Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Haunted pub?

This is tonight's countdown to Halloween post. I took this picture of the pub by the train station when I was walking back home, straight off the train. I took it first because I thought it looked like a beautiful autumnal picture, then because I thought about yesterday's countdown to Halloween post. And I remembered, as I mentioned here, that I suspected that it was the setting of a ghost story of E. Nesbit. I have little evidence, almost none, that it served as the setting, but one clue in the text at least made me think it could have served as inspiration. The pub used to be the hotel station, back when trains were coming and going from and to everywhere here. Strange, as the first time I came here, I stopped at the pub and thought this would be such a great setting for a scary story. Anyway, enough teasing, as Halloween is round the corner, I would invite you to read Number 17. It is public domain in Canada, I don't know where else. Or buy this book. I have been plugging Edith Nesbit very often these days, but she is worth discovering. Anyway, is the pub haunted, like the hotel before? I don't think so. There is by the way an amusing twist about the nature of the ghost in Number 17 which makes it worth a read in itself. All the same, it is rather pleasant to imagine such a place haunted.

Humour littéraire

Une amie sur Facebook a publié ce dessin. Je ne sais pas qui est l'auteur, mais j'ai trouvé ça très drôle. Au cas où ça vous tenterait de vivre de votre plume...

In the meantime, in Ottawa...

I was at my desk this afternoon, working as usual, when a colleague told me to check the news. So this how I learned about the terrorist attack in Ottawa. Probably by Islamists. My brother PJ works in Ottawa. So I was worried. I tried to reach him, to reach my parents, failed to reach him, got my parents, gave them the news, we tried to reach him again, etc. My brother had an interview in Montreal yesterday and was coming back to work this morning by bus. His bus stops in front of the University of Ottawa. I was hoping that his bus had been stopped before crossing the bridge, so he could stay in Gatineau and go home. I then saw this from my bro on his Facebook page: "I should have stayed in Montreal an extra day..." I know it is a very serious moment, the situation is  dark, it is still going on as I am typing this, but I still this deserves to be a great unknown line.

Anyway, my brother is safe and sound, as I have now learned. In Ottawa, locked down at uni, but safe and sound and with his friends.

Question existentielle (242)

Une question existentielle qui m'est venue en tête ce matin:

-Quel est (ou était) le cours à l'école secondaire le plus stupide et le plus éloigné de la mission éducative de l'école?

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Eerie Autumn

I could have chosen a dozen topics for tonight's countdown to Halloween post. But it is the temperature that truly inspired me today. It was cold. Not in the morning, but the temperature dropped during the day. It was mostly sunny, but with bits of clouds and rain, and thunder was even heard once. In the evening, walking home, daylights were already dim past six o'clock. The wind was blowing, there were leaves on the ground, I just stood there a moment, enjoying the eeriness of this small English town, wondering what monster could come off from the shadows of the trees or the old buildings, or from the shrubberies. A thousand horror stories could be written with this town as a setting and this day or this evening as the time. An ideal time for Halloween and an inspiring one too. It was just one of these moments when I could feel both the season and Samhain. So this is it for tonight's countdown to Halloween post. No picture, no video. Just a bit of rambling about a beautiful, deliciously eerie day.

Macaroni au fromage (le meilleur)

C'est un macaroni (en fait on devrait dire des macaroni) au fromage que ma femme et moi avons fait il y a quelques semaines, quand il a commencé à faire plus frais. C'est de loin la meilleure recette de macaroni au fromage que je connaisse: béchamel avec Boursin et un fromage dur mature (un cheddar par exemple), des tomates et finalement des câpres, l'ingrédient qui fait la différence. Pour le gratin, le même fromage mature pour le couvrir. C'est bon pas rien qu'un peu. Lors d'une soirée froide et grise ou après une dure journée de travail, c'est le traitement prescrit pour le souper. Alors voilà: essayez-le et donnez-moi des nouvelles.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Dark and sinister London

For tonight's countdown to Halloween post, I have decided to muse about the biggest city in Europe. I was in London last Monday and it was a dreary, ugly day and London looked as it often does dreary and ugly. I would even say sinister. The day before, I had flickered through Terrors Out of Time, which I blogged about here. It may have been because of it, but I half expected to see the sinister figure of Baron Ausbach from the gamebook (the one you see on the cover), or even Dracula walking by. We often forget that, while Stoker's most famous work starts in a Transylvanian castle, a lot of it is set later on in Victorian England, including London. It is basically a hunting ground for Dracula. The same happens in the gamebook I am so fond of: the story kickstart with a theft in London that leads the hero/player character into the British Museum, on the pursuit of the burglar. The burglar being... Baron Ausbach, pictured left.

