Thursday 31 October 2019

Halloween at Last!

I am typing this post in advance as I may not have time tomorrow (or today as it will be published). Now is the witching hour, now is time for Halloween. Happy Halloween everyone! I am both very excited and very sad that this will soon be over. We made four pumpkins this year: one that is not on the picture (will try to share it and these three. From left to right: one made by my wife and my son in a nearby farm. The central one, which is the "leader" of the pack as the scariest looking one (my son calls it the Daddy Pumpkin) and the other one, friendlier (my son calls it the Mummy Pumpkin). The one missing, which I carved on the 30th, is the Wolfie Pumpkin, as it is a smaller one. Tonight, they will I hope be inviting to all the kids coming for trick or treat. To you all, enjoy the holiday while it last.

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Des squelettes et des araignées

Photo prise mar ma femme, à l'endroit que j'ai mentionné dans mon billet ce matin. Pas aussi brillant et évocateur que des squelettes autour du chaudron, mais c'est quand même un spectacle amusant: des squelettes qui promènent(?) des araignées géantes. C'est un peu absurde, l'Halloween ne peut se passer d'araignées plus grandes que nature.

Origins of Halloween Traditions

For today's (first?) countdown to Halloween, a meme I found on a friend's Facebook page. I knew pretty much all of it, but thought it looked so nice and it was educational enough to share it here today. Only one day to go now. I am both excited that Halloween is at last upon us and yet sad that it will end soon.

Les squelettes et le chaudron

Ma femme a pris cette photo hier, dans une ferme qui offre des activités pour les familles. Ils ont décoré les choses pour l'Halloween. J'adore les squelettes et je crois qu'ils sont essentiels à toute décoration d'Halloween qui se respecte. Ils représentent parfaitement la part de macabre de la fête et sont plus élégants que des zombies. Je les trouve aussi plus terrifiants. Ceux-ci sont particulièrement intéressants, car ils sont assis autour d'un chaudron. Or, qui dit chaudron dit sorcières. Sont-ils des cadavres des victimes des sorcières? Sont-ils les squelettes de sorcières victimes de leurs propres maléfices? Ou encore, c'est mon hypothèse, sont-ils des squelettes réanimés par un sort de sorcière et liés par le chaudron. Dans le folklore celtique (et dans d'autres j'en suis certain), il y avait un chaudron magique qui permettait de réanimer les morts. Je me demande s'il s'agit de ça, du chaudron en question ou d'un chaudron semblable. Qu'en pensez-vous? C'est en tout cas une image saisissante.

Tuesday 29 October 2019

First Jack O'Lantern of 2019

For today's (first?) countdown to Halloween, a proud result of a family work: our first Jack O'Lantern, which we did last night. Or, as my son called it" Daddy's pumpkin" There are three pumpkins, two bigs, one small, this one is Daddy's Pumpkin, there is Mummy's Pumpkin and the smallest is of course Wolfie's Pumpkin. Bit of anecdotes concerning the Jack O'Lantern: once I took out the seed and the insides of the pumpkin and threw it in a bowl, Wolfie tried to put everything back in the pumpkin. He actually got very upset when I tried to explain to him that we had to empty it. Not sure why. Also, he kept thinking we were going to make a fondue. It was as sweet as it was messy. Anyway, one done, two to go.

Les citrouilles du jardin

J'ai été de voir chez nos amis, avant-hier, ces quatre superbes citrouilles. Étonné, parce qu'ils sont chrétiens particants et ne célèbrent pas l'Halloween. Ni de près, ni de loin. J'étais étonné, puis j'ai eu ma réponse: ils ont un jardin et ce sont donc les citrouilles qu'ils ont fait pousser. Première constatation: elles sont vraiment, mais vraiment belles. On n'en trouve pas comme ça dans les épiceries ici. Surtout pas, et c'est ma seconde constatation, avec de longues queues vertes, qui en feraient des lanternes idéales. Je les aurais adoptées, ces citrouilles. Mais je n'ai pas osé demander. Quel dommage, tout de même, qu'elles ne puissent pas se transformer en lampions.

Monday 28 October 2019

Has Wolfie seen a ghost?

For today's countdown to Halloween, an anecdote about Wolfie that happened yesterday. We were with some friends for a baby shower (uni friends of my wife) and their kids, aged two to eight and a half. They all get along very well, but Wolfie sometimes prefers to play by himself. Anyway, right after dinner, the other children went upstairs and Wolfie stayed with the adults. At some point, Wolfie came next to us and said, with his cheeky grin: "There's a ghost here, he went upstairs, I need to go and see it." I think he completely spooked the friend of my wife who is pregnant. We think Wolfie meant her son, who had put some kind of disguise and was often running around with it. I also think Wolfie has picked up on my state of mind and started enjoying the spooky season and wants to "play Halloween" so to speak. In any case, he created a bit of commotion. And I'm kind of proud about his spooky mind.

