Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The saga of Odin the cat

I hope my readership will forgive me if I blog again about Odin. I promise I will find more diverse blogging topics in the near future. But today is Wednesday, and this means Odin's Day in the week, this in itself is a good reason to blog about my mysterious (and adorable) feline friend. He is now very much a regular visitor. As you can see on the picture at your right, I have decided to feed him properly. I spoiled him too: tonight he had duck stew and cat's biscuits, a few days ago he had rabbit stew and biscuits. So far his favorite is the rabbit stew, of all cat food. He waits for me most evenings, hiding in the bush, and shows up when I walk home. When it started raining he tried a few times to walk in the block, but I managed to avoid it, however tempted I was. Yesterday it was raining a good deal and he was very persistent. Now he seems to understand and has not tried his luck again this evening.

And I learned a few things about Odin recently. I still think now that he is a wild cat, finding human help wherever he can by being utterly cute. I was feeding him on Saturday afternoon and a man walking by said to me, in a friendly tone (glad it was not a suspicious one): "He really looks like my cat". As I thought the man himself looked like the possible owner of Odin I saw last Thursday, I said: "Well, maybe he is? I thought he was a stray cat." The man walked in the garden saying: "Let's find out." He took Odin, who did not appreciated it, and after a look at his face said that this was not his cat. I was relieved as I did not want to be caught red handed. So if Odin has an owner, that was not this guy. Yesterday, in the supermarket, I met one of my neighbors, a single mum who lives on ground floor with her teenage son. As I was buying some cat food, we started talking about the black cat in the neighborhood. I learned that he had spent the night before in her appartment, in fact that he slept in her son's bed. And that she tried to feed him a bit of chicken, but Odin didn't eat much. Anyway, she is a cat person too, but she is not as committed to me. She did not give him a name, after all. I am happy to know that Odin has a shelter on sleepy nights. I thought he slept in the bushes of the garden, now I know he can always ask the downstair's neighbor.

Fin de juillet

Ce billet est en fait l'énonciation d'une retentissante vérité de La Palice: juillet touche à sa fin. Ce qui veut dire que le mois que l'on associe le plus à l'été, qu'il soit vraiment estival ou non, achève. L'été se fait ou se défait en juillet, le mois marque la saison: s'il fait mauvais temps, on a un été pourri, s'il fait un temps splendide, on a un vrai été. Juin et août, ce sont des mois d'accompagnement. Comme il a fait beau et chaud la plupart du temps en juillet, sauf ces derniers jours, on peut dire qu'on aura eu un vrai été en 2013 (c'est en tout cas ce qui se passe en Angleterre). La photo de gauche illustre parfaitement ce mois de juillet 2013: chaud, sec, splendide. Après les étés qui n'avaient rien d'étés, je ne m'en suis pas plaint.

Pour beaucoup, juillet ça veut dire les vacances. Mais pour moi, ça s'est résumé à une fin de mois au travail. Les fins de mois sont toujours endiablées, d'autant plus, comme c'était le cas aujourd'hui, quand le dernier jour tombe sur un jour de semaine. Je ne m'habitue jamais complètement à ces étés sans vacances, bien que je suis quelqu'un qui a une mentalité automnale. J'imagine que je pense toujours l'année en terme d'année scolaire. Et vous, comment a été votre dernière journée de juillet?

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Lost in Translation

No, no, I am not talking about the movie. I am talking about the linguistic concept. Right now, I am reading Jolie Blon's Bounce by James Lee Burke. it is the very first Burke novel I ever read. No problem here, as you might think. He is a reknown crime writer and it was about time. But here is the thing that is bugging me since I started it: I'm reading it in a French translation. This is the one published by Rivages, a French publisher which I have an enormous respect: they re-popularized the genre in France and they published many American writers who do hardboiled like no other. I prefer their titles to the ones of Gallimard's Série Noire. That said, it struck me, the translation really feels fake, like the Louisiana described is lost in the French vocabulary, the French expressions replacing the American ones, the whole attitude of the novel is weakened like some lukewarm weak tea. I have been sometimes so utterly irritated reading it I wanted to stop.

Of course I won't, as I wouldn't in my right mind stop reading a novel from Burke. Besides, this was a gift from mum, dating back from Christmas or my birthday a long time ago, so long I didn't even know I had this book until I found it on my bookshelves in Chicoutimi back in 2010 (I think). I brought it back here because I wanted to discover a new author. But between the time when I received this present and the time when I opened it, I had started reading a lot of books in their original English language. In fact, I have been for the last five years (at least!) been reading almost exclusively untranslated novels. Unless I do not know the original language of course. I feel sorry for mum, because she knows my tastes in terms of books, she buys them faster than I can read them, she chooses them carefully from reviews she reads in the newspaper and she obviously mainly has access to the translations. But yesterday, starting the first page of Jolie Blon's Bounce, I had this epiphany: so much is lost in a translation.

Question existentielle (196)

Voici une nouvelle question existentielle à saveur nostalgique:

-Alors que vous étiez enfants, vous est-il arrivé, durant les vacances scolaires, de vous ennuyer de l'école?

Monday, 29 July 2013

Something positive about Monday?

This was Monday today, I thought it never ended. Not that it was a bad day at work, in fact it was quite good for a Monday, but it was still a Monday and it had this Monday feel. It is difficult to describe properly, it is akin to melancholy without being exactly melancholy. Maybe it is more akin to monotony. Mondays are long and tiresome, whether you work or not. I compare them as hell. So I was wondering today what can I find that is genuinely positive about Mondays, something that is proper to Monday. I used to look forward to Monday when there it was the time of my favorite TV series. But that was years ago. When I was living and working in Liverpool, I was sometimes giving literature classes on Monday and I particularly enjoyed them. But nowadays, Monday is the day of quick and unimaginative lunches, boring suppers, monotonous commuting and blurry grey routine. Is there anything intrinsically good to Monday? Or at least to your Monday? Preferably something I can import. You tell me.

