Recap May 2023

City of Valleys  21 sections, about 43,000 words posted so far with  88,000 approx yet to be edited then posted. 

Among the movies I watched in May are: All About My Mother (1999) Pedro Almodóvar’s glossy, soap-opera tribute to All About Eve & A Street Car Named Desire. Colourful, soulful & I was happy to see it again. One of those movies in which no one has just one problem – she’s a nun, she’s pregnant, she is HIV+.

Simu Liu heads up the cast in Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. I’m not a fan of cgi  battles so the ones here were perfect for fast forward. I enjoyed the the cultural mix of legend & super hero. Simu is a perfect photogenic hero though a bit banal as a performer. Moves so fat you don’t really care about the plot. Is his Dad really dead?

red turns to green after a few weeks of sun

Man of LaMancha was flop way back 1972. I may have seen it then but I had no memory of it so watching it recently I rather enjoyed it though it did go on & on. The music is passable. The performances are okay, Sophia Loren was the best of the lot. 

Read Gerald Hannon’s memoir “Immoral, Indecent, and Scurrilous: The Making of an Unrepentant Sex Radical.” I remember his ‘troublesome’ article & the fuss it created. The book is an easy, almost chatty read, that takes one through the Toronto lgbt scene from the 70’s to the 2000’s. He is frank, direct & funny. Highly recommended.

into the wind

Finished La Terre (The Earth) another in Émile Zola’s Rougon-Macquart series. Detailed, emotionally over-wrought & great fun. Zola is Charles Dickens with sex. I loved it & was amazed that I could easily follow the lives of over 100 characters & their farm life struggles.

Re-read Gordon Merrick’s The Lord Won’t Mind (1970). I first read in back in the early 70’s & my recollection of it was limited, to say the least. It is unapologetically & frankly gay/queer. Not overly complex & clearly a romantic fiction. A gay male Harlequin romance with explicit sex. I have an edition of the three novels & this is a fun start to it. Gay life before disco or even cell phones – how did they manage!

nicely pink on white

Garden annuals planted, perennials all doing well & the recent heat wave has sped things along. All we need is rain to turn it into tropical forest. Health remains good – the meds have the hypertension under control, plus some dietary changes have helped keep it down. 

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recap April 2023


The WP map shows my hits have come from  22 countries around the world. Mostly from North America. I am glad to see Kenya holding on to third spot.  Most popular post was the first of my Garron Hospital reports – all four of the posts deal with my hypertension incident, which thanks to meds is under control. I’ve also made a few diet changes too – less of cholesterol heavy foods.

City of Valleys has16 sections now posted, about 33,500 words so far with just over 98,000 to be edited then posted. I gave The Rules For Monks a rest to post about my hypertension. Flashback Friday has proved to a success – digging into those archival posts is interesting, even to me. My memory is good but I’ve forgotten many of the details.

where it all started one Thursday night

Among the movies I watched in April were three that dealt with masculinity. One was This Sporting Life:  Lindsey Anderson’s first feature from the early 60’s. Unexpected scenes of naked rugby players frolicking in group in a hot tub relieved this unflinching look at Richard Harrison lost in his search for fame & love. Moody & with great performances- Rachel Roberts is amazing. Another was 1997’s Happy Together – two Chinese men in Argentina caught up in a destructive co-dependant relationship. With the stunning Tony Leung Chiu-Wai the film is a delight for the eyes & it has become a gay classic.

The third is No Ordinary Man: The Billy Tipton Documentary. I knew the story before I saw the documentary – Billy Tipton was a popular & good jazz piano player/singer who married, he & wife adopted three children. When Billy died it was revealed his was a biological female. The documentary looks at his life from a transmale pov. Highly recommended.


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March 2023 recap

The WP map shows my hits have come from 23 countries around the world, with Ireland at #3! Most popular posts were the photo essays with a couple of my Flashbacks enlivening the archives. Even some new followers but I trim this list at the end of the year. SEO experts aren’t who I want following me. 

