Saturday, 31 January 2009

De la neige demain?

Ma femme m'a dit qu'il se peut qu'on ait de la neige demain. Il en tomberait de cinq à dix centimètres. Je trouve ces prévisions optimistes, mais sait-on jamais. Ce serait quand même bien d'en avoir un peu...

Friday, 30 January 2009

Writer's block?

I thought about putting some music, but I have done that very often these days and this is not a music blog, after all. And I did not want it to be an excuse to pass time when I am in the middle of a writer's block. It happens from time to time: when I was writing my thesis (solution: read a book, repeat if necessary), when I was that creative writing course ten years ago (already), and so on. That said, I usually had a deadline to overcome this (it is always the best repellent). That was the case when I was doing creative writing, and I ended up producing a pretty good short story, set in a fancy restaurant, which I blogged about before. I got to find it again, it is somewhere on a floppy disk and in writing. I got a high mark on it and used to come back to it from time to time. It wasn't easy to please academics, let alone impress them, but I managed to impress my professor, so I was really proud. I have to find it again, if only to remind me that even young and naïve, I had writing skills which I probably still have.

How did I get over writer's block then, apart from the fact that there was a deadline? I remember working on it until very late at night, even though there were classes tomorrow. I think part of the way I managed to go through it is that there was a story to be told. I had rewritten The Last Supper in a kitchen environment, with the head chef as a Christ-like figure and cocaine as the spiritual connection/ideal/thingie that was making him go on and ultimately suffer and die. My main character was a waiter who was an ambiguous Judas (as Judas should be). When I couldn't find the right words, I was just trying to get the story going, and then I could rewrite the boring passages and give the strenght they needed. Basically, I need to get some good stories to write here, and the rest will go from it.

D'autres contes québécois

Je cherche présentement des histoires à raconter aux enfants à qui j'enseigne le samedi matin. J'aime les histoires d'horreur, mais je sais que je ne peux pas vraiment me permettre de leur raconter les classiques effrayants que je préfère (quoique pour le Mardi gras...). Cela dit, j'ai trouvé en cherchant des histoires pour eux un site avec beaucoup de légendes québécoises, certaines plus connues, d'autres moins connues. J'en suis très heureux, je vais les lire pour mon propre plaisir.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Georgia On My Mind

I don't have much to blog about these days, that's another way to say that I am not inspired. I have that song in the head since this morning, so I might as well put it here. I like Ray Charles in general, and this song in particular. And I have never been to Georgia (or, as a matter of fact, the US).

Les choses que je n'arrive pas à aimer

J,ai pensé faire ici une liste des choses que j'ai essayé d'aimer, mais que je n'ai pas réussi, malgré tous les efforts consacrés. Les sources de plaisir ne font jamais l'unanimité, mais parfois on veut plus qu'autrement aimer certaines choses. En voici une liste:

-Caïman Fu. Groupe québécois ayant pour chanteuse l'actrice Isabelle Blais. Isabelle Blais est au Québec mon actrice préférée. Je ne l'admire pas autant que Cate Blanchett, mais je lui trouve un charme et un talent indéniables. Elle est l'unique raison pour laquelle j'ai essayé de me taper cette musique qui n'est sans doute pas mauvaise (enfin, pas aussi mauvaise que toute la cochonnerie pop que bien des gens se tapent avec entrain), mais je suis incapable d'en écouter. Ca ne me rejoint pas. Pourtant, Isabelle Blais a une belle voix. Comme quoi c'est insuffisant. J'imagine qu'on peut admirer quelqu'un pour une chose et pas pour une autre, mais je me déçois de ne pas pouvoir l'apprécier comme chanteuse. Et le pire, c'est que je ne sais pas pourquoi je n'arrive pas à aimer Caïman Fu, ce qui rend l'écoute encore plus frustrante.
-Le café. Ca goûte à ce que ça sent à ce que ça ressemble à.
-La série Lost. Jamais accroché.
-Le porc. Pas que je déteste le porc, mais sauf en saucisse (qui est ironiquement sa forme la plus dégoûtante), je n'en commanderai jamais dans un restaurant. Je ne sais pas pourquoi, mais je trouve la viande particulièrement banale, même bien apprêtée.
-Le vin de glace. Un brin trop sucré pour moi.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Citons Baudelaire

Une citation comme une autre, une que j'aime bien, d'ici à ce que je retrouve l'inspiration pour bloguer:

"Ah! que le monde est grand à la clarté des lampes!
Aux yeux du souvenir que le monde est petit!