La sagesse de Mafalda

C'est le début de la semaine, la lecture des journaux est déprimante, comme c'est souvent le cas, et j'ai donc pensé télécharger un gag de Mafalda pour dérider mon lectorat si jamais il en a besoin. J'ai réussi à trouver quelques dessins d'elle grâce à Google. Ce n'est pas tout le gag, il manque en fait beaucoup de ce que dit Susanita, mais ce que dit Mafalda est plein de sagesse. Elle peut faire rire ou simplement sourire, elle demeure toujours pertinente et profondément contemporaine.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

A trout pie

My dad sent this picture to me and my brothers. I have no idea why, I think maybe it was to taunt us. Maybe it was to show us what he did with the many, many fishes he caught last time he went fishing (picture here). It is the slice of a trout pie, a summertime specialty, maybe the meal I associate most with summertime. Okay, when I think of summertime I think of barbecue mostly, but afterwards it is the fresh trout pie. I love all sorts of fishes, when I go to restaurants I usually choose fish for my meal. Trout pie is the most delicious dish, basically it is trout, cream and onions in a crust, it is so simple, filling enough but quite light too.

Bleuets et chocolat

Non, ce n'est pas un titre de roman de Rafaële Germain (que je n'ai d'ailleurs jamais lue, sauf peut-être quand elle faisait son bacc à l'U de M). Je parle bien évidemment du chocolat aux bleuets des Pères trappistes. J'ai téléchargé cette photo de leur page Facebook. Voici ce qui accompagnait cette photo: "Ce sera une saison difficile vu le peu de bleuets sauvages cette année mais notre fameux chocolat aux bleuets sera disponible ! La preuve, voici la première caisse produite. Disponible progressivement d'ici quelques semaines." Alors voilà, je blogue le chocolat. Je suis peut-être trop traditionnaliste, mais je préférais les anciennes boîtes. J'imagine que celles-ci ont plus l'air d'un produit de luxe. C'est vrai que l'ancienne boîte était plus quétaine, mais elle était aussi moins prétentieuse. Mais enfin bref, comme leur produit est disponible (sera disponible? Ca veut dire quoi disponible progressivement?), je plogue sans gêne aucune le produit régional. Parce que le chocolat aux bleuets des Pères trappistes, il est en effet fameux.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

The long awaited storm?

As I am writing this, it is pouring outside, but there is no thunder yet. But does it rain! As if the dry land was getting drunk with water after the long, long weeks of heat and drought. I was waiting for storm, I think this might be it. We had a first small one recently. But even if it is only rain, it is much needed.

La bière de Jacques Brel

Voici une chanson assez peu connue de Jacques Brel, que j'avais trouvée sur YouTube il y a plusieurs années, mais qui avait disparu depuis. Brel étant un Belge, il est plus un buveur de bière que de vin. Cet hymne à mon breuvage préféré est festif et devrait vous donner le sourire, en plus de vous donner soif.

Friday, 26 July 2013

What's with the ants?

The title of this post is a question I have been asking myself today, as they are, well, everywhere. You know, those ants that have wings like flies, and they just go out at some point in the summer, when it is hot and dry, and they fly around, and crawl on the ground, and get stuck on your clothes and you step on them and it makes a dry sound when you squash them. And of course you cannot avoid them completely, because there are so many. It used to know why the winged ants are all around like this. I don't remember now. So please enlight me. It just struck me today, all those ants.

À la Sainte-Anne les bleuets sont mûrs

"A la Sainte-Anne les bleuets sont mûrs. C'est le raisin de chez-nous, fils du feu; du sol humble et pierreux c'est l'offrande; c'est le miel des crans sauvages, le frère des éricales dans le royaume infini des sphaignes et des tourbières."

 Menaud maître-draveur, Félix-Antoine Savard

Je sais, je le cite maintenant à chaque année, mais c'est la Sainte-Anne aujourd'hui, le début officiel de la saison des bleuets. Ils ne sont pas tout à fait mûrs sur cette photo (gracieuseté de mon ami que j'ai mentionné ici), mais ça donne une idée. C'est le temps de la cueillette, des récoltes de bleuets, le fruit de ma région, le Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean. Bourrez-vous la fraise, ou le Bleuet, bandes de chanceux.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

The mystery of Odin the cat revealed

I hope my readership does not mind another post about Odin in such short period of time (last one was two days ago). I had an evening that was both sad and happy. Happy because when I got home, I saw Odin waiting for me. Well, he was waiting for someone, maybe not me especially, but anyway. After a few minutes of me stroking him and him rubbing against my legs and purring a lot, I gave him his usual tuna, as he was obviously expecting it. He ate it eagerly and I think he could have eaten more. I cannot adopt Odin, as I live in an attic flat, but I thought I could certainly ease his life and become friend with him (gosh I sound like a crazy cat lady). I even bought a bit of cat food to vary his diet a bit. Since I first met him, I always thought he was a feral cat that had it rough: the fact that he has one eye and plenty of scars and no collar made it quite obvious to me.

But later on, the mystery of Odin was revealed, at least partially: as I was walking in the street near home, there was a couple outside, the front door of their house open as they were putting some stuff in their car parked on the street. Odin suddenly walked out of the house, to the utter indifference of its owners. He was not an intruder, he was certainly welcome there, so I think it is safe to say that he has masters, or that he is their master (as cats own you more that you own them). I wish they had given him a collar, I wouldn't have felt so sad seeing him getting out of their house. It still does not explain the glass eyes and the scars. Maybe they adopted him properly and Odin is really a feral cat they found on the street. Anyway, Odin was still waiting by the door minutes later and still asked for some more cuddles. So I have a friend. And of course I will feed him some more.

Question existentielle (195)

C'est une question existentielle qui est partiellement inspirée de la question 66. J'y ai pensé en écrivant ce billet je crois. Alors la voici:

-Quel est le monstre le plus méconnu de l'imaginaire humain?

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

First storms

I was hoping for some storms to come for quite some time, as I think a summer is not completely summer without a good storm. Well, we finally got storms. It started yesterday, or to be more precise in the Monday to Tuesday night. I woke up, it was cloudy, but I could see it had rained when I walked to the station and saw the seats on the platforms were wet. I learned later at work that there had been a storm. Then it thundered in the late morning, and rained, and there was a storm for a few minutes, then a second one later. It is supposed to rain more this weekend. I know I should hope for my weekends to be sunny and hot, but I would love to have the leasure to fully appreciate a summer storm.

