Bye Bye 2019

Over the past year my TOpoet.ca following blog grew from 298 to 363! That’s 65 new followers without me going out of my way beyond blogging regularly. The only stat WP doesn’t give is where the followers are located but WP map does show my hits have come from 91 countries around the world. That India tops the list is interest but that Bangladesh & Kenya are in the top 10 is a surprise. Kazakhstan! Kuwait!

My Tumblr is at 255. I no longer post there as regularly after the ‘porn’ crack down that had my pictures of random toys, or lost shoes, red flagged as being possibly against community standards. I didn’t have the energy keep asking for a review of the flag. Twitter 217 followers. Yes – my account was un-suspended after my appeal. Seems my hashtags were inappropriate for some reason. #Whatever.

2019 has been a pretty good year for me. Health has been good. Finances have been stable. Finished the edit & blogging of Coal Dusters. I hate to bring it to an end as I really loved these characters – but their stories had been told. Response was good for the novel. There’ll probably be another revision if I get back to again. Next up is Picture Perfect.

The other highlight of the year was my visit to Cape Breton where I had a great time with my sister – she loves to drive – with some old friends & also just on my own. Revisited old schools, churches of my past, took lots of photos & lost weight!! I also took my favorite photo of 2019 while at Fort Petrie.

Saw great shows at the Stratford Festival (my fav Nathan The Wise) & disappointing show at the Shaw (Mae West’s Sex was given a frenetic but poorly performed production.) Already have some shows booked for the 2020 Stratford season.

The big event for 2020 will be the 10th Anniversary of Capturing Fire in Washington DC. I do hope to get there, if I can afford it & before the Trump implosion closes the borders to the unemployed sneaking in to steal jobs. paypal.me/TOpoet I’ll be booking my trip once the dates are confirmed. 

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

January
Thursday 23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre – featuring ‘Yes The Poet’ https://www.facebook.com/events/577900226377507/ 

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 and Bad Times Theatre

May

Richard III – Stratford Festival

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

July

All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

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

A Christmas Mantle

Decades ago I decided our fireplace mantle piece was too boring at Christmas so I got out my trusty staple gun & a festive table cloth & covered it with fabric. It, to me, had a sweet old-fashioned almost Victorian feel to it which I loved. Stockings were hung to complete the scene. Over the year it became busier & the fabric has changed a few times – always something festive.

In the mantle clutter is an angel balancing a horn – the horn is from a set of four that my Dad had – each of us kids got one. The horn makes no sound 🙂 The cherub that holds it is from some yard sale a few years ago. 

The plastic tree once was eliminated but the light socket disintegrated. It is one of my Cape Breton work life souvenirs. It was given to me by one of my Famous Players co-workers & had been in her family for many years. The bead garlands are my own addition. Not so festive is the brass letter opener under it – it gets lots of use this time of year. Stacked along beside it are some gift boxes. The boxes nest inside each other & get un-nested every year for display on the mantle.

On the mantle by the wall is my Cock-of-the-walk. One of favorite kitch items, it spends most of year on the front hall table. It is mainly a rooster morphed into great clothes & human hands. I bought it up at a store east of Woodbine on the Danforth. It store is no longer there. Made of some resin, not plaster, it is beautifully hand painted. Dangling from one hand is a Starbucks ornament. The beads are my additions over the years.

Covering the mantle this year is fabric that I got at Fabric Land in Stratford a few falls ago. The previous mantle treatment was a more tradition poinsettia & holly print which I found too dark. The blue is more fun too. The tinsel swag & lights are more recent – the lights have four settings but I stick to the one glow that changes colours. We don’t need a light show. The fireplace works but it has been years since we’ve had gifts that deserved to be set afire. 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy more Christmas kitch– sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

The Keys To Sense of Purpose

Nothing To Lose

I was sure I left it there

it was there the last time I looked

I haven’t seen it

have you looked in here

have you looked anywhere 

or did you expect me to know

to keep an eye on things

without being asked

I don’t know where it is

I have more important things to do

no I didn’t move it

I didn’t see anyone take it

this is where I usually put it

I can’t leave the house without it

it can’t be replaced

there’s no reason for it to be moved

it has to be here always

it’s the perfect spot for it

it didn’t move itself

did it fall to the floor

is it under here

is it upstairs

did you even bring it with you

did you leave the house without it

you can always get a new one

it was time to move on

time to let go

of the hold of things

free yourself of objects

find a place

where there is nothing to lose

nothing to be looked for

nothing to be hidden

and everything

to be revealed

This piece is part list poem – various thoughts on misplacing something & usually not realizing until one is leaving, in a hurry but can’t got without it. I have a spot by my front door where I always put my keys, my sunglasses etc. Before heading out I have to make sure I have everything in my pockets or shoulder bag before I leave. Gone are the days of just putting a jacket & going somewhere.

