Archive for Midwest

a ghastly ghost

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2016 by xi'an

My daughter sort of dragged me to watch The Revenant as it just came out in French cinemas and I reluctantly agreed as I had read about magnificent winter and mountain sceneries, shot in an unusually wide format with real light. And indeed the landscape and background of the entire movie are magnificent, mostly shot in the Canadian Rockies, around Kananaskis and Canmore, which is on the way to Banff. (Plus a bit in Squamish rain forest.) The story is however quite a disappointment as it piles up one suspension of disbelief after another. This is a tale of survival (as I presume everyone knows!) but so implausible as to cancel any appreciation of the film. It may be the director Iñárritu is more interested in a sort of new age symbolism than realism, since there are many oniric passages with floating characters and falling meteors, desecrated churches and pyramids of bones, while the soundtrack often brings in surreal sounds, but the impossible survival of Hugh Glass made me focus more and more on the scenery… While the true Hugh Glass did manage to survive on his own, fixing his broken leg, scrawling to a river, and making a raft that brought him to a fort downstream, [warning, potential spoilers ahead!] the central character in the movie takes it to a fantasy level as he escapes hypothermia while swimming in freezing rapids, drowning while wearing a brand new bearskin, toxocariasis while eating raw liver,  bullets when fleeing from both Araka Indians and French (from France, Louisiana, or Québec???) trappers, a 30 meter fall from a cliff with not enough snow at the bottom to make a dent on, subzero temperatures while sleeping inside a horse carcass [and getting out of it next morning when it should be frozen solid], massive festering bone-deep wounds, and the deadly Midwestern winter… Not to mention the ability of make fire out of nothing in the worst possible weather conditions or to fire arrows killing men on the spot or to keep a never ending reserve of bullets. And while I am at it, the ability to understand others: I had trouble even with the French speaking characters, despite their rather modern French accent!

Midwestern trip

Posted in pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2012 by xi'an

Next week, I will visit both Iowa State University, in Ames—a funny item for French speaking readers is that I will first land in Des Moines before reaching (les) Ames!, a logical step if any, even though only the first name relates to the early French exploration of the area: Ames has apparently no [ethymological] connection with souls…—, and the University of Chicago Booth Business School, giving a seminar on ABC model choice and empirical likelihood in both places. (I have never been to Iowa before and the last time I visited Chicago—rather than just commuting through O’Hare—was in May 1988, when I drove a friend to the airport…!) Here are the time and places for the seminars (note that the seminar at Booth is on Tuesday rather than on the customary Thursday to accommodate my tight schedule!):

As a coincidence—not so much as he is currently assistant professor in Ames—, the previous seminar speaker in Ames is my friend Vivek Roy, talking on Monte Carlo Methods for Improper Target Distributions! Here is (again!) the current version of the slides: