Saturday, 20 September 2014

The evening with Don Giovanni

I found this image on Facebook recently, ironically enough a few days before I went to see Don Giovanni. I blogged about it before, I promised to give more details about the evening, so as promised, here is the post giving you the account of my experience (and it was an experience). And I thought this image would be very fitting, even though I already uploaded the overture on a different post. It took Mozart one night to compose its overture, and what an overture it was. But I digress...

I think it would be pointless to write this post as a review. I don't do reviews very well. Don Giovanni is the greatest opera that ever was, in my opinion, however limited the means, however poor the production may be, the music and the story can lift them and turn it into not only an enjoyable night, but an experience. It was a production of limited means: no chorus, only the characters. No orchestra, only a piano. A small stage, minimalist decor, the theater an old barn. Some scenes were cut, even. But nevertheless, it was my first live experience of the classic. I love Don Giovanni for many reasons, maybe the main one is that it is because it is not merely edgy, it is the most revolutionary, iconoclast, anti-establishment piece of lyrical fiction there is. The main character and antihero is a blasphemer, an agent of chaos, a philanderer who does not shy away from rape and murder to satisfy his lust, who openly mocks both the law of men and God, and threatened by eternal damnation accepts his fate rather than repenting, out of fear or remorse. So however humble the setting, the core of the opera was channeled properly.

The intermission was longer, as there was a picnic/supper. We shared our table with a mother and her daughter. The mother was American, her daughter half British from her father, she was 20 and they had settled back to England after a few years in Italy. Very friendly people: they offered us a few glasses of their rosé, they chatted with us and we had a lovely conversation among connoisseurs. I had met two people who shared my love of Italy, my love of opera and my love for Don Giovanni. In fact, the daughter told us that it was the first opera she ever saw. A revelation to her: she knew she wanted to become an opera singer at that moment. I told my wife later that I was so happy about it, thata girl her age and her generation had decided to live her dreams and become an opera singer. It meant that there was hope for the form of art, that it could still touch and marvel new people. And it was very reassuring: we were with them among the youngest people there. Most of the people around us were elderly, "white heads" as my father would say. And I am not that young to begin with!

So that was my evening. I would not end a post about Mozart without his music. So I decided to upload here the ball scene, near the end of the first act of Don Giovanni. With Samuel Ramey in the title role. It has Viva la Liberta in it, that is the main reason I chose this bit. When I say the opera is revolutionary, that is what I mean.

Le catalogue Kanuk

Petite nouvelle bête afin de ploguer une gamme de produits québécois. De vêtements de plein-air pour être plus précis: le catalogue 2014-2015 de Kanuk est sorti. Ca veut dire pleins de beaux manteaux avec le hibou Kanuk dessus. Je sais que ça fait peut-être tendance et Plateau Mont-Royal et un peu trop Montréal pour certains, mais moi j'aime leurs produits pareil. Parce qu'ils sont élégants sans l'être et que ce sont des produits de qualité. Alors allez acheter des Kanuks. Voilà.

Spider repellent

As an answer to the recent home invasion of arachnids, which I have blogged about here, I went to the nearest park this afternoon to get conkers. It has, among other virtues, the capacity to repel spiders. I was skeptical about it at first, but when I went a while ago to the DIY shop to buy spider repellent, I discovered that it was made of, and smelled of, conkers. So I thought this year, I'd go for the natural thing. It is cheaper, it does not smell nearly as strong and it is a good excuse as any to have a walk in a park on a day when it is finally starting to look and feel like autumn. There was a father and his daughter doing the same thing as me. I am not sure it was for the same reason, but anyway. There was this huge chestnut tree in the park and plenty of conkers to share. So I took a pocket full of them. Now I will have to scatter them around the flat.

Le temps des betteraves

La semaine dernière, j'ai mangé des chips (crisps comme on les appelle ici) de betteraves (donc où la betterave remplaçait les patates) achetées à Marks & Spencer. C'était bon, paraît même que ça donnait une portion de fruits et légumes si on mangeait le contenu du sac de chips/crisps au complet, mais ce n'était pas aussi bon que des vraies bettes (comme on dit au Québec). Et ça m'a fait penser que c'est le temps de les récolter et de les mettre en conserve, en ce moment. Enfin, peut-être qu'on les récolte avant: je me rappelle qu'on allait chercher les betteraves dans le jardin de mon oncle avant la rentrée des classes. Mais c'est quand même un légume automnal, à mon sens, en tout cas qui commence à se consommer en conserves à l'automne.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Another sign of Halloween

I took this picture in a local pub, in June. A beer mat of the Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery, with a pint of Hobgoblin on it (mine). You see the hobgoblin holding two jack o'lanterns and of course you can read their claim/motto, the it is "The Unofficial Beer of Halloween". Whenever I see this beer mat, it makes me think that Halloween is coming, whatever the time of year, but more so when autumn starts.

