Description 29 - le défilé du Père Noël

In Montreal, Santa Claus has roadies and a secretary, but I learn the guy works hard to entertain at his big downtown parade. Enjoy not-exactly-festive music from Loco Locass, along with face-painting, more mouth-noises than ever and someone twirling long socks like nunchucks.

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Associated links:
défilé du Père Noël
The official site of Père Noël
where he hangs out in Quebec
Loco Locass
Complexe Desjardins
Radio Énergie
Viva Marina! (Orsini, that is...)
Wikipedia on Annie Brocoli (that woman in the parade everyone knew but me)

Seriously, sorry about the mouth noises. I should've had some water sitting around.

The little hymn at the start of the episode was something I recorded at the Centaur Theatre while seeing a play called "Assorted Candies," the English version (translated by Linda Gaboriau) of the Michel Tremblay play "Bonbons Assorties". It's a funny and often melancholy collection of remembrances M. Tremblay has about being a kid at Christmas when his family was poor. You can find a book version here.

I mentioned a show Marina Orsini was in called "The Last Chapter / Le Dernier Chapitre". It was a miniseries about biker gangs in Ontario and Quebec, and Marina played the steely wife of the ambitious Ontario leader (Michael Ironside). I guess it should go without saying that our old pal Roy Dupuis was in it too. Actually, it was two miniseries - four, if you count the sequel - because they filmed in both languages simultaneously. Okay, obviously, it wasn't completely simultaneous, but they would film a scene in one language, then do the same scene in the other language, and on they went down the line. Freaking wicked. Granted, a couple of the Anglos who couldn't quite get their pronunciations down like me :-) had stunt-French-talkers who were dubbed in for them. But still, I think it was a great achievement, and I wish more tv shows and movies were done that way. Yes, I know it's a pain in the ass to make any domestic piece of entertainment in English Canada, much less twice in two languages, but a gal can dream.

Guess that's all the stuff I'll put on the podcast from Montreal for now. I have my perspective, but there are plenty of podcasts and blogs based in Quebec where people actually know what the hell they're talking about. I think #1 for me is Vu d'ici (Seen From Here), but there's also BandeÀpart (part of Radio-Canada), the legendary in over your head, Quebec en Baladodiffusion, and if only in retrospect if they don't get their crap together :-) The Bob and AJ Show. And of course there are others, but that's as far as my brain's going right now.

And while trying to figure out that Loco Locass song, I decided to bounce it off a friend of mine in Second Life who happens to be French (like, French French). Of course, he couldn't get a lot of local references, but got that while Quebec has been accused of fascism and censure in the past, plenty of those accusers would do well to check out the skeletons in their own closets. But my friend found another possible very cool reference. The title, "La censure pour l'échafaud," reminds him of a Nouvelle Vague film from the '50's called Ascenseur pour l'échafaud, which can be translated to "elevator to the gallows" or "elevator to the scaffold". Louis Malle's first feature film, it's about a guy who plots with his lover (Jeanne Moreau, of course) to kill her husband (his boss), and while the murder does happen, something gets messed up and stuff really starts to unravel. And it happens to have an amazing soundtrack by the late Miles Davis. Doesn't get much cooler than that.


Description 28 - Mode d'emploi

Finally, I get into why Canada has two official languages, yet many of us (including me) suck at least one if them. Featuring great music with sub-par sound quality by Mes Aïeux, tasty new cookies, and a church that became a mall.

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Associated links:

That convention-fresh Liberal Party
CBC Archives: "The Road to Bilingualism"
Wikipedia takes on bilingualism in Canada
Parlez-Moi with Sol (from the Rick's TV site)
Histori.ca on the October Crisis
The Rocket/Maurice Richard now on sale on DVD
I first discussed that movie and some of this stuff in Description 16.
Mes Aïeux Official Site (in four languages!)
"Dégénération" video on YouTube, a great homemade video with old home movies, and another cool homemade one with family memorabilia.
(Update: March 30, 2007: now you can see the original video with English subtitles!)
Farewell to the Montreal Forum
The Bell Centre
Guide de la Petite Vengeance (no matter the language, it's an excellent movie site!)
Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen

This is an episode I've wanted to do ever since started thinking up what I could do on a podcast. The French/English thing has been a source of fascination for me. Hasn't helped me pronounce any better, mind you.

Something I probably won't have a chance to mention on these Montreal episodes is another way I would try to learn French: watching La Fureur on Radio-Canada (that's the French CBC-TV). There are versions of this show all over the world, where celebrities/media personalities compete in teams based on gender in games based on music. The defining game is where they play a popular song and everyone sings along, then they stop the music for a short time but the team must keep singing the song so that when it comes back on, they haven't missed a beat. Actually, every answer in every game is some sort of pop song, which everyone then sings for a few bars. So everyone can do that on the show and watching the show, they have the lyrics running at the bottom of the screen like for karaoke. For me, that means I can hear what the words on the screen are supposed to sound like. Makes sense...but then pop songs have a lot of slang and stuff, and lyrics can have a ton of contractions to the point I'm asking "what the hell words did they just smush together? How the hell would I know that from hearing someone?" Still, it's fun to sing along like I know what I'm singing. After all, isn't that what everyone around the world does with English pop songs?

In researching the links, I was amused to learn that the guy who wrote the movie The Rocket (en Français, Maurice Richard) also wrote the movie I saw in this episode, Guide de la Petite Vengeance. So thanks, Ken Scott, who is way more French than his name suggests. Btw, the plot to that movie goes like this: This guy is an accountant at a fancy jewelry store, and his boss, Vendome, is kind of a dick. Not a total asshole, but one of those guys who says subtly nasty things and is super-passive-aggressive and who doesn't really yell at you, but is never really satisfied with anything you do. One of those bosses, who, if you're a generally good person, veeerrry sloooowly sucks out your soul.

C'mon! Who can't relate to that?

So our put-upon hero, Bernard, happens to meet a guy whom he replaced at the shop several years ago. Robert totally understands his pain, and ropes Bernard into a plan for a little vengeance: stealing just a couple small trinkets from the jewelry store. Of course, that's not all there is to the movie - there are all sorts of twists, some I saw coming and some I didn't, and those kinds of movies are rare. And it says some nice things about love and letting your life kind of slip away from you when you're busy working. So if you have a chance, check it out.

Oh, btw, when I was talking about that Maurice Richard movie when I saw it, I was speculating about how well it would do in the box office in English Canada. It did well, but not well enough to really be a big deal. (Though then again, we're not good at making anything a big deal.) But a few months later, a movie that really fits this subject came out: Bon Cop, Bad Cop is a prototypical buddy cop action movie, only the crime in question happens on the Ontario/Quebec border so one cop is Anglo while the other is Francophone. Violence and hilarity ensue. Not being a big violent action movie-type person, I didn't happen to see it, but it has become the highest-grossing domestic film in Canada ever, beating out even Porky's (yes, that movie was done in Canada). Still, most of the money was made, quelle suprise, in Quebec.