Shelly Stoker

Two ‘horror’ novels that have inspired me are Mary Shelly’s ‘Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus’ and Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula.’ Though I did not read them until after I had seen various movies based on them both. In fact I didn’t realize they were adaptations of novels until my late-teens. 

I presently have collections of Mary Shelly and Bram Stoker on my Kindle. Getting compete works appeals to me as both of these writers have been reduced to their single hit – so reduced that often people don’t think they wrote anything else. Needless to say they did but nothing else captured the public eye the way their big hits did.

I have read the big hits a few times now, both recently, and also read some of their other fiction. I have to say I was both elated and disappointed. Brilliant plots, interesting characters but writing styles have changed so much I find myself slogging through the prose.

I found it hard to divest myself of the movies as well. The Frankenstein novel is structured as memory, as opposed to a action, we get telling. The language is often highflown romantic intellectually purple prose. There is no real Igor in the novel 😦 Plus the creature is rather articulate. It is the plot that holds together, where as the writing is annoying. Her other fiction, that I’ve read, continues this intellectually purple prose of the finest feelings of truest love.

Some of the same holds true for Stoker – Dracula is told as letters & journal entries – very much the style of the time. But every letter writer sounds like the same person. The grand chase scene is endless with a series of delays, snow storms etc to the final confrontation. Much of the vampire mythos is set out: garlic, wooden stakes, sleeping in coffins, & bats. Again too much telling. 

Movie versions have done well by both these basic plots and getting back to the original source material  to see where it all came from has been fun. Seeing how these big successes affected the lives of the writers has also been informative. Today we have the same high concept writing/ movie making where often the concept is frittered away by the telling. 

What inspires me is that the fantastic can be made real with the right world-building & consistency of concept. The authors were invested the reality of their creatures even if they failed to fully develop the character. If you haven’t read either of these it is time you did 🙂


when we were fiends

there was nothing that didn’t excite us

the sacred hunger for the better blast

the color unseen

the uncommon lunge from fire to fire 

clumsily lurching from profane to evil

ugly became true beauty 

the more confrontational the surface

the deeper the meaning had to be


we would laugh giggle sneer

at those lunching on luncheon meats

not realizing we were the fiends

who made mockery of striving

up some corporate ladder

we would sweep past that boundary

we were going to create substance

that would last longer than the Beatles

have more cruelty than war

drink more blood than Dracula

we were the righteous vanguard

to take fiends into the next level 


we would stay up all night 

smoking toking stroking 

our eyes marbles in sand 

rolling our way through 

begrudging sunrise light 

to diners thick with fusty cozy fish smell

for crack of morning eggs 

swimming in blessed grease 

swearing we were bound 

heart to heart in our struggle 

against this culture that wanted 

to deny fiends proper place at any table


we tripped off to university

jumping courses in midterm

anthropology to comparative religions

seeking a way to alter 

the substrata of this messed up 

over commercialized culture


fiends forced to deal with

the mundane march of shoes to job

we wore the sheen of clock time

kept our fiendishness to ourselves

letting it out in mosh pits 

letters to the editor rages open stages

to keep the brain dancing

while we saw others melt into safety


we sit just out of the afternoon sun

don’t want skin cancer

no one wants aging fiends with lesions

waiting for our green tea to steep

looking with longing at sweets

at sweet young things

everyone is younger than yesterday

striving to be fiend of the moment

pierced bleached mohawked

wearing the sneer we invented

looking at us with the disdain

we copyrighted so long ago

even if they don’t recognize it

in their sacred lunge for the new

we are still fiends

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto

every Tuesday

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C. 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s – sweet,eh?

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr


October 2018 Sneak Peek

Before I look forward here’s some stats for September. My Twitter following is up to 209 – not all of whom are book cover designers or internet marketing specialists. Tumblr is up to 208 – it would be higher but I block the frequent hetero porn sights that follow me – oddly I don’t get that sort of queer porn spam. I’ve been posting daily photo set at Tumblr for the last several weeks & will probably keep it up to the end of October.
I’ve been on WordPress for 7 years now & have built up to 273 followers, after 1425 posts. Chances are good I’ll hit 280 by the end of the year. I hope to wake up one morning to find one of my posts has gone viral.

Coal Dusters is moving along nicely. I’ve been taking my time to edit each new chapter & have been expanding them with more period detail & in one case a more colourful physical description, even creating whole new scenes to add to atmosphere. I’ve blogged approx 48,000 words so far with at least another 67,000 to go.

