Regifting 101

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Started a new set of prompts – I love lists of things – this one will prove to be endlessly productive for another couple of years – 227 Rules For Monks. Who knew the simple life could be so complex. This is number 25 from the 30 nissaggiyas.

Regifting 101

That’s alright

please keep it

I don’t really need it

I have too many already

it’s not quite the right fit for me

the colour is right for you

I don’t know

when I’ll ever use it

I want you to have

you’ll get more use out of it than I would

I can’t begrudge you anything

of course you can have it

I only wore it once

let me see it on you

it really suits you

it looks better on you

than it ever did on me

no I don’t hate it

it’s just not right for me

they were on sale

you’e be doing me a favour

I never want to see it again

too many memories

time to move the energy out of my life

if you don’t want it

I’ll have to throw it away

I don’t it to go to waste

it’s too good

to drop in a donation box

I want someone I know to have it

you won’t regret it

don’t thank me

thank whomever

gave it to me

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#Nanowrimo vs #Danish Hotties

This year’s nano has been the toughest so far. Someday it was hard to stay motivated. I think that was mainly because I’m more of a pantser than an outliner – I like the surprises that letting the plot just go along as opposed sticking to a ‘this is what must happen next’ outline. I did my first run at Isle in 2008 so already knew the characters, the events & the finale.

I did do a fresh take on everything though, some cut-and-paste (which got deducted from my final word count) but did enjoy being so tied to merely expanding or reworking what I had already. One thing that did help was changing the time of year in which the Montreal section takes place. That happened to accommodate the time line I’d already laid out.

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Thanks to Picture Perfect – last year’s Nano – did find that I enjoy food – describing it, inventing it. This year I did more of that plus indulged in more detailed  set descriptions. I also had fun with language – the Danish hotties were brand new to the story & thanks to google translate I let them talk in Danish, without feeling the need to translate that for the reader. I did put out a call for Danish sex slang but apparently there is none 😦

As with past years I’m about 1/3 of the way though this plot. It takes place in three locations – the 3 act structure: Montreal; Halifax; Isle St. Nuit. The first two being real places the third will be pure imagination. I will have to make some decisions about how much the supernatural will play a role in what happens. Who knows what lies in the stars, or even the cards, for my hero?

“Now we are ready for what the night will bring?” Eluf wiped his mouth.

“We can perhaps walk from here to see the fireworks.” Tyge consulted his cellphone. “GooGoo says it is about ten minutes walking from here. Ou est le toilette?” he asked the clerk.

The washrooms were small. Each with homme/femme on the door. Neither was big enough for two people but the two Danish guys squeezed into one of them while Mike used the other. He could hear the guys laughing in theirs.

He exited. They hadn’t even shut the door on theirs. Tyge beckoned him. “Come, we have party favours. You will like.”

On one of the cafe saucers there was a couple of lines of powder.

“We have saved some for you. Good quality.”

Mike backed away. “Thanks but no thanks.”

“I thought you like to party with us.It will make the fireworks so much better.” Eluf said.

“For you perhaps.”

“Okay.” Tyge said. “We will clean up and meet you outside.”

This was the last thing Mike had expected to happen though he wasn’t all the surprised. Other than toking up now and then drugs held no appeal for him. So much time spent on getting something that took so little time to enjoy.

The guys came out and glanced at him.

“Enjoy the fireworks.” Tyge said. “We are going to find real fireworks fun with real men.”

Eluf hailed cab. They got in leaving Mike at the curb. It happened so fast Mike didn’t have time to say anything. Did they forget he was there because of the coke, or whatever it was they were doing. It dawned on him that he wasn’t the real man or the real fun they wanted for their research.

(He was pissed off at them for leaving him without a second-thought.  He goes to the fireworks. This is the next day: )

He let himself into the b’n’b and was headed up to his room when someone called to him from the TV room.

“Mike? What is your hurry.” It was Eluf. “I must apologize for taking off like that last night. I didn’t realize how … rude that was until we were well on our way.”

“Yes, well, done is done.” Mike said.

“Done is done? That means you accept the apology?”

“No. It means what has happened cannot be changed. It was more thoughtless than rude. I was more puzzled than anything but also relieved.”

“Relieved.”

Mike glanced at his cell for the time. “I’m not someone who wants to spend time with guys doing drugs for a good time.”

“You are angry with us. I can tell by your … tone of voice.”

“Not angry,” Mike sighed. “Not interested, is more like it.”

“You were interested enough last night.”

“Until you got high and flew off in the first taxi you could get.”

“Let us take you to …”

“No thanks. I have plans for tonight. Enjoy the rest of your stay.”

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Bonded or Bondage

Andrew Gurza talks about his time on 1 Girl 5 Gays on a recent Disability After Dark. The show was produced by MTV Canada. It was somewhat like The View with the six of them chatting about different cultural and sexual issues in an edited for bitchiest lines way. I do remember watching an episode or two back in the day but not when Andrew was on. I didn’t like the ‘edited for bitchiest lines’ that left these people with personality but little substance.

Andrew explains that each episode was edited down from two to three hours of conversations & he felt that often the most emotional or complex stuff was never used. I wonder how such a show might work today looking at recent events: the predatory nature of wealthy, entitled people of power. Now there’s a shop that Andrew should pitch with him as host.

