Piston, Poulenc and Chopin

I have a couple of stand-alones by Walter Piston (1894 – 1976) Violin Concertos, Chamber Music that I picked up in 2004 at HMV. This was part of my musical education to see/hear was happening in modern classical music. I am familiar with other genres of non-mainstream – electronic, free jazz, prog rock. Walter Piston (an ideal porn name, if you ask me) is one of several respected American composers whom I had never heard of until I did a bit of research.The music, to me, not all that memorable. Technically challenging violin concertos are fine but I am not the audience  – this is music for musicians more than it is music for the general public. I don’t find myself drawn back to it as I am with Gershwin or Copeland.

Next on the shelf is an mp3 collections headed by Francis Poulenc. He is best know for his opera Dialogues des Carmélites (which I don’t have) but I had an lp of his Concerto champetre – a fun harpsichord concerto full of mood, percussive keyboard work & charm. I downloaded this version as part of a set of his orchestral suites which are engaging & almost impressionist.

So it made sense to add some Scriabin to this collection. So here is Le Poem de l’extase, Concerto for Piano, Le Poeme du Feu. This is brilliant, moody work that is lush, romantic & full of sonic intrigue. Not here, but which I have, are his piano sonatas that are also brilliant. Scriabin was gifted with synesthesia: seeing music as colours & beautiful colours at that. He was greatly influenced by Chopin.

Which lead to adding Jan Lisiecki (1995) recording of Chopin’s Piano Concertos 1/2, from 2009. Yes, he was a prodigy but his playing is emotional & sensitive. There was/is some quibble about a performer so young tackling the classics. I have other recordings of these concertos & his take is excellent.

 

Finally in this collection is the Shutter Island soundtrack. This a soundtrack that doesn’t need the movie – Max Richter pieces are somber, eerie, almost spiritual & clearly inspired by Scriabin atonal work.  The classical pieces add to the sense of darkness. The movie itself is high-drama, dark & stormy night, psychobabble spookiness that needs a soundtrack to work.

Are You Ready

My nervous pacing was as clear to me now as if it was yesterday not a month ago, when I first hooked up with Devon. Double-checked to make sure the buzzer system was working and the lobby channel was on the TV so I could keep an eye for who was coming & going. I wasn’t sure what to expect even though I had seen his profile picture & the few others he had sent me. The lobby camera was crap for detail so I was never sure what purpose it served. Even though I was expecting him I jumped when the phone rang at his buzz. 

Devon was exactly what I would have wanted. Smelt good. Looked good in and out of his jeans and was eager to get out of them too. We even managed some conversation after the sex. I agreed to meeting him again and again. Now a month had passed and we were actually seeing each other not just hooking up. We’d worked out a routine where by he’d phone or text when he was a few minutes away. Tonight, for the first time, we were doing something outside, in the real world, where people would see us together.

My cell phone rang. I answered automatically.

“I’m in the lobby.”

“I’ll be right down.”

He was pacing when I got to the lobby. I reach out to kiss him when my cell rang again. I answered it.

“Are you ready to die?” A voice I nearly recognized.

“Excuse me?”

Dial tone. Unknown number.

“What was it?” Devon asked me.

“Wrong number.” I laughed. It had to be. Who would want to harm me?

On the sidewalk I looked around. Wasn’t this how that movie started? Was someone watching me from one of those windows, giggling as I looked around to see if someone was watching me from one of those windows? I put phone into my coat pocket. 

“Don’t forget where it is this time.” Devon mimed patting his pockets and then his shoes looking for a phone.

It rang again. I got it on the first ring.

“Are you ready to die?”

Dial tone before I had time to say anything. Unknown number.

“What is it?”

My face must have paled this time. The first time I wasn’t sure I heard what I heard. This time I was sure.

“Some guy asked me if I was ready to die.”

“Is that d-i-e or d-y-e? Sounds like some weird promo for a hair salon if you ask me.”

“Or a movie.”

“Seriously. Someone is calling you with death threats. Go to the police.”

“These are first & so far the only such threats I’ve ever received.”