So, while I love a good eerie forest, an abandoned castle, a haunted house in a village or simply a dark road in the countryside, modern cities have some appeal in horror stories. All urban violence aside, a city like London allows modernity to clash with the ancient, whether it is from its own history or foreign. In Dracula, London has among its dwellers an Eastern European aristocrat who is of course a vampire. The lights of the modern world are threatened by the occult, civilization by animal savagery. Baron Ausbach is also an Eastern aristocrat whose monstrosity is not even thinly disguised: he is reptilian in appearance. Oh and he brings back to life mummies in the British Museum. The cover of Terrors Out of Time is a perfect illustration of this clash between modernity and primitive evil. So next time you walk in a big city, thing about what may be dwelling in its sewers, its undergrounds, its parks, its buildings, old or new. And if you don't get a chill, go to London.

La Tour Eiffel

J'ai pris cette photo mardi dernier, lors de mon très court séjour à Paris pour le travail. Certains diraient que c'était un court séjour, mais pour moi c'était bien assez long, je dois le confesser. Néanmoins, j'ai pu prendre cette photo à partir du lieu de la conférence. Ca aura servi à ça: prendre une photo de la Tour Eiffel. Une image de carte postale. Je l'ai téléchargée sur Facebook d'abord où elle a eu un succès assez important. Alors j'ai pensé la télécharger sur Vraie Fiction. Une observation bête: on ne dirait pas vraiment qu'on est en automne.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

A Halloween tea mug

Be warned: this is the third countdown to Halloween post I am writing in a row. I bought this mug at David's Tea, as my readership who were following me last year know or suspect, as I blogged about their Halloween collection. If you look at their collection this year, you can see they got even better in look and design. But I do not regret one bit my purchase. I fill this mug (one of their Perfect Tea Mugs) with pumpkin chai, which I am soon going to run out of. I will need to stock up in Montreal. The design of this mug is more simplistic than the new ones, but it is cool all the same with the spooky Jack O'Lanterns. And it has a good bit of Halloween magic: the colours change when you fill it with hot water. In any case, enjoying pumpkin chai in it is a new ritual I do in the weeks and days coming to Halloween.

C'est un vieux château du moyen âge....

Ma gardienne préférée dans mon enfance me chantait le refrain de cette chanson, j'ai découvert la version complète des années plus tard. J'ai appris avec elle ce qu'était le moyen âge et j'ai eu mes premiers délicieux frissons en imaginant les fantômes qui le hantaient. La chanson est en fait comique plutôt qu'effrayante. En voici une version chantée en duo par Georges Brassens et Georges Tabet. Un peu de musique pour nous mettre dans l'ambiance de l'Halloween qui arrive à grands pas...

More Halloween stories

For my countdown to Halloween post, I am plugging another book of Halloween stories. Like Halloween: Magic, Mystery and the Macabre, it is edited by Paula Guran. In fact, this one, simply called Halloween, is its older brother, or its prototype. It is also an anthology of many traditional horror stories set around Halloween, although there are also more modern authors. You will find among the classics Man-Size in Marble by Edith Nesbit, which I have recently blogged about. This is partially what convinced me to purchase it, even though I already have the short story in two different books. I just thought, if the rest is as good as Nesbit, it is worth a purchase. And I am making myself a nice little collection of horror stories. Its front cover, with the although spooky and beautiful Jack O'Lantern, is not as nice as the second book, but it still looks nice. And there are of course the stories. This is one of the books I am reading at the moment anyway. And I will finish this countdown to Halloween post by a teaser: I am writing a scary story myself for this blog, which I should post soon. So watch this space.

Bleuets et lavande

Petite découverte inusitée lors de la fin de semaine dans le Derbyshire chez les amis de ma femme: cette confiture de bleuets et lavande. C'est ce que j'ai eu pour le déjeuner le matin, un délice qui vient, comme vous le voyez, de Bracken Hill, une compagnie du Yorkshire. je ne sais pas si on peut trouver leurs produits dans le sud, mais je compte essayer d'en trouver, s'ils sont aussi bons que la confiture de bleuets et lavande. Je peux toujours en acheter sur leur site en ligne, j'imagine.

Bon, pas que je tienne à en beurrer épais (ha, ha, ha!) sur une simple confiture, mais c'était vraiment bon et je n'avais pas pensé que la lavande se marierait bien avec le bleuet. Pour moi, la lavande, c'est un parfum. J'ai choisi cette confiture pour mettre sur mes toasts par curiosité et parce que le bleuet est le fruit du Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean. Il fallait bien que je l'essaie, mais je ne savais pas que ce serait aussi bon. Le Yorkshire étant dans le Nord, je me demande s'il n'y a pas une certaine affinité avec mon propre coin de pays.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

A pub in autumn

This is a picture of a local pub I took back in 2012. I say it is local, but to say it is local is an understatement: it is very local, in an almost forgotten part of town. It is an old and old fashioned pub, with old customers, old furniture, old stuff all around. When I was unemployed, I used to go there very often, trying new beers, or just drinking something non alcoholic. Now I only go there on very rare occasions. When I remember it exists. But anyway, I went there for a beer tonight. And it reminded me of the picture I took back in 2012. I thought it looked quite nice.


