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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Artistic interlude

Beside her current series of  “Flowers & Animals” my wife is also making pressed-flower art. Amongst her paintings, I particularly likes the “Poetry” series (where she was illustrating some of my poems) and the “Geisha” series (she did a lot of those in the 90s). You’ll find here some examples of her work but I’ve put a few more on my Flickr site:

© Miyako Matsuda 1993-2017

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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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40th Japan Academy Awards (2017) winners

On March 3rd, in a televised ceremony held at the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa in Tokyo, the Nippon Academy-Sho Association awarded the 40th Annual Japan Academy Prizes (第40回日本アカデミー賞) for the best Japanese movies of 2016. In This Corner of the World won in the best animation category (but Makoto Shinkai’s Your name still got best screenplay and best music) and Shin Godzilla was a big winner with seven awards (including best picture, best director and best cinematography)!

Discover all the winners (highlighted in yellow) after the jump:

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40th Japan Academy Awards (2017) nominees

The nominees for the 40th Annual Japan Academy Prizes (第40回日本アカデミー賞) were announced on January 15th. The winners in each category will be revealed by the Japan Academy Prize Associations at a ceremony held at the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa in Tokyo on March 3, 2017.

Here is the list of all the nominees (after the jump):

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Décès de Jirô Taniguchi

C’est avec grande consternation que j’ai appris cet après-midi, via Facebook, le décès d’un des mangaka que je respectais le plus: Jirô Taniguchi est décédé samedi à l’âge de 69 ans! La cause du décès n’a pas été précisé. Il nous manquera terriblement. Toutes mes condoléances à sa famille, ses proches ainsi qu’à ses nombreux admirateurs qui, particulièrement en Europe, ont découvert et grandement apprécié la qualité de son travail. Requiesce in pace, mi magister!

[Sources: ANN, AnimeLand, Le Figaro, Le Monde, Variety, Yahoo]

Voir aussi: Google et The Manga Critic’s Guide to Jiro Taniguchi.

Lire la suite après le saut de page >>

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English Extensive Reading Manual

One of my Japanese friends, Kazu-chan, has just published a book!

Ten years ago, he came to Montreal through the working holiday program in order to learn English and French. He first got a job at the restaurant where my wife is working, Sakura Gardens, but he realized that a Japanese restaurant was the worse place to learn a new language, so he went to work at the Tim Horton’s on Saint-Denis street instead. After graduating from the prestigious Tokyo University, he was hired by a big venture company, but he quickly discovered that he had no taste for the abuses a junior salaryman (office worker) must endure in Japan (remember Amélie Nothomb’s novel, Fear and Trembling ?).

Choosing a more independent (but alas poorer) lifestyle, he founded with a friend (Akira Sakaizume, a senior in Buddhist literature) the language school Philosophia. While pursuing English learning methods that are more suitable for Japanese people, they are helping students not only to prepare for the college entry exam but also to develop useful English skills. For him it was a dream to help children realize their hope while broadening their mind through English education.

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Manga paradise

Three weeks ago, while watching the TV show Tokyo Eye on NHK World, I’ve discovered two manga libraries in Tokyo that I would certainly like to visit one day.

The Tokyo Eye episode that aired November 30th was titled “Tokyo Book Tour.” Its introduction tells us: “In this digital age, people are rediscovering the joy of visiting a physical bookstore. Tokyo might have more bookstores than any city in the world, and this time we look at some of the best ones.” As a travel show dedicated to the Tokyo area (where foreigners discuss sites and attractions they like in the city), this time it introduces us with a dozen notable libraries. Two of them really caught my eyes.

The Tachikawa Manga Park (立川まんがぱーく, located at 3-2-26 Nishiki-cho, Tachikawa-shi, Tokyo; website: mangapark.jp) offers 400,000 manga, mostly new and popular titles, to read. The “space is designed to recall an old Japanese home“ and “visitors are free to kick back and simply enjoy reading manga”. You can sit on chairs or benches, lie down on cushions or tatami mats or even hide in a recreated oshiire closet! A dream library for children and teenagers.

The Shojo Manga-kan (少女まんが館, located at 155-5 Ajiro, Akiruno-shi) is a private library entirely dedicated to shojo manga. It offers over 55,000 shojo books and magazines (even some dating back to the meiji-era!). The library is located in the private home of a couple, Jun Nakano and Natsuyo Oi, who are long-time fans and collectors of shojo manga. Since it’s private, it is only opened on Saturday and you must first book online. It’s a real paradise if you want to study the history of shojo manga.

Also interesting, the latest episode of Tokyo Eye (it aired on December 21st), titled “Tokyo Mottainai!”, is dedicated to unusual recycling ideas which offers a “stylish new twist on a traditional Japanese value.” I particularly like the idea of the restaurant that buys “imperfect” seafood that has gone unsold at the Tsukiji fish market and turns it into delicious cuisine. And the one about the “Mottainai Kids Flea Market” where kids can learn economic skills while recycling their old toys and stuff.

