Monday, 23 October 2017

Witches, witchcraft and a good deed


Tonight's countdown to Halloween post is again about witches and witchcraft. This picture was taken from The Book of the Year 1980something. Back before the internet, it was how I learned a lot of things about the world and folklore: through this yearly review. There was always a section about myths, legends, folklore and other stuff, which fascinated me. This image was taken from that section, it represents the three witches from The Scottish Play, with a bit of artistic license: the black cat and huge mushrooms often associated with these characters. I asked my dad to send me pictures of these images for Halloween, not knowing how I would use them. I just find them really gorgeous and atmospheric.

Well, the inspiration for this post and the excuse to share this gorgeous picture came yesterday. We received the visit of little Wolfie's uncle (my wife's brother), aunt (his wife), but not his cousin 9their daughter/our niece). Cousin, who is now a teenager of 17 years, was busy writing an essay on... witchcraft and witches through the ages and culture. Once of these things that should be for undergrads, not teenagers. Well, as my brother-in-law was lamenting that he was desperate to find a book for her with first-hand accounts, The Penguin Book of Witches, I merely...took the book off our bookshelves. He was flabbergasted, saying he had looked for it everywhere and that he was getting desperate. He said: "I am an atheist, but this nothing short of a miracle." I answered: "Actually, I made a deal with the Devil to get my hand on it." Which is not true, but a new great unknown line all the same. In fact, I bought it to complete my list of Halloween books, planning to read it next year. I am glad I did not make it part of this year's Halloween reads, because now it is in the hands of our niece. This was my good deed of the day.

Octo-BRE

Photo prise au Totnes Museum dans le Devon et placée ici car elle illustre mon propos. Vous voyez dans le coin droit des huîtres. Comme quoi ce n'est pas d'hier qu'elles sont considérées un met de choix ayant place d'honneur dans un festin. Je sais que pas tout le monde n'aime les huîtres, mais moi si. Et je sais que c'est le bon temps pour elles, octobre se terminant en "bre". Or, ça fait depuis 2015 que je n'en ai pas mangé. Le pire, c'est que samedi la famille s'est ramassée à Waitrose et s'il y a un endroit où il devrait y avoir des huîtres disponibles, c'est bien au comptoir de poissons et fruits de mer à Waitrose. Mais je n'y ai pas pensé un instant. Une prochaine fois, peut-être.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

D&Dr on Halloween

This image was made by Keith Parkinson. For today's fourth (!) countdown to Halloween blog post, I am sharing a memory of our old Dungeons & Dragons campaign. We rarely played on Halloween, in fact I remember only playing once on Halloween night, and then we were often distracted by children going on their trick or treat run. However, Halloween was an important element of our game within the campaign itself. In our most important mission, we had to retrieve the Scepter of Volgoth, an artifact that the badguys wanted to obtain to invade the world (think the One Ring), from the clutch of the Masks of Curifan, a group of mystic assassins wearing said masks, that were also artifacts. Long story short, the only time when the Masks were vulnerable was on Halloween night, when one of them, a nobleman, was giving a masquerade ball called "the Ball of the Damned". We had rechristened Halloween the Day of the Dead, but it was basically the same holiday, on the 31st of October. There were plenty of living dead that fateful night, but we were protected from them on Halloween night, as a reward from the Grim Reaper itself on a previous mission. Bottom line, we got the Sceptre. It was epic and one of the best D&Dr games we ever played.

Danse Macabre

Comme je le fais chaque année lorsque l'Halloween approche, je fais jouer ce soir la Danse Macabre de Camille Saint-Saëns. C'est une tradition que je ne veux surtout pas manquer: la Danse Macabre, c'est un incontournable de l'Halloween depuis que je suis tout jeune. Pour accompagner, une décoration vue dans l'exhibition d'hier, un fantôme, avec mains squelettiques (dans le sens propre: il n'y a que les os dessus) et chaînes. Il a même des pieds de squelettes, alors il pourrait bien danser si la Mort menait la cadence avec son violon... Je ne sais pas si j'ai trouvé la meilleure version sur YouTube, mais j'en voulais une que je n'avais mise ici avant.

Eerie autumn day

Unfortunately I have no picture to go with this post, but a few minutes ago I went to a walk with my son and put him in his pram, to make him sleep for his nap. The motion and cool air do wonders as it is very soothing. He is snoring at the moment. Anyway, we have a lovely autumn day today, sunny and cool and crisp. Walking on the dead leafs, hearing them cracking under my feet and the wheels of the pram, I thought about my post last year about daylight horror. This was the perfect moment for it, I thought, this would be the perfect time in the day to see a ghost and set a proper horror story. And I thought I would share this with my readers as my countdown to Halloween post.