Un oiseau et une mangeoire

Petit billet de vie animalière, rien que pour le fun et pour mettre des couleurs au blogue. Mon père m'a envoyé des photos d'oiseaux dans les mangeoires familiales à Chicoutimi.Il y a des moments comme ça où regrette que mes parents n'ont pas de blogue et où je me sens coupable d'utiliser sans gêne les photos du patrimoine familial. Je crois que l'oiseau est un gros-bec, mais je n'en suis pas entièrement sûr. Dites-moi ce que c'est si vous le savez. Il fut un temps où, enfant, l'ornithologie était un sujet fascinant. Maintenant je m'intéresse aux mangeurs d'oiseaux. Cela dit, je m'ennuie des mangeoires familiales et de sa faune ailée.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The Citadel of Chaos

Following my nostalgic mood about my old childhood's reads, I have purchased a few more Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks. At the moment, I am reading the second one of the series, The Citadel of Chaos. I say reading, but I am doing it slowly, as I have many other books I am reading at the moment. The Citadel of Chaos is the second book of the series (yes I am trying to read them chronologically) and it is the first time I read it. I was never attracted to it as a child, mainly because the image on the cover was unappealing: we had the one of the very first edition, with a crudely drawn Yeti-like creature looking at the reader, a Disney-like castle in the background (THAT was supposed to be the Citadel of Chaos?) The Wizard Book cover from 2002, which I have, is much better looking with this rather impressive hydra.

I am enjoying it, and so far it has been easier than The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, however two things bother me with it: 1)The monsters so far are mainly mixes of two animals or anthropoid versions of another animal (a rhino-man for instance). They mostly fail to be menacing. In a way, the furball with fangs of the first edition's cover  was pretty much a spot on illustration of the book's content, so far anyway 2)Just like for the first book, the big baddie is a powerful sorcerer. This is quite repetitive. Many of the gamebooks had dangerous wizards, I guess it is a trope to expect, but still. In our Dungeons & Dragons games, we often had to deal with evil magicians too. At least this one has a name: Balthus Dire. And the player character has better motivations: Balthus Dire has ambitions of conquest and is plotting to invade the Vale of Willows with his army of Chaotics (what the heck is that?). You play a magician yourself, which is pretty neat. And the names I found quite nice too: the Vale of Willows sounds quite evocative. So just for this I think this book will give me a fix of medieval fantasy until I play D&Dr again.

L'accent québécois (expliqué par un Français)

Ceci est un billet linguistique, plus particulièrement phonétique, à propos de l'accent québécois, vu, ou plutôt entendu, et expliqué par un Français. Nos cousins de l'autre côté de l'Atlantique (enfin, le côté où je me trouve présentement, quoique de l'autre côté de la Manche) le comprennent peu, ce Français-ci oui. J'ai trouvé cette petite vidéo sur YouTube, donc, qui explique assez bien les particularités de notre parlure, en caricaturant parce que c'est plus simple d'expliquer en y allant un peu fortavec cependant une importante réserve: on nous parle en fait de l'accent montréalais.On ne parle pas comme ça partout au Québec. Oui, on a les consonnes affriquées, mais les prononciations anglicisantes de mots français, c'est purement montréalais. Bon, on ne boudera pas son plaisir, j'ai vu pire.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Odin the wandering black cat

Odin the one eyed black cat was back this evening. He was here last week, Monday and Tuesday, he did not show up for the rest of the week, or not that I know anyway. But he was here this evening, I saw him crossing the road from the window, so I rushed downstairs with what was left of tuna. There was actually quite a lot left of tuna. He ate the first bit with good appetite, then I offered him more and he was more hesitant to eat. He was very eager for cuddles though, rubbing himself against me, purring when I stroke him. He has not bit or clawed me once so far. Strange feral cat. More and more I think his name is well deserved: not only does he have one eye, but he has white hairs among his black fur. Odin seems to be an old wanderer, like his namesake.

Les bleuets qui mûrissent

Bon, je blogue encore une fois et deux fois de suite sur ma région, mais c'est pour célébrer le fruit qui a donné son surnom a ses habitants: le bleuet. C'est aussi pour célébrer le 175e anniversaire de naissance du Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean, ainsi que je le fais depuis mai. Nous ne sommes pas encore tout à fait la Sainte-Anne, mais comme je l'ai appris de par les photos d'un ami de Facebook, les bleuets semblent mûrs maintenant. Ici aussi, mais ils le sont depuis longtemps, on ne va pas les cueillir et ils sont hors de prix. Tout de même, la fin de juillet qui commence ne serait pas la même sans bleuets. Le Sagenay-Lac-Saint-Jean non plus, d'ailleurs. Les bleuets, c'est délicieux, c'est plein d'antioxidants, c'est peut-être le fruit qui s'apparente le plus à un dessert, c'est bleu aussi, comme le Saguenay, le Lac, comme un ciel clair de juillet. Pour trêve de poésie, jetez un oeil à la photo et dites-moi si cette baie-là n'est pas magnifique.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

A great unknown line about airports

I did not publish a great unknown line for a while and my brother, who is currently traveling on holidays, gave one recently on Facebook (which seems to be the database of my great unknown lines now, I will try to find other sources). Here it is: "I always lose a bit of faith in mankind when I go through an airport." It does express the helplessness one feels in such a place, in a nutshell. In some airports more than in others.

Ah! Les orages saguenéens!

Je sais, c'est tout le Québec qui a été touché par des orages violents. Mais il semblerait que le Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean a été durement touché. Ca n'a pas été le Déluge, mais c'est quand même quelque chose. De mon côté, tout va bien, j'ai appelé mes parents et ils sont sains et saufs. Ils sont allés à Arvida et ils y ont vu les ravages de l'orage, autrement ils ont été témoins des tempêtes sans en souffrir. Il semblerait qu'il y en aura ici aussi cette semaine. Je suis d'humeur ambivalente en ce qui concerne les orages saguenéens: je n'aime pas quand ils virent à la catastrophe, mais j'aime leur beauté terrible.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Stormbringer

I am plugging a drink again, this time a real ale, from Wild Weather Ales (the website is currently not working, I hope it is temporary). Their ales, for some reason, have been circulating around the local pubs and the wine shops. I tried a few of them, my favourite so far being the Stormbringer. The label is brilliant, with an owling wolf that looks quite devilish. Sadly the photo I took does not do it justice. I am a rubbish picture taker, especially with my cellphone. I drank this beer a few times, but not during or right before a storm yet. I kind of hope it will bring a storm, as I have been hoping for one for a while. So far I have not been very lucky. Still, it is a nice ale.