He also talks about how his disability – the necessity of his chair – kept him off the couch that the rest of the chatterboxes sat together on – and as a result he never felt that bonded with them even after his seven episodes were done. Drinks after the tapings ended up with him on one side of the table and them on the other, or him with the production crew. One thing I learned from a showbiz pal is that good lighting will do more for your career than any co-star. So always bond with the production crew.

I know that non-bonding feeling while yearning to bond though. Often at poetry show, workshops, & other cultural events when you are not one of the smokers, tokers, snorters, or boozers a shadow falls between you and the other there almost as dark as the shadow that separates the MFA in creative writing from the clearly less skilled writers.

The myth of bonding is that it lasts forever, the reality is that it usually merely means years later, when you haven’t seen each other since that bonding experience, you have fond feelings for each other. Listening to Andrew it sounds like he has those fond feelings so perhaps he was more bonded than he thought with his 1 Girl 5 Gays cohorts. Though something tells me Andrew might enjoy bondage even more.

By the time they had worked his way through the several ages of illumination with the man as his companion, Mike was reluctant to leave without saying something to him.

The other man had stopped to talk with two of the guides. Mike didn’t want to stand around. It would be too presumptuous to think there was a reason to speak to some stranger.

Out on the street it was time to go back to the hotel. Which way was that? He’d lost his sense of direction in the twists and turns of the stairs in the museum.

He started to cross the street. No, not this way. He turned abruptly and almost walked into the black man.

“Sorry.”

“Perhaps I should wear a bell.” the man said.

“You seem to know a lot about lamps.”

“Non. I know it can make a rather dull experience much more interesting when others think you are interested. I get more pleasure out of talking with the … guides. They are so eager to impart. The more they impart the more I know.”

“The more I have to forget. You are right, you did make it more interesting for me”

“As you did for me. Perhaps you would like to dine with me? Robert Etang.” He shook Mike’s hand. He pronounced his name in French Rober.

“Mike Poole. Supper?”

“Yes. I see we are two men alone in a strange city. That is unusual of itself, isn’t it? Unless you have left the wife and kids for this calm.”

“Hardly. I’m not …”

“Yes, I know you are not married. You do not have the harried look of a husband. I could tell. You are, perhaps, as I am, a man who prefers the company of other men.”

Mike laughed. As he laughed the tension he’d felt for the past day melted away. (The stranger) Robert joined him and their laughter echoed along the narrow street.

“I take that you would be delighted to dine with me?”

“Yes Rober I would. But I do have to return to my hotel to freshen up.”

“Freshen up?”

“Take a shower, change my clothes.” Mike often found himself explaining these North American turns of phrase to his ESL students.

“Ah I see. Here is my card.” Robert took a card out of his shoulder bag and wrote him hotel information on it and handed it to Mike. “Will an hour be long enough for you to be fresh with me?”

Mike wanted to say ‘I’d be fresh with you right now.’ But wasn’t ready to explain all the subtleties of the English language.

He glanced at the card. “I’ll call if I’m delayed.”

Mike looked at the business card repeatedly as he walked back to Assoupir. It was a delicious buzz between his eyes. The card hardly seemed real paper. It was from Les Bras D’Or. Another bed and breakfast in the south quarter of the village.

“Robert Etang – Room 206.” was written on the back. “7:15 p.m.”

Rowber A-tange. Rowber A-tange. Mike repeated the name to himself. He had a date! How did that happen? Right place right time? It was so simple. All he had to do was accept and he did. He’d be a fool not too, right? Strangers in the Musee.

Would they have sex? Should they? Would it seem desperate if that happened right off the bat. After all, this was why most people travelled. Single people. Gay men. Sex. Or was the supper invitation merely a way to pass an empty evening?

No, it couldn’t be. Robert’s eyes danced with that knowing invitation. Even when he fresh Mike suspected Robert knew the subtext. More than food was offered. Offered to him by a stranger. Him and a stranger. How had it happened? How?

He was at the front floor of Assoupir. Where was his electronic key? Back pocket. Nope. Fuck he hadn’t lost the key had he? There it was at the bottom of his shoulder bag.

Would half-clad Danes be sprawled in the living room to giggle at him behind their hands as he came in? No. Empty. He went to his room. There was an envelope taped to the door. He opened it in his room. It was his gold pass and a note.

“Sorry about today. I don’t think I can accept this. Thanks for the thought. Sam Degan, 4C.”

Mike put the pass in on the desk. I won’t be able to use it either. I’m dining with a dark prince. Was that racist? The man was black. He couldn’t ignore that. Any man would have excited him. A stranger. A casual meeting and now promise. One night would be enough.

How could he see to it that the men at the b’n’b saw him with his black lover? Teach them a lesson.

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November 1-30
2018

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June – dates t.b.a – Capturing Fire 2018 – Washington D.C.


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Moon Phases

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Started a new set of prompts – I love lists of things – this one will prove to be endlessly productive for another couple of years – 227 Rules For Monks. Who knew the simple life could be so complex. This number 24 from the 30 nissaggiyas.