Madame La Corriveau

J'ai vu cette décoration hier, dans un magasin de jardinage et ça m'a fait tout de suite penser à la légende de la Corriveau.Je me disais récemment que le Bonhomme Sept Heures devrait faire partie du folklore québécois que l'on associe à l'Halloween, mais la Corriveau l'est encore plus: empoisonneuse, veuve noire, sorcière, puis revenante, sans doute à cause d'un pacte avec le Diable... Elle serait l'antagoniste idéale d'une histoire d'horreur bien adulte et sans doute le personnage le plus terrifiant de tout notre imaginaire macabre. La Corriveau a bien sa place dans un champ de citrouilles, et à l'Halloween.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

The Howling

For tonight's countdown to Halloween post I have another reading suggestion: The Howling by Gary Brandner. Flawed novel that is the source material of an equally flawed movie, at least the book does not go into self-parody. Not voluntarily anyway. Sure it's often predictable and contrived but it has good old fashioned malevolent werewolves. And they enjoy their beastly nature. The story is simple: Karyn and her husband Roy leave Los Angeles (after she'd been raped) to the remote village of Drago, which turned out inhabited by werewolves. While Karyn makes for a rather annoying heroine of the damsel in distress kind, surrounded by stereotypical characters, it still has lots of atmosphere, eerie moments, a decent amount of violence and a good deal of suspense. There's also a rather neat prologue that sets up nicely the origins of Drago and its evil nature. Brandner is no Lovecraft, but he can write a decent yarn. And it's a quick and easy read too: you can finish it in a day. With all its flaws I preferred it to the movie.

La chèvre et le petit loup


Nous sommes allés à un zoo (enfin un mini-zoo) il y a quelques semaines et j'y ai pris quelques photos. Notre petit loup a beaucoup aimé, son animal préféré était peut-être la chèvre. Pas pour en faire ce qu'en a fait le loup de la chèvre de Monsieur Seguin, même si j'ai eu une pensée pour l'histoire d'Alphonse Daudet en la voyant. Ça n'a aucun rapport, mais je partage très peu de photos familiales sur ce blogue, j'ai pensé que je pourrais faire une exception avec celle-ci.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Pumpkin carving party on the 29?

Disclaimer: these are not Jack O'Lanterns I have carved, I just took a picture of them when I walked during trick or treats two years ago. Anyway, I told you at the beginning of the month that the Ticklers wanted to do a pumpkin carving party like last year. Well, it might happen on the 29th. They are going on a week holiday for half term, so if they are not too tired, that will be then. It would be great if it happens. Apparently they are very eager.

Le Bonhomme Sept Heures

Je ne sais pas d'où vient cette image, que j'ai trouvée dans les internet. Mais elle est superbe et montre très bien pourquoi et comment le Bonne Sept-Heures est une créature effroyable du folklore québécois. D'ailleurs, quand enfant j'ai appris "l'existence" du Bonhomme, j'en ai eu de la difficulté à dormir. J'ai déjà demandé dans une question existentielle (la 244) quel personnage du folklore québécois méritait d'être associé au folklore de l'Halloween. Dans les réponses, le Bonhomme Sept Heures est venu spontanément. Je crois qu'il mériterait à hanter nos rues lorsqu'on passe l'Halloween.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Eerie Tales from Transylvania

I found the reading for tonight's countdown to Halloween in an Oxfam in Bath more than ten years ago. So it is a rarity which you might struggle to find. The book is titled Ghosts, Vampires, and Werewolves: Eerie Tales from Transylvania. And boy does it deliver! Not all tales are scary but those who are... Apart from the creatures of the title you'll find in it the guardian spirit of a forest who is not shy of killing with extreme prejudice to fulfill his duty, devils in all forms and a number of other critters and weird primitive customs. It's chilling but fascinating, giving you a lot of information about the land and its people's culture that is free from the "contaminations" of a certain Gothic novel (which I nevertheless love). Special mention to The Red Emperor's Son, a bizarre dreamlike fairy tale that is literally the stuff of nightmares.

Le poème de la citrouille

J'ai pris une citrouille
J'en ai fait un lampion
Lampion couleur de rouille
Le nez en tire-bouchon
(...)
De gros yeux immobiles
Et le sourire fade.