 

By everything I mean phone, camera, coffee cards, credit cards, points cards, wallet (I no longer carry credit cards with my $), sometimes iPod, Kindle & something else, but I can’t remember what. If one of those items isn’t where I think I put it then I can’t leave without it. I change jackets and/or shoulder bags from day to day, so have to remember to transfer from one to the other.

 

Not too long ago I misplaced my Starbucks gold card. I searched every item of clothing I was wearing the last time I used it, shoulder bags were emptied, jacket pockets turned inside out, I checked the shop to see if I dropped it there. No where to be found. I went to the website to get a replacement but that process was endless & so I think I applied for a replacement but didn’t get even an auto-response so I must have done something wrong? 

The getting out a credit card out comes the Starbucks card stuck to it – I had tucked the card into a different part of the wallet than I usually do & never checked sufficiently the tiny tight compartment. It did mean I avoided Starbucks for a week or so, no big deal. The replacement never arrived, just as well, right.

Anyway back to this piece. It wavers between the list & a bit of a dialogue of being accused for losing whatever is lost – I didn’t see anyone take it. It take a slight philosophic turn with ‘free yourself of objects’ – to free myself of Starbucks wouldn’t be such a big thing. It delves into the mystic for the ending. What we can’t find may not be hidden or lost. 


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee at Capturing Fire 2020 – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

“I danced for the Devil”

Does this sound familiar: rabid anti-gay rights activist caught making pass at a man in washroom – admits he is gay. The accuser being guilty of what he accuses others of – this is a part of the many layers of guilt in The Crucible. Guilty of one crime you are guilty of all crimes. Accusation = guilt. Being innocent doesn’t undo the stain of the accusation. The Crucible functions on many levels – the use of authority is more important that justice, the denial of guilt is really an admission of guilt.

My last theatre day trip to Stratford was to see Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. A play about witches in October – what a concept 🙂 The production was intense, riveting & the political allegory hasn’t dated a bit. Except these days many don’t care about guilt if the guilty are rich enough – a president can admit to ‘grabbing pussy’ (underage beauty contestants should be flattered he grabbed their privates) & is still in power. But I digress.

The simple set with side pieces of tall trees moves silently & easily to accommodate several locations. The ambient sound before the play starts create a a sense of forest. Once the plays starts with the ‘possessed’ child (nice nod here to ‘The Exorcist’) it moves with constant intent & mounting emotional & physical intensity.

The performances were strong for a cast who clearly enjoyed these characters, had dug deep into the text itself, & gave unexpectedly raw performances. Tim Campbell as John Proctor & Scott Wentworth as Reverend Parris gave amazing performances – perhaps the best I’ve seen by Scott Wentworth. I was drawn into the dense emotional mire both men were feeling on opposite sides of the conflict.

Shannon Taylor as Elizabeth Proctor was strong – her moment of ‘truth’ brought gasps from the audience. The tempted ‘girls’ lead by Katelyn McCulloch as Abigail Williams were given great dramatic moments of demonic possession. Katelyn was good but was more saucy than vengeful. They were women not girls or children, as they were referred to on the text.

I had seat in 4th row orchestra so had a very close view of the superb costumes plus I was impressed by the meticulous wig work. This is an excellent production, perhaps the best I’ve seen this season & one of the most compelling I’ve seen of stage in some time. Jonathan Goad’s direction brought performances that were deeply effective & made a challenging text engaging & challenging at the same time. 

“I danced for the Devil; I saw him, I wrote in his book.” Arthur Miller

other 2019 reviews:

Costume Warehouse Tour – Me? Caped Crusader https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3vQ

Henry VIII – ‘Abject Object’ https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3vW 

Our Father Issues  https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3CB

Cape Breton (Liberation Army) Day 7 https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3Gj

Mae Brecht’s Sex https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3ND

Plant Food For Thought https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3Oo


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & 2020 theatre tickets. Thanks paypal.me/TOpoet 

September Recap October Sneak Peek

September had many days with over 60 hits. India top the list with Canada at the top of the hit list, 2nd place, with !! Kenya 3rd & USA sliding down to 4th spot. Increases seen from Mauritius & Nigeria.  The blog now has 358 followers (up from 298 at the start of the year). 218 Twitter followers; 241 Tumblr followers. Steady increase is best. Managed to keep plugging away on Coal Dusters while I was in Cape Breton with 126,000 words posted so far – maybe another 15,000 to go to wrap things up.

