I fell in love with Liszt, before even knowing who he was, thanks to a cartoon – Woody Woodpecker (I think) in which they were moving a piano down a mountain while Woody played it – the truck went out of control while he was playing & with each turn the keyboard would get more splayed out & the music wold get more frantic. The piece was the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.

Over the years I have built up a fair collection: Rhapsodies for Orchestra; Orchestral Works: 7 cds; Hungarian Rhapsodies complete; Spanish/Rumanian Rhapsodies; Opera Transcriptions; Thiollier: Sonata/Mephisto; Beethoven Transcriptions; an Mp3 collection: Peter Katin/ Yudina/Johannsen/ Vazaonyi/ with Beethoven’s Music for Two Piano.

At first I has assumed Liszt only wrote piano music & only those Rhapsodies & of course the Mephisto Waltz. So finding his orchestral works was most welcome though it doesn’t have the over-the-top energy of his piano music. Then I came across his transcriptions of operas & of Beethoven’s symphonies. What better combination is there than Beethoven & Liszt: both over-the-top romantics & in Liszt case, pyrotechnic show-offs.

I had some of these as lps to cds transfers: Peter Katin & Balint Vazsonyl – were favourites of mine that I decided to see if I could replace my originals & found them both on iTunes. The Vazonyl take on the Hungarian Rhapsodies was the first I’d heard & remains my favourite for its attack. In searching these out I came across a set of his work for organ! Sweet, sonorous & more meditative than I had expected Liszt to be.

I never heard his name pronounced when I first discovered him so I would say it as Lizzt – a friend of mine who studied music didn’t know who I was talking about then pointed out that the z is silent. Same with Chop-in 🙂


‘I’m looking for a CD by Los Grasios.’

The clerk typed the name into the computer. ‘Is that l-o-s ?’

‘I think so.’ I had seen their video on TV a few nights before. Grazing from channel to channel, hoping to find something to hold my interest. It was the Latino network. The group was four dark swarthy adult males – a rarity in pop anywhere it seemed to me – and the song full of energy in a language I didn’t understand. I’d scribbled the name down when it flashed on the screen at the end of the video.

‘Nope. Not here. Let’s try l-a-s. Nope. Anything else to go on?’

‘The song was called Fortunata or Fortunatosa. Something like that.’

The clerk tapped that in. ‘Hmmm. Looks like we have lots to choose from now. Was it Fortunate Adam?’


  “Fortunate Encountre?”


  “Fortunate For Me?”


“Fortunate Son? Fortunate Sunrise? Fortunate In Love? Fortunate Sea? Fortunate Moon? I See a Fortune in Your Eyes?’

‘No to all of those.’

‘There are nearly 200 numbers with Fortune something in the title. Should I go through them all?’

‘Would you?’

‘No. I was just joking. Now, you are sure of the name?’

I took out the paper I had dashed the name on and passed to the clerk.

‘Hmm. Let’s try Los Girios. You a fan of Latino music?’

‘Just starting.’

‘Well! Looks like we have a hit. Hijo Afortunado’

I followed her to the far end of store to the South American aisle.

‘Here it is.’ she pulled out a couple of CD’s by the band and looked at them. ‘Looks interesting. Not the usual stuff people want here. If you like these guys you may enjoy Mercedes Sosa.’ She handed me the cds.

‘Yes, this is them. How do you know Sosa is similar?’

‘Just a stab. She sings on one of the cuts with them, and she is huge. Out sells Eglasias.’

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

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C. 

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DJ #Beethoven

On to the rest of my Beethoven collection which contains some box sets, some stand alone’s, some mp3s & some lp to cd transfers. One of the transfers has some piano variations along with my favourite recording of his Piano Concerto #4 – this was an MHS recording that stunned me when I first heard in the 70’s – in the transfer I neglected to make note of the pianist. Often the first version of something I’ve heard becomes my favourite. Listening to it on LSD may have imprinted it on me as well. Although it’s been decades since I’ve done anything more mind altering that coffee there is are few moments in this recording that stun me.


The Box sets are the Piano Trios – 5 cds. All delight, playful and none too challenging. String Quartets: 8 cds – I love these. I enjoy the progression in complexity as I play these in sequence. Plus I enjoy the sonics of the sweep of string quartets and the dynamic interplay of the various players weaving around each other & the melody.blacksofa02

A box set of the Violin Sonatas – 3cds. Again there is a tidy chamber feeling to these, almost intimate tenderness in the interplay between the musicians. A bit too controlled – I like Beethoven when he’s over-the-top & one can sense the challenge to the performers as well as the listeners.