J'ai déjà blogué sur ce poème. Je l'ai appris par coeur en troisième année, je ne me souviens plus du milieu du poème, seulement de son début et de sa fin. La troisième année n'a pas été ma préférée, mais tout ce qui concerne l'Halloween à l'école, je m'en rappelle et ce sont des bons souvenirs. Je ne crois pas qu'il y ait aucune trace du poème de la citrouille, malheureusement. À part sur ce blogue. J'ai cherché en ligne, je n'ai rien trouvé, je ne sais pas où mes profs de troisième année l'avaient dégotté, peut-être était-ce leur propre imagination, mais j'en doute un peu. Enfin, si par hasard vous connaissez le reste, faites-le moi savoir dans les commentaires.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

"Never too old for trick or treat"

This is my third (!) countdown to Halloween post in a day and my fourth post all in all. Sometimes it happens, even in my busy life. Anyway, I commute by bus and in the morning I share part of my commute with teenagers going to school. Last week, one of the boys, about 13-14 I'd say as saying to his friends that he loves Halloween and going trick or treating, although his mother finds that he is too old for it. One of the girls said: "You are never too old for trick or treat, never too old to disguise yourself and knocks on strangers doors to ask for sweets!" I thought it deserved to be quoted here as a new great unknown line. Because it is so true. She is wise beyond her years.

Vous qui faites l'endormie...

Quand l'Halloween approche, j'ai un programme musical assez précis et éclectique. J'écoute notamment le Faust de Gounod. Je n'aime pas tous les opéras du XIXe siècle, mais celui-ci disons qu'il a de la gueule. Et puis la légende de Faust est en soi fascinante. Je partage donc ici ce soir l'un de ses arias. Que j'ai déjà partagé. Mais comme ça fait quasiment une décennie... Enfin, partager des arias de Faust est un peu une tradition sur Vraie Fiction.

Ghosts and green tea

Quick blog post for Halloween. It is both a reading suggestion and a warning and sorry if there is no spooky picture to accompany it. So anyway, I have recently rediscovered Sheridan Le Fanu by reading In a Glass Darkly. For the third time in my life, I read Green Tea, the story of a clergyman haunted by a demonic black monkey which may be an hallucination triggered by... green tea. Or else green tea is the drug used to unleash the forbidden gates of Hell, or something. I strongly suspect that the monkey was embodiment of Darwin's theory of evolution, but nevermind that for now. You can read this spooky tale online here. As for green tea, it appears that it was like heroin or a powerful sort of LSD for the man of God of the Victorian era. So drink it in moderation. That was my warning.

Des oies dans la brûme


Je voulais partager cette autre photo saisissante de ma cousine Amy l'artiste-photographe. Parce que c'estvraiment une photo superbe, à mettre dans la catégorie célébration de la quintessence de l'automne sur Vraie Fiction. J'aurais aimé y être.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Haunted portraits

This is today's countdown to Halloween post. I mentioned before and more importantly in this post the Golden Fleece Inn in York, which has the reputation to be the most haunted pub in England. Or at least it boasts itself to be. We had a pleasant evening there, but we never saw any ghost of any kind.Or, I should say, we did not see any real, supernatural ghost. There were plenty of made up ones, or some strange occurrences that would have fooled the inebriated customer. Such as some portraits in the pub. At first sight, they are black and white pictures of ordinary people, maybe upper middle class from another time, early 20th century or maybe late 19th.

Then you look at the portrait under a different angle, and this is what you see: deformed features, cracked faces, fangs, horns, disgusting grin, devil's eyes. The best or most gruesome face I saw is the one that accompanies this post. I have read a thing or two about haunted portraits, but never imagines they could be like this. One can only be glad this is a mere image and that the abomination on it cannot escape the frame. Or can it? It is cheap parlour tricks, but I think there is inspiration here for a good horror story or two.

Comme un air de famille...

Pour bien vous faire commencer la journée, voici un gag de Mafalda qui m'a toujours bien fait rire. C'est parce que c'est pas mal de ça que j'ai l'air chaque matin, surtout les matins de semaine: échelevé et hagard. Ça me rejoint donc beaucoup.

Monday, 16 October 2017

The Halloween Interview

Quick countdown to Halloween post for those who do not know: I have been interviewed on Halloween by AEIOU. You can read the interview here. What can I say, fame at last! Please do tell me what you think in the interview's comments section and here as well. And next time I will blog something more substantial and less self-referential for the countdown, promise.

Pas de photo du mois...

Tiens, je m'en suis rendu compte hier: ça aurait été le temps de la photo du mois, mais je n'y participe plus depuis quelques temps déjà. Je ne sais pas si ça m'attriste ou non. Je me sens plus libre, cela dit la photo du mois permettait à Vraie Fiction de se faire connaître par toute une communauté de blogueurs (francophones surtout) et forcément je pouvais découvrir beaucoup d'autres blogues. Et ça me forçait aussi à être créatif. Je serais tenté de me réinscrire, sauf que je ne crois toujours pas avoir le temps.