City of Valleys is moving along nicely with 12 sections, about 25,700 words posted so far with  over 106,000 yet to be edited then posted. Each section gets a fresh edit & there is a slight increase in word count. 

Watched three amazing films that I highly recommended you see if you haven’t already: first is Camera Buff (Polish: Amator, meaning “amateur”) is a 1979 Polish comedy/drama film written and directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski and starring the delectable Jerzy Stuhr. This is an amazing Polish film that brilliantly captures the power of creativity & the cost of it As well. The political, social context of Poland at the time is only one of the layers of this incredible film -none of which you need to know to understand it. Our hero buys a camera & it opens his eyes to the world. It changes how he sees everything around him. The most telling moment is when his wife storms out of he room his frames her exit with his fingers. This is a must see film.

one of the ‘twigs’ is actually our hydro cable holding up the branch

Another brilliant film was French: Cleo from 5 to 7 a 1962 French New Wave film written and directed by Agnès Varda starring Corinne Marchand. A perfect time capsule of Paris life that feels almost documentary like with the street scenes & settings. Fashions are sublime. Music is sublime. Lead actress is pitch perfect in her search for – well she’s not sure – great performance of sans toi. Highly recommended delight. 

The third was ‘Elisa, vida mía is a 1977 Spanish drama film written and directed by Carlos Saura. The film stars Geraldine Chaplin and Fernando Rey.  Saura script plays with the narrative voice so that one isn’t sure what is real-time, dream-time or imagined, Brilliant performances by the leads make this another highly recommended film.

crumbling inside

On the domestic front reservations for three Stratford shows have been mades: Spamalot, King Lear, & Les Belles-sœurs. We plan to see at least one more but won’t reserve until after we’ve seen Spamalot. 

After a wind/snow storm early this month a branch from a city tree came crashing down & blocked out front door! City came a few days later & removed it. Lots of tree debris to clear up, most of which I’ve done in the past couple of weeks. The big event on the home front was a hypertension incident. I spent a couple of nights in a nearby hospital getting my BP lowered. More on that in a blog post later this week.

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February 2023 Recap

The WP map tells me my hits have come from over 20 countries around the world. The map shows the top 10 countries. I’m pleased to see Mauritius & Kenya still in the top 10.

Most popular posts were the photo essays. People clearly can’t enough of snow people. all are recent posts but there have been dips into the archives. One was a surprise. My post about Sengalese director Ousmane Sembène ( experience a a handful of looks. I guess someone is teaching a film course on obscure African film directors. Rereading the blog makes me want to see the movies again.

Pacific Mall Train ride

Really enjoyed CBC’s BollyWed & look forward to season 2. It is a fun, humorous look at life in Toronto’s Gerrard St E, Little India. I like the fact every line isn’t a punch line & the fact that characters aren’t bent on out-joking one another. Happy Best in Miniature has returned for another season of tiny jars of pickled plums. I find myself squinting by the end of each episode lol. 

Watched: The Ring (1952) a surprisingly direct film about anti-Mexican racism with hood performances, decent fight scenes & a sort of happy ending. Early Rita Moreno & Spanish dialogue without subtitles. Excellent.

The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums (1939) Intense Japanese b/w soap opera about Kabuki hierarchy & class. He falls for a servant girl but they can’t marry as it will bring shame to the family & in the end she sacrifices her own happiness so he doesn’t sully that family name. Fascinating with some wonderful real Kabuki scenes. 

Dulces horas (1982) Spanish – Malena 2000 (Italian) – two excellent films about childhood, memory & fantasy. In the first a playwright write a play about his childhood & casts a woman who looks exactly like his mother. It drifts from memory to the play to romance. In the second am adolescent boy had crush on stunning woman whose husband is at war. Tender, emotional & sad. the leads are so beautiful it almost doesn’t matter about the plot lol. Both owe a lot to Fellini in their observations of village life & sexual obsession. 