Here too on a mp3 collection are all the symphonies. The 7th has become my favourite with its emotional lilt. It is not, for me, melodramatic like the 5th, over-blown like the 9th nor as cloying as the 3rd. I can listen to the 7th twice in a row, whereas the others once a year can be enough. Beethoven is always on my iPod.blacksofa03

From a box lp set of guitar music etc. by various composers I have his Mandolin & Harpsichord Sonatas: hands up – who knew he wrote for mandolin? His music for piano four hands is a delight & the Missa Solemnis is sublime & up lifting.blackyellow

Finally there are mysteries about Beethoven’s life – was he Moorish, black – there are theories about his race due to his extremely  dark complexion. Was he sexual at all? Who was that ‘nephew’ who lived with him for many years. Plus going deaf & never hearing his greatest works. No wonder he wrote such monumental, powerful music.sample

Pie Part 2

The door budged a bit with my first blow, and with Miss Griffs leaning on me it gave way with a splintering of wood.

Widow Crofts lay on her face on the kitchen floor. One foot in the dining room and the rest of her splayed out towards the back door. A loosely tied bunch of roses lay by her side. I had to brace myself against the door frame to keep from being toppled on top of her by Miss Griffs.

‘She’s dead.’ Miss Griffs clutched her stomach.

I kneeled down and felt for a pulse in her neck. There was none. The skin was still warm to the touch. I pulled my hand back when I realized the dark pool around her head was blood.

‘I’ll call the police.’

‘Where are you going?’ Miss Griffs followed me outside.

‘To the Fitzpatricks’ two houses down. I know someone is home there.’

‘There’s a phone right there. On the wall.’

‘Best not to touch anything.’

‘Quite right, my girl. Quite right. Hurry.’

I headed down the narrow path between this house and the McGregors’ next to it. I had only gone a few steps when I heard Miss Griffs scream.

‘He’s here. The killer! He’s still here. Help! Help!’

I raced back to see her struggling with a tramp.

‘I knows who you are.’ The tramp had her by the arm.

In one quick step I pulled him away from her and clipped him hard on the chin. I could feel the knuckles in my hand pop from the unfamiliar blow.

‘Wait! Wait!’ The old guy held his hands up as he stumbled back. ‘I do nothing. I help. I pick the apples. I …’

‘Don’t listen to him. He jumped me and tried to do what he did to …’ Miss Griffs was almost hysterical.

‘Willie Johnson, ma’am.’ He reached a gnarled hand out to me. His breath reeked of sour wine. ‘I been giving Missus Crofts a hand around here most of the past summer. And the McGregors there too. Honest. Dave was just here not an hour ago to see Missus Crofts.’

‘I never laid eyes on you before,’ Miss Griffs glared at him.

‘No ma’am, I suppose you haven’t.’ The tramp rolled the edge of his cap between his hands. ‘I stay out of people’s sight as much as I can.’

‘Come with me then, while I go fetch the police.’

When I got to the end of the path Dave McGregor was outside his house looking through the gardening magazine I had dropped off.

‘I didn’t do nothin’.’ Willie shoved me into Dave’s flowering hedge row. His broken shoes flapped on the walk as he ran to the gate. My mail bag was still in the walkway where Miss Griffs had insisted I drop it to help her. Willie sprawled over it to the ground.

‘Hey Dave, ring the police will you? Looks like there’s been some trouble here. I think Mrs.Crofts has been murdered.’ At least that’s what I assumed with the blood.

‘Cassie, murdered!’ He folded the magazine and went into his house. ‘Right on it.’

I helped Willie to his feet.‘If you didn’t do anything, why run?’

‘Who’s gonna believe me?’ Willie shook my hand off.

‘They’re on the way.’ Dave walked around the hedge to join us.

‘You know this guy, Dave?’

‘Willie? Yeah. Shows up every couple of weeks when he needs a bit of booze money. Don’t ya Willie? Not that he does much to earn it. Couldn’t even unscrew a lawn sprinkler yesterday.’

‘You get the police or just having a gab?’ Miss Griffs appeared.

‘Willie’s too fond of his drink to hurt anyone.’

‘No roofs to fix?’ Miss Griffs asked Dave.

‘Had the county surveyor by this morning about this property line out back. Seems the line runs right along my house and not halfway between like I thought. Gives Cassie an extra two feet back there.’

