Monday, 29 November 2010

Getting out of the cave

This Wednesday, I have no acting class exceptionally, but my partners and I have decided to rehearse The Marriage Proposal anyway this Tuesday. So straight after work tomorrow, I do not rest my feet at home but get on the earliest bus to the nearby town, where we will meet and where I am going to read my lines and try to find my character, hopefully at some point I will eat a sandwich and maybe even relax.

That said, I am not complaining. I know I will be tired, but I know it does good to me. I need time out of the house, I also need time thinking about something else than work. It is always dangerous to get into a clockwork type of life, whether you are employed or not, and to become some kind of urban troglodyte. It has a lot to do about getting a sort of social life, but not only that. Back in 2008, when I was unemployed, I saw barely anything else than the walls of this flat. I used to go to the local pub just to hear a human voice that was not my own. But I also wanted to get out, purely and simply. I can easily live like a monk or an hermit when I need to. Loneliness has its good sides: I used to blog much more when I was alone here all day. I think writers have to learn to be alone and reclusive. But after a while one gets claustrophobic and it is never good to remain reclusive. I need to be out of here and see things and people, feel their presence around me. 

Dzi, dzé, dzu

Je regardais les nouvelles régionales à Radio-Canada, et quand je dis régionales, je veux dire rérionales, donc du Saguenay. Ne me demandez pas pourquoi, parfois ça m'arrive. Une chose m'a frappé: le dz prononcé au lieu du d. Je veux dire: très prononcé. Il fut un temps où je ne m'en rendais pas compte. Quelques observations à ce propos: 1)les journalistes rérionaux sont très rérionaux, même quand ils travaillent pour Radio-Can. 2)je me demande si je ne perds pas l'accent, ce qui m'angoisse un peu. Remarquez, je n'ai jamais changé mes g pour des r, mais ça me fait toujours un petit velour quand on me dit à Montréal que j'ai l'accent saguenéen. Je crois que c'est à cause du , que je n'ai jamais perdu.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Hitchens on cancer

I blogged about Christopher Hitchens and his cancer before. He recently gave an interview to Jeremy Paxman. Like I said then, I don't like to blog about serious topics like cancer, but I am an admirer of Hitchens (who, even ill can still demolish the pretentious Tony Blair in a debate) and what he said about the disease that will most likely kill him has always been of a great lucidity. So I am planning to watch the interview on Newsnight on Monday.

Question existentielle (26)

Je ne veux pas trop faire dans la chronique saisonnière, mais j'ai pensé à cette question existentielle assez semblable à la numéro 18:

-Quand est-ce que l'hiver commence?

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Buy Nothing Day?

Yesterday at work, a colleague made us discover (rediscover in my case, because I knew about it before), Buy Nothing Day, a phenomenon which started in the US but which is trying to build momentum in the UK. Today is the 27th of November and it is therefore UK's Buy Nothing Day.

When I first read about it, a few years ago, I was an enthusiastic supporter. I never really followed it, but I am naturally against consumerism and hate its manifestations like Boxing Day, Black Friday and so forth. I have been to the Boxing Day once in my life, and I do not want to live this ever again. I am on principle and feelings all for a time when you do not consume, just enjoy life. That said, I now work in the private sector and I have made peace with it (in the meantime I divorced from old ambitions) and I have rediscovered the virtues of capitalism and commerce, at least at an individual level. Commerce makes me pay the bills these days, people buying stuff got me this job. So for very selfish reasons, very selfish principles, and because buying/selling gets the economy rolling (and we need economy to roll), I will not buy nothing today. I need to do my Christmas shopping and those small local businesses need me.

Les listes

J'ai assez peu de temps avec le travail, alors c'est la fin de semaine que je dois faire mon magasinage de Noël. J'aime bien acheter des cadeaux, mais ça a un côté un peu angoissant: quand on vit dans une petite ville comme ici, on a vite fait le tour des petits magasins pourtant nombreux. Et je dois aussi faire des listes: liste de cadeaux pour moi à donner à ma mère qui insiste beaucoup ces temps-ci pour en avoir une, liste de cadeaux pour ma femme, liste pour chaque membre de la famille et de la belle-famille, etc. Pour moi, c'est assez simple: je veux surtout des bouquins. Certains diront que j'en ai déjà plus qu'assez et que même ici en Angleterre la bibliothèque est pleine, que j'en ai déjà plus qu'assez pour lire durant l'année (ce qui est vrai), mais il y a tant de livres à lire... Pour ce que je compte offrir aux autres, je dois songer à acheter des cadeaux assez légers, qui peuvent donc être transportés facilement sans encombrer les bagages. Je vais sans doute avoir un samedi occupé, mais il a neigé un peu (enfin!), alors ce sera au moins joli.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Winter, snow and a great unknown line