Two Moon Phases

Phase One

moonlight so blue

it left no trace

on my skin

as his fingers

followed the flow

of the edge

where the blue

became pale flesh

the flow

where finger tips

were replaced with lips

teeth biting

Phase Two

this is not the time

no one will tell you

when the time is right

 

when it’s wrong

you are told not what to do

but never what to do

 

you’ll never be assured

because

everything you do is wrong

 

there is a right way

it’s for you to figure out

no one will tell you how

 

only punish you

for each and every mistake

love will be withheld

 

opportunity will be denied

no explanations will be forthcoming

until you do it right

 

perfectly

 

giving up is not an option

this is not the time

to give up

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#Nanowrimo 2017 Playlist

As usual I’ve put together a extensive, very mixed, playlist for working on nano this year. In no particular order here is the over 36 hours of music. King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King (Expanded Edition) – I do have this as a standalone but wanted those bonus tracks. Faith, Hope & Charity: Faith, Hope & Charity (Expanded Edition) – one of those obscure disco/r’n’b: sweetly retro & fun; Best of Ruth Crawford Seeger – what,s better than an obscure, American, female, classical composer – mostly solo piano stuff.

Coast Modern Taarabu (6hr): Mpango Mzima – hey, a huge collection of bouncy, almost tribal music from Zanzibar; Superfruit: Future Friends – because some new queer pop music was a must have; Billy Strange: Goldfinger: The Big Sound of Billy Strange, His Guitar and Orchestra – someone posted Billy’s take on the Munsters’ Theme on tumblr & I had to have it. fun stuff in the Sandy Nelson mode. When the Sun Goes Down, Vol. 11: Sacred Roots of the Blues – exactly what it says: rare 20’s/30s recordings of gospel music. Janis Joplin: See See Rider (From the Beginning): a set of Janis – live before she even meet Big Brother: the coffee house days & great to hear. Sid Bass: Moog España, From Another World – these are two lps of crazy moog with big band. España is hilarious.

Hannes Kästner: Bach.Toccata and Fugue in D Minor – bought this as a single track as it was touted as the very best recording ever of the Toccata by anyone. Mount Kimbie: Love What Survives – electronic in the Aphex Twin mode; Future Beat Alliance: FBA21: Collected Works 1996 – 2017 – electronica in the S.U.N. Project mode; Jazznewblood ALIVE (Live at Iklectik/Efg London Jazz Festival 2016): this is a wow collection – someone posted a track on Tumblr & I had to have it. Deepest Blue: Late September, Deepest Blue remixes – I love the single Deepest Blue & wanted the remixes, the lp it comes from is Basement Jaxx lite.

Cher: Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves – a classic everyone should have & now I finally have it. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: Live/1975-85 (3hr 34min) – hey, I need & can appreciate some testosterone driven music too. Plus I’ve always had a hungry part for Bruce. The Foundations: Build Me Up Buttercup (The Complete Pye Collection) (3hr 10min) – who knew these one-hit-wonders recorded so much & all great soul music; Bela Bartok: Sonatas & Romanian Folk Dances – those Folk dances stir up more than dust on the dance floor. these are propulsive, romantic & great typing speed music. Madonna: Like a Virgin – another classic everyone should have & now I finally have it.

How did a Muttman meet anyone? He saw that unasked question in Sam’s eyes. After his misadventure with the Danish guys he knew his gaydar was totally fucked up. How could he not see that they were … amusing themselves with him.

But that was how he felt when he first met Patrick at that cocktail party. Patrick was at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design as a lecturer for the film department. Mike hadn’t heard the lecture but had been invited to the cocktail party.

How did Patrick know he was queer? He never did find that out. Had Raphael pointed him out? Was it that mysterious thing some gay men had, to recognize it in a stranger.

Patrick picked up that he was queer. Even though he’d been direct Mike didn’t quite believe him. Handsome out-of-town lecturers were only interested in young hairless swim team guys. Yet they were in bed at Patrick’s hotel within the hour. Both a little tipsy but eager and flush with appreciation for each other.

Patrick really wasn’t what one would call a pretty boy either but a good reputation always added to a man’s good looks.. Not that that mattered much to Mike. Flesh was flesh. When the opportunity presented itself he was happy to accept it.

How long had it been before that night with Patrick? Five or six years since he’d touched a man. God, that last time was hell. As bad as Sam’s kindness. That politesse around offering the homely advice to avoid investing one’s own cock.

What was the point of it all? To be queer and find that men didn’t want you? He’d tried women but there was nothing there. Fuck! God why? It just wasn’t fair. He should have moved to be with Patrick that first year when the energy between them was high. Then this wouldn’t be happen. No, but he had his job, a career that he couldn’t leave.

Well, this is the price for that and, now where was he? Having some Eurotrash petty boys lead him on? Having some smug stranger tell him where ugly men could buy sex. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

The sun glinted off a brass sign at eye level.

Musee Lumiere.

The grey brick building was nondescript in the context of the other buildings around it. He knew some of them dated from the 1700’s but this wasn’t one of them. More like Victorian, he decided, judging by the turret in one corner and detailing around the doors and windows. Three stories high with a spiked row around the roof with brass orbs that gleamed in the sun.

Four well worn red sandstone steps led to the imposing front door. Double doors with stained glass panels over carved inserts; stained glass panels on the narrow panels on either side of the door. All the stained glass and the wood carving played on the fleur de lis. He went in.

“Bon jour.” A young woman cheerfully greeted him.

“Salut.”

“Welcome, sir.”

Was his accent that bad? He paid the admission fee.

“There is a new installation on the second floor.”

“Thank you.”

“Enjoy.”