Question existentielle (352)

Une nouvelle question existentielle sur l'Halloween, que je crois (j'espère!) n'avoir jamais posée jusqu'ici:

-Quel est le meilleur, le plus typique déguisement pour l'Halloween et pourquoi?

Sunday 27 October 2019

The Room in the Tower

For tonight's countdown to Halloween post (well, for the one in English, as I already blogged in French), a simple reading suggestion. It is a horror story I reread a few weeks ago and which I wanted to share tonight, as it is a genuinely scary one as well as an old classic: The Room in the Tower by E.F. Benson. You can read it online here. I don't want to give anything away, but let's just say that this is both a ghost story and a vampire story, of a sort of vampire that is slightly different than the modern day bloodsuckers: if this one does have an appetite for blood, it is far more etheral than your usual vampire, as much as a ghost. There are also nightmares that turn (at least) partly real, a familiar and friendly environment that has a sinister secret, it's a very neat chiller that deserves to be rediscovered. Take some time to read it, then tell me what you thought of it in the comments.

Festin de l'Halloween

La semaine dernière, nous sommes allés à un "autumn fayre" qui était en fait une célébration portant surtout sur l'Halloween. On y vendait notamment des gâteaux pour des oeuvres caritatives. Des gâteaux aux couleurs de l'automne, notamment, mais aussi des gâteaux avec des images asociées à l'Halloween: en forme de citrouille, de jack o'lanterns, avec des monstres dessus, etc. J'ai bien entendu pris une photo. Je sais que je fais souvent dans la food porn ces temps-ci, mais l'Halloween s'y prête: c'est aussi une fête qui marque les récoltes d'automne et leur abondance, c'est donc une fête qui encourage une certaine indulgence et les excès de table.

Saturday 26 October 2019

The Halloween Fondue

For tonight's countdown to Halloween post, I blog again about food. But don't worry, I have more spooky stuff to blog about another time. So tonight, we had fondue for dinner, the twist is that the fondue was in a cooked pumpkin. I got the recipe from Halloween Fun and Food, one of the very few Halloween books I have which is not a book about horror stories.We made it once before and quite enjoyed it. Although it was quite long. The recipe is simple: emmenthal, gruyère (we had Jalsberg instead), cider or white wine (we had cider instead, it's more fitting), spring onions, a bit of nutmeg, a bit of salt and papper and a paprika for colouring at the end. I don't think the result was that great this time: one bit was too solid and there was too much liquid as well. I think I poured a tad too much cider in it. But my wife really enjoyed it. And if nothing else it looks good and it is a proper Halloween meal, hearty and, well, orange.

Les nouvelles citrouilles de l'Halloween?

Photo prise à Montréal par mon père. Une autre. À l'entrée une station de métro sans doute, je ne sais pas laquelle, mais il y a une chose qui me chicote dans cette photo: est-ce que c'est comme ça que sont les citrouilles au Québec ces temps-ci? Pas les classiques oranges, mais des verruqueuses, des blanches, des vertes et des pas mûres? Je ne sais trop quoi en penser.

Friday 25 October 2019

"YOU are the caretaker"

For tonight's second countdown to Halloween's post, one of my favourite scenes from one of my favourite horror movies. Again it belongs to psychological horror: there is no gore, not even a jump scene (although the film has a good deal of both). From this post's title, you will of course recognised The Shining, and more particularly that scene in the gentlemen's room, when Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) talks to a butler who turns out to be the ghost of Grady, his predecessor, who committed suicide after murdering his wife and daughters. Grady is played by Philip Stone, a great underrated British actor. He is the one who really makes the scene work I think, making Nicholson's character more and more uneasy as the scene progresses, until he looks genuinely worried and maybe a bit scared himself. And I love how gradually and so seamlessly Stone turns Grady from a helpful butler into this pure malevolent figure, fanatically devoted to the Overlook. The reveal happening, of course, with the fateful line: "I'm sorry to differ with you sir, but YOU are the caretaker, you've always been the caretaker. I should know sir: I've always been here." It gets me every time.

À propos d'une photo

Une amie (pour la petite histoire c'est la mère de mon filleul) m'a envoyé une photo de gang prise au temps de mes belles années du cégep, à l'automne 1995. il y avait moi, son chum qui est maintenant son mari et deux autres gars qui formaient le noyau masculin de notre gang. J'ai d'abord remarqué que j'avais l'air pas mal plus geeky que dans mes souvenirs. J'étais aussi plus svelte à l'époque, mais ça, je m'en rappelais. Quand j'ai montré la photo à mon fils, il n'a pas reconnu son père. Quand je l'ai montrée à ma femme, elle m'a fait remarquer que j'avais plus de cheveux à l'époque. Ouch. Quand même, ça m'a rappelé mes vieilles amitiés, que je vis maintenant à distance, des gens que je voyais tout le temps et que je ne vois plus beaucoup. Ça m'a aussi rappelé le temps qui passe.

