Notable News (w13-w22)

In the last couple of months (ten weeks!), there was really nothing new on the domestic front. The same old routine. Spring finally came, the air warmed up and (after a little icy setback) the buds started to open, quickly blossoming into a late summer. I experienced, again, some health problems which kept my moral down for a while. I had my old computer repaired and finally got a new one, which meant lots of hardware and software installations, reorganizing the working area, etc., which made many onomatopoeias come to mind (Aauugh!, *whimper*, *Phew*).

PearlsBeforeSwine-20180106I tried to apply to a couple of new jobs in order to get out of the nut house where I works but with no luck. To make things worse, the company we hired to repair the balcony & backyard keeps dragging their feet and nothing seems to get going. I want to prepare the garden for the summer but will we be able to do any gardening? My life seems on hold. I have many new project ideas to keep me busy but there’s so little time, so many things to think about and to do, all at the same time, that’s overwhelming, mind-crushing, depressing even…

I spent so much energy running like crazy at work (and for a whole week the temperature in the library was between 24 and 28 ºC!), coming back completely exhausted, hoping for a new job (or some sort of fairy god-mother intervention), waiting on the contractor (I took some vacation in order to rebuild the garden after the works would be done, but I feel I wasted my time…), stressing about health problems, reorganizing my computers and my network (extending ethernet to compensate for Bell’s weak wi-fi for example) that I really didn’t read or write much. Again, getting caught with life so much that… I forgot to live! It seemed that time was slipping through my fingers like sand. I felt (and still feel) tired all the time…

When I am at work I feel miserable but, when I am at home and look at this house — this little and comfortable nest, or safe-house, we have set-up for ourselves — I feel pretty good and content. I have everything I need and could ask for (okay, maybe not that marble bust of Lucius Virus or a more quiet and pleasant job — but, who knows, it might come someday). So, I have no real reason to be unhappy (beside watching the news, of course). I just have to tell myself that, again and again, and repeat it,  each time I have to face the darkness…

However, I was not completely idle. I wrote a little (commenting on Le secret des vietnamiennes, Venise and Bug, as well as a few movies). I also attended the Congrès Boréal, went to Ottawa to watch tulips and to the annual book sales of the libraries (so far I bought a few novels and about thirty-five manga!). Unfortunately, I mostly kept myself entertained: I finished to watch The Durrells, some old favourites TV series like Homeland or The Expanse, and tried some quite excellent new series like the remake of Lost in Space, Little Women or The Good Karma Hospital. I even discovered a new TV service, BritBox, but haven’t had time to try it yet.

PearlsBeforeSwine-20180111On the world stage we find the usual disasters: Trump ramping and raving (blaming everyone but himself), floods here, volcano there, many more sexual scandals, ups and downs in North Korea, war looming in the Middle East (Gaza, Iran), add another ebola epidemic, or an occasional school shooting and you have the picture. But there are also some good news, like a very Royal Wedding! [See detailed day by day events for April and May]

Through all this I tried to stay acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered a few notable news & links — which I now share with you (in both french or english, slightly categorized, but in no particular order — note that, to save on coding time, the links will NOT open in a new window as usual), after the jump.

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Notable News (W07 – W12)

In the last five weeks, nothing much happened on the domestic front. The weather slightly improved each weeks (now it’s mostly above zero, although the east coast kept being hit by one  nor’easter after another!) and the sun feels much better (warmer) since we switched to daylight saving time as it sets much later now. The snow is melting. The job is as tiring and frustrating (absurd) as ever, but I think I am dealing better with it. Zen and all (trying not to give a f*ck).

I got my DNA testing results from 23&me and it is rather disappointing. I am genetically boring: one hundred per cent europeans and no variants detected for major health issues (save a higher risk for macular degeneration and celiac disease). The physical traits reports are hits and misses. I still have to read everything in details, but I feels it is more amusing than really useful.