Recently at work, we were chatting about the upcoming snowy winter which hitted the north of the country but has spared us here... so far. One of my colleagues, an English guy, was complaining about how pathetic this country is when snow falls. "One drop of snow, did he say, and everything stops, England gets paralysed. People don't seem to understand that at some point during winter, it is going to snow! It does not happen in Germany or France!" And then another colleague, a Frenchman, said this immortal line:

"Yes, in France we don't need snow to get the country paralysed."

That caused a riot of laughters.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Citons Villon

Bon, le nord du pays est pris sous la neige, mais ici il fait froid sans un flocon. Je trouve cela un brin déprimant que je ne puisse en profiter. Je sais que c'est un vers fétiche et que je ne brille pas par originalité, mais je vais citer François Villon quand même une autre fois: "Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?"

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Booklaunch in Manchester

I mentioned it before, I wish I could go to Manchester sometimes. But this time I am green with envy. I learned from the Anthony Burgess Foundation that many books of Anthony Burgess will be (re)launched on the 3rd of December, including 1985 (an study of George Orwell's 1984), Tremor of Intent, A Dead Man in Deptford and more. I own many of them, I have read most of them, but many of those only in their French translations. And they will be there, available again after a long absence from the bookshelves. I wanted to go book hunting, that would have been the perfect opportunity. In the meantime, I would have made a long overdue pilgrimage. Instead, it is going to be everyday life here on the 3rd of december, just an ordinary Friday.

En attendant les neiges québécoises

Mes parents m'ont dit qu'ils ont eu leurs premières bordées de neige. J'ai hâte de voir des photos, je les publierai ici bien sûr. Ici, c'est plus gris que blanc, mais ils prévoient un peu de neige cette semaine. Je ressens une certaine fébrilité...

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Orchids, corruption and literature

My father grows orchids and I took this picture last time we visited my parents. I have been wanting to put it here for a while to accompany this quote I have been wanting to put on this blog. It is from The Big Sleep. I read the original classic of Raymond Chandler fifteen years ago in cégep in its French translation. I want to read it again in its original language. I do not remember exactly what was written in the novel, but in the movie the quote goes like this:

"Sternwood: I seem to exist largely on heat, like a newborn spider. The orchids are an excuse for the heat. Do you like orchids? 
Marlowe: Not particularly. 
Sternwood: Nasty things! Their flesh is too much like the flesh of men, and their perfume has the rotten sweetness of corruption."

Evidence that crime fiction can also be genuine literature. Orchids can be quite creepy plants if you think about it: their flowers have something ophidian or arachnoid. I never thought they smelt much of anything, but their beauty has indeed something nasty.  

Sunday roast

English below...

Je sais que c'est de l'humour un peu malsain, mais je ne peux pas m'empêcher de trouver ce gag de Phylactère Cola particulièrement comique. On a un Sunday roast ce soir, mais on mange végé.
This is utterly sick but irresistible humour from Phylactère Cola. We are having a veggie Sunday roast tonight, like every Sunday night. Every time I have one, I think of this joke. I cannot help but find it hilarious:

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Le temps des clémentines

À mesure que Noël approche, j'ai un appétit pour ce que j'associe au Temps des Fêtes, notamment les clémentines. J'ai déjà blogué sur le sujet il y a deux ans. J'achète la plupart du temps mes clémentines chez Marks&Spencer, mais je m'ennuie beaucoup des cabas de clémentines que j'achetais à Montréal, qui ne coûtaient presque rien.

A duet from Don Giovanni

I want more music on this blog and since this post I think I might colour Vraie Fiction with more Italian. This is maybe Mozart's most famous duet, from my favourite opera (of course I mean the immortal Don Giovanni). When I was studying opera with Claudiiiiine, she gave me lots and lots of material from Mozart, because I had asked her (at my mother's request) and because I think there was a lot of great music for baritone.La ci darem la mano was among it. It is the only duet I ever sang, once or twice with a student of hers, but most of the time with her. Even if it was just during class, singing such a duet with a professional soprano was really fun. Sadly, I never had time to master it enough to sing it in public. It is interpreted here by Samuel Ramey and Dawn Upshaw.