Kiss Me Kate (1953) was a joy to watch with its amazing colours, energetic dance & marvellous songs. The backstage plot was busy & the romantic subplot of ex’s was tedious. Performances were excellent. I loved ‘True To You’ as an ode to infidelity. Cole Porter at his finest. I couldn’t believe he got away with the the chorus of Dick Dick Dick searching for Dick. Ann Miller at her best, plus Bob Fosse in tights.

Finished Whistle, the final book  in James Jones WWII trilogy. (From Here To Eternity; The Thin Red Line) The injured soldiers back in the USA, recovering in a military hospital & returning to a ‘normal’ life. I love his soapy style, varying points of view & the immersion into masculinity & the inner psychology of soldiering. 

Dove Season by Robin Brande Books 1-4 – this is a fun, elaborate sci-fi series about the secret alien occupation of Earth. The initial character is a woman who can fly – she’s flies as I often do in dreams by taking a few running steps, flapping arms & lifting off. Her ability to fly is the result of an ancient ceremony (or is it?) The series take off from there with an endless array of characters, aliens, alien technology & conspiracies. Book 5 has yet to be released. 

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January 2023 Recap

The WP map shows my hits have come from 27 countries around the world with China taking 3rd spot! I guess all those photos of the terracotta warriors did the trick lol.

City of Valleys:  4 sections posted so far, about 10,300 words 10,300 with 123,000 remaining to be edited then posted. Editing has been tweaking language for clarity as opposed to rewriting. As with Picture Perfect, creating a new cover image each week is great fun. All images are my photos of Toronto – from skylines to construction sites to laneways. The CN Tower may show up in some of them lol.

Most interesting TV I watched was BollyWed set in Toronto’s Little India, which is a ten minute walk from my house. Not quite a comedy but not a drama either. It follows the daily routine of one of the many Indian fashion stores on that strip. I pass the ‘set’ whenever I’m in the area – you can’t miss the brightly painted building – which was like that decades before the series was filmed. Part of the charm is that the dialogue is real, as opposed to every character delivering a punch-line or a one-liner.

Movies? Nothing exceptional. Limite (1931) – a silent Brazilian film that is the cure for insomnia. More interesting to say one has seen it that to actually have seen it. Troy (2004) a spectacle in which the battle sound editing was the star, at points the sound even pulled focus from Brad Pitt’s hair.

we’re always hard

Finished reading: Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain by Ronald Hutton. An amazing book that runs to nearly 1000 pages which includes 250 pages of index & source citations. Surprisingly amusing as it explores the rivalry between wiccan/pagan sects & also their rivalry with archaeology. 

The only ‘written’ records of druids are found in Roman texts written well-after the Romans colonized Britain – those texts were filtered through the need to portray ancient Brits as savages & their beliefs as superstitions. (sound familiar? just look at the way North American colonists portrayed the native population to justify the way they treated them).

An easy read, that is well-researched. Lots about Stonehenge as well. It was published several years ago. Recent discoveries about the connection between Stonehenge & Anatolia might rewrite some of it. Well worth the time.


Burning Shakespeare by A. J. Hartley is a fascinating, complex time-travel, fantasy novel commentary on the importance of Shakespeare. A plot too convoluted to encapsulate but easy to follow as one reads the novel. Great fun & highly recommended.

“¡Hola Papi!”, by John Paul Brammer, is a sweet, perceptive collection of essays by this Mexican-American (Amerxican?) about his growing up gay, stumbling through relationships & discovering a sense of identity deeper than the label gay Latino. I identified with much of his struggles around these issues. A must read. 

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Recap 2022

Over the past year my following blog grew from 468 to 470! Doesn’t sound like much but I did a major cull of followers who are no longer active on WordPress or who have never ‘liked’ a post. The WordPress map show my hits have come from over 70 countries around the world. USA still tops the list but that China & Bangladesh are in the top 10 is a surprise. Nigeria in the top 20 – but behind Malawi! Kazakhstan! Still no hits from North Korea 😦 My Tumblr is at 346 followers. 229 Twitter followers.

My top ten posts of the year includes 1 out of the archives! I also started a new blog – Second Sight – where I’m posting about my Wiccan/Druid explorations. Fewer photos & fewer posts as well. 

