Isabella Bird: Femme Exploratrice, vol. 1-2

IsabellaBird-v1-cov“À la fin du XIXe siècle, le Japon s’ouvre au monde et s’occidentalise à marche forcée. Mais le pays reste un vrai mystère pour la plupart des Européens, ce qui en fait une destination de choix pour la célèbre exploratrice anglaise Isabella Bird ! Malgré son jeune âge, elle est déjà connue pour ses écrits sur les terres les plus sauvages. Isabella ne choisit jamais les chemins les plus faciles et, cette fois encore, elle étonne son entourage par son objectif incongru : Ezo, le territoire des Aïnous, une terre encore quasi inexplorée aux confins de l’archipel… Le voyage s’annonce long et difficile, mais rien n’arrête la pétillante jeune femme !

Accompagnée de son guide-interprète, le stoïque M. Ito, la jeune femme parcourt un pays en plein bouleversement. Dans ses lettres quotidiennes à sa sœur, elle narre avec sincérité et force détails la suite de chocs culturels qu’elle expérimente. Elle veut tout voir, tout essayer, quitte à endurer chaleur, fatigue, maladie ainsi que les sarcasmes de ses pairs !

Lancez-vous à la découverte d’un Japon traditionnel désormais disparu à travers les yeux de l’intrépide Isabella Bird ! Basé sur les écrits réels de l’aventurière, Isabella Bird, femme exploratrice est un récit passionnant sur la rencontre de deux mondes, dessiné avec un rare souci du détail par Taiga Sassa, nouveau talent prometteur !”

[ Texte du site de l’éditeur; voir aussi la couverture arrière ]

Comme je l’ai déjà mentionné lorsque j’ai introduit ce manga, Isabella Bird, femme exploratrice (ふしぎの国のバード / Fushigi no Kuni no bādo [Bird] / littéralement: “Bird au pays des merveilles”) nous offre le récit de voyage de la célèbre exploratrice britannique au Japon du début de l’ère Meiji. Ce manga historique a d’abord été publié en feuilletons dans le magazine Harta de Enterbrain. Jusqu’à maintenant il a été compilé en quatre volumes (le dernier en date étant paru en novembre 2017). La version française est publiée par Ki-oon et trois volumes sont paru jusqu’à maintenant (le quatrième devrait paraître en août 2018).

L’auteur, dont c’est le premier manga publié, a basé son récit sur l’ouvrage Unbeaten Tracks in Japan (1880) qui rassemble la correspondance d’Isabella Bird avec sa soeur Henrietta durant son périple au Japon.

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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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Brit Box

britbox_logo_stacked_canada_flavourI first saw an advertisement for this on Facebook but didn’t pay much attention to it (because, these days, who trust what they are seeing on FB). I’ve also seen lots of similar offers in Totally British magazine, but it looked like it was either expensive, complicated or semi-legit solutions. However, when I saw an ad on TV (I don’t remember if it was on CNN or MSNBC) then it got my attention as it looked quite serious. Everyone who is a fan of British television should have a look at this.

BritBox.com is similar to Netflix: it’s a digital video subscription service. It offers a large selection of TV shows for streaming (dramas, comedies, mysteries, documentaries, soaps, lifestyles, etc.) to the difference that those shows are exclusively British. It claims that they are the “Biggest streaming collection of British TV… ever” !

You can sign in for a 7-day free trial and, after that, you can indulge your inner Brit by paying only $8.99 per month and be able to cancel anytime. Forget about catching a few Brit TV shows on CBC, PBS or BBC Canada. Now you can watch the best of Brit TV anytime, anywhere (web, phone, tablet, Apple TV, etc.), uncut and commercial free. All you need is an internet connection. Quite interesting.

BritBox is co-owned by the BBC and ITV and launched in Canada last February. 

Here’s a few of the shows available on BritBox that I found could be quite interesting to (re-) watch: Agatha Christie’s Poirot (6 seasons), Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire (2006), Around the World in 80 Treasures (2005), Blackadder (5 seasons: 1983-89), Bleak House (2005), Cadfael (4 seasons: 1994-98), Classic Doctor Who (25 seasons: 1963-89), Cranford (2 seasons: 2007-09), Desperate Romantics (2009), Doctor Zhivago (2002), Dunkirk (2004), Elizabeth R (1971), Father Brown (1974), Hammer House movies (1980), Inspector Morse (8 seasons: 1987-1993), Lark Rise to Candleford (4 seasons: 2008-11), Life on Mars (2 seasons: 2006-07), Maigret (both 1992 and 2016 series), Midsomer Murders (19 seasons: 1998-2018), Poldark (1996), Prime Suspect (7 seasons: 2991-2006), Red Dwarf (12 seasons: 1988-1999, 2009, 2016-2017), Rosemary & Thyme (3 seasons: 2003-07), Sharpe (7 seasons: 1993-97, 2006, 2008), Sherlock Holmes (4 seasons: 1984-1985, 1986-1988, 1991-93, 1994), Spitting Image (5 seasons: 1984-88), The Champions (1968-69), The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1981), The Moonstone (1972-73, 2016), The Queen’s Archive Speeches (1940-2002), Torchwood (4 seasons: 2006-11), Tutankhamun (2016), and Upstairs Downstairs (both series: 1971-74, 2010-12). Just to name a few! 