Halloween Forest

For today's countdown to Halloween's reading suggestion, some children literature, as well as poetry. Because Amazon knows me too much, it suggested me to buy Halloween Forest, by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by John Shelley. It's a rather sweet narrative poem, the story of a dreamlike walk during or after trick or treat. It's not devoid of a few good chilly, even macabre moments, but it remains suitable for children. In the poem, fear takes forms and shapes of its own and is incarnated into a forest of bones, the Halloween Forest of the title. And in the end, the child ("you") easily overcomes his fears and enjoys trick or treat. This is, in a nutshell, what Halloween is all about. When Wolfie is old enough, I hope to read it with him when the witching season arrives.

Doigts de sorcière

Nouveau billet gastronomique, nouveau billet sur l'Halloween, nouvelle photo prise par mon père dans une pâtisserie montréalaise. J'ai appris d'un courriel de mon père qu'il s'agit de Mamie Clafoutis. Il faudra qu'on la visite lors de notre prochain séjour. Petit loup déteste les sorcières, mais il adore les sucreries, alors ce serait drôle de le voir manger de la sorcière. Enfin, les doigts de celle-ci. Faits de pâte sucrée et couverts de confiture.

Thursday 24 October 2019

It's the Great Pumpkin Train!

For today's countdown to Halloween post, a rather unique topic, which I blogged about in 2013. It brings three things together: my love of trains, my love of Halloween and my love of Peanuts comics. So I saw again on the Facebook page of LGB this car that is an homage to It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. And I want it. Badly.

Mur de feuilles

Chronique automnale, pour parler un peu d'autre chose que de l'Halloween et pour faire un peu aussi dans le chauvinisme montréalais et québécois. Mon père a pris cette photo à Montréal (je crois), donc. J'ai rien d'autre à dire. On ne trouve pas ça ici.

Wednesday 23 October 2019

The Mask of Jack O'Lantern

For today's countdown to Halloween post, I have decided to blog about a simple disguise I found yesterday in Morrisons. It's only £5.00, a cheap plastic mask with a hood to hold it on the head, yet I really loved it. Because it's a big, nasty, demonic pumpkin head, with fangs in the mouth. I mean how cooler can you get? I asked my wife if I should buy it, she said no, that it looks far too nasty. And she did not add that it would scare Wolfie, but I'm sure she thought about it. All the same, there can never be too many Jack O'Lanterns for Halloween and this one would be great.

Tartelettes choco fantômes

Photo prise par mon père dans je ne sais quelle pâtisserie à Montréal. Je lui demanderai la prochaine fois qu'on se parlera. Mais enfin bref, ils sont inspirés pour l'Halloween, dans les pâtisseries de Montréal. On ne trouve pas
ça ici. À 5.25$ plus taxes, c'est pas vraiment donné, mais j'essaierais pareil rien que parce que ça doit être bon (avec une tartelette au chocolat, on peut pas vraiment se tromper) et bien entendu à cause de mon obsession pour l'Halloween.

Tuesday 22 October 2019

50p for 42 ghost stories

For today's countdown to Halloween post, an anecdote about a new book in my spooky read collection. I was out last Saturday downtown looking for Halloween related stuff. In one of the charity shops, I saw among an Halloween display this book: Haunted: An Anthology of the Supernatural. Worth $16.99 (American dollars?), but sold £0.50 here. I kept the price tag on when I took the picture, as proof. It was a bargain, so I bought it, even though it sort of messed up the display. It was even a better bargain than I thought: on it's £220.26... At 50p, for 42 ghost stories, that's a great investment. I don't think I will have time to read it this year, but it will be definitely be on my reading list for next Halloween.

Citrouille décorative

Mon père m,a envoyé pleins de photos depuis quelques jours. Je ne sais pas s'il l'a fait pour que je les partage sur mon blogue, mais ils ont pour la plupart comme sujet l'Halloween, directement ou indirectement. Il m'a donc envoyé cette photo d'une "citrouille décorative", parce qu'apparemment impropre à la consommation. Je ne sais pas si on peut la creuser et en faire un lampion qui a de l'allure. Mais je me rappelle que ma mère en a acheté une fois pour l'appart à Montréal et que ça faisait très bien avec les autres décorations d'Halloween.