I look down and saw that would mean Cassie’s yard could be pushed over to ruin the prize winning rose hedge that hugged his side of the fence.


March 12, Saturday: attending:



March 16, Wednesday: judging at Hot Damn! it’s a Queer Slam – featuring  The Rag Dolls Supermarket Restaurant and Bar 268 Augusta Ave., Toronto, Ontario M5T2L9


June 3-5: attending: Capturing Fire 2016 – The DC Centre – 2000 14th St NW, Suite 105 – Washington, DC


June 11 – attending: The Toronto Poetry Talks – 10 AM – Metro Hall, 55 John Street, Toronto, Ontario M5V 3C6


September 1-4: attending FanExpo 2016expo16

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo



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Beethoven takes up a huge space on my classical shelves – so big it’ll take two posts to go through it all. I think my first Beethoven was an lp of the Pastoral Symphony sold as part of a supermarket series of classical music. I recognized it from Fantasia. I till enjoy it but it isn’t my favourite symphony.whitelight

My Beethoven grew grew from there with some Vox Box sets of the piano sonatas. I now have Daniel Barenboim’s 9 cd set of them. I love the romantic rapture of ‘The Tempest’ & ‘Waldenstine’ & the mind boggling demand of ‘Hammerklavier,’ which runs at nearly 70 minutes – imagine playing that on stage – solo, at the keyboard, with no breaks.blackcouch02

On an mp3 collection I have his compete flute music Flute Music to which I added some Buddy MacMaster for a touch east coast fiddle. Plus some Samuel Barber. There is a stand alone of his Lieder: not a form I’m crazy about but I find the chamber setting relaxing.blackcouch01

Another mp3 collection contains his Overtures/Ritterballett/Piano Concertos/Piano 4 Hands/Violin Concerto/Minuets/Dances. I had a cassette of some of the overtures & decided to replace it with & found a iTunes set with all of them plus the symphonies (more about them later) for only $9.99.

The Piano Concertos are more of that heart digging romanticism, as is the Violin Concerto. The other pieces on this mp3 cd are diverting but don’t have the emotional sweep of his concertos.blackworkout

A stand alone of the Bagatellen: more like cameo pieces than anything. Diverting light hearted fun, like his dances, the sort of things one doesn’t associate with Beethoven. Miniatures that are sweet. Full of romantic hints but I don’t get lost in them the way I do with the pains sonatas.sample

for the next several weeks I’m serializing a short story:

Pie Part 1

‘What do you see, Margaret?’ Miss Griffs tugged at my uniform sleeve.

I stood on my tiptoes to look through the back porch window. Most of my view was blocked by an overgrowth of red geraniums.

‘I don’t think there’s anyone home. We’re just wasting our time.’

‘She must be in,’ Miss Griffs insisted. ‘I spoke to Cassie not two hours ago. She said my apple pies would be ready for me to pick up in an hour. So I know she’s got to be here.’

She pulled over the low bench Widow Crofts used to reach lower branches of the apple tree that filled most of the yard behind us. ‘Try this.’

As a mere mailman accustomed to front doors, I felt awkward just being in the back yard of any house. Now I was being coaxed to peer even further into taboo territory. I stepped up on the bench.

‘What do you see?’ Miss Griffs asked before I even had time to focus. With the extra height I was able to see over the plants.

‘I see the dining-room table. Sandwiches.’ I felt the shame I might have had going through another woman’s purse.

‘Sandwiches? She must have had someone in for tea.’

‘Perhaps they’ve gone for a walk?’

‘No. Not when she was expecting me. I had money for her. Cassie wouldn’t miss her pie money for love nor money.’ Miss Griffs cackled at her little joke. ‘Love nor money.’

Cassie Crofts had moved into Pommevale already a widow. Still pert in her forties at the time, she had resisted the attentions of the available local men for the past fifteen years. Even with her comfortable aging figure she still attracted their attention whenever she was in town. Miss Griffs was of the opinion it was Cassie’s catering business that attracted them.

Miss Griffs on the other hand was one of the thin variety. A devoted school teacher for many years, she never found the time nor the need to respond to the occasional attentions of the men who found her attractive. Many thought it was because her sister had disappeared with Miss Griffs’ fiancé on the eve of their wedding.

‘Let me look.’ She nudged me off the bench. ‘Hmm … hmm.’ She stood on tiptoes, craned her neck from one side of the window to the other. ‘My God!’ She almost fell off the end of the bench.