Why was there such quiet in these places? The shuffle of shoes on the floor, polite coughing, whispers and pointing. There was museum personnel in each room. They would turn on and off the lamps, ceiling fixtures, wall mounts, if you asked. The first room was made to look like a cave pre-historic humans would have lived in. Once the lights had been lowered, the uneven walls were lit by flickering flames in low stone dishes of animal fat. The smell wasn’t unpleasant at first.

“How did they manage?” someone behind him asked. “That isn’t enough light to do anything.”

Mike stayed for a few moments after the other few people had left. The room was silent. He couldn’t hear street sounds or the creaking of feet on the floor around him. So this is what it was like back in the day. Not like the movies at all where there would enough light from a single flame to illuminate an entire cave.

Each of the subsequent rooms took him through various era. Tallow candles, wax candles, torches. With each the guide would dim the lights so there was only the one light source.

“How many candles would it take to light a room in a medieval castle?” he asked the guide.

“Better yet who would light them all?” S man beside him asked in English. Then he repeated Mike’s and his questions in French.

The guide explained that it sometime took so many candles to light a room some would have to be replaced by the time the last ones were lit.

The man explained this to Mike. He was ebony black. About Mike’s height and hefty. The man spoke French freely with the guides and more than once explained to Mike, in English, what he had just been told.

In each room Mike was taken by how movies had changed history. Until the electric light bulb came into use most corners were in shadow. The light people had wasn’t a constant single glow but would flicker depending on impurities in the oils, depending on air flow. He had a greater respect for writers who worked in candle light. Bad enough to write War and Peace by hand and to have to do it by unsteady light too.

The second floor was devoted to the gas era and gave way to the electric era.

“Movies made gaslit rooms look so bright.” Mike remarked to his companion.

“Of course. How would you see the faces of the their magnificent movie stars.”

The installation on the third floor was the latest in l.e.d and holographic images. The technology left Mike cold. Not practical enough. No one was going to read by this kind of art.

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Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington is/was a jazz grand master. A bold innovator who fought racism, classism & proudly employed known gay creators like Billy Strayhorn. This is the sort of jazz I once hated – too smooth, too swing, & too much my Dad’s music. But I got over that thanks partly to the Time-Life Giants of Jazz series of 3 lps box sets that included one of Ellington which I transferred to 2 cds. I dug his wild early work with voices. I kept finding inexpensive lps of compilations like Monologue, Early Years, Primping For The Prom which also received the lp to cd transfer treatment.

He composed many jazz tone poems, suites of connected pieces that explored Harlem, revival meetings; as well creating classics like Take the A train, Sophisticated Lady. Black Brown Beige (featuring Mahalia Jackson) pushed jazz to a neo-classical area without strings. Amazing.

On a couple of mp3 collections I have two different live sets: Live at Newport; The Great Paris Concert: I had Paris as lp but found a cd release with bonus tracks – yea. On Afro-Eurasian Eclipse & Togo Bravo suite he explores World Music rhythms. His soundtrack for Anatomy of a Murder is wonderful.

Togo Brava is one of my few remaining cassettes – mainly because I have never found it in any other form. At least I think it is Togo Brava – my handwritten label maybe be wrong – I love it though.

 

Ellington wasn’t afraid to stretch himself with amazing recordings with a couple of jazz revolutionaries. His Ballads with John Coltrane is sublime, resonant, romantic and a must hear. On Money Jungle he tangles with Charlie Mingus & Max Roach & produces, for me, his most radical work. Driving, dissonant & timeless. This is what Bad Plus strives for, & occasionally reaches, but never overtakes.

This is a review is totally fabricated – from artists’ names, instruments, languages & locations. One way I want to create the mythos of Isle St. Nuit is via this indirect third party of inclusions of details about the Isle.

Dans Le Jardin: In The Garden – Telmanna Dix Morlanda – Telmanna’s new cd is a delight from start to finish, especially to those of us who have followed his career for the last several years. Despite his dark Latin looks he has managed to avoid the Americanization that has befallen too many other’s.

His current album which concentrates on the music of Isle St. Nuit follows in the footsteps of his recordings of music from Cuba, Panama and Brazil. He moves with ease from various dialects and complex rhythms. This album is mainly performed in the St Nuit patois which is a mix of French, Spanish and African tribal dialects.

Several of the songs are taken from the Livre Santitina, a collection of ritual songs and dances for the worship of the three snakes. Some are  adaptations of children’s songs.

Telmanna is joined by L’Purle Valdez on three up tempo numbers. She brings her special sasqualla rhythms with her from Panama. Hard to keep still when she tears into a song, any song.

For those of you unfamiliar with this genre Dans Le Jardin makes a good introduction. Lyrics are in English and Nuit Patois, though in some cases not knowing what is being sung might add to your pleasure.

The title song is powerful in its use of native instrumentation – the galida (a three string lute like gourd) players combined with the relentless drumming and percussion will draw the listener very quickly into the thick of a Santitina ceremony. The lyrics call upon the spirits to guide, protect, and if necessary kill all adversaries. The last track, running at nearly forty minutes, ‘Mort de Marie’ tells the story of the death of the Virgin Mary that somehow, and I’m not familiar with this particular St. Nuit legend, allowed for the freedom of the slaves.

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November 1-30

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Sex Positive

On a recent Disability After Dark  Andrew Gurza  interviews JoEllen Notte – a noted sex researcher & blogger – about, amongst many things, sex and depression. For some people the two go hand in hand, no matter how good or often the sex. They also talked about some of the assumptions people make about them for being so sex positive. One being is that they have lots of sex and have no problem getting it. Or that must be willing to have sex with anyone – if they decline they are accused of being hypocrites.