Monday 21 October 2019

Pumpkin Patch

For today's countdown to Halloween post, something simple, yet so perfectly typical of Halloween. So we went yesterday to a children's autumn fayre in the preschool of a nearby town. My wife found that one, she has an eye for local or almost local events that will keep the family, or at least her son and her husband, interested. She knows us well. It was just as much a Halloween fayr than an autumn fayre. There were lots of things to love, including this pumpkin patch. Some pumpkins had already been carved into Jack O'Lanterns, and there was even a little scarecrow guarding it (because yes, you definitely need a scarecrow in a pumpkin patch, however small the patch or the scarecrow may be). It just looked very sweet, very autumnal, and it made my day.

Montréal et l'Halloween

Premier billet sur l'Halloween aujourd'hui et je vais le faire d'un ton chauvin. Mon père a pris cette photo hier à Montréal. Je ne connais pas Les Marchés Tradition, mais il y a pas à dire, ils savent comment célébrer et l'automne et l'Halloween, avecdes images qui font allusion tant aux récoltes qu'au surnaturel, avec ses épouvantails qui pourraient bien être animés. Je dis ça comme ça, mais c'est beau Montréal dans le temps de l'Halloween.

Sunday 20 October 2019

Angelina's Halloween

For today's (first?) countdown to Halloween post, another book I suggest you to read for the season, but this time not a scary story, although it is a story that talks a bit about fear. It is Angelina's Halloween and it is a children book. I bought it the year Wolfie was born, kind of hoping we'd read it together at some point if it was any good. Apparently it is part of a series. Angelina is a little white mouse who wants to celebrate Halloween and go for trick or treat but has also to accept that her sister Polly tags along. It's a sweet little story about the Halloweens of childhood. The characters end up having one or two good frights, but only for a moment. This book can easily become a family's favourite.

Orignal bourguignon

Mon père a cuisiné récemment un boeuf bourguignon avec une petite variation: il a remplacé le boeuf par de la viande... d'orignal. Photo à l'appui pour vous faire lécher les babines et vous donner votre moment food porn de la journée. Sinon, que dire de plus? Tout est meilleur quand on remplace le boeuf par de l'orignal. C'est plus riche, plus goûteux, plus relevé, plus tout. Et le vin rouge, qui fait partie intégrante de la recette, bien il a plus de saveur aussi avec de l'orignal. Je ne me rappelle pas avoir mangé de boeuf bourguignon, mais j'espère pouvoir un jour goûter ça.

Saturday 19 October 2019

Fear of witches

For tonight's countdown to Halloween post, one little anecdotal spooky anecdote. It is accompanied by this lantern which I bought in Waitrose. So anyway, here it is: I'm afraid I have unwillingly made my son scared of witches. I was reading him one of the children books I bought for him, and there was a witch in it, drawn as a rather nasty but not overly menacing old lady. Wolfie: "daddy don't want to read it". He then asked me to put the book in a bag and bring it back to the shop. Just my luck: I got it on Amazon. He's been a bit wary of images of witches since then. It kind of runs in the family: I had a few nightmares involving witches as a child and my brother PJ was also terrified of a witch puppet thing that my parents had bought him for his birthday. Still, I feel a bit guilty about giving Wolfie his first true irrational fear.

Le chat qui a plusieurs noms

J'ai blogué ici sur cette tasse que j'ai achetée, avec en plus un petit chat noir en peluche pour l'Halloween. Or, il semblerait que, si la tasse indiffère petit loup jusqu'ici, il s'est pris d'une affection inattendue pour le chat. Je dis inattendue, car mon fils n'est pas très porté sur les peluches jusqu'ici. Il n'est pas très affectueux envers les toutous qu'il a, leur préférant ses tracteurs, voitures, trains et camions. Mais celui, pour une raison qui m'échappe encore, il l'aime beaucoup. L'ennui, c'est qu'aucun nom n'arrive jusqu'ici à lui "coller" à la peau. Mon fils l'appelle tantôt Gizmo, tantôt Dodo, à d'autres moments simplement "Cat". Il a même parfois utilisé "Dougie"(?). J'imagine qu'il est normal qu'un chat ait plusieurs noms, mais rarement du même propriétaire.

Friday 18 October 2019

Centurion's Ghost Ale

For today's countdown to Halloween post, a beer suggestion, suitable for this time of year. I took this picture and this beerat the National Railway Museum in York.I don't remember much about it to be honest, and drinking it in a plastic glass did not allow me to have a full drinking experience, but I do remember it was, as the label said, "dark and full bodied". Which makes it fitting for Halloween, even without the spooky name. I don't remember if I ever drank any other product from the York Brewery. But in any case, a centurion's ghost, in York? Maybe seen in an old train station, after a night of drinking? You have to say, it has to be a Halloween beer!