Je crois que je devrais lire Baudelaire un peu plus. Il est temps de me réconcilier avec lui.

Monday, 26 January 2009

On godfathers

Last Christmas season, we received the visit of my godfather, a man I haven't seen in years. It was nice to see him again, but that's not what I want to blog about. I also saw my godson during that time period, so those two events made me think about the function of godfather. We are a very secular family, my friend who asked to become the godfather of his son is just as secular as I am, maybe also just as much of an unbeliever as I am, yet baptism seem to matter a lot to us, at least in a cultural way. Spiritually, it is now meaningless, yet I absolutely love when my godson calls me "parrain". This is the name he usually addresses me with. I address my godfather by his Christian name of course, and we barely mention that he is my godfather. For me, he is just another uncle, of the loud and heavy drinking kind, always entertaining during family reunion. That said, we did talked about religion when we met. Well, he teased my wife for being a Protestant (well, sort of, as she is unbaptised) and he told us the anecdote of his First Communion, where he had to suffer the humiliation of being the only boy dressed as an altar boy. He was traumatised enough to remember it vividly after all those years. I think he lost his faith that day. It is difficult to imagine him as a child going to church. My First Communion was much nicer, as everybody was dressed as altar boys and I was still a good little Catholic who was in awe watching and taking part in those rituals. Funny that my godfather was, in theory, in charge of my religious education. Last time he did anything regarding it, it was on my Confirmation, which he had to attend.

I wonder if my godson will one day see me as a loud, heavy drinking man, joking about his lost faith. Right now, I don't drink much in front of him and never swear. I let him tell me about "little Jesus" and all the things he learned at kindergarten. I try for a little bit to forget that I don't believe in all that and that I dropped on my suit the holy water the vicar gave me at his baptism. My godson doesn't care about holy water anyway, I think he prefers the gifts he receives from me. This might be the only function of a godfather in Québec society nowadays: to spoil the godson as much as he can and show that he cares about the little one. This I am doing quite well, in spite of the distance.

Ca a fait boule de neige

Tiré du Devoir, un article qui en dit plus sur la bataille de boules de neige dont j'ai parlé hier, faite en l'honneur de La Guerre des tuques. C'est mon papa qui m'a trouvé le lien. Retour sur une histoire qui a fait boule de neige, donc.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Bataille de balles de neige

Il y a eu une petite activité improvisée pour souligner l'anniversaire du film La Guerre des Tuques dont j'ai parlé récemment. J'aurais aimé y être, même si je ne suis pas vraiment un grand amateur de balles de neige. Cela dit, j'ai toujours voulu être dans un vrai fort de neige. Ceux que l'on faisait mes frères et moi étaient toujours un peu petits (lire: misérablement petits). C'est quand même impressionnant ce qu'on peut faire grâce à internet, y compris improviser une commémoration d'envergure pour un film-culte. Et c'est étonnant de voir à quel point la nostalgie exerce un pouvoir puissant sur les psychées.

Friday, 23 January 2009

From Italy to Ireland

My Italian friend, which I mentioned before, wondered if I did not exaggerated here when I said the Italians had a tendency to get drunk without drinking that much. I don't want to offend her, or any of the friends I have among the Italian people, so I will say here that I might have used dramatic (nostalgic?) licence. This blog is called Vraie Fiction, after all. Anyway, I listened to Volta la Carta, the song I put here) again today, and I noticed something peculiar: the flute/recorder gives it an almost Irish sound. If it wasn't for the Italian lyrics, the back up singers, well, everything else but the flute, that could almost be Irish. Okay, that's far fetched, but I have no idea where I am going, I am trying to follow the succession of ideas and impression that pushed me to write thos post.