Premier rhume de la saison

Ca m'agace ça n'a pas de sens: je suis enrhumé solide pour la première fous depuis des mois. La dernière fois, c'était en janvier je crois. Là, j'ai une gorge qui est constamment traversée d'éclats de verre. On le dirait en tout cas. En septembre, alors qu'il y a un été indien dehors et des chaleurs estivales qui me mettent en rogne. J'aime les automnes frais, voyez-vous. Et j'exècre être malade en automne, encore plus qu'à d'autres moments.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Scottish Hour

I could not avoid blogging about it, however controversial it is. Not where I live, not now. Because it is the only thing people talk about here in the UK. Tonight's the night. History might be made. Until tomorrow, this household is divided, as I said on Facebook. I am talking of course of the referendum on Scotland's independence. And guess where I stand? I may be the only one around here. At work, people are full on hostile to it. I was asked why I was on the side of those who wanted to break up a country. I replied the same thing: Scotland is already a country, just not an independent one. Even the Life in the UK test says it is a country, I know, I have passed it. What would break tonight is a kingdom, and even then not so much, as the Scots would keep the British monarchy. So it is a De-united Kingdom we may have tomorrow.

So why am I for it? Because Scotland is a country and country should have all powers to decide for themselves what is good for them. And I find ironic that so many people here in England are against Scotland's separation, but want to separate from the EU, too much of a federation for their taste. And I have sympathy for the underdog, for a project that goes against the British establishment, from the right to the left. But then again, if I am being honest, I don't think it will happen. And if I am more honest, I admit that I would be far more enthusiastic if there was a referendum for the abolition of the monarchy. My one gripe against Scottish nationalism is that it is not a republican one.


C'est le prix que m'a coûté ce hamburger. C'était dans un restaurant parisien, enfin un café, en mai, lors de la conférence où je suis allé dans le cadre de mon travail. Mon premier repas parisien en six ans. Quand j'ai montré la facture à mon manager, il n'en revenait pas à quel point j'avais mangé pour pas cher. Pourtant, ce n'était pas un souper frugal: pleins de frites et de salade, sans compter le burger. Mais c'était assez médiocre côté saveurs. Ca goûtait ce que ça valait, et vice versa. Et je regarde cette et je me dis que je n'ai pas particulièrement hâte d'y retourner.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The fear of arachnids

That was the big conversation today at work: this Daily Mail articles about spiders getting bigger. I recently blogged (in French) about some eight legged intruders that were indeed huge and decided to squat in the flat. Well, I started talking about it and others brought their own anecdotes and spiders invasion was on everybody's lips. One of my colleagues mentioned a huge spiders that crawled on her while she was showering and she said the strangest thing, so matter of factly that it was quite spooky: "Their body is mostly brains. They are thinker, and when they look at you, they are saying they know they will get you." I don't like spiders much, but not to this level of contempt. But I find arachnophobia fascinating. And this particular display of it, so developed, was even more so. Anyway, I think her vision of spider's anatomy psychology may have been all wrong, nevertheless it deserves to be a new great unknown line.

Bruno Blanchet et la graisse de baleine

On est mercredi, le mercredi c'est plate, alors j'essaie d'égayer votre soirée avec l'humour absurde de Bruno Blanchet, lors de l'époque bénie de La fin du monde est à 7 heures, ou LFDMEA7H. Ou La fin du monde est à n'importe quelle bordel de h, comme le disait Marc Labrèche parfois. De l'absurde à son meilleur.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Autumnal pub

I took this picture a few weeks ago, when I was walking back from the train station. I blogged about this pub before, it is the pub by the train station, an old building that used to be the station hotel. On my first day in this town, when I came for a job interview, it is where I stopped. It is for me the welcoming spot of this town. I also think it might be the setting of one of the ghost stories of E. Nesbit. I have no way to be certain, but I will investigate it. It is a warm and very atmospheric pub, especially in autumn, I always thought that it could be the setting of a Halloween story, even before I read the ghost story of Nesbit. The walls are covered with leaves which get fiery colours. When I find the weather too warm, like these days, the leaves on the pub remind me that autumn is truly here, at least in colours.

