Saturday, 12 March 2011

Twitter: antidote needed

Curiosity finally overcame scepticism and I created a Twitter account. I've spent far too much time there in the past few days, looking for needles in that enormous haystack with limited success only. But though the quantity of tweets is overwhelming, their lifespan is short. Information on yesterday's earthquake in Japan came in a tsunami of tweets, each one contributing a drop to the wave then disappearing forever into irrelevance.

So as an antidote to the cult of now on Twitter, I spent some time tonight using the Internet as a window to the past. I recently heard the story of Vivian Maier, a nanny in Chicago who died in 2009. During her lifetime she took thousands of photographs of street scenes but showed them to no-one. They were discovered at an antique auction and they're just stunning. See the John Maloof collection, the Jeffrey Goldstein collection and the introductory article in The Guardian.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Not just child's play

Three-year-old Philou and I went to a puppet show today at Place des Arts. He loved it, and I did too. For him it was pure enjoyment but for me it also had a wistful and eerie ambience - something profoundly human and delicate was portrayed in the startlingly natural behaviour of the puppets.

OK, perhaps that just means I saw a monkey puppet and sadly recognised myself - or maybe this was both child's play and art. I'll go with the latter!

The production was by a Swedish company, Dockteaterverkstan, performing "Monkey Business". My favourite was Helga, the shy, frumpy, knife-throwing old lady, eh monkey, I mean puppet. She was the least like me.

After the show I had a chat with the puppeteer, practicing my rusty Swedish, unfortunately cut short when Philou took off into the crowd and I had to catch him before he disappeared into an elevator.

Crisp clean mountain air, saturated fat

Skiing in France can be a delight for all the senses, including taste. After a breathtaking morning in the high Alps one can regroup over a lunch of savoury cassoulet accompanied by a glass of Côtes du Rhône, and other such delights. But for some reason lunch at North American ski resorts is usually a fast food affair and often quite ghastly: crumbly dry burgers, soggy sandwiches and that infamous Quebec speciality of congealed poutine, all at ridiculous prices.

Last week was the winter school-break and we spent four days skiing in the Quebec City area. At Le Massif in Charlevoix we were pleasantly surprised to find a resort serving appetising and healthy fare: interesting salads, pastas, crisp vegetables and main courses all presented in a bright and welcoming chalet. More please!

The skiing was pretty good too.