Archives for the month of: May, 2013

I want to put my nose to the grindstone but I have to decide which grindstone to start with, & which nose to put on it. The How To  workshop is less than a month away & I have yet to decide what to bring for workshopping – another section of Lazarus Kiss (my NaNo 2011 novel)? something from The Priest’s Niece – my NaNo 2012 novel. Or a short story? Which nose?

bye bye jodi

bye bye jodi

I’ve been continuing my research for Niece. The more I find out the more I wonder how historically accurate I want this book to be. Can I get away with a sort of mash up of what suits my story or should I stick to strict ‘this is how it was’ – not that I want have my 1925 coal miners using cell phones. The story is culturally true to the time era I’m working in but I don’t want readers griping that my Dragermen equipment wasn’t that developed by 1925 – unless I say it was prototype? hmm.

under water

under water

Last year at the workshop I gave a presentation on e.publishing that was based on my minimal experience, podcasts & the Bloody Words panel. This year I’m going to do a presentation on something I’m more equipped to talk about: how to give a reading.  The participants are all fiction writers – several published so I’m not going to pull my punches.

broken record

broken record

Even more than poets novelist feel compelled to set-up a section endlessly. My theory is if it takes ten minutes of set up you’ve picked the wrong passage. Avoid scenes with more than three characters – it just confuses the listeners. Maybe we don’t need very word of the detailed description of period shoes, stockings and accessories. Yeah, this going to be fun (for me).

01.Nano-Winner-Certificate1.2

more toys in the snow

toys in the snow

A couple of people have asked why I’m not posting as much poetry these days – mainly so I can concentrate on getting City of Valleys posted before summer. But here’s one of The Doors pieces I read on the open stage at Plasticine this past Sunday.

come lie with me beneath the lilacs

come lie with me beneath the lilacs

Saint Jim

Pere Lachaise

section six section seize

‘seize the moment in section six

you have to seize the moment

saiser l’instant’

Jim starts a new song

‘you have to seize the moment

in section six’

I can hear him shout

through stage fog strobe lights

teeny bopper girls rush the stage

police push them away

as he taunts flaunts teases pleases

scowler prowler

hurt lost shaman

like those silly teeny boppers

I lust after that idol

I wonder what they saw

that day in Miami

if he did flash the iconic cock

I make my way though a light rain

everything is a line in a Saint Jim song

‘making my way

through cemetery rain’

I know he‘s here somewhere

I see mystic marks sprayed

mementos of worship

‘the blue bus stops near here’

the rain stops

and I am there

no monument

only a flat gray space

with a tombstone

his name wrong

James isn’t Jim

beneath my feet his bones

unless they’ve been stolen

relics in sacred altars

for those who think

they can petition this saint

a bunch of faded flowers

some used condom lizard skins

‘lizard skins drying in the sun

show we have seized the moment’

I hear birds

then dozens of people

hiss of cameras

posers smile lean over the tombstone

stoke his name then gone

left alone

I seize my moment

unzip

flash my cock

the only gesture of his I can duplicate

toys in the snow

more toys in the snow

I seriously doubt that Morrison exposed himself – if he had photos would have surfaced by now – there aren’t even fakes. I wrote this a few years ago after reading an article about his grave in Pere Lachaise.

3501211-mirror-ball

Cathy Petch hosted another packed house & dynamic line up at Plasticine’s May show. First up was Marni Van Dyk. She read ‘Sisters Always’ a short story from a collection, presently called: ‘Please Don’t Touch Me Please.’ A wry meditation on a young woman’s longing for a sister. Invited by her roommate to spend Thanksgiving in a family of many sisters she realizes she’d rather the fantasy of sisters than the reality. Clear images propelled the story: ‘my ears felt hot but I played it cool,’ ‘served us cocktail weenies on napkins and bowls of licorice.’

s'no scene

s’no scene

She was followed by Daniel Scott Tysdal. His opening piece was playful, theatrical and funny. A female poet on stage read, then he, in the audience gave writer’s notes on what she had read, then at random points in the audience, questions where asked. Very effective with some strong images thrown in: ‘the room smelled of wildflowers and stale bread,’ ‘this is the same light that shatters against the poems like glass.’ His pieces were energetic, poetic and playful. We all want ‘a spell you can cast to lull memory.’

s'no structure

s’no structure

After the break David Day talked about disappearing wildlife and read from his book ‘Never More.’ We understood and felt his grief and frustration over the depletion of the planet. ‘blood pulsing from the furnace of the deep heart,’ ‘the great breath song thru the sighing night.’ His image of the world like a roc’s egg – white and smooth but hollow and bereft of life touched most of us.