Odd how being sex positive turns one into a slut with no discernment and with no boundaries. “Oh sure I’d be super happy to do that with you even though you don’t turn me on and it’s something I’ve never enjoyed.”

In my life I’ve been either shamed for being as sexually active as I am for my age or regarded as a slut with no discernment. In fact I find it difficult to actually talk with anyone about my sex life without them becoming uncomfortable. What I enjoy is pretty vanilla & safe but the fact that do it makes them comfortable or triggered.

In my poetry I’ve written quite directly about many types of sex play. I had to stop performing the few s/m pieces I have because I was getting approached by men (& women) who thought I was a dom top (if you don’t know what that means such is life). An assumption I’d rather not deal with, unless they are willing to cough up $500 an hour.

They also delve into the nature of ‘invisible’ disabilities, such a depression. Many people think depression is feeling down, a sort of emotional draginess that you just can merely snap out of or that one is being self-indulgently lazy by not wanting to get out bed all day, eat for two days, or not take a shower for a week because they are in a bad mood.

Much like alcoholism & other less socially approved addictions there is this sense you just have to pull yourself up by the boot straps & get on with it. It just isn’t that easy or simple. It’s not a matter of being lazy, stupid, weak or stubborn. There are more complex forces at work & what works for one person often does nothing for the next. But I’m not a therapist but this is what I’ve observed.

We live in a culture in which loneliness is terrifying, in which only a ‘loving’ relationship is the way out of loneliness (it isn’t), that sex is the solution for horniness (it isn’t). When these solutions don’t work it often leads to shame, guilt, & depression. It’s as if the fault is our, not a culture that invests so much the wrong solutions as the only solutions.

There is one school of thought, which they don’t fully explore – bad sex is better than no sex at all (I’m not sure how that was researched). I’d argue that having no sex is better than having shamed based sex thinking it’ll make you feel better about yourself and life or for any reason.

I’m sex positive – it is a good thing when we get rid of cultural baggage. Or we get the right baggage to carry it.

(in this rough draft sample Mike & Robert are having a thanksgiving dinner in Montreal. )

A couple of blocks north of St C Mike spotted Cent Milles Brasserie. The chalkboard menu listed meats, vegetables by region and by how far those regions were from Montreal.

“An interesting concept.” Robert said.

“Let’s hope the cost of locally sourced is worth it.”

“As long locally sourced results in good food. I will be most happy.”

The restaurant was done up in a season decor. Pumpkins, gourds bales of hay around the maitre d’ station. Bats on thin wires dangled over the bales.

The evening’s main special was ‘dinde rôtie avec farce aux canneberges’ which, thanks to the drawing on the chalkboard Mike knew was a tradition roast turkey with stuffing. He wasn’t sure what ‘canneberges’ were though but he was willing to find out.

Once they were seated in the window Mike asked. “Shall I order for you as well?”

Robert was reading the menu.

“That won’t be necessary. I most certainly want to try the bière d’érable.”

“Maple beer!”

“Ah, it is not a traditional drink?” Robert asked.

“Not as far as I know. The flavouring of beer is one of those trendy fads. At least I hope it’s a fad.”

“Then we will try it. Another new experience for both of us.” He waved the waiter over and ordered the beer.

“You’re French is amazing.” Mike said.

“I have been speaking it all my life.” Robert said. “As well as English.”

The beers came in tall chilled glasses.

“To your health.” Robert said as they clinked their glasses together.

Each sipped tentatively.

“Ahh a very even taste.” Robert said before taking a larger drink.

Mike did the same. “You know this could become a tradition. It tastes like fall. Maple, a little pine as well.”

“You have a sensitive pallet.”

Mike did the same. “You know this could become a tradition. It tastes like fall. Maple and a little pine as well.”

Robert took another taste. “You have a sensitive pallet.”

“I was afraid it would taste like pancake syrup.”

The waiter brought a covered basket of rolls to the table. “Pain de maïs et frais du four.”

Mike flipped the cover back and the steam brought the smell of the corn bread with it.

“This is why Quebec is called Le Belle Provence.” Robert said as he buttered one of the rolls, broke it half and gave it to Mike. He gestured for Mike wait before eating it. He held his in upturned palm of his right hand. Mike did the same without thinking.

“Merci Mère Marie pour ce repas.” Robert said. He broke off a small piece and put beside his plate.

Mike did the same.

“We will reserve a small morsel for the Grace that brings such abundance into our lives.”

“I see.” Mike said. “I’ll try not to brush it off the table.”

“Thank you for indulging me.” Robert said. “This is a part of my life I do not usually get to share under such close quarters.”

The next course was a butternut squash soup with fresh ginger.

“Ce gingembre est-il cultivé localement?” Robert asked.

“Oui. Le bistrot maintient un jardin d’herbes fraîches près de la ville.” the waiter answered.

“I did not know ginger was grown in Canada.” Robert explained. “The restaurant has its own farm for some these products. They live to their name.”

As the waiter cleared their used plates away Mike carefully protected his morsel of corn bread. The main course was next. The waiter brought the dinner plates to the table. There was a medley of fall vegetables on each. He was followed by a busboy pushing a cart with a covered plate on it. The waiter removed the cover with a small flourish to reveal the turkey, steaming and ready for further carving. One drumstick was gone, as were some slices from the breast on either side.