La mort de l'ours

Je sais, je blogue souvent sur des chansons de Félix Leclerc ces temps-ci, mais je les ai en tête et je crois que j'ai un peu le mal du pays. Mon frère a déjà blogué cette chanson, exactement la même interprétation en fait, interprétée avec Beau Dommage. Je voulais mettre La mort de l'ours ici depuis un bout de temps, mais je ne la trouvais pas sur youtube. Il m'a pris de vitesse, ce qui est tout à fait correct: on n'écoute jamais de Félix. Comme c'est je crois une chanson qui à l'instar de Notre Sentier se prête admirablement à ce moment de l'année

Je crois que Félix avait une fascination pour les ours, auxquels il s'identifiait: ils ont une place prépondérante dans ses histoires et dans ses chansons bien sûr. La mort de l'ours est peut-être la première chanson que j'ai apprise de lui. "Où allez-vous, papa loup?" est un des premiers vers que j'ai mémorisé enfant. Pour moi, c'était autant une histoire de loups, lesquels n'étaient pas des bêtes terrifiantes. Je crois que je m'identifias au petit loup de la chanson, tout comme Félix devait s'identifier à l'ours, la bête magnifique mais agonisante. 

Friday, 19 November 2010

Voice and character

I will try not to blog too much about my acting class, but it makes for good posts and interesting musing. (By the way, remember when I was wondering about finding a muse for bloggers? Well, Thalia is the one with whom I work on these days.) It also matters a lot to me, so I blog more about it. This blog, after all, is called "Vraie Fiction", and there is maybe no form of more genuine fiction than drama. Okay, so I have my character, the pathetic hypochondriac Lomov. With my partners, we read The Marriage Proposal together at the last acting class and more importantly discussed with the teacher about the characters, what they are, what they do every day, what their relationships to each others are, etc.

It is slowly and surely taking shape. I can see Lomov, I can picture him as a person, feel his nervous twitches, his fears, his insecurities, I can understand why he wants to gets married and why he gets side tracked when he is about to propose. This is one of the most exciting moments about acting: when you are finding the character and it is making sense. It is difficult to explain properly. When I was on stage, years ago, I was the character, I was not merely playing it, the character inhabits you. This is what Lomov will do soon, he will be in me. When this happens, I will have succeeded. I can already hear his breathless, nervous voice when I read the lines, soon he will be able to speak through me properly. I find this particularly exhilarating.

Un manteau qui tombe à point

Parfois le hasard fait bien les choses (je sais, je commence ce billet par un cliché retentissant). Il me manquait un manteau depuis un certain temps. Récemment, le problème était devenu criant: mon Timberland tombait déjà en morceau, mercredi la fermeture éclair a rendu l'âme. Garantis à vie? Tu parles! Il aura vécu six ans. Je crois encore pouvoir sauver la doublure, mais pour le manteau lui-même, je crois qu'il a vécu. En tout cas, il est comateux.

Enfin, je suis allé aujourd'hui au travail dans mon manteau rapiécé, ayant complètement oublié que c'était Children in Need. Pour faire sa part, la compagnie qui m'emploie a vendu des gâteaux, des t-shirts et des... manteaux d'hiver. Lesquels coûtaient la modique somme de £3.50, même s'ils valaient beaucoup plus. Je ne suis pas spécialiste, mais comme je suis un homme du nord, qui vient d'un pays qui n'est pas un pays mais l'hiver, je crois savoir reconnaître un bon manteau. Celui-ci me couvre plus que le Timberland et il semble bien étanche. Il a le logo de la compagnie, mais il n'est pas trop visible.

Ce billet peut sembler d'une terrible banalité, mais ne pas avoir de bon manteau pour l'hiver m'ennuyait beaucoup et me préoccupait un peu. Et après tout, ce blogue porte aussi un peu sur mes banales préoccupations...

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Next: learning Italian?

I have been thinking about this recent post on how to find intellectual challenges. Ok so now I am doing something artistic, which is good, but I discovered that I want more intellectual stimulation. I have been deprived of them since my Liverpool year I think and I now I feel like a junkie (a culture junkie?) who needs his fix after a long period of sobriety.

So I thought about it, and I think that I should get my head into it at last and try to learn Italian seriously. I am a bit frustrated of having a good accent but being unable to communicate properly. I often feel that I missed an opportunity of learning it when I spent my first year here with Italians. Knowing a third language would be a precious asset for my career. And I also love Italian culture.