Le Rouge et le Jaune

Autre photo envoyée par mon père des automnes chicoutimiens et saguenéens. Le rouge et le jaune... En abondance.

Thursday 17 October 2019

Time for horror comics?

I will start today's countdown to Halloween post by an observation I've made browsing blogs of fellow Cryptkeepers: it seems that many of you are into horror comics. Nearly as much as horror movies. And it struck me that, while I don't watch horror movies as much as I want to, but read a lot of horror literature, old and new, I practically don't read or know horror comics. The only time when I do, in fact, is when I find a horror comics online in one of the Cryptkeepers' blog, I will need to correct this and add some horror comics to my otherwise respectable collection of spooky related books. The above anthologies have been purchased by my brother PJ for his spooky Halloween reads. Just because of the look of these front covers, shockingly gruesome and sinister, I want them. It is a bit late this year, but hopefully the next.

Quoi acheter pour l'Halloween?

C'est ce que je me demande ces temps-ci. Je parle bien entendu des friandises que je vais acheter pour donner à ceux qui vont passer l'Halloween par chez nous. Il n'y en a pas des masses, mais tout de même, j'ai déjà vu quelques groupes d'enfants, avec leurs parents. Je dis quoi acheter et j'ai déjà acheté un sac de bonbons cheap à une livre environ, juste pour être certain de ne pas être pris de court. Il n'y a rien de bien excitant: surtout des suçons et de ces pastilles de sucre poudreuses qui brisent sous la dent. J'aimais beaucoup ces dernières quand j'étais jeune. Mais je ne veux pas passer pour radin et juste donner à ceux qui sonnent à la porte des bonbons à cinq cennes. Je veux avoir quelques petites barres de chocolat, c'est toujours ce qui est plaisant à recevoir. Et vous, qu'achetez-vous à ceux qui passant l'Halloween par chez vous?

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Spooky Spiced Pumpkin

For today's countdown to Halloween post, we will talk about seasonal food. Or, to be precise, Covent Garden's soup of the month. Every month, they have a special soup made with seasonal stuff, and every October it is of course Halloween related, made with pumpkin and something else. Even the container looks really spooky, with a Jack O'Lantern on it! As you can see for yourself on this picture. Every October, I buy at least one carton of their soup of the month and I try to blog about it for the countdown. Because sometimes you eat pumpkins, when you don't carve them.

So anyway, they have a different recipe every year, which sometimes is used again. This year it is the Spooky Spiced Pumpkin. Which I think I might have eaten before, under this name or another. It has a bit of spice in it, but not too much, just enough to give it a good kick. My wife, who does not like soup or pumpkin (but sometimes enjoys Covent Garden products), actually enjoyed this one very much. She has a cold at the moment and she said it made her feel much better. Not sure if it's the spice or the pumpkin. Or the garlic bread, which we often have to go with soup. Be that as it may, if you love Halloween, I think you need to have Spooky Spiced Pumpkin soup on the menu at least once this month, if you live in an area that sells it (which is I guess the British Isles, not sure if they are anywhere else).

Feuilles d'automne

Voici une autre photo automnale envoyée par mon père. Je ne veux pas faire chauvin (bien que je le sois un peu parfois), mais les automnes ailleurs qu'au Québec (voire même ailleurs qu'au Saguenay), ça n'existe pas vraiment.

Tuesday 15 October 2019

What October Brings

For today's countdown to Halloween post, another reading suggestion, because for me Halloween is celebrated through scary literature. So I recently purchased What October Brings, subtitled: "A Lovecraftian celebration of Halloween". Which is of course a book of Halloween stories inspired directly or indirectly by the work of H.P. Lovecraft. This is the anthology book I'm reading at the moment. So far, so great. I do not find Lovecraft the perfect horror writer for Halloween, maybe because I find him a tad too modern. That said, I don't think my literary Halloween is quite conpleted without reading at least one of his stories, or one story influenced by him. So I always read something Lovecraftian around this time of year. And, on a side note, what cover it has! Maybe the best cover I have owned for a Halloween book. Just perfect.

Première citrouille...

Non, non, ce n'est pas celle-là dont je parle. Bien entendu, je n'ai pas encore commencé à creuser de citrouille. Vous voyez sur la photo une citrouille qui date de 2014. Je l'utilise ce soir pour illustrer mon propos et pour partager une photo inédite. Alors que je me désespérais il y a une semaine environ que je n'avais pas encore acheté de citrouille, c'est réglé depuis samedi: j'en aurai au moins une pour l'Halloween. En plus, elle est de bonnes dimensions, alors tout va pour le mieux. J'aurai de quoi accueillir les Halloweeneux, comme on dit de par chez nous.

