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

The 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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FFM – First Film World Competition

Today, the FFM announced the nineteen movies included in the First Film World competition. There is one Japanese movie in the list:

Noise : Japan, 2017, 124 mins; Dir.: Yusaku MATSUMOTO; Cast: Kokoro Shinozaki, Urara Anjo, Kosuke Suzuki, Kentaro Kishi, Takashi Nishina, Kenji Kohashi, Hiroshi Fuse.

Eight years have passed since the Akihabara massacre. A pop star whose mother was killed in the incident, a teenager who left her home to Akihabara, a delivery boy who turns his directionless anger to the city. This is a story about the characters striving to grasp the string of hope within the darkness surrounding the city, the incident, and the people.

[ IMDbOfficial WebVimeoYoutube ]

No screening schedule has been announced yet. We will post more information as it becomes available.

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

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Monthly notable news (w26-33)

On the domestic front, in the last month or so, the condition were still rather horrible at work: it was way too hot (ventilation is working but there’s absolutely no air conditioning so we regularly work at temperature of 28~33 ? including the humidex — 23~25 ? with 45%~55% humidity) and we are still running like crazy… Therefore, most of the time, I come back home totally exhausted.

When I was not busy chasing quotes for the balcony and masonry repairs on the duplex, I was taking care of the stray cats, but this year’s cat saga has finally concluded: the two females have been sterilized & released and their kittens have been adopted through a good samaritan shelter. Despite all this (and maybe thanks to the omega 3 supplement I am taking? Nah…) I wrote much more than the previous months (many capsule reviews including commentaries on the Ghost in the Shell and Valerian live-action movies, as well as the superb Pline manga)  and I also started contributing to the Irrésistibles blog (with a version of my commentaries on Animeland #214 & #215, dBD #115, Pline #1, and the movie Silence).

In the news, everything was about the Trump circus. I was literally consumed by the news of this train wreck in the making, like watching an accident where you know you shouldn’t but just can’t turn you gaze from it. So we’ve spent countless hours watching news reports on MSNBC (mainly Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell shows) about the latest trump scandals — and there’s a new one almost every day! It never stops: the Buzzfeed Russian “dossier” (Wikipedia, document), the possible election tempering collusion and financial involvement with Russia, the healthcare repeal & replace disaster, the sabre-rattling with North Korea and, finally, the controversial comments following the Charlottesville violence contributing to inflame the supremacist and racist agenda! When will the republicans realize they have bet on the wrong horse and decide to put him out of his misery? I can’t believe it has gone this far…

I have also watched today’s partial eclipse of the sun (58%) on TV and with my own eyes (using a home-made filter) but, unfortunately, I was not able to take any respectable pictures (by lack of preparation and appropriate equipment). But, at least, the weather was cooperating and I was able to see it. The next opportunities for such event will be June 10 2021 (partial at 85%), October 14 2023 (partial at 29%) and on April 8 2024 (a total solar eclipse!).

As always, I tried to remain acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered oven an hundred notable news & links — which I share with you (in both french or english, and roughly separated in a few categories of interest), after the jump.

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What about the FFM ?

We are less than a week before the alleged beginning of the 41st edition of the Montreal World Film Festival on Thursday and there is still very little information available about it. Will it even take place?

According to an article in La Presse, it seems that it is still on course. And tonight, the list of the eighteen movies in the run for World Competition was released. There is only one Japanese movie in competition: Dear Etranger (?????????? / Osanago Warera ni umare) directed by Yukiko Mishima [ AsianWiki / IMDb / Vimeo / Youtube ].

My guess is that the festival will be even more chaotic than last year and scheduling information will trickle down day by day… But does it really matter as long as we can watch good international movies that we would probably not be able to see anywhere else?

