Sunday, 31 May 2015

A cure for Sunday melancholia

I recently discovered this beer a few Sundays ago, in a local pub: Dr Hexter's Healer, from West Berkshire Brewery. I don't think I ever had a drink from this brewery, but then again England is full of local microbreweries and it becomes difficult to keep record of everyone you tried. This particular beer is a bitter (a strong bitter actually, as the label says, although I don't consider 5% strong personally). According to its webpage, it won many, many prizes (for which I am not surprised). For many reasons, Dr Hexter's Healer might become my Sunday beer of choice.

Firstly because it is a great tasting beer. I didn't know it had won many prices when I tried it, but it did not surprise me in the last. I am biased toward darker beers and bitters in general, so I am glad when beer aficionados and connoisseurs agree with me. A bitter is also fitting for a Sunday. The last day of the weekend, it always makes me feel melancholic. There is something bittersweet, if not downright bitter, about Sunday. So again, this beer fits the mood perfectly. Because it is a bitter for a bitter day. Dark as a beer should be. And then there's its name: Dr Hexter's Healer. Drinking good beer makes me feel good, or at least better and I often have a beer on Sunday in a pub to enjoy the end of the weekend. So the name is fitting to its effect and its use. This is therefore my new cure for Sunday melancholia.

Une mésange en noir et blanc

Cette photo a été prise et arrangée par ma cousine Amy. Comme mes lecteurs se rappellent sans doute, c'est la photographe de la famille (du côté de mon père). Elle se marie bientôt et qui est bien excitée car le grand jour approche. (Parenthèse sans rapport direct avec la mésange: Amy a envoyé le plus original des faire-parts). Je me sens toujours un peu mal à lui prendre des photos, même si j'ai sa permission, mais comme ses photos sont vraiment superbes et méritent d'être vues, et qu'en plus je serais incapable de saisir ainsi une mésange qui bat des ailes, je la publie maintenant. C'est aussi une jolie métaphore pour représenter une fille qui va bientôt se marier.

Ending May

For a few minutes already we are the 31st of May. I am going to bed in a few minutes, as you can see I tend to sleep late on Saturday. Anyway, as May is ending it strikes me how unusually cold it has been. The weatherman on the BBC said it feels more like autumn than apring. I love autumn, but I appreciate it even more in the right time of year. And I love seasonal changes, which is not exactly what we have been having recently. Anyway, it has been an atypical month of May.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Karaoké

Mon amie de la blogosphère Debra écrit ces temps-ci une série de billets sur le karaoké. Ca m'a donné depuis cette chanson des Cowboys Fringants en tête. Je ne suis pas le plus grand fan de leur discographie, les Cowboys ayant des textes trop souvent infantiles et tenant plus du sermon que de l'art. Mais Karaoké je l'aime bien et je trouve que c'est ce genre de chansons qu'ils font mieux. Ils rendent hommage à une activité consciemment quétaine pratiquée par des gens qu'ils moquent gentiment tout en leur montrant une affection certaine. Bref, c'est une des chansons de leur répertoire dont Cowboys Fringants peuvent être légitimement fiers. Et comme c'est samedi soir et qu'elle me vient constamment en tête, je la télécharge ce soir.

The Care Bear in the Irish pub

I took this picture in the local Irish pub, it is one of the many decorations the place has and one of the silliest. People ampong you who grew up in the 80s, or managed to survive the 80s recognize a Care Bear. It is Good Luck Bear, to be precise. What a stupid name: his shamrock does not even have four cloves. Still, a green Care Bear with a shamrock is Irish enough. Growing up, I used to love Care Bear, shame on me, but I never cared much about this little green fellow. Because yellow was then my favourite colour, I was all into Funshine Bear. Nowadays, a more fitting Irish Care Bear sitting on the shelf of an Irish pub should maybe be black and white with a pint of Guinness on his tummy. And the green one should have a cannabis plant symbol and be called Weed Bear or something. But hey, I am glad one of the relics of the 80s, a decade I strongly disliked,a relic that developed consumerism in the minds of a generation of children, is finally being useful. Because Good Luck Bear in an Irish pub looks Irish and fitting enough.

Tard levé un samedi matin

Signe que j'avais du sommeil à rattraper depuis une semaine: je me suis réveillé vers 11 heures ce matin et me suis levé à 11 heures et demie. Je pensais en faire une question existentielle, mais je me suis rappelé que je l'avais déjà posée (la question 168: quelle est l'heure idéale pour se lever un samedi matin?). Enfin, ce n'est pas l'heure idéale, je perds un bon bout de mon samedi, mais comme je le dis comme j'avais dormi sur la corde à linge depuis une semaine, sans compter les longs moments d'insomnie, il me fallait une longue, longue nuit de sommeil. Ca m'a fait un bien immense.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Michaela Strachan You Broke My Heart (When I Was 12)

There is no Springwatch tonight (booh, hiss!). It is a darn shame as there should be one episode every night of Spring, until Summer comes. Just like there should be one episode of Autumnwatch every night of Autumn. So well, instead of watching it, I am blogging and listening to an homage song by Scouting for Girls. Not an homage to the show, but one of the show's stars, and I am not talking about one of the critters. I am referring to Michaela Strachan,whose smile and shining personality makes for a good part of the show. Anyway, if I had been 12 watching her, I probably would have had a teenage crush on her. And there would have been nothing wrong with it: she is both a good role model for girls and a model for a boy. She has both beauty and brains and she also loves nature, so she has a good heart (and, my wife loves to remind me, she is also vegetarian). What's not to love about this woman? Anyway, this song is an homage to her, it is a very sweet one and pretty much the description of a teenage crush in a nutshell.

Avoir conscience de son squelette

J'ai fait une découverte il y a un certain temps en parcourant les archives de L'ostie d'chat: certaines pages ne sont pas dans le livre, parce qu'écrites par des fans. Dont celles-ci, écrites par un certain Francis Desharnais. Il y raconte un flashback (en français littéraire on dit une analepse), lors de la St-Jean de 1997à Qyébec, où les héros consomment du pot, peut-être assaisonné de LSD... juste avant l'émeute de triste mémoire. Y a pas à dire, pour une décennie qui était souvent perçue comme une longue période d'attente avant le millénaire, c'était parfois rock and roll. Enfin bref, Jasmin finit par avoir conscience de son squelette...

Je trouvais l'illustration bien drôle, mais c'est ce qui m'arrive depuis que je fais du Krav Maga. J'ai conscience de mon squelette. De mes muscles aussi. Mais c'est sûr que j'ai pas mal conscience de mon squelette. Alors cette image me parle beaucoup.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Happy Birthday Ian Fleming!

I was reminded of it today: 107 years ago Ian Fleming was born. Yes, you know him. He is the father of James Bond. As a Bond fan, both of the movies and the novels, I had to mention it on my blog and commemorate it. Fitting with the birthday, it has been announced today that Anthony Horowitz will publish this year a new Bond continuation novel, Trigor Mortis, set after the events of Goldfinger. I like the title, but care little for continuators. They are IMO glorified fanfic writers. Ian Fleming wrote James Bond, period.

And I thought you might be interested to learn how he came up with the name. Here is an abstract of an interview he did for CBC:

Un pudding (pour PS)

Vous voyez ici un sticky toffee pudding, qui est peut-être, c'est mon hypothèse, l'ancêtre anglais du pouding chômeur québécois. Je l'ai mangé en février dernier dans un pub local et je cherchais une excuse pour publier la photo ici. Puis, j'ai pensé que la guerre de la food porn que je fais à Prof Solitaire était un excellent prétexte. Alors voilà...

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Krav Maga Time


So I am back from my Krav Maga class. This time (exceptionally?), and don't ask me why, but it lasted two hours. And, while I am in moderate pain now, I didn't see the time. I didn't even feel the hunger until I got home. I thought I would find the class tonight very long, because I had a tiresome day at work and had slept badly the night before. I couldn't believe that I could go through an hour, let alone two. I always go in with a bit of anxiety, as if I wonder if I will survive the class. Then it goes like a charm (well, with a few bruises and a bit of pain). It really makes me look forward to Wednesdays. It is no longer the day in the week I dread the most.

So anyway, I must be doing something right, as the instructor told me that I did very good last week and I have "started to think". It seems that I am starting to trust my instincts more. I know I am also gaining strength and stamina. That I can actually feel in my body. With the pain. At 38, that is a strange feeling. Speaking of age, I also have to mention that yesterday was the birthday of Imi Lichtenfeld, the founder of Krav Maga. And I will conclude this post mentioning the picture accompanying it. It is a picture of the banner that made me discover that they were giving classes of the Israeli martial art here. I mentioned it in my first post on the subject. I took the photo to remind myself to contact the organization. Then I thought it would make a great banner for this very post. Funny how, in an age of internet and social medias, a good old fashioned advertisement banner can make you discover something.

Un calembour atroce forestier

Il me vient en tête parfois, l'un des nombreux calembours atroces que l'on a proférés durant nos parties de D&Dr. C'est vraiment geeky et par conséquent vraiment mauvais. Enfin bref, on passait dans une forêt quand l'un des joueurs a dit ceci: "Forêt y aller."

Je sais, je sais, vous avez l'impression que votre cervelle se fait brûler à la cire chaude. Ou un truc du genre.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Squeaky Wiper

We saw this painting at a local art exhibit yesterday. It was painted by (local?) artist Janet Fois. My wife spotted it. It made a strong impression on her and a strong impression on me. Among the may paintings of boats, barns, rivers, various animals, Squeaky Wiper was original, modern and very atmospheric. As the weather seems to be always rainy here and it often feels and looks very much like in this painting when you are on the road, I thought it was fitting to upload it here.

Des olives et du pain

J'ai mangé ça comme léger repas du midi tardif (lire: midi était passé depuis quelques heures et je m'étais rendu compte que je n'avais pas dîné) dans l'un de nos pubs locaux. C'était un peu frugal, mais délicieux, quoique j'aurais bien aimé avoir de l'huile d'olive ou du beurre. En fait, c'était un repas simple et rien de très substantif ni de très original. Mais bon, je suis assez facile à satisfaire en ce qui concerne mes préférences gastronomiques. Et je suis friand des olives. Je me demande tout de même si elles ont une quelconque valeur nutritive. À en croire l'article dans Wikipedia, elles sont riches en antioxidants, mais on dit ça de tous les fruits et légumes maintenant. Mais bon, c'est quand même bon et ça coupe l'appétit juste assez quand tu as une fringale.

Monday, 25 May 2015

The peregrine falcons of Norwich Cathedral

This is a little piece of news that i found on the Facebook page of Springwatch. Which new season starts tonight, by the way. So for my readers living in the UK, please don't forget to tune in tonight at 8. Anyway, here is the bit of news: a family of peregrine falcons has chosen the Norwich Cathedral as their home. In French, the name is "faucon pèlerin", "pilgrim falcon", so it makes sense that these ones have a church as a nesting place. It must be quite a sight. My family has a bit of history with peregrine falcons, as they were among the hawks that had chosen our back garden as hunting grounds, because of the many birds mangers we had (and still have). Maybe I should choose Norwich as a future holiday destination. Until then, I wonder if they are going to be featured on Springwatch tonight.

L'année cégépienne

J'ai trouvé cette photo en ligne. Vous y voyez bien entendu le côté gauche et du Cégep de Chicoutimi, mon alma mater régionale. Le bâtiment est l'ancien séminaire, qui est sa partie la plus jolie. Le reste est inspiré des plans d'un hôpital dans le désert (je ne plaisante pas). Enfin bref, je pensais à ça aujourd'hui: si l'année scolaire cégépienne commence franchement trop tôt (le 24 août 2015 pour l'année qui s'en vient), elle vient de se terminer déjà. Quand j'y étudiais, bien que j'accueillais les vacances avec joie, surtout qu'elles étaient longues, je m'ennuyais néanmoins du milieu. J'ai d'ailleurs toujours eu un certain pincement au coeur de n'y avoir jamais travaillé par après.

A portrait of Stannis Baratheon

Today, as I am on a bank holiday Monday and have plenty of time to spare and it is cloudy outside, I am doing a bit of a medieval fantasy marathon.So that means I am watching Game of Thrones episodes (I just finished watching the last one) and I might watch the last Hobbit movie (although I was underwhelmed by the second one). If I could, I would play Dungeons&Dragons as Game of Thrones gets me in the mood for it and it would be a perfect day for gaming. But instead, I am blogging and sharing my geekiness to the world.

So today I have decided to upload here a portrait of Stannis Baratheon, drawn by artist and fellow Quebecker Magali Villeneuve. I did it before for her portrait of Tywin Lannister. Like for Tywin, I started appreciating the character of Stannis because of his portrayal on the show by actor Stephen Dillane. Stern, ruthless, even merciless, but with a sense of justice that is sometimes misplaced, Stannis is a fascinating character. I would love to have one like him in some of our D&Dr games, either as a friend or foe. I think Magali captures perfectly the hardness of the man in this portrait.

Les vertus (imaginaires?) du thé

J'ai récemment lu le dernier billet du Pharmachien qui déboulonnait les cures de jus de fruit. Comme d'habitude, ce fut à la fois drôle et intéressant. Coincidence ou pas, Patrick Lagacé a planté le jus d'orange dans une récente chronique. Tout ça m'amène à me questionner sur mes propres idées reçues sur un certain produit de consommation: le thé. J'ai tendance à croire ceux qui vantent ses vertus (le menu d'Aux Vivres par exemple), simplement parce que j'aime le thé. Je ne compte pas baisser ma consommation, mais je ne veux pas être crédule. Qu'il agisse comme stimulant, je le conçois facilement car il a de la caféine. Mais dire que certains thés réduisent le cholestérol, sont antioxidants et tout le reste, je trouve ça fort de... Thé.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Lazy Sunday lunch

I was feeling very lazy today, as I had slept badly the night before. So I decided to have something quick and easy for lunch. And I mean ridiculously easy: fried eggs sandwiches with toasted English muffins. Even then I am a lousy cook: the yolks broke during frying. But it was delicious all the same. I rediscovered the dish at the wedding reception of a colleague a few years ago. That was what they were offering for late supper (of course we had not been invited to the big fancy dinner before). These eggs sandwiches or some bacon sandwiches. But I hate English bacon, so I went for this. I fell in love with it since then and I have this when I feel lazy at weekends.