I didn’t write much (although I did a few good comments on What the Health, An inconvenient sequel, Le chat du rabbin 7, Reine d’Égypte vol. 1 and vol. 2-3, on Kim Thuy’s conference and her book Ru) because I have been constantly busy trying to solve multiple problems. I have the feeling that nothing works properly anymore! Everything seems buggy: the WiFi, the blog, the computer (at home and at work), and even the electricity (causing the lights to flickers almost constantly, turning off and on the TV or the computer)! Is the world starting to slowly brake down all over? The entropy! The entropy! Seriously, if all this is a simulation (or a dream) slowly shutting down, maybe a reboot would wake me up? Or maybe not. But this constant fighting to maintain the cohesion of the universe is getting tiresome (if not unbearable, yet).

I called Hydro Q and the flicker stopped (for now). Tried to install network extenders but Bell’s wifi is till shitty (neither Apple Airport or Netgear worked; should I try another brand? More pods? To be continued…). The computer finally died (there was a problem with File Vault being on but the main problem was the hard drive after all) and is now at the repair shop. My desk feels empty and working in the salon on a combination of Mac-mini (which I normally use as a media center) and iPad, is rather uncomfortable. I am planing to purchase a Macbook soon… But I wasted so much time doing all this… it is frustrating.

In the news, the world doesn’t seems in a much better shape. More Trump-related scandals (Cambridge Analytica, Stormy Daniels, he fires Tillerson and McMaster, tease trade war and impose tariffs on steel & aluminummostly for China, proposed talks with North Korea, etc.), more school shooting this time at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland (Florida), serial bombing in Texas, another democrats’ victory in Pennsylvania slowly tips the scale, emboldened Russians assassinated a couple of former spies in Britain (one with a nerve agent!), Steven Hawking died, etc. The good news is that the students from Parkland are old enough to become activists (#NeverAgain) and, for some, to vote in the mid-term election in November! An end to this nightmare really seems possible…

Anyway, as usual, I managed to stay a little acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered many notable news & links — which I now share with you (in both french or english, slightly categorized, but in no particular order — note that, to save on coding time, the links will NOT open in a new window as usual), after the jump.

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Notable News (W43 – W06)

So much happened in the last four months (since the last notable news entry), that I wouldn’t know where to start. I’ll try to recall the highlights, but I’ll try to be brief.

On the domestic front we had a bout of extreme cold (while in the opposite hemisphere they had the hottest weather in nearly eight decades!). For the rest of the time we had the (now) usual cycle of freeze (snow) / defreeze (rain) with more snow than usual (at least more than last year; 195 cm so far). At work it is the usual hell, but I guess I came to term with it, becoming more zen (i.e. no giving a f**k) but I am still set into trying to find another job (in a quieter library, some place closer to home, maybe some desk job but I would rather prefer to keep working with books).

My blog was hacked and I finally made a move to a proper WordPress hosting. It is still a work in progress (still lots of repair to do), but I am now very satisfied with the look of the new blog. Of course, I’ve been more busy working on the blog itself and I didn’t write as much as I would have liked (but, still, I kept busy with some reviews, an essay on the art of reviewing and some articles like a biographical notice, a bibliography update, indexes, etc).

I had lots of trouble to have the city cut a branch of the tree in front of our house because it was touching the electric wires. The expensive repair/renovation in the backyard & balcony couldn’t be completed before the arrival of the cold weather (bad planning and lots of wasted time). The stupid contractor didn’t even provide an invoice so we cannot file our subsidy demands and he didn’t even bother to respond when we demanded that the work be completed in a timely manner in spring!

