Vendredi nature [002.020.206]

Malfaisant rodants / Rongeurs malfaisant

La courgette pousse vite mais est fort apprécié des gourmets nocturnes
The zucchini grow quickly but is much appreciated by nightly gourmets

Les suspects probable sont l’écureuil gris et la marmotte commune
The most likely culprit are the eastern gray squirrel and the groundhog

Ce sont hélas les aléas du jardinage urbain, particulièrement près d’un parc. Les insectes,  gastéropodes et rongeurs s’attaquent aux cucurbitacées. Les oiseaux et homo simplex beaessus s’attaquent aux tournesols en mangeant les graines ou en arrachant les plants. Il n’y a rien que l’on puisse y faire car la nature a encore tous ses droits…

Unfortunately, these are the hazards of urban gardening, particularly near a park. Insects, gastropods and rodents attack cucurbits. Birds and homo simplex ouelferus attack sunflowers by eating the seeds or pulling up the plants. There is nothing we can do about it because nature still has all its rights …

Note

Il faut bien se trouver des raison de célébrer dans la vie, histoire de garder le moral et de se donner des objectifs pour marquer le passage du temps. Et bien je vous annonce qu’il ne me reste plus que 2500 jours avant la retraite !!! J’ai bien hâte de pouvoir me consacrer à temps plein à la lecture et à l’écriture…

🤣 🤣 🤣

You have to find reason to celebrate in life, just to keep up your spirits and to set goals to mark the passage of time. Well, I tell you that I only have 2500 days left before retirement !!! I can’t wait to devote myself full time to reading and writing …

Images du mer-fleuri [002.020.190]

Bouquet & Rudbeckie

[ iPhone 11 Pro, 2020/07/1, 3 & 10]

La Rudbeckie hérissée (Rudbeckia hirta en latin ou Black-eyed Susan en anglais) est une plante à fleurs ornementale de l’ordre des Asterales, de la famille des Asteraceae et du genre Rudbeckia. Je suis sûr qu’il y a toute une histoire derrière ce nom (du genre “Beckie a été rude et s’est hérissée contre Suzan et lui a donné un oeil au beurre noir”…) 😂

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Status report (early July)

The life in the time of the coronavirus continues… 

This is my fifth status report since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic (the other four were in March, mid-April, the end of April, and in mid-May). It has now been fifteen weeks (or one-hundred and seven days) since it has all begun. It has been forty days since the beginning of the slow re-opening and my return to work (thirteen days since we’ve restart taking the public in the library for a limited offer of service). 

On the domestic side of life, I can say that I feel I have not been doing much in the last month and half… I didn’t do much around the house (it was either too hot or raining). As usual, I probably watch too much television: like rewatching the Ghost in the Shell: Arise series and several movies (also, to fill the time, I started watching again the 2004 series of Battlestar Galactica). However, I have been reading enough to catch up on my tsundoku… (hurray!) and write a little about my readings (dBD #141, La sphère d’Or, Unbeaten tracks in Japan, I’ll never tell, De Gir à Moebius, and several other French comics that I covered in the article “Sherlock Holmes en bande dessinée (2)”).

Weather — The temperature was unusually warm lately (above average) and often quite dry. So much so that the vegetation in the parc often took a yellowish colour. Thankfully, it rained periodically enough to keep everything alive. In the last week or so it has been quite hot and humid. Enough to discourage any sustained outside activities, although we still take our daily walk.

