Sunday, 22 October 2017

Eerie autumn day

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

Madame La Corriveau

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

Saturday, 21 October 2017

The Howling

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

La chèvre et le petit loup


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

Friday, 20 October 2017

Pumpkin carving party on the 29?

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

Le Bonhomme Sept Heures

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

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Eerie Tales from Transylvania

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

Le poème de la citrouille

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

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

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

"Never too old for trick or treat"

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

Vous qui faites l'endormie...

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

Ghosts and green tea

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

Des oies dans la brûme


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

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Haunted portraits

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

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

Comme un air de famille...

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

Monday, 16 October 2017

The Halloween Interview

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

Pas de photo du mois...

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

Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Officious Beer of Halloween

Quick countdown to Halloween post for tonight, as I had a very busy Sunday. My apologies if it looks familiar with my long time readers and if it sounds a bit like a plus you already read recently here. But in any case, I cannot neglect mentioning my favourite ale for Halloween, my poison for the season and the officious beer of Halloween: Wychwood Brewery's Hobgoblin. Good all year round, but especially this time of year. And while you cannot judge a beer by its label, let's face it, they went out of their way to have a truly cool bottle this year and really put you in a spooky mood. If you drink one beer for Halloween, it has to be this one.

Question existentielle (314)

Une question existentielle dominicale:

-Le dimanche, vaut-il mieux sortir pour s'amuser ou rester à la maison pour faire des tâches ménagères?

Saturday, 14 October 2017

The Werewolves of Miller's Hollow

For today's countdown to Halloween post, I am plugging a game which ironically I never played. But I was always fascinated by The Werewolves of Miller's Hollow. I bought it for my brother Andrew in its original French version, then to Blonde Tickler for her birthday, even though it's a bit old for her. It's not a role-playing game per se, but it's pretty close and the perfect game for Halloween. You can play a werewolf, one of its potential victims and/or a series of stock characters (the witch, the little girl, the hunter, etc.) that would easily find their place in an old Hammer movie. If you are a werewolf, your goal is to eat all the villager and survived their wrath. If you are a villager, it is to survive yourself and kill all the werewolves (and not be mistaken as one!) It could really make for the basis of a series of scary stories.

La sauvagine en automne

On va trouver que je ne varie pas vraiment les sujets de mes billets ces temps-ci, mais je n'ai pas pu résister: voici une photo prise par ma cousine Amy l'artiste-photographe. Des bernaches en automne. En une image, vous pouvez voir pourquoi c'est ma saison préférée.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Friday the 13th, black cats and Halloween

Halloween this year falls on a Tuesday, which is not great. But we can console ourselves that it means that we have one Friday the 13th this month. Which is today. For those who like Friday the 13th anyway. But in any case, it's a good excuse as any to show pictures of black cats. There cannot be a Friday the 13th without black cats, Halloween would not be Halloween without black cats either, so I am sharing a picture of our beloved cat Odin, who sadly passed away four years ago. I shared this picture before, but I don't have so many of them.

La momie

J'ai pris cette photo à l'entrée d'un pub mal famé de la ville où je vis. Car aujourd'hui, j'aimerais parler de la momie comme personnage d'Halloween. Le cinéma lui a fait une assez belle part, mais pas autant que d'autres créatures comme les vampires ou les loups-garous. Et les zombies donc, qui ont franchement moins de personnalité. Dans la littérature, elle est plus absente. Je me souviens avoir lu à l'université Le roman de la momie de Théophile Gautier et avoir été déçu que ce ne soit pas un roman d'horreur. Comment se fait-il qu'elle ne soit pas un peu plus populaire comme monstre?

Thursday, 12 October 2017

First Pumpkin!


This is the first pumpkin I bought this year for Halloween! A bit later than I usually do, but hey. And whatever it says on the label, while it is a large pumpkin, I have seen bigger ones, so I am not sure if it deserves the title of Monster Pumpkin. Anyway, little Wolfie was very curious about it and amused. It is not his first Halloween, or his first pumpkin, but it is the first time he is conscious about it.