Ireland and Italy have been intrinsically linked in my life. Both countries are Catholic, but that's not it. It's not the same faith anyway, whatever people might say. It's not the same culture, so it's not the same faith, in fact. I never felt Italian Catholicism appealing, while the Irish version is exactly like the one I grew up in. Not exactly appealing for the unbeliever I had become, but at least familiar. Better the devil you know, and so on. No, it was when I was hanging around my Italian friends that my interest for Irish culture started growing. Shortly after a big bad, evil, decadent kitchen party on Saint-Patrick's Day, when my Spanish friend made a bit too much sangria and I drank a bit too much Guinness, I went on a week long trip to Dublin, where I drank more Guinness, and a few more local beers. I was drinking a lot of Guinness back then, like some of those Italians who thought that was so cool. I just thought it tasted nice. Anyway, I find it funny that I didn't hang out with any Irish people then, since I loved the culture more than the Italian one and I felt more affinity with it. But then again, maybe there was that question of exoticism. Anyway, I thought I'd put some drinking song here, since it's Friday, and nobody has better drinking songs than the Irish. The Wild Rover sort of reminds me of my wilder, younger years, especially that time. So that's the introduction, on this blog a bunch of old Irish men will succeed to an ageing Italian man, but without the younger back up singers.

Does this post make any sense?

Un autobus athée à Montréal?

La publicité athée/agnostique apparue sur les autobus anglais récemment pourrait être vue à Montréal. J'ai déjà parlé de la campagne ici et ici. J'espère qu'elle fera surface à Montréal, ce qui mettrait sans doute bien du monde en colère, mais rappellerait aux Québécois comme elle rappelle aux Anglais présentement que la société dans laquelle ils vivent est majoritairement constituée de non-croyants. Majorité bien silencieuse face aux réactionnaires qui hélas sont assez bruyants, au Québec comme ailleurs.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Guerre hivernale

Avec les évènements des derniers jours, il y a un anniversaire que j'ai oublié de souligner. Donc, La Guerre des tuques a eu 25 ans. Je n'ai pas l'intention de résumer le film ou d'en faire une critique, simplement faire quelques observations nostalgiques sur ce qu'on pourrait maintenant appeler un classique. Ca a longtemps été le film-culte québécois des enfants de ma génération. En fait, c'était à l'époque peut-être le seul film québécois populaire. À la cour d'école, on en parlait comme si c'était Star Wars, ou Indiana Jones, ou peu importe. Même à l'époque, je n'arrivais pas à croire que des enfants aient pu réussir à construire un fort aussi immense, mais comme bien des jeunes de mon âge, je laissais faire. Le film, je ne sais pas trop comment, demeurait crédible. Je crois que c'est en partie à cause de la trame de fond plutôt sombre: c'est peut-être une comédie pour enfants, mais la guerre, même jouée, attise les tensions, fait des victimes et même un mort. Il y avait une morale pacifiste, mais le film n'était pas moralisateur, il démontrait plutôt que de prêcher. De tous les Conte pour tous, c'est le seul qui ait vraiment résisté au temps, justement parce que c'était à peu près le seul qui ne prêchait pas.

Enfin, pour la petite histoire, quelqu'un ne s'est jamais demandé comment des enfants dans un milieu rural québécois pouvaient avoir des accents montréalais à trancher au couteau?

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Men of power, men of glass

I guess I don't have to tell you what I did this afternoon. One thing really struck me during the whole ceremonial: it was seeing Dick Cheney in a wheelchair. I never liked the man and I must confess I felt a bit of schadenfreude watching him like this, but that's not what prompted me to blog again today. It was the way he, who used to be so powerful, now seemed frail and broken, almost dying. I know he never had a good health, but he never looked so powerless. It was illustrating perfectly the end of the Bush administration: a wounded, out of touch, dying dynasty moving away for good, having been broken by the power they used, the scandals they caused, the lies they lived by. However trivial was the reason for Cheney to be in a wheelchair, there was some kind of poetic justice about it.
J'écris le prochain billet en français, promis.

What to say?

Well, indeed, what to say? Today is the big day, and I am speechless as I was not so long ago. What to say when the guy who gets in power today is so much more eloquent that you will ever be? Last time, I borrowed somebody else's eloquence. This time I think I will just mention it. And tomorrow it will be business as usual.