I would rather learn by immersion, and that means travelling in Italy, which I cannot do for the time being. And I am busy enough as it is to start taking Italian classes. So I try to speak the little Italian I know with the few Italian colleagues I have who are patient enough with me to teach me a thing or two, during lunchtime, mainly sentences that can be useful. I would still be unable to have a conversation in the language, but that is a start. I want to get back into it.

Notre Sentier (parce qu'on n'écoute jamais assez de Félix)

J'ai cette chanson en tête, la première composée par Félix Leclerc. Je n'arrête pas de la chanter lorsque je suis à la maison (je me retiens lorsque je sors). Je crois qu'elle se prête bien aux journées mornes de cet automne qui devient l'hiver, à la mélancolie qui me prend toujours à ce temps-ci de l'année. Et c'est une chanson simplement superbe et profonde malgré ou à cause de sa simplicité. Je pourrais passer des heures à la commenter, mais je vais laisser de côté l'analyse littéraire pour cette fois-ci. Cela dit, pour tous ceux comme moi qui sont profondément touchés par Notre Sentier, vous pouvez me laisser vos impressions dans les commentaires. L'interprétation ici a été faite lors de la dernière apparition publique de Félix, quelques semaines avant sa mort.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

English Fog

There are days like this when I wish I had a camera on me and when I wish I did not have to go to work. Not because my working day was supposed to be bad, indeed I had a good but uneventful day at work. I wished I had stayed home as it was very foggy today. And I find fog beautiful, especially in this country. There is no fog that is quite like the English fog. The outside world take lovely eerie, ghostly appearance. Fog in general is atmospheric, but English fog is moreso. I don't mind commuting in the fog, I actually love it. It turns a boring everyday routine into quite an aesthetic experience.

Anyway, the fog it grew thicker as the day went by, before evening came it was magnificent, like cloak of blurry whiteness. I glanced at the window from time to time, wishing I was outside, or wishing I could have stayed at home, enjoyed some tea and just watching the outside world. Or maybe in a pub with a nice pint of real ale and some hearty food. And a camera to take a few snapshots. I love atmospheric weather, but I prefer when I can fully appreciate it. Well, at least it was foggy.

Apprivoiser novembre

En réaction à un de mes récents billets (celui-ci je crois ou alors celui-là), ma mère m'a dit qu'elle aimait beaucoup novembre quant à elle et que ça pouvait être une très belle saison. Les derniers jours lui ont donné raison. Hier, il faisait froid mais il y avait un soleil splendide (comme la plupart du temps qu'il fait soleil en novembre), aujourd'hui il y avait du brouillard. C'était magnifique, comme à chaque fois qu'il y a du brouillard dans ce pays.

Alors je vais donc m'efforcer d'apprivoiser un mois qui ne m'a jamais beaucoup intéressé.Je trouvais souvent que c'était une période de transition entre l'automne et l'hiver et qu'il était dénué de charme. Novembre, c'était le mois après l'Halloween et avant Noël. Mais maintenant je vais laisser une chance au mois: il a sa propre couleur.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Time to book hunt?

I know that my bookshelves are crammed, full, cracking under the weight of books. But most of them are books that I have read already and the few I did not I intend to read due time. I guess what I mean to say is that I will need to purchase new books before Christmas. Of course there is also the local library, but I have exhausted most of its interesting titles for the time being. That means it is time to book hunting. It usually happens around this time of year if I don't want to run short.

My problem is where to go. This town has no proper bookstore. There are a few charity shops that sell them and a W.H. Smith that is, well, a typical W.H. Smith, therefore a glorified stationary shop. I usually like Waterstone's, but its bookshops are uneven and the ones that are in the nearest towns are not very good. I am tempted to go to Oxford or even London for one day and spend it book hunting. Book hunting is pretty much my favourite shopping activity, so I am looking forward to it. I just need to find the right time and find it soon.