Un canard

Je voulais encore une fois partager une photo de canards sur ce blogue, une photo qui a été prise par ma cousine Amy la photographe. Parce que l'on n'a jamais assez de photos automnales et qu'elle sait vraiment comment faire des photos atmosphériques. Vous me direz qu'elle aurait pu être prise n'importe quand, cette photo. C'est vrai, mais 1)je sais qu'elle a été prise en automne et 2)un canard, je trouve ça automnal.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Haunted Mansion Survival Kit

Well AT LAST, David's Tea has released its Halloween collection for 2017. It was about time. You may say that it's pretty pointless of me to say at last: there is none of their shops here so I cannot buy and enjoy their products. But I will plug their products anyway, as this is part of the countdown to Halloween traditions on Vraie Fiction. Quick word: the design of the Nordic tea mug with ghosts is absolutely cool! And it glows in the dark too! I want one. And what you can see here with the mug is the Haunted Mansion Survival Kit. Excellent idea and I had it myself: it always made perfect sense to me that you needed something to drink to remain alert and focused. Not to mention warm: old mansions tend to get cold, haunted mansions even more so, as temperatures drop dramatically when ghosts appear. So have tea in your arsenal against the forces of darkness, not alcohol as you must stay sober. Preferaly in a glow in the dark mug, because it's cool.

Gâteaux aux pommes

Si j'aime les pommes et les pommes en dessert, je n'aime guère la tarte aux pommes, qui est sans doute. Cela dit, en automne, j'aime manger des desserts aux pommes, parce que la pomme c'est le fruit de l'automne et tout ça. Or, mon café local préféré fait d'excellents gâteaux peu usités, dont ce gâteau pommes et érable (et noix aussi, si je ne me trompe pas). Il est absolument délicieux et parfaitement automnal.

Et je suis encore plus chanceux: le café italien local, qui est peut-être mon second café préféré fait aussi un gâteau aux pommes. Il n'a pas de glaçage et a de la canelle, ce que j'aime moins (mon frère PJ déteste). Mais il est fort bon aussi, alors je peux aussi profiter de ça si la fringale me vient un après-midi et ça me tente de gâter la petite famille dont moi.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Maze and horror


I took this picture in Derbyshire and it illustrates tonight's countdown to Halloween post. What you see here is the middle of a maze, or rather the view from the middle of a maze. On face value, a maze is simply a large play area, where finding your way to the center and back is the game. But it has far deeper significance. The maze, any maze, is a potential place of danger. One can get lost in it, who knows what danger, human or not, lurks in it. It is also, symbolically, the human mind, where dark thoughts hide like a minotaur. Who can forget the maze in The Shining? The movie was in my mind the whole time I was walking there. Not the climax, but a scene near the beginning, when Danny and Wendy Torrance explore the maze for the first time. A brilliant piece of foreshadowing and a perfect example of (very subtle) daylight horror. I put it here for your enjoyment:

Une bière pour PJ

C'est la fête à mon frère PJ aujourd'hui et je voulais le célébrer virtuellement sur ce blogue. J'ai pensé à une image de gâteau, mais ben c'est banal et je l'ai déjà fait. Comme sa fête arrive dans le temps de l'Halloween et que donc la fête a donc hanté sa fête (ha, ha, ha!), ça tombe un peu sous le sens que je souligne avec une photo d'une bière de Wychwood Brewery aux images de l'Halloween, la Hobgoblin Gold. C'est aussi l'une des bières qu'il a essayées lors de son séjour ici, dans ce verre que vous voyez d'ailleurs. Alors voilà, bonne fête frérot et j'encourage tout le monde de boire une pinte en son honneur.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Baron Vordenburg

This is today's countdown to Halloween post and I wish to give an homage to a rather unknown character of horror fiction. I hope that some among you recognize the name in the title. Anyway, let's not forget that in scary stories, as there are Forces of Darkness, there are people to fight them. Which means, in vampire stories, there are vampire hunters. Baron Vordenburg is one of them. He appears in Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu. His role in the story is small, indeed he only shows up near the end, but essential.Not to give anyone spoilers if they have not read the novella (stop reading of you haven't), but he is the one who finds out the tomb of Countess Mircalla Karnstein, aka Millarca, aka Carmilla and kills her. He is, in effect, the grandfather of all vampire hunters. Unlike many of his spiritual children and very much in the Victorian tradition he belongs to, Baron Vordenburg is more an academic than a fighter (in fact he looks very geeky). Stoker's Van Helsing owes a lot to him. And who remembers him? Almost nobody! I only rediscovered his name reading In a Glass Darkly and thus re-reading Carmilla recently. My apologies to the baron. And let this post be an homage to him.