Here is what they say about it in the news:

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Monthly notable news (w20-25)

On the domestic front, after much hesitation, the summer has finally arrived. At work, it is crazier than ever with the start of the vacation loan, the TD summer reading club, the twenty-days of amnesty, the summer clean-up and all this often in a sweatshop-like environment (hot and humid, because the ventilation and AC doesn’t work properly). It is so exhausting. I’ve applied for a job with more responsibilities (and pay) but flunked the interview (for the second time!). I am either good for nothing else or there’s something rotten in the HR kingdom.

I felt quite depressed lately. With all the problems with the house and at work, as well as the fact that I have not written or read much in several months, it’s no surprise. I come back from work with all my energy spent. I feel worthless. I feel I give a lot to the people around me and doesn’t get much (attention, respect, gratitude, etc.) in return. I hate it when dark thoughts keep me from enjoying life. But, hey!, it’s summer so lets enjoy the sun, the parks, the museums, the flowers, the cats, the people and particularly the few remaining days of my second ten-day summer vacation. There’s lot to do around the house and so much writing (hopefully) to catch up (I’ll try to go at it with smaller bites)!

In the news, Apple has announced some great software updates (iOS 11, macOS High Sierra, watchOS 4) and some new products (iMac & MacBook Pro, or iPad Pro updates, as well as a new iMac Pro and the HomePod, a speaker that they say will reinvent music at home) and my evenings have been consumed with listening to the latest Trump craziness on MSNBC. Everyday brings a new lie! More on the news in the links bellow…

I have always enjoyed the stray cats in my backyard but this year it is a real infestation: a battered dominant male [Toffee], two females (mother [Grisou] and daughter [Chaussette/Socks], their FIVE kittens and a couple of tomcat challengers. That’s TEN cats! They have laid waste to the backyard garden so I had to do something to control the situation. Unfortunately, the lack of consistent animal management policies in the city (and particularly in this borough, VSP) puts all the burden on the citizen and doesn’t give much help. My only option is to bring them to the Berger Blanc (which has a terrible reputation and an almost all-kill policy — also, for some mysterious reasons [$$?], my borough doesn’t deal with the SPCA) which I refuse to do. So far, I’ve caught all the females and their kittens, and I’ll see what I can do from there (any suggestions?)…

I’ve also started taking some omega-3 supplements, which (according to an NHK World report) is supposed to be good against cholesterol and dementia, amongst other things (like cancer or arthritis). It’s messing up with my digestion, but strangely I feel that my mind is a little clearer. Placebo effect? Anyway, we’ll see…

Strangely, I kept busy during the last month by doing lots of little things (cleaning up the garage, buying a new couch, burying my mother’s ashes, etc. — daily routine stuff) about which there’s little to say (or I just can’t recall some of them). I confess that I also probably watch too much TV. Anyway, that’s about it for now…

Although, as always, I continued to stay acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered nearly a hundred notable news & links — which I share with you (in both french or english, and roughly separated in a few categories of interest), after the jump.

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Weekly notable news (w17-19)

Another few weeks have passed quickly without anything significant happening: More crazy weeks at works and rainy week-ends where I don’t feel I accomplished anything. I am tired and really need a longer vacation. Next week I’ll start a ten-day holiday where I’ll be able to rest (sleep late!), catch up on stuff (writing, work around the house), travel around (Ottawa’s Tulip’s festival, Quebec City, botanical garden, museums, the libraries book sale, bury my mother’s ashes, etc.) and, above all, completely forget about work for a while. Or so I thought!

In hope for greener pastures, I have applied for a new library job (more responsibilities, further from home, but a greater challenge for my skills and a much better salary). However, after a lengthy processus, they scheduled an interview right in the middle of my vacation and at nine o’clock on the morning of my BIRTHDAY! Not only they made me filled a psychological test online (it’s called “an inventory of personality” and it will probably reveal that I am a total psycho) but they didn’t even bother to reply when I asked if it was possible to reschedule, so I’ll do my best to be there and we’ll see. Que sera, sera.

The weather has really been lousy lately. May is supposed to be the nicest month of all (and not only because it’s my birthday). Overall, it has been cold and rainy. It even snowed a little last week. In may! Hopefully, it will not portend that the summer will be likewise, and it will soon improve (at least for my vacations, please!).