Se sentir pantouflard

Afin d'illustrer le thème de ce billet, j'ai pris en photo mes pantoufles, au grand étonnement de ma femme quand elle m'a vu le faire. Avouez que c'est un geste d'une bêtise abrutissante. Enfin bref, je me suis senti pantouflard toute la journée, ce qui veut dire que je n'ai rien fait et suis resté dans mes pantoufles. Au Québec, on dit aussi végéter, vedger ou être vedge. Pantouflard, végéter, vedger et être vedge sont donc not mots du jour. Au moins ma prodigieuse inaction d'aujourd'hui m'a permis de trouver l'inspiration pour un billet.

You're the top

Yesterday, my wife and I went to see Anything Goes, the Cole Porter musical. I blogged about it here. It was an enjoyable experience, although maybe not as good as I thought it would be. There are many catchy songs and of course very famous ones, but it is a very dated story. A musical from the 1930s means 1930s humour and 1930s clichés. People laughed though, and so did I. The cast was enthusiastic and energetic, so overall, it was great fun. If only for the catchy tunes, which are now far more famous than the musical and can hold themselves very well by themselves. So I thought I'd upload one of them, You're the Top. I first heard it in a Heinz ketchup advert. Like it, the song goes with everything. So enjoy some carefree 30s music.

La Bouquinerie du Plateau en un signet

Les choses que l'on découvre en perdant du temps sur internet... Iris (Boudreau), co-auteure du webcomic L'ostie d'chat que j'aime tant a publié en février sur son blogue un signet de sa création pour souligner les 25 ans de la Bouquinerie du Plateau. Détail amusant: c'est ma bouquinerie préférée de tout Montréal, sinon du monde. Je n'exagère rien. J'ai tellement acheté de livres là et c'est rare que je passe un séjour à Montréal sans y trouver quelque chose à emporter. Dans tous les cas, j'y fais mon arrêt obligé à chaque fois que je retourne chez moi. Et je le fais depuis 1996, date de mon arrivée à Montréal pour mes études. Je l'ai donc découverte quand elle était encore toute jeune. À une époque où même les grandes chaînes de librairies en arrachent, je trouve sa présence rassurante au coint Mont-Royal et St-Hubert rassurante. Peut-être d'ailleurs que son succès est dû à son emplacement. Avoir un commerce au coin d'une rue, c'est en général payant. Les heures d'ouvertures (de 10 heures à 22 heures tous les jours) sont également assez géniales pour les bouquineurs. C'est un peu l'arrêt obligé du noctambule.

Je ne me fais pas d'illusions parce que je ne serai pas à Montréal bientôt et de l'eau a coulé sous les ponts depuis février, mais je voudrais bien me procurer le signet conçu par Iris. Il illustre parfaitement mon expérience de lecteur après une visite à la Bouquinerie du Plateau: revenu chez moi avec pleins de livres, je me mets à les dévorer dès mon retour. Et le signet fait aussi très Plateau.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

St-Viateur goes national

A bit of news from home: St-Viateur Bagel is going national. They were supposed to open more cafés/restaurants, but then they decided to switch to strict bagels production, but not, thankfully, industrialized one. And the café on Mont-Royal, where I first discovered them, will remain. Thankfully, as it is a benchmark on the Plateau and it has of course an important sentimental significance for me. So anyway, they are going national. I wish they could go international, so I could have them delivered here and be smug about what I consider the gastronomical pride of my city. And while I am happy for them and everything, they were already selling all around Canada and as I understood part of the US, so the next step, certainly, should be Europe and more precisely the UK, am I right? In our day and age, am I naive thinking there must be a way to produce and deliver fresh here? All the same: until then, I am proud of St-Viateur.

Ici, c'est vert


Je publie cette photo non pas afin de replonger le fer dans la plaie après mon billet d'hier, mais parce que je voulais qu'il y ait autre chose sur mon blogue en mai qu'une photo hivernale. Parce qu'ici, c'est vert. Pas toujours chaud, mais c'est vert. Alors voici...

Friday, 22 May 2015

Mayflies

This is one of the things that characterize the month of May and which I hate: the mayflies. They are flying everywhere these days. Disgusting, ugly, swarming mayflies. I walk in the morning I see them, flying above the streets or by shops and pubs windows. In the afternoon and evening it is even worse. They seem to enjoy particularly narrow pathways and this town is full of them. The husband of one of my wife's friend says it is near the River Thames where they truly gather in swarms, something to do with the humidity. What a way to spoil the beauty of a legendary river. Especially in this town , as the Thames and its banks are truly stunningly beautiful.(And parenthesis: yes the Thames does not only flow through London). Anyway, although I grunt, I should not complain too much: if anything mayflies announce in their own way warmer days and summer. And if you read my previous post, you can see the kind of May they are having back home. I think I'd rather have the flies. In French mayflies are called "éphémères" because they allegedly live for one day. Another reason why I will try not to complain: they won't stay for long.

Les neiges de mai(!)


Photo prise entre Québec et Saguenay, le 22 mai 2015, par un ami ou une connaissance de mon frère PJ (enfin je crois). J'ai emprunté sans aucune gêne, parce que je ne crois pas qu'on me croirait si je le disais comme ça, qu'il a neigé au Québec. Un 22 mai. Je ne me rappelle pas de ma vie avoir vu ou vécu ça. En avril oui, assez (trop) souvent. Jusqu'au début mai, je peux me rappeler que j'ai vu de la neige tomber (en mai 1992, notamment). Mais si tard? Jamais. Un tantinet déprimant, je l'avoue. Il n'y a plus de saisons. On est supposé être au printemps. Je suis flabbergasté. J'en reviens pas. Je dis souvent que le blogue change de couleurs avec les saisons et là je dois montrer ça.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

That's Protestant Whiskey

"McNulty: Can I get a Jameson?
Bartender: Bushmills OK?
McNulty: That’s Protestant whiskey.
Bartender: Price is right, ain’t it?
McNulty: Make it neat
."

I blogged before about the urban legend regarding Bushmills. I learned about it because of this scene in The Wire. This anecdotal exchange between McNulty and the barman is one of many scenes in the series, scenes that are seemingly unimportant, but give character to the show. One of many reasons why I love it so much. I took this picture in the duty free boutiques of Southampton Airport. Looking at the bottles, I could only think of the scene in my favorite TV drama. Next time I go out for a drink, I want to order a whiskey just for the sake of being offered Bushmills. So I can say the immortal line. Not that I know much about whiskey, to be honest. I enjoy it from time to time, but cannot make the difference between a decent one and a great one. Or even a bad one, come to think of it. But I do want to say this once in my lifetime.

