Summer Events

The state of emergency has been extended to June 2, 2020. Social distancing will be deemed unnecessary on June 3, 2025. Masks will be become a legal requirement. There will be boom industry in making them & also a boom in clear plastic face guards. Face guards will be available from optometrists with your vision prescription built right in & also as sunglasses. Sales of sunscreen will plummet.

Many of the events I look forward to in summer are not happening. Capturing Fire postponed to fall (maybe – but I doubt if travel restrictions/conditions will be lifted by then. Who can afford 14 days quarantine in USA?) Stratford Festival has cancelled its 2020 season, the same with the Shaw. If social restrictions for restaurants loosen we may make a day trip to Shakespeare to pick up some pies & on to Stratford for lunch at Features – to make sure we remember the route 🙂

Resorted to Amazon for vitamin c and zinc – if we could have found them on the shelves at Shoppers I would have bought them there but both have been out-of-stock since early March. I’ve frequently at least 5 different Shoppers at various days & times & unlike toilet paper, the have not returned.

I’ve kept busy with covid deep house cleaning, purging & rearranging. I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to see, or rather not see, energy moved out of the house. When the city picks up the various bins it’s like losing weight. I feel no remorse or regret, yet, for shedding those things saved for donation, or for a time they’ll come in handy. It has been a week of in house work – too cool in the morning for working in the garden 😦

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee & donuts

– sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

On My Kindle 01

Last week I wrote about childhood sets of books. This week I’m looking complete sets on my Kindle. One of the cool things about Amazon for Kindle are the number of collections complete works by authors whose works can be impossible find in bookstores or even libraries. Different ebook companies have brought together set of mostly out of public domaine books at ridiculously low prices.

For example the set  “Slavery: Not Forgiven, Never Forgotten” – which for about $2 US includes:

Narrative of Frederick Douglass

12 Years a Slave

The Underground Railroad

Up From Slavery

Willie Lynch Letter

Confessions of Nat Turner

Narrative of Sojourner Truth

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

History of Mary Prince

Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom

Thirty Years a Slave

Narrative of the Life of J. D. Green

The Life of Olaudah Equiano

Behind The Scenes

Harriet: The Moses of Her People

Father Henson’s Story of His Own Life

50 Years in Chains

Twenty-Two Years a Slave and Forty Years a Freeman

Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb

Narrative of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave

Story of Mattie J. Jackson

A Slave Girl’s Story

From the Darkness Cometh the Light

Narrative of the Life of Moses Grandy

Narrative of Joanna

Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown, Who Escaped in a 3×2 Feet Box

Memoir and Poems of Phillis Wheatley

Buried Alive (Behind Prison Walls) For a Quarter of a Century

Sketches of the Life of Joseph Mountain 

Oroonoko

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Heroic Slave

Slavery’s Pleasant Homes

Our Nig

Clotelle

Marrow of Tradition

Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

A Fool’s Errand

Bricks Without Straw

Imperium in Imperio

The Hindered Hand

The History of Abolition of African Slave-Trade

History of American Abolitionism

Pictures of Slavery in Church and State

Life, Last Words and Dying Speech of Stephen Smith Who Was Executed for Burglary

Report on Charge of Aiding and Abetting in the Rescue of a Fugitive Slave

Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases

Duty of Disobedience to the Fugitive Slave Act

Emancipation Proclamation (1863)

Gettysburg Address

XIII Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1865)

Civil Rights Act of 1866

XIV Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1868)

Reconstruction Acts (1867-1868)

Whew! This is a university syllabus that probably no university book store or even research library could supply. 

Many of these sets are to broaden my knowledge of some writers who are known for their big hits; others are by authors of queer interest whose works I knew vaguely or of whom I have never heard of before until reading about them in my endless readings. One set is the Works of John Addington Symonds. I knew of him through mentions of his interactions with Walt Whitman. His books on Ancient Greek culture are sometimes citied in histories of queer writing. So I figure when I first got my Kindle to read some of those works. Interesting essays about travel in & history of Italy, but thank God writing style has changed. 

The Complete Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft (+ 130 Poe short stories); Mary Shelly: The Ultimate Collection; The Complete Works of Bram Stoker. Who read what Mary Shelly wrote other than Frankenstein? Stoker wrote more than Dracula? Reading their other works one sees the why those works have faded. Mary was more or less an accidental writer & reading he rather work it’s easy to see why some suspect her husband played a role in her big hit for the plotting & characterizations. She was not really a fabulist. Bram became an almost tradition writer of his time & none of his other plots were as ‘startling’ as Dracula. 