Fiction et réalité criminelle

Comme mon lectorat le sait, je lis beaucoup sur l'actualité criminelle et policière en général et au Québec en particulier. Or, il se passe beaucoup de choses ces temps-ci. J'ai donc appris l'assassinat du parrain de la mafia montréalaise et je suis les développement de cette affaire dans l'actualité. Bien des choses me troublent dans cette histoire. D'abord la sympathie qu'on les mafiosi de la part de certains membres de la population québécoise (Patrick Lagacé y fait un peu allusion ici). Le crime organisé au Québec a fait beaucoup de mal à toute la société québécoise et à ses institutions. Ca me révolte toujours de voir que certains relativisent ça. Ensuite, bien que j'aie toujours dit que les nouvelles criminelles québécoises sont d'excellentes matières premières pour des romans policiers (genre étrangement peu développé), je crains que ce que la violence qui agite le monde criminel à Montréal ne finisse en guerre ouverte comme on en a eu durant les années 90, avec des victimes innocentes. La fiction est cathartique, alors que la réalité est laide et sinistre.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Finding my character

Last Wednesday, I got my first role since I started the course. I was looking for a character, I ended up being given one. It is by far the best way to find him. It is my first dramatic role in six years, I am moved. I will be playing in The Marriage Proposal by Chekov. I will play Ivan Vassilievich Lomov, a wealthy but terribly hypochondriac landowner who wants to get married. It is a very funny play and I am quite good at comedies, so I will be in my element. And I love flawed characters, so I will be served with this one. I will have to kiss a girl, which does not make my wife very happy, but my character is no Don Juan: he is sickly (or so he thinks), unable to keep with the plan (the marriage proposal goes horribly wrong because of his own fault), petty, gets in ridiculous arguments and he is overall pretty pathetic. There are lines of conflicts and contradictory motivations in this short play that are simply brilliant.

So now that I have the character, this beautiful, fascinating character, I need to find him a voice. That will be the challenge. I think the teacher gave Lomov to me because she found in me something of him I could develop. I do find hypochondriac characters fascinating, I am glad I have the chance to play one.

Un air d'ocarina

Cette photo n'est pas fameuse, mais j'ai pris les meilleures pour mon premier billet sur les ocarinas, lequel semble avoir passé inaperçu. Je trouve ça un peu dommage, je l'aimais bien. Enfin, je crois qu'il y a trop peu de musique dans ce blogue ces temps-ci et étant dans une période de l'année monotone et mélancolique, j'ai cet air en tête, tiré d'Albator, qui est sans doute mon dessin animé préféré. Je suis content d'avoir pu enfin le retrouver sur Youtube. Les francophones de ma génération reconnaîtront bien sûr l'air d'ocarina joué inlassablement par Stellie:

Thursday, 11 November 2010

The coolest electric train display

I thought I would blog about something different than my acting class for a change (but I will do more about it soon). My dad sent me this Youtube video about the railway network of Miniatur Wunderland.As my readership knows, I am since childhood crazy about electric trains. But of course, even the best LGB train we have cannot beat this whole display. I miss the time when we used to put the family electric train in the basement and have it run on a complex railway. We lacked the background they have in this place, but our imagination did the rest anyway. Watching this video brings back so many childhood memories.

Question existentielle (25)

Une question qui me revient chaque année:

-Que faire pour rendre novembre intéressant?

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Finding intellectual challenges

More things are happening in Manchester in the near future, I learnt from the Anthony Burgess Foundation. I feel the need to travel there these days more and more, and do my pilgrimage, and/or my Odyssey. I miss this a lot. Not travelling to be a tourist, but going to some event like this, a lecture or a seminar, where I can use my brain: thinking, rambling on something useless yet fascinating (art, literature, etc.). I do acting (next class tomorrow! I cannot wait!), which I think is triggered by the same longing.

I like my job enough, even when I find it difficult. It is a good working environment, I have good colleagues, it pays the bills, etc. I cannot complain about it. But it is not exactly an intellectually challenging job. I didn't have one like this since my time in Liverpool (which is partially why I have such affection for this city). And I miss this aspect of it a lot. I blogged about this almost at the exact same time last year. I miss teaching, studying and debating about literature. A man (or a woman) is what he does. With the acting, I can be, at least to a degree, an artist. I also miss being an intellectual. And I wonder what to do to be an intellectual again.

Sagesse domestique et culinaire

Je sais que j'écris souvent sur la bouffe quand je blogue en français ces temps-ci, mais le quotidien m'inspire. Ce soir on a mangé une soupe avec des toasts, un truc simple qui se prépare vite. Je dis "simple", mais rien n'est simple dans une cuisine étroite comme celle qu'on a. Et on a un grille-pain qui a de l'âge et qui brûle les toasts très facilement. Qui plus est, on a un détecteur de fumée très chatouilleux. Donc, les toasts étaient légèrement brûlées, ce qui a suffi pour que le détecteur se mette à sonner. On a quand même mangé les toasts, qui étaient mangeables. Ce qui m'a fait penser à ce que ma mère me disait quand on était enfants et qu'on avait des bouts de nos toasts qui étaient brûles: "Le brûlé, ça fait chanter". Elle le tenait de sa mère ou de sa tante, je crois.