Oh, and I missed the feast of my patron saint (does he qualify as we have the same name?) by ten days. I wish I had said something about that then.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Sexy opera

This is a sort of follow up to this post. I have decided to write this post for two reasons. First, because I want to reflect on opera and on its popularity a bit. Second, because I want to blog about something else than serious subjects all the time. I think I have been a bit harsh on Danielle de Niese when I wrote the first post about sexy opera. She does have a beautiful voice, but I still think she looks like and acts on stage like a pop star. That said, she does have a beautiful voice, and while I am sure it makes no difference to her whatsoever if on an obscure blog she gets criticised or praised, I thought I might as well be happy that new talents exist in the world of opera. Because opera might be a dying art. I say this with a lot of sadness, but let's face it, it is associated with fat sopranos strangling the cat or obese Italian tenors rolling their eyes while they are digesting their pasta, in other words people often see it as a tacky circus for snobs. It is sad, as opera, before being a show, is an art. It transcends the entertaining aspect. At least it does when it is done well. But yes, there is an entertaining aspect in it. When I first listened for the first time to Carmen and Don Giovanni, I enjoyed the drama just as much as the music. I still do, as they are really great, powerful dramas too. And the music is, in itself, profane, secular. When one listens to a song, he enjoys it on a physical level. So opera is, or at least can be, attractive and yes, sexy. Seriously, who would resist to Don Giovanni or Carmen? But I still think that the appearance of the singer is irrelevant to this sexiness. Natalie Dessay is quite plain, but her voice is absolutely to die for. So I decided to put a Handel song from the sexy Danielle de Niese here, but if you can see her, it is on still pictures, so you should not be too distracted by her appearance, and not at all from her gestures. The voice should be enough to please.

Une petite réflexion sur l'hiver

Il semblerait que les Montréalais n'exploitent pas l'hiver comme ils le pourraient. C'est vrai de tous les Québécois, je crois. Je me demande un peu pourquoi. Il y a au Québec un dédain de l'hiver, une négation de ses avantages comme de sa beauté. Car c'est une belle saison chez nous, rien à voir avec le truc gris qu'ont les Anglais. Enfin, je suis enrhumé, je m'ennuie un peu ici, il fait gris et parfois il pleut (il a tombé des cordes tantôt), alors je me mets à rêver de l'hiver. Ce n'est pas la première fois que je le fais ici, ce ne sera sans doute pas la dernière. Au rythme où je le fais, ça semble peu-être répétitif, bon, ça me donne l'excuse de publier d'autres photos hivernales. Ma nostalgie de l'hiver n'est pas aussi forte qu'à la période d'avant Noël, mais elle est quand même là.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Musing from a trivial and yet not so trivial reader

The weekend is for me to enjoy some books. I feel like I don't read enough, that I do too much browsing, TV watching and time wasting. At the moment I have a cold, so getting in a comfortable blanket and reading a book is about the only form of happiness that cannot be hampered by it. So that's what I have been doing since yesterday evening and am planning to do for the rest of the weekend. The problem resides in what kind of book to read. As a literature graduate and more, I try to read sometimes some serious, "heavy" literature. That said, since the end of my studies, I more or less stopped reading classics and grande littérature, except when I had to teach them, to become an avid reader of crime fiction. This is something I started when I was doing my degree: I had no less than 80 books to read in my first year, so great literature was not synonymous of enjoyment. Reading for fun meant reading lighter things, if you can consider murder a lighter thing (and, that said, some crime novelists are actually great writers in their own right and their book do have a literary value). Only Anglo-Saxon writers such as Anthony Burgess (of course) survived sporadically this boycott.

This year, I decided to stop that tendency and get back to some serious reading. I want exercise my mind like I used to. My mother decided to buy me for Christmas a few big books. I forgot one at home (shame on me), but got at least one here to start my new year's resolution. It is from Dag Solstad, a Norwegian writer, and in French (the language in which I am of course reading it) it is titled Honte et Dignité, in English it is Shyness and Dignity. After a few pages, I was sold. It is written as the third person soliloquy of a professor who discovers the vacuity of his life. Quite dense, but never pedantic, and the character's analysis of Ibsen's plays made me want to read them. On a more trivial note, his depiction of literature classes, with lazy and blasés students, unwilling to do even the most basic intellectual effort reminded me of my past life (lives?) as a teacher and student. I love this book also because it is genuine.

