Mabon Harvestfest

tiger eye rose

A few months ago I came across a site Ye Old Rock Shop that offered, amongst other goodies, spell advent calendars. 24 days of spells that you do a day at a time. The kit includes the various crystals, herbs, candles, verses to do each of the daily spells. All are simple & other than the bath/shower ritual, take less than five minutes to do. I started the kit so that the last one would be on Mabon. I did changed the sequence so that the bath ritual would be the final one as my Mabon ritual cleansing.

Mabon is the Fall Equinox, bye-bye summer. I adapted a ritual from Llewellyn’s Mabon book. I added into my mix a loaf of bread I had a friend make that included fresh herbs from my garden – delicious bread. After sunset I crumbled some of the bread & scattered in the directions around my house. 

struck by lightening

On Saturday, Sept 24, I took in, with my bread-baking friend, Toronto Pagan Pride Harvestfest, held at Dufferin Grove Park – day of workshops, rituals, performances & of course, a market with vendors that were actually in sync with the occasion. The Fest fell nicely between Mabon & the new moon on the 25th.

heart of the matter

The weather was perfect. After a few cool days I was happy to swear shorts. Transit was uncomplicated – no unexpected shutdowns. Though the number of masked continues to drop. After a stop at Tim Ho’s we walked down to the Park, arriving around 11 a.m. The market was smaller than I expected but the quality of goods & vibes from the ‘retailers’ were welcoming. 

altar decoration

So welcoming I actually made a few purchases. Some lighting-struck oak bark! From Crown and Crescent . A spectacular green fluorite heart from Witch Plz . I loved the tiger eye pendants but I can’t wear jewelry 😦 I was hoping for more of a sabbath presence with Samhain approaching. But that’s a quibble. Overall I was happy to have taken it in, joined their Facebook Group  for other events. So mote it be.

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Moonflowers

This summer I had success with moonflower morning glory. Last summer I had them along the back porch which proved to too sunny for them. So this year I planted them in a shadier part of the backyard. They bloom late in the day, stay open overnight & last till about 10 the next morning. Less than 12 hours – which is true of most morning glories.

moonflower vines growing out of coleus planter
first stage buds
second stage buds
blooming outside back window
another pair in bloom
centre of the moon
vines trained along string
going solo
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Brothers Glen and Buddy

Between 1962-66 Righteous Brothers had a string of hits thanks to the production work of Phil Spector. They did record other songs but even those have often been given the Spector treatment. I have ‘Gold’ a great collection of their best & their not so best. Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley had great voices but they were, as you might guess, not brothers. I have strong memories of hearing the hits on the radio but, at that time, wasn’t that taken by them – too adult & also it was considered romantic music for girls – not rock enough for boys. I’ve never heard a bad version of Unchained Melody – a song with a depth of longing that is hard to resist. The song was originally the theme song for the movie ‘Unchained’ about – of all things – a prison break.

Another hit-generator that just preceded my radio years is Buddy Holly (1936-59). On this mp3 compilation I have a hits collection ‘Gold’ & Rave On from June 2011, a tribute compilation with covers by the likes of Modest Mouse, Lou Reed etc. His tragic death turned him into an instant icon. His songs, for the most part are bouncy radio fodder. My favourite is Everyday. His clean-cut image is the opposite of  Elvis – Buddy was a safe idol for innocent teenage girls.

Yet another inescapable hit generator was Glen Campbell (1936-2017). Here I have The Best of, which includes Wichita Linesman. This was another singer I had little or no patience for in my teen years. Too laidback, too country, too romantic & banal. When he died in 2012 I gave a listen to some of those songs & the emotional pitch of his voice in Wichita Linesman is amazing. Subtle & sincere I suddenly wanted to have an affair with a linesman. lol.

I also downloaded his final studio lp Ghost on the Canvas  (2011) – recorded while he battling the Alzheimer’s which killed him. It’s a compelling, emotionally resonant & raw piece of work & stands well with similar ‘death bed’ works by David Bowie or Warren Zevon.  



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Door Perceptions

Door Perceptions

1

there is a difference

between blocking a door way

& making a grand entrance

it all depends on the width of the doorway

one doesn’t want to get

clothes caught on anything

it also helps

to some distance for the stride

the right stride

will make any entrance 

2

do you want to make an entrance

of merely suck all the attention

in the room to yourself

does it matter if the crowd

is buzzing with who is that

or with laughter

3

he gave me a look

that was hands-on-the-hips attitude

I gave him my patented

kick-in-the-ass response

<>

this wasn’t a stare down

as we both looked away

at the same time

enough attitude had been delivered

for those around us to see

there was nothing left to say

anyway

<>

it had been years since we actually spoke

often we didn’t even

glance nosily in each other’s direction

we’d both seen it all 

most of it didn’t deserve a second glance

let alone a first one

<>

we had better ways of wasting time

than looking at each other

as anything more

than exit doors

1

America’s Next Top Model taught me that there is a big difference between going into a room & making a grand entrance. Opening my front door & going into my house usually requires a different energy than stepping on stage, than being announced at the portals of the grand ballroom at the White House. If my scarf gets caught on my front door it’s annoying but no big deal, but if snags that candelabra at the top of the stairs leading to the grand ballroom it can be a disaster. But Top Model teaches us that if you walk with the right attitude even toppling that candelabra becomes irrelevant. 

There is also a difference between blocking a subway door while glued to any hand held device & having the sense to step out of people’s way as they get on & off. So don’t give me that ‘how rude look’ because I brush your elbow as I get on, or off.

2

Of course dragging a candelabra down a flight of stairs will certainly you attention, almost as much as wearing a dress made of meat. Many singers seem more intent on having their look remembered even when their songs are forgettable. 

3

Based on a true story! This happened at a gathering of writers decades ago. Shortly before this I had featured together at a poetry event where this guy insisted he go on first – getting the longer time spot because he was already more established than I was, don’t you know. He did his set, got applause. I did my set & had people laughing in the aisles & enough applause that the host asked for an encore. The established writer never forgave me, as far as I know. At another reading he pointedly left the room when I went on stage. LOL

4

Wait there’s no fourth! These pieces were written separately, on different days, as I tired to develop something for this particular rule, that had something to do with entering a room quietly. Rather than title them individually to create more of a differentiation between them I opted to lump them together to give readers a chance to create a story, where, in fact, there is none. 

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Picture Perfect Last Words 

Picture Perfect Last Words 

I’ve some asks about the sex – why so explicit? I guess at this stage of my life I don’t care if queer sex makes people uncomfortable. I’m also always disappointed in lgbtqia writing in which they kiss, maybe fumble with some buttons – then they wake up in the morning with no acknowledgement of the actual sexual interaction. 

In this story I also played with voyeurism but sort of lost that thread as things progressed – perhaps Dan’s life got too busy to for that diversion, or perhaps it was a sign of his dissatisfaction with Sanjay? The light ‘Sir’ role play with Peter was interesting to work with but I chose not to push in deeper in b&d. 

I also had fun with the Lifend products. I did no research beyond owning a camera. Who wouldn’t love a travel mug & cameras with all the abilities that Dan’s had – again another thread that sort of lost. In next draft I may get rid of the devices that I invented but which Dan never used. I had to resist using them as life-savers for Dan as well. He needed to be more active in his adventures.

Other threads that got sort of lost: Whatever became of those little boxes Dan found in his old bedroom? Maybe, in the next book they’ll show up. Then there was that collection of old photos & albums from the rummage sale — another thread that got lost. 

I left lots of ‘seeds’ for the next Dan James adventure – his Dad’s porn career, the tourist photo serial killer, the fate of the Depot, marriage to Jeremy? I wanted to develop something around the effect of coming out on Jeremy’s career as a sports icon. Dan’s charming sister is another plot thread. Why did Dan’s Dad move so abruptly to Toronto? Was there more to it than the disappearing children? So there is more than a few plots to focus on for the next in the series: Daniel James & the Pixels of Peril (just kidding – I have no title for the next one.)

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New Dundee Cemetery

On our day trips to Stratford we always pass this cemetery at the top of the hill as we pass through New Dundee. On our way to see All’s Well That Ends Well we were making good time so I stopped & took some photos. Much like the Egyptians people are still placing funeral goods around graves to honour the departed. I particularly loved the hockey puck.

sunny day so not too spooky
flowers
no flowers 😦
shells
hockey puck – was he buried in his uniform?

toys for the dead
birdbath
lucite angel
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A Meditation on Virginity

I very much enjoyed the Stratford Festival production of All’s Well That Ends Well at the Tom Patterson Theatre under the direction of Scott Wentworth. Curiously it was the third production we saw at the Festival this year that begins with a grave (Richard III & Hamlet) – a subtext?

In All’s Well it is the grave of Helen’s (Jessica B. Hill) father who has left her in the care of Countess of Rossillion (Seana McKenna). The Countess sees Helen as her own daughter to such a degree that she insists Helen call her mother – which might explain why her son Bertram (Jordin Hall) is repulsed at the thought of marrying his sister. The main plot of the play is how Helen manipulates Bertram into consummating & accepting their marriage.

The cast handles Shakespeare’s witty dialogue very well. The scenes between Seana & her sexton, André Sills crackle with playful energy & subtle sexual tension. It is their ‘relationship’ that, for me, holds the play together. In fact all of André’s scenes were great fun as he gave the sexton a real sexual magnetism that was a pointed contrast to Jordin’s nearly total lack of sexual energy – what did Helen find so appealing about him? I did feel a little sympathy for him as he surrendered to Helen’s manipulations. 

There was also great crackle in Parolles (Rylan Wilkie) meditation-on-virginity scenes with Helen & his exchanges with Lafew (Wayne Best). Parolles is this play’s Mavolio. A man who sees himself in a different light than anyone else sees him. Rylan plays him well & Parolles’ comeuppance is perhaps the play’s most comic scene. Even in defeat his ‘redemption’ shows him unbowed.

The staging was simple, effective & the cast rolled pedestals, beds & baggage trollies on & off stage without disrupting the flow of the play. I particularly loved the military costumes with their gaudy epaulets, elaborate strings of gold & rows of shiny medals. Of course Parolles’ uniform had the most fringe. Smoke billowing out of suitcases was a fun dramatic visual. Highly recommended.

reviews of shows I’ve seen this past season:

Richard III

Dull In Denmark 

The Mister 

Rocky Horror 

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P.D.Q. Williamson vs Godzilla

I discovered Malcolm Williamson (1931-2003) the Australian composer thanks to the music in the horror/suspense movie Crescendo. One plot thread was an unfinished concerto the music for which was provided by Williamson. This is how I sometimes discover music. On this mp3 cd compilation I have his Overtures & Complete Piano Concertos. Mid-century romantic with, at times, over-the-top emotionalism. Great stuff.

Peter Schickele (1935) goes back to my life on the east coast. He is a satirist & parody genius. Some of his parodies do require a but of classical knowledge but the absurdity or his quintet that includes bagpipes & lute is easy to grasp. Another piece is the copying of a dozen symphonies strung together – the origins of sampling? here I have Peter Schickele Presents an Evening with P. D. Q. Bach (1807–1742)? (1965); An Hysteric Return: P.D.Q. Bach at Carnegie Hall (1966). As stand-alone I have On Report from Hoople: P. D. Q. Bach On the Air which features the hysterical play-by-play commentary on a performance of the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony as if it were a baseball game. 

Camerata Hungarica: Music to Entertain the Kings of Hungary 1490-1526 – this is divine renaissance songs & dance music for small ensembles. Mostly shorter works – sometimes energetic, sometimes soothing but all times delightful. If you want an accessible cd of this period this is the one for you.

Finally another movie discovery: Akira Ifukube (1914-2006) a Japanese composer best known for his works on the Godzilla franchise: Works for Guitar & Lute. His classical music is modern, melodic & not at all Godzilla like 🙂 it is, if anything, a contemporary equivalent of Music to Entertain Kings (without scaring them). 

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Sitting Pretty

Sitting Pretty 

I practiced in a mirror

how to stand & not pose

how to sit casually

how to get up

<>

the mirror wasn’t big enough

for a sense of what I was doing

the cellphone video 

was somewhat better

<>

but I spent so much time

getting it set up

at the right angle

with the right lighting

there was no time left

to practice anything

but attitude

<>

I was told by

online tutorials

that as long as I did things

with attitude

they would be fine

I could sit with attitude

& a message would be delivered

<>

my body language would say

what I was afraid to say

which was

‘do you mind

if I sit here’

Back to the Rules for Monks after a summer break. Keep in mind that all of them were written before the pandemic & most are getting a first look since they were saved as draft. Many of rules govern how the monks were to comport themselves modestly in public so as not to attract undue attention. I can remember one teacher in grade-school who insisted we sit at our desks in the appropriate way – feet on the floor, no slouching, no crossing of legs for boys, though girls were allowed to cross their ankles demurely.

At the start of his class we would enter the room orderly, stand by our desks & sit quietly. Other teachers didn’t care how we entered the class room or if we scrambled to our desks as long as we sat in them. But I did, for a time, practice walking like a male, which I never did master. Watching myself in the mirror only made me even more self-conscious. Was my hair combed masculine enough – as a aural blond with baby fine hair there was no way to butch it up short of having brush cuts.

Body language apparently speaks volumes. Experts have translated the body language between the two princes & what they say is too vulgar to be printed lol. But, you know, I have more important things to worry about when I’m on transit than what my posture might be saying beyond don’t stand so close me. Thanks to keeping our eyes from meeting I can read the language of shoes.

I have seen online tutorials mostly aimed at women for how to walk up stairs in a dress in such a way that people behind you weren’t looking up your skirt, how to sit without flashing one’s panties, how to get in & out of cars demurely, how to keep your boobs from popping out when bending over to pick something up – a lot of stuff guys never have to worry about beyond wearing shorts that don’t let your balls dangle for the world to see. Buddhist monks wear robes which solve that problem.

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Picture Perfect Afterwords

Picture Perfect Afterwords

When I started the edit of Picture perfect in January 2020 (https://topoet.ca/2020/01/07/picture-perfect-1/)I didn’t realize it would take over two years to get this second draft blogged. Edits usually make things shorter but this one, even with some major cuts, expanded & introduced elements that weren’t in the original draft. so 150,000 words become 188,000 words by the time I wrote -the end-

Even with that extensive rough draft I found myself getting a lost at times. Notes of names & events weren’t enough to keep names spelt consistently or the sequence of events in the right order. Some of the cuts resulted in having to revise some scenes to add or remove information so there was fair bit of re-writing. I know I have to fix names for the third draft. 

Naming was important with so many characters so that the name itself would help readers remember them.  For some of the internationals I checked out soccer or rugby teams for fun names. I changed the spelling of one character from Cyrtys to Curtis to spare my readers’ eyes. Some I dipped into my past – Moxham comes from my growing up in Sydney. Moxham Castle was local landmark.

New scenes presented themselves as I worked through the 2nd half of the book. I wasn’t fully clear on who the culprit was until Nova Convergence became an actual place – even then I had to simplify so it didn’t feel like a Poirot reveal. Who the saboteur wasn’t fully clear to me either. Once I got to the opening of the circus museum I started to create more & more new material to fill in holes I’d left in the first draft. 

All of the ‘how to’ staging of the interviews is based solely on what I’ve seen on reality TV & not from any research into how it is actually done. The same is true for Dan’s legal entanglements with his sister Linda & the separation of their two business. I night consult a lawyer for draft 3 but no one has read it has written to tell me how off-base I might be. The same is true for the damage to Dan’s vision. 

The first draft had one climax scene – a knock down fight in the circus museum ride park during a thunderstorm in which Janis is revealed to be the murderer & also, with Troy’s help, the saboteur. But as I started the edit I realized I wanted that snake attack scene in the Convergence. Peter’s death was in the cards when was he first introduced. For time I was going to repurpose that circus face-off to reveal John as the saboteur but I couldn’t find a reason to get Dan back there after the Cold east shoot was done. I added fuel to John’s resentment with the invented Gordon Sinclair award (which I loved naming). It also gave readers a lull before ‘solving’ the saboteur plot with that fist fight in Dan’s house. 

As I made cuts, as the plot developed & slightly changed directions I realize I started some threads that really got dropped – i.e. Linda’s marriage to Ushio’s brother was to be developed more but got lost. Dan’s encounters with Larry Clarke & the Moose Trail; Stan Ferguson of the Whitney Pier museum were greatly edited down. Two characters introduced to show there was a gay world on the east coast but then discarded.

I loved creating the weekly graphic for each section. Many of the painting were found on the Craven Rd fence. I also kept my eye open for art discarded & a few were actually part of some porch decor. When doing the edits the first thing I work don was the graphic. There was no attempted to co-ordinate the picture with the contents of the section.

There’ll be at least one more post about Picture Perfect as I’ve been asked about the sex scenes, the fight scenes & what might be coming next for Dan James.

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