Un pointe de gâteau au chocolat

Ceci est un dessert que j'ai mangé au restaurant végétarien The Willow à Totnes. Totnes est une petite ville du Devon particulièrement hippie et dont le charme n'a pas encore été massacré par les touristes. J'ai déjà plogué le restaurant dans ce billet en anglais. Je n'écris pas ce billet pour re-ploguer le restaurant mais dans la guerre de photos de bouffe que je fais à Prof Solitaire. Le gâteau au chocolat dans mon souvenir tenait plus du brownie et il était vraiment décadent. Comme premier dessert (et repas) dans le Devon, je commençais mon exploration gastronomique du bon pied.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The Wednesday Warriors

So I am back from my weekly class of Krav Maga. As for last week and the week before, I thought I would write a post about my experience. You might get a post about it every Wednesday, if I am not too tired and if there is anything to tell. So anyway, about this class... I am still not in shape, but getting there. I started feeling dizzy a few times, especially at the beginning, but now I know when to stop and I have the wisdom to drink water. I feel far less pain at the beginning, although I think I got one or two bruises (mainly because I had to fall down). I need to learn to hit harder, it has to become something natural. Hitting harder in training is both good for the hitter and the hitted(?): it hardens both. But I am pushing myself more and more, and it is less and less exhausting. At the end of the lesson, I could have stayed a bit longer to practice more with others. Some students who are not in the advanced class stay a few minutes more. I left because, well, I thought I needed my supper and a shower and should not delay them too much. Maybe that was a mistake. Next week, I might stay longer. More exercise would do me good: looking at myself in the mirror earlier, I thought I definitely needed to lose weight.

Now a few anecdotes about the evening. There were three more newbies this week, all three women of various ages. I received my "welcome pack", basically a couple of sheets of paper explaining basic principles of hand to hand combat, written in plain terms by our instructor. According to him, it is particularly important that we read about adrenaline: how to gain it, keep it, etc. I remember how bored stiff I used to be when I read rules and techniques of a sports in PE classes when I was a kid. This actually sounds like fun, or at least fascinating read. I don't know many of my fellow wannabe warriors' names, but at least I know a few. They cannot pronounce mine, neither can the instructor. He thus calls me "Guilly". He rechristened a couple of students like this. I don't like Guilly much, but I will have to get used to it. I would have preferred Bill or something, maybe I should have asked to be called like this. But Guilly it will be (shudder). Not much of a name for a warrior. I decided to refer to us on this blog as the Wednesday Warriors. It is fitting that we train on Wednesday: Wednesday is of course the Day of Wotan, or Odin. The Norse king of the gods is also a warrior. And my long time readers know how much I love Odin. A warrior god for a warrior race. Granted, Vikings were not Israëli, but all the same, Krav Maga could have been invented by them. And Guilly sounds vaguely Scandinavian. So here it is. The Wednesday Warriors.

Question existentielle (261)

En passant personne n'a encore répondu à la question 260. J'ai pensé à cette nouvelle question existentielle car je songe à écrire quelques billets cryptozoologiques bientôt (en bon sceptique je trouve la cryptozoologie bébête et pure pseudo-science, cela dit je pense que comme phénomène culturel ça a son intérêt). Afin de trouver des sujets, enfin des spécimens, je pose donc à mes lecteurs la question suivante:

-Quelle(s) créature(s) cryptozoologique(s) trouvez-vous particulièrement intéressante(s)?

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

May Hail


Whatever I said about Summer coming recently, I take it back. May is still a cool, even cold, nasty Spring and it actually looks sometimes like an autumn that is ending. We could still be wearing heavy jumpers and winter coats with scarfs and if it was not for the green in the trees it would feel like October or even November. Okay, maybe not November but definitely October. An October like I love them. Except that we are in May. And a May like this, especially when it is near its end, well, it kind of sucks.

And today, we had hail. A lot and a lot of hail. There were two showers of rain, one that was loud but short, and a second one where it poured for what felt like ages. I took these two pictures at work, one when it was pouring down, the one on top during my lunch break later.You can see how big the hail is. Like chunks of salt. And, while the second picture is blurry, taken from the first floor window at work, it also gives you an idea of how dramatic the hail falling was.

Archambault vendu à Renaud-Bray

Je viens d'apprendre cette triste nouvelle sur Facebook. Bon, enfin, ce n'est pas tragique, sauf que peut-être bien que si. Ce n'est jamais une très bonne chose pour la diversité de la littérature quand les chaînes de librairies se raréfient et qu'il y a donc moins de concurrence. Je n'étais pas le plus grand fan d'Archambault (tiens, leur site ne fonctionne déjà plus). Sauf que Renaud-Bray pour moi, c'est un gros magasin d'équipement de bureau déguisé en librairie. Et puis les Archambault, il y en avait des potables, en tout cas à une certaine époque. Déjà que je n'avais pas digéré la vente de Champigny, il y a quelques années... Il me reste encore quelques librairies indépendantes, mais quand même les chaînes se font manger, l'avenir de la vente de bouquins au détail semble glauque. Et puis Archambault avait aussi une histoire. C'est ça aussi qui meurt un peu aujourd'hui.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Railway commute from Hell

There are Mondays like this, they just live up to their reputation. Evenings anyway. Because my day had been good until the commute journey home. On my train journey back from work, instead if going all the way to the town where the line ends... The train got back to where it left. With no warning of any kind. Then I had to take another train back. I did two journeys. I love trains, love traveling by train, but at the end of the day, especially a Monday, it is a bit much. Too much in fact. Especially since they are announcing more disturbances because of upcoming strikes. I took this picture back in March. Now it is far greener, but it felt just as dreary this evening as it looks on the picture.

Chant d'un Patriote


"Demain je pars pour la guerre
Avec mon grand chien qui aboie
Des cailloux pleins ma gibecière
Et à mon côté gauche le droit
."

C'est la Journée nationale des patriotes, anciennement Fête de Dollard, aussi connue comme étant la fête de la Reine. Étant républicain et n'aimant guère la Reine, morte ou toujours vivante, j'ai décidé de souligner cette fête que j'ai toujours trouvé un tantinet schizoïde. Beaucoup même, pour être honnête. Contrairement à ce que j'avais fait en 2012, je ne vais pas accompagner ce billet du monument à Dollard des Ormeaux du Parc Lafontaine. Non, j'ai décidé de télécharget pour la millième fois la statue de Félix Leclerc du même parc. Avec bien entendu ce que je considère comme l'une de ses plus belles chansons (et sous-estimée à mon avis), le Chant d'un Patriote. Ce n'est pas qu'un chant nationaliste, c'est aussi et surtout un chant républicain. Et puis, en tant qu'expatrié vivant dans la perfide Albion, ces vers en ont pour moi une raisonnance particulière:

"Et si demain, mains dans les fers
Vous me rejetez à l’exil
Quelqu’un viendra finir ma guerre
Peut-être vot’ fils ainsi soit-il
"

Enfin bref, c'est une bien belle chanson.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

The Lambton Worm

I have first read about the legend of the Lambton Worm in All About Monsters, from which this image is taken from. It made me want to visit the village of Lambton. I have not done so yet, but I think this part of England might become a future holiday destination. Anyway, you can read the account of the legend with the image, taken from the book, but there are better versions online. I found this one, which I particularly enjoyed.

Something in this image, however schlocky it was (and from a schlocky book), really fired up my imagination as a child. You had the desperate hero in a fight to death against a terrible foe, using gadgetry to kill his adversary. You had a dragon more akin to a serpent. Reading the story going with it, and the story really took life. The monster's main characteristic was not a mean of attack, but of defense: its capacity to regenerate. It also has a river as a place of danger and the source of unnamed abominations. You have the morally flawed hero, whose lack of religious devotion made him and his fellow countrymen vulnerable to evil, put them in way of harm. It is a great local legend that deserves to be better known. So I thought I would contribute to spread it on Vraie Fiction. When/if I have time, I might write my own take of the legend one day.