Something strange happened at the beginning of the month: out of the blue, one late afternoon, I started to smell a vague odour of gazoline in the basement. It didn’t come from the obvious source, the garage. Usually, such smell comes from the sewage (through a dried P-trap) or from a dead animal but, in this case, it seemed to come from the pit of the water-pipe entry. I called the city and was told not to worry, it was “probably” not toxic and might have come from some work on the pipes in the neighbourhood (I couldn’t locate any nearby). I cracked open a window and the next morning it was gone. I never knew what it was.

The unlucky streak didn’t stop there. Not only I broke a piece of tooth while eating a granola bar during my lunch break at work (and I am still waiting for the dentist to find some spare time for an appointment), but I also discovered that the damage to the rear balcony of the house is more extensive than I first thought. The supporting posts are not planted deep enough (they rest on concrete supports that are just on the surface while they should be in soil deep enough so it never freezes in winter — who are the morons who built this house?!) so the ground expansion due to the freezing is slowly ripping the balcony off the house. So much that it has now become worrisome. We will have to do the repairs sooner than expected and it will probably be quite costly! What an exciting boring life!

Again, I must remind myself not to let the outside world rattle my core. Carpe diem, my boy, carpe diem!

Finally, I managed to stay acquainted with some of the affairs of the world and gathered notable news & links of interest — which I share with you (in both french or english, and organized into a few basic categories), after the jump.

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Monthly notable news (W12-16)

Another month (or so) has passed at lightning speed. Lots of stuff to do, particularly now that spring has come. We had plenty of rain at first, however now the weather is more enjoyable but still a little chilly. The humidity has made my left knee (and a bit my right ankle) hurt and, for a week, my back pain came back with a vengeance — libraries can be hard work sometimes (and not only for the soul; although it can be amusing too). I also had an episode of high blood glucose and I feared I would become a full-blown diabetic but it returned to my pre-diabetic “normal” after a week. This is no work for old men…

It has been a busy month. We’ve visited the notary twice for mom’s succession paperwork and there was plenty of work around the house particularly for the garden cleaning. I also had to deal with many unexpected problems: some strange Bell bug kept me from my blog for a week and I had some leaky roof, front door handle and water heater issues (the latter two just this weekend). Installing two more Outdoor Nest Cams (as one of my cheap IP cameras died following water damage inside the window) has been a strain on the Bell Wi-Fi causing serious performance problems. I’ll probably solve this issue by going back to Videotron, but only for the internet (I’ll share my sister’s).

A question on FB made me look back at my collection of old books and share my love for them. I also purchased a new Telephoto Mirror Lens for my camera. My TV viewing habits didn’t change much. I still watch too much TV: the new season for old series (When calls the Heart, Into the Badlands, Doctor Who) but two series are particularly worth mentioning for their quality: Anne and The Expense (and its beautiful opening credits with Norwegian vocals — listen on Soundcloud and Youtube). I also wanted to go see Ghost in the Shell in theatre but the reviews were not too good so I decided to wait. However, I’ll definitely won’t miss the Valerian‘s movie when it is released!

I have always considered blogging (and writing in general) as an essential mental exercice (as much as my daily walks) to keep in shape, the mind sharp and age better. However, now I have some doubt. It sometimes feels like a strain since I have less and less time to do it. I have to split my waking hours between my wife-together time, my me-time and work (from which I always come back exhausted). Lately, I had lots of problems with the blog (the Dropbox issue, not being able to log in for an entire week) and it leaves me with the dilema of having to choose between fixing the layout on the old posts or writing new material (or try to do both and be unhappy with the result). I just wonders if it is really worth it.

