The Holy Coconuts


Our first Stratford Festival production of this season was the pandemic delayed Spamalot. We took in one of the last preview matinees & it proved to a solid, energetic & well-paced musical that had fun with the original film, Broadway conventions & Pythonisms. The packed house was enthusiastic in their laughter & applause.

The cast headed by Jonathan Goad as King Arthur & Jennifer Rider-Shaw as Lady of the Lake with Eddie Glen as Patsy danced their asses off & sang  with emotion & clopped their coconuts with conviction. The book mostly followed the Holy Grail script with a few additions. The songs were fun, some more parodies than anything else. There were many comic bits about singing, plotting & chronology. There were cute nods to The Phantom, West Side Story, even A Chorus Line. 

Jesse Robb’s choreography was energetic, to say the least, varied from Rockette kick lines to dynamic tap, with one ‘ballet’ moment. I couldn’t help admire the chorus eagerly dancing in suits of chainmail. There was a sense that the performers were enjoying themselves as opposed to getting it over with so they could hit the showers.

The drive there & back was sped along by the recent finish of the 401 expansion. Though getting back into Toronto make the return an hour longer than the getting there. We made out usual stops on the way – its always nice to see the some of the same Tim Ho’s staff year after year for decades. Lunch at Features as yummy as always. Even picked up a couple of t-shirts at the gift shop. 

Spamalot a great production highly recommend as pure entertainment.

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Recap May 2023

City of Valleys  21 sections, about 43,000 words posted so far with  88,000 approx yet to be edited then posted. 

Among the movies I watched in May are: All About My Mother (1999) Pedro Almodóvar’s glossy, soap-opera tribute to All About Eve & A Street Car Named Desire. Colourful, soulful & I was happy to see it again. One of those movies in which no one has just one problem – she’s a nun, she’s pregnant, she is HIV+.

Simu Liu heads up the cast in Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. I’m not a fan of cgi  battles so the ones here were perfect for fast forward. I enjoyed the the cultural mix of legend & super hero. Simu is a perfect photogenic hero though a bit banal as a performer. Moves so fat you don’t really care about the plot. Is his Dad really dead?

red turns to green after a few weeks of sun

Man of LaMancha was flop way back 1972. I may have seen it then but I had no memory of it so watching it recently I rather enjoyed it though it did go on & on. The music is passable. The performances are okay, Sophia Loren was the best of the lot. 

Read Gerald Hannon’s memoir “Immoral, Indecent, and Scurrilous: The Making of an Unrepentant Sex Radical.” I remember his ‘troublesome’ article & the fuss it created. The book is an easy, almost chatty read, that takes one through the Toronto lgbt scene from the 70’s to the 2000’s. He is frank, direct & funny. Highly recommended.

into the wind

Finished La Terre (The Earth) another in Émile Zola’s Rougon-Macquart series. Detailed, emotionally over-wrought & great fun. Zola is Charles Dickens with sex. I loved it & was amazed that I could easily follow the lives of over 100 characters & their farm life struggles.

Re-read Gordon Merrick’s The Lord Won’t Mind (1970). I first read in back in the early 70’s & my recollection of it was limited, to say the least. It is unapologetically & frankly gay/queer. Not overly complex & clearly a romantic fiction. A gay male Harlequin romance with explicit sex. I have an edition of the three novels & this is a fun start to it. Gay life before disco or even cell phones – how did they manage!

nicely pink on white

Garden annuals planted, perennials all doing well & the recent heat wave has sped things along. All we need is rain to turn it into tropical forest. Health remains good – the meds have the hypertension under control, plus some dietary changes have helped keep it down. 

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Frank Sinatra


I’m not sure when I became a Frank Sinatra fan. For many years I couldn’t listen to him then sometime in the 80’s I bought a cassette box set of his 50’s recordings offered by Reader’s Digest. There were 6 or 8 cassettes in the set & I quite enjoyed them. But over time the cassettes fell apart. I also had an multi lp boxset of his earlier Tommy Dorsey recordings. For decades he was one of the most popular singers in the USA & around the world. His movies made him the emoji for ‘cool.’ By the end of the 60’s he was a old-fashioned cliche.

