October 2022 Recap

My October hits have come from  24 countries around the world. Mauritius & Romania in the top 10! Kenya there as well. The most popular posts were Hurt People Hurt People & Election Fever. Yes, I did vote in the recent municipal election lol.

not so happy

Watched an amazing Japanese movie written & directed by Kurosawa ‘I Live In Fear’ 1955 – starring Toshiro Mifune, in perhaps the most emotionally complex role I’ve ever seen him. Set in the early 1950’s, clearly made after the American occupation ended – it deals with the emotional fallout of the H-bombs dropped on Japan. Mifune’s character is suffering from severe ptsd. A chilling performance in a movie unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Highly recommended.

American Horror Story is back for a new season – set in New York in 1981 & focused on gay murders with a particular emphasis on the leather, s&m, community. As always, an excellent cast, stunning photography, handsome young men, spot on acting but why is it, so far, boring? The best moments have been the majestic Patti Luponte singing in a steam bath. Joe Mantello & Russell Tovey as the leads give excellent performances making the most of the repetitious domestic arguments they are saddled  with. 

The police indifference to violence directed at the gay community is tired, the cop in two closets (or is it three) is boring. Two serial killers or is it three? The s&m is exploitive & almost laughable in its attempt to be shocking – but the brain pills in the last series that made gifted people super smart & turned the not-so-gifted into zombies, were truly shocking. The fact that AHS has stepped back from endless explicit gore is fine by me but we already have ample police procedurals so I hope this season become less pedestrian as it has been in the first four episodes. Episode Five really steps up, for me, with great interaction between Bernhardt & Luponte. My hopes are now higher for the rest of the season.

Read: The Color of Summer – Reinaldo Arenas – this a phantasmagorical tour de force overloaded with wild sexual images & blistering political satire that would makes James Joyce jealous with its use of drama, poetry, diary entries & letters as Reinaldo tells us, of amongst other things, having to rewrite this novel as every draft gets seized & destroyed for being subversive. Breathtaking.

Stratford 2023 season has announced & I can’t wait to see Spamalot (sadly they aren’t doing it as a mash up with Hamlet). 

Hurt People Hurt People

Election Fever

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September 2022 Recap

The WP map shows my hits have come from 23 countries all around the world. From the tiny island of Mauritius to the expanse of Russia. Ghana returns to the top ten!  Now that I’ve put Picture Perfect to bed, for the time being, I’ll be posting random events & thoughts on Talky Tuesdays. Post any questions for me in comments here & I’ll try to answer them on Talky Tuesdays.

This year autumn showed up overnight with unexpected single digit temperatures – so sudden the trees hadn’t had time to develop their reds & oranges. I don’t mind cooler days & my garden appreciates it as well. 

All’s Well

Saw two excellent shows at the Stratford Festive. All’s Well That Ends Well and Hamlet-911. Driving for both was pleasant enough but getting back into Toronto is stressful & tiring. The drive to the Festival takes us about 2 hours, the drive home can take up to 4 hours. A Lotto Max  win probably means helicopters – I wonder if Stratford has a helipad?

altar decoration

The other ‘event’ I went to was Toronto Pagan Pride Day, held in Dufferin Grove Park. Well organized, inviting & focused (unlike the Witches’ Night I went to a few months ago that had absolutely nothing to do with witches). I even bought few things.

David Bowie tribute?

Watched an amazing Japanese epic – the three part ‘Samurai’ starring the stunning Toshiro Mifune.  Set in the early 1600’s – the plot wraps around the 3-fold path to becoming a true Samurai. Exceptional colour work, spectacular costumes – even the peasants clothing were full of pattern & colour. Of course Mifuni’s character had one of those ‘magic’ sword that kill you just by looking at it lol.

Watching the latest TV version of The Midwich Cuckoos which stretches the story out to nine episodes. Based on the novel by Wyndham Lewis that was made into the film Village of the Damned. In this take all the tension is in the music. The children have been saddled with distracting wigs. All the performances consist of staring intently. Occasionally adults wrinkle their brows. It makes me wish for an American Horror Story version. 

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August 2022 Recap

The WP map does show my hits have come from  32 countries around the world with USA back in first place but with Turkey & Ghana in the top 10!  Most popular posts was Picture Perfect 129 with the Buried Moons post from last month from last month up there too! The most interesting fact is that posts in my archives have gotten a hundred or so single hits as someone is goring though past Chapters of both Picture Perfect  & Coal Dusters! 

Picture Perfect: 132 sections, about 186,000 words posted so far with about 4000 more to written to wrap things up!  