Coming up in October on the blog Tuesday & Wednesday will be devoted to scary poems. Tuesdays will fresh blood, while Wednesday I’ll discuss last October’s fresh blood poems. Friday I’ll post about my favorite horror writers & how they inspired me. Mondays will remain music, Tuesday Coal Dusters continues.

I’ll be going to Toronto Gratitude’s 40th Anniversary October 5/6/7. I haven’t been to the round up for a couple of years now but considering that I was at the very first one it’s fitting I make an appearance. I’ll be staying at downtown hotel so I can enjoy the event without the stress of transit. I’ll also be taking in my last Stratford show of the season later in the month: Paradise Lost. 

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr 

Levon Helm

Levon Helm was my favourite member of The Band: I loved his voice, his harmonies & his beard 🙂 In fact I often liked the dummer in the band – Keith Moon was hot. But I never got this drummer, lead singer thing. Drumming is more than keeping a beat, singing is more than getting the words in the right order. With The Band was emotive both singing & drumming. Plus there was that beard 😉

I have mp3s of Levon Helm and the RCO All-Stars, Levon Helm 1978, Levon Helm 1982. Much like The Band he tended towards Americana roots music as opposed to outright rock’n’roll or folk. Though I never felt engineers of these lps caught his voice the same way. Or perhaps his voice matured. The quality of the songwriting wasn’t as strong either. He retired from solo recording after his 1982 lp. He also shaved in 1982.

Then in 2007 he returned with the Grammy winning Dirt Farmer, followed that up in 2009 with Electric Dirt – which also won a Grammy. Impressive. His last release in 2012 was of a live 2008 concert &, you guessed it, it won a Grammy. He died in 2012 & I was deeply saddened.

Despite throat cancer his voice was still in fine shape for these last studio albums. They are warm, comfortable & innocent. The songs are emotive without being emotionally cloying – if anything a bit understated & clearly not pop music. They fall under the ‘Americana’ label but that merely reflects the USA’s music industry’s need to make everything about the USA. This is universal music.

(ps. Elton John’s Levon is a tribute Levon Helm)

Before The Inferno

The fire glowed golds, reds and yellows. The tree sparkled with reflections of the fire, ornaments of deeper red became burnished embers that nestled in the dark green. The lights twinkled smaller sparks of red, green, blue and pink. 

Gifts wrapped in solid colours, in paper printed with poinsettias, people skiing, Santa flying, old Sunday comics, sat around and under the tree. Big, small, misshapen, long, thin, oblong, shapeless surprises. Some with ribbons, some with bows, some with tags and some without. 

Over the fire place a collection of crystal angels, elves and fir trees nestled in white cotton batting. These too reflected the warm colours of the fire and seemed to take on a life of their own. One half expected the elves to start skating on the surface of the mirror behind them. 

Stocking were hung awkwardly in the silver garland that was strung along the mantle. Each stocking puffed fat with more gifts. Thick red velvet. One made years ago by someone’s mother and then found in a yard sale. We’ll never know who Cecilia was, her name carefully sewn on in yellow glass bead, but we’ll always have her stocking here.

The couch covered with pillows and a comforter. It gets a bit cool in the evening watching TV, even with the fire going. The comforter patched several times. Clumsy cuts of fabric sewn with basic zig zag hand stitching. No attempt to get six in a inch, just enough thread to hold the patch on and the stuffing in. One patch an old favourite shirt, old jeans, a piece of cowboy curtain from some child’s room.

Tinsel crushed into the carpet can wait until the new year for removal. A bit of God’s decorating to liven up even the floor we walk on as we peer at cards strung over doors. Cards from friends we never see, family too far to see, faces barely remembered. One card the only connection between the two of us. When did I see him last? Didn’t even get to talk that time, or wave, walking in different directions on opposite sides of the street. In life, like we are in life.

The favourite card glistens satiny finish in the fire glow. Magi with gifts on a thick card of embossed red silver. Magi patient and still in the star light of the card. Again one expects them to move in the flicker of the fire light.

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

September or October but to be confirmed – feature – The Art Bar, Free Times Cafe

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C. 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s – sweet,eh?

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr


Mishima (In Translation)

To be honest I don’t know how I discovered Yukio Mishima, or even exactly when. It was in late 60’s or early 70’s. I may have read a review of one of his novels recently translated into English, or I may have seen a photo of him in a magazine. I didn’t know from the very first he was bi, leaning toward gay. I think the first novel of his I read was “The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea.” It is a stunning work, even in translation.