L'Action de Grâce...

Je n'ai pas oublié que c'est l'Action de Grâce aujourd'hui. Fête automnale, fête des récoltes, fête que j'aime bien même si je n'en fait pas grand-chose, fête qui nous donne un lundi de congé... quand on vit là où on la fête, ce qui n'est pas le cas ici. Et ça suce un peu, donc. Mais je ne crois pas qu'elle soit si tant célébrée que ça au Québec de toutes façons, outre le lundi de congé qu'elle donne. Comment la fêtez-vous?

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Jack O'.. Skeleton?

I bought this Halloween decoration a few years ago in Sainsbury's (I think). And I really love it. When it comes to Halloween decorations, what we find in big supermarkets are often tacky or simply not scary enough. You find plenty of fluffy ghosts or cheeky vampires. But this is a bona fide spooky piece of prop. Granted, Jack O'Lantern was never ever described as a skeleton, but I find it kind of fitting that this Jack has for a body only its bones. It makes him very sinister. And there is an elegance to this Jack, what with his fancy hat and the black clothes. One of the best ones I found.

Le sourire bête de la citrouille

Je bloguais récemment sur le sourire des citrouilles à l'Halloween, disant que je préfère le sourire malveillant au sourire benêt de certaines. Et en regardant parmi mes photos d'Halloween je suis tombé sur celle-ci datant de 2014. Et c'est ce que je veux dire par sourire trop gentil. Il a vraiment l'air con comme un balai, ce Jack O'Lantern. Mais alors là vraiment bête. Et pourtant, il est le fruit d'un travail minutieux. Je ne saurais creuser un visage pareil. Mais il manque l'aura maléfique. Que voulez-vous, j'aime l'Halloween quand il fait le plus peur possible.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Creepy Faceless Doll

For tonight's countdown to Halloween post, I will comment on something I saw at the Totnes Museum in Devon. Old children toys can be very scary, but this one took the cake: this is faceless doll, with ivory skin and all. And faceless. No eyes, no mouth, no features. Did I say she was faceless? I know dolls are featured in many scary stories, I have even read some of them, but I have never seen anyone as frightening as this one. And she looks alive, about to ride that toy horse, or to walk from it to go to us. It could easily give nightmares.

Les petits gâteaux de la saison

Non, non, je n'ai pas fait ces cupcakes. On n'a guère le temps d'en faire. Mais 'aurais comme envie de me relancer dans la cuisine de desserts, si on avait le temps et si ce n'était pas un si mauvais exemple pour notre petit loup. Ces gâteaux-ci, ma femme les a fait il y a de cela trois ans déjà, selon un mélange acheté à Waitrose. Dessus, on y voit les "Woodland Friends", des animaux que j'ai vus pour la première fois en chocolats de Pâques. Cela dit pour la plupart, ce sont vraiment plus des animaux emblématiques de l'automne: hiboux, chouettes, hérissons, tous sauf la grenouille. Ma femme n'est pas une aussi grande amoureuse de l'automne que moi, mais il lui arrive parfois de se laisser prendre aux charmes de la saison et ça donne des résultats comme celui-là.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Pumpking

For tonight's countdown to Halloween, a real ale suggestion. I had wanted to try it for a long time, I finally had the chance last week: I drank Pumpking from Wychwood Brewery. I cannot believe it took me that long! And a quick verdict: I loved it! It has the ideal colour, this burning amber brown, not unlike the Hobgoblin which is their flag beer. I was surprised at how dark it was, thinking it might be a blonde. But I guess they went for the colour of a lit Jack O'Lantern. Or I am reading too much into it. But try it and please feel free to give me your impressions in the comments. For once the beer has as much character as its label. So all hail to the (Pump)king!

J'ai la trouille...


En fait, non pas vraiment. Mais je cherchais sur la page Facebook de la Panthère verte, et je ne vois nulle part de photo de leur tarte à la citrouille et pacanes qu'ils ont dans le temps de l'Halloween. Pas que j'aie la chance d'en manger, dans un futur proche, mais bon. Ce serait bien de voir qu'ils sont actifs et fassent quelque chose pour souligner l'Halloween. Pas que je sois inquiet, remarquez. Ou peut-être si.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Macabre stories

Fortoday 's countdown to Halloween, some reading suggestion: the Gothic stories of Ray Russell, which I have never heard of until I found this book in the local bookshop. More "neo" Gothic than truly Gothic as they are late pastiches of the genre. If yesterday's suggestion was all about subtlety, this one is a spectacle of horror. There is blood, gore, torture, sadoeroticism and violence of all sorts, but the characters are not devoid of humanity. You will find only a hint of supernatural, but the plots are so bizarre and horrific that they remain unsettling and they are perfect for Halloween. There is also a bit of sly humour that never falls into downright parody. And there is plenty to love: a man whose face is paralyzed into a disgusting grin, the possible bastard son of Jekyll/Hyde, countess Elizabeth Bathory... And I miss some: Russell is eager to cram as many Gothic commonplaces as he can, whether historical or literary. This is your macabre read for the season.

Les canards à l'eau


Je présente aujourd'hui une ouvelle photo automnale rien que parce qu'elle est jolie. Mais c'est aussi une photo prise non pas par moi (j'utilise ma caméra de cell qui est mauvaise et en plus je suis poche comme photographe), mais par ma cousine Amy. Elle est une vraie pro. Le canard représente pour moi l'automne,allez savoir pourquoi, peut-être à cause de leur migration. Dans tous les cas, avouez que cette photo a de la gueule.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

A scary door

It has been said (by who I don't know) that there is nothing scarier than a closed door. When it comes to trick or treat, there is a challenge to this saying: the door has to be scary, whether it is shut or not... and yet inviting. Thankfully, in our quaint little English village, there are plenty of old houses and there are thus plenty of doors with characters, the scary bit is easily done, with or without decorations. I particularly liked this one which I saw two years ago: I thought it had just what it needed of sinister aspect, with the skulls, the small Jack O'Lanterns and the ghosts. Oh and the hand appearing through the lid. But it start with a good old and old looking door, which sadly our house does not have. So I will need good decorations.

Le sourire de la citrouille

Vous connaissez mon amour immodéré pour l'Halloween et tout ce qui concerne cette fête. Je suis devenu avec le temps assez bon creuseur et sculpteur de citrouilles. Et j'essaie autant que possible de donner à mon Jack un sourire inquiétant, parce que je crois que c'est un des éléments essentiels du jack: son visage doit faire peur. Il peut grimacer, ne pas sourire du tout même, ou alors avoir un sourire sinistre, méchant, sadique, voire même complètement débile, l'essentiel est qu'il provoque la frayeur. Il ne faut pas que le sourire soit trop amène ou chaleureux. Celui-ci est assez correct, grâce à ses dents acérées, sinon il serait trop large. Et je sais pas trop c'est quoi le genre de bonhomme sculpté dans la citrouille derrière. Un alien de type gris? Mais sinon le reste avec ses toiles est plutôt bien.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

The witch in a modern setting?

For tonight's countdown to Halloween post, I thought about asking my readers a question I have been asking myself recently: can you have witches in a modern setting for a horror story? I was wondering the same thing last year and the year before. Witches are a common stock character of Halloween, they are part of many Halloween displays (like the one you see at this window), yet they are confined to decorations, to the caricatures of the ugly old cackling witch or the sexy vixen (see this recent post). Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, they have all been modernized in one form or another in fiction, revamped so to speak. Witches, not so much. Maybe because the witch hunts of the past turned them into sympathetic characters. Yet I rediscovered them in fiction recently, and I think they have potential to be a true menace in a modern setting. This is what I wrote about them in 2015: "She is an poisoner, she is in league with the Devil, she shows no remorse to hurt young children and animals. If they are seen with cats, toads and other animals, let us not ignore their true nature: these are devils, familiar spirits, that have taken the shape of these beasts. The witch is the female, folkloric ancestor of the serial killer or the child abductor. Or simply the nosy, busybody neighbour, who can be quite malevolent herself." But the stories I have seen them as true evil all dated from at least a hundred years. They creep in modern fiction, but so far in my read they are generally sympathetic.

