Recap April 2022

The TOpoet.ca following blog grew with over 600 people get notification whenever I post a new blog! The WP map does show my hits have come from  countries around the world. The USA tops the world list is interest but that Mauritius (Bonjour abonnés mauriciens) & Ghana are in the top 10 is a surprise. As you can see by the top 10 posts That’s Not Funny (https://topoet.ca/2022/04/26/thats-not-funny/) tops the list. F**k Cancer is a post from 10 years that made a trip to the top 10! 

Picture Perfect: 114 sections, about 162,000 words posted so far with about 25,000 words left to be edited then posted. I also cut some 2000 words out this past week & figure there’ll be another 2000 to get chopped soon. So I could be done by the end of the summer.

Synchronicity often puts books together for me. Last month I finished Stephen Leacock’s London Travels eBook & next on that eBooks shelf was Sunlight & Shadow (1880) by John Bartholomew Gough (died 1886). He was a temperance orator! The book is his reflection on life in London as he brings his message & it is fascinating – & also a little sad as attitudes towards alcohol & poverty haven’t changed much since then. What is amazing is that his comments on being misrepresented by the press are still relevant, plus his ‘tips’ on speaking in public hold true for today as well.

Read ‘Johnny Would You Love Me If My Dick Were Bigger’ by Brontez Purnell – this is hilarious & highly recommended. Unfiltered Sedaris-like essays on the vagaries & vulgarities of gay male life. I laughed out loud often. Be prepared for explicit sex & language.

Enjoying Servant of the People – the eerily prophetic Volodymyr Zelensky series. The writing is fearless in its political attack, the performances are spot on, though as it turns out Zelensky wasn’t acting, merely rehearsing for the role of a lifetime. Here in Canada Vision has been showing it with English subtitles which I presume aren’t censored or mistranslating what is being said. 

I have been getting to one in-person recovery meeting a week. The return to meetings in Toronto has been slow even though the only requirement by meeting spaces is that we stayed masked. Like many I’m not comfortable with more than ten people in a large room, even when all are masked. A couple of the zoom meetings closed for their in person meeting but returned to zoom to run both. I think zoom recovery is here to stay.

Two visits to my dentist this month, so I’m not sure what my summer plans are after having that $$ turned into fillings. The other drain on my summer plans was a new TV, as the ‘old’ one was losing its plasma picture – it was like watching though a thin layer of smoke that was getting smokier by the week. We found it was impossible to find one without internet in its system 😦 Getting it set up was a maze of menus but once again we can enjoy full screen & amazing colour. 

After the winter of our discontent, coming up in May, a day trip to Stratford  to see Richard III. We will be driving regardless of this entreaty “A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!”

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

– sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Recap October 2021

Over the past month by TOpoet.ca following blog grew to ! The WP map does show my hits have come from  21 countries around the world. That the USA tops the list is no surprise but that Ecuador & Singapore are in the top 10 is a surprise. Most popular posts were The Late Charlie C Petch https://topoet.ca/2021/10/24/the-late-charlie-c-petch/, Ramsey Lewis https://topoet.ca/2021/10/27/ramsey-lewis/ – my personal favorite was one of my spooktastic pieces Remains  https://topoet.ca/2021/10/18/remains/

My Tumblr is 352 at followers, it would be a much large number but I block bot follows that promise me sites better than Grindr (which I don’t have anyway). 229 Twitter followers. 

Picture Perfect: 90 sections, about 130,000 words posted so far with 60,000 approx to be edited then posted. Cutting or refashioning scenes that don’t push the plots forward has made the editing more fun as I get near the end, I think. 

Really really enjoyed American Horror Show: Double Feature. Francis Conroy gives an amazing performs in Red Tide, the first half as the failed, historical romance writer whose career changes thanks to The Muse. Death Valley, the second half, is a brilliant tribute to early 50’s scifi & THX 1138 & hundred of conspiracy theories (microwave ovens are from outer space) as aliens impregnate abducted women & men with their hope for the future. Men give birth. How? You’ll have watch for yourself. Several laugh out loud moments For me their best season so far.

Read some fun books including Wingmen – an exciting aircraft carrier novel! US flyboys vs the Japanese after Pearl Harbour. You’ll feel like you can fly after the dogfight descriptions. Details of the mundane routines fascinated me – the politics of army life, the pressure woof men living together in battles & oh yes, our heroes do fall in love. I loved it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wingmen_(novel)

Also look at the making of Pasolini’s Arabian Nights by Michael Moon – A Queer Film Classics – Arsenal Press – a study of Pasolini’s film full of gossipy revelations, serious cinephile contexuralizing of nudity in film. Makes me want to watch the movie again in the new year.  

