Archives for the month of: February, 2012
two seats no waiting

two seats no waiting

Finally getting back to my NaNo editing. So much hospital visit transit and other stresses over the past month put that work on the back burner. The time away was well spent though as I got to think through some things that needed work before I jumped in and started killing my darlings.   I’ve pretty much had the same opening since I started it two years ago. I’ve even had the first two sections workshopped to good effect but no one said the things took too long to get going – my first few pages are funny and certainly set the mood but don’t get the plot in motion quickly enough. So out they go. The information in them can be set in place at other points in the story. I had to get my hero in contact with his his first ‘antagonist’ sooner. It now starts:

“Harris felt her eyes on him as he dabbed at the sauce from the pulled pork sandwich that had dripped onto his Aquaman tee-shirt. He loved eating on the subway but hated people watching him. He didn’t look up. His feet felt trapped in the new shoes he was breaking in. Trapped and hot.”

Brings them together in the first sentence. Plus gives a pretty clear picture of my ‘hero’ and his eating habits, his sloppiness and his geek quotient. The novel runs to just over 99,000 words so I have lots of work ahead of me. I’d like to have the next draft ready for Bloody Words in June ( so I’ll have something to pitch to an agent. Maybe even submit the first 30 pages for evaluation – deadline for evaluation is April 1.

who's there

who’s there

Watched a great movie I recorded from French CBC – Providence (1977) directed by Alain Resnais. The way he plays with narrative structure, dialogue and continuity is delightful and inspiring.  It comes up rarely on TV, so far no DVD either.

Got booked for some up coming gigs:

May 10 – hosting: The Beautful & The Damned

June 12 – feature: The Art Bar

August 19 – feature: Plasticine Poetry



Got out to Plasticine Poetry Sunday night. I haven’t been to a reading event for nearly two months. Not since I hosted Plasticine in December. I guess that’s part of the aging process – my unwillingness to bundle up warm and then drag myself out on cold wet nights to spots where there is barely room to sit at a table, let alone have a place to pile winter clothes. Paupers offers a bit of space for that in their booths so one doesn’t have to sit the entire night wearing the parka that you don’t want to throw on the floor.

No mic cord for the first set of open stagers & feature. But the room was good for hearing without microphone – though first feature Lynn McClory did have to move to centre of the room. Her set was, for me, a bit dry. I’ve never been a fan of poetry about language – her works captures emotional distancing with abstractions, language play and broken phrases.  As much as I like phrases such as ‘deftly indifferent to the photographs’ I’m not sure how one is deftly indifferent. I did enjoy the irony of her closing piece about the Silent Majority.

During the break I connected with Adam Abbas – he did a great pean to Cathy Petch when he hit the open stage later. Also enjoyed running into and then sharing my booth with one of the Toronto Erotica guys. Thanks also to the organizers for cake to celebrate the recent launch of Cathy Petch’s book “Late Night Knife Fights” – which is already into it’s second printing.

Jim Nason started the second set – he read from his recent book “Narcissus Unfolding.” The pieces had a strong sense of place – the ocean, a back alley – that felt grounded and were emotionally inviting to me. Images like ‘the terrible flame of your father’s hand’ made sure I bought a copy of his book.

Final feature was Beatriz Hausner. When I featured with her at Plasticine a few years ago she read several surreal pieces about sewing the perfect man & that book  – “Sew Him Up” – is now in print, so I bought it. The pieces she read from it were infused with a warm Latino sensuality the reminded me of my favorites Lorca and Arenas. She read some pieces from ‘Raccoon’ that were rich with magic realism balanced with powerful emotional response to the life and death of Amy Winehouse – a book I can’t wait to get.

I managed to get into the first round of open stagers – read a couple of comfortable older pieces. As usual the open stagers run the gamut of pure Canadiana nature poetry to closing with a Serge Gainsbourgh song.