Monday 14 October 2019

Dr Frank N. Stein?

I took this picture in Totnes in Devon, during the procession of their carnival, a few years ago. I had wanted to share it one day and I thought that it would fit perfectly for today's countdown to Halloween post. I may be one of the few people who experienced Frankenstein first and foremost in the original work of Mary Shelley. Of course, I knew of the images that have been famous by the old Universal movies, but I discovered them years later. This allegorical car is of course heavily influenced by The Bride of Frankenstein, which is an amazing film in its own right. Just because it is a horror related allegorical car, and classic horror at that, because it looks nicely vintage in so many ways, because it also displays a bit of affectionate humour, I wanted to share the photo today.

Rendons grâce à...?

Joyeuse Action de grâce à tous ceux qui la fêtent aujourd'hui. Ce qui n'est pas mon cas, on n'a pas de congé ici. Afin de souligner la fête des récoltes et de l'automne, celle qui est quand même moins importante dans ma psychée et celle de bien des Québécois que l'autre, je partage ici une photo de mon frère PJ. On y voit des raisins de Californie qui seront utilisés pour faire du vin. Pas parfaite comme représentation, celle de l'année dernière était meilleure, parce que plus automnale, mais bon. Je pensais surtout à cet autre billet en regardant cette photo. C'est que l'Action de grâce est une célébration assez mineurede par chez nous, c'est littéralement vu comme un congé férié et c'est tout. J'en ferai une question existentielle sans doute, mais on rend grâce à qui et à quoi, dans le fond, de nos jours?

Sunday 13 October 2019

Witches Brew (and a cat)

For tonight's countdown to Halloween post, I present you my new favourite mug. Sometimes, I am a sucker for silly things. Anyway, we went to Tesco yesterday for food shopping and we spent a good deal of time in the Halloween section, where Wolfie and I had a ball. They were selling lots of things, including this Halloween mug, with this cute little plush black cat. The mug is nothing original, the image on it shows a graveyard with jack o'lanterns and it's written Witches Brew on it, as you can see. Wolfie wanted it for the cat (although he is not that much into soft toys) and I wanted it for the mug. So we got it. Now I drink every non alcoholic drink I can in this and Wolfie has a new cuddling toy. We need to give a name to this cat, by the way. Any suggestions, please put them in the comments.

Calembours atroces et vinicoles

Mon frère PJ, qui vit en Californie (Califournie?), là où on produit bien des vins, a commis une série de calembours atroces sur le sujet récemment, sur Facebook: "Pas besoin d'être devin pour savoir qu'un jour on dira "de vingt de ces grappes, le fruit devint partie du contenu de vingt bouteilles de vin". Par contre, sera-t-il du vin divin?" Je sais, je sais, vos yeux saignent maintenant. Et un ami a cru bon de rajouter cette énormité ahurissante d'imbécilité: "Tant que tu n'es pas vindicatif". Une vraie torture, n'est-ce pas?

Saturday 12 October 2019

Danse Macabre (with visual listening guide)

As is a tradition every year for my countdown to Halloween, I share on this blog a version of  the Danse macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns. I try to give a different one every year, this time I came up with one with a visual guide, explaining as you will see what every bit of music represents. I knew it as a child and remembered the details fairly well, but it is quite nice to watch and very instructive anyway. As you can't have an Halloween season without a Danse Macabre, here it is for you to enjoy for Halloween 2019.

L'automne en jaune

Je partage encore une fois une photo prise par mon père récemment à Chicoutimi, la seconde en deux jours. Rien que parce que c'est joli l'automne au Saguenay. Cette photo est moins impressionnante que la première je crois, le jaune est moins éclatant que l'orange. Ici, c'est le jaune qui est plus fréquent.

Ghosts (True Stories?)

This today's first countdown to Halloween and another reading suggestion. This one I am of two minds about it. It is from Usborne Young Reading Series and is simply titled Ghosts. Or GHOSTS. Or, as their website titles it: True stories of Ghosts. And this is why I am of two mind about it: these are dramatised stories of real alleged hauntings. I knew a few of them when I read it. And I wonder if this is not basically encouraging young readers to be gullible and superstitious, as this work does not exactly advocates critical thinking. I  bought it in an stand at a local festival a few weeks ago, because... Well, because of the superb cover. I just love this cover. And I must confess, I quite enjoyed reading the stories, even though I am skeptical to say the least about the claims of supernatural activities. It is aimed at children, so nothing is too gory or violent, but it nevertheless can give a few chills. I was thinking about lending it to Blonde Tickler. For children or young teens who are not much into reading, this might actually be the book of the season.