The digestion problems I’ve had since the beginning of the year convinced me to finally submit to tests and I had to endure a coloscopy (the test itself lasted just fifteen minutes but the two days of liquid diet and “preparation” were hellish!). They found that I was suffering from fatty liver and a sigmoidal diverticulosis (which could complicate into a diverticulitis). More stuff to be careful about…

This string of problems made me rather depressed. What’s the purpose to constantly fight if it is to simply eat in order to work, and work in order to be able to eat? I felt like the entropy of the world was catching up to me: the world was stopping making any sense, I was getting tired and weaker, everything was crumbling around me! Fortunately, writing and working on the blog was some sort of therapy for me and I now feel much better. Spring will be arriving in a little more than a month (despite mixed signals from the groundhogs) and we’ll be able to enjoy flowers under the sun again!

In the news, Catalonia declared independence from Spain, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (killing all chances of peace in the Middle East), Disney acquired most of 21st Century Fox, the #metoo social awakening happened, the U.S. government shotdown twice, the Dow Jones droppedSpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy rocket with a Tesla car as payload (!), there was a missile false alarm in Hawaii and Japan, we had various disasters (wild fires in California, mudslides, earthquakes, floods in Europe), and the usual Trump craziness makes me despair for some sanity. Finally, there nothing much on TV since it’s the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics!

Despite everything, I managed to stay a little acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered many notable news & links — which I now share with you (in both french or english, slightly categorized, but in no particular order — note that, to save on coding time, the links will NOT open in a new window as usual), after the jump.

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Retro linking 1

I found a bunch of old notable links (part one from January to March 2015) that I never had the chance to share with you. It’s quite a time-machine! For an historian, it’s fascinating: it’s like a slice of what was happening at that time or, at least, a slice of my interests then. I was reading more news in those days… I am also surprised how so few links went dead after so many years. (To save on coding time, the links will NOT open in a new window as usual).

So, here they are (in both french or english, slightly categorized, but in no particular order and minus the links that are dead or now irrelevant), after the jump…

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Monthly notable news (w34-42)

On the home front, we had relatively nice weather. Warmer than usual, with some rain (remnants of “Nate”), until the seasonal temperature caught up to us to give our first freezing warning. Now, let me remember what happened in the last two months. So many stuff…

I had a terrible time at the job. I was asked to do something that was against the rules (and my ethics — we all know I am a stickler for the rules!). I voiced my objections but was ready to do the task nonetheless. Instead of praising my flexibility, I was told I was difficult to work with (that I might agree with but you should see what I have to deal with) and didn’t adapt well (not as fast as they can change their mind anyway — and, whatever we do, one cannot adapt to chaos). It was the culmination of all of what’s wrong with the place (the mismanagement, incompetence, utter inconsistencies [they flip-flop so much in their decision making sometimes that it’s a wonder they’re not flying!], and lack of respect). This incident was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I couldn’t take it anymore and it made me quite depressed for a while. Too much to my taste.

Lots of stuff was happening at the same time: the FFM, the preparation for the major (and expensive) repairs to the balcony and masonry at the back of the house so we needed to clear the backyard of all vegetation, etc. All this caused me a lot of stress (expressing itself with high blood pressure, digestion problems, rash, etc.). In the end, I was able to manage (finding something interesting enough to forget all those troubles). After all, we’re alive, there’s no imminent catastrophe chasing us and we have something to do to keep us busy (my writing, not this hateful job). Don’t worry, be happy! Easy to say…

I also changed my phone as Apple released lots of news stuff (some new hardware [iPhone 8, iPhone X, Apple Watch 3, Apple TV 4K, etc.] and many OS updates — some painful to implement, so I’ve spent lots of time back-uping hard-drives and re-installing everything)…

Despite all this, I was really on fire at the keyboard: I wrote many comments (on the opening of the Frederic-Back Park, on the FFM movies [Noise, Dear Etranger], a few capsule reviews (on  the latest Yoko Tsuno, Pline #2, Jackie and Samurai Gourmet) and two mangas (The life-changing manga of tidying up and Anne Frank’s Edu-Manga)–some posted at the Irresistibles: Yoko Tsuno #28 and Le journal de mon père), two essays (the second part of my piece on literary genres and an article on how I approach writing comments!) and I talked about Ishiguro getting the Nobel Prize and Rue de Sèvres publishing the last Taniguchi. Not bad, but there’s still so much to do! And, remembering  Daniel Keyes’ novel Flowers for Algernon, I cannot help myself in worrying that this welcomed lucidity of mind is only a fleeting perk…