It is certainly worth a look and I am planning to sign in for the free trial during my next vacation in May for a binge-test! Watch this space (and let me know what you think of it if you are already a subscriber)!

Sources: 

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Le secret des vietnamiennes

Secret_des_vietnamiennes-cov« Les recettes étaient chuchotées entre les femmes d’une famille comme s’il s’agissait de secrets hautement sensibles et jalousement précieux. Elles se transmettaient d’une génération à l’autre au rythme d’un temps lent et dans la discrétion d’un espace intime. 

Dans ce livre, je vous murmure quelques-uns de ces bijoux dont ma mère et mes tantes m’ont confié la garde afin que l’histoire continue. »

[ Texte du site de l’éditeur; voir aussi la couverture arrière ]

J’ai récemment vu Kim Thúy en conférence et lu son premier roman, Ru. Cela a éveillé de l’intérêt pour cette talentueuse auteure. Son dernier né est un livre de cuisine pas comme les autres, Le secret des Vietnamiennes.

Kim Thúy s’y raconte. Des souvenirs de famille ou de camp de réfugiés. Elle nous dit que, comme ses parents, elle exprime son amour par la cuisine et la nourriture. Elle nous présente sa mère et ses soeurs (désignées par un chiffre qui représente leur ordre de naissance) ainsi que leurs recettes favorites: sa mère (grande soeur 3, Lý Kim Thúy) nous offre la base (les vermicelles, les herbes, les légumes, les fruits, les galettes de riz, les fûts de sauce de poisson); Tante 4 (Lý Kim Hà) des soupes; Tante 5 (Lý Kim Hài) les bols et les sautés; Tante 6 (Lý Kim Hiêu) les légumes en salades; Tante 7 (Lý Kim Hanh) les grillades et la friture; Tante 8 (Lý Kim Nhân) la cuisson longue (ragoût de boeuf à la citronnelle, pain de viande au boeuf et à l’oignon), déjeuner, et Chà Bông (viande séchée); et finalement, l’auteur elle-même, Grande Soeur 2 (Lý Thành Kim Thúy) les desserts et les grignotines. Puis, la sommelière Michelle Bouffard nous introduit aux accords entre les mets vietnamiens et les vins (Riesling), et Monique Giroux à ceux avec la musique. Elle conclue avec un hommage à sa grand-mère maternelle (Lê Kiêm Guong).

Je ne cuisine plus vraiment, c’est pourquoi — à quelques exception près — les livres de recettes ne m’intéressent pas vraiment — mais qui n’aime pas la bonne bouffe? Dans le cas de ce livre-ci, ce sont les récits de Kim Thúy et ses introductions pour les différents plats qui sont une source d’intérêt. On ne se fatigue jamais de sa belle prose. Et, bien sûr, c’est illustré par des extraits de ses romans et de superbes photographies. C’est une très bonne lecture si Kim Thúy, le Viet Nam ou la cuisine vous intéresse. 

Le secret des Vietnamiennes, par Kim Thúy. Montréal: Trécarré, octobre 2017. 192 p. 23 x 27.5 cm, $29.95 (PDF: $21.99), ISBN 978-2-89568-714-6. Pour lectorat de tout âge (7+). Un extrait est disponible sur le site de l’éditeur. stars-3-5

Vous trouverez plus d’information sur les sites suivants:

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© Les Éditions du Trécarré, 2017.

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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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Interviews

I recently stumbled on a couple of interviews I did in 2003-2004 when I was editor-in-chief for a magazine dedicated to Japanese popular culture (mostly anime and manga). It is strange to reminisce about this period of my life but I thought it would be amusing to share them with you here.

The first interview was done online with a couple of high-school students for a school assignment. It was done in French but I also translated it in English :

The second one was done with Fred Patten for an article in Comics Buyer’s Guide :

 

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JCCCM Craft and Food Sale

JCCCM_Craft_and_Food_Sale
JCCCM-logoYesterday, I went to the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal for their craft and food sale held each year in the beginning of December to raise funds and offer Christmas gifts opportunities. In previous years I bought some Japanese-style pottery but that potter was not at the sale this time. Instead I bought a trinket (a bag of acorns made of semi-precious stones — very nice) and my wife bought some of Masaki Endo’s Natto.

The sale is rather small as there is only a dozen vendors like Stephen H. Kawai (the guy selling those semi-precious acorns), Lou Hideyoshi’s Sekken SoapM of Leema’s custom made laptop & tablet kimono covers (cool!), Hiromi Ono’s Fleur DesignOnigiri Justice, Miyabi handmade soap, Sho-Raku-An Japanese calligraphy, Hana Hana Kokoro Handmade, Kimono Vintage (Wow! see also their web page), etc. If you are interested in Japanese-style goods and culture those kind of places are worth checking.