“What does he say? I’m assuming it’s a he.”

“I am too but they are so brief I can’t really say for sure. He says ‘Are you ready to die.’ ”

“You know the voice.”

“No. It’s not like those heavy breathers in the movies. Not even threatening. Matter of fact. Are you ready for dinner. Let’s meet for coffee – sort of normal.”


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Safe From Me

samprules2

Working through the  227 Rules For Monks.

Who knew the simple life could be so complex.

Safe From Me

somedays it isn’t safe

for me to be seen in public

not safe for others I mean

personally I am unconcerned

but the welfare of others 

has to be considered

just a glance from any male

let alone a gay male

can be triggering

sending someone spinning

into painful childhood memories

that don’t involve me directly

but my mere looking 

where I am going

can set people off 

 

I never ask how are you doing

lest that appears to be disrespect

for their boundary issues

I dress to deflect attention

I won’t compliment your appearance 

never talk about my happy childhood

because  by doing so

I may be diminishing 

what you experienced in yours

 

I get tired of negotiating permission

to continue a conversation

is it okay if I talk about ….

negotiating to avoid making

others uncomfortable

it isn’t wise to presume 

that just because they are a clerk

that they want to be of service

 

I haven’t left my house

for years now

it’s the easiest way

of keeping the world safe

from me

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Cadaver Dogs

DNA Traces

did he live here

there

he tended gardens

the cadaver dogs

are nosing the rose bushes

the lilacs

he planted here

there

 

each was his place

refuge or hideaway

haven or grave

the men who know

will only talk

if their bones are found

traces of their dna

say

we were here

there

 

we now live in a digital world

symbols

of the discarded

the disappeared

never to be reported

not missed until

their remains were found

 

men with hidden sexuality

now with hidden bones

senses of self

some homeless 

before they were lifeless 

 

cadaver dogs are on the trail

some families still deny

their complicity

in a culture

denies its complicity

shaming sexuality into hiding 

long before those bones

were stripped of flesh

before being hidden 

perhaps

never to be found here

there

This is one of several pieces I wrote in response to the search & capture of the serial killer of gay men. Other pieces looked at the media response to the search, others to the denial that there was even a serial killer. Part of that inability/unwillingness was due the the social status of many of the victims. By social status I mean homelessness or immigrant. If you are homeless no notices you are gone.

As the piece says some weren’t missing until their remains were found. Some remains were of men reported missing but whose closeted culture didn’t include their sexuality. The murderer was found when he killed a white male who had people who missed him immediately. They were unafraid of immigration policies, weren’t so imitated by police, that they reported him missing.

Their insistence & persistence – putting up posters, searching themselves – lead to the eventual capture of the murderer. The murderer preyed not only on these’s men sexuality but also the shame that kept, for some of them, their sexuality a secret from families & friends. They were murdered a much by that culture of shame as they were by the actual hands of the killer.

The vicitms: Selim Esen, Abdulbasir Faizi, Majeed Kayhan, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Andrew Kinsman, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj Navaratnam

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Alter Picture Later

In going over the 2014 samples & discover I fall prey to spellcheck typos – the ones where ‘later’ has morphed into ‘alter’ – ‘definitely’ becomes ‘defiantly.’ Copy edits will be my downfall 🙂 

I haven’t read these ‘samples’ in over 5 years so I’m a  happy to see how quickly I’ve been drawn back into the world of Dan Jamison. I also see that I’ll have my edit work cut out for me 🙂 Cyrtys is a character I loved creating & writing for – partly for his personality & also for the way he represents the unreal business of reality of TV.

Introducing Cyrtys

http://wp.me/p1RtxU-WS

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#NaNoWriMo Cyrtys sample.03

more Perfect from 2014

TOpoet

perfect nano sample

“Someone was by to see you, bossman.” Sandy handed him an embossed business card.

It said. ‘Cyrtys Baxter – Quintex Canada – Executive Producer’ with a phone number, fax number, email address and web site printed on the back. As the light played on it a man’s face appeared momentarily.

“It’s pronounced Curtis.” Sandy explained. “He says he’s from Canada’s Cold Cases.”

“WTF?” Dan tried to steady the reflection on the card to see the face more clearly.

“Amazing.” Ushio took the card from him. “It’s that new Laser 3-D printing. I have never seen anything like it.”

“Did he say what he wanted?” Dan asked taking back the card.

“Nope. Just that he was returning your call in person.”

“Right. I called them about the show I saw last night.” He quickly told them about the missing children and the photo of him and Timmy Dunlop.

“You sure it…

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Christmas in My Bathroom

For December I’ll be sharing Christmas memories that I’ve stored away as ornaments over the decades. Up first is this busy creche scene than has grown over the years. The oldest piece is the stained glass star that my partner made before we met – so it goes back at least 45 years. No, now that I look closely, the oldest are the Red Rose Tea ceramic figurines from my childhood in Cape Breton.

The creche was a gift at our first Christmas party way back in the early 80’s – I love the simplicity of it – though over the years the setting has become less simple 🙂 It always reminds me of my friend Frank (downed by AIDS neglect) who gave it to me. The Pope, with solar waving hand, was a gift, as were the Jesus & E.A. Poe action figures the other side of the Archway. The Jesus beside the Pope was found in the street, as was the Statue of Liberty, & the colourful ‘village’ people, including the skier on top of the Archway.

The Archway was another gift one Christmas, its also a digital clock but no one had figured out how to set the time. The ‘jewels’ are actually napkin rings but I felt they did more good here than on a table. The camel is from my friend Kyle’s childhood creche array. The turtles – not sure from where actually. I may have picked up the shell turtle on my travels.

The colourful ‘village’ people are this year’s additions. I found a bowl of them at the curb & plucked out the ones that weren’t too badly broken. They fit in perfectly. Another last minute addition is the Born This Way wrist band that is so appropriate for the Virgin birth – Jesus didn’t ask to be saviour but he was born that way.

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November Recap

 

 

In November TOpoet.ca  had many days with over 60 hits. USA tops the list with at the top of the hit list, 2nd place is Canada, with India regaining 3rd. Increases seen from Uk & Bangladesh, with Egypt & Germany coming on strong. The blog now has 364 followers (up from 298 at the start of the year). 252 Tumblr followers. Steady increase is best.

 

Finally finished this draft of Coal Dusters. It comes in at just under 138,000 words. Started preliminary work on Picture Perfect. You follow my progress on Tuesdays here. So far some reposts of my original NaNoWriMo posts when I was doing that first cookie dough draft back in 2014.

Finished the fascinating A Critical History and Filmography of Toho’s Godzilla Series by by David Kalat & continue to work through the recent TCM broadcast of the first generation of Godzilla films. The book is excellent not only as look at monster movies but also the racism of how USA distributors treated the films for American consumption. It is an exploration of exploitation, consumerism & bad dubbing. The films are mostly fun but some of them are idiotic, aimless, narratively senseless messes.

Speaking of surrealism in film I watched Pasolini’s amazing Teorema https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ starring Terrance Stamp as the Visitor. This is one of the finest allegorical, magic realism, neo-intellectual films I have seen. Funnier than expected, tragic, spiritual & at times a narratively senseless mess. The various characters’ musings on art, capitalism, sex & self-sacrifice are sweet & are as true now as they were when the film was made.  The power of sexuality is shown as both disruptive, freeing, spiritual powerful & necessary. Highly recommended for all you Avengers fans out there 🙂

December is a month where I make no real demands of my creative self. Decking the halls is enough work 🙂 I don’t resist the festive season but enter it in my own way. I will be doing some volunteer work at Women’s College Hospital as a ‘patient’ for first/second year medical students as they practice  things like blood-pressure, taking medical history with real people. I love the smell of med students in the morning 🙂

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King Kooba and Friends

For a time, at the turn of the century, I was picking up British music magazines that had cd samplers. It was a great way of finding new music. This was where I first heard Coldplay before they exploded. The problem was, then, that finding this music beyond the sampler was nearly impossible. Things change. I can use YouTube to check out new stuff. Or use iTunes to sample. 

