Carnaval d’Hiver!

Rainbow ice carousel
Rainbow ice carousel

This weekend, I went to Québec City to see the Carnaval d’Hiver, starring Bonhomme. I have a lot of photos and things to talk about, so I’m spacing it out over the next few days. To start off with, I’m going to post a bunch of photos of sculptures and things I saw.

The lights in the carousel tent changed all the time, so it was very difficult to get any good photos, but I’m reasonably happy with the way this one turned out. The whole tent was full of ice sculptures of different games—chess, monopoly, etc. I wonder if it’s harder to sculpt in snow or in ice. I imagine that it would be easier to make a silly mistake in the snow, but that ice is less forgiving.

By the way, carousels are creepy.

Creepy snow spider
Creepy snow spider

These are just a few of my favourite things that I saw at the Carnaval d’Hiver. There were lots of other really good ones, but these turned out to be the most photogenic.

The creepy spider is wonderful. I love the eyes on the front, and the way that the light comes from behind it.

I wonder where these people get their ideas for what they will make out of their chunk of snow, and by what means the chunk of snow is delivered there.

An apple with a mouth
An apple with a mouth

The apple with the mouth won the prize for everything, I think. Seriously. There were about a half dozen awards at that one.

It’s really quite well done. I wonder if it’s supposed to represent anything besides just an apple with a mouth. I have no idea how a person would sculpt the inside of the mouth like that. Maybe they did the top of the mouth first so that they could sit on what would become the tongue, and then later went back to fix it. The snow must be very well-packed for it to allow for this sort of thing.

Girl in hood with dragon
Girl in hood with dragon

I also liked the hooded girl with dragon. Good details on the dragon. Unfortunately, the very night that I took these photos, it snowed, and many of the finer details were covered up forever.

This sculpture in particular did not fare very well through the loss of all the fine details. Look at all the scales along the tail, the teeth and eyes. The little girl in a hood is delightful as well.

I overheard a bunch of French-speakers refer to the girl as “Little Red Riding Hood,” I thought, but I don’t remember a dragon in the English version of that story, at least.

Korean with fish
Korean with fish

Apparently, there were teams of snow-sculptors from all over the world who came to participate. I’ve attached the South Korean contribution. It’s a person with a fish.

I also have photos of the Koreans working on this one the whole previous night. They put a lot of effort into it.

There was also a team from Morocco. I didn’t care for their sculpture as much. But then, they probably don’t get too much snow there, so I guess we can cut them some slack.

Plan for snow sharks
Plan for snow sharks
Sharks hiding in snow
Sharks hiding in snow

Another favourite of mine is the sharks hiding in snow. I have both a photograph and a video of that one.

As best I can make out, these are actual living sharks that were imported and then covered in snow. They’re just waiting for the right moment before they start eating the unprepared visitors to the Carnaval d’Hiver.

Something I should have done when I lived in China

When I lived in China, I let a wonderful opportunity pass me by, but I may be able to do something similar now that I live in Quebec.

It is a not altogether uncommon thing for children or mildly racist grown-ups to imitate other languages by making sounds that are both nonsense to the speaker, and of course, to a speaker of the language being imitated. I’m sure we’ve all heard at some point, an English speaker imitate Chinese, by uttering a stream of disconnected monosyllabic exclamations.

When I used to live in China, I had more than a few friends who could not speak a word of English, and I have a hard time believing that only English people do this sort of imitation of other languages.

I wish that I had recorded a native Chinese speaker with no English ability pretending he was saying something in English. Now that I’m in Quebec, though, I might be able to find some French-only speakers, and get them to imitate English.

Or, who knows? Maybe there’s a Quebecois equivalent of Foux du Fa Fa (an excellent example of an English person making up words that sound French).

This is interesting to me, because as a native English speaker, I don’t really know what English sounds like. I’ll work on this. :)

Memories of French class

Téléfrançais - Bonjour, allô, salut!
Téléfrançais – Bonjour, allô, salut!

Does anyone else remember Téléfrançais? It was a children’s programme meant for French-language instruction made in the 1980’s by TVOntario, starring the crime against nature that you see in the picture attached to this post.

I take it as a sign that my French is still at an immature level, that sometimes, after conducting a conversation entirely in French, I walk away feeling very satisfied with myself and humming the Téléfrançais theme song.

The very last Téléfrançais émission that I remember seeing in elementary school ended with a puppet flying an airplane for some reason, and Ananas (the pineapple puppet) and the children were passengers. Les Squelettes were on the wings of the aircraft too, as I recall. At the last moment, the puppet lost control of the airplane and they were about to crash, when the closing credits started to roll over the screen. I never saw the next émission, so as far as I know, that’s how the television programme ended—with the death of all the characters in a fiery airplane disaster. Actually, that wouldn’t be so hard to believe.

There’s an obvious life-lesson to be learned here: Don’t fly in an aircraft where the pilot is a puppet.

Why not volunteers [sic]?

"Why not volunteers?"
"Why not volunteers?"

As an MA student in bioethics, I am very interested in the advertisements on the Métro for participation in phase I drug studies.

And that’s not just because they were very tempting back when I had no job and no prospects at the end of the school year in April.

I have found the evolution of this particular advertisement to be very notable indeed. A few months ago, when I first noticed it, it went something like this:

“Up to $4000 for healthy men, 18–45 / A clinical trial? Why not!”

It would run in English first, then in French, and in the version that they were running a few months ago, there was no translation problem.

Now, it is the same message, except instead of “A clinical trial? Why not!” it says, “Why not volunteers [sic]?”

English mistranslation aside, the emphasis of the message has changed. At first, the tone was more on the “Why not?”—it was more like the advertisers were saying, “Yeah, we know it’s a clinical trial, but let’s throw caution to the wind! What could go wrong?”

Now, the emphasis has changed. It’s like the advertisers are now trying to go for more of the “It’s for a good cause” feel. “Volunteer. Why wouldn’t you? It’s so that these kind people can develop drugs that will help all of us.”

“Why not volunteers?”