Concert nocturne d'hélicoptères

Après le concert de motos dimanche dernier, nous avons eu droit hier soir, après minuit, à un concert d'hélicoptères. Il passe souvent des avions par ici car nous sommes  relativement près d'Heathrow. Il passe aussi des hélicoptères, d'habitude de jour. Parfois de soir aussi. Mais au beau milieu de la nuit, c'est aussi rare qu'incongru. Outre que ça a gâché un sommeil aussi fragile que léger (je suis insomniaque). J'ai donc apprécié encore moins que les motos. Et je me demande bien ce que les hélicoptères faisaient la nuit dernière.

Monday, 15 September 2014

About wallpapers, the Bayeux Tapestry and Iran (among other things)

A Facebook friend (I will not mention who, not unless she allows it, she is a celebrity) invited her Facebook friends today to come and tear down the wallpapers of her home. She lives in London, so the invitations was for Londoners or people living nearby, who could go to her place on a Monday. I could not show up of course, but I answered this:

"Sadly I do not live in London and I work on Monday. I hate wallpapers (they haven't made decent ones since the Bayeux Tapestry), stripping them down too, but it is a necessary evil, and I'd do this for tea and cakes. And since you have Iranian blood, you must know how to serve tea properly."

In three sentences, I mention London, wallpapers, I make one terrible, awful, trivial comparison with the Bayeux Tapestry, to the Iranian origins of my FB friend, their tea drinking tradition and I think because of this amount of topics, it deserves to be a great unknown line.

To be or not to be (la photo du mois)

Le thème ce mois-ci a été très inspirant pour moi, d'une désarmante inspiration en fait. C'était To be or not to be, choisi par Lavandine. Avec le 450e anniversaire de la naissance de Shakespeare en plus, et le fait qu'Hamlet a été la première pièce que j'ai lue de lui et a longtemps été ma préférée... J,ai déjà vu plus difficile sujet. Il fallait trouver la bonne photo cependant. Alors voilà ce que j'ai trouvé dans les archives, une photo prise au Parc Lafontaine du Théâtre de Guignol. Il colle au thème pour une série de raisons: 1)c'est un théâtre, donc un endroit où l'on joue des pièces. 2)c'est un théâtre de marionnettes, donc des personnages qui existent sans exister, qui sont et ne sont pas des humains, qui les représentent sans être, tout en étant un peu, en existant comme personnages. 3)c'est un théâtre qui n'est pas actif, parce que fermé, du moins lorsque la photo a été prise. 4)cela dit, c'est malgré tout un théâtre qui est, car il existe. 5)il est peut-être aussi parce qu'il est peut-être ouvert des fois et donc des pièces y sont peut-être produites. Donc, est-il ou n'est-il pas?

Allez voir ce que les autres ont répondu à cette question, ou comment ils l'ont posée:

A chaque jour sa photo, A'icha, Agathe, Agnès, Agrippine, Akaieric, Alban, Alexinparis, Alice Wonderland, Ann, Anne, Arwen, Aude, Autour de Cia, Ava, Bestofava, BiGBuGS, Blogoth67, Blue Edel, Brindille, Cara, Cécile - Une quadra, Cécile Atch'oum, Céline in Paris, CetO, Champagne, Chat bleu, Christophe, Claire's Blog, Crearine, Cricriyom from Paris, Dame Skarlette, DelphineF, E, El Padawan, Elsa, Eva INside-EXpat, Fanfan Raccoon, François le Niçois, Frédéric, Galinette, Gilsoub, Giselle 43, Gizeh, Guillaume, hibiscus, Homeos-tasie, Isa de fromSide2Side, Isa ToutSimplement, Isaquarel, Josiane, Julia, KK-huète En Bretannie, Krn, La Berlinoise, La Dum, La Fille de l'Air, La Nantaise à Paris, Lau* des montagnes, Laulinea, Laurent Nicolas, Laurie, Lavandine, Lavandine83, Les bonheurs d'Anne & Alex, Les Filles du Web, Louisianne, Lucile et Rod, Lyonelk, magda627, Mahlyn, Mamysoren, Maria Graphia, Marie, Marmotte, MauriceMonAmour, Milla la galerie, Mimireliton, MissCarole, Morgane Byloos Photography, Nanouk, Nicky, Nie, Philae, Photo Tuto, Pilisi, Pixeline, princesse Emalia, Renepaulhenry, Rythme Indigo, Salon de Thé, Sandrine, Sephiraph, Sylvie, Tataflo, Testinaute, Thalie, Tuxana, Vanilla, Xoliv', Yvette la Chouette, Zaza

