Souvenir des chatons

Voici un petit souvenir des chatons avant qu’ils soient pris en charge par le refuge qui s’occupera de leur adoption…

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Inauguration du parc

Ce matin dans ma boite à lettre j’ai trouvé une publicité annonçant l’inauguration du Parc Frédéric-Back dans un peu moins de deux semaine, le samedi 26 août dès midi. C’est donc maintenant officielle!

La cérémonie, qui se déroulera dans le secteur Boisé Est (angle 2e avenue et rue Deville), inclura une performance d’ouverture, le dévoilement de l’oeuvre de mémoire (?), des activités ludiques pour grands et petits ainsi qu’un spectacle de clôture en soirée.

Aussi, tous les samedis de septembre, dès 11h, nous pourrons profiter de pique-niques champêtres, de maïs gratuit, de nombreuses activités ludiques et autres surprises!

C’est un peu tard pour ouvrir un parc mais, bon, la ville se rattrape en offrant une programmation spéciale pour la rentrée. Les travaux sont théoriquement terminés depuis le printemps (et je n’y ai pas vu beaucoup d’activité durant l’été) alors je ne comprend pas pourquoi attendre aussi tard pour en faire l’ouverture. Et malgré tout, le parc ne me semble pas encore tout à fait prêt: hautes herbes, belvédères obstrués par les arbres, etc., et le tout est encore clôturé mur à mur… Enfin, c’est un début!

Pour plus de détails, consultez le site des legs du 375e ainsi que le site des Grands Parcs de Montréal.

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Italian Week 2017

Today we visited the 2017 Montreal’s Italian Week that was held from August 4 to 13 in the Little Italy. Amongst other things, we’ve seen a Fiat and Ferrari car exposition, a colourful parade and listen to some folkloric music! The parade was organized by one of the multiple Italian associations of Montreal,  from Sicily (probably the Associazione messinese di Montreal). I have also discovered quite an interesting musical instrument: the bufù (a.k.a. caccavella or putipù) is a friction drum that is played by rubbing a bamboo stick through an animal skin membrane to make it vibrate and produce a deep sound. The music was played by the people from the Associazione Casacalendese di Montreal.

I made a short video as a memento of this visit, available also on Vimeo:

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How to save the planet

You’re feeling good because you think you are saving the environment by recycling and switching to LED light bulbs? Well, don’t (feel good, I mean). It is totally useless.

Last week-end, I read an interesting article in The Gazette titled “Want to save the planet?” (also from the National Post via PressReader). A study by the University of British Columbia is showing that what we are told to do to reduce climate change is rarely the most effective way.  We’re told that “making a difference doesn’t have to be difficult” when, in truth, making a real impact demands some major sacrifices!

The most interesting part of the article is found in a graphic that was available only in the print version. What high school textbooks suggest students to do for the environment is not very effective: using reusable shopping bags instead of plastic ones represent only a saving of 0.005 tonne (5 kg) of carbon dioxide per person per year, while upgrading light bulbs saves 0.1 tonne, hanging your laundry to dry in the sun saves 0.21 tonne, recycling saves 0.213 tonne and washing your clothes in cold water saves 0.247 tonne. Small changes.

In opposite, the more effective actions for helping the environment represents only four per cent of the suggestions given to students. The best tactics are eating less meat with a plant-based diet (saving of 0.8 tonne per year), buying green energy (saving 1.5 tonne per year), taking one less transatlantic flight per year (saves 1.6 tonne), and going car-free (saving 2.4 tonne per year — note that switching from an electric car to car-free saves 1.15 tonne per year and buying a more efficient car saves 1.19 tonne per year!). However, the most effective way to be environmentally friendly is to have one less child: you would save 58.6 tonne of CO2 emission per year! I always said that those kids are killing the planet.

I am really happy because I am already doing all those things (switching light bulbs, washing in cold water, hang-drying, using reusable bags, hydro-electricity, having a plant-based diet, no flying, no car, no kid) and I hope you will consider it too. I won’t go as far as some sci-fi shows and suggest, as some sort of Sophie’s Choice, that we should reduce the children population (or even the general population) — it would surely make the environment quieter — but please copulate with moderation (I would say “practice abstinence” but that would be inconsiderate: just don’t have four or five kids and think of it as a planetary-wide one-child policy)! There are already too many people on earth…

That would certainly be a good way to save the planet.