That said, I did not stop reading lighter stuff. I enjoy comic books too, and as my wife and I visited went to a library yesterday, I got a couple of them out. I usually have at least a few Batman and Catwoman, because they are often crime fiction stories with superheroes. There is also this book from Tardi, bought by my dad, which I am planning to start reading this weekend too. Tardi makes heavy subjects light, so it should be an interesting read. And there are also many other books on my bookshelves that I want to read and wouldn't mind starting now. So that puts me in the position where I am going to read many at once. It is also something I used to do during my university life: we had many deadlines, things have to be read and understood in a short period of time for different classes. I get back in the habit when I feel, like now, that there is so much to read. But devoid of those deadlines, mass reading is actually enjoyable. It is like a buffet: you pick and choose what you feel like then absorb it and enjoy it at your own pace. And when you spend time on something lighter, you don't feel intellectual guilt.

Saturday, 17 January 2009


Vous vous demandez d'où j'ai pu sortir pareil titre. J'ai donné mon premier cours aujourd'hui. Enfin, "cours" un bien grand mot, puisque j'étais en équipe avec une prof qui a fait beaucoup du travail (étant donné que je suis nouveau et inexpérimenté), que je n'ai pas vraiment suivi ce que j'avais préparé et que c'était aussi amusant que bordélique. Je n'ai pas l'habitude d'enseigner à des enfants, je ne crois pas que je vais en faire une carrière.

Mais voilà l'anecdote qui m'a inspiré ce titre: alors que je nommais le nom d'une de mes élèves, elle m'a dit: "Je m'appelle *******dine, pas *******dzine!" Je savais qu'au Québec on prononçait di en dzi, mais je ne m'étais jamais rendu compte que ma prononciation était très prononcée. J'ai trouvé amusant qu'une petite Française puisse le percevoir aussi facilement. Et ça m'a fait plaisir: cela veut dire que j'ai encore l'accent.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Let them be offended

Since the beginning of the atheist bus campaign, the controversy triggered the cowardly reaction of many Christians, and as it was to be expected it carries on. Because you will not make me believe that this is not cowardice disguised as principle. Granted, it's just a bus driver, but one does not ask a bus driver to give us his personal beliefs when he drives a bus: he just has to do his job and drive the damn bus! It is a sort of professional blackmail he did here, not only showing his disagreement with a message, but trying to keep the humanists quiet, or contributing to the cowardly attempt to shut them up, to censor the campaign. But a much worse attack came from elected people, which really angered me. So the advert is "religiously offensive and morally unhelpful"? Who the Hell are they to tell me what moral to follow and what to consider moral or not? If anything, the advertisement makes a moral statement that is, indeed, helpful: that one should not lead his life according to a most likely fictitious God and should therefore not worry about an afterlife we know nothing about. In other words: don't be afraid of Hell. Is it religiously offensive? Only if you want to be, if your faith is so weak and groundless that it cannot be challenged by rational arguments. Anyway, it is not the duty of an MP to decide whether or not something is offensive. And when was offensive the same thing as illegal?

Ariane Sherine, who started the bus campaign, is my new heroine. I wish her and the British Humanist Association good luck against all those self-righteous cowards who are trying to shut them up.

Un peu des Colocs

J'ai déjà blogué sur les Colocs, mais puisqu'il y a un film qui va sortir sur son fondateur cette année, j'ai pensé mettre ici la chanson qui fut leur premier succès. C'est assez difficile d'imaginer Dédé Fortin se suicider quand on entend Julie, chanson qui était amusante et sans souci, racontant... Racontant quoi, au juste? L'amour impossible entre une lolita et un jeune mauvais garçon? La destruction des rapports amoureux dans le consumérisme moderne? La prodigieuse banalité de nos histoires d'amour? Julie est un nom prodigieusement banal (pardon à toutes les Julies), particulièrement commun au Québec chez les femmes de ma génération. Il semble approprié que Julie soit le sujet d'une histoire d'amour qui se termine dans l'indifférence des principaux intéressés. Je me rappelle la première fois que j'ai vu le clip, en 1993. J'avais ri aux éclats, surtout à cause de l'approche absurde de la réalisation, à des lieux des trucs pédants et convenus habituels. Les Colocs, c'était de la création sans arrogance. Difficile aussi de penser que Dédé a ensuite fait des chansons beaucoup plus sombres par la suite. C'était un grand artiste. Je ne verrai hélas pas le film en salle, mais j'espère le voir le plus tôt possible.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