Concert de tondeuses

Signe que l'été bat son plein: j'ai été réveillé ce matin par un concert de tondeuses. L'horreur. Il a continué jusqu'au milieu de l'après-midi. J'en ai gardé un mal de tête tenace. Il n'y a rien que je déteste plus l'été qu'un concert de tondeuses. Ca peut gâches passablement ma journée. Surtout que je crois que ces temps-ci, c'est inutile: comme je l'ai blogué récemment, la récente canicule (qui nous a donné un répit aujourd'hui) et la sécheresse qui l'accompagne a rendu le gazon jaune. Vous pouvez le voir sur la (mauvaise) photo à gauche. Qu'y avait-il à tondre? Ils auraient pu attendre que le gazon reverdisse et prenne du tonus.

Friday, 19 July 2013

I Walk on Gilded Splinters

I am reading The Cut by George Pelecanos, and like all of his novels it is full of music that enhances the atmosphere. Strangely, I don't listen to it when I read it. I should try. But it inspired me to upload something for this Friday. This is I Walk on Gilded Splinters by Paul Weller, which incidentally was the final song of the season 4 of The Wire. I vow a cult to this cult drama series, which Pelecanos also read and produced. So here it is anyway...

Thermidor

Peu après le Jour de la Bastille, je m'intéresse en général à la Révolution française. J'ai récemment lu sur le calendrier républicain. J'ai donc découvert par hasard que nous sommes aujourd'hui le premier jour de thermidor. C'est supposé être un mois particulièrement estival, si j'ai bien compris. C'est assez vrai ajourd'hui, je sens ce 19 juillet très thermidor en effet.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The British Savanna?

As I mentioned not so long ago, the great British summer is here. It has been here for a good while now, it has also been very intense. By this I mean that it has been hot, sunny and I cannot even remember the last time it rained. There is a heatwave since at least a week and not a single drop of rain. I have been waiting and hoping for a storm. There has been none so far either. When I walked on the grass today, it struck me: it is yellow and dry, crisp. I had the surreal feeling of walking in a savanna. I had been missing a real summer, the 2011 and 2012 summers were not really ones, more like overlong springtime mixed with an early autumn. But now, the drought is getting to me, more than the heat itself. This country needs a bit of rain to cool itself down a few notches.

Question existentielle (194)

Comme l'été bat son plein, voici une question existentielle qui a son utilité:

-Quels sont les films incontournables à regarder durant l'été?

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Who Shall be Captain?

This image is titled Who Shall be Captain? and it was drawn by Howard Pyle.I have discovered reading this book that the artist popularized the image of pirates in fiction and in popular culture. I don't think I ever was aware of his work in the past. I have decided this summer to learn more about real historical piracy. That said, I can't help but be drawn by the fiction, the rich imagery Pyle created. I love the drama in this picture, how the settings and the characters enhance it. We are witnessing a fight to the death, but it is in fact a combat for power. The treasure chest, on the bottom left, is not the focus of the conflict. These two men are ready to risk their life in order to become leaders of a bunch of cutthroats who would betray them at the nearest opportunity, if ever the new captain, whoever he is, shows any sign of weakness. It might be melodramatic and the characters are of course stereotypes, the scope is nevertheless epic.

L'Exil et le Royaume

Non, je ne veux pas bloguer sur le recueil de nouvelles d'Albert Camus. Mon sujet est complètement différent, mais j'ai toujours aimé le titre et je songeais à l'utiliser comme titre de billet. Ce billet est en fait un de ceux commémorant le 175e anniversaire du SaguenayLac-St-Jean. Je viens de Chicoutimi, j'y ai grandi, j'ai passé les vingt premières années de ma vie là, j'ai également gardé l'accent du Saguenay. Comme beaucoup de Saguenéens, je me suis expatrié, d'abord pour les études, ensuite pour des raisons professionnelles, économiques et sentimentales. Je m'ennuie souvent de l'endroit, mais en même temps je me dis que je ne me reconnaîtrais plus vraiment dans ma région, à cause notamment d'un certain personnage public, que je ne nommerai pas ici. Je dis souvent que je suis un expatrié, mais l'expression exilé conviendrait peut-être mieux. On est loin du Royaume, on sent ses racines très vivaces, d'ailleurs les gens vous le rappellent, cela dit la vision du Saguenay que l'on a est déjà fausse, ou bien dépassée, ou alors on a changé et on ne se reconnait déjà plus dans la région telle qu'elle est maintenant. Peut-être qu'on en a un souvenir déformé par la nostalgie.

Ca arrive à bien des Bleuets, je crois: on quitte la région d'abord pour quelques années, en se promettant d'y retourner pour y vivre, et ensuite on se rend compte que le travail est ailleurs, qu'il faut quitter la région pour vraiment s'épanouir, ce qui est en soi une terrible découverte. "Chicoutimi, on en a vite fait le tour" m'a dit une fois un prof de philo de Montréal avec qui je prenais parfois un verre sur le Plateau (je l'ai déjà mentionné ici). Il avait enseigné à Chicoutimi au début de sa carrière. Cétait une observation un peu cruelle, mais c'est malheureusement vrai. Je me demande parfois si c'est la rivière Saguenay qui nous mène à l'exil: on a le goût de la suivre, de voyager, on la descend, puis on remonte le fleuve vers Montréal, finalement on se retrouve ailleurs et on se trouve un peu perdu. En même temps, je l'ai déjà dit sur Vraie Fiction, on n'est jamais autant Saguenéen que lorsqu'on est appelé comme tel par des gens hors de la région. Bleuet, c'est une étiquette donnée par d'autres.