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Ghost in the Shell

At first glance, the story of this live-action version seems rather faithful to the original. If the manga offers the base of the story (chap. 1, 3, part of 8, 9 and 11), it follows more the storytelling of the animated movie. Shirow’s manga is rather disorganized with lots of silly or humorous moments, while Oshii’s anime movie is more linear, but with lots of reflective and philosophical pauses (maybe a little too much). In this regard, the live-action movie seems more balanced. Of course, they changed a few things here and there but the spirit is all there (no pun intended). My main complain is that this story doesn’t show any Fuchikoma (think tanks, a.k.a. Tachikoma (in the TV series): spider-like robots with great sense of humour that assist in combat) and it is missing the incredibly beautiful music by Kanji Kawai, which is heard in the movie only in the end credits. However, the biggest change is in the background stories of both the puppet master and of the Major, which were completely altered in order to link them together. I am not sure (I can’t really remember) but I think they may have taken a few elements from the TV series and OVAs (at least the part on the origin of the Major). They also kept a hint of philosophical reflection (not too much, but just enough) to preserve the mood of the original movie—the age-old existential question of what’s make us “us”. They also paid an homage to Mamoru Oshii by putting his favourite dog (basset hound) in the story (actually, Batou’s dog comes from the second movie, Innocence — which is itself based on chap. 6 of the manga).

I heard plenty of negative comments. People complained they chose an American actress to play a Japanese character (first, this comment came out in the midst of the Hollywood whitewashing scandal and, anyway, not many Japanese actresses would have the action and language skills to play that role — although I like that Takeshi Kitano acts only in Japanese). They also complained that her acting lacked expression (come on, she plays a human turned into a machine, wondering if she’s still human, so it’s part of her role). On the other hand, some purist fans complained that they changed this or that. It’s not a perfect movie (personnally, I hate the design of the spider-tank!) and it was obviously not good enough for many since it didn’t performed well at the box office (which barely exceeded the production budget) and received lukewarm reviews (45% on Rotten Tomatoes !).

Of course, I don’t know if someone who has never heard of the Ghost in the shell universe would be able to follow, understand and really appreciate it. Because I am a fan, I am probably biased. So I wonder: purely in a technical point of view, is it a good movie? I think so. The story is captivating and interesting as it asks some relevant questions about human nature and it remains one of the best depiction of the cyberpunk genre I’ve seen. The storytelling is fluid and easy to follow (unlike Oshii’s movie), the acting is good and the special effects are superb. In the end, what else should we expect from a movie? Ghost in the shell is a complex universe, first in its story (socio-political cyberpunk) but also in its making as the franchise includes several manga, movies, TV series and OVAs, so maybe we should try to see the live-action more as what it is in itself than try too hard to compare it to the manga or anime. For my part, it’s an excellent entertainment and I enjoyed it a lot.

Ghost in the shell: USA, 2017, 107 min., PG-13. Dir.: Rupert Sanders; Scr.: Jamie Moss, William Wheeler, and Ehren Kruger (based on the manga by Masamune Shirow); Phot.: Jess Hall; Ed.: Neil Smith, Billy Rich; Mus.: Clint Mansell, Lorne Balfe; Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Takeshi Kitano, Michael Pitt, Pilou Asbæk, Chin Han, and Juliette Binoche.

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Ghost in the shell (攻殻機動隊 / Kōkaku kidōtai : Gōsuto In Za Sheru / Mobile Armored Riot Police: Ghost in the Shell) : Japan, 1995, 82 min.; Dir.: Mamoru Oshii; Scr.: Kazunori Itō (based on the manga by Masamune Shirow); Phot.: Hisao Shirai; Ed.: Shūichi Kakesu, Shigeyuki Yamamori; Mus.: Kenji Kawai; Voices: Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Ōtsuka, and Iemasa Kayumi.

An excellent adaptation of the manga although with a little too much philosophical pauses. If the sequel movie is also nice (Ghost in the shell 2: Innocence) it doesn’t follow the manga. My favourite part of the franchise is the TV series Ghost in the shell: Stand Alone Complex (there’s also an OVA series: Ghost in the shell: Arise – Alternative Architecture).

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Ghost in the shell (攻殻機動隊 / Kōkaku Kidōtai / Mobile Armored Riot Police) by Masamune Shirow (translated by Frederik L Schodt and Toren Smith). Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Manga, 2004. 368 pg. $24.95 US / $33.99 Can. ISBN 1-59307-228-7.

This is one of my favourites manga. It offers an excellent cyberpunk story (although the storytelling is a little episodic and disorganized), with an awkward mix of action and humour. The second part, Man-Machine Interface, has a better graphical quality and incredible cyberpunk scenes, but the complexity of its political and terrorist plots makes it a little hard to follow.

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