Health — With the confinement (probably because of slightly bigger meal and less activity) I have gained weight. My blood pressure and glucose are also higher (maybe because of an increased stress?). I have also experienced digestive problems, my usual recurring pain at the end of the digestive track as well as some chest and shoulder pain (probably muscular). Overall, I feel in good shape but it could be better. Unfortunately, I know that with age nothing gets better…

Work — All is fine at work. My usual library being still closed for renovation I was assignment to another one. This new place is at a nice location (at walk/bike distance from home) and has a nice team (although, since the people of my library working there are in extra, we perform mostly boring jobs). However, there was one painful incident: a customer refused the answer the covid “questions” and to sanitize his hands upon entrance. As I was insisting (to follow protocol), he became increasingly disagreeable, up to implying that I was doing so because of my ego or because I was racist. I was just trying to do my job. I was putting my health at risk (and the health of my family) in order to give him access to the library and he has shown absolutely no appreciation or gratitude for it. All I ask is some respect. If I was hurt by being called a racist (and I will come back on this subject) what really pissed me off was that my colleagues didn’t show much support when I tried to explain that he refused to follow protocol and insulted me. I don’t know, maybe they just didn’t understand me well: it is hard to express yourself calmly when it’s hot and your are talking through a mask and a face-shield. What happened to “we must absolutely ask ALL the covid questions and not let anyone in that doesn’t answer properly”? And then they told me “you know, we get insulted all the time. You have to get used to it” implying that I was weak to let it get to me. We are supposed to have a policy of not tolerating any disrespect and bullying (no respect, no service) and, yet in the end, that man received the service he came for. If you are tolerating such disrespect OF COURSE people will feel empowered and continue with the same behaviour. It is the wrong attitude. Anyway, that incident bothered me for weeks as I kept thinking about it…

One thing that I spent a lot of time on lately, was shopping for a nice electric bike or scooter. In this epidemic, I want to avoid public transportation (bus & subway) and if my work place for now is at a walking or biking distance, it is quite tiring in the summer heat (and I am closer to sixty than fifty years-old after all). I rented one for a week and I liked it a lot, but when I wanted to purchase one not a single store in the metropolitan area had any in stock. I guess everybody had the same idea at the same time and I was too late. An electric BIKE looks cool (particularly the Banana Boss, the Rad Runner 1, the Maxie Large, or the Paris) but it is quite expensive and a standard bicycle seat is really hard on my backside. Strangely, a scooter is less expensive, as well as being much more confortable and versatile. I’ve been checking several nice models (Écolo, Tao Aquarius, Vienna, Gio Italia, Mignon, UQi Pro, etc.) but now I found a good store and I am just waiting for them to receive some stock later this month…

Many important events happened in the second quarter of 2020 ( the end of May, June and the beginning of July) but I don’t want to spend much time on those current events. However, the world stage was dominated by the three great plagues of the era. First, the coronavirus. So far, the world has suffered over 10 million cases of infection resulting in over half a million deaths! We dealt relatively well with it in Canada, but the U.S. in on the verge of total catastrophe as it reopened too soon and they are now seeing an horrible surge in infection (over fifty-thousand new cases each day!). 

The second plague is Trump. I would think that we would get used to it by now but his mishandling of the coronavirus response (no national coordination, not enough test and PPE, not urging confinement, distanciation, and wearing masks, etc.), his constant lying, and his rhetoric encouraging hate-speech and inciting to violence kept making everything worse. Sometimes, I think he just doing it on purpose. If he is not a Putin agent, he is certainly an agent of chaos. He loves it. I can’t wait until November… 

The final plague is racism. Following the death by police abuse of George Floyd and many other subsequent similar baffling incidents, the American urban areas erupted in spontaneous protests against this pervasive institutional racism that literally plagues the U.S. How did we moved from a pandemic to riots in the streets? (Without much social distancing hence the cases surge) We all hoped that it was getting better but I guess we got negligent — the coronavirus confinement and Trump inducement somehow seem to have put salt on the wound — as it now seems worse than ever. It must be dealt with once and for all. With police reform certainly (defunding, demilitarizing, new structure, call it what you want — I always thought we should have several level of policing: the unarmed street or biking cop, the patrol police answering to theft and hold-up, the inspector, the riot police and now we should have a force of psycho-social worker for domestic violence, teenage trouble, neighbour disputes, etc.), but the disease goes further than that. Social reform and massive investments to reduce inequality (in education, in job opening, in housing, etc.) are necessary. With the recent movements like Me-Too and Black Lifes Matter, I feel that the world is effervescent and on the verge of great changes, just like in ’68. However, we will have to be patient. Real change takes time. But now the seed of change, the idea that it is possible, has been planted in people’s minds. It only remains to take care of it and watch it germinate… But the first step toward that change is for American to go vote in November.