Read ‘The Masterpiece’ another in Emile Zola’s the Rougon-Macquart series. It is, I think, the only one in the series that is a roman a clef – based on real artists in Zola’s life & including one Pierre Sandoz, novelist – based on himself. It is a powerful exploration of the creative drive, the emotional & psychological cost of both success & failure. Like many of Zola’s novels it’s a documentary – this time about the art establishments of Paris – the grand salon & the salon de refuse. Amazing.

Reading James Jones ‘Thin Red Line.’ I found ‘From Here To Eternity’ more a soap opera than a war novel but ‘Red’ is totally different as it follows the harsh life of warfare told in vivid, action packed scenes. The combat descriptions are intense, the psychology of these men is brilliantly captured & conveyed. Yes there are even some ‘gay’ passages. Who knew it was easier for these men to get whisky than it was to get water. Highly recommended as a study of machismo & the interior lives of men under life & death pressure.

band shell

Rewatched Stalker the 1979 Russian film by Andrei Tarkovsky based on the novel Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. I was stunned by this movie the first time I saw it several years ago. Amazing cinematography, intense performances & a wild philosophical text, which at time, I barely understood. Since that first viewing I have read the novel – highly recommended – & rather than wait for it to reappear on TCM I ordered the 2 disc Criterion  edition. I watched the extras first to see what information they might add to the film. Well worth it & also highly recommended.

Coming up in September will be Stratford Festival productions of As You Like It & Hamlet 911.

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July 2022 Recap

The WP map does show my hits have come from  21 countries around the world. Canada takes top spot for a chance, thanks to the very popular ‘Buried’ post. Turkey in the top 10! Most popular post by far was Buried Moons Drums and Caramel https://topoet.ca/2022/07/26/buried-moons-drums-and-caramel/ – in fact it is my most popular post ever! Over 250 hits in July.  

Picture Perfect: 127 sections, about 179,000 words posted so far with approx 9,000 to be edited then posted. Much of July sections were fresh writing as I flesh out my notes from the rough draft. The same holds true for the coming sections too, but some of that will be tying up some loose ends, another melodramatic confrontation & Dan finally takes a vacation.

Watched ‘The Hunger’ from 1983. Catherine Deneuve is stunning, her performance is stellar, her look is breathtaking with incredible clothes, hair stylings & make up. Susan Sarandon is an incredibly stylish biologist scientist of some sort. Hr performance is solid. David Bowie is cast because he is David Bowie. His look is fine, his acting is unremarkable.

The director, Tony Scott, cut his teeth on music videos & the look of the film reflects that – every room has billowing curtains – I guess the vampires create their own gentle breeze, doves show up fluttering through every window, open or closed. No room has direct lighting, even the biology lab, everyone is in shadows, plus everyone is either smoking or lighting up a cigarette – even the scientists looking through microscopes. A truly fabulous movie that surpasses its cult reputation.

caterpillar munching parsley

Watched the captivating film Eijanaika or Why Not? (ええじゃないか), a 1981 Japanese film by director Shohei Imamura. An astonishing, colour filled epic set in the mid-1800’s. The carnival setting is compelling & the political subtext makes this more than a comedy. After nearly 3 hours I didn’t want it to end. Strong performances, stunning cinematography & excellent music. Highly recommended.

Finally read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum with W. W. Denslow illustrations. As a child I wasn’t much of a reader until I was about 10 & by then I felt I was too old for Oz, bides it was a girl’s book. I was inclined to Buddy & His Friends, advances to Tom Swift Jr., The Hardy Brothers. I don’t recall seeing the movie on TV until I moved to Toronto & saw it in colour. The book is a fun read, the Denslow illustrations great fun. The movie adaptation is brilliant is streamlining the too many plots in the book & making a few changes is the story line, in particular the movie ending – was it all a dream?

Coming up in August is the Stratford Festival production of The Miser.

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Recap June 2022

Most popular post in June was Wentworth Perk Perks Up Sydney, that I originally posted in 2012 & reposted the link & boom! over 150 hits – making it the most popular post of the year so far. On some Fridays I have been going back into my archives to ten years ago to resurrect these old post. https://topoet.ca/…/25/wentworth-perk-perks-up-sydney-2/ 

Picture Perfect:  123 sections, about 174,000 words posted so far with at least 12,000 to be edited then posted. I say ‘at least’ as I am nearing the end & discovered that I merely made notes for the next two climactic scenes so there could easily be another 20,000 words yet, much of them being ‘fresh’ writing.