RIP Patrick McGoohan

Sad news I learned yesterday just before going to bed: Patrick McGoohan is dead. I discovered him at 17, when a local channel was showing reruns of Danger Man. Then, of course, there was the revelation that was The Prisoner, maybe the best tv series ever, definitely the greatest 60s tv series. I guess loving that series was not very original for a teenager wanting to be free and different (like all the others), but it was still a great series. It is difficult to summarize in a few words and I don't think I would give it justice, but I put the intro here to give you a taste of what it was all about. You can find a documentary about the series on youtube. More on Patrick McGoonan here, here and here.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Quand on se compare...

Bon, je ne me plaindrai pas d'être en Angleterre. Pas pour un petit bout de temps en tout cas, le froid sibérien, je ne m'en ennuie pas.


I am not inspired to blog. In fact, I am not really inspired to write, period. Must be the season. I tried to comment on a bit of controversy (but I am not really original, others have been more eloquent), I tried to get intercultural, I tried to get trivial/gastronomical, but right now I struggle to find interesting topics. It must be this time of the year, January is particularly dull, especially for someone who is not quite working like myself. Oh, and about work (if you couldn't read this post): I will teach every Saturday morning from this week. So you see, I work, but not quite.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Class versus crass

Well, it appears that Daniel Craig has refused to appear on Jonathan Ross's Friday Night show. I am glad. Ross is an overpaid, talentless, juvenile hack. And, even if the Sachsgate (which my wife and Correspondent mentioned in their respective blogs) had never happened, Ross would not deserve to get stars and serious actors (or serious artists in general) on his rubbish show: Ross spends more time making toilet and genital jokes worthy of a retard five years old and talking about himself than doing any kind of proper interview. If he was once an intelligent and genuinely funny man, he is now a full time douche. His last interviews with Daniel Craig were abysmally stupid. I hope this will be followed by many stars, big and small, and that Ross will finally be left alone on his stage with his epic size ego, before getting fired as he should have been months ago.

Je m'ennuie des déjeuners montréalais

Mon estomac est en train de se remettre des excès de table des Fêtes. Cela dit, je m'ennuie des déjeuners énormes que je faisais à Montréal. J'en ai déjà parlé ici, mais j'ai pensé à mettre des photos prises durant les vacances, histoire de mettre des illustrations dans le blogue. Donc, un déjeuner montréalais tel que je le conçois commence par un verre de jus d'orange sérieusement implimenté de jus t'atocas 100% pur. Ca donne un de la couleur au jus d'orange et également un goût acide très particulier. On n'a pas besoin de café pour se réveiller quand on boit ça.Ensuite, on s'envoie derrière la cravate des toasts avec du vrai pain (ici du pain de Première Moisson), beurrées de beurre d'arachide Kraft (ou une autre marque qui a de l'allure).
Ce qui donne quelque chose comme ça, voir la photo plus bas. J'ai survécu à ce régime durant mon enfance, mon adolescence et mes années d'université, avant l'Angleterre. Je ne sais pas pourquoi c'est délicieux, je comprends que ça n'a pas l'air très apétissant, mais j'adore anyway.

Et ne vous inquiétez pas: j'ai fait des réserves, ayant acheté plus de deux kilos de beurre d'arachide avant mon départ. J'en ai encore pour quelques semaines.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

An Italian commemoration

I blogged about Italy in the past. Today, I have a perfect excuse to blog about it more. I learned from an Italian friend I mentioned before that today is the anniversary of the death of Fabrizio De André. I know close to nothing about the man, even his name I had forgotten until yesterday. Back in my younger years, in 2000, my Italian friend made me listen to De André's take on Georges Brassens's songs. He admired Brassens a lot she told me, so it is enough to like the guy.