Racism has always bothered me. All my life I tried to treat everybody equally, not letting their opinion, behaviour, the size of their nose, the colour of their eyes, hair or skin (pink, brown, “black”, “red” or “yellow”) distract me from the fact that we were all the same. Human beings. I always tried to be tolerant (sometime failing: for a while I became quite intolerant toward religion, but now the only thing I can’t tolerate is intolerance — and stupidity). When I was a teenager I thought that the best way to solve racism was to intermarry and eventually we would all become of the same skin colour (that’s what I did, unfortunately I never had kids — too much trouble!). However, skin colour is just an excuse for racists: in fact they are just afraid of the difference (people thinking, dressing, talking, etc., differently than they are). There are many culture on this world and, if we just learn about them, we see there is no reason to be afraid. We discover that this difference is beautiful, that it is a wealth. Those people usually are against (or ignorant of) science. Science is telling us that, genetically, we are all the same and that there is only one race: the human race. I always wanted to write about this complex and touchy subject (and someday I will). Unfortunately, whatever you say or write will always receive criticism: you didn’t say this, the way you say that is discriminatory, it is not enough, it is too much, etc., so I am waiting to have the right words. However, if you stay silent,  it is worse because they say that you are complicit, that you are encouraging racism by saying nothing. I prefer to show support by my actions: I won’t protest in the street but I’ll always try to be equitable, unbiased, and just. If I see someone being discriminated (racially or otherwise) I will try to defend them. And I’ll stay silent. If I scold you for doing something wrong (like misbehaving in the library or trying to cut the waiting line to enter the bus) and you answer be accusing me of being racist, I’ll stay silent. But just know that calling me a racist is the worst insult that you could give me…

I feel the end of this year will really be difficult… Take care of yourselves and stay safe !

Also, I found time to stay a little 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), after the jump.

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Sherlock Holmes en bande dessinée (2)

BDs hommages & pastiches

Dans la première partie de cette série d’articles sur les adaptations de Sherlock Holmes en bande dessinée, j’ai traité des adaptations canoniques c’est-à-dire qui racontent fidèlement les récits des romans de Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Il s’agissait principalement de la série britannique écrite par Ian Edginton et illustrée par Ian Culbard, publiée en anglais chez SelfMadeHero (2009-2011), puis traduite en français chez Akileos (2010-2011).

Dans cette seconde partie je vais traiter des pastiches (parodies) et des hommages à la série de romans du célèbre détective. Ces adaptations sont beaucoup plus nombreuses (et il me faudra sand doute plus qu’un article pour les couvrir). Je commence pour les deux plus importantes, d’abord parce qu’elles sont plus connues mais aussi parce que ce sont des séries de plusieurs volumes.

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(Attention, lire l’avertissement de possible divulgacheurs)

Baker Street : all you need is Holmes 

BakerStreet-Intégral-covOubliez Léonard de Vinci, Darwin, Einstein… Sherlock Holmes est l’homme le plus intelligent du monde. Ou pas.

[Texte de la couverture arrière]

“Enfin les aventures déjantées du plus célèbre des détectives et de son acolyte médecin en version intégrale. Retrouvez les cinq tomes de la série dans cette édition unique. Des éclats de rire en perspective.