So tell me, did you read recently about evil witches in modern horror stories? What do you think of the witch as an archetype? Any idea how to use them in fiction?

Quand le soir commence à tomber...


Photo prise dans le Derbyshire car elle illustre mon propos. C'est à peu près le degré de luminosité que je retrouve ces temps-ci à cette heure-là, entre six heures et six heures et demie. Quand le soir commence à tomber et qu'on commence à peine à le percevoir. Ni trop tôt, ni trop tard. J'aime les soirs d'automne. J'aime à peu près tout de l'automne, mais ce que je veux dire c'est que les soirs d'automne, dans ce moment-ci de l'automne, ce sont mes préférés.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Pumpkin carving planning

I saw this last week at Morrisons, which cheered me up a lot: pumpkins are now available. Unfortunately this being England, the "large" pumpkins are anything but large: they are of medium size at best. It's not like where I come from, where walking home with one was a painful exercise, like carrying a bag of bowling balls. But at least the display is nice. I will need to find at least three pumpkins this year: one for this family, the other two for the Ticklers. They paid a visit to my wife last Friday and they want to do another pumpkins carving party like last year. So we should have one again. This may be the start of a new tradition.

À propos des Nuits de l'Épouvante

Vous vous rappelez que j'ai souvent blogué en 2015 et un peu en 2016 sur Les Nuits de l'Épouvante, obscure bande dessinée d'horreur que j'avais lu enfant chez les amis de mes parents (on ne m'aurait pas permis d'avoir pareille chose dans ma bibliothèque) et que mon frère PJ a retrouvée et achetée. je veux depuis longtemps la mettre sur ma liste de lecture pour l'Halloween. Ce ne sera pas pour cette année malheureusement. Je ne l'ai lue que deux fois: une fois à cette époque, puis une fois au cégep. Je commence à désespérer...

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Countdown to Halloween!


It is now officially that time of the year, the first of October, the month leading to Halloween! My favourite holiday. Vraie Fiction is now all about the spooky season. To kick start the month, here is a Jack O'Lantern, one from 2015 and I hope this is a new picture. There will plenty of them in the month, but also other scary critters and spirits. I hope to entertain you and give you a few pleasant chills, while remaining original in my posts. In the meantime, happy Halloween to come and happy countdown!

Halloween littéraire

Dans un mois et moins, ce sera l'Halloween. J'ai donc l'intention de bloguer beaucoup, beaucoup, beaucoup sur le sujet, et notamment sur les livres à lire. Commençons par ce classique incontournable. Tellement que je reviens sur le sujet à chaque fois que la Samhain se pointe (voir mon dernier billet en 2015 sur le sujet). C'est LE livre en français à lire durant les semaines menant à l'Halloween et après. Car il porte en fait sur tout le folklore terrifiant de l'humanité, pas seulement sur celui associé au 31 octobre. Malgré cela, l'Halloween est le point central de l'oeuvre. Les images sont superbes, la terreur y est esthétisée et devient une expérience des plus plaisantes. Je l'ai découvert en 1998, il y a quasiment vingt ans, c'est l'un de mes plus grands coups de coeur.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

I'm a cryptkeeper again!

Quick annoucement before tomorrow: as it is a tradition every year, I participate to the Countdown to Halloween.You know Vraie Fiction becomes spookier and spookier from mid-August (sometimes even before) onwards when I start getting in the mood for my favourite holiday, but tomorrow being the official countdown, be prepared many posts about Halloween in all its aspects. I hesitated a lot before choosing the badge for this year's countdown. Then I thought that, being a cat lover and having been the owner of a black cat in the not so distant past, having this one made perfect sense.

Un raton laveur monte-en-l'air

Aujourd'hui, nous avons visité une ferme qui est aussi une sorte de mini-zoo, car elle a des animaux sauvages et exotiques. Enfin, exotiques par rapport à l'Angleterre. Il y avait notamment un trio de ratons laveurs, dont celui-ci, qui a beaucoup impressionné petit loup. Je lui ai rappelé qu'il fait partie de la même espèce qu'Edmond l'affreux raton, le héros d'un livre qu'il aimait bien et que je devrais lui relire bientôt. Un détail comme ça: avec sa rayure qui a l'air d'un masque, le raton laveur a vraiment des airs de cambrioleur. Et, comme celui-ci aimait grimper, il était littéralement ou presque un monte-en-l'air. et si vous ne saviez pas ce que monte-en-l'air veut dire, alors vous le savez maintenant et c'est notre mot du jour.