Through October I’ve been watching the BBC’s Elizabeth R: a series of six 85-minute plays from 1971 with Glenda Jackson as Liz. The arc of her monarchy is told in 6 plays – each dwelling on a single time or event. After finished the Tudors I wanted to see what came next 🙂 These are excellent video, as opposed to filmed, productions. Good costumes. Jackson in her prime. No real tension mind you as history is a spoiler – will she marry the French prince – of course not. At this time Jackson also made the film Mary, Queen of Scots, with Vanessa Redgrave as Mary.

Watched Hereditary – which tuned out to be a depressing, overlong, melodrama about grief & people’s indifference to red flags. Mom & son are so clearly disturbed yet no seems to take notice other that Dad. Toni Collette gives an intense performance as Mom & the ending, to me, was ho-hum. The music by Colin Stetson was excellent & I downloaded the soundtrack album.

At the end of October I had an unsettling computer access issue – one morning Safari was a bit wonky on all my Macs. I could access a limited number of site but not access WordPress, Twitter etc. turns out Apple was launching their new Monterey operating system which included an updated Safari – so figured that was the problem. I downloaded the new system – which took some time – installed it – which took even more time. The Safari issue remained though 😦 One of the sites I couldn’t access was Apple. I found the number for their Tech support & called it.

I was taken though some standard clearing caches & such to no avail. Because I couldn’t access Apple screen sharing was not possible. end of call one. next day call two & an even deeper dive into various libraries, files, folders with no result. I was told re-install Monterey. But I got message ‘the recovery server could not be contacted.’ I gave up & limp along with my lamed Safari. I couldn’t access alternatives i.e. google chrome.

So the next day I try again with the Monterey, no luck & call Apple tech again. I end up with a Senior tech & he takes me through a different set of folders etc. He can’t find any problems with either the software or my hard drive. Finally he suggests I reboot my Roger’s modem & it clears up the problem!! He had me check the other two Mac & they were working fine too. So it wasn’t a Mac issue after all. Whew. For a moment I suspected it their attempt to force us to upgrade to their silicon hard drives. 

Brotherhood of the Bottle

I won’t be getting drunk 

with any of you 

any time soon 

so chances are 

we’ll never become more 

than nodding acquaintances

it’s not that I don’t like the idea

that I don’t think there something

between us 

that could do more than nodding

<>

but the bottle’s been gunning for me

for a long time

I’ve taken more than a few body blows

after a few too many body shots

I’m not going down that road again

yeah I know there’s

a cost to everything

the one to this is 

being a little more outsider

<>

getting dunk 

would make me more one of the guys

someone easier to relate to 

I wish that could happen

but not in that way

besides it pains me to see

angel head hipsters 

on that road of self-destruction

thinking 

as I once did

that this amber road 

is the way to the true self

<>

but a drunk is drunk

whether they are muttering about

grant applications or restraining orders

or fighting racial slurs

to make sense

of things that are slipping away 

faster than the minutes dragging 

them to morning

in some fried egg joint

where they feel a sense 

of oneness with one another

<>

the uncracked bottle

has weight until opened

but it always ends up empty

I’m not going to invite 

that empty back into my life

to make anyone feel

I’m one of the guys

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees – thankspaypal.me/TOpoet 

Recap September 2021

Stratford safety protocols

Over the past month my TOpoet.ca following blog grew to 465! The WP map does show my hits have come from  countries around the world. That USA & Canada top the list is no surprise but India is back to third place while Sweden &  Bangladesh remain in the top 10 is a surprise. Hello Zimbabwe! 

Most popular posts were Pandemic Poetry Project (https://topoet.ca/2021/09/16/pandemic-poetry-project/); Sunlight & Shadows (https://topoet.ca/2021/09/13/sunlight-and-shadows/). My particular favorite was Tales of Brave Trending (https://topoet.ca/2021/09/19/tales-of-brave-trending/).

My Tumblr is at 350 followers. 226 Twitter followers. Picture Perfect: 86 sections, about 126,000 words posted so far with approx 66,000 remaining to be edited then posted.

A surprisingly great watch has been American Horror Show: Double Feature. All the usual throat slashing & blood drinking but this time combined with a sharp, merciless look at creativity & the sacrifices made to be productive. In this case a drug that unlocks a writer’s, painter’s blocked inner potential. If you are brilliant & blocked you become genius, if you are mediocre & blocked you become a sort of stumbling grey person. Intense performances with Frances Conroy stunning & Macaulay Culkin excellent. 

Finally got around to seeing Parasite – a visually & philosophically stunning film. Figuratively & literally the plot moves through cultural levels to a fugal climax that is breathtaking. The rich house set is an amazing piece of modern architecture – one of those sets like the astounding deco apartments that show up is 30’s movies but only existed in movies. The plot made me think of Dante’s Inferno as it takes us literally through the rings of Hell. 