Saviez-vous que le docteur Watson doit une grande partie de sa popularité à une méduse? Que Sherlock Holmes pratique parfois le cambriolage ? Et seriez-vous capable de trouver un rapport entre un diable en boîte, un haltère, un réveil-matin, un cactus et une masse d’armes ? Non ? Eh bien plongez-vous dans les carnets secrets du docteur Watson, miraculeusement exhumés par deux froggies…

[Texte du site de l’éditeur]

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Cette édition intégrale de la série Baker Street compile les cinq volumes de la bande dessinée par Veys et Barral. Le premier volume, Sherlock Holmes n’a peur de rien, inclue cinq histoires courtes: “L’incident sur la Tamise” (6 p.), “Ophiophobie” (7 p.), “Tossing the caber” (8 p.), “Le bois rouge de Pernambouc” (16 p.),  et “Rançon pour une momie” (10 p.). 

Dans le second volume, Sherlock Holmes et le Club des sports dangereux (48 p.), on retrouve une histoire loufoque où le quatuor de détectives imbéciles (Holmes, Watson, Lestrade et son cousin Brodie) doit enquêter tout à la fois sur “Le profa­nateur” (alias Jack le Moustacheur), une tentative de meurtre sur Lestrade, un meurtre à huis clos dans un club bien particulier, une gerbille surexcitée et sur une série de disparitions mystérieuses près du Limehouse !

Dans le troisième volume, Sherlock Holmes et les Hommes du Camellia (48 p.), notre petit groupe doit aidé M. Clipton, un producteur de thé du Ceylan, à retourner dans son pays en six semaines pour la lecture du testament de son oncle afin de pouvoir hériter de la plantation familiale. Toutefois, un compétiteur — un producteur de thé chinois, M. Teawings — fera tout pour les en empêcher!

Le quatrième volume, Sherlock Holmes et l’Ombre du M (52 p.), est la suite directe du précédent. La lecture du testament s’est révélé être un canular, mais lorsque l’oncle de Clipton meurt vraiment d’une crise cardiaque, le testament révisé exige cette fois, pour hériter de la plantation familiale, qu’il retourne en Angleterre et fasse un spectacle de clown devant la reine! Pour contrer Holmes, Teawings engage son ennemi juré, Moriarty! Cette fois l’adversaire est plus coriace alors, pour rendre leur itinéraire moins prévisible, Holmes y introduit un élément de hasard…

BakerStreet-Intégral-p208

Page 208

Dans le cinquième et dernier volume, Le Cheval qui murmurait à l’oreille de Sherlock Holmes, on retrouve — en plus de l’aventure titre (34 p.) où Holmes, affligé par l’oisivité, tente d’élucider le vol inexplicable de documents sur une base militaire (dont le menu du mess des officiers!) — cinq histoires courtes (une sans titre [4 p.], “Le jour de Watson” [3 p.], “Rendez-vous à Chelsea Bridge” [2 p.], “Coucher de soleil sur l’abattoir” [2 p.] et “Rendez-vous au Strand” [2 p.]) et une dizaine de gags en une seule case. L’édition intégrale se termine avec les couvertures originales des cinq volumes.

Cette bande dessinée respecte bien l’univers victorien créé par Sir Arthur Conan Doyle mais nous présente une version très humoristique et plutôt irrévérencieuse des personnages (dont le visuel est d’ailleurs inspiré par les acteurs Jeremy Brett et David Burke, qui incarnèrent le célèbre duo de détectives dans la série télévisée de Granada).

L’aspect visuel (dessin et mise en page) est bien réussi. Quoi que inégale cette série est agréable à l’oeil. Le récit est bien mené puisqu’il est à la fois captivant et très drôle. Cela n’a évidemment rien à voir avec les véritables aventures de Sherlock Holmes mais, en plus d’en respecter l’esprit, c’est aussi très divertissant et je me suis beaucoup amusé avec cette lecture. C’est une excellent parodie que je recommande chaudement.