I now have these on 6 mp3 cds. The Song Is You is the Tommy Dorsey work. The other is The MFSL Sinatra Box: 16 lps from 1954 to 1959 54: Swing Easy/In The Wee Small Hours/A Swingin’ Affair/ 56: Songs For Swingin’ Lovers/Close To You/ Where Are You?/Come Fly With Me/ Songs For Only The Lonely/Come Dance With Me/ 59-65: Look To Your Heart/No One Cares Nice’n’Easy/ Sinatra’s Swinin’ Session/All The Way/Come Swing With Me!/Sinatra Sings of Love & Things/September of My Years. Also his 1980 Trilogy: Past Present Future. 

You want the Great American Songbook? All the classics are here, all nicely done by the master. Sinatra created the singing idol & his live shows were often near riots that paved the way for arena rock today. The sound is sexy mellow but his stage presence then was undeniable & his selection of material was excellent. 

Rounding out the cds is work by Harry Belafonte: Calypso, My Lord What A Mornin’: sexy calypso & ethereal hymns: a perfect pairing 😉 Ella & Louis: self-titled, & Again. More classic songbook & a great combination of superstars. Two 50’s idols hit collections: Perry Como: Gold; Elvis Presley: The Top Ten Hits. Perry the smooth, family friendly crooner. Elvis who took over the Sinatra pop idol mantle. Sinatra’s sound influenced singers around the world including Belgium’s Jacques Brel: Chansons Ou versions Inedites is a compilation of studio outtakes & live versions across his career. Unlike Sinatra Brel wrote & performed mainly his own songs.

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you didn’t hear it

from my lips

that’s not what I said

even if I said it

you didn’t hear it

no one heard it

or read it

that didn’t come from my fingers


I never thought

anything remotely like that

I was misquoted

that isn’t my voice

on the video

it’s out of context

you’re taking

the words out of mouth

& making something

different out of them

to suit your own ends

Thanks to deep ghost AI manipulation politicians can now say that what we’ve heard them say is not them & they can hence say & do anything, right? Those old clips of them can be denied outright. This wasn’t the case when I first wrote this from one of the Rules as prompt. The losing politician was refusing to accept the vote & encouraging his followers to let the world know they weren’t going to let his right to rule be stolen.

Everyone, including his followers, misunderstood his call to demonstrate – he meant peacefully not as a drunken riotous mob. This ex-president is still ranting about the stolen election & please donate to his retirement, I mean, his campaign fund in return for a pardon, I mean, a baseball cap. When returned his first act will be an honest investigation of the stolen election.

Nearly all news media is entertainment. It’s pre-digested, scripted (even when ‘live’)’ given soundtrack music & sometimes staged for the viewers reactions, as a result I take it as fiction-flavoured fact. Will the current leader get a new season, will his show be renewed, recast or dropped by the network – it all depends on the sponsors.

The piece is a list poem as it moves from one over-used excuse to another. Denial has taken the place of apology, victim blaming works better than accepting responsibility – if you hadn’t been walking down the street I wouldn’t have hit you with my car. If you quote me on that I’ll blame it on deep ghost spell-check.

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City of Valleys – 21



From the Holding Pen Steven was able to peep out and watch. It boosted his energy, and tonight the seats were quick to fill. Not unusual for a last show. This was a benefit for both the hospice and Mark Winslow’s proposed class action suit. That meant an audience of politico homos as opposed to theatre fags.

“Ten minutes to curtain.” Monica poked her head in.


“Not yet. I’ll step in tonight. New sexual dynamics.”

“Better you than Evan.”

“Steven, you are terrible.” Monica giggled.

Steven faced the wall. It was near pitch black except for glow tape on the wall over his costumes. There was a very dim light but he learned to do his changes in the dark so Tim couldn’t watch.

He strained to hear the house music over the chatter of the crowd. Tim hadn’t arrived yet, but his first entrance wasn’t until about ten minutes into the play. Steven’s was five minutes after Tim’s. 

It was the wait to start that made Steven anxious. Once the play began, it was a train with an inevitable rhythm that overrode anything outside of it. Except one of the passengers not showing up. Was there a black out before Tim’s entrance? He had memorized his cues but no one else’s.

“Places on blackout.” Monica whispered. That meant about one minute. In the blackout the music faded, the audience settled down and Steven would hear the pitter patter of big actors’ feet on stage to be in place for the lights up.

The music didn’t fade. No pitter-patter. The lights dimmed, and a couple of spots came up on stage.

“Good evening. Before the show starts I want to thank you all for coming out to support this action against the city and the police department.” 

Steven peeked out. Mark Winslow stood in the light. Usually these speeches were saved for the end of the show.

“We face …”

Tim flashed past and into the dressing room.

“… what will be a difficult but rewarding legal battle. As a community ….”

Tim rushed into the Holding Pen.

“Sorry,” he panted. He hugged Steven. “I told Lisa.”

“What?” Steven pushed him away.

“About you and me. Now that the show is over.” 

“Thank you for your support. Let the play begin.” The audience applauded.

In the silence of the blackout, Tim breathed in his ear. “Have you told Luke?”

The lights went up.


“Is this it?” Kevin expected the theatre to be more than this dark, dusty space. The seats were stacking chairs in uneven rows that spilled around all four sides of the large room over assorted wooden risers. The risers got higher near the walls. The space held 150 people, tops.

“You were expecting a high school auditorium?” Paul handed him a program.

There wasn’t a stage or a curtain. In the center of the room were four narrow cots on wheels in a cross formation. A vase of yellow flowers on a stool in the centre. A spot light drew his focus to the flowers every time he glanced at the stage.

The theatre was packed. He recognized several men from Big E’s. It was odd to see them without drinks or cigarettes.

“What’s it like to be in the audience for a change?” One of them stopped to ask him.

“No lights in my eyes for a change.”

“Full house,” Paul remarked. “Benefits do that. Gives them something to bitch about in return for their donations.”

“Hello, Kevin?” A tall grey-haired woman stood in front of them. “Kevin McLeod?”


“Theodora Mathias. You might know me as Teddi M.” She gave Kevin her business card. “I’ve heard you at Big E’s. Give me a call.”

“Not the Teddi M.?”

“None other. Most people expect a six-foot black man.”

“He’s … I mean she’s … TknoSonk! Paul, they’re big!”

“So we are.” Teddi smiled. “The cover picture doesn’t do you justice.”


“Queer Plus? There’s a stack in the lobby.”

The lights dimmed.

“We’ll talk later.” She went to her seat.

Kevin began to get up, but Paul grabbed the waist of his pants.

“One doesn’t leave at the start of the show.”

“But ..”

“Wait till intermission.”

The lights came up again. Mark Winslow stepped into a spot between two of the cots.

“Good evening. Before the performance starts, I want to thank you all for coming out to support this action against the city and the police department.” 

Kevin fidgeted. TknoSonk! Queer Plus! He had posed for Waki, their photographer a few Saturdays ago. He wasn’t told it was for a cover. 

“Thank you for your support. Let the show begin.”

Kevin hadn’t heard a word. The audience applauded. The theatre went black. He was aware of the fumble of feet but he wanted that pile of Queer Plus where he couldn’t get at them. 


David tilted in his seat against the wall. He’d seen the show enough. Opening night had wracked his nerves, it was as if his costumes were responsible for missed cues. Work on the clothes changed what he saw in the play. He was more interested in how the fabrics lit and moved than anything else. 

Once the house opened, Evan’s excitement level rose as seats filled. David enjoyed being part of a couple. A pleasure that lessened when Kevin McLeod arrived with Robert Ing’s tattooed toy.

“Penny for your thoughts?” Monica slipped into Evan’s empty seat beside him.

“What is this thing about the next show?”

“What do you mean?”

“No one wants to name it. ‘The Scottish play,’ and not Mac …”

“Don’t.” she put her hand over his mouth. “It has a history of ill winds, dark forces smiting those who would dare produce it. I remember one production where the cast came down with food poisoning on opening night.”

“I’m sure. If someone utters the name the ill gets iller?”

