult because the bagels are disgusting. I solved the problem this year with the ones I had brought back from my last trip home. So with bagels from Montreal, a delicious, filling meal and overall following a personal traditional that has nothing of the austerity of Catholic devotion, I had indeed a very Good Friday. Sometimes I enjoy it more than Easter itself.

Un kouign amann

Je ne peux pas dire que je vais manquer de sucreries pour Pâques: ma femme m'a acheté ce kouign amann lors de son dernier séjour chez ses parents en Bretagne.C'est à son meilleur avec du thé, après une longue marche une journée froide, sinon glaciale. J'ai de la chance: le temps n'est pas particulièrement chaud ces temps-ci. Le kouign amann est un intérêt culinaire relativement tardif pour moi (je l'ai découvert lors de mon premier séjour en Bretagne en 2008), mais il est depuis l'un de mes desserts préférés.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Holy and Blasphemous fiction

First, an announcement for my readers who live in or near Manchester, if there are any: there is a film festival organized with the collaboration of the Anthony Burgess Foundation: Christianity, Controversy, Cinema. I learned it from their blog. I don't like the title much, I think it should have been called Holy and Blasphemous Cinema, or something of the sort. When one speaks about religion and gathers controversy, it is either because it is devout or blasphemous. The first movie is of course Jesus of Nazareth. Not a controversial cinematic account of the Gospels in any way, but a beautiful movie all the same, and with plenty of Burgess' witticism. That said, I tend to put my favorite writer among the iconoclasts and the blasphemers. Because his Jesus was more Zeffirelli's Jesus, for one, and because what I would call his "Biblical trilogy" (the three novels and films he wrote about the Exodus, the life of Jesus and the early days of Christianity) question, of not completely challenges, the claims at the heart of Christianity. In Man of Nazareth, the novel he wrote alongside the movie, the sacred mixes with profane details and Rabelaisian vulgarity. I recently rewatched Moses the Lawgiver, a brilliant, underrated movie, far superior to the bombastic but far more famous Cecil B de Mille's movie. While the latter was a devout Biblical spectacle, Moses is a complete deconstruction/demythification of the Exodus, where God could merely be a manifestation of Moses' madness. Read a full review on this blog. It surprised me to read online devout Christians praising it: the movie is everything but a piece of Christian propaganda. But Burgess was blasphemous in other ways. Literature, as it is said at the beginning of The Kingdom of the Wicked for instance, has no interest in moral. It does, however, has interest in truth, and in this novel, Christian claims to truth, whether it is historical or spiritual, are smashed to pieces. The promises of eternal life is crushed by the certainty of death. Fiction has little value if it is not blasphemous.

Question existentielle (225)

Voici une question existentielle circonstantielle pour commencer ce Vendredi saint:

-Quels sont vos souvenirs du Vendredi saint?

Thursday, 17 April 2014

A pine cone

This is a post about one of these little nothings that make life. I took this picture yesterday on my lunch break, of a pine cone that had fell on a bush, the thick leafs keeping it from falling further. I don't know why but I thought it was a striking image, it got stuck in my head so I took the picture. There are plenty of pine trees in the business park where my working place is, so there are plenty of dry pine cones like this one falling on the ground. I don't associate pine cones with Spring, for me it is of course the object of cold autumn or winter days, things you put dry in the fire after a walk outside. This is what I think about when I see a pine cone: I daydream about warming up by the fireplace. In a way, it is one of these objects that trigger my mind the way madeleines did to Proust. I didn't put them that often in a fire, but I remember doing it sometimes.

La poutine d'Aux Vivres

Cette photo a été prise en... octobre, à Aux Vivres. Je ne savais pas trop quand la publier. C'est leur poutine végétalienne, une bien étrange variation sur la poutine. J'avais blogué sur la curiosité à son sujet ici. Et je tenais à dire que ma curiosité a été satisfaite. C'est en effet une bien étrange poutine, en fait c'est plus une salade de patates avec des goûts de curry indien qu'une poutine. Ce n'était pas mauvais, cela dit, avec le tofu à la place du fromage. Mais la sauce, ce n'est pas une sauce à poutine: c'est un curry, tout simplement. Alors voilà, c'est un peu tard, mais je tenais à en faire un compte-rendu.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Hitchens' Decalogue

Fellow blogger Prof Solitaire reminded me that Christopher Hitchens would have been 65 yesterday. As Easter is coming, I thought I would upload a video from this incredible mind, controversist extraordinaire and overall merciless, admirable intellectual, about the Decalogue, aka the Ten Commandments. The Commandments are maybe the most overrated, absurd, often amoral "moral" injunctions ever written and Hitchens deconstructs them beautifully, then makes his own, which are far better. Anyway, as the movie of the same name is probably playing everywhere around Easter and that I disliked that movie even when I was a good Catholic boy, I thought I would upload Hitchens' Decalogue. So enjoy. Hitchens is always enjoyable, especially now.