I have never been as into Italy as I was into England, but I have some kind of attraction towards it. I love the language quite a lot, the gastronomy, some of their writers. I always regretted I never learned Italian properly. I always wanted to learn a third language. Being bilingual is nothing, inconsequential almost, in our day and age. And I always wanted this third language to be Italian. Strangely enough, I never had much interest about Italian music. I enjoy Ennio Morricone and of course a lot of operas are sung in Italian, but while I always loved the operas in Italian, I have never been a big fan of Italian operas, operas composed by Italians. A bit too sugary for my taste. And of modern Italian music, of course, I know close to zilch. However, I am always willing to learn more. My friend seems to consider Fabrizio De André has high as I consider Leonard Cohen. That is also enough for me to decide to gather more about him and listen to him. I found this song on youtube, which is quite poetic and I love the tune, so I decided to put it here. It will change from the usual stuff I put on this blog and it is a new musical experience to me. I am getting into uncharted territories. Here are the lyrics in their original Italian and translated into English.

Je ne suis toujours pas matinal...

Hier, j'ai dû me lever "tôt" pour rendre visite à une des communautés françaises de l'Angleterre. C'est pour un travail, j'en dirai un peu plus plus tard. Je n'ai pas encore dit oui, ça briserait nous fins de semaines, mais ce serait très stimulant et me donnerait un semblant de vie sociale, qui plus est une vie sociale francophone, ce qui me manque parfois. Ma femme et moi on en discute. Enfin, cela dit, je me suis rendu compte que me réveiller à 8:30AM, même après avoir survécu au décalage-horaire, est toujours très douloureux pour moi. Je déteste sortir du lit. Ca ne me fait pas hésiter pour l'emploi offert, c'est simplement une constatation.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

A cowardly attempt at censorship

"There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

I might as well start with this quote. This is depressing, but that was to be expected. A rather ingenious publicity campaign, led by the British Humanist Association and supported by prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins, claiming that there is probably no God is being attacked by some Christian zealots, under the excuse that there are proofs of God's existence. Well no, there is not, that's the whole point: faith, whatever it might be, and its ultimate claim, the existence of a supreme being, is unverifiable. Personal experience is irrelevant: if people claim that they feel from experience God's presence in this world, I can just as easily claim that I feel none of it. The burden of proof is on their side. Hence, the claim that there is probably no God is correct, or can be defended and can certainly be expressed openly. I like a publicity campaign that urges me to enjoy life without consuming a particular product or adhering to a particular ideology. It is supremely ironic that a Christian association such as Christian Voice, which makes publicity taking for granted that God exists and he has the same moral as they have (although I doubt such organisation show any kind of real moral, as their faith often replace it), would ask to a governmental organisation to censor a message that disagrees with theirs. It is cheap, it is cowardly, it is disgusting. If you think the slogan is wrong, prove it. But that would be too difficult, as it would involve thinking. I hope they laugh at them at the ASA, because they deserve it. In the meantime, I'll enjoy life without worrying.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Un voile de trop

Je ne pensais pas écrire aujourd'hui, n'ayant pas d'inspiration, mais j'ai été témoin d'un spectacle choquant ce soir, alors je le blogue. Enfin, je ne sais pas si je devrais m'en étonner, mais ce genre de spectacle me met toujours un peu en colère. Ma femme et moi sommes allés à Asda ce soir et j'y ai vu une femme vêtue de la burqa, donc d'un voile qui lui couvrait totalement le visage sauf les yeux (et encore, on n'en voyait presque rien). Son mari barbu passait devant, il tirait le charriot qu'elle poussait. Tellement caricatural que c'en était difficile à croire. Ce n'est pas la première fois que je vois une musulmane vêtue d'une burqa en Angleterre, mais ça me choque à chaque fois que j'en vois une. Je me sens vraiment dans un pays étranger dans ces moments-là, et pas vraiment en Occident. Je n'ai rien contre le voile simple, mais il y a quelque chose d'opressif, au point d'en être obscène, dans ce voile qui transforme la femme en morte soumise. Je ne serais pas moins choqué, je crois, de voir un zombie marcher dans les allées d'un centre d'achat, façon Dawn of the Dead. En fait, l'angoisse se mêle à la colère et je me demande sérieusement où ce pays s'en va.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009