Les tortues m'indiffèrent

Je regardais mes photos de vacances au Devon de l'année dernière (en fait les seules vacances passées au Devon) et je suis tombé sur cette photo de tortues, prise au sanctuaire de loutres (!) à Buckfastleigh. C'est la seule photo des tortues que j'ai prise, alors qu'il y en a pleins d'autres animaux, même des cygnes et des goélands que l'on voit pourtant partout ailleurs. Et je me rends compte que, parmi nos cousins et cousines du règne animal, les tortues m'indiffèrent. Je ne les déteste pas comme les rats, je ne les aime pas comme bien des bêtes à poil, elles ne cultivent pas mon imagination comme disons les crocodiles (pour mentionner d'autres reptiles), enfin bref elles ne m'intéressent pas. Même dans la fable du lièvre et de la tortue, j'ai de la sympathie pour le lièvre. Sinon, je les associe aussi aux Tortues Ninja, mais j'ai arrêté de m'intéresser à cette bédé/ce dessin animé depuis des années. Alors tout ça pour dire que je vais essayer de redécouvrir les tortues et essayer de développer un intérêt pour elles.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Being a middle aged man

If this post sounds familiar, it is because I mentioned something similar before. Here, here and here, among different times. But anyway, I saw today and it struck me like it always does when I see it: my temples are greying, so is my beard and my eyes are getting wrinkled.I recently refereed to me in a post as a middle aged man. And it kind of freaked me out seeing my face in the mirror today, knowing very well that I am one, that I have integrated this reality enough to talk about myself as a middle aged man. Scary stuff.

Un gâteau aux bleuets

Puisque que mon confrère blogueur Prof Solitaire a repris récemment la guerre de la food porn avec des photos alléchantes de desserts, je riposte. D"abord avec le flan aux pruneaux, ensuite avec cette photo, qui date de l'automne 2014. Je l'avais gardée en cas d'urgence comme celle-ci. C'est une photo d'un gâteau blanc aux bleuets (enfin confiture de bleuets entre les étages), acheté dans une foire gastronomique pour produits haut de gamme dans un hôtel haut de gamme. Le bleuet étant le fruit emblématique du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, je me suis comme senti obligé d'essayer celui-là, même si c'était pas donné du morceau. Je ne me rappelle plus quelle pâtisserie l'a confectionné. Je vais essayer de trouver d'ici à l'automne prochain.

The cheese controversy

I took this picture a few weeks at the local market for local producers. They hold this market at the last Saturday of each month. It comes from the cheese stand, held by an elderly English cheesemaker, one of the most English Englishman I have seen in years. He was full of English commonsense wisdom: he was making himself a delicious breakfast (because "you can't start a day without a proper English breakfast"), composed of one goose egg, two sausages, two rashers of bacon and a cup of tea (because "you can't have a proper English breakfast without a cup of tea"). Tokens of English wisdom which are now great unknown lines. But it is his pride as an Englishman for English cheese that struck me.

He sure knows how to sell his stuff and I did buy far more cheese than I expected simply because he was so darn convincing. Especially a cheddar that tasted a bit like parmesan ("only better" he said), but unlike Parmesan was suitable for vegetarians (my wife could thus eat it, although she did not like it much). And there is this jab about French cheese. Gotta love English pride. I don't think English cheese is superior as much as just as good as French cheese, but there you go. The man sure knew how to make a stand. I still wonder if the u in superior is a voluntary mistake to make the word sound more English. In any case, notice that he also makes a distinction between cheese and fromage. And you, where do you stand in this debate? Do you agree with the statement? As I said I don't, but I admire the man all the same. He reminds me why I love England so much.

La sonnerie du samedi matin

Tu parles d'une façon que certains ont de commencer leur fin de semaine: ils sonnent à notre porte un samedi matin. Je ne sais pas quelle heure il était, il ne devrait pas être trop tôt, mais je dormais toujours. En général, je dors assez tard le samedi matin. Et là, il y a eu cette sonnerie. Une seule sonnerie, ce qui me fait croire que c'était sans importance. Nous n'attendions pas de colis, alors c'était autre chose. Des Témoins de Jéhovas? Des Mormons? Je les soupçonne souvent de ce genre de coup fourré.  Mais bon, ça peut être simplement quelqu'un qui voulait visiter l'un de nos voisins et qui s'est trompé de numéro. Tout de même, ça m'a mis en rogne pour cinq minutes.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Brother Gorilla

I have been looking a long time for a decent translation of a song of Georges Brassens, one of my favourite French singers and my favourite poet of the Fench language. I found this version of Le Gorille by Jake Thackray, which I think was quite good. Not nearly as rich and powerful as the original of course (there is even a bit lacking), but still, it is done with genuine love and deference to the source material. And it is still a brilliant piece, funny, burlesque, uncompromisingly offensive and yet profound. In fact, it is a profoundly humanist song.

Le Flou et la Vie (la photo du mois)


C'est le moment de la photo du mois, le thème était "le flou et la vie" choisi par Lyonelk. J'ai eu quelques maux de têtes, ai peut-être raté une belle occasion de publier cette photo, mais finalement je me suis décidé pour celle-ci. Le parc local, innondé en mars 2014, dans le coin où les enfants vont jouer. L'eau crée le flou. Avec les arbres et cet endroit désert, condamné et pourtant plein de vie d'habitude (et sans doute grouillant de vie bactériologique), je crois que ça colle assez bien au thème.

Allez voir comment s'en sont sortis les autres:

A'icha (Agathe, AkaiericroAlbangrAlexinparis, Amy, Arwen, Aude, Autour de Cia, Ava, BiGBuGS, Blogoth67, Blue Edel, Brindille, Calamonique, Canaghanette, Cara, Champagne, Chat bleu, Christophe, Claire's Blog, CécileP, Céline in Paris, Dame Skarlette, DelphineF, Dom-Aufildesvues, Dr. CaSo, El Padawan, Estelle, Eva INside-EXpat, Fanfan Raccoon, François le Niçois, Frédéric, Galéa, Gilsoub, Giselle 43, Guillaume, Homeos-tasie, Iris, Isaquarel, J'habite à Waterford, Josette, Josiane, Journal d'une Niçoise, Julia, KK-huète En Bretannie, Koalisa, Krn, La Fille de l'Air, Lau* des montagnes, Laulinea, Laurent Nicolas, Lavandine, Lavandine83, Lecturissime, Les bonheurs d'Anne & Alex, Les Filles du Web, Loulou, Luckasetmoi, Lyonelk, magda627, Mamysoren, Milla la galerie, Mimireliton, MissCarole, Morgane Byloos Photography, My Little Reflex, MyLittleRoad, Nanouk, Nicky, Noz & 'Lo, Philisine Cave, Pilisi, Pixeline, princesse Emalia, Renepaulhenry, Rosa, Rythme Indigo, Salon de Thé, Sandrine, Sinuaisons, Tambour Major, Testinaute, Thalie, Tuxana, Utopique-Lily, Voyager en photo, Xoliv', Yvette la Chouette.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Earl Grey with a citrus twist?