Sunday, 14 September 2014

The dress code for the evening

I mentioned recently on this blog that I am going to see Don Giovanni on the stage. It is tonight. I am looking forward to it, except one small detail: the dress code. Because there is a dress code. I love to wear whatever I want to wear for the weekend, or indeed any day. And for men, it is written that they ask for jackets and ties, stressing "please no jeans!" I could understand the no jeans, even though I already paid good money to see the performance, but jacket and tie? I wear them at weddings, funerals and job interviews. For Mozart, I thought the music would be elegant enough. I guess I am not used to posh evenings, but for me opera is not about the dress code, it is about the story and the music. And that kind of irks me a bit.

Concert de motos

Je viens d'être témoin d'un phénomène qui affecte surtout durant le dimanche tranquille (veuillez noter l'ironie et le sarcasme ici): une longue file de motards en Harley Davidson qui sont passés sur la rue adjacente à la mienne. Pleins de motos, bien entendu bruyantes, qui passaient par là à un de ces rendez-vous dominicaux pour adeptes de shows de boucane. Ce n'est pas la première fois, mais heureusement c'est rare. Sauf que dimanche, je trouve que c'est trop souvent ça: pas un jour tranquille, mais celui de la circulation qui n'arrête pas même dans les petites villes, celui des réunions de motards et des shows de boucane. Peut-être que je me fais vieux, peut-être que j'associe trop la mote à la guerre des motards.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Dragon Slayers

In the end, other things happened so I did not go to the autumnal walk. Not in the woods anyway, just in town. But I thought I would download an autumnal picture to put some colours on this blog. And it also struck me that I had not bothered... I mean told my readership about Dungeons & Dragons in a while. So I decided to do like last year and download an autumnal image from artist Larry Elmore which I associate with D&Dr. This one is called Dragon Slayers and Proud of It. Maybe one of my favourite of all his work. It has the forest in autumn in the background. But more interestingly, it is a hunting picture, with the green dragon instead of the deer and the bows, arrows and swords instead of guns. The two men by the dragon even look like modern hunters! You have here a classical D&Dr party: the fighters, the spellcaster and the priest (the one holding the warhammer, it is a dead giveaway he is a priest). Oh and you even have the treasure of the creature, a small amount of golden jewelry.

Like I mentioned last year, our first quest as a party (which was very different than this one, both in number and in character classes) was mainly set in a forest, in autumn. I think my brother PJ, who was the Dungeon Master, must have been influenced by this image: we had to fight at the very end of the adventure a dragon (although a black one) and he had plenty of gold and jewellery in treasure chests scattered around the room where he was dwelling. It was the first dragon we killed, becoming thus dragon slayers. Every time I look at this picture, I think about it.

La migration des araignées

Il y a un autre signe qui me rappelle que nous sommes bien en automne, malgré le temps doux: les araignées qui envahissent la maison. Celle-ci n'était que la seconde en liste, sur trois, depuis le début septembre. Trois araignées aussi grosses et vilaines que celle-là, en tout et par tout, que j'ai dû chasser. Enfin, foutre à la porte.Par là, je veux dire jeter à la fenêtre, parce que ma femme ne me permet pas de les tuer, même si elle est dégoûtée par celles-ci. Surtout grosses et laides comme cette arachnide. Mais enfin bref, les araignées migrent de l'extérieur vers les chaumières quand elles sentent l'automne arriver. Et moi, je n'aime pas les squatteuses, bon.

An autumnal walk in the woods?

This is what I will probably do today: take a good walk in the woods. It will be my first autumnal walk. I know the equinox has not happened yet, but I consider the beginning of September as the starting point of autumn. I say this and autumn is not in full bloom yet. It is still far too warm for the season and the leaves have barely started changing colours. It might be different in the woods though. But I don't think it will be as idyllic as in this painting. I took it more than a year ago, in May or July I think, hoping to use it for a post. This is how I see an autumn walk: fiery colours, cool temperatures and a bed of leaves on the path. I wish I could have bought it, but I cannot hang it on the walls here, since I don't own this place.

Pas de commentaires?

Moment d'angoisse ici: je n'ai pas eu de commentaire en français sur Vraie Fiction depuis dimanche dernier. Ca arrive parfois, surtout dans mes billets en français et quand ça arrive ça m'angoisse toujours. Est-ce dû au faible lectorat francophone, puisque j'écris de l'Angleterre? Dans tous les cas, il me faudra trouver un moyen de redresser la situation.