It is the Epiphany today, officially the last day of the Christmas season. I have mentioned another sort of epiphany in the past, it is a concept that fascinates me. I once lived an epiphany, ironically it moved me away from Faith, God and Christ, probably forever. This is a more prosaic post. So it is officially the last day of Christmastide, but I wonder if anybody bother to celebrate it nowadays. The 1st of January is, at least in Québec, the new officious last day of Christmas, and it is usually celebrated with a hangover and/or a visit to relatives you did not see on Christmas (usually the other side of the family). As a child, we used to celebrate Les Rois, the name we gave to L'Épiphanie. A cake was made with a red bean in it, the one who would get the bean would be the king (or queen). The first time we celebrated, my grandmother made the cake, she threw about a dozen of beans, so we all became kings. Of course, school was starting back later than now, therefore January 6 was still part of the holiday.

So today is the last day of the season, almost the last day of the year if you think about it, but nobody cares anymore and it makes me a bit sad. Les Rois was a last time of celebration before return to normal life and it gave a quiet transition between the two, as it was a day not as extravagant as Christmas or New Year's Eve. There is a melancholic mood that comes with the post-Christmastide period, which some years I could do without. Back when I was a student, I had a role in a play waiting for me and it used to keep myself motivated, this year I am anxious to get a job that I cannot find. January is a boring month: it is usually cold and dark but devoid of the Christmas atmosphere, the presents you received have now lost their novelty and there is nothing to look for in the near future. well, here's to the three wise men anyway. I could do with their gifts and their wisdom right now.

Nota Bene: I already published the picture you can see on the top right, but today is the proper time to put it. Of course, as I am a lousy photographer, there is one of the Magi partially missing in the snapshot.

Monday, 5 January 2009

La neige nous a suivis

On peut être surpris n'importe quand, mais parfois on s'étonne d'être surpris aussi tôt. En quittant le Québec, je savais d'expérience que je m'ennuierais de la neige, laquelle, comme chacun sait, ne tombe pas beaucoup en Angleterre, quand elle tombe. Or, ce matin, ma femme et moi avons pu constater qu'il avait neigé durant la nuit. Pas en quantité très importante, mais quand même assez pour donner au paysage une couleur hivernale circonstantielle. Je n'ai pas pris de photo (j'aurais dû), mais je mets celle-ci prise à Montréal il y a deux semaines à peine, histoire de me rappeler ce qu'est un vrai hiver avec de vraies bordées de neige. Ma femme l'a déjà mise sur son blogue, mais qu'importe.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

2009 resolutions

I thought I would put them here:

1)Get a (good and rewarding) job.
2)Keep it. This has gone on long enough.
3)Read more classics. I used to when I was in my early 20s, I need to get back to it.
4)Try to eat healthy outside special days. I indulged myself way too much during Christmastime.
5)Get out of the house more often.
6)Do some swimming or ice skating, or anyway some sport I am good at (those two, really). Just because I need to do more exercise.
7)Get a busier social life. Get a social life, actually. I don't have any at the moment. See 1, 2 and 5.
8)See Québec more often.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

A farewell to Québec

I arrived back in England this morning. The trip was okay, but with lots of turbulence. I am tired, jet lagged, hungry and homesick. Sadly, I can't do much for the time being about the latter. I am glad I am "home", but I still don't quite consider England my home. I am still a foreigner in a foreign land. Seeing Québec, seeing the snow, even feeling the cold that makes you feel so alive were all reinvigorating experiences. Just hearing people speaking French with Québec accents made me feel happy. And there was the more personal things: meeting old friends I haven't seen in a while, family I haven't seen in years (my godfather to be more precise) and seeing again my godson and his sister, the two sweetest, most well-behaved children that exist.

Two weeks, when one thinks about it, is not very long. When I was a child, the Christmas holidays lasted until the Epiphany (I will blog about it soon), which we would celebrate. Now it's all over on the 2nd of January. Adult life takes it toll, I think, or our times are too busy for a long holiday. At least, Christmas is still snowy in Québec. I will miss my country a lot.