J'écris rapidement un billet parce que je veux souligner que nous sommes encore en plein Vendémiaire selon le Calendrier républicain. Le mois des vendanges, donc des récoltes, enfin d'une partie des récoltes. Grosso modo, vendémiaire la plupart du mois d'octobre, jusqu'au 21, donc une bonne section de l'automne. Je le souligne parce que j'aime le nom. Aussi parce que je suis un républicain intempestif, alors même si je trouve le calendrier révolutionnaire bancal, j'y trouve parfois un certain charme. Alors voilà, nous sommes encore pour quelques jours en Vendémiaire.

A Halloween story about a black cat

For my countdown to Halloween post today, I have decided to blog about a story from Halloween: Magic, Mystery and the Macabre, which I blogged about recently. It is funny, because it was not really a scary story. It is called For the Removal of Unwanted Guests and was written by A.C. Wise, who is a fellow Montrealer. I loved the story so much, I intend to read more of her. The story is about a witch and her black cat moving into the home of a bachelor. Not an evil witch, just an invasive one.
But for me, the story was all about the cat.

It touched me particularly because when I read it, Odin was curled up right next to me. He also pretty much took over the place the way the witch did in the story, walked in one night as if the flat was his home. In Wise's story, the witch says that the house needs a witch. In the story, just like real life, I think this house, like every other, truly needs a cat. Anyway, while there was no witch in my story, or no friendly, cat-loving one anyway (because unfortunately there was a nasty one), there certainly was a cat with the same carefree attitude. If you are into Halloween but not so much into horror (it exists), I would recommend this story.

Au coin du feu

Cette photo a été prise chez les amis de ma femme que l'on a visités il y a deux semaines. Ils ont un foyer, avec le feu qui va avec les soirs d'automne froids comme c'était le cas ce soir-là. S'il y a une chose que je leur envie, à part leurs deux chats, c'est ce foyer. Ca fait très home sweet home, mettons. Je voudrais bien en avoir un, afin de pouvoir lire au coin du feu les soirs d'automne. Les feux de foyer, surtout quand ils sont de bonne taille, surtout quand la maison est au beau milieu de nulle part (c'était le cas), ils ont un charme particulier.

Friday, 17 October 2014

The Raven by Poe (The Simpsons take on it)

First and foremost, to begin this countdown to Halloween post, I wanted to say thank you to Wendy from The Halloween Tree blog for giving me such beautiful gifts. I feel so grateful and so unworthy of such generosity. As people know if they read her post about the giveaway, one of the presents The Illustrated Edgar Allan Poe Unabridged. To thank her, I have decided to upload here the upload here The Raven as narrated on The Simpsons, on their very first Treehouse of Horror Halloween special. I could not find the video, only the audio of the narrative, but it is still incredibly funny, yet it keeps the original text as beautiful as scary. In other words, two classics in one. And again, thank you so much Wendy.

Si vous passez par la Binerie...

Je parle de la Binerie Mont-Royal bien sûr. C'est vendredi, j'y allais tous les midis pour me gâter quand j'étudiais à l'université, après mon dernier cours de la semaine. Alors bref, si vous passez par la Binerie, essayez sur leur menu leur boudin noir avec compote aux pommes. Ca a l'air de rien sur la photo de gauche, surtout que j'en avais déjà mangé la moitié, mais c'est vraiment bon.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Little Red Riding Hood (and an early Halloween memory)

 This picture was taken in the Totnes Museum during my last holiday in Devon and it will be used for tonight's countdown to Halloween post. It is the center page of an old, old chidren book of fairytales. And let's face it: it is a horrid drawing, especially on the left hand side, with the floating head of Little Red Riding Hood. And the wolf looks like he has a beak instead of a mouth. But the ugliness of the drawing itself makes it scary. But anyway, I wanted to blog about the tale.

It is maybe my favourite fairytale and the one I loved most as a child. My early fascination to the tale was because of its antagonist: the hungry wolf who was both a ravenous beast and a soft spoken seducer, as well as a master of disguises. I loved the wolf so much, I believe the wolf of the tale became my first Halloween disguise when I went trick or treating, at the time I was little more than a toddler. There is still a picture of me as the big bad wolf somewhere. it was a rather poor costume: an old black cape with a hood and some fangs and blood my dad had done with makeup. Still, I felt terrifying. There is more to blog about the tale and I might do this in the next few weeks. But tonight all I can think of is this early Halloween memory.

J'ai pô d'chasse

J'étais à Paris mardi dernier pour le travail, une conférence organisée par ma compagnie. Superbe endroit choisi comme lieu de conférence, mais la connexion internet était hasardeuse. Alors quand j'ai réussi à me brancher, j'ai demandé à un collègue français ce qu'il en était de son côté. Sa réponse: "J'ai pô d'chasse", ce qui sonnait comme "J'ai peau d'chasse".  Bien entendu, il voulait dire "J'ai pas de chance". Je lui ai demandé s'il essayait de le dire avec un accent régional français quelconque. Il m'a dit: "Non, j'essaie d'avoir un accent québécois." Meilleure chance la prochaine fois. C'était un calembour aussi involontaire qu'atroce.