In 2021 I did 227 posts; in 2022: 231 blog posts plus several on Second Sight. I’m not counting the posts from ten years ago I resurrecting as Flashback Friday. Four posts a week is enough for me to deal with. So far no complaints lol. 

Picture Perfect finally came to an end in September with just over 188,00 in 133 sections! It may get another edit before I ‘release’ it as an PDF. I plan to repost ‘City of Valleys’ from 2012 starting in 2023. It only runs at 130,000, but who knows what a fresh edit after all these years will do to it.

I watch endless movies & documentaries. One that I have rewatched & kept to rewatch again is the documentary ‘Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra’ which starts as history of the Australian aboriginal dance company but becomes a powerful mediation on the cost of creativity. The dancing is stunning, the music is incredible & the cost of creativity is heartbreaking.

Memorable was ‘Eijanaika or Why Not?’ a 1981 Japanese film by director Shohei Imamura. This is an epic period piece about ordinary folk, in spectacular colour. A plot too complex to sum up but the ‘carnival’ world is amazing. Another an incredible Japanese movie written & directed by Kurosawa was ‘I Live In Fear’ from1955 – starring Toshiro Mifune. A devastating look at how the bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki affected the emotional climate of Japan. Despite bad aging make-up Toshiro Mifune gives one of his best performances. Worth searching out. Both of these via TCM

reproduction of robe from 1953 production of Richard III

I also watched the DVD of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Endless Poetry – the follow up to The Dance of Reality. Both are autobiographic film journeys though his creative path. Surreal, imaginative, constantly surprising – for example, his mother’s dialogue is all sung bel canto. On the extras he rants about the loss of ‘art’ in mainstream cinema & difficulty of getting funding for his type of film. Will there be a part 3? Depends on crowd funding.

not twins

As usual no English-language films made the list. But I did see some plays in my native tongue (lol). We got back to the Stratford festival & throughly enjoyed all that we saw. In particular their production of Richard III that was staged perfectly & performed with energy & passion. Also I loved Hamlet 911 – highly experimental & multi-layered.

I read dozens of books over the year but the one that stands out is The Masterpiece’ Emile Zola’s powerful exploration of the creative drive, the emotional & psychological cost of both success & failure. Why isn’t Masterpiece Theatre making films from these classic novels. How many versions of Persuasion do we need?

The return to ‘normal’ life has been simple enough. I continue to mask when shopping, travelling on subway, going to plays, I’ve had all my shots & boosters. My health remains consistent. At the first sign of a cold I do a covid test home test to be sure. I’ve resisted the push to go back to f2f recovery meetings beyond one, that is a short walk from house & everyone there remains masked. Zoom continues to pick up the slack – many meetings have closed but some have become so established they re still getting between 80 & 180 people showing up.

No major plans for the coming year, though I do have a lotto max travel list – nothing international: who wants to get stuck in an airport for a week when a flight gets cancelled 🙂 We’re eyeing some of the coming Stratford season & will be booking a few shows, soon.

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December 2022 Recap

The WP map does show my hits have come from 22 countries around the world with Mauritius still in the top 10! Hello Trinidad – invite me down to give a workshop lol. The most popular posts were no surprise. I’m glad to see my Wednesday poetry ‘chats’ are garnering more interest.

Watched some great films. The DVD of Chilean Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Endless Poetry (2016) – follow up to The Dance of Reality – both surreal, poetic autobiographic films that are stunning visually & intellectually challenging without budging an inch in regards to plot. In an extra Jodorowsky rants about the difficulties of making films outside the studio system, about making films that don’t involve violence, adventure or rom-com romance. In fact some of this film was financed by crowd funding. No word on a part  of the autobiography. 

Mexican Guillermo del Toro has managed to interact with the studio system though his first few films were ‘credit card’ creations. One of which is Cronos (1993). I’ve sent his before many years ago & it was worth seeing again (thanks to TCM). It is an astounding horror movie told with great acting, excellent plotting & stunning attention to detail. It does go on as he runs out of steam & plot for the last ten minutes. When ever people climb to the top of buildings you know someone is going to fall to their death (yawn).