Maybe I should try less to DO something and just take more time to enjoy life right now (going to movies, to the museums, to the botanical garden, READ more, etc.) without always thinking about sharing it, what I would say about it, which angle I could use to explain the subject better or tell an interesting story about the whole experience. My health won’t improve with the years and I am quite sure that there is less road in front of me than behind, so maybe I should just take the most of it and enjoy the moment. Who’s reading me anyway. Although, I often say that I am writing for myself, so I can read what I wrote one day and remember how it was (particularly when I would not remember it at all). It is just like a journal left adrift in the binary stream of time, to create some sort of posterity.

Both ways seem kind of selfish: if I do write I feel guilty of not doing more of my life and, if I don’t, I feel I am letting myself down. Either way it is a losing battle. •Sigh* It’s the age-old depressing philosophical question: Did I ever really lived and did it really matter? I can only press on and hope for the best.

Finally, I nevertheless managed to stay acquainted with the (ever so depressing) affairs of the world and gathered a few notable news & links — which I share with you (in both french or english, and roughly divided into a few thematics), after the jump.

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Weekly notable news (W10-11)

The last couple of weeks were so busy that it felt like months.

Strangely, after getting temperatures up to 10? in February, we had nearly -20? in March! And, as it warmed up a little and all the snow we had received during the winter had almost melted, we got hit by the biggest snowstorm of the year! This mid-march wallop left us with almost two feet (sixty centimeters) of snow in one night and one day! It felt like January again! Today, Spring has officially arrived and it is above zero again, but I have the feeling that this roller-coaster is not over. There’s really no seasons anymore…

It was the sixth anniversary of the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami disaster (as well as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster), but lately the news were dominated by the various scandals rocking the Trump Presidency, mostly the Russia Dossier and allegations of Russian interference during the electoral process. Despite Trump doing his best to distract our attention from it, it become increasingly clear that his campaign has had contacts and possibly collusion with Russian interests. We can only wonder how much his Presidency is politically and financially compromised by this. Lately, I’ve started watching MSNBC and it is fascinating. It gives me a brand new perspective. Now, considering that it took only ONE blow-job to put Clinton on the impeachment path and that Trump has been plagued already with numerous questionable business deals and sexual misconduct allegations, I am wondering how much more it will take to remove this evil clown from office !!!

Another notable event was the fact that my Jawbone fitness band broke and that I replaced it with a Fitbit. It’s my third Jawbone fitness band that breaks (first a UP24, then a UP2 and finally a UP3 and in all cases it was the rubber of the band that broke apart) so, that’s it, I’ve decided to never use that company again (too bad, I really liked their app). Considering the reviews and quality/price ratio, I chose to replace it with a Fitbit Flex 2 band. Since I already have an Apple Watch, I decided to go with a simpler model and I was impressed with Fitbit’s clever concept of the device itself being separated from the band so you can switch band at will for fashion reasons or if it breaks. I am a little disappointed with the app but I am sure I’ll get used to it. So far, it is working quite well.

I also discovered that I had been screwed by Dropbox — which I used to host all the images for this blog. They changed their policy and now all the image links are irreparably broken. I’ve already taken temporarily measures to keep the most recent or important entries of the blog illustrated, but I am considering to eventually switch to a WordPress blog (with the same web hosting service that was used for the magazine). The transition will probably be slow and incremental since it is a lot of work.

However, the last couple of weeks were mostly dedicated to preparing for my mother’s funerals. I took a week off from work not only to help my sister preparing the funeral (book the hall, choose and order the buffet, shop all the stuff that was needed, contact people, make appointments, fill paperwork, plan the ceremony, etc.) but mainly to prepare the music medley and produce a commemorative video that would pay hommage to my mother’s memory (it is now available in two slightly different versions, on both this blog and my Vimeo page). Strangely, the funerals for the father of one of my dear friends were on the same day…

I was hoping to take advantage of this little time off also to catch up on my reading and writing, maybe go see a movie and visit a museum, but it was so busy that I couldn’t do anything. I even got behind in my TV shows watching.

Unfortunately, I also barely managed to stay acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered only a few notable news & links — which I share with you nevertheless (in both french or english, and in no particular order), after the jump.

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