Both shows are still available to watch online (and will stay available for a few weeks).

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Discovery: five new anime to watch

In This Corner of the World

While watching the news on NHK World earlier today, I saw a report on a new anime movie that sounds quite interesting. Based on a manga by Fumiyo Kōno, this historical animated drama tells the daily life of young newly wed Suzu in the Japanese countryside of Kure during the years leading to WWII.

In This Corner of the World (この世界の片隅に / Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni): Japan, 2016, 130 min.; Dir./Scr.: Sunao Katabuchi; Anim. Dir.: Hidenori Matsubara; Char. Des.: Hidenori Matsubara; Mus.: Kotringo; Prod.: Masao Maruyama (MAPPA), Taro Maki (GENCO); Voice cast: Rena Nōnen (Suzu), Yoshimasa Hosoya (Shūsaku), Natsuki Inaba (Harumi), Minori Omi (Keiko), Daisuke Ono (Tetsu), Megumi Han (Sumi), Shigeru Ushiyama (Entaro), Mayumi Shintani (San), Nanase Iwai (Rin).

ANN / IMdB / Japan Times / Official website / Wikipedia / Youtube

Four more anime titles have caught our attention in the last few months:
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Découverte: Marie-Antoinette, la jeunesse d’une reine

Sa véritable Histoire, pour la première fois en manga !

“Marie-Antoinette est l’une des personnalités historiques les plus adaptées en fiction. Sophia Coppola, Chantal Thomas ou Riyoko Ikeda… de nombreux créateurs ont donné naissance à un personnage en adéquation avec leurs idéaux.”

“Cependant, quand Fuyumi Soryo s’attaque au mythe, ce n’est pas pour reproduire une énième icône malmenée par la vision trop partiale de Stephan Zweig, mais pour restituer dans la réalité historique une jeune fille dénuée de tout artifice.”

“Avec la précision qu’on lui connaît déjà sur Cesare et grâce au soutien du Château de Versailles, ce n’est plus un simple manga, mais une plongée virtuelle au cœur de la cour au XVIIIe siècle que l’auteur vous offre. Que vous soyez adepte des fresques historiques, lecteur de manga ou tout simplement curieux de nouveauté, ne passez pas à côté de cette création ! D’autant plus que les Éditions Glénat, co-éditeur dans ce projet, auront la chance de publier ce titre en avant-première de sa sortie japonaise !!” (Texte du site de l’éditeur)

Hier, je regardais les nouvelles sur NHK World et on y présentait un reportage sur le tout dernier manga de Mars mais que j’admire tout particulièrement pour ANN, Le Monde) et que je croyais que Soryo travaillais à la suite de Cesare. La mangaka aurait-elle décidé de mettre fin abruptement à Cesare? D’autant plus que l’article de Dante Alighieri (poursuivant sur le sujet de la renaissance Italienne). Mais j’en doute: elle a probablement juste temporairement mis Cesare sur pause afin de travailler sur Marie-Antoinette, qui ne comporte d’ailleurs qu’un seul volume (un “one-shot” comme on dit).

Extrait des pages 10-11, 20-21, 24-25, & 40-41 (lire de droite à gauche):

(Vous trouverez aussi un extrait des cinquante premières pages sur le site de Glénat)

Marie-Antoinette (マリー・アントワネット) est un manga historique seinen qui a d’abord été pré-publié en feuilleton dans Morning (et son pendant digital: D Morning), un magazine hebdomadaire de Kodansha. Il a débuté dans le numéro 38 (18 août 2016) et s’est étalé sur quatre publications (se terminant dans le numéro 41). Chose rare, la publication en volume (tankōbon) s’est faite au Japon en septembre 2016 (ISBN 978-4-06-377337-8, 750円), soit quelques jours après la parution du volume en français!

Malgré certaines critiques négatives en France, on peut s’attendre à un ouvrage d’une grande qualité historique. Soryo est d’ailleurs reconnue pour la qualité de sa documentation, d’autant plus que le projet, co-publié par Kodansha et Glénat, est produit en collaboration avec le Château de Versailles, qui a ouvert ses portes et offert tout son soutient à l’artiste. Le magnifique style rococo qui caractérise l’époque sera donc fidèlement reproduit dans tous ses aspects: la mode, l’architecture, l’étiquette et les moeurs de la court royale, etc.

Si l’on prends pour exemple la qualité de son travail sur Cesare (tant les détails historiques que le travail artistique), on ne sera pas déçu. J’ai déjà commandé le manga et le commenterai dès que je l’aurai lu.

Marie-Antoinette, la jeunesse d’une reine, par Fuyumi Soryo. Paris: Château de Versailles / Glénat (Coll. Seinen), septembre 2016. 180 pg., 9.15 € / $14.95 Can. ISBN: 978-2-344-01238-3. Recommandé pour public adolescent (12+).

Pour plus d’information vous pouvez consulter les sites suivants:

MARIE-ANTOINETTE © 2016 Fuyumi Soryo / Kodansha Ltd.

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