Started a new Wednesday format, giving the monks a rest for the summer. It’ll be called Summer Reflections 2022 where I post about my old clothes, recovery memories, Wicca, & whatever comes to mind.

Watched a slew of forgettable movies & a couple more memorable ones – How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967). Wow! I can’t recall when I saw this last but wow what a fabulous film with a vibrant performance by Robert Morse, who starred in the Broadway original. The set & costume work is spot on perfection in candy colours. The songs are fun, I love ‘I Believe In You.’ Fossey-esque choreography. Recent revival had Daniel Radcliffe in the lead, another Nick Jonas.

Equally memorable is Chinese Roulette directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Vivid colours in this turgid, painfully artificial & seemingly endless psychological drama that had me snickering at everything from the hairstyles, makeup, set up & particularly the soundtrack music. It also features an amazing performance by Andrea Schobe as the ultimate manipulative child. 

In June I re-read ‘Loving Man: A Photographic Guide to Gay Male Lovemaking – Mark Freedman Ph.D., Harvey Mayes – 1976 – 1st Edition’ Hardcover. I bought this book while I was still living in Sydney. I think I got it via The Playboy Book Club, as it was considered porn by customs & couldn’t be sold in Canada. It made my decision to escape Cape Breton very easy.

Reading it now I love the innocence of it – pre-HIV, pre-WWW, pre-apps – it reflects how things have changed & how they haven’t changed. Back in the day we used ‘looking for connections’ ad sections in gay magazines to meet outside of noisy smokey bars. Street cruising is now done with apps. Our current era of acceptance is still as fraught with prejudice & ignorance. Rainbow flags appear on businesses not because of inclusivity or to show support but to invite our gay dollars. 

from a past production

The less said about Hamlet the better – the best part was the amazing weather for the drive there & back lol. (Dull In Denmark https://topoet.ca/2022/06/24/dull-in-denmark/ )

Upcoming reviews: Rocky Horror Show (Stirling Summer Theatre! – yes Rocky is now safe for small town Ontario); Stratford: The Miser, All’s Well That Ends Well, Hamlet 911.

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Recap May 2022

They wouldn’t let me try it on 😦

The TOpoet.ca following blog grew to ! The WP map does show my hits have come from  countries around the world. That Canada tops the list is unusual. That Poland (Witaj Polsko) & Ecuador (Hola lectores en ecuador) are in the top 10 is a surprise. Hello to my fans in Morocco (مرحباً أيها القراء في المغرب)!

Picture Perfect -119 sections, about 169,000 words posted so far with  20,000 approx to be edited then posted. These last sections took a fair amount editing, fresh writing & even some minor side plot development as I inch closer to the final big scenes now that the remains of the abducted children have been found. 

Watched an amazing documentary ‘Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra’ which starts as history of the Australian aboriginal dance company & becomes a powerful mediation on the cost of creativity. The dancing is stunning, the music is incredible & the cost of creativity is heartbreaking. A must see that is streaming on TVO.

Watched Midsommar, bound to be come a season favourite. The depth of research was gratifying & the ritual aspects of the story were spot on & thought totally imaginary felt authentic. When I watch it again I will skip to when they arrive in Sweden as the first act is dreary & quickly drained my sympathy for any of the characters. By the time they got to the commune I was happy with all of them dying. 

The extras on our edition of the DVD were banal though I was surprised that only one, of all the leads was American, as I assumed they all were until I heard their actual accents: Irish, Scottish, & that weird accent that is sort of Manx-African-Aussie. Sadly the soundtrack lp contains none of the Swedish chanting – so I didn’t buy it.

Read an excellent set of short stories: 13 Views of the Suicide Woods by Bracken MacLeod. Eerie, scary, inventive well-written tales that are Twilight Zone extreme with explicit gore & violence. Highly recommended for any horror fans.

May has been a month full of of activity, of breaking routines & getting dirty. Dirty digging in the dirt to get my garden ready for the summer. Some hostas were split & halves replanted else where in the garden. All the perennials returned, some worse for winter wear mind you. Loads of annuals planted – asters, alyssum, begonia, marigolds, snap dragons, impatiens, daisies, pansies, petunias, coleus, plus seeds are sprouting for four kinds of morning glory. It will a colourful garden for sure. 

a side & b side 🙂 bluer than they appear here

Getting back to my roots by adding some Stonehenge Preseli bluestone to my rock/crystal collection. Part of Stonehenge is a ring of standing stones made of bluestone that is only found is & was quarried from Preseli, Wales. I did an esty search & ordered some. 