Here’s one of the pieces I read:

Star Trek Subtext

an all day Star Trek marathon

the original series on Blue Ray

weird space plants

funky 60’s retro-futurist sets

Kirk Spock Bones Sulu

(Sulu who knew you were

the real queen of outer space)

we had nachos   salsa

bags of sea salt-n-pepper chips

Hawaiian pizza   fried chicken

diet coke   real dr pepper

a 90 inch plasma TV

Trek in all its never to fade glory

as each episode started

we did a soprano unearthly dance

every time Scotty said

‘I’m giving it everything we got captain’

we’d eat chips as fast as we could

when Uhura said

‘we are experiencing interference’

we saw who could burp the loudest

every time Kirk took off or tore his shirt

we removed an article of clothing

(Strip Trek)

every time the fate of a culture

was decided by a kiss from Kirk

we made moony eyes at each other

until someone said ‘phasers on stun’

each time human emotions

were a puzzle

we asked deep personal questions like

‘who has the bigger dick

Chekov or that guy

with his face painted black and white?’

when any alien said

‘what is this thing you earth people call kissing’

we gave each other alien tongue baths

every time Spock said ‘illogical’

we did the Vulcan grind meld

by the time the marathon was over

it didn’t matter

that neither of us really liked Star Trek

we’ll never forget this Star Date One


When I got home there was Sulu – George Takei – on Celebrity Apprentice – though I don’t think I’d want of these contestants to make me a sandwich.

With my partner in hospital for two weeks, so far, and probably then another two weeks of Rehab I’ve been getting used to living on my own. The stress and travel in the first few weeks gave me little time or energy for much more than eating, sleeping and getting out to my usual recovery meetings.

I have managed to stick to a ten minute speed writing most mornings to keep my creativity in action. More than once I riffed on my stress and fears. Writing them without trying to edit or justify as I wrote made them less ominous and certainly loosened their hold on my thinking. I’m not sure if any of that writing transcends the therapeutic quality of it though.

The routine of my days is hospital visits every other day. Grocery shopping on my way home. Food lasts a lot longer with only one eating it. Home life alone isn’t all that ‘lonely.’ Supper in front of the TV watching artificial reality TV is fine by me – artificial reality includes the likes of Project Runway All Stars, Ink Masters, Face Off, Model Latina NYC.

As we end week two, medical things have settled down enough that I can get back to my NaNo editing. I might take in a couple of readings: Beautiful & Damned; Plasticine Poetry. I have loads of new, non-stressed, material to present. Though I expect people are going to want to hear more personal stuff about a chest being cracked open like a walnut shell, or how my frontal lobes felt like they were going to explode more than once. But that’s not entertainment.

My partner Bob’s triple bypass was two weeks ago. All is well today. The day of the surgery was stressful but that stress lifted when I called the cv-icu duty nurse and was told he was awake and lucid. Visited the next day. He was still weak but otherwise well. His said his impressions of the icu staff were like an episode of House – the language and interpersonal interactions between nurses and doctors.

Odd how our real life now takes on the sensibility of TV fiction. Experiences are filtered through this screen of scripted information to give them context and expectations. Big difference – no background music in the real icu to force emotional resonance in the viewers. Plus no commercial breaks or tidy wrap-ups.

He was into a ward bed 48 hours after the surgery. The first week was taxing as Bob didn’t find his strength returning. He was drained by the act of getting to the bathroom. He had no appetite either and found it hard to eat anything they brought him.

For me this means lots of public transit. Two hours there and back. I was thankful for my Christmas gift Kindle. Size and weight made reading in transit so enjoyable. Plowing through, of all things, Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.” Some of which made me laugh out loud on the subway. Purple prose and economic philosophy were more delightful than I expected. I don’t think Rand thought she was writing a satire mind you.

His second week started with a 6:30 a.m. phone call to me that he had passed out in the washroom and had been rushed back to cv-icu. Bleeding required blood transfusions.

My stress level was highest yet. I made a few calls, stuck to routine till I could visit. Went to hospital with a friend. Visited and all was well, even though he was in icu once again.

When the nurse told me he had passed out and was bleeding in the washroom I had this image of him falling to the floor, hitting his head on something and being found in a pool of blood. Turns out a nurse was with him when he passed out, he didn’t fall to the floor. The bleeding was internal. Later in the day they found out the bleeding was an ulcer caused by his meds that had been aggravated to bleeding by his current stress level. It was treated.

He was back to his ward room the next day. The weakness he had been feeling the first week was due to this unknown ulcer bleed. With it stopped his appetite and strength has quickly returned. He expects to go to rehab this week.

Thanks to all of you for all the prayers, good vibes and concern.


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