Baker Street : all you need is Holmes [Édition Intégrale], par Pierre Veys (scénario) et Nicolas Barral (dessin). Paris: Delcourt, novembre 2017. 266 p., 22.5 x 29.7 cm, 34.95 € / $C 59.95, ISBN 978-2-413-00028-0. Pour un lectorat adolescent (14+). stars-3-5

Pour en savoir plus vous pouvez consulter les sites suivants:

[ AmazonBiblioGoodreadsGoogleWikipediaWorldCat ]

© 2017 Éditions Delcourt

Capsules

Les quatre de Baker Street 

t. 1, L’affaire du rideau bleu

Quatre_de_Baker_Street-1-covUne série captivante et romanesque librement inspirée de l’œuvre d’Arthur Conan Doyle ! Trois détectives en herbe pour une enquête digne du maître de Baker Street !

Billy, Charlie et Black Tom sont insé­­p­ara­bles. Et pour cause : impossible de survivre seul dans l’East End londonien, peuplé de faux mendiants, de vrais ruffians et de franches canailles ! Heureusement, les trois amis peuvent compter sur la pro­tection d’un certain Sherlock Holmes, pour lequel ils font parfois office d’espions des rues… Mais lorsque la fiancée de Black Tom est kidnappée sous leurs yeux, nos héros vont devoir mettre au plus vite à profit les leçons de leur mentor pour la retrouver saine et sauve… en s’adjoignant les services d’un quatrième larron pour le moins inattendu. Place aux Quatre de Baker Street, la plus jeune équipe de détectives de l’époque victorienne !

[Texte du site de l’éditeur et de la couverture arrière]

Cette bande dessinée mets en scène non pas le grand détective lui-même (Holmes et le Dr Watson n’apparaissent que dans les quatre dernières pages!) mais des personnages secondaire: les fameux “Irréguliers” ou “Francs-tireurs” de Baker Street, une troupe d’enfants de la rue qui sont les yeux et les oreilles du détective et qu’il utilise pour des missions de surveillance. Avec le temps, les membres de la troupe ont grandi ou se sont trouvé d’autres activités et il n’en reste plus que trois: Billy (William Fletcher, un jeune garçon bien éduqué), Black Tom (Tommy O’Rourke, Irlandais et l’acrobate du groupe), Charlie (Charlotte, habillée en garçon elle est en réalité une fille, la modératrice du groupe). La quatuor est complété par Watson, le chat de gouttière tigré. Lorsque Sherlock Holmes n’est pas disponible, alors les Quatre de Baker Street mènent l’enquête eux-même! Dans ce premier album, la petite amie de Black Tom est kidnappée et le quatuor devra retracer les coupables, puis s’attaquer au Rideau Bleu, “un bordel chicot du West-End.”

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Dans sa préface, Régis Loisel louange le talent de l’artiste: “Sa mise en scène aux cadrages énergiques sert le scénario à merveille, les décors sont précis et généreux et l’ambiance générale est soutenue par des couleurs somptueu­ses.” Si je suis d’accord avec la première partie de son commentaire (les décors et la mise en page sont très adéquats) mon opinion est à l’opposée sur les couleurs: je n’aime guère le dessin un peu trop anguleux à mon goût par moment, les ombrages sur les visages me semblent un peu exagérées et, surtout, le choix d’une palette de couleurs sombres, tout dans le brun et le sépia, me déplait beaucoup. Je comprends que l’artiste voulait sans doute rendre l’atmosphère victorienne (brumeuse, étouffante, ancienne — à moins que cela soit un problème d’impression?) mais je trouve cela très laid. 

Par contre, l’histoire est excellente. Le récit est bien mené, captivant et les personnages sont crédibles et attachants. L’histoire est sérieuse, fidèle à l’esprit des Aventures de Sherlock Holmes. Il s’agit donc d’un digne hommage à Conan Doyle. Dans l’ensemble, malgré les faiblesses du style graphique, c’est une bonne lecture.

Il est intéressant de constater que cette bande dessinée a non seulement été traduite en anglais chez Insight Comics [Goodreads], mais qu’elle a aussi été adapté en animation par les studios Folivari, Canal Plus et Studiocanal [voir la page officielle et le teaser sur Vimeo]. Cela démontre bien l’intérêt et la qualité de la série.