On my shelf I have: Confessions of a Mask, Death in Midsummer, Thirst For Love, The Sound of Waves, The Temple of the Gold Pavilion, After The Banquet, The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea, On Hagakure, Sun and Steel, Spring Snow, Runaway Horses, The Temple of the Dawn, The Decay of the Angel, Acts of Worship, Madam Se Sade. The Life & Death of YM – Henry Scott-Stokes; Mishima – A Biography: John Nathan; Mishima’s Sword: Christopher Ross; Mishima – A vision of the void: Marguerite Yourcenar. Plus the dvd of The Sailor etc. and Paul Schrader’s: Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters.

Yes I am a bit fanatical. Yes I have read them all the books, some multiple of times. It is impossible for me to pick a favourite novel/short story. Perhaps if I could read them in Japanese but all I have are in translations. On Hagakure, Sun and Steel are his essays; Madam Se Sade is a collection of his plays. I can remember checking book stores on my visits to Halifax scouring for more. Our little books store in Sydney was not much for Japanese literature, for some reason 🙂

His ability to depict the psychology of desire, shame, spiritual searching though lives of flawed men and women inspires me still. They are often ordinary people caught up in a social system that encouraged & suppressed their goals at the same times. His earlier work dealt with male homosexual life in Japan after the war & it was compelling to me. As far as I knew there was no English language equivalent of this queer writing.

Was he queer? This aspect of his life has been either ignored or minimized – his estate has suppressed mentions of it in bios, movies etc. One critic suggested it was merely an artifice – something his espoused to appear more artistic & edgy – another mask, as it were. 

I don’t read Japanese so I only know these English translations so maybe it’s the translators I am inspired by? One thing I know is that these books are what is seen by the translators eye so I not sure how accurate or true they are to the author’s intention. They may be expurgated of dialogue, scenes, or use of vulgar language the translator (or the estate) felt wouldn’t reflect well on the work itself. I have read work in which, the word ‘cock’ as used in the original German has been rendered as ‘gentialia’ in English translation. 

Black Flies



To chance encounters

Stories to share

Suffering to compare




Careful scarves

Fleshy destinations


Darting black flies

Looking for blood

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

September or October but to be confirmed – feature – The Art Bar, Free Times Cafe

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C. 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s – sweet,eh?

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr


August 2018 Sneak Peek

A quick look back to July to tell you that my WordPress following has finally passed 260 & some of the new followers aren’t ‘let me show you how to promote’ sites, or heterosexual porn. I get enough hetero porn trying to follow me on Tumblr (thank God for block there). Some new Twitter followers as well, but they tend to be self-promoting authors looking for followers. I rarely follow back & if I do I can mute them anyway. 

Theatre outings include at Stratford: Julius Caesar; The Tempest. At the Shaw festival we’ll be seeing  The Hound of the Baskervilles – a new adaptation, though I don’t see why they don’t use one the Victorian scripts. I’m hoping they will use period theatrical staging & not overwhelm it with modern projection, scrims as they did with Dracula.

Started a new series of blog posts on Fridays about my literary influences. I’m going to stick to literature: prose, poetry, drama, non-fiction. I made a first list without looking on the shelf: Mishima, Arenas, Oates, Fowler, Elliot, Ginsberg, Barton, Little, King, Dickens, Dickinson, Nowlan, Pinter, Ludlam, Thomas, Lorca, plus slam poets/performers.

My Disability After Dark responses will shift to weekend postings & will probably come closer to the actual podcasts which are on Friday morning. I’ll no longer be a week behind. 

Monday pics will see transportation morph into circus rides as a nod to both Taste of the Danforth & The CNE. Wednesday will be shades of blue. Thursday will be random. Friday and the doors to summer will continue to open. I’ve been neglecting my Tumblr posts this summer – only posting light reflections on Thursday.

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

September or October but to be confirmed – feature – The Art Bar, Free Times Cafe

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C. 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s – sweet,eh?

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr


Strong and Safe

I live close enough to the Danforth mass shooting that I had phone texts & emails checking to make sure I was okay. The Danforth/Logan intersection is about a 20 minute walk from my house. I pass it at least three times a week on my morning walks. Walking the Danforth is like a trip to the United Nations with restaurants & stores representing the world – Mexican ceramics, Nigerian batik, lamps from Nepal, food from assorted provinces of Greece, Italy, desserts from France. From Broadview to about Jones it is primarily Greek & Italian; Jones to Greenwood is Islamic; Greenwood to Rhodes has become Ethiopian; from Coxwell to Main – anything goes.