‘I can just peep into the kitchen. She’s in a pool of blood on the floor.’

I stepped to look, but she pushed me towards the door.

‘You knock that door open now, young lady. It shouldn’t give a big girl like you any trouble. Put your shoulder to it.’

‘But …’ I tried the handle to make sure the door was locked. It was. I had hoped the postal uniform would put an end to my being called a ‘girl,’ big or otherwise, yet after three years of the same mail route it still happened.

‘No buts …’


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Ned Rorem

Classical music queue jump to Ned Rorem. Most people seem to react to classical music as if it’s pretty gay to begin with. All that flouncy, romantic, over-ripe emotionalism. It gets relegated to the upper classes at the same time – after all, who can afford to to go to the opera, the ballet etc. Music for rich queens.

couch who’s late for dinner

Ned Rorem is a modern classical composer. I inherited two of his diaries: New York, Paris – a stunning, uncompromising look at gay life in 40’s & 50’s. He has published more of these & I may eventually get them. He talks about his fellow musicians, his love life and is thoroughly engaging and amusing.

table who needs an end table

After reading them I had to find some of his compositions. Naxos has issued many of them in their American Classics series. I have two cds; one, with a cover drawing of him by Cocteau, contains two concertos: Flute, Violin; the other is chamber music.

mirror who’s that in the mirror

The music is diverting, contemplative at times, lyric at times. It is rarely dissonant or challenging to listen to, both good things. But, to my ear, it lacks personality and perhaps because of my love of jazz, often feels overly controlled. Then again I would never say Beethoven was overly controlled. Like much contemporary classical music is has a very chamber dustiness to it. But worth hearing & owning.


August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada


October 19 – feature – Cabaret Noir – Welcome to Lake Pinebow





“What did you mean by that?”

“By what Dad?”

“By you know what I mean.”

“If I knew what you meant, I wouldn’t ask. Would I Dad?”

“Now you are just trying to be clever Pete.”

“Don’t say it. I know Dad. Clever isn’t a foundation it’s just a flash in the pan.”

“Well! At least you do listen to me sometimes. If only you’d practice what I preach you’d be better for it.” He smiled smugly.

Practice what I preach,” I parroted. “Now if that isn’t just plain clever I don’t know what is.”

“What did you mean by that?”

“I mean, you remind me not to be clever by being clever yourself. Doesn’t that contradict your intention?”

“And just what was my intention?” His fingers tapped the dining-room table.

“Your intention, as usual, was to make me feel in the wrong and you in the right.” I crossed my arms and leaned back in my chair.

Silence. It must have lasted five minutes.

“Would one of you bring in the turkey?” Mom came into the dining room with a platter of steaming vegetables.

Neither of us moved. Dad’s fingers once again began to tap on the table. She glanced at him before she put the platter on the table.

“Help yourselves while I get the rest,” she went back into the kitchen.

“Mustn’t disappoint her.” I pushed the platter towards my Dad.

“No, son,  you go first. Really. I’m not very hungry.”

I pulled the platter to my plate and scooped off some of the corn and spinach.

“That’s right. I’m the growing boy, aren’t I?”

redwho’s in the red bag

#Killdozer vs #ArcadeFire

spoon battery
spoon battery

Recently someone asked me what I was listening to on my iPod. I hesitated to answer because whatever it was they would jump to conclusions about me based on the music I was listening to – if I said The Beatles – I was living the past; if I said Lady Gaga – I was a real fag; if I said Coltrane – I was elitist pretentious; if I said – Chopin – I was was beyond comprehension.

pull yourself together
pull yourself together

There are some musicians or composers, who are always on my iPod. I think I have at least 10 days of listening without repeat on tap at any given time. Once a play list gets heard it gets replaced. Each play list, in general, is a mix of pop, jazz, classical.

spoon battery
spoon battery

Nearly always on one play list or the other is: The Beatles, The Stones, Van Morrison, Jacques Brel, Sinatra, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Chopin, Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Mozart. Frequently: The Animals, Procol Harum, Lou Reed, McCoy Tyner, Gabor Szabo, Bach, Dvorak. There’s one play list of Latino/French,/World Music music that often includes Otto, Osibisa, Santana, Boyo Boys, Piaf, Pizzicato Five.

When I was asked what I was listening, I replied: “Guess.” Because what they thought I was listening would tell me what they thought of me. They said Arcade Fire (am I a hipster?) when the truth was Killdozer.

sad plant
sad plant