Coming up in June is a day trip to Stratford to see Hamlet – after the excellent Richard III we saw in May I’m looking forward to this season’s take on Hamlet.

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Let My People a-go-go

Watching  1956’s The Ten Commandments again. It has been decades since I last watched it from the beginning. I would catch glimpses when it would show up on TCM almost every other month. I had forgotten it was a comedy. 

Drowning in hysterical historical inaccuracies it’s hard to tell where to begin though the most obvious is the costumes – particularly for the women wearing fabrics & colours that never existed in the 1300 BCE time era – not that I’m expecting documentary realism but any means. Then there’s there architecture – grand halls with black marble floors that have never been excavated.

The use of language is laugh-out-loud funny, the delivery so leaden, the constant ‘Moses Moses’ – a name so nice everyone has to say it twice. Speaking of Moses Moses – Heston gives a performance that is so wooden I was surprised he didn’t burst into flame when he stood in front of the burning  bush. Brenner gives a regal performance as Rameses II as if this were The Moses Moses & I. Anne Baxter is the real star with her insinuating, sinuous work at Nefretiri. She nails Rameses balls to the floor with a glance. Good too is Edward G Robinson’s sly, cunning & manipulative Dathan.

I can’t not mention the dazzling colours made even more lurid in High Definition. The movie suffers in HD though – without the pebble screen to diffuse edges the fx & back screens are obvious. The parting of the Red Sea is still wonderful but I found the closing of it to be even more amazing. Not amazing was the bad aging makeup on Heston – the greying of his hair was more akin to a high school drama production than a Hollywood epic. His wooly white beard & head of hair at the end was distractingly fake.

I loved seeing this again. Epic myth making at its finest. Biblical scholarship at its most Technicolor.

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Recap March 2022

The WP map shows where my top 10 hits have come from. Bangladesh finally tops India but that Bahrain does too is a surprise.  I was glad to see ‘Behind Closed Doors’, one of poetry posts, was the top post of the month. Check it out if you haven’t already 🙂

Picture Perfect:  is up to 110 sections; about 158,000 words posted so far with at least another 30,000 yet to be edited & posted. I thought making deep cuts would shorten things but instead it gave me opportunity expand what remains to make it more plot forward. Such is the editing life.

Watched a couple of interesting movies. Deep Crimson: Mexican, La Ceremonie: French. Both more intriguing that great though both of them do have excellent performances & both of them involve blood baths, & both inspired by real events. Deep Crimson is a version of the Honeymoon Killers, La Ceremonie springs from the same murder that inspired The Maids. In both innocent people meet with dire ends. Deep is filmed with rich colours, La Ceremonie the colours are almost bleached out by the French sun. 

If you think Zora Neale Hurston is the only black female author of note before Toni Morrison then it’s time to read ‘Works of Alice Dunbar-Nelson’ – her first two published collections of short stories & poetry from l890’s. The stories transported me to New Orleans with their rich descriptions of black life there at the time. The various class distinctions are the subtext for stories of romance, Mardi Gras, daily life & hope. The poetry is more maudlin than political. I read the eBook – one of good things about eBook is often out-of-print books are given new life.

Re-read Boze Hadleigh’s ‘Conversations With My Elders.’ Published in 1986. It includes interviews with actors Sal Mineo and Rock Hudson; directors George Cukor, Luchino Visconti, and Fassbinder; and designer, photographer, and author Cecil Beaton. Their conversations with the author reveal much about the lives and careers of these celebrities and how their homosexuality affected both. I bought the hardcover back in the day for the interview with Sal Mineo, which is amazing. 

Reading it in 2022 I am amazed at the frankness of some of these ‘stars’; at their recognition things had to change & the various degrees of willingness they showed. Wiki tells me that Rock Hudson claimed never to have been interviewed by or even met Boze! I’m not sure if the book is still in print. 

In the real world (LOL) recovery meeting shave been slowly reopening & I’ve gotten back to one f2f meeting, so far. Made reservation for some shows at the Stratford Festival: Richard III in May, Hamlet in June. More to booked soon.

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February 2022 Recap

Top 10 countries this past month shows a few surprises with Bahrain & Sri lank making an appearance. That India tops the list is interest but that Bangladesh & Kenya are in the top 10 is a surprise. Most popular post was Clean Up – the ecology still remains a hot topic, my fave is Look At Me  were Kazakhstan! Kuwait! 

 Picture Perfect:  106 sections, about 151,000 words posted so far with approx 33,000 to be edited then posted. I made more big cuts to the rough draft to smooth things to the eventual ending. 