“Some say so, and who are we to mock the boat? There’s lots of superstitions about the theater. Evan has his own little quirk.”

“Such as the Scottish play?”

“No. His is about the last line.”

“Last line?”

“Not hearing it till the first performance. Steven even didn’t see the last line till opening night. Lucky it was a short line.”

“Weird. I like it.”

“Gotta give the ten minute call, and Tim isn’t here yet.”

“Fucking actors.” Evan sat. “Closing night, full house and where is Tim? I got Mark to do his pitch now. That’ll buy us an extra five minutes.”

“What if Tim doesn’t show?”

“That wife of his wouldn’t let him miss a show. You’d think it was her up there. If cars are male penile extensions, Tim is her … breast augmentation?”

“Must be uncomfortable for her to watch Tim and Steven.”

“Acting, my dear boy. Acting,” Evan exclaimed with a faux British accent. “She told me she and Tim practiced that scene so Tim could imagine it was her he was fumbling with on stage.”

“He and Steven are pretty real.”

“Too real. If you catch my drift …”

“They are getting it on offstage?”

“If Tim is to be believed.”

“I can’t see it. What has Steven said to you? Nothing I bet.”

“Steven doesn’t say much.”

“Shell shock after the assault.” David suggested.

“Could be. He is good to work with. Took direction, asked the right questions, made smart decisions, didn’t argue. A director’s dream.”

The lights dimmed. While they were down, Tim dashed across the stage.

“I hate the final show.” Evan kissed David on the mouth.


Grateful that their proximity to the audience prevented conversation, Steven closed his eyes to focus on his performance. The action on stage was a rain that washed away all distractions. When Tim made his entrance, Steven breathed deep to find John. John was close, but Luke hovered.

Luke, I’m sorry. There is nothing here. There never was anything. I love you. Remember that.

A gun shot was his cue. He shifted his shoulders, adjusted his neck and entered. He was John. Gabe was there, as indifferent to him as John was to Gabe. The scenes progressed. The train ran smooth. Each stop and start, exit and entrance, sped by without problems.

“Oh, I didn’t expect you to be here.” John entered.

“Who did you expect?” Gabe answered.

“No one. I was looking for a place to be alone. To think.”

“Think? About what?”

“About this situation. About what brought us together.”

“Do you mean …”

“I don’t know what I mean.” Their eyes locked, looked deep. A slight dim and a warm hush enclosed them, pulled them closer together.

“I … I …” Gabe faltered.

“I know.” John stroked his hair. “I know. Murders. Death. Through the death I’ve felt it but,” Gabe kissed the palm of John’s hand, “we can’t, till we know who’s responsible.”

Gabe brought John to him. Kissed him. “We can.”

Gabe unbuttoned John’s shirt. John took Gabe’s hand and pressed it over his heart. Gabe’s other hand undid John’s belt buckle. The train glided from one stop to the next as dusk descended. 

They were naked, on the bed, in love. The light that hovered around them smeared from yellow to red, dimmer till blackout. Some nights Steven sensed the men in the audience shift in their seats to get a better view, forced to squint as the lights faded.

The blackout would be long enough for them to scamper naked off stage. Tim to the main dressing room, and Steven to the Holding Pen.

Tim lay on him. “This isn’t enough for me.”

“It is for me.” Steven shoved him off and exited.


Yves rubbed his right hand. After an hour of mouse clicks it began to ache. He clicked aimlessly through pictures of naked men. For the most part they were too young, too pretty, too hairless, too static; click to the next one after only the head of one downloaded.

When he allowed a whole picture to appear it was a strip tease. Pictures materialized from the head down to fill the screen, the cock the last part revealed. 

Hello Ricardo. A pleasure to meet you again, so soon. You look very nice. You have had a little shaving done since I saw you five minutes ago. Sorry I didn’t get to wield that razor.

At the bottom of the picture was the model’s name. 

Boris! Last time it was Ricardo. A man of mystery – Brazilian or Russian, what is it?

The pictures were no longer erotic. The first year he was online he couldn’t wait to see who flashed their nakedness. Now it was more an affirmation of sex rather than cause for it.