“If you wish,” he said in English. “We can offer the uncut?”

“No no. This is fine. Would you like the remaining drumstick?” Robert asked Mike.

“Some breast meat will be good for me.”

“Then I’ll have it.”

The waiter skillfully cut portions for both of them. He offered them a chafing dish of stuffing for each of them to help themselves. ‘Canneberges’ turned out to be cranberries.

Even though the restaurant was now full Mike felt they were dinging alone, in their own private room.

Robert asked Mike questions about his work, family but easily defective questions about himself so by the end of the dinner Mike knew little about Robert’s background. Not that that mattered as he felt, for some reason, that Robert was holding nothing back.

Dessert was pumpkin pie, freshly baked on the premises while they were enjoying their meal. Robert has his with acorn ice cream. Mike opted for the maple whipped cream. They sampled each other’s.

As the busboy cleared the table under the watchful eye of the waiter Mike and Robert both took out their credit cards.

“Non. Non.” Robert said. “My company can easily afford this meal.”

“Then I’ll leave a tip.” Mike offered. “Would forty dollars be about right?” He took a look at the bill. “Better make that fifty.”

“It is a good thing we stuck to the bière.” Robert said.

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November 1-30

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Living in the moment

samprules2

Started a new set of prompts – I love lists of things – this one will prove to be endlessly productive for another couple of years – 227 Rules For Monks. Who knew the simple life could be so complex. These are from the 30 nissaggiyas – this is 23rd.

Living in the moment

I’m feeling fine

no I am fine

feel is a word of uncertainty

because feelings can be deceiving

feels like winter

doesn’t mean it is winter

I am fine

I am well

 

no I don’t need to take another dose

not even one

just in case

I’m not as well

as I think I am

 

think

that’s another word of uncertainty

doubt

it’s as if what I think

maybe wrong

that the perspective I filter

things through

can be questioned

 

think isn’t the same as knowledge

I think it’s raining

it feels like rain

either it’s rain or it isn’t

thinking won’t change that

 

I think I feel better

 

I’m better off when I don’t think

when I am in the moment

I am well

better gives a sense

that once upon a time

I wasn’t well

that I wasn’t living in the moment

if I wasn’t

I am now

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Research Rewrite Re:nanowrimo

One of the mixed blessings of the internet is being able to do instant research. Mixed because sometimes research leads to that rabbit hole of  one more fact. Mixed because sometimes it leads to ‘oh, shit, I really got that wrong & now have to fix it before I go on.’ I resist rabbit holes but ‘fix it’ I have to attended to asap. In particular when it affects the plot time line I’m working within.

Originally I had Mike, my hero in Isle, arriving in Montreal by train. I’ve taken the train to MO myself many times so know what the train station is like. It always helps to have an actual sense of where things happen. But I’ve never taken the train to MO from Halifax, where my hero is coming from. I do know that train services have changed a lot since I last took the train. Routes have been closed, stops have been dropped (is that the right word). So I checked VIA to see if there was still service & how often that service was.

To my dismay I find that though there is still service the trip takes over 20 hours. wtf? The Montreal section of the novel covers events from Thursday to the following Tuesday. There isn’t time for me to have Mike take the train there & back. I don’t want to add another two days – not that I would include his travel thunking etc. So I check flights. By air approximately 90 minutes. That keeps things within my time span. I go back and rework that opening (keeping what gets cut from the original for my word count).

This allowed me to expand his airport lounge encounter and continue it when he lands in Montreal. Events that add to his character though not to the actual plot. Gave me an extra 1000 words and introduced a greater sense of friction even earlier than I had planned. Getting one’s characters into trouble always moves things along.

 

 

“What are you looking at?”

Mike wasn’t looking at anything. He was trying to follow a tread of thought, a thought that had lead to his nickname – Muttman.

“Nothing.” Mike took a deep breath. He had zoned out in the airport waiting for his flight to be called.

“Then look at nothing the other way.”

The young man who had snapped at Mike put his arm around his girl friend’s shoulders and pulled her closer to him.

Was it the pleasant face of the young man that had started the thought process? The man had to be mid-20’s, maybe younger, fresh and attractive. With an attractive girl friend.

“Guys like that should at least wear a hoodie.” The young man said to his girlfriend bud enough for Mike to hear it. “You scare children much?”

“Shut the fuck up Phil.” the girlfriend said. “He can’t help the way he looks.”

The Muttman name had sprung up in fourth or fifth grade and stuck to him to university. He hadn’t been able to shake it till he graduated. Now he was called either Mike or Mr. Poole. But something besides this pretty couple had to have set offÍ the Muttman echo.

“Yeah well he can look that where somewheres else so we don’t have see him. Hey,” Phil said, “why don’t you move your ugly ass somewhere else.”

Mike looked the young man in the eyes. Stared. Said nothing. He knew that engaging wouldn’t get either of them anywhere. He wasn’t interested in teaching anyone manners or even enlightening them about his condition.

He’d stopped hiding his stain years ago. But it had been sometime since someone had been this vocal about it.

What had he been thinking about a few minutes ago? … He’d checked plane tickets and put them where he could get them easily along with his boarding pass. Then he had made sure he had a print out of address of Assoupir, the bed and breakfast he’d stay at in Montreal. He’d been reading in the paper about the biker turf war in Montreal – cafes and clubs being blown up and had wondered if his b’n’b was near any of that. But they had a dog to protect them, right.