Lovecraft is a boyhood favorite of mine. His plots are rich, his writing style now strikes me as overly florid & it is creamy influenced by the Shelly & Stoker – but he does avoid, the most part, the need for some sort of romantic subplot. My bedroom on the east coast had slated ceilings so his story about the room with odd angles in the ceiling & walls always appealed to me. Those angles lead to another dimension. I have the bio ‘I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft’ on my e.bookshelf short list.

It’s not all gloom doom or educational on the Kindle thanks to Stephen Leacock: Humour Books collection; Mark Twain: 51 Classic Works. Both of these are authors I loved in my teens. Leacock still makes me laugh out loud. Twain can go on but he had a grasp of the foibles of human nature I love. His short pieces are fun & the longer books reflect their times. Both a writers of the local experience – Americana, Canadiana full of innocence that still speaks of today. Who isn’t intimidated if not anxious dealing with banks; has the plight of blacks in the USA progressed from the fears of the runway slaves in Twain?

Book Bound

in one of those boys’ books

tom swift hardy brothers

can’t remember which one 

there were mysterious lights 

on the cliff

or were they from a strange shape 

in the ocean

hovering by the moon 

something distant and indistinct

but threatening

 

tough guys

were skulking around town 

something held in coat pockets

that might be a gun

a magnetic pulsator

that would incapacitate  

one or all of our heroes

who would come to

tied up somewhere

worry about their girlfriend

they always had girlfriends 

who were peripheral 

to the story 

but clearly in place

so we young readers

would not get a whiff 

of anything more unsavoury

that those unshaved goons

with foreign accents

who slouched around the ranch

the railway yards

to do no good

 

the boys always had girlfriends

so no one would get the idea

that they weren’t the ideal role model

ripe with normal heterosexual 

pubescent tension

that let them figure out 

how to cut those ropes

how to make the star capacitor

turn the hydrogen to oxygen 

so they could breathe again

float to the surface

drive off

fly off

with the adoring faces of their girlfriends

soft and worshipful

 

red-haired teens 

with freckle faces

none of them shaving yet

jumping into their roadsters

worrying about their kidnapped fathers

deciphering cryptograms

punching each other joyfully 

in the arm

as each hurdle was accomplished

as each bruise cleared up

always ready to face 

the next opportunity

never doubting what they could do

never questioning 

how they really were

what did this all mean

why couldn’t they go

a few weeks without smugglers

Martian terrorists lurking around

to make make it difficult for everyone

 

they never had to face peer pressure

other than the football team

a team that never got drunk after a big game

boys who where boys

becoming real men

growing up slowly

always gaining parental 

acceptance and approval

amazing their pals

yet not letting it go to their heads

square jawed 

rugged 

individualist who only disobeyed 

to make things better

grew up with out self doubt

normal heterosexual 

pubescent tension

that let them figure out 

how to cut those ropes

but how not to escape

what was written for them

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

every Tuesday 2019

September

17 – Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

22 – Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

Tuesday 24 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

https://www.facebook.com/events/504067323723768/

October

15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

November

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

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

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

March

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

April

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

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

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

https://wp.me/p1RtxU-uJ

Evening in Paris

The smell of home, the smell of the past. Proust’s Remembrance was triggered by a smell. I wish there was a smell that could do that same trigger for me. Music does hold some ‘nostalgia’ for me but so many of those memories have been written over by time. Some disco can take me back to my early coming out days but listening to the Stones or Hendrix doesn’t take me back to my formidable years. There a couple of songs that do that – The Supreme’s Baby Love & The Beach Boy’s California Girls.

spots polka dot fun

A few months ago, on a bit of a whim, I braved the cosmetics counter at Shoppers to ask the ‘expert’ if Evening In Paris was available. This was a perfume I used to buy in Sydney, N.S., at the local drug store, for my mother as a gift. I couldn’t recall the last time I smelled it.

paris

As I expected it was not available. The clerk had never heard of it either. So she looked it up on her smart phone – some empty bottles were on sale on eBay. This told me that it was probably discontinued as well. My next step was to the ultimate expert: Google. Wiki filled me in somewhat – it had been discontinued in the early 80’s – the head notes were talcum powder & rose floral. But it had been reissued in 2010, or something like that.

blackshorts fun in the woods

No online retailer in Canada carried it but there were a few in the USA. But it was out of stock at all of them except, you guessed it, Amazon. So from my local indie drugstore I’m faced with the corporate monster. Shipping to Canada doubled the price :-(. I didn’t need the scent of the past that badly.