Monday, 15 July 2013

The return of Odin

I have blogged a few times about Odin the black cat that comes around here sometimes. I christened him Odin as he has one eye, like the king of the Norse gods. I had not seen him in a long while and tonight, when I was walking back from work, he was there, as if he had been waiting for me.Tonight, I have decided to feed him, as I am not sure he has so many full meals. He must be naturally an adequate hunter, but with one eye to see, you never know. I gave him part of the content of a tin of tuna. he ate it eagerly. When I first met him, he was after my fish and chips. I had felt guilty about not feeding him then. As I cannot adopt Odin, I will at least try to become friend with him and show him and give him some treat. I don't think he had it easy, with all the scars he has.

Au ras-du-sol (la photo du mois)

En voici une autre qui m'a donné du film à retordre, jusqu'à ce que j'aie eu un éclair de génie samedi. J'avais photographié en mai, alors que j'avais , alors que je me promenais dans un parc pas loin pour trouver une photo pour la photo du mois de mai, cette mosaïque représentant un Viking devant son drakkar. Il y en avait d'autres, mais c'est celle-ci est celle que je préfère. Or, ladite mosaïque est littéralement sur le sol. Le parc longe la Tamise et je crois qu'elle représente un fragment de l'histoire de la rivière dans notre petite ville, cela dit cette photo se prête parfaitement au sujet du mois de juillet.

Vous trouverez les autres photos prises au ras du sol aux liens suivants:

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Sunday, 14 July 2013

Creepy house in summertime?

I went recently in the local library. I visit it at least once a week, on my way back from work or on Saturday. There were posters about "The Creepy House" and the employees had huge stickers on them saying: "Ask me about the Creepy House". So, being a big amateur of horror literature I obviously asked about that creepy house. Of course they answered that it was a special activity for children, to encourage them to read. Which is great. However, being opinionated as I am on these subjects, I could not help to ask: "Wouldn't it be a better theme in autumn, when Halloween is on the way?" And they all nodded and said: "Yes, that's what we all thought, it was not our decision". I loved a good scary story as a child, in any season, and I even read Dracula for the first time during summer, however autumn is the proper time for horror. Summer should be all about jungle and high sea adventures, Jules Verne and pirates stories. Even when I was young, I thought horror fiction, when enjoyed during summertime, was something to prepare for Halloween when you are longing for cold autumn evenings. And it was after reading much summery reads. I wonder who is the genius who had the brilliant idea to have such reading theme for summertime.

La canicule partout?

Il fait un temps de canicule depuis hier. Après l'été pas très estival que nous avons eu avant juillet, la chaleur est tombée comme une chape de plomb. Il y a même eu des alertes à la canicule, alors on peut dire officiellement que c'est la canicule ici. Je viens par ailleurs d'apprendre qu'il y a une canicule aussi au Québec. Je crois aussi comprendre que c'est la canicule ailleurs sur le continent. Ce n'est rien de bien extraordinaire, on doit s'y attendre durant l'été, mais j'ai comme l'impression que la canicule est partout.

Cider and Rum

This is a quick post to plug a cider I drank recently (well, I drank it last year but rediscovered it recently). I doubt you can find it anywhere in the world but in England, but if you visit this country during summertime you might want to give it a try. I am not even sure I like it or not, but on a hot day it is an interesting drink. As there is a heatwave, you might want to try it as it does quench thirst and it tastes summery. It is made by Tutts Clump and it is called Rum Cask. Basically it is made of crabapples fermented in oak rum barrels. It mixes what I consider an autumnal fruit to a drink that belongs to summertime. A strange mix, a strange flavour I am not certain I really like, but it is at least interesting to drink.

L'humeur séditieuse

C'est aujourd'hui le 14 juillet, Jour de la Bastille (j'utilise autre chose que Wikipedia comme lien, pour faire changement). C'est le jour national de la France, une collègue m'a informé d'une fête organisée par des Français expatriés pas trop loin (son mari connaît des organsiateurs), mais avec la chaleur qu'il fait je crois que je vais rester ici, même si je suis tenté. Je ne commémorais pas le 14 juillet jusqu'à relativement récemment (j'ai commencé à le faire vraiment en 2009). En tant que fête nationale, elle m'indiffère, car mes racines françaises datent un peu. Mais en tant que fête républicaine, elle me touche de près et prend à mon avis toute sa signification. Le 14 juillet me donne surtout l'humeur séditieuse. Alors je vais la commémorer d'une façon ou d'une autre aujourd'hui.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Another Italian conversation

Yesterday, I went back to the sandwich shop where I buy my lunch every Friday, and like the week before it was the Italian guy at the till. This time, I managed to order the sandwich in Italian, with all the trimming and so on. And I also did a bit of conversation. I understood almost all he said and managed to answer him in his mother tongue. I was pretty happy with myself. It made my day, anyway.

Lac-Mégantic, malgré tout...

Cette caricature de Serge Chapleau a été publiée par La Presse. J'ai pensé la télécharger sur Vraie Fiction dès que je l'ai vue. Je l'ai trouvée très touchante. C'est quand même beau, les Cantons de l'Est.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Goddard's Pies

As I do sometimes, or as I started doing as a new sort of blogging tradition, I am plugging a restaurant/food joint or pub which I particularly enjoyed. This one I found in London, on my last trip there, or more precisely in Greenwich, of all places. It is called Goddard's and it is a pie specialist, traditional British pies, savory and sweet. It exists since the 1800s and it is the kind of place I love to go to. The food is simple, honest, hearty and surprisingly cheap, especially in London. I had a traditional mince beef pie, which reminded me of our own Quebec pork pies, except that it was beef. With traditional leek sauce on it, and traditional malt vinegar because it is the traditional way to eat it. With mash potatoes (double portion, for some reason I thought I'd needed a double portion, boy was I wrong about that). And I had a real ale to down it.

For dessert, I had an apple and blackcurrant pie, with an ocean of custard on it, as you can see on the picture right. The picture was taken with my phone, so it is not a very good one. I am usually not a big fan of apple pies, but mixing with the blackcurrant it just gave it a whole new taste, pretty much to die for. I could not finish the dessert, or the beer, which is a darn shame, especially for the dessert. Maybe I should have asked for a doggy bag. The pies are daily fresh and very filling, both main meal and dessert. It was delicious, but almost too hearty for the day. I think Goddard's is a perfect place for a cold autumn or winter day. In so many words, I loved this place.