Right! They had a dog there. He’d heard it bark in the background when he made his reservation last month. Dog to – what kind of dog – to Muttman – a short jump.

“Come on Sue.” the young man stood and pulled his girlfriend to her feet. “let’s get a coffee before the flight leaves.”

Muttman Muttman. He hated that name. Even his teachers would call him that. He had Mutt embroidered on his high-school jacket. It had been easier to give in, to pretend to be okay with the joke than to pick a fight with everyone who called him that.

Muttman was better than some of the other names he’d been called. Pizza face, vomit puss.

Boarding for his flight was called. Sometime de’d made sure he’d a have window seat on the left side so his face would remain partially hidden but for this flight he hadn’t even bother check which side he was on. The flight was that long. Patrick insisted he take first class, at his paper’s expense. One of perks of sleeping with a major player.

He got comfortable in his seat, closed his eyes and zoned out once again thinking of the last time he and Patrick had met up. The sounds if the other passengers became the sound of people getting seared at the movie theatre. He wasn’t crazy about flying so this was one way he had developed to make it more bearable.

“Nous arrivons à Dorval. We are landing at Dorval.” Mike was awakened by the steward.

“Thanks.” Mike stretched his legs as best he could in the cramped seat. “Must have been a smooth flight.” he said to the woman in the seat beside him.

“Oui, tres calm.” she replied.

He quickly made his way though the airport to the baggage carousel area. He sent Patrick a text message while he waited for his suitcase to come down the chute. “Am here. Can’t wait to c u.”

“Hi!” the girlfriend of the the rude man at the Halifax airport approached him. “I just want to apologize for Phil. He can be such an a-hole sometimes.”

“Yes. Thank you.”

“I mean he’s not always like that. Just when he’s nervous. You know.”

“Right.” he spotted his bag sliding onto the carousel. “Excuse me.” He leaned forward and grabbed it by the handle. It was always a little heavier than he remembered. “Oof.” he gasped as he swung around to put on the floor. “I wish I could pack lighter.”

He bumped the girlfriend as he turned. “Sorry.”

He stepped back to make room for her to get what luggage she might have.

“Watch it.” The boyfriend was suddenly beside him. “Or are you blind too?”

Mike stepped away from the carousel pulling his suitcase with him.

“He bothering you Sue.”

“No Phil. Look there’s our back packs. Grab’em before they go around again.”

“You get’em. I’m going to deal with this ugly fuck.”

Two of the other passengers glared at the boyfriend and stepped away.

“You can’t go around annoying any pretty girl you feel like you perv.” Phil reached to push Mike. “Just because she’s feels sorry for you doesn’t give you the right … ”

As the man’s open palm came into contact with Mike’s shoulder Mike head butted him in the jaw.

“Keep your hands off me.” Mike muttered.

The man stepped back clutching his nose. “You broke my nose. You saw that,” he turned to one of the other passengers. “I didn’t do nothing and he just assaulted me.”

“Come on Phil,” the girlfriend was pulling him by the arm. “Don’t make it worse.”

“Yeah.” Phil let her lead him away. “He’s not worth it.”

Mike wheeled his suitcase into the first washroom he came to. He could remember all the  times he’d had to stand up for himself because some boob though his splotch also meant he was some sort of mental or physical defective they could push around. It never got easier.

After the a much needed leak he wished his hands and rubbed some cold water on his face. So much for a quiet get away.

His phone flashed that he had a message from Patrick. “Can’t wait. I get in around 4.”

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Florence Flowers

Moving along the F’s next up in The Mike Flowers Generation – this is one of those off-beat & apparently one-time British novelty hits. Combining a very 60s brocade hippy look with a cocktail lounge musicality the generation recorded an ep of was sweet fun takes on things like Wonderwall, 1999 – that recast these songs in their gentle, sardonic style. I loved it.

This is followed by one of those next-big-things: Florence & the Machine: I have Lungs, as stand alone; Ceremonies tucked away on another mp3 collection; How Big, How Blue etc on yet another mp3 collection. I kept hearing, reading raves about this band. They have a somewhat more pop sound than say Antony & The Johnsons, but they mine the same sensitive, elegant, kind of morose territory.

Emotional, slightly mystic, sometimes cryptic lyrics with strong Celtic underpinnings that appeal thanks to the dynamically emotional voice of their lead singer Florence Welch. The videos are full of her swirling around in voluminous dark dresses in shadowy rooms or misty fields. It’s hard to tell who is a variation on who with so many of these British singers. If you like Adele you’ll enjoy Florence, or vice versa. Nice music for making out or breaking up.

How Big etc starts off a a 7 hours+ mp3 set that includes Gordon Jenkins; Pere Ubu; Giorgio Moroder; Girls in the Garage; Spotlight’59; Jack Nitzsche; Adam Lambert; Alissa Vox Raw – a typically eclectic set of great music.

Jenkins was a master arranger through the 40s to 60s in the Nelson Riddle mold. Cocktail, cheesy at time but sweet. He was found of suites of songs and did several adventurous musical plays orchestrated but undemanding at the same time. Jack Nitzsche is in the same genre but more recent. He did film soundtracks, worked with Neil Young & deserves a biopic soon about his very wild & crazy life: his music is rarely wild & crazy.