In the news, it becomes clear that this will be an annus horribilis for the U.S. (and the world): not only Trump was unleashed onto the world (bent on unravelling everything good that Obama did and destroying the American democracy), but more disasters keep happening: an earthquake in Mexico, hurricanes Harvey (causing damages mostly in  Texas), Irma (in the Leeward Islands and Florida), Jose (again in the Leeward Islands) and Maria (in Puerto Rico), there was also a terrible shooting in Las Vegas, great fires in California, sex scandal in Hollywood (shocking!), etc. How comes some people still support this moron and deny climate changes is beyond my comprehension!

Despite all this, I still managed to stay acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered about an hundred notable news & links — which I now share with you (in both french or english, slightly categorized, but in no particular order), after the jump.

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FFM 2017 wrap-up

FFM_banner-2017The 41st Montreal World Film Festival (FFM) is now over. This year was a slim pick for the Japanese cinema aficionado since there was only two Japanese movies (two others were co-productions with non-Japanese directors). Besides that, the festival went smoothly for me. However, the only question remaining above our heads is: will there be a festival next year? Of course Serge Losique wants to be reassuring and said that the FFM was here to stay. He even announced the dates for the next two years: August 23rd to September 3rd 2018 and August 22nd to September 2nd 2019 !!

One of the event that I would have liked to attend (but couldn’t by lack of time) was the press conference and Master Class held at L’Astral by Chinese Martial Art Filmmaker Xu Haofeng (The Hidden Sword) on Monday August 28th. It seems that it was one of the rares (if not the only one) press conference held at the FFM this year. I really miss those… (and the film market and the press room!)

The closing film of the festival was a surprise to be announced after the awards, just a few hours before its free screening. It was meant as a gift for the movie fans.

A press release announced the awards for the 48th Student Film Festival: for the Canadian competition it went to Land by Samiramis Kia (York University, Toronto) and for the International competition it went to Elene by Seven Kayhan (Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey).

Another press release announced the awards for the festival itself: the Grand Prix of the Americas (Best Film) went to And Suddenly the Dawn by Silvio Caiozzi (Chile) and the Special Grand Prix of the Jury went to Dear Etranger by Yukiko Mishima (Japan). Check the press release for the other awards.

To summarize, I’ve seen and commented on two Japanese movies:

I also wrote a few informational posts about the festival:

Finally, here are the latest comments about the FFM in the media:

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FFM Update

The 41st edition of the Festival des Films du Monde is offering us this year only ninety-two movies and forty-two shorts from countries all over the world. It might be a reduced formula (no printed program, no press room, no film market) but, still, no other festival could offers such diversity.

The information has finally finished to trickle down and we now know the complete list of the movies to be screened and their schedule. Unfortunately, aficionado of Japanese cinema will feel a little short-changed this year as the lists includes only FOUR Japanese movies:

The movies will be screened in three theatres:

Day 1: I went to see my first movie tonight, Noise. The theatre was almost empty, but that’s to be expected for a Japanese movie on a Friday night. I have taken notes on the bus ride on my way back, and I’ll post my comments on the movie as soon as I can. However, I will not see much movies this year: the one in competition for sure (Dear Etranger), but I’ll see for the other two (a horror movie and a short ?). The first day went smoothly so, even with the minimalist organisation, the festival seems to be doing well (I guess that with the experience of last year’s disaster they were better prepared this time). I hope it will continue and get better in the future. This year is the eighteeth time I have been covering and reporting on the FFM and I wish I’ll reach the twentieth time…

Here is what they say about the FFM in the news:

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