Question existentielle (193)

Le bloguer Le Pharmachien, sur qui j'ai blogué ici, affirme qu'il trouve "ridicule" la francisation de blog en blogue. Or, j'utilise blogue, ce qui m'a obsédé un peu, au point de poser ce soir dans une question existentielle:

-En français, devrait-on écrire "blog" ou "blogue"?

Allez, essayez de mettre un terme à ma migraine linguistique.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

A gentleman? Me?

Today, on my journey in the train back to work, there were a group of children in my coach, from a summer camp or whatever, even though school is not over yet in this country, with their monitors or whatever you call the adults taking care of them. They were very noisy (the children), but not in an annoying way, even though they did make reading difficult. They accompanied until the final stop, the station of my town of residence. As they were about to leave, the adults asked them to "let the gentleman go first". I found it very funny. Me, a gentleman. I know it was used in the colloquial sense, to be polite and to show politeness to the children, but still. I don't think this fits me well. Gentleman has something from the aristocracy I have never belonged to. I am middle class and my parents were from working class backgrounds. I actually don't want to be a gentleman.

Un autre Georges Steakhouse

Ah, les trucs qu'on découvre en googlant! Je sais, je ne devrais pas être étonné de ça, mais je trouve ce genre de découvertes profondément triviales fascinantes malgré leur trivialité. Enfin bref, il existe comme on le sait à Chicoutimi un restaurant appelé Chez Georges, ou sans doute plus souvent Chez Georges Steakhouse, ou tout simplement le Steakhouse. Il y a d'autres rôtisseries à Chicoutimi, mais Chez Georges est LE steakhouse, le restaurant de la civilisation saguenéenne, celui l'on mange pour les grandes occasions, pour les réunions d'affaires, pour inviter les visiteurs (amateurs de viande s'entend) en région. En fait, c'est rien qu'un steakhouse, mais il a un statut dans la région.

Or, je viens de découvrir un autre Georges Steakhouse, en fait George's Steakhouse, avec un s, mais pour indiquer la possession,à Appleton Wisconsin. Il doit y en avoir d'autres ailleurs, puisqu'il doit y avoir d'autres Georges ou George qui ont ouvert des restaurants spécialisés dans le steak. J'ai jeté un coup d'oeil au menu. Les prix sont corrects et les plats un peu plus élaborés que le Georges de Chicoutimi. Pour un steakhouse, celui d'Appleton est sensiblement plus huppé: c'est ausi un piano bar (!). Le dernier spectacle "à venir" Chez Georges date du 12 novembre 2012. Je ne savais même pas qu'il y en avait. Ou qu'il y en avait eu. Enfin bref, je sais que c'est quelque chose de banal, ce n'est qu'un nom, un nom commun pour une sorte de restaurant simple, mais j'ai quand même trouvé cette découverte fascinante.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Stockholm in one picture

I would like to start this post with a bit of trivia: as I have mentioned before on this blog I work in a diversified cultural environment (it is one of the good things about my job), with colleagues from all around the world (sometimes even England).One of them is Swedish and she mentioned today to my colleagues and I that she was from Stockholm. Which reminded me that I have visited Sweden, nearly 20 years ago, and that I saw Stockholm.

Why my family and I visited Sweden of all places was due to one reason: a year before we had a Swedish student who came to live with us and we were going to visit her in her own country. She was from the North and I will blog about my trip there more, but this post is about Stockholm, where we spend the first and last few days of our trip. The picture you can see was taken by dad during this holiday. You can tell it is an old picture scanned, but it gives you an idea of the city and its character. Stockholm is one of the cities that can be labelled Venice of the North. I have seen more Venice looking places, but rarely have I seen more northern looking places, even in the middle of an unusually hot summer, like it was then. Stockholm is beautiful, Stockholm has character. My brother is going to visit it this summer. I envy him. I am sure it has changed a lot in twenty years, but I am sure it still is beautiful.

Qu'est-il advenu du bout du monde?

Vous rappelez-vous de la photo du mois de novembre 2011? Le thème était le bout du monde. J'avais pris en photo ce lopin de terre au bout de la gare. Ca avait un côté un peu sauvage, avec des arbres et les herbes folles. J'avais trouvé le thème inspirant, parce qu'évocateur et en partie parce que Chicoutimi et le Saguenay d'où je viens se fait, ou se faisait appeler le bout du monde. Je me sentais une certaine affinité avec le sujet, mettons. Ce coin-là, je trouvais qu'il avait quelque chose des boisés et des coulées de Chicoutimi. Et puis assez récemment, la ville a réaménagé le coin de rue. Voir la photo à droite. Ils ont rajouté des fleurs, coupé des arbres (ce qui est pour moi un sacrilège), ont abandonné les herbes folles... Ils ont gardé la boîte téléphonique typiquement British. Donc, ça donne ça.Et je ne peux pas m'empêcher de trouver que ça fait plus jardin que bout du monde.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The Detective Tales cover for July

The time has come again when I upload a cover from the pulp magazine  Detective Tales and comment on it. I say the time has come again, but I don't have a specific time or date in the month when I do it, I only do it once a month, when convenient, when I feel inspired to do it or when I am not inspired to blog about anything else. As I mentioned in July 2012, finding a July cover is tricky, because so many of them have racist undertones, especially against Chinese. What's with July and China in pulp magazines?

This cover is from July 1942. Surely enough, there are Buddhas' statues on the picture, so the unknown villain(s) the hero is shooting could be Chinese. Or Japanese, as the issue was published during WWII, after Pearl Harbor. So you have one broken statuette inside which precious stones, probably rubies, were hidden, and the heroine carefully putting them on a cloth, while the hero (private eye? I always think the male protagonists are, unless otherwise stated) is gunning away in a classic stand. I wonder if they are not a recurring couple, as they do look like other couples we have seen before on other covers (here for instance). Anyway, precious stones and works of art are common MacGuffins in pulp literature and hardboiled crime fiction, so I thought it was interesting that it was featured on this cover instead of the villain.