I once tried to count the number of places to eat between Greenwood and Broadview and lost count at over 400 before I even got to Broadview. Not for dieters, though there a few vegan spots in the mix. No I haven’t tried them all 🙂

I didn’t hear about the shootings until Monday morning when I saw that someone I knew had posted they were safe on the Facebook ‘I’m Safe’ page. I read what they were safe from & was, I want to say shocked, but it was more like dismayed. I changed my Monday route to the opposite direction – I didn’t want to deal with gawkers, police investigators & the like. 

Plus the media whose right to the news overrides anyone’s right to privacy. I didn’t want to be getting a doughnut & being asked ‘how do I feel.’ I’m very cynical about the ‘compassion’ of the media. To reply ‘I feel like getting a doughnut’ isn’t what they want.

I went through the area on Tuesday, as I ordinarily would have anyway. Took photos, as I ordinarily do, only this time there were the memorials & walls of graffiti to photograph. I took pictures until my own grief made me put my camera away. #DanforthStrong #GreektownStrong were on the walls. 

I’m not sure what they mean – usually to be strong in the face of death mean not to show your emotions – be strong, don’t let anyone see you crying. The Greeks and the Italians are wailers – there were people weeping as I walked through. Were they not being #strong? 

I walked through again on Thursday, also a regular walk for me, took more pictures as the memorials & graffiti increased. I felt the sense of community grief & loss. I was not #strong & stopped taking pictures when I became tearful. Reporters on TV keep asking people – ‘do you feel safe?’ Putting words into the mouths of the people they’re interviewing. It seems, to the media, that feeling safe & strong is more important than feeling grief.


The Danforth

 Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

Buffy Season 4 – Nearly Dustless

 Recently finished watching Season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There is so much sex in this season – everyone, including Giles, is getting laid I now think of this as season fornicate. This is also the season when I gave up on it when it was first broadcast. Buffy’s emotionally vulnerability was, to me, forced & distracting. There was hardly any vampires slain either. Lots of demons though. I  didn’t buy into the military complex plot line – government conspiracy is so X-Files, it was tepid at best.

Some episodes suffered from too many characters & the writers never found a balance between them. At times it felt like they were given dialogue that kept them on screen as opposed to adding to the plot. At least they dropped the one trope I hated – you know the one in which no one believes there are vampire etc. This season everyone in Sunnyvale acknowledges there are evil forces at work.

The season has some of the worse episodes (so far) of the series. “Beer Bad” being one, the other, for me, was “Pangs” the Thanksgiving episode that is so embarrassing I was ready to give up again on season 4. But I’m glad I stuck with it because there were also some of the best written & performed eps as well.

The departure of Oz was emotionally resonant but (spoiler alert) he returns before the end of the season for another great episode. In fact some of the best episodes involved returning characters. Ethan Raine does things to Giles in “A New Man” that were thrilling to see. Danny Strong shines in “Superstar” a brilliant episode. Faith surfaces again in a well plotted & emotionally satisfying two-parter. 

Adam as a villain never felt like a threat. The shenanigans of  The Initiative – the military complex were predictable & left me feeling ‘who cares’ though Lindsay Crouse as the evil doctor was always a joy to watch. I was sorry to see her dispatched without a real face off with Buffy.

It took the writers ten episodes or more to get their footing after the departure of Angel & Cordelia. Spike was to be the smart mouth but seemed totally wasted in every episode. Anya was the best addition to the gang & it was clear the writers loved writing for her. 

There were some great stand alone episodes. “Hush” with the floating Gentlemen was creepy & fantastic; the abused children spirits, is “Where The Wild Things Are” seeking revenge was chilling as was the actress playing their ‘keeper.’ I’m hoping there a another episode in future seasons that deals with her.

The season did expand some of the Slayer mythos, as well giving us more a glimpse into the Watchers that I hope is explored more in future seasons. Willow became more of character, as opposed to a side-kick, as her magic powers & confidence grows. At times it felt more like the Witch Willow show than Buffy. Oh yes, Willow gets Tara – as a love interest. I still think it would have been more revolutionary if Zander got a boyfriend though say in the form of Forrest – as Forrest is clearly resents Riley switch of affection to a girl, namely Buffy.

Speaking of Forrest it was great to see a black character on Buffy in a recurring role. Though he was not a good guy he certainly made Riley seem almost interesting with the powerful gay subtext he was playing in all their scenes. Even in the final fight between them his motivation was more ‘how could you choose her over me’ than ‘I’m helping Adam conquer the world.’