The sticky toffee pudding obsession

I blogged two week ago about my parents' sudden interest in this British classic dessert that is the sticky toffee pudding. I mocked them a bit about it. Well, maybe I should not have. We went to Pizza Express recently and they had their own version of the dessert, called "Sticky Toffee Bundt Cake". So they imply it is a variant of two desserts, or a hybrid. But basically, as you can easily see on the picture, it is the same pudding. And yes, I felt that I had to try it. A sticky toffee pudding. In a pizzeria. For sociological purposes of course: I wanted to blog about it. And yes, my verdict is simple: it IS a toffee pudding.

And it was a good one too, albeit a tad small. I expect my puddings to be bigger and thus more filling. There is no point counting after calories when you eat that sort of dessert and you don't expect very subtle flavours: it tastes of caramel, of dates a bit (if there are any), of fatty, creamy stuff, you need to feel like you are receiving a sugar overload and utterly contented. I still think the best place to eat one is in a pub. So this is what I will do next time I eat in a pub. And I know, I have developed the same obsession as my family. Which is good, as I expect there will be some on the menu when we go home at Christmas.

Le petit singe

Photo prise à Branféré, parce qu'elle illustre mon propos. Je crois que c'est un ouistiti, un de ces singes hyper-mignons. Ils étaient très sociables. Je songe à acheter un singe en peluche à mon fils à un moment donné. Son oncle Andrew a déjà fait une imitation de singe assez réussie à la fille d'un de mes amis, qui avait à l'époque quatre ans. Ça l'avait tellement impressionnée qu'elle avait appelé mon frère son "petit singe". Enfin bref, ça m'est venu à l'esprit ce matin. J'ai comme hâte de vivre des moments comme ça avec petit loup, quand son vocabulaire sera développé.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Black Wych

Halloween is coming and that means drinking spooky stuff. More often than none, the beer lover that I am enjoy products from the Wychwood Brewery. Last weekend, I revisited for the first time in about fifteen years the Black Wych. And last time I drank it, I did not appreciate it much, because I was already seriously wasted. Now being older and (somewhat) wiser, I could truly enjoy it. I seldom drink porters, I am more into brown ales than black ones, but this one is quite good. Witches being one of the important characters of Halloween folklore, I will try to drink more of this one. One last observation: the witch on the label is not an ugly old hag but a young and sexy sorceress. This is a rare coming from Wychwood: most of their characters, like the Hobgoblin, are ugly critters. Don't know why, but I find this detail quite interesting.

Question existentielle (313)

Les Chatouilles (celles que j'appelle les Ticklers en anglais) vont maintenant à l'école secondaire, un lieu que j'ai toujours détesté. L'adolescence a pour moi été une longue pénitence jusqu'à ce que j'arrive aux belles années du cégep. En plus, je ne me rappelle pas y avoir appris grand-chose. D'où cette question existentielle:

-Y a-t-il quoi que ce soit de bon dans l'école secondaire?

Thursday, 28 September 2017

40

It was the birthday of a friend yesterday. She turned forty. Just like I turned forty this year. And then wishing her happy birthday it struck me: they all turn forty these days. All my friends from college and uni, the friends I kept in contact with, the friends I am still friend with. I am not merely stating the obvious here. I mean of course I will find more people I know and love getting older as I get older and obviously friends of my generation are about my age and thus the same big numbers show up on my Facebook feed the same year. But still I am conscious about our mutual age. It felt like an epiphany yesterday, seeing yet again that number. It was a bit of a memento mori too.

Le Salon du Live du Saguenay-Lac-saint-Jean

Je vous fais une plogue régionale parce que c'est un évènement important: le Salon du Livre du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean est ouvert à partir d'aujourd'hui jusqu'au premier octobre. Ça sera la centième fois que je le manque, ou en tout cas c'est l'impression que j'ai. Et j'ai un laisser-passer à vie pour le Salon, que j'ai gagné durant mes années de cégep (vous trouverez plus de détails sur le sujet ici). Parlant de cégep, bien de mes anciens profs y sont organisateurs. Une autre raison de regretter de ne pas y être. Mais enfin bref: allez-y. Je publie ce billet à l'heure exacte d'ouverture du Salon du Livre pour marquer son début, mais aussi et surtout afin que mes lecteurs saguenéens aillent faire un tour. Vous êtes chanceux.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

"Sean Bean can do no wrong!"

My readers know my obsession for a certain Aussie actress. But I recently discovered that anyone can worship an actor. My mother-in-law started watching Game of Thrones and when my wife asked her what she thought of it, she replied: "Sean Bean can do no wrong!" I thought that was funny, and kind of true. Even when the rest sucks, Sean Bean is great. So I decided to add it here as a new great unknown line.

Chat automnal

Je regardais hier les photos prises lors de notre dernier séjour dans le Derbyshire et j'ai remarqué celle-ci. C'est Fiero, le chat de l'amie d'enfance de ma femme. Elle en a deux en fait: un noir et blanc comme notre Domino, l'autre jaune-orange comme les couleurs des feuilles qui tombent à l'automne. Et j'ai décidé que c'était une raison comme une autre pour partager cette photo ce soir. On n'a jamais assez de félins dans nos vies et de manières de célébrer l'automne.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Familiar spirits

As I am already in a Halloween mood, I have started reading horror stories. Among my reads is In a Glass Darkly, the classic collection of short stories from Sheridan le Fanu, an author I had long wanted to revisit. One of the stories, The Familiar, I had wanted to read since my teenage, when I had borrowed a book from the library that included the story, but had to return it before I could start it. I was suspecting that the familiar from the title was a familiar spirit, the supernatural entity that helps witches do their evil deeds. It turned out that it was the ghost of the story, which at some point may or may not have taken the guise of an owl that was the pet of the fiancée of the protagonist. Maybe the owl was a familiar after all...

In any case, familiar spirits would make for great antagonists in horror stories. They have not been used much, from what I know (i.e. I have not seen them in anything I can think of, except this vague implication in Le Fanu's short story). Whether they are ghosts or demons, they represent a far more tangible menace as they have a physical form, they are not merely apparitions. There should be stories written about them, especially if they take the already ghostly and spooky form of an owl. Any ideas? You can write them in the comments below. Oh, and I took this picture in an owls sanctuary in Derbyshire. I have no idea what kinds of owls they are, but they looks very sinister and could make very convincing familiar spirits.

Quand Jean Tremblay se fait répondre

Je voulais bloguer sur le sujet, mais n'ai pas eu l'occasion jusqu'ici. enfin maintenant je prends le temps: Djemila Benhabib a répondu à Jean Tremblay au sujet de la controverse de 2012, quand il l'avait stupidement attaquée pour les positions qu'elle avait sur le crucifix à l'Assemblée nationale et la laïcité. Par stupidement, je veux dire, lâchement. J'ai écrit un mot sur Facebook à propos de la controverse et je le reproduis sur Vraie Fiction: "Jean Tremblay est et a toujours été un petit bigot catholique raciste et sans envergure, un attardé qui a l'âge mental d'un servant de messe et qui ne connaît rien d'autre que son catéchisme. Les propos qu'il a prononcés sur Djemila Benhabib étaient profondément condamnables, ils le sont encore plus maintenant qu'il persiste et signe. Quel minable petit ignare. Et tout aussi minables sont ceux qui ont refusé de le condamner avec énergie à l'époque, Jean Charest en tête. Il a été petit, petit, petit."

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Havana Cigars

No, no I don't smoke, not cigars, nothing of the sort, although I do like the smell of cigars. And my father being an amateur of cigars, although he does not smoke them much if at all anymore, I have learned a thing or two about them. I know that Cuban cigars are allegedly the best and that Cohiba is a cigar brand. So anyway, I saw this cigar case at the bar of the very fancy hotel where my parents and my brother PJ stayed the last two days of their time here. And apparently, the case is not merely for decoration: they offer an array of cigars on their menu. I wonder if my dad had some during his stay. Anyway, as I liked the old fashioned elegance of the case I took the picture and decided to share it here.