 

One magazine I like was Revolution. On their Dec. 2000 sampler was a track by King Kooba that I loved but finding the cd was impossible. I went into HMV, Sams etc & asked & no one ever heard of the band, whatever. Now, thanks to iTunes I have King Kooba’s Nufoundfunk, Indian Summer as part of an mp3 collection. Kooba is an electronica DJ duo from UK – the tracks are samples plus ‘new’ music. Often full of yearning & always emotive & transporting. Check them out.

 

Also in this collection are Giorgio Moroder’s Knights in White Satin, From Here To Eternity – old school disco by a grandmaster engineer, writer. Knights is a bit cheesy but fun, Eternity is great background sex music. The retro vibe in this collection continues with Bjork’s Debut – Venus as a Boy is a great song. I enjoy the lp but I’ve never become a Bjork fan. Also retro is OMC (Otara Millionaires Club): How Bizarre. Out of New Zealand this is a band I’d never heard of before until someone posted OMC video in my tumblr feed. Fun dance music.

A bit more modern is St. Vincent. I kept reading about her, so downloaded: David Byrne & St. Vincent: Love This Giant – modern Talking Heads & interesting. Also her self titled St. Vincent. Both are solid pop lps but nothing really grabbed me. I do enjoy them when I hear them. I can hear OMG’s hit in my head but nothing by St. Vincent comes to mind.

Also modern is Blood Orange (aka Devonté Hynes) out of the UK: Cupid Deluxe. Fine r’n’b with some electronica touch with a strong Steve Wonder feel. Finally in this collection, as a complete departure, is Toronto’s I Hate Todd: The Moves Pt. 1 which includes Zombie Love. This is one of the many bands with Nelson Sobral on guitar with & thus is excellent. Search them out too.

Apartment Living

“Have you lived here long?” Juan snuggled beside me on the sofa.

“You mean this apartment or …”

“We can start there.”

“Why this interest in how long I’ve been here.”

“It’s called making conversation.”

Juan wasn’t making conversation, I knew, but looking for context connection something more than the physical flash that drew us together.  I enjoyed being with him and wouldn’t mind having it go on indefinitely but at the same time didn’t really want an emotional mire to get in the way of that.

“I was born here. Grew up in the east end.”

“A native! That’s a rare beast in a city where everyone is from somewhere else.”

“I know. I do try to keep a low profile about that so as not scare the newcomers. And you?”

“An Alberta prairie boy. Not quite fresh of a farm but pretty close to it. Couldn’t wait to get from there to here. Been here about five years now.”

“Cordoso is certainly a prairie name.”

“Third generation. My grandparents immigrated from Peru.”

“To Alberta?”

“Alberta needed doctors.”

“I see.”

“You’ve been in this apartment quite a while to accumulate  all these things. My place is a bed and a computer, not even a dining nook. No time yet to really move in. I didn’t take the place expecting to be there this long, so keep putting off settling in.’

“That why we always end up here to hang out?”

“Always? Three dates so far. Hard to call that always. If you like prison cells we can go to my place. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. Functional furniture only a bed …”

“The computer on a TV tray? Yeah, I know. Not even an xbox?”

“Not for me. I sleep, I wash, I get out of there.”

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

January

Thursday 23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March
March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April
April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies andBbad Times Theatre

May

Richard III – Stratford Festival

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

July

All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

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You Never Know Where He’ll Pop Up Next

You Never Know Where He’ll Pop Up Next

you saw the face of Christ

in a piece of toast

yet you don’t own a toaster

you can’t even boil water

you have enough trouble

opening a granola bar

 

why was it only the face

was the slice of bread

too small 

to hold His entire body

was the holy toaster

limited to specific body parts 

 

was it the result of

ancient aliens

who after they built the pyramids 

designed a toaster

specifically to replicated

the face of Christ in toast

a face that seems rather caucasian

for an ancient alien

 

beside you aren’t the first 

to have seen the face of Christ

where it doesn’t belong

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