Theatre outings were good. My reaction to Mae West’s Sex was mixed, an excellent production with a disappointing leaden lead. My last theatre day trip is to Stratford to see The Crucible in mid-October.

 

Little Shop Of Horrors at Stratford was amazing. A play about witches in October – what a concept 🙂 Other than great theatre & was the launch of Hot Damn! season six at Buddies In Bad Times.

 

The most interesting September event was seeing Justin on the Danforth one morning on my walk. He was shaking hands & stopping for people to get photos with him. I dodged a couple of other cellphone photographers & managed to get a decent shot.

October might bring the end of Coal Dusters 🙂 it gets a little longer each week but I am in the final chapters now. What comes next? I do have a another over 200,000 words of another novel to edit but first I have to stitch it together. So maybe Tuesdays will fall silent for awhile. Sundays will see postings of my Cape Breton photos.

This October will see a return of my horror poems. A new one every Thursday. I may ‘discuss’ past ones on Wednesday. Tackling horror tropes is fun as I push myself to see or use those old cliches. The new season of American Horror Story: 1984 is doing that with summer camp mayhem & I am loving it, so far. This year I’m not doing Nano in November. I seem to have lost my need to push so hard. I suppose my blogging has refocused that energy somewhat & also satisfies my need to write nearly every day anyway 🙂  

Watched a couple of amazing films by Senegalese writer/director Ousmane Sembène: Emitaï, Ceddo – more about them next week.

Sex: https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3ND

Little Shop Of Horrors: https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3Oo

Hot Damn! launch: https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3OC

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

every Tuesday 2019

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

Plant Food For Thought

Seeing Little Shop on the last day of summer seemed appropriate. I’ve seen a few productions of the musical & also the rather dull film version & of course, the original film. The star of all is Audrey II. The plot is wildly non-Broadway musical but the songs are pure show tunes with amazing melodies & clever lyrics. The subtext – consumers being consumed is still powerful. 

 

We have Seymour (Andre Morin) consumed by his heteronormative longing for Audrey & the cult of fame, Audrey (Gabi Epstein) consumed by her longing for a suburban wifedom. The direction and choreography of Donna Feore was well-paced, while music direction of Laura Burton maintained a nice period Motown sensibility.

The performances are all strong, singing is spot on, the staging is top-notch, a Greek chorus (Vanessa Sears, Starr Domingue, Camille Eanga-Selenge) in wonderful costumes & a cast that clearly loves performing this show. I was quickly & completely caught up in it. Dan Chameroy, almost stole the show from Audrey II as Orin Scrivello, the charming dentist. I’ve always wondered how the ADA feels about this portrayal of their profession? I’m sure the AFA would approve of Steve Ross as the flower shop owner.

The puppetry for Audrey II (by Jason Sermonia, Henry Firmston, Evangelia Kambites, Jordan Mah) was perfection. The mostly immobile plant was given great personality by the operators. I particularly enjoyed the moments where the leaves reached out sweetly to stroke Seymour as it convinced him to fulfill its feeding demands. Matthew G. Brown voicing A II was both threatening & seductive & was perhaps the most complex character in the show, I was glad to see him brought out for bows at the end of the show.

Considering the current trend of gender & race blind casting it might have been fun to see more of that here: Suddenly a Simone, or an Aubry, would have given the show a real sense of edginess that would have put it over the top. I throughly enjoyed this production & if I could afford it, had the time & could get decent seats I wouldn’t hesitate to see it again before the end of the run.

 

other reviews:

Costume Warehouse Tour – Me? Caped Crusader https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3vQ

Henry VIII – ‘Abject Object’ https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3vW 

Our Father Issues  https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3CB

Cape Breton (Liberation Army) Day 7 https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3Gj

Mae Brecht’s Sex https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3ND

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

August 2019 Sneak Peek


First the July recap of my on line life 🙂 My fan base continues expanded slowly but surely. WordPress followers are up to 337, Twitter at 217, & Tumblr is at 234. As you can see my popularity in India remains quite high as it leads the list of countries I get hits from. My WP hits topped 40 many days with a several of 60 hit days! The school memory posts have been fun to work on – finding pictures of the schools, making google maps shows me how much those neighbourhoods have changed.

Coal Dusters continues to grow as I get nearer the end with 119,000 words posted so far, still about 20,000 words to go. Into the final stretch. The mine has closed, Lillian has gotten married, the guys hav been caught in a compromising position. What remains? Keep reading to find out what the thrilling conclusion will be. 

My one Stratford excursion was to see  ‘Nathan the Wise’ which I throughly enjoyed: Our Father Issues https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3CB. Next show is Mae West’s Sex at the Shaw Festival. I’m looking forward to seeing an unexpurgated production of her play. Her film scripts were heavily censored & even then were bawdy to the extreme – “Is that gun that in your pocket? Or are you just happy to see me.” – I think that’s one of the few jokes about an erection I’ve heard in any movie.