La fin de semaine de l'Action de Grâce

Nous sommesla fin de semaine de l'Action de Grâce (enfin, la canadienne). Pour célébrer les récoltes, célébrer l'automne à son plus beau et ultimement donner une fin de semaine de trois jours, que nous n'aurons pas ici. Pour moi, ça a toujours été la fin de semaine de préparation pour l'Halloween. Ce que je ferai sans doute aujourd'hui et demain. Et vous, fêtez-vous l'Action de Grâce? Qu'est-ce qu'elle représente pour vous?

Friday 11 October 2019

Those years without Halloween

For today's (first?) Countdown to Halloween post, I thought I would give you a bunch of somewhat sad memories, those few years (thankfully they were not many) when I could not truly celebrate Halloween, or barely. I can even remember the specific years. 1994, when Halloween was on a Monday and I had a nine hours day in college. I got home very late and trick or treat was over. I did my homeworks, went to bed and that was it. Thankfully, I had a class on the supernatural in literature, so had read a few spooky tales in the previous weeks. Then there was also Halloween 1999, my first year in the UK. I carved no pumpkin, read no horror stories, on Halloween I watched The Exorcist in a fully crammed common room, which kind of spoiled my enjoyment of the film. People were laughing like it was a slapstick comedy. 2000 was not that great either: I spent the weeks before reading about it on the internet and trying to find horror stories to enjoy, then on the night I cannot remember what I did. But moving from childhood to teenage was probably the worst, when I stopped going for trick or treat and had not yet develop my reading program of horror stories (partially because I had little access to them at the time). Now in my forties, I think I enjoy Halloween the best I can. Not nearly as much as I'd want to, but as much as I can.

Les feux de l'automne

Après la food porn, voici un billet de scenery porn, ou de season porn. Enfin bef, photo envoyée par mon père hier, prise quelque part à Chicoutimi. L'automne au Québec en général et au Saguenay en particulier, il n'y a pas plus automnal.

Thursday 10 October 2019


For today's countdown to Halloween post, a quick anecdote about vocabulary and diction. So I was spending some time recently with my boy Wolfie, who is three, tryying to get him interested about Halloween. My son is not yet the biggest Halloween fan, but he does get very curious about it. He really enjoyed putting the decorations up last weekend. He also developed a fascination for pumpkins. So when he was pointing to the many Jack O'Lanterns on display, he was saying "pumpkins, pumpkins" and I tried to make him distinguish between the pumpkins and the carved lantern, so I pointed to one repeating "Jack O'Lantern". He said, very thoughtful: "PumpkinO'Lantern". Kind of merging the two words together without a break. I thought it was very cute.

Une bière (et une réflexion) pour la fête de PJ

C'est aujourd'hui la fête de mon frère PJ et comme à chaque année je le souligne ici (du moins j'essaie). Comme je ne peux pas fêter avec lui, je vais le faire virtuellement en partageant une photo d'une bière qu'il a déjà essayée, la Hobgoblin Gold de  Wychwood Brewery. (Rien de bien nouveau ici: je l'ai fait en 2017 et 2018). Étiquetée aux images de l'Halloween, ce qui est encore plus approprié, sa fête étant en octobre. Je l'ai d'ailleurs toujours un peu envié pour cela. L'un de nos amis d'enfance est aussi né en octobre et je me rappelle qu'il s'en plaignait, parce qu'il était une année après nous à l'école. Je me rappelle même qu'il avait dit une fois, exaspéré: "Octobre, octobre, j'aimerais juste que le mois n'existe pas!" Il faut dire qu'il n'était guère porté sur l'Halloween. Il y en a qui ne connaissent pas leur chance.

Wednesday 9 October 2019

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

For tonight's countdown to Halloween's reading suggestion: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, by Alvin Schwartz, illustrations by Stephen Gammell. I know it's a trilogy, but I only read so far the first book. It's a short and easy read, of horror stories for children (older children), based on folk tales, urban legends and the like. Some I knew already, some I didn't. I have yet to tell any of them in the dark (due to a lack of a willing audience in this household). The stories themselves were good enough, but I have a confession to make: I bought the book for the images and I think they are in themselves worth the purchase. Eerie, elegant, beautiful, deliciously macabre. Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover, because the cover is what makes the book. Apparently, it has been turned into a film. I don't care about watching it. I think I would be disappointed.

"Pas de photos SVP (merci)"

Il y a des moments comme ça... Mon père a pris en photo ces paniers de fruits au marché Jean-Talon. Photo parfaite des récoltes d'automnes (ou de toute fin d'été) avec framboises, mûres bleuets, j'en passe. Mais il n'a pas vu la notice plus bas: "Pas de photos SVP, merci" (ou "Pas de photos merci SVP"?) Je ne sais pas pourquoi les photos étaient frappées d'interdit. Dans tous les cas: ayoye! J'espère que je ne le mettrai pas dans le trouble en la publiant ici. C'est quand même un assez bel arrangement.