The tea amateurs and connoisseurs may have noticed it: there is a new blend of Earl Grey from Twinings. It is called Earl Grey Citrus (I think it is this one anyway). It says on the big that it has "a citrus twist". Usually at work, they have a choice of breakfast tea and Earl Grey. Now they switched the Earl Grey to this new edition. I always drink Earl Grey in the morning at work, because of its alleged virtues. One of them in particular: it is meant to give you energy. And I often desperately need an energy boost in the morning. So anyway, I decided to try this special Earl Grey edition and... And I am not convinced. At first I thought I thought I was drinking some lemon flavoured cough medicine, but I got used to it. Still, there is something odd about the citrus taste. Anybody else tried it? If so, what did you think of it?

De la nature de L'ostie d'chat

Quelque chose m'est venu en tête à propos de L'ostie d'chat. Bon, je le savais déjà, enfin j'en étais conscient dès ma première lecture de la bande dessinée, mais j'y ai pensé plus en détail ce soir. Le chat en question, appelé Legolas (ainsi nommeé en l'honneur de, ben, lui), est en fait un MacGuffin. Il est donc un prétexte à l'histoire. Sa présence dans la bande dessinée est périphérique et il apparaît donc très peu, toujours pour faire interagir les personnages et lancer ou relancer l'action, ou encore mettre certaines résolutions en suspens. On sait très peu de son passé, sinon qu'il a eu un ancien propriétaire schizo qui s'est suicidé. On sait aussi qu'il est moche, contrairement à son homonyme. Sinon, il n'est pas le personnage principal d'une bédé dont il est le titre.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Krav Maga Experience

I had my second Krav Maga class this evening. So let's start by the essential bit of news: I survived and I am in one piece. Which means that I can blog and blog about it. I also am in a better state. Yes, I am in pain, but not nearly as much. And, unlike last time, I did not nearly faint at the end of it. Because I did not push myself too hard (unlike last week). Also, because I drank throughout the class. Oh what a difference a bottle of water can make! Regarding the lesson itself, I will not say I am talented, far from it (any martial art is not a natural thing for me), but I see that I can learn and I am not completely hopeless. I enjoyed it far more, loved it and I am so glad I signed up for it.

And there are the little things peripheral to the course, which I am enjoying already. I got my free tshirt for instance, manufactured from KombatUK (military products) To be honest I think I look silly in military clothes. I mean, for those of you who saw me in picture or in person, try to imagine me with the Urban T-Shirt. I guess it was the first time I wore it, so it kind of felt strange. But I am not the only middle aged warrior in the group, so I don't stand out, except in my own eyes. Which leads me to the other peripheral thing I love about it: it gives me a modicum of social life. I don't have friends yet, they may never become more than acquaintances, but talking to new people from all walks of life is great. I want to write more about it. Right now, suffice to say that I enjoy talking to my new fellow middle aged warriors.

McAuslan se met au cidre

Tiens, deux fois de suite, je fais dans le billet brassicole. J'apprends via La Presse que la Brasserie McAuslan a décidé de faire du cidre. Mon frère PJ est sceptique. Moi, j'ai confiance: il y a pas rgand-chose de McAuslan que je n'ai pas aimé et si une brasserie peut faire du et populariser le cidre québécois, c'est bien elle.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Zebedee (the beer)

I have often plugged beers from Rebellion Beer in Marlow. Their products can be found in pubs all around the South East of England. They make among my favourite beers, especially the seasonal ones (see this post about their winter one). The one I am blogging about tonight is not my favourite among the ones they make, or the kind of beer I would usually have, but it is lovely on a warm Spring day or even a Summer day. It is called the Zebedee. The name is vaguely Biblical and I guess since it is their official Springtime beer, it is reminiscent of Easter. Or maybe I am reading far too much in what is in essence just a name.

Still, for whatever reason it is their Springtime beer. I think it would fit Summer even more. Because Spring in England, just like many places, can be cool, of not cold, and a blonde beer with a fresh taste suits the warmer days of Summer far better. The Rebellion website says it is available from March until April, but I have seen it being served in May as well. For a blonde, the Zebedee has a good deal of character, another reason why I would rather have it in Summer. I prefer it to their Blonde, which is too light for my taste. During summertime I have their Smuggler (more about it on this post) or sometimes their Mutiny. Still, in the occasions when I am in the mood for a blonde that is not insipid, I go for a Zebedee if it is available.

Un flan aux pruneaux

Ce soir je vous fais un autre billet qui parle de bouffe. je ne tenais pas à en faire un de sitôt (j'essaie d'espacer mes billets gastronomiques), mais Prof Solitaire en a remis avec sa food porn alors voilà, les gants sont tombés et je reprends le sentier de la guerre. C'est lui qui a commencé les hostilités. Ainsi donc, j'ai acheté ce flan aux pruneaux au marché français qui était en ville au début du mois. J'achète toujours des flans quand ils passent, d'habitude à la noix de coco parce que ce sont mes préférés, mais là c'était des flans aux pruneaux. Enfin bref, mets ça dans ta pipe Prof: c'était délicieux. Et ne me dis pas que tu détestes les pruneaux.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Locked outside

Coming home from work, my wife got locked outside the apartment this afternoon. She recently changed purses and she had forgotten to move her keys from the old purse to the other. As a result, she had to wait for me to be home. In sum, she waited two hours outside. Thankfully, it was sunny and warm. And I was not delayed by anything on the way home. Still, her morale was surprisingly good, given the time she waited. I would have been more fed up.

The same thing happened once to my housemate when I was living in Liverpool. It was in May or June. Back then, I didn't have a mobile phone (nearly ten years ago). I did not have to work that day (blessed time when I was in academia), but I had stopped at the workplace to gather some stuff. I had just walked in my office when the department's secretary told me someone was calling me urgently. It was my housemate, who had gone out and closed the door when nobody was inside and of course had forgotten not only her keys, but her mobile phone as well. She was calling from the retirement house next door. So I left the office without having done the things that I wanted and I took the journey home... to discover that she had been let in by another housemate, who had walked home early. So I missed my chance to be a knight in shining armour then, leaving my office for nothing. On the plus side, I had taken a healthy walk on the hills of Liverpool. And today's anecdote reminded me of this Liverpool memory.

L'escoufle

"Le ravissant Escoufle, à qui la queue sert 
De gouvernal fidele"

Guillaume du Bartas

Si ce tableau vous semble familier, c'est que vous l'avez déjà vu l'année dernière. Je n'aime guère le tableau pour être honnête, car il ne rend pas hommage à la beauté du rapace, mais je pensais qu'il fallait quelque chose pour illustrer mon sujet et comme les milans royaux sont difficiles à photographier pour l'amateur que je suis...

Enfin bref, alors que je faisais des recherches sur les milans royaux à cause de mon billet de vendredi, j'ai appris qu'ils avaient comme nom en ancien français: escoufle. Ce qui sonne pas mal plus joli. En plus, ça leur va mieux que milan royal. Escoufle est donc le mot du jour. Je vais maintenant l'appeler escoufle je crois, justement parce que ça sonne beaucoup mieux. Il y a une autre raison, plus bête: la citation plus haute de Guillaume du Bartas. Autant adopter les appellations utilisées par un homonyme. Alors donc, je vis dans un coin où il y a pleins d'escoufles.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Summer is coming...