After we watched Clouzet’s ‘Quai des Orfèvres’ we went on to watch the equally amazing Le Diaboliques. I’ve seen it before but had forgotten the boarding school setting. The plot moves with the same clock-work precision as Quai. We have the Criterion edition & the extras are excellent. For censorship purposes the plot of the book was altered. The film has the husband ‘murdered’ – in the book it is the wife who is the supposed victim. Such overt lesbianism wasn’t allowable on the screen. 

Reading: James Jones ‘From Here To Eternity’ that has been reissued intact. The original version (at nearly 900 pages then) had most of gay sections trimmed. To be honest I’ve never read that version so I don’t know how much was censored by the publisher. Set in Hawaii in the months before Pearl Harbour it is an endlessly detailed look at Army life on base & off. The gay life around the base is clearly represented – how soldiers exploited ‘queers’ for money, booze & sex. The men treat the women in the novel in such the same way. Jones’s depiction is more matter-of-fact than – look at those disgusting sad homos. He also doesn’t shy away from the reality of gay service men either. I can see why he was forced to make what cuts he made. By the time you get to the end of the novel you feel you’ve been through WWII. In the film the gay subplots have all been eliminated. Go figure.

I was disheartened & puzzled by the trucker convoy protests that accomplished nothing but irritating residents of Ottawa. What did they want? Attention, as much attention as they could get. A group that represented less that 1% of the population managed to grab 99% of the media. Too much, too late a many of their ‘demands’ were already slated to happen: loosening of passport & testing requirements. 

The invasion of Ukraine is worrisome with the casual threat of nuclear taking me back to my childhood fears of anyone dropping the big one. That sense of powerless was puzzling then & now is merely depressing. Did we get through the pandemic only to be wiped out by brats playing dare you, Putin’s pride making it impossible for him to back down. I don’t see an upside to this for planet. At least Volodymyr Zelensky is great eye-candy in his endless supply of military green t-shirts.

Will there be a March recap? For sure, unless they drop the big one.

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Recap January 2022

The TOpoet.ca following is at 466 people. The WP map shows my hits have come from  19 countries around the world. That the USA tops the list is no surprise but that Ireland & Denmark are in the top 10 is a surprise. Most popular post by far was the photo essay Snow Forts:

Most popular prose blog was Food In Peace Out:

Annoying Children is my person favourite:

Picture Perfect:  102 sections, about 147,000 words posted so far with approx 39,000 to be edited, then posted. I’ve also cut another 4000 words from the rough draft to remove interesting threads that didn’t add enough the the major plots.

Watched some great movies: One-Way Ticket To Love – Japanese 1960. A sweet musical about an alto sax player, a pretty girl & a Japanese Elvis. A refreshing change from all those films about marrying off daughters. or bold samurai. This one was made  after the US occupation ended & film-makers no long had to deal with military censor. A pessimistic hero, a morally confused woman & great music – both Big Band & rock. A look at Japanese youth culture & highly recommended.

Also watched a a Canadian animated feature from the early 80’s Heavy Metal. The teen-boy target audience is defined by the large breasted heroines of the stories. Voiced by many of the voices behind the Spiderman series & also John Candy, Jackie Burroughs – this is a fun, hetero-sexist sci-fi romp sure to offend many today. Good fun. 

Another excellent film was ‘Quai des Orfèvres’ a French noir from 1947 – tightly written with a corkscrew plot that would (& probably did) make Hitchcock jealous. Director Clouzet went on to make the equally amazing Le Diaboliques. Sadly none of Stanislas-André Steeman works, one of which Quai was based, is available in English :-(. 

Finished 100 Short Stories – a budget collection of pubic domain stories by the likes of Kafka, Poe, Saki, O Henry, Twain & even Mary Shelly. Many were ‘punch line’ stories that existed for the last line. Lots of nostalgic memory, many without a word of dialogue, a good helping of Russian angst & even some really good stories. I was amazed by Kafka’s The Hunger Artist.

Really enjoyed David Demchuk: The Bone Mother – a delightful scary collection of linked short stories with a fine Ukrainian folk-lore underpinning. Highly recommended. Also highly-recommend is: Joshua Whitehead ed: Love After The End – Two-Spirited Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction, out of Arsenal Pulp Press. An impressive collection of queer-centric sci-fi that is cutting edge in its use of de-gendered language. 

For Xmas I got removable cleats for my winter boots & thanks to an abundance of snow have made frequent use of them. They come in handy for my treks through the Williamson Ravine.

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