Monday, 8 November 2010


Right now I am watching a documentary on Channel 4, Coppers, about well, the UK police force. It is a world I am both foreign to and familiar with. I first got into the police world through fiction, via the crime novels I was reading, then the TV dramas I became a fan of. It probably really started with Omertà at home, when I really started to be interested about the work of police officers. There was also the gang war of the 90s which set Montreal ablaze, and which made me more aware of the admirable work of the SQ and the SPVM (except that muppet). I blogged about it here. I became fascinated with real crime history and crime news.

A friend of mine, an army officer, once told me, when I was unemployed, that I should consider a career in the police force, since I was so much into it. It was a ridiculous suggestion. Police officers are to me what birds are to ornithologists: a subject of study and observation, but nothing I could ever think to be a part of. I love to go to crime museums (I dragged my wife to the one in Vancouver), I once chatted with two patrol officers of the SPVM in a café and asked them what type of guns they had (I learned that the SPVM cops have Walthers, the SQ ones have Glocks), I can question a police officer in details about police procedure, ranking, etc. I am fascinated with the little details of a cop's life, the lingo they use, the uniforms, the reports they have with the medias, with the judiciary, etc. I think I could write a convincing picture of police life, if I had the discipline to put my mind into it.

Un club sandwich

Hier, ma femme et moi sommes allés dans un restaurant local. Et un vrai, pas une chaîne dont les Anglais sont hélas parfois un peu trop friands. C'est un des meilleurs restaurants de la ville et ce n'est pas hors de prix et il me fait penser à ces genres de bistrots européens que j'affectionne beaucoup. On y a mangé des sandwiches avec des frites et je me suis permis un club sandwich qui, comme mes lecteurs le savent peut-être, est pour moi LE sandwich parfait. Ca devait bien faire quatre ou cinq ans que je n'en avais pas mangé.

Il me vient parfois comme ça des rages de viande. Vivre avec une végétarienne ne me dérange pas du tout et la viande ne me manque pas en général, puis ça me vient soudainement, quand j'en vois au menu. Je n'ai pas été déçu avec le club que j'ai mangé hier. Il n'étais pas aussi bon que ceux que je faisais à Montréal, mais il était quand même délicieux, le bacon bien qu'anglais était croustillant et salé à souhait. Petit détail amusant: il y avait un oeuf cuit dur aussi dans le mélange. Pas mauvais.

Et je serai servi côté viande lors des vacances de Noël: les hommes de la famille ont tous décidé qu'on irait manger une fois Chez Georges. Pour ceux qui n'ont jamais visité Chicoutimi, c'est LE steak house de la ville, tellement que quand un gars de Chicoutimi dit qu'il va "au steak house", ça veut dire qu'il va Chez Georges. Les deux sont synonymes. Ca doit bien faire cinq ans au moins que je n'y suis pas allé.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Acting and mayonnaise

I will try not to turn this blog into a lesson by lesson chronicle about my acting class, but I promised I would dwell on it and it kind of made my Wednesday evening. So here it is: why knowing how to make mayonnaise matters in an artistic journey.

So last Wednesday, for my acting class, we had to tell about something we knew very well (in my case, I thought about making mayonnaise and then tell people about something we knew nothing about (I picked up plumbing). Of course, when I talked about plumbing it was ridiculous, but I talked about making mayonnaise with confidence: you need about a cup of oil, two or three spoons of lemon or vinegar (but I prefer lemon), an egg of course, some mustard for the taste (I use Dijon), then you... Well, you get the drift. I was good at explaining how to make mayonnaise. The teacher mentioned it after the exercise: I managed to make people see, feel and taste the mayonnaise (and boy was I ever proud to talk about mayonnaise!). This is what we do in acting, our character live in a context and we have to make it believable, we have to feel it. If the play is set during winter and it is cold outside, we have to feel the cold, the dampness of a room, the smell of the place, etc. This is what good actors do. This is what I aim for.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Novembre se grise

Mea culpa, je crois que j'écris ce billet simplement parce que je suis tombé sur un bon titre. J'essaie d'écrire aussi peu que possible sur le temps qu'il fait, mais je ne pouvais pas rater l'occasion d'utiliser un titre comme celui-là.

Alors donc, il y a de moins en moins de feuilles sur les arbres. C'est comme si elles avaient attendu que l'Halloween soit passée pour tomber. Ajoutons à cela que la pluie est revenue en force aujourd'hui. L'automne n'a plus les couleurs des flammes, mais celles de la cendre. Novembre prend donc des teintes désespérément grises.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Acting again: first impressions

So yesterday I had my first acting class. Well, I had acting classes before but this is the first acting class of this course. And it is the first I had in six years. I don't want to write a long post now, I will blog more about it and in more details later, although I don't want this blog to be only about this acting course. Here are some first impressions:

-I knew acting was very physical, but I never felt it as much as yesterday.
-From Montreal to here, it seems that acting students fit into similar categories, they are almost stereotype: the nice elderly lady, the aspiring youngsters, the shy student who does it to get some confidence, the semi-pro ones who should really carry on and of course the pathetic failed actor who did not develop his talent when he should have had (that would be me).
-Being in a a large, old room with lots of history and character sure makes the experience all the more enjoyable.
-Knowing how to make mayonnaise can be a useful way to learn about acting (yes, I will blog more about that).

Je ne lis pas assez

Ou, du moins, je lis trop lentement. C'est du moins la dure constatation que j'ai faite récemment en revenant de chez moi: le voyage en train est trop court pour que je lise en me rendant et en revenant du travail et le soir je suis trop fatigué pour vraiment apprécier. Il me reste les fins de semaines, mais encore là je lis assez peu. Trop peu en tout cas.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

In search of a character

Recently, I have learned a bit more on the acting course I am going to take. Basically, it is based on "rehearsed reading" (first time I heard about that one) and I will have to find my character's natural speaking voice, hold their thoughts, etc. I played characters before, their voice came naturally to me, but I don't know how easy it will be in a foreign language and if indeed I will not have to change perspective totally on how to get this voice. I never had much acting method in the past, only a fairly good instinct. But becoming someone else is easier to do than one thinks.

It is starting tomorrow. I can barely wait.

Question existentielle (24)

Une question qui m'est venue aujourd'hui et qui est un peu inspirée de ma première question existentielle, la seule qui n'a jamais été répondue jusqu'ici:

-Quand est-ce que c'est le bon moment dans l'année pour penser à Noël qui vient?

Monday, 1 November 2010

Post Halloween blues

As I blogged here in French a few moments ago, I am feeling a bit bluesy after Halloween. I usually feel like this, this year I feel a bit more like this: I haven't read enough ghost stories, watch enough horror movies, decorated the house enough, drunk enough Hobgoblin, etc. It is a bit of a misperception: I started reading horror stories since August, after all. But I feel like I did not do quite enough, that I did not celebrate enough. So I got the post Halloween blues. It is a long way until Christmas.

I say this, and there are a lot of things to look forward to in the near future: my wife's birthday and my acting classes. I got some news today about it and the teacher's approach. But today, I am still mourning the end of Halloween. This is the last bit of Jack O'Lantern I will put on the blog until next October. The colours of the pictures here change with the seasons. For now, it is still fiery orange.

Lendemain de fête

Nous sommes aujourd'hui la Toussaint, premier jour de novembre et lendemain de l'Halloween, une fête austère comme le mois qu'elle fait débuter et qui s'est fait éclipser par le 31 octobre. Une observation ironique: il faisait un temps superbe aujourd'hui, ça ne ressemblait pas du tout à novembre.

 Le lendemain de l'Halloween, je me sens toujours un peu tristounet, aujourd'hui plus que d'habitude: c'est lundi et j'ai l'impression de ne pas avoir assez célébré. J'ai marché dans les rues alors que les enfants passaient, mais n'ayant pas encore d'enfants et n'en étant plus un, j'étais en dehors de l'action. Je n'ai pas assez regardé de films d'horreurs, lu d'histoires d'horreur, ou en tout cas c'est l'impression que j'ai. Elle est sans doute : après tout j'ai commencé à lire des histoires d'horreur dès fin août. Mais la maison manquait de décorations, je n'ai pas fait de grande célébration, je n'ai regardé que très peu de films d'horreur. Et puis maintenant c'est novembre. Cela dit, il me reste une année pour préparer la prochaine.