Quand la plaine est fumante et tremble sous juillet

C'est un peu l'impression que j'ai lorsque je suis dehors ces temps-ci. La plaine est fumante et tremblante sous le soleil de juillet. J'emprunte bien entendu cette phrase d'un vers du Plat Pays de Jacques Brel. Je ne viens pas d'un plat pays, je ne vis pas dans un plat pays, mais en juillet quand il fait chaud, c'est cette chanson qui me vient en tête. Et lorsque je suis allé en Belgique, ce dont je me souviens le plus souvent, c'est la chaleur intense, la plaine fumante qui tremble. Alors voici Le Plat Pays.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Art, moral and an aphorism

Quick blog post about a controversy and a great unknown line my brother wrote on Facebook about it, very close to Oscar Wilde's aphorisms. Anyway, a ballet dancer from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet was sacked because he played in a porn. My initial reaction: so what if he did? It's not like he raped anyone. My second reaction is: shame on the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, it is a wrong decision in so many ways. That said, my brother summed it up in a great unknown line: "Artists aren't there to promote some silly morals. Artists should stay away from morals. Managers should stay away from everything." Worthy of Oscar Wilde, I say.

Retour colérique sur Lac-Mégantic

J'essaie de ne pas trop bloguer sur le sujet, ça va me mettre en colère et c'est déjà assez bouleversant comme ça. Mais c'est difficile d'y échapper: ça a fait le tour du monde et on en parle en Angleterre constamment. J'ai particulièrement apprécié la chronique d'Yves Boisvert, qui parle de tragédie criminelle. Il y a certainement eu négligence criminelle, une erreur aussi monumentale n'est pas le résultat d'un simple moment d'inattention, une série de passe-droits et de mauvaises décisions d'une compagnie de transport avare. On ne sait pas encore combien de gens sont coupables et à quel degré, mais on peut assumer qu'il y en a. Et à lire le communiqué de merde que le MMA a publié dans un français laborieux, ils sont déjà en train d'essayer de contrôler les dommages... à leur compagnie (accuser à mots couverts l'enquête publique de nuire à la leur, c'est couillon en tab*). J'ai ressenti une joie féroce à lire la version satirique de leur site web. Bien fait pour leur gueule, mais j'espère qu'ils en recevront d'autres.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Syd Barrett (1946-2006)

Today is the anniversary of the death of Syd Barrett, the founder of Pink Floyd, my favourite group, bare none. He died on the 7th of July 2006, overshadowed by the group he had created. We owe him a lot. To commemorate his death and to put everyone in a psychedelic mood, I have decided to upload a song from The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. It is Flaming. You can't get more psychedelic than this song. Enjoy.

Souvenirs d'enfance traumatisants

Mon petit frère a publié sur Facebook un lien menant à un billet sur Le Pharmachien, un blogue que je ne connais absolument pas. Il a fait une bande dessinée particulièrement exacte sur les clichés et les lieux communs sur la santé et l'environnement culturel québécois des enfants qui ont grandi dans les Temps Obscurs que l'on nomme les années 80. Ayant grandi dans la Presque Grande Noirceur des années 80, j'ai reconnu beaucoup de mon environnement enfantin là dedans, en particulier la publicité traumatisante d'Astor le robot. En voyant la bédé, pleins de choses me reviennent à l'esprit.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Learning about piracy

I have borrowed from the local library Pirates: Predators of the Sea. I have mentioned the book on this post, without naming it. As I often say, we can find so many treasures in local libraries. This is how I prefer to find books: not always looking for them, but stumbling upon them on a bookshelf. I had wanted to learn more about historical piracy for a long while. I am not very far ahead in the book, but I have already learned a few things: that the artist Howard Pyle popularized the traditional image of the pirate, that flibustier is the root of the English word filibuster, that buccaneers, from the French boucaniers, were named because they smoked their meat over a buccan, i.e. a barbecue. In Québec, the word boucane means smoke. I used to think the buccaneers were named after the smoke of their canons. I was obviously wrong. Anyway, the book is a great source of information for anyone who wants to know the truth behind the Hollywood fantasy.

Quand un village brûle

J'ai écrit un billet sur les feux de forê tout récemment. Je me sens un peu bête depuis aujourd'hui, quand j'ai lu sur l'explosion qui a mis le feu à Lac-Mégantic. Je ne me rappelle pas avoir visité le village, mais j'ai souvent été dans les Cantons de l'Est. C'est attristant et terrifiant à la fois. le tragique est bien sûr un mélange des deux, avec sa part d'absurde: le train était sans conducteur. Ajoutez à cela que c'est profondément surréaliste de voir la tragédie faire le tour du monde: les médias anglais en ont parlé, parfois à la une.

The Great British Summer

Well, who would have thought. It is definitely here. It is hot outside and sunny. It feels like a heatwave, even though I know my senses are betrayed by a few rotten summers. It might be a heatwave, or one might be on its way.

Question existentielle (192)

Je sais, j'ai posé la 191e récemment. Mais celle-ci est particulièrement originale et d'une importance capitale:

-Dans quel ordre les saveurs de la crème glacée napolitaine devraient-elles être?

Friday, 5 July 2013

The state of my Italian

A little detail/anecdote that made my day today: somebody thought I was an Italian. More importantly, this somebody was Italian. I went to the sandwich shop I go to for my Friday treat, and I could see the employee at the till was Italian. So I asked him: "Tu sei Italiano?" And after he had said "si", he asked me, in Italian, if I was. I had to say no because I couldn't keep my bluff. But he said I had an Italian accent, although he did not precise if it was Roman, Neapolitan or other. When I explained, in Italian (again), that I was Canadian, he asked if I was from Quebec... Now how cool is that? Next Friday, if he serves me again, I will try to order my sandwich in Italian. My vocabulary is limited, but at least I am building my confidence.