Tuesday 8 October 2019

Besom brooms

So this is tonight's countdown to Halloween post. This weekend, we went to a tractor show (because Wolfie loves tractors). There were a few stands, selling various things (such as food) but also... good old-fashioned besom brooms. The advertising signpost was saying: "BESOM BROOMS: ideal gifts for tidy gardener, witches & mothers-in-law." I thought this was hilarious and it deserves to be mentioned here as a new great unknown line. I was tempted to buy one, however, I am not by any stretch of the imagination a tidy gardener and I don't know a witch, especially not my mother-in-law, who is a charming English lady who loves children. So she can't be a witch, beside she is too rational. That said, I was on the lookout for witches, who might be interested about a good deal. Can't see I found one.

Crâne à sonnette

J'ai pris cette photo l'année dernière, quand je cherchais à Morrison's des décoration pour l'Halloween. C'est un crâne qui est en même temps une sonnette de porte qui dit des choses bien sinistres quand on appuie sur le bouton rouge en dessous. J'ai finalement opté pour une autre sonnette, qui avait l'apparence d'une citrouille. Je ne le regrette pas trop, mais le crâne aurait pu apporter de la diversité. Ce que j'aime dans les crânes et les squelettes à l'Halloween, c'est qu'ils apportent une touche de macabre sans pour autant sombrer dans le gore et le dégueulasse. Ils sont sobres et élégants, tout en étant terrifiants. Qu'en pensez-vous?

Monday 7 October 2019

A salmon pie for Halloween (!)

This is my second countdown to Halloween post of the day, but I could not wait until tomorrow: I had a salmon pie from Brockleby's tonight as dinner. It was hearty and delicious, as a good salmon pie should be, with just enough dill sauce for taste. But that is not the point. Look at the picture. It is named Summer Isles Salmon Pie. The horror films aficionados among you must have recognised it already: it is named in the honour of The Wicker Man. Which, I must confess, I have not seen yet (but it is on my watch list). And because of the name and the cult horror classic it pays homage to, eating a salmon pie from Brockleby's might become my new Halloween tradition.

Toujours pas de citrouille

Photo prise il y a quelques années, je ne sais pas si je l'ai déjà mise sur le blogue, mais je la partage ici car elle sert mon propos. Donc, je n'ai toujours pas acheté de citrouille jusqu'ici. Selon mes photos Facebook, je le faisais d'habitude aux alentours de la première semaine d'octobre. Il va me falloir me dépêcher, pour être certain d'en avoir au moins une pour accueillir les Halloweeneux.

David's Tea's Halloween collection

For today's countdown to Halloween, I have decided to blog about teas. I was getting a bit desperate these last few weeks: David's Tea had not showed up any new collection for my favourite holiday. And then on the 30th of September, they announced on their Facebook page (and I guess other social media) that they had finally released their Halloween collection. This year's theme is allabout  sorcery, divination, supernatural and well, witchcraf. From the look I had at their accessories, it was a good call, far more inspired than last year. It looks much better in any case, and suitably eerie. Sadly, I am not in a country where their products are sold, but hey, at least it's a good Halloween collection this year.

Octobre selon Bach Illustrations

J'ai trouvé cette image surla page Facebook de Bach. L'artiste a fait plusieurs dessins avec le hashtag #Chilltober. Ils sont tous très mignons, mais celui-ci, le cinquième, est jusqu'ici mon préféré. C'est vraiment octobre en un dessin: l'automne, l'Halloween et un minou pour faire bonne mesure. Il ne manquerait vraiment qu'une citrouille en ack O'Lantern, mais j'imagine que, le chat sortant d'une citrouille ouverte, celle-ci doit être sur le point d'être transformée en lampion. Octobre est en théorie un mois de repos, mais pas pour moi, sauf les soirs et les fins de semaine. Mais bon, ce dessin représente un idéal auquel j'aspire chaque mois d'octobre.

Sunday 6 October 2019

The Haunting of Hill House

For today's countdown to Halloween post, another book suggestion. You will have a good many like these from me, as Halloween is for me and since I am an adult mainly a literary experience. I guess it is the same for many people. So I suggest today that you add The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson on your spooky reading list. I briefly blogged about it in 2017. A classic, maybe the classic of psychological horror. It made me discover Jackson's writing. Like I said in my post on the topic then, the ghosts of the story, if there are any, are barely perceptible presence. What the characters are facing might only be their own demons and Hill House might be feeding on the fears and anxieties of the living. It has been adapted in movies (the first one was allegedly great, the second one rubbish) and I know it is now a TV series, but I'd recommend that you read the novel first.