David Day's Roc egg

David Day’s Roc egg

Final feature was Clara Blackwood  – I heard/saw Clara recently at the Damned. She read many of the same pieces from her forthcoming book ‘Forecasts’ – often humorous, tender, full of clear images and romantic, her pieces are a delight to hear. ‘I lose pounds just thinking about my childhood,’ ‘walls as wide as lovers’ eyes,’ ‘new schemes charges laid.’ An excellent set.

The open stagers where piled up at the end of things where we had to contended with tables being cleared by staff, and people departing as noisily as they could.

s'no purses

s’no purses

Ray Manzarek recently died. I’m listening to the Doors live at the Matrix March 1967. Recorded five months after they recorded their first album but before it was released. Lots from that first album plus material they were working on for Strange Days. It is so sweet to hear live versions of The End and When the Music’s Over. Cool to hear them as a band and not as the icons they too quickly became.

jeans cornered

jeans cornered

I remember listening to that first album in my bedroom – amazed by the long version of Light My Fire & totally hot for Morrison. The rest of the group held little interest for me. Ray was a codger on keyboards. So many bands of the time featured that Farfisa organ sound but this was one of the first that was propelled by it.

Ray certainly educated my ear to Brian Auger, Jimmy Smith – that thick juicy jazzy organ sound – which, in part, pumped jazz into my life – guitarists John McLaughlin & Larry Coryell were the other main jazz influences on me before I was overwhelmed by Coltrane.

zapped

zapped

Jim was broody, poetic and seemingly dangerous. Regardless of how banal the songs the band sometimes produced he was always compelling. I could always tell his ‘words’ – Rimbeauesque mystical laced phrases ‘secret alphabet’ – when the song sounded like they could be sung by Harpers Bazaar (Love Street) I knew why he was frustrated in losing his artistic openness to financial constraints.

I was numbed by his death – coming in that chain of pop idols: Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Croce. I’m sad that Ray has passed away, too, but know I without Morrison I wouldn’t know who he was. Who reads Verlaine?

jeans in the snow

jeans in the snow

I’ve read a few bios of Jim – in one (Jim Morrison by Stephen Davis) I find that his bisexuality was no secret but kept out of the press. Knowing the connection between sexuality & suicide I wonder how much that played into his death. I’d highly recommend the Davis bio, as well as Greil Marcus’s ‘The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening.’

‘Music is your only friend’ became an anthem phrase for so many of us, and it still is. A simple, direct, nearly trite statement, that for me, captures so much of the ache of growing up. Your only friend in heterosexist culture when fear made one ‘the stranger’ – in ‘people are strange when you are the stranger’ and I dreaded being tracked down.

paint it black

paint it black

danforth canoer 01

danforth canoeist 01

 

danforth canoeist 02

danforth canoeist 02

 

danforth canoeists

danforth canoeists

 

I watch a lot of movies but it has been years since I’ve been inside a theatre. I can’t tell you how long or what the last film was I saw. The last few times I was dismayed by the sense of entitlement shown my some in the audience who mocked those who shushed them when on their cell phones – it was as if being annoyed by someone texting or talking on a phone was your problem, not theirs.

garden store aches for spring

garden store aches for spring

At one multiplex getting through the arcade park was half the battle, then finding the actual theatre was the next challenge, plus the search for a washroom – though I guess there’s an app for that sort of thing these days :-)

bow under dusty miller

bow under dusty miller

Over-priced snacks (this is where theatres make their money not on the movies), endless trailers, commercials – at least at home I can zap though the commercials, or hit mute – all contributed to my loss of interest in going to the movies. One of the final straws is volume – I suppose to drown out people babbling on their phones they pump up the volume. When I saw one of the Matrix movies my ears where ringing for a couple of days.

dead end table

dead end table

I’ll wait for the DVD – I’m old fashioned enough for DVD’s but know that too is going the way of the paperback. I guess I have control issues – at home I can stop the picture when I want, fast forward when the chase scene goes on too long rewind if I missed a line or two, even replay that skinny dipping scene, hit pause for Brad Pitt’s several one-frame nude appearances Fight Club.

burn that cksckr down  Pride2012

burn that cksckr down
Pride2012

Our first Stratford day trip was to see R&J. I can’t recall the last time I saw a live production. I like a lot of things about this production – stripped down of what has become Stratford’s re-imaginings to freshen things up – no floating masked ball dancers, no setting it in war torn Africa- it was bare bones production in fine Elizabethan costumes. This was a preview performance and as such it was clear where the production needs lots of work.

knock knock

knock knock

Clever opening with Capulet guys giving the audience the run down – please no electronic devices, etc. – then Montague guys coming out to do the same thing & the first sword play results. The fight choreography was excellent & there was a fair bit of it. The courtly dance moments were great.

It was clear that the “old hands’ (Tom McCamus, Scott Wentworth) are more comfortable with the meter and rhyme of the text. The first act pacing needs to be tightened up. The two most compelling characters (Mercutio, Tybalt) are dead by the end of act one. The second act opened with the cast beautifully singing a Latin madrigal – a fitting hymn for the deaths of Mercutio, and Tybalt. The pacing was good and performances, for the most part, were better.

who's there

who’s there

Sara Topham as Juliet was excellent. I found Daniel Briere as Romeo a bit of a snooze – more perplexed than agonized, more infatuated than enraptured – for someone who causes the deaths of five people (spoiler alert: including himself) I would had expected more stage presence even in a preview.

One benefit of this pared down presentation is that the language was paramount. I’ve seen Romeo as a young man caught up in trying to do the right thing and falling in love in the process. But when he says ‘O sweet Juliet, Thy beauty hath made me effeminate.’ – I realized he was a young man looking for someone to blame – in this case Juliet – for his actions.

mind the step

mind the step

The final bows turned into a ‘lord of the dance’ opportunity for the cast to kick up their period heels – this lively jig dispelled, for me, any sense of the tragic ending.

Overall a solid, if uninspiring, preview production that should be called Juliet and Romeo.

the mists of cape breton

Soon, I hope, summer will be here. After that cruel tease last week that had  me out in shorts & t-shirt I wasn’t happy to be being forced back into gloves & long-johns.

font blanc

font blanc

Other than a couple of day trips to Stratford for some culture, I don’t have much planned. No travel expect for the Loyalist Writer’s workshop – that falls at the end of June – so maybe it doesn’t count as summer yet anyway. In past years it has been the third week of July so I’ll have nothing to break up the swelter of July and August.

throne on the hill

throne on the hill

I have yet to decide what to take to the workshop for workshopping. A short story, another chunk of Lazarus Kiss, or some of the Priest’s Niece? I have prepared my ‘flyer.’ Each year I have some little give-away flyer to foist on my classmates to make sure they remember more than my tee-shirts. This year it’ll be Critic, along with a couple of my old paintings to add some color to it.

cold plate

cold plate

At the end of August I’ll be taking in FanExpo 2013. This year I might go so far as to get an autograph or at least have my pic taken with a star (if I can corner one in the men’s room that is). I got my deluxe package back in December – not that I’ve ever made much of the extras it offers.