Pere Ubu’s Carnival of Souls is eccentric, whacky & challenging. Giorgio Moroder: Deja Vu: a recent set in which he works with the likes of Charli XCX in a set of nicely old school dance music. Girls in the Garage: great, fun covers by 60s Asian girl bands. Songs like Sugar Town, My Boy Lollipop get trounced is the most delightful way while demonstrating the power of pop music to ‘infect’ the world.

Spotlight’59 is a compilation of r’n’b/soul from 1959.  Someone on Tumblr had posted Marie & Rex’s I Can’t Sit Down & I had to have it & found it included here along with great songs by Ruth Brown, LaVern Baker & others. Here too is Adam Lambert: The Original High – energetic pop by a very talented guy who still struggles with the pop industry to be heard. Finally an amazing Toronto performer: Alissa Vox Raw. I co-featured with her a couple of years ago. The music is sonically dense, emotionally direct. She works with voice manipulation & on stage thanks to instant multilayering moved from her solo voice to the Andrews Sisters trio and layer after layer. Fun stuff, full of swing vibe too. The sort of swing vibe Florence should try sometime.

Mike sat on the bed and went through the flyers: Turkey dinner specials. One for a Cuirula Noir that featured a muscular black man as a black caped vampire wearing nothing under the cape except a leather harness and a red jockstrap studded with silver. Mike assumed the cape was also leather.

The Night Fever from Saturday Night Fever played on his cellphone. This was his ring tone for Patrick.

“Hey!” Mike answered. “I just got in. Not even unpacked yet.”

“Cool. I hate to do this but I won’t be getting in until tomorrow morning. I have to do an exclusive interview with Angelina Jolie while she’s in town. It’s my only chance.”

“Oh.” Mike lay on the bed. “Must be tough covering the diva beat.”

“That’s life near the spotlight. I can meet you for lunch. T’Cafe?”

“Sure.”

“Sorry, again. Caio.”

T’Cafe was a bistro Patrick had ‘discovered’ a few years ago. Not too far from his b’n’b. (Locate the b’n’b on St. Hubert south of St. Catherine). The name was a play on T used as slang for petite & tisane. Grammar be damned.

Mike wasn’t sure what to do with himself. All his plans were around Patrick. He had never spent time on their get-aways without Patrick in town at the time. usually he’d arrive before Mike. Even with Patrick busy with festival functions Mike at least knew he had something specific to look forward to. An evening to himself. Good thin he had the tourist guides to help fill the time. But first a shower was in order.

The early fall air was cooler than he expected when he left the b’n’b so he went back in to get a hoodie to wear under his jean jacket.

Simon was at the front desk as he went in. A dog barked and ran over to him.

“How is Madam?” He knelt to rub the dog behind the ears.

“As you can see she is fine. Gave us a scare, didn’t you.”

The dog rolled over inviting Mike to rub its belly.

“I hate to tell you this but she’s no Madam.”

“Ah yes.” Simon laughed as he came over. “We are well aware of that. But so many of the she’s you might meet here are not she’s after all. Nor do they wish to be. It is all a question of appearances, n’est pas?”

“Right.” Mike stood rather than remain at eye level with Simon’s crotch. Did he have a red leather jock strap? “Cools off fast.”

“I suppose.” Simon picked up the dog and rubbed his face against the dog’s forehead. “Whose not going to run out into traffic again. Who?”

Back on the street and warm enough he walked up the short hill to St. Catherine. He let the street light decide which direction to go in and he followed the green light that lead west away from the Gay Village. People were lined up for the Cathedral. Students were going to and coming from the UQAM buildings in the area.

He hesitated on going up St. Denis but the green light was propelling west. None of fast-food deli’s appealed to him. Nothing he passed looked welcoming for a single customer.

The next streetlight was red so he crossed to the other side on the green. No stopping to decide. No thinking. Drifting with the flow. He walked another block north to …. then turned on the next corner to go back in the direction he had come. The street was mainly town houses similar the row his b’n’b was in. Being so close to St C. many of the houses has been converted to boutiques.

At least the basement floor and the first floor. Most of them still had people living on the second and third floors. The shops were what he presumed were high end fashion with a couple of basement level bistros. None of them tempted him. He glanced in windows, stopped to look a couple of menus.

At one he thought he saw a familiar face sitting near the window but he kept moving. He stopped. Was that Patrick? No he couldn’t have gotten here that quickly. He retraced his steps slowly to get a better look. No, is wasn’t but … He took a photo of his cell of the man.He’d have to ask Patrick if he knew the had a twin in Montreal.

He stopped at a Poivre et Sel, a grocery store, to pick up some snacks and breakfast food. The one meal of the day he preferred to eat alone was breakfast. Cereal, milks and bananas. The store also had ready roast chicken so he bought a few pieces of that, fries & a pre-made salad. It would spare him trying to order something in one of the cafes he had passed. Eating alone in any of them didn’t appeal to him.

Back at the b’n’b he sat in the common dining area to eat his chicken.

“Poulet dans sac.” Luc (works at the b’n’b) sat at the table. “From Poivre?”

“Good guess.” Mike pushed the Styrofoam container toward him. “More than I can eat.”

“They do the skin nicely there. No hot sauce?” Luc arched brows as took a couple of wings.

“Not tonight.”

“That can be … supplied.” Luc nodded toward the various bottles on a shelf behind him “Perhaps some wine?”

“Only if you are trying to get me drunk.” Mike joked.

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HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam

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November 1-30

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy ice cream in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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