I know I am paraphrasing a famous motto, but there are signs annunciation that Summer is near, or may be near anyway and that Springtime is . Here are some of them:

-May has been so far rather cool, especially for May, up until fairly recently, however things changed. It is now much warmer and they are forecasting temperatures of 20 and above this week.
-In fact, it is warm enough that we keep the windows open for most of the day... until wasps come in.
-The recurring visits of wasps is also a sure sign of summer, like spiders a sign of upcoming autumn.
-The sun goes down later and later in the evening. Nothing extraordinary in this, but still. It remains a sure reminder.
-The trees have changed from colourful blossiming to full of leafs green.

So there you have it. Not much to blog about I guess, but it struck me today.

La Fête des Mères

Parce qu'on a tous une mère, je rappelle à mes lecteurs, si jamais ils ont comme moi tendance à oublier, que c'est la Fête des Mères aujourd'hui. Et oui, j'ai pensé à appeler la mienne. J'oublie souvent parce que c'est à une date différente en Europe. Ou alors je souhaite bonne Fête des Mères à ma mère à une mauvaise date. Pas cette année. Sinon, la distance avec ma mère fait que je ne souligne pas la journée autant que je le devrais ou que je le ferais idéalement. En fait, je ne rappelle plus la dernière fois où j'ai vraiment célébré la Fête des Mères. Au moins, je le souligne ici.

Anything Goes

I uploaded this song from the great Cole Porter before and actually, the same interpretation by the great Ella Fitzgerald. I have decided to do upload it again, like I do sometimes with songs, partly because I love Anything Goes and mainly because my wife and I are going to see the musical of the same name this month. I am not the biggest fan of musicals, but I want to see stage productions more often this year and I love the music of Cole Porter, so I think I will enjoy this one tremendously. I truly discovered Cole Porter back in 1993-1994, when my mother received a CD set of his work at Christmas. I knew some of his songs, but it is only then that I really got into it. Mum was and is still a big fan. I don't think I ever listened to that much jazz than this winter. It will be nice to rediscover Cole Porter and see his work on stage, which will be a completely new experience for me.

Question existentielle (260)

Je ne crois pas avoir posé cette question avant. La voici:

-À quel moment le dimanche la mélancolie s'installe-t-elle et pourquoi?

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Viking chess

Today, my wife and I went to the local May Fayre with her friend, her friend's daughter (Buffy's owner) and her friend's daughter's friend. As I often mentioned them and I need to find them a nickname to make things easier, I will call them from now on the trio of Valkyries. Even by reading the title of this post, you can guess why I had this inspiration for this name...

Because there was at the May Fayre a Viking display, with people reenacting Viking fights and so on. As my wife and her friend were having Pimm's (their first of the year), the two girls wandered around the fayre with me the responsible adult (hum, hum!) and they ended up at the Viking display. Various artifacts were The girls were fascinated by the drinking horn and the small dice and many trivial things, but I was fascinated by this board. The woman at the display explained that it was a Viking chess board, also called Tafl. There is a king in the middle, surrounded by his guards. When you play the pieces on the edge, your aim is to capture/attack the king, if you play the pieces at the center it is to protect the king. From the researches I made, there seems to be no clear rules we kept from the time it was played. Oh and there is a dragon on the board, although I wonder how authentic this is. In any case, the dragon adds to the coolness. The woman told me that you can still buy Tafl boards. It is now one of my new projects: find one, buy it, play it.

Le Tricolore et l'Union Jack


Photo prise lorsque le marché français était en ville. On le voit mal, mais il y a un drapeau français juste à côté de l'Union Jack. Et puis? Et puis rien. Ca me fait toujours plaisir de voir un drapeau républicain, pour ne pas dire un drapeau révolutionnaire, dans un pays qui est encore une monarchie. Avec l'église en arrière-plan, je trouve ça encore plus charmant, ça fait comme un pied de nez. Ni Dieu, ni maître et tout ça.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Low-flying red kites

I took this picture a couple of weeks ago, waiting for the train to go home after a day of work. You can see there is a bird on the picture: it is a red kite. I tried to take a better picture, I failed miserably. It was flying very low above the station, then turned to fly over the neighbourhood. Better luck next time I guess. I need to learn to use the camera on my phone better. Red kites are the avian neighbours in this part of England, as I mentioned last year. And they often fly low enough to be seen very well. It is always surreal, once you notice them, to have birds of prey just flying so near humans. We were going to see some friends last weekend and we saw a whole flock of them circling above a roundabout, all very low. If we had not been in a car in motion, I would have tried to take a few snapshots. So it is one of my aims for the upcoming months and weeks: take a good picture of a red kite.

Une rage de gâteau maison

Je ne sais pas pourquoi, mais j'ai comme une rage de gâteau au chocolat ce soir. De gâteau au chocolat maison pour être plus précis. En fait, du gâteau de ma grand-mère du côté de ma mère. J'ai pris cette photo parmi les albums Facebook de mon frère PJ. Parce que dans mon souvenir, c'est comme ça qu'il est, le gâteau au chocolat. Je vais peut-être me laisser tenter à en faire un en fin de semaine.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

The fruit baskets at work

I blogged before about the baskets of fruits we receive at work. I said back then that the fruit baskets were there some Tuesdays. Well, apparently it can be any day of the week: they were there Wednesday this week. The fruits go really quickly. Yesterday, I took the time to take this picture before my scavenging colleagues and myself emptied the baskets. This is actually a still life. You see bananas, satsumas (I think it's satsumas), apples and pears. The pears were green, but surprisingly they were ripe. And juicy. It was a nice contrast from last time, when the pears were kind of raw and I crunched them like an apple. I have usually a banana and a pear. I love the days of the fruit baskets, but I wish they could be delivered weekly, on a specific day.

"3 héros grecs"

Je reviens brièvement sur ce billet, parce que j'ai une anecdote concernant Dieux & Héros grecs. C'est PJ qui me l'a rappelée dans son commentaire d'alors: en déballant le bouquin, j'ai vu le "&" et au lieu de lire "et" j'ai lu "3". J'ai donc crié avec enthousiasme: "Dieux, trois héros grecs!" pensant que c'était le titre. Ma tante Lise a corrigé mon erreur. En fait, il y avait bien des héros mentionnés: Héraclès, Thésée, Jason, Ulysses, Achille, pour ne nommer que ceux-là. Mais bon, même à l'époque, je n'ai pas commis la faute impardonnable de mon cousin Sam: dire que Poséidon sur la couverture était Neptune. Parce que ça, même à l'époque, je savais que c'était profondément inexact.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Rediscovering pain

As I mentioned two days ago, I had tonight my first class of Krav Maga. And what to say? The first thing that came to my mind afterwards: the pain, the pain! Not during the exercises, but afterwards. And it is not the moves, attacks and defenses themselves that truly hurt: it's the darn pushups, situps and what have you near the end that did me in. We were two newbies, one young woman/teenager and me. The coach asked what was our favorite numbers. She said 7. I said 21. So he asked all to do 28 pushups, then situps, then other things. I didn't do as many. Next time, I will learn not to push my limits too much. And I will bring a bottle of water.