Simple summer. Unless, of course, lotto max pays off and I can do a shirt shopping spree in Frisco :-)

under the Golden Gate

under the Golden Gate

Lizzie Violet hosted anther sensation Cabaret Noir at Q Space. A perfect high-octane Mother(F**ker)s Day with stomping sets by Cathy, Vanessa & Kirsten. I made sure I got into the first set of open stagers before the features pulverized the audience. I’ve heard them all before but am always happy to hear them again & again.

wood choppers ball

wood choppers ball

With open stagers from Chicago, audience from Australia, Noir has in three short months made its presence felt. The show kicked off with a rocking short set by Nelson Sobral. His Missile song had me thinking of Delta Bravo. I did three of the April pieces, including Golden Days (because it is about my mother).

First feature Vanessa McGowan did an amazing, emotionally raw set. She digs deep into her personal history without flinching. Her direct delivery was pitch-perfect in frankness, never strident and peppered with songs sung with a tenderness one wasn’t expecting. In her piece ‘handicapped ain’t what it used to be’ we learn what happens when ‘you’re not disabled enough’. Lines like ‘we bury our deepest desires’ ‘the art of unnoticing’ related to us on a heart to heart level.

serious root canal work

serious root canal work

Next up was Kirsten Sandwich – their pitch-perfect (most of the time) acapella harmonies give me goosebumps. With material that ranged from Elizabethan madrigals to Brecht/Weill to the Rheostatics to Kate Bush they left us wanting more.

sawdust in the snow reminds me of you

sawdust in the snow reminds me of you, Cathy Petch

Final feature Cathy Petch, give us another musical set – accompanied herself on saw for a couple of pieces & Kirsten Sandwich on one. This was one the best sets I’ve heard from her – maybe because the new pieces still have an emotional rawness that hasn’t been woven in by slam memorization. Raunchy, tender, funny and human. ‘your mouth full of shy,’ ‘run from pieces of wall he hit instead of me.’ Loved her Love Poem to Chewbacca – ‘after you there is never enough chest hair.’ I certainly relate to that :-)

Hosted by the glittering Philip Cairns, the Damned’s May show was a veritable celebration of Toronto’s queer theatre history with open stage appearances by David Bateman & David Roche & features by Peter Lynch & Sky Gilbert.

happy birthday

happy birthday

First feature Peter Lynch did two performance pieces: ‘The School For Hopeful Wankers’ – about an acting coach introducing her method of ‘acting is about immediate honesty’ where one would have to align ‘with their formerly disembodied pelvis.’ Comic, scary and insightful by turns it was a smart portrait of acting teacher as drill sergeant. His second piece was an excerpt from his video ‘The Narcoleptic Sex Slave’ now on YouTube.

Next feature was Edward Nixon. He did a strong set of new work that resulted from a recent workshop on the works of Charles Olsen. He uses precisely placed words where none are wasted to create swift, pointed images. Too many to make note of as I listened – ‘we talked TV and underwear,’ ‘dry Caribou sky,’ ‘purple flowers necklace the blood rust.’ He uses alliteration and sonics to sublime effect: ‘sand sunk down from the granite ground.’

snow wheel

snow wheel

Music feature Ori Dagan did a captivating set that had us tapping our toes & left us wanting more. Recently declared “Canada’s Next Top Crooner” he hasn’t let that keep him back. His styling of standards are much too fresh to be called ‘crooner.’ Accompanied by an excellent bassist (Alex Coleman) he tore though a set that included I Got Rhythm, You Go To My Head, and a great bossa nova take on Nature Boy. Alex did some solid solos (love those strong fingers.) These guys love to play and we loved to hear them.

heated seated

heated seated

Sky Gilbert wrapped up the show with new travel pieces – that may be never seen or heard again – they certainly deserve life beyond this feature spot. His New York pieces had a flutter of pop references: Daniel Day Lewis, Carrie Bradshaw, Pink. Wry observations: ‘drinks were $26 – so there goes the romance,’ ‘I saw him limping into the adult video store and said ‘there is my next boyfriend’.’ The Palm Springs pieces were funny, tender, and even vulnerable about his own aging process and angry at the normalization of ‘queer’ – ‘can’t I go into a gay bar and not have to put up with some straight couple working out something in their relationship.’

Next month DM Moore hosts the Beautiful’s pride month show.

me May 2013

me May 2013

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