Les quatre de Baker Street t. 1, L’affaire du rideau bleu, par Jean-Blaise Djian & Olivier Legrand (scénario), David Etien (dessin et couleur). Issy-Les-Moulineaux: Vents d’Ouest, janvier 2009. 56 p., 24 x 32 cm, 13.90 € / $C 22.95, ISBN 978-2-7493-0437-3. Pour un lectorat adolescent (12+). stars-3-0

Pour en savoir plus vous pouvez consulter les sites suivants:

[ AmazonBiblioGoodreadsGoogleWikipediaWorldCat ]

© 2009 Vents d’Ouest

Capsules

t. 2, Le dossier Raboukine

Quatre_de_Baker_Street-2-covLes Quatre de Baker Street sont de retour !

Londres, 1890. Billy, l’apprenti détective, Charlie, la petite fille grimée en garçon, et Black Tom le monte-en-l’air sont trois gamins des rues unis par une solide amitié. Accompagnés du matou Watson, ils arpentent les bas-fonds de l’East End, menant enquêtes, filatures et autres missions de confiance pour le compte d’un certain… Sherlock Holmes. Ce nouvel opus voit nos héros se mêler d’une ténébreuse affaire impliquant des révolutionnaires russes exilés à Londres et la police secrète du Tsar… Nos protagonistes vont avoir fort à faire pour déjouer machinations, trahisons et mauvais coups…

Le premier tome de cette série avait fait l’unanimité, grâce au dessin dynamique et étonnant de maîtrise de David Etien et au scénario mené tambour battant de Djian et Legrand. On se replonge avec délectation dans ce second tome, qui nous entraîne dans une nouvelle enquête passionnante et nous fait découvrir un peu plus ces gamins gouailleurs et attachants.

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

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Dans cette aventure, les quatre de Baker Street doivent enquêter sur un complot politique impliquant des révolution­naires Russes. Alors que des prostitués sont à nouveau assassinées dans White­chapel (dont Sally, une amie de Billy), on craint le retour de Jack l’Éventreur. Toutefois, le quatuor découvrira que cette affaire est en fait liée à un complot de la police secrète du Tsar pour discré­diter les révolutionnaires socialistes réfugiés à Londres. Holmes étant absent, il incombe au quatuor de venir en aide à Katia Ivanovna et son compagnon Victor Raboukine!

Avec cet album, le graphisme s’est beaucoup amélioré: le style est un peu plus agréable et les couleurs en tons de brun et sépia moins présentes (quoique inconsistantes puisqu’au début elles semblent servir pour représenter des scènes de nuit, mais celles-ci se retrouvent avec de beaux tons de bleu vers la fin de l’album)… Le récit, toujours aussi captivant et sérieux, est également plus riche et intéressant. Cet album nous offre donc une très bonne lecture.

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T. 8, page 3

Les Quatre de Baker Street est une série très prometteuse qui en est déjà à son huitième album. La série continue donc avec le tome 3: Le Rossignol de Stepney, le t. 4: Les Orphelins de Londres, le t. 5: La Succession Moriarty, le t. 6: L’Homme du Yard, le t. 7: L’Affaire Moran et le t. 8: Les Maîtres de Limehouse. J’ai eut la chance de mettre la main sur un extrait papier des dix premières pages de ce huitième album (paru en octobre 2019) et je dois avouer que cette série a fait beaucoup de chemin et m’apparait excellente (l’amélioration du style graphique est particulièrement frappante). À lire certainement.

Les quatre de Baker Street t. 2, Le dossier Raboukine, par Jean-Blaise Djian & Olivier Legrand (scénario), David Etien (dessin et couleur). Issy-Les-Moulineaux: Vents d’Ouest, avril 2010. 56 p., 24 x 32 cm, 13.90 € / $C 22.95, ISBN 978-2-7493-0519-6. Pour un lectorat adolescent (12+). stars-3-5

Pour en savoir plus vous pouvez consulter les sites suivants:

[ AmazonBiblioGoodreadsGoogleWikipediaWorldCat ]

© 2010 Vents d’Ouest

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Capsules

Notable News 2019

If you are bored by your confinement, here are links to over five-hundred-fifty news stories for all taste (well, mostly for mine).