Less predictable is Keisuke Kinoshita’s Ghost of Yotsuya (1949). A fun, tense, Japanese film that reworks a familiar Kabuki plot: a man murders his wife so he can marry a wealthy woman & is haunted by the ghost of his first wife. Is she really a ghost of merely his guilty conscious? I’ve seen other Japanese versions of this plot & love it. Diabolique owes something to this plot.

A TV competition show I really enjoyed was Best in Miniature. Produced by the CBC! They did a Boxing week marathon of the first season’s episodes. I was totally unaware it until this marathon. Miniaturist build ‘doll’ houses & fill them with amazing, tiny, details. One contestant had a working, small, pottery wheel on which she threw real clay vases etc. The winner had the most effective story (a haunted house). A new season starts in February & I’ll keep my eye open for it. Season 1 is available to stream now on CBC Gem.

The festive season was made more festive thanks to a couple of advent calendars I bought for myself. One was of crystals/stones that was full of mostly polished pieces i.e. smoky quartz, sodalite, etc. some were palm stones, some were points, a pendulum & even a bracelet. The ones I didn’t want went into Xmas gifts. The other was a witchy one that I started in the middle of the month to be finished on January 6. It had a variety of items: spells, candles, ritual salts, soap etc. 

January promises to be a much quieter month.

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November 2022 Recap

The WP map does show my hits have come from  28  countries around the world. Mauritius in the third  spot! Ukraine in the top ten! Russia at the bottom – I guess the Ukraine  invasion is distracting my fan base there. Most popular post was Spiritual Shreds, my personal favourite was Music of Masculinity

Finished The Crown Season 4 & the series has moved deeper into fiction with this unhappy fantasy about the lives of the Royals. Performances are excellent, though Gillian Anderson’s Thatcher often gets upstaged by her various wigs. The show is clearly not a documentary though occasionally it sticks to historical fact, if not timelines, & has no hesitation in fabricating drama. As they say – never let the truth stand in the way of telling a good story. For me, there wasn’t enough of Princess Margaret or Princess Anne – both of whom show more personality than the rest of the cast. 

friendly neighbours

Watched a great Italian film ‘The Trick in The Sheet’ set in 1905 as movies being shown for the first time in a small Italian village (that seems to get larger & larger as the film progresses). With the lead character named Frederico & a plot of nostalgic memory, it is clearly a tribute to Fellini & Amarcord. I love movies with parallel plots – in this one our hero directs a movie based on Susanna & The Elders – a Biblical story where elders spy on Susanna as she bathes in the river – our hero secretly films a woman bathing in the river for his movie. An amazing exploration of the power of film to replace reality. (

Watched The Boys in the Band (1970) which I have seen before decades ago, as well as a stage production at some point. All I remembered was the constant insulting, posturing, drinking & wondering where I might fit into this world. Although I had empathy for some the characters at the end I was left wondering why any of them put up with the lead character’s irrational, manipulative behaviour. At one time he shouts at one of the others ‘don’t you dare leave’ – what was going to do if they did? I was glad to have seen it again. The follow up on my ‘watch list’ was the 1934 Cleopatra – a queen with real power.

Read the novella Soft Places by Betty Rocksteady. It is an interesting mutation of graphic & prose novels. The story moves between two worlds – our main character’s ‘real’ life & an ‘alternate’ reality. The real is prose, the alternate is illustrated & each move the story forward. The illustrations are in a Bushmiller/ Betty Boop style. In the end you may not be sure which is ‘real.’ Trauma is the real world is visceral & slightly queasy. Available form Amazon, Indigo & any independent books store.

Now for the mad rush to the new year.

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October 2022 Recap

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

not so happy

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

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

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

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

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

Hurt People Hurt People

Election Fever

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September 2022 Recap

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

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

All’s Well

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

altar decoration

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

David Bowie tribute?

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

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

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