Also watched Valley of the Dolls, again 🙂 https://topoet.ca/2021/09/26/valley-of-the-bras/ 

nice tongue action

Finished reading Claude McKay’s Home to Harlem (1928). McKay was part of the Harlem Renaissance & wrote several novels & books of poetry but his approach was ‘earthier’ & deemed not elevated enough to cast a favourable light on his race. The novel is a fun, fast slice of the night life, the work life, the love/sex life of the times by someone who lived those times.  His hero has a strong emotional bromance with another male character: Wiki tells us “McKay was bisexual; he pursued relationships with both men and women throughout his life. He never officially “came out” (nor did anyone else in his time) nor explicitly stated his sexual preference.” 

The highlight of the month was a day trip to Stratford to see Three Tall Women. https://topoet.ca/2021/10/01/ah-yes-i-remember-it-well/ 

The Tingler

as a boy

I couldn’t tell the truth

if my life depended on it

mot that I was a compulsive liar

or even lied that often

but under any sort of questioning

I was guilty

regardless of being innocent

Did you do that?

no – which was the truth

Go to your room

Until you are ready to tell the truth.

but

No buts. Now go you lying loser.

<>

to avoid that banishment

I’d have to tell a lie

but I was even a worse liar

thanks to some movie I saw

where some sort of centipede

would materialize

around the spine

when you were scared

lying scared me

as much as telling the truth

I would feel those

million sharp legs 

sinking into my back

my skin would tingle

The Tingler!

that’s what that movie was called

<>

a lie would kill me

it would crush my heart

burst out of my nose

brain spattering everywhere

insect legs would dig out from my eyes

<>

so I was afraid to lie

the punishment for telling the truth

was bad enough

not be be believed

not to be trusted was confusing

it was better to leave the room

let them think what they wanted

because the clearly truth 

made no fucking difference

<>

at that age

they made sure

I knew I was a lying loser

a useless dishonest kid

which I know now was a lie

and that’s the truth

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees – thankspaypal.me/TOpoet 

Joe Henderson

At one time Eve Arden was playing the gal pal in every other movie, then Joe Pesci was doing the same sort of pal thing for another generation. Sidekicks who were more than mere foils for the lead but brought an energy than enhanced even the palest material. There was time when it seemed Mary Clayton was singing backup on every pop recording out of Britain. 

Jazz also has famous side men & one of them is tenor sax player Joe Henderson, who over decades, starting in the 50’s, recorded with nearly everyone, including Horace Silver, Herbie Hancock & Miles Davis – to name a few. His style went from hard bop to jazz-funk fusion to not quite mellow explorations of music by Jobim, Gershwin. He was always tasteful, edgy when needed & inventive without calling attention to himself. 

As a group leader I have his early Mode for Joe tucked in a Jimmy Smith mp3 collection. As stand-alones I have Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn; So Near, So Far: Musings for Miles; Double Rainbow: Music of Jobim; Big Band; Porgy & Bess. Any of these is not only a good introduction to Henderson but also to the musicians he is exploring.

A word or two about Billy Strayhorn. He was writer, pianist, arranger for Duke Ellington for many years. He was totally out as a gay man from the get-go & survived behind the scenes on his talent. He never became a ‘headliner’ thanks to being out. Read ‘Lush Life’ the David Hajdu biography of Strayhorn for a look at an amazing life.

If you want to start a jazz exploration any Joe Henderson is a perfect place to start.

The Red Menace

“In light of recent events Mr. Razov will not be returning to the chess club this year.” Mr. Bannister 

shrugged.

There was a mutter of dismay.

“I know he has been a great teacher for you.”

“We wouldn’t have won the inter-provincials without him.” Harold slumped in his chair.

“I know we’ll miss him, but you won’t forget the strategies he showed you.”

There was only seven of us in the Davisville High-School Chess Club but we had done better than any of the sports teams in the school. But of course the sports teams got the most notice. Our first place trophies didn’t even end-up on display with their third place runner-up plaques.

“Let’s draw to see who’ll play who today.” Mr. Bannister forced a smile. 

The recent events where Mr. Razov being hospitalized. He’d been found badly beaten on the steps of his little house. No one knew why. The police had issued a ‘no information at this time’ statement to the paper a week ago with no follow up.

We suspected it had something to do with his being from the Russia. Some speculated that the Soviet Secret Police had come to make sure he didn’t spill state secrets or something like that. Maybe wanted to stop him from teaching us chess. He had been a Grand Master before he escaped to Canada.

“I know you are worried about Mr. Razov but you have to be able to focus on anything to be a champion. After all he won his world title while planning to escape, knowing full well they had his family back there.”