Like I said in my latest “notable news” entry (for the beginning of 2020) I completely skipped over 2019 (my last entry before that was in January). I guess I was a little busy. On the domestic front there is not much to say. I don’t want to look back too much on 2019, since it was a bad year — and, now that we know that 2020 is even worst, why bother? I guess I wrote a lot about it (you can check the blog indexes update). I feel the same for what happened on the world stage (refer to Wikipedia for the events of 2019, from January to December).

However, despite everything, I always stay acquainted with the affairs of the world and collect links to the notable news story of the time. I call it scrap-linking: it’s like scrapbooking but instead of collecting old newspaper articles in files or scrapbooks (like my father used to do), I just collect links to news-story on the internet. Therefore, with this blog entry, I would like to make some sort of a review of the year through those links. Be aware that they are in both French or English, slightly categorized, but in no particular order, and of course, because this is old, some links may have become dead or completely irrelevant, sorry about that — also note that, to save on coding time, the links will NOT open in a new window as usual. I am sharing all this with you >> after the jump.

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Book Club

BookClub-dvd“Diane (Diane Keaton) is recently widowed after 40 years of marriage. Vivian (Jane Fonda) enjoys her men with no strings attached. Sharon (Candice Bergen) is still working through a decades-old divorce. Carol’s (Mary Steenburgen) marriage is in a slump after 35 years. Four lifelong friends’ lives are turned upside down to hilarious ends when their book club tackles the infamous Fifty Shades of Grey. From discovering new romance to rekindling old flames, they inspire each other to make their next chapter the best chapter.”

[Text of the DVD cover]

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

Four friends of a certain age are meeting regularly for their book club. As they feel they are stuck in their life, they will find the courage to go beyond their confort zone and try new experiences after reading Fifty Shades of Grey ! It is the proof that books can change your life !

Like most rom-com the story is very simple, but quite funny and mostly dialogue-based. The acting is excellent (which is to be expected considering its strong cast), the storytelling is well knit — although it doesn’t offer many surprises. It was very successful at the box office (making about seven times its initial budget) despite very average ratings from the critics (6.1 on IMDb, 54% / 52% on Rotten Tomatoes and 53% on Metacritic). All in all, it is very entertaining. It’s a good movie to forget all your troubles for a moment. stars-3-0

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonBiblioGoogleIMDbNetflixWikipedia ]

Also, you can check the official trailer on Youtube:

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Capsules

Notable News (Winter – Spring 2020)

As you know, I periodically reflect on the latest notable news , both in my life and in the world, and gather links to the stories I found the most interesting during that time (as a kind of press review). My latest entry on that subject was in January of last year. I’ve skipped the notable news for 2019 (I was a little busy — but I’ll come back to that later) but here they are for the first third of 2020 — I can’t believe we are already in 2020. This will be another decade of disappointment and unfulfilled promises. Where are the cyberspace and the body implants we were promised?!

There is not much to say about what happened on the domestic front. It has been quite busy (and exhausting) at work but I think I dealt pretty well with it. The library was undertaking renovation works to install a sorting “robot” for the returns and completely redo our working area and the counter. Preparing for those renovations and organizing a temporary set-up in order to stay functional and open to the public during the works was quite an ordeal. However, we did well and survived. And then we closed because of the epidemic…

The winter was relatively mild, and spring was early but cold. On the subject of health, I was plagued by a litany of problems: first, with all the hard work at the library, I literally broke my back (getting a serious sciatica), then got a bad flu/cold and finally was deeply pained by a kidney stone (I get one about every ten years). However, I am much better now as the calculus has recently passed. Funnily, despite doing lots of physical work around the house and regularly walking around the parc, I still managed to gain a couple of kilos. You know you have attained a certain age when idle conversations tend to focus more on your ailments than on the weather!