red parking fun

But I asked a friend of mine in the USA, who was coming to visit in October, if he could order it & bring it along. He did. It was in my hands by Thanksgiving. Not the bottle I remembered & but it was the scent I knew – very feminine, powdery & damask rose. (according to the web: ylang ylang, violet, cedar, turkish rose, vanilla, peach, musk and bergamot.) Memories resurrected? Some. I’ve put it on myself if I’m not going anywhere just to smell it on flesh. It’s very familiar, sort of comforting but no flash backs to good or bad events. Old Spice is another story 🙂

(2019: I’ll be taking the bottle with me when I visit in August so my sister can sample out & see what memories it might bring her.)

samples

Evening in Paris

Evening in Paris

was it my mother’s favourite

as a boy

I used to buy it for her

for birthdays mothers day

from McVicar’s

the local drug store

couldn’t have been too expensive

in a cool-to-the-touch indigo bottle

some years she’d ask for bath cubes

drugstores in those days

didn’t depend on cosmetics for sales

the selection was very limited

a counter only

not half the drug store

positioned so you had to

wade through those many musky options

before you could get to the chocolate bars

then the prices had to be reasonable

it was just a local store

not a department store

money was limited

I remember there was also

tabu

white shoulders

for Dad old spice

and growing teenage boys

jade east

hi karate

Evening in Paris

had been discontinued

in fact perfume is going

the way of smoking and peanuts

smelling good

infringing on someone’s

right to breath free and easy

it’ll become something sinister

only done in private

by invitation only

petals attar of roses

Getting the ‘L’ Out Of Loyalist

Recovering from the Aubert Workshop at Loyalist. A productive & relaxing 5 days almost away from distractions – no TV – though I did watch an episode of the Almighty Jonsons on line. The morning sessions were thought provoking: to prologue or not; to self-publish or not; pros & cons of ePub & eBooks. For some reason I was asked to give a presentation on ePub – most of my knowledge is based on a Bloody Words workshop & various podcasts.

The afternoon workshops were good – lots of strong material was presented – often problems were with clarity & continuity as opposed to story telling. Pieces ranged from thrill-a-minute car chases, to amusing police encounters, to Hemingway in Toronto, to life with an mentally challenged child. I think the only piece that garnered much negative comment was mine, the excerpt from The Lazarus Kiss (my Nano novel): too much swearing, violence that made some of readers want to look away (I count that as a success, mind you).

Got off campus on Thursday night with some of my classmates for a dinner at the Waring House. Drove through a wild rain storm to get there. Arrived at 6 – didn’t get served till 7 – the food was fine but the service left a lot to be desired. Leaks in the roof over our table and the window beside it were distracting. Good conversation made the wait bearable (but not acceptable). Joining us was Vicki Delany – a well established a mystery writer whom I pumped for her eBook experiences – getting her back list in e format has increased sales considerably.

Speaking of backlists, Amazon has recently bought the Avalon line to reissue as eBooks resulting in unexpected royalty checks for authors in that back catalogue including Rosemary.

getting the L out of Loyalist

The drive back to Toronto Friday was trouble free – enough cloud cover so there was no setting sun to deal with. Unpacked & sorted laundry – the domestic backbone of creativity. I’ll go over the notes on my piece in a couple of weeks, maybe. I have my Plasticine set to prepare, and one for the Damned in October, then NaNo in November – so maybe by the new year I’ll have time. Plus I’m keen to get at my coal mine romance after three years of research.

 

writing sample
writing sample

here’s an oldish piece:

My Drug Of Choice

scotch grass cocaine

sex video games

been there done that

through it all

self-pity was my drug of choice

first time    every time

before I picked up a substance

I indulged in self-pity

wallowed in it

justified everything with it

‘woe is me

why was I born

what am I living for

no one loves me

that guy didn’t want to see me again

I’m get paid what I worth

you didn’t return my call

being told to get to get off the pity pot

get off the cross we need the wood

proved not that you care

but that you didn’t really care

no one understands

and when they understood

they didn’t show enough sympathy

enough compassion

they were stuck on their own pity pots

reaching for substances

to make the pity less stifling

all the substances I tried

never satisfied

the way my drug of choice self-pity did

they numbed me to it for a moment or two

made me not care about myself

woe is me I don’t even love me

what’s the point of it all

why go on living

when even the escape

made me long for the cage

feeling nothing locked me back into

my drug of choice self-pity

I can’t do that

my writing is crappy

no one buys my chap books

no one wants to sleep with me

not even myself

who’d want to have sex

with a self-pity junkie

unless it was to divert themselves

from their own self-pity

for a few pathetic moments

of orgasmic relief

that has to be cleaned up

I hope I don’t get some disease

I hope they call me tomorrow

or next week

or soon

I’ll have no choice but

to pick up my drug of choice.

@TorPoet
@TorPoet