Archive for WW II

a journal of the plague, sword, and famine year [no end on sight]

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2023 by xi'an

Read the second volume of The Craft Sequence, Two Serpents Rise, by Max Gladstone,  with great difficulties as I found the story (again) poorly constructed, despite some characters being mostly well-designed (no connection with volume 1, except for taking place in the same universe, if at another time period). Mixing steampunk and hard fantasy involving gods does not work well in general and particularly there…. Following a New York Tĩmes review of the sequel, I also went very quickly through the Unwanted Dead, a first volume by Chris Lloyd, HWA Gold Crown for Best Historical Fiction winner for 2021, following a (s)hell-shocked PTSD-ed Paris police detective during World War II, when German troops arrive in the city. Not very realistic imho, as the nosy inspector happens to cross paths with Hitler during his very brief and unique visit to Paris as well as in Compiègne, and with a disappointing resolution of the wagon murders, but well-documented and with no obvious anachronism (except the unlikely presence of bathrooms in all apartments!, and the detective drinking whisky). (A wee nitpicking: Neuilly-sur-Seine (west of Paris) seemed to be confused with Neuilly-Plaisance (east of Paris), but the author acknowledged to me a general tendency to confuse east and west, just like I usually confuse right and left…) Overall, I found the Berlin Noir (Philip Kerr’s) novels more impressive and engaging!

Had a matcha flan in Paris, following a tip from Le Monde!, but was somewhat disappointed by its mild flavour, if comforted by the hojicha kokicha (made solely of tea stems) they served. And an excellent Filipino dinner in Kenilworth. And a yummy lamb Turkish Gözleme next to the ATI in London. While snacking the rest of week on Mysore dosas made on the street next to the Statistics Department at Warwick.

Watched (via a neighbour screen, on the flight to Martinique!) La Nuit du 12, a French thriller that got elected as Film of the Year (2022) by the Le Masque & La Plume (France Inter) audience, following a police investigation in the Maurienne valley after a particularly grisly murder of a young girl, one of the most fascinating aspects being that the crime remains unsolved despite the police efforts. In an impromptu home-made (!) Michelle Yeoh cycle, rewatched Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon after reading a particularly positive article in The Guardian. While the fighting scenes are definitely worth watching, esp. the trio fight on ice, the story remains rather lame. And Everything Everywhere All at Once, which I had also partly watched in the plane, but found highly unsatisfactory overall as lacking purpose, despite some great scenes between Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis ! Concurring with the strongly critical analyses in The New Yorker and the Guardian at the failure of the Daniels to find a purpose and a pace. (To quote from the latter, “these often impressively nutso formal backflips land in a position of pedestrian sentimentality, and then upbraid anyone resisting the viscous flood of sap for their cynicism.”) The scenes around the Everything Bagel are interminable…

Resistez [mural]

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , on September 7, 2022 by xi'an

a [delayed] journal of the plague and pestilence year

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains, pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 19, 2022 by xi'an

Read a short story, An Unatural Life, which I found a highly original take on the legal rights of humanoid robots, when a robot on the mining moon Europa stands accused of murder. His (its?) case is taken by a young lawyer, despite her misgivings, and she gradually builds a case. The ending is not fully satisfactory but the fundamental questions behind the story are deep enough for me to recommend the story. And finally gave up on Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi, as I could not proceed through the artificiality of the universe construct. (Some friends reported similar defeats!)

Made numerous raspberry purées, as the bushes in our garden deliver non-stop! And further clafoutis and Sonoran tortillas, as well. Also enjoyed an Afghan dinner in Paris, with an incredibly tasty rice dish. (Maybe made better by a week of quasi fasting, following a much less enjoyable experience in a Noirmoutier restaurant..!)

Watched some episodes of Tomorrow, yet another Korean TV drama merging the current era and the afterlife, with an unexciting general thread but some interesting digs into the 1950-1953 Korean War and into the fate of the comfort women enslaved during WW II (in the sense of them being the first occurrences in TV series for me). And Lucid Dream, a Japanese SF movie about entering others’ dreams, à la Interception, but quite poor in its scenario and its acting.

the elephant in the biography

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2022 by xi'an

As I was buying Guerre, the long lost novel by Louis-Ferdinand Céline that was recently published, I noticed that Gallimard had included a biography of the author with a massive elephant in the room!

Namely the loud silence about his antisemitic writings and collaborationist activities under the Vichy regime, which made him flee to Sigmarinen with the core French collaborators (incl. Pétain and Laval), and then flee again to German-occupied Denmark when Allied troups were approching, where he was later jailed for two years as the Libération French government had requested Céline’s extradition from the new Norwegian goverment. He only returned to France after an amnesty was granted for his disabled war veteran status.

a journal of the [less] plague and [more] pestilence year

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains, pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2022 by xi'an

Read Rankin’s last Rebus, A song for the dark times, which takes place between Edinburgh and the Far North (of Scotland). I reasonably enjoyed it, by which I mean I was not expecting novelty, but rather reuniting with a few characters, including the Teflon villain, Big Ger Cafferty, still around at his craft. Rebus is getting older, cannot climb stairs any longer, and cannot deliver a proper punch in a fight! Still enjoyable, with a dig into Second World War internment camps for German prisoners… While not yet into the COVID era, the spirit is definitely post-Brexit, with a general resentment of what it brought (and did not bring). The character of Inspector Fox escaped me, mostly, but otherwise, an enjoyable read.

Made a light (no baking) chocolate tart, with home raspberries on top (of course) that did not last long.

Watched two Japanese shows: Any crybabies around?! by Takuma Satô which revolves around the Namahage tradition in Northern Japan (to terrify children into being obedient and no crybabies!) and the immaturity of a young father acting as such a character until disaster strikes. With a lot of cringe moments, until the utter hopelessness of this man crybaby, more straw-like than his traditional costume made me stop caring. And the mini-series Switched. Which explores a (paranormal) body switch between two teenager girls to school pressure, bullying, and depression, but in a rather perturbing manner as the girl who initiated and forced the exchange does not come out nicely, despite her overweight issues, her abusive single mother, and the attitude of the rest of the school.  The most interesting character is the other schoolgirl who has to adapt to this situation without changing her (inner) personality, but the story is slow-motioned, predictable, and heavy-handed, esp. in the sobbing department. (Plus bordering at fat-shaming at some point.)

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