I have also been doing satisfactorily well in my reading and writing. I find it quite extraordinary when, after finishing a book in the previous night, I wake up in the morning with almost the entire reading comment in my head! Doing both reading and writing on a regular basis is a good training for the mind and it seems to get easier and easier with time.

The news on the world stage were dominated by the American election (mostly the democrats’ primaries and the stupid antics of the president — nothing really new there) and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. At first, like everybody, I wasn’t too concerned. It was just something happening in China. Then, when it became clear that it was spreading easily with cases in Korea, California and Iran, I voiced my concerns to my boss, asking her what was the plan in such circumstances (it was late February or early March). I was told that they weren’t told of any plan. There was not even a sanitizer distributor in the entrance of the workplace — which should have been mandatory. When the government started telling people to stay home and we closed to the public (March 13th), I started really worrying because we were still working and using public transportation. I was afraid to bring the virus home (since one of my family members is immunosuppressed and I am myself at risk because of hypertension). I was just about to tell my boss that I couldn’t continue to work when they decided to send us home (March 19th). 

Not being sure how long this forced vacation (with pay!) would last, I decided to make the best of it and catch up on my reading/writing. Although, after a few days of this coronavirus self-isolation, I realized I hadn’t done much. I wanted initially to read a book or watch a movie each day but I didn’t (maybe it was too ambitious?). I did a few things around the house and wrote a couple of blog entries about the current situation and offered suggestions of stuff to do. But I should be doing more. If not I was afraid to wake up at the end of this “staycation” having done nothing. And there was so much to do. I am happy to say that, so far, I am doing well.

With the pandemic in full swing it is hard to think back about other events that marked the beginning of 2020. In January, beside the usual fires and floods or the conflicts in the Middle-East, we can find noteworthy the American airstrike on the Baghdad Airport to assassinate Qasem Soleimani, Prince Harry and Meghan leave the British Royal family, as more cases are reported the Chinese authorities start investigating this unknown pneumonia outbreak that will become the coronavirus pandemic, and the impeachment trial of Trump moves into the Senate.

In February, we see the first deaths of coronavirus outside China (first in the Philippines, then in Hong Kong, Japan, France, Iran, South Korea, Italy, USA, etc.), the Iowa Democratic Party caucuses are a disaster, Trump is acquitted on both articles of impeachment by the Senate, Harvey Weinstein is found guilty, the Dow Jones starts dropping, and there’s a first possible case of communal transmission of the coronavirus in California.

In March, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bloomberg drop their presidential candidacy and endorse Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren also suspends her campaign (without endorsing Biden yet), the coronavirus outbreak is getting bigger and we see the first death in Canada, following an oil-price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia the Dow Jones drop even further, WHO officially declares the Coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic (3/11) prompting some countries or states to follow China’s example in implementing a lockdown (Italy, Spain, California, Canada, New York, India) and several major events (sport, concert, convention, etc) are getting cancelled. WHO announces that there are at least 20 vaccines candidates in development for COVID-19. Meanwhile, Wuhan (capital of the Hubei province) ends its lockdown and starts reopening.

In April, Bernie Sanders suspends his presidential campaign and endorses Biden, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases passes two million worldwide (4/16) as the pandemic keep growing. The mitigation measures are working and so far the hospitals, if very busy and despite the shortage of PPE, are not overwhelmed as it was first feared. Most countries have put financial measures to help their citizens live through the lockdown and are now planning to slowly ease their containment mesures. The main problem remains the insufficient testing and, in the USA, the absence of Federal coordination. Trump, in his self-absorbed usual incompetence, is definitely not up to the task (I just can’t understand why this guy is still in power). If you would rather burn down the country than admit you’re wrong, you’re not only a bad person, you are also pure evil. Anyway, the month is not over yet, so I’ll keep an eye on the current events, however depressing it might be.

Finally, as usual and 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), after the jump.

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