Well, Jake, you’re not the only one with more than one name. He looked at the picture of Jake he had put up. Mark’s visit played on his mind and he needed to talk about it. On line he might do that with anonymity, but tonight a real human held more appeal.

He had tickets to Steven’s play. He’d attended the opening and although he had enjoyed it, he wasn’t sure what the point of it was. Men with emotions he didn’t understand. Emotions and sex connected in ways that left some of the characters unfulfilled and bitter with each other, except that rare pair who had the alchemy that combined them.

Along with the tickets there was an invitation to the cast party at Lubba’s that night. It was too late for him to get to the play so he headed out for the cast party.

When he arrived, the emptiness of Lubba’s made it apparent that he was early. A sign taped to the front door announced, “Private Function. By Invitation Only.”

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Simply Banshee

When Simply Red’s “Holding Back the Years” topped the charts here in Toronto I remember a buddy asking ‘Is that Carly Simon?’ No, it was red-head Mick Hucknall. The band’s first lp was Picture Book (1985), which at that time I had as cassette. I have that & Men and Women (1987), A New Flame (1989), Stars (1991) in my collection. 

The band was good, if unexceptional, the original songs were good, if unexceptional, the cover songs ditto. It was Hucknall’s voice that sold the work. The music progressed to a more commercial, slick sound & by Stars I lost interest – verging on bland, adult contemporary as opposed to top ten. 

Sinclair: Que justice soit faite! (1993), Au mépris du danger (1995): French fun with amazing engineering, & a great singer. Production was done by members of French techno wizards Cassius (whose cds I love). The music is funky, sexy & danceable with songs about love, politics & dancing. I bought these in Montreal when I used to visit in the mid 90’s as a part of learning French. I never really learned much except that lyrics are often irrelevant to enjoyment.

I made a cassette copy of of a friend’s Looking Glass (1987) lp by Siouxsie and the Banshees which I eventually downloaded as mp3. On it the band covers songs by Roxy Music, The Doors etc. They move from their Goth sound to a more alternative rock sensibility & I liked the song they chose to interpret. I’ve heard other lps but they didn’t grab me. I did eventually add Gold: a 2 cd compilation of their ‘hits’ & alternate takes. 

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Bitter Dregs of Defeat

Bitter Dregs of Defeat

there’ll always be

something left behind

there is no such thing

as a clean sweep

so why bother to being with


take what you need

without worry

there are others

to look after the debris

the fallout

the bitter dregs of defeat


don’t get me wrong

winning with a clean sweep

is good

but don’t mock the losers

even the bad losers

who think they should have won

though their score was lower

the problem was in the referees 

in the score keepers the judges 

not in them


they aren’t going to

clean up after themselves 

there are others

to look after the debris



to have their go at the mess

to reshape victory 

into defeat

to shape defeat

into martyrdom

a meal fit for all

On a team competition show, in which the team members change each week, the clear winner’s team lost a challenge & his team members voted him off the game – strategy over-rode ability. He was not pleased & he became a rare sore loser & didn’t hold back his anger. Reality show editing limited our experience of his ‘dismay’ so I’m sure his language wasn’t polite on his exit. 

I say ‘rare’ because usually eliminated contestants claim to be grateful for the opportunity, for learning so much – occasionally one with cry while trying to keep a brave face. As noted I’m also aware of how editing works & so we are only see what the producers want us to see. I for one would like see less gratitude & more spite.

In the circus of American politics we have been getting the full panoply of sore losers over the past couple of years. Losers who blame everything except their own behaviour for not being elected. But those are ‘public’ events – human behaviour changes when there are camera.

Losing at Monopoly in the privacy of ones home is a different sense of losing, right. I’ve never been a good game player because I don’t like defeat, really! I doubt if there is anyone who does, mind you. I feel a sense of disappointing in my sense of self if my plants don’t do well. I know I am powerless over the weather, over animals, bug, that feast on them overnight, But part of me feels I’ve let the plants down. I’m just grateful there’s no with an android phones filming me when ever I’m replanting what the skunks have dug up grubbing for grubs.

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