But the lesson itself was a great fun. The instructor was very welcoming and he encouraged me without being condescending or making me feel like a hopeless case. Which I might be, I don't know. I did learn a a lot of things in a first lesson. The class seems like a great bunch of people, all very friendly and warm. I also love the martial art itself, more than I ever thought I would. It is not falsely elegant, it is sober (which makes it elegant in itself) and straight to the point. And on every Wednesday, that breaks my week into two nicely. And break myself, I guess. Of course, it made me remember the famous line from Nietzsche: "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." Which is very much the case of Krav Maga. That is also what I was told by the instructor: it will make you healthy and strong. I could do with that, especially the healthy part. Until next Wednesday, I will have time to get over the pain. It is not nearly as natural to me as acting, which was my old Wednesday evening activity, but it will keep me busy and make me feel like I accomplish something.

Ai-je brûlé la photo du mois?

Je me demande si je n'ai pas fait une gaffe monumentale hier en publiant cette photo du Musée de l'histoire naturelle. Parce que la photo du mois a pour thème "le flou et la vie" et que cette image collait bien au thème: les corps sont flous et, bien que morts, embaumés par la lave du Vésuve, comme immortalisés. Donc: me suis-je fourré? J'avais comme un soupçon quand je tapais le billet, mais là je me rappelles que la date approche et j'ai vraiment pas grand-chose comme photos, rien en tout cas d'aussi bon.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Dreaming of a volcanic holiday


This picture was taken in the Natural History Museum of London. "A Londra, è vero". But it is of Italy I am thinking about. My wife and her friend (the mother of the girl who has Buffy) are planning to go on holidays and they are seriously considering Italy, maybe Naples. This is where of course Mount Vesuvius is and thus where the ruins of Pompeii are, where these remains have been taken (I think). My wife and I are planning to go on another holiday in a different place, but I have been wanting to go back to Italy in ages and I'd love to try Naples, for many reasons. Because I want to exercise my Italian and improve it, and Naples would be fitting, as I have been told at least once that I have a Neapolitan accent. But it is because of the ruins especially. Because it would be nice to go there before the Vesuvius bursts again (hey, it will happen one day). Because once in my life I want to be near a volcano. There is something beautiful about them that the aura of menace only enhances. And I think it enhances as well, or makes us more conscious of, the beauty of the place itself, of Naples and Italy itself. Even in the above picture, which my wife didn't like one bit and thought it was both scary and sad, there is something like a sinister aesthetic to it. Anyway, I'd love to spend some time near Mount Vesuvius, while it is still sleeping. So I hope they pick up another place.

Mozart raconté aux enfants

J'ai pu retrouver en ligne sur YouTube Mozart racontée aux enfants, le livre-disque du Petit Ménestrel raconté par Gérard Philippe. Enfin, pas le livre, mais la partie musique et narration de Gérard Philippe. Je ne crois pas avoir vu/entendu l'acteur dans autre chose que dans ce livre-disque. Mais pour l'avoir écouté, je l'ai écouté. Et tourné les pages, regardé les images toutes élégantes, appris à aimer Mozart alors que j'étais à l'époque vendu à Beethoven. L'histoire, grande ou petite, est placée en apparté dans la narration et c'est très souvent moralisateur et prêchiprêcha. Tout de même, je pardonne à Gérard de donner un peu trop souvent la leçon plutôt que de raconter.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Krav Maga developments

I mentioned a bit more than a month ago that I was planning to take up Krav Maga classes. It is now fairly official that I will start this week. I needed to find some gym clothes and proper sneakers (or trainers as they call it in the UK) and well, find the determination to reply to the coach "okay I'll be there next week". I am still nervous, but the reply to my email calmed a lot of my reservations: they train all sorts of people, from teenagers to 50 something men and women, and even people with disabilities. So I will not stand out too much as a beginner. We are supposed to learn at our own pace and the first lesson is free, so what do I have to lose? And I get a free t shirt with the starter pack if I sign in. So all in all, I am quite excited.

Les cornichons

Je les avais presque oubliés, mais j'y au pensé aujourd'hui: j'ai acheté au marché français des cornichons à l'aneth avec oignons dans le vinaigre. Il en restait peu, j'ai vraiment chanceux. À l'apéro accompagné de bière, c'est pas mal le paradis. J'ai pris cette photo après que j'aie fait une razia dans le contenant. Il en restera peut-être demain.

Reading through Havoc

Some of you may remember that I bought last year Creature of a Havoc, allegedly one of the most difficult Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks. Well, I haven't finished the adventure yet. In fact, after reading the long but fascinating introduction (worth the price of the book itself), I went through a few numbers, but got stuck at every turn and I stopped reading. When I got back to it, I had forgotten what had happened earlier, so I stopped for good. But now I have decided that I would give it a proper go... by sort of cheating. The same way that I did when I got stuck in a maze in another gamebook: I will find the read/walk through on the internet. Lazy and shameful, I know. But I don't have the patience anymore.

La page blanche et l'écran noir

Bob ben c'est reparti: je crois que j'ai un début de panne d'inspiration pour bloguer. Ou alors je manque d'énergie. Je ne sais pas trop pourquoi exactement, mais j'ai le syndrome de la page blanche. Ou, dans le cas de Vraie Fiction, le syndrome de l'écran noir. Est-ce que le terme, aussi appelé blocage de l'écrivain, s'applique également au blogueur? Je soupçonne le mois de mai d'y être en partie responsable. Je me sens souvent moins inspiré en mai, allez savoir pourquoi. Peut-être que c'est parce que je sors plus souvent.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

An aria for a lazy Sunday

On a lazy Sunday, I often listen to opera. I am doing this right now and I thought I would share it with my readership. This is from Handel's Giulio Cesare. A rather modern take by Danielle de Niese, who plays/sings Cleopatra. I am always a bit skeptical about Danielle de Niese's often pop star-like  mannerism when she sings. I mentioned it the very first time I blogged about her. I know she has also been very much criticized for it. On the other hand, opera will not survive if it remains stiff and formal. And I grew rather found of Danielle de Niese. She may not be the greatest soprano ever, but she has plenty of charm and confidence. And for some reason, her rather carefree attitude reminds me of a pleasant Sunday or a pleasant weekend of far niente. I know, I trivialize the great Handel. But this performance is a delight, all the same.

Le temps des olives

J'ai acheté des olives au marché français hier. Parce que pour moi, le marché français se résume beaucoup à faire des stocks d'olives que je mange en une semaine. Il y en avait une grande variété: sans piments, avec noyau, sans noyau, grecques, à la provençale, avec anchois, avec feta, etc. Je n'ai pas acheté de celles avec feta que vous voyez sur la photo de gauche, cela dit j'ai pris une grande variété. Celles avec aïl sont incontournables, j'ai aussi un faible pour celles aux anchois, j'en prends quelques grecques ainsi que des olives à la provençale, parce que c'est difficile de faire plus français que des olives aux herbes de Provence. Vous ai-je dit que j'aimais les olives? Oh et la dame vendait de la moutarde de Dijon aussi, mais j'hésite à en acheter car j'en ai déjà ici. Et c'est pas aussi spécial que les olives.