By the end of the season I was glad I stuck with it even if there are some episode I wish I could un-watch. I was also missing the lack of vampire dustings. Come on she’s a vampire slayer – not a demon hunter. On to Season 5.

The Cell

a man weeps on the subway

well-dressed   mid-thirties

turns his face from us

with no corner to hide his tears

rubs a cell phone in his left hand

squeezing it as something to hold on to

glances at the screen

bumps his head on the window

harder and harder

should someone stop him

he lurches up

gets off at the next station

stares immobile as the train pulls out


was that even his stop

was he ashamed of strangers 

seeing his sorrow

our eyes wanting more than they could see

was our pity   curiosity   inaction

too much more to bare

on top of what he wept about


his cell phone still where he sat

I pick it up look around

no one acknowledges what I have done

what should I do with it

try the numbers on it

track him down

did he abandon it   leave his sorrow behind

I get off at my stop

take the cell with me


at home I press the right buttons

nothing lights up dead

my recharge cable doesn’t fit

I’m at a loss about what to do

suddenly it lights up   rings


all I hear are 


painful gut-wrenching sobs

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

September or October but to be confirmed – feature – The Art Bar, Free Times Cafe

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C. 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s – sweet,eh?

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr


Sneak Peek July 2018

July brings heat, small celebrations, plays, musicals & a bonus Hot Damn! So you can look forward to reviews of Coriolanus; The King and I – both of which I’m looking forward to seeing.

Later in the month Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam is doing a showcase feature at Bricks and Glitter – part of an alternative Pride celebration at Unit2 in the west end. Oddly the inclusivity of Toronto Pride has become more divisive than inclusive with it’s corporate focus. 

The small celebration is my 40th year of being sober & clean & in recovery. Something that happened with my cooperation as opposed to something I did as desperation-driven megalomaniac. The continuing process of recovery has pushed me into a sort of counterculture view of the North American world I live in. For July some Fridays will a look at that process.

Photos for July will be similar to June as I continue with Transportation of Mondays; red on Wednesdays; miscellaneous of Thursday; doors on Fridays. Wednesdays I’ll be continuing my look at Village Stories a longish series of poems I wrote mythologizing my childhood & eventually leaving Cape Breton.

every Tuesday

September or October but to be confirmed – feature – The Art Bar, Free Times Cafe

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C. 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s – sweet,eh?

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr


I Fly

As much as I miss the comfort of my little bed in Toronto leaving DC is always a little sad. I’m not sure why, as I haven’t made any real human connections there outside of the Capturing Fire clan & even those I only see during the Fire – they have busy lives & often are so into the friends they already have there’s no opening for someone they may never see again.

Final morning was my DC routine, breakfast in the room, Dupont club at 9:30. Excellent Bagel from Bagel … Etc. I’ll keep them in mind for next year. Ate that checking email. Check out at 12, but wifi off at 11 for some reason. Got packed in record time without the wifi distraction.

Taxi to the airport was ‘interesting’ thanks to construction detours & the Capitol’s Stanley Cup victory parade. I particularly enjoyed President Trump thanking the people for congratulating him on scoring the winning goal. No one would call him a sore winner. I take taxi, as opposed to shuttle, because it is faster & cheaper. Last time I ordered a shuttle it arrived an hour late by which time I was already at the airport.

As I said everything went smoothly. Check in was longish, but such is life. The Reagan is a pretty airport. I had my annual Dunkin’ Donuts. Asked for old fashioned glazed twice & when I sat to enjoy it found that I had been given something else. The banal coffee has caffeine in it. Found my gate – it was in another part of the terminal. so had to take a shuttle there, got checked in once again & assigned a seat -18A. Jumped into another shuttle to the plane. Five minute delay there as the flight was awaiting stewardess. 

Boarded & like my flight there it was a three seat wide plane, Two on one side of the aisle, one on the other. 18A was the final seat, a single & right by the washroom – which gave me the opportunity for a sky-high washroom selfie. Flight was just over an hour. Smooth skies. Arrival was trouble free except we were at farthest of the Person terminal. the exiting the plane, walking to customs & finally exiting to arrivals took nearly as long as the flight itself 🙂 As much a love flying I hate lugging shoulder bag, carry on (with all my vital cables for recharging phone, cameras, airmac – as well as upload cables for those cameras. A day at a time I can’t wait for next year.