Les feux de forêt

Cette photo est une courtoisie de La Presse... bien que je n'aie pas demandé la permission pour la publier. "Prenez garde aux armes à feux... de forêt." C'était ce que disait une annonce à propos des... feux de forêt. J'étais enfant à l'époque et elle me traumatisait: il y avait un chasseur avec un fusil disant qu'une allumette pouvait faire cent fois plus de dommage, ou un truc du genre. J'y ai repensé hier en lisant cette nouvelle. J'y ai repensé encore plus en lisant celle-ci aujourd'hui. Il semblerait que les feux aient causé la panne du métro de Montréal. C'est comme le battement d'ailes du papillon. Sur Facebook, j'ai dit que la nostalgie et le mal du pays prenaient parfois d'étrange détours, car ces nouvelles me rappellent les soirs à Chicoutimi ou on sentait la fumée des feux de forêts des alentours. Ma cousine Amy m'a dit que "ça sentait un bon cou lundi, mon cher" (imaginez cette phrase avec l'accent saguenéen). Un autre ami a commenté disant que ça sentait de la Baie James à Montréal. Sans rire.Cela dit, le feu, la fumée, l'odeur barbecuesque des feux de forêt, ça fait partie des phénomènes estivaux qui marquent les étés québécois et qui me manquent ici.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

The Body of an American

It is the 4th of July, Independence Day. And I barely noticed. I guess in the country the US declared their independence from, it should go pretty much unnoticed. It struck me today that, while I grew to lvoe American culture through its literature and TV, I have never been to the United States. Strange. And I thought, to commemorate it, that I should upload a song... But it would be pointless of uploading a patriotic song of a country I don't belong to. So I came up with, yet again, The Body of an American by The Pogues, even though I uploaded it before. I first heard it, of course, on The Wire, the greatest American drama, heck, the best drama, bare none. It might be more about Ireland than America, but there is something about the American dream in the song, and I find the "I'm a free born man of the USA" very powerful. So here it is.

Une avenue montréalaise

Non, non je ne parle pas des différents candidats à la mairie (si je pouvais voter à Montréal, je serais bien embêté de savoir pour qui voter), je parle bien concrètement d'une avenue montréalaise, pour être plus précis l'Avenue Christophe-Colomb, celle perpendiculaire à l'Avenue Mont-Royal. Voici donc une photo de Christopher-Colomb, tout en haut de l'autre avenue, en plein coeur du Plateau. C'est une autre photo datant de l'année de la vente du condo. Une avenue toute en... feuilles. Je le disais dans mon billet 22 juin, Montréal en général et le Plateau Mont-Royal en particulier est champêtre, enfin aussi champêtre qu'un quartier d'une grande ville puisse être. Des jours d'été comme aujourd'hui, je m'en ennuie beaucoup.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Barrett's Privateers

Kevin Burton Smith, from the Thrilling Detective website, made me discover this folk song, by Canadian singer Stan Rogers. Shame on Philistine, crass me, I knew nothing about the man or his work, now I discover an extraordinary baritone voice (I have a sort of solidarity for baritones, being one myself) who died tragically. I was blown away by the song and been listening to it in loops since yesterday. As I have been blogging and intend to blog more about piracy, I thought this was the perfect song to upload here on Vraie Fiction. Little anecdotal stuff: in the song Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia is mentioned. I have never been there, but I have ancestors from my mother's side who are from there and one who actually was a seaman. I also also (and however) spent a fair deal of time in Sherbrooke, in the Eastern Townships in Québec. And my brother PJ is going to be in Sherbrooke soon. Interesting coincidence. I hope you enjoy the song as much as I do.

Question existentielle (191)

Mes billets sur le Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean passent inaperçus (aarrrggghhh!) alors que j'essaie de célébrer sur Vraie Fiction son 175e anniversaire. Alors je vais poser une question existentielle sur ma région basée sur une caractéristique des Bleuets:

-De quoi le Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean mérite-t-il d'être le plus fier?

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The sound of thunder?

Today at work, in the afternoon, there was a huge rumble that sounded like the first strike of thunder announcing a storm. But no storm came. It remained quiet and it rained a bit later. I wonder if it was thunder at all. See, I have been waiting for the storm for ages, for a storm to mark summertime. No luck yet. I was really hoping for it, but I never came. And we are in July already.

La Chouffe (et un calembour)

Un de mes amis a publié sur Facebook une photo d'une bouteille de Chouffe qui accompagnait son barbecue. La Choupe (choupe?) une bière belge qui a sans doute été la première bière étrangère que j'aie goûtée. C'était aussi la première bière forte que j'aie bue, et ça m'impresionnait beaucoup une bière forte lorsque j'étais adolescent. J'aime bien aussi le lutin/gnome (le site dit que c'est un lutin). J'avais entendu parler de la Mort Subite, qui était semblait-il encore plus alcoolisée. Un ami de mes parents, qui avait le calembour facile, avait alors dit: "avant de mourir, laisse-moi le temps de chouffer". L'ami en question est maintenant décédé, ce qui rend le jeu de mots un peu triste. Depuis, La Chouffe me fait penser à lui, et à ce calembour. Lorsque mon propre ami a téléchargé la photo sur Facebook, je n'ai pas pu m'empêcher de récupérer le calembour: "Faut bien prendre le temps de chouffer".

Monday, 1 July 2013

A bull of excommunication

"I wonder what his archbishship is after. Perhaps he's delivering a bull of excommunication. In a gaudy gift wrapper of course."

-Earthly Powers, Anthony Burgess

This was pronounced by the lover of Kenneth Toomey in the novel, on the morning of his eighty-first birthday. More about the context of the first chapter here. I was flicking through the pages of Earthly Powers and I thought this would be how I'd love to officially, formally severe any kind of link I have with the Catholic Church. Not requesting an act of apostasy or whatever document one has to request and pay for. A good old bull of excommunication.I guess it is fairly rare nowadays and I may not have been impious publicly enough. But that is being kicked off in style.

Lundi, premier juillet (ben tiens)

C'était aujourd'hui (et déjà!) le premier juillet. C'était lundi également. Comme c'est le début du mois, c'était tranquille au travail, mais si j'avais été de l'autre côté de l'Atlantique ce serait un jour férié... Un lundi de jour férié, j'aime moins qu'un vendredi, parce que c'est toujours malgré tout un lundi. Cela dit, Dominion/Confederation/Canada Day, je ne le souligne jamais, alors le congé férié ne me manque pas vraiment.