I finally broke down & got myself prescription sunglasses. When I’m out walking I’ve been fine seeing shapes. I can see well enough to take photos but with my trip to Cape Breton pending I wanted to be able to see everything clearly. Now I see everything clearly. “Oh! That isn’t a gun in your pocket.”

Also bought some Final Touch stainless steel ice cubes at IQ Living! No more watered down ice coffee for me 🙂 Best part is that the cubes sink to the bottom of the glass so the drink cools from the bottom up.

August brings my long await trip to the east coast back to my home town of Sydney. Packing has started by picking clothes to wear – I wish one could teleport luggage – though maybe having a house fly merged with my jean’s fly insult such a pretty picture.

I have several things lined up – all very touristy mind you – a trip to Baddeck to meet friends who moved to NS a few years ago, a trip to the Fortress of Louisbourg to experience the life in the 1700’s (that’ll bring back lots of memories of unwashed, sweaty soldiers). Taking in at least one Highland Arts Theatre production, visiting some local museums, taking lots of photos. Printed out a list of the 12th step meetings which isn’t nearly as extensive as Toronto’s but there is one a day, should I choose to get to them.

 

 

I’ll be taking a media break of sorts – no TV or podcasts for ten days. Limited internet too but I will try to keep up my WP regular posts as well checking in about my excursions. I have all my music, Dusters posts done for the next two weeks.

The rest of August will be spent recovering from the Cape.


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Our Father Issues

driving to Stratford in a thunderstorm

Our drive to Stratford for Nathan The Wise took us through a major thunderstorm. What usually took  2.5 hours was a nearly 4 hour drive with the rain and various construction detours. But we finally got there 🙂 Was it worth it? Yes! I highly recommended this production as director Birgit Schreyer Duarte balances religious (in)tolerance with humour. The pacing is excellent and the three hours passed quickly. The Studio Theatre was the ideal place to see this production.

the tree of life

 

Nathan The Wise opens with various characters worshipping in the traditions of their various faiths. Blackout and Nathan wanders on stage with his suitcases. The play deals, in part, with how faith verses commerce resonates in each of the characters’ lives. Religious tolerance is sometimes a matter of convenience not of conviction.

 

Nathan maybe be wise but he constantly places his trust in ‘friends’ who betray him. The interlacing plots weave constantly shifting loyalties, family relationships & parentage without becoming confusing.

 

shadow of the family tree

The text explores Catholic, Muslim, Jewish & Dervish views of God – each has a different sense of God the ‘Father’ is & none finds the other’s view to be the correct one. Which is still pretty much the state of  religions now. None are willing to concede to the validity of the others. 

The performances in this production are excellent. Diane Flacks brings Nathan to life as a real person and Nathan’s text becomes a real conversation as opposed to religious didactic polemics. Jakob Ehman as the Templar had amazing stage presence (& great cape drape) and one can see why Rachel becomes so smitten by him. I enjoyed the work by Ron Kennell & Sarah Orenstein. I also enjoyed the stage business i.e. street vendors, wine sipping servants.

the drive home from Stratford

 

 

In the end, when all is revealed, Nathan wanders off once again. Is he wiser? 

 

 

 

 

2019 reviews

Costume Warehouse Tour – Me? Caped Crusader https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3vQ

Henry VIII – ‘Abject Object’ https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3vW 

next up to see is: The Return of The Cape Breton Liberation Army – 

https://www.highlandartstheatre.com 

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

every Tuesday 2019

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton

August 8: Highland Arts Theatre: https://www.highlandartstheatre.com 


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

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

 

“Abject Object”

Over the years I have seen nearly all Shakespeare’s plays. Thankfully Stratford Festival presents one of the infrequently produced ones every year or so. This year it is Henry VIII, which we saw at the intimate Studio Theatre. A play with the largest cast list done in the smallest theatre presented a challenge for director Martha Henry, which she met with ease.

This was a preview production but most of the performances were excellent. Irene Poole as Queen Katherine was strong, her death scene was compelling – cutting the appearance of the spirit apparitions allowed the scene even greater emotional resonance. Kim Horsman as Duchess of Norfolk was great fun. Jonathan Goad as Henry was boyish, regal and made the king so appealing one almost forgives his treatment of women. The supporting players were good, Scott Wentworth as the Duke of Norfolk was particularly strong.

Thanks to the series The Tudors I was able to sort out the political web that was being spun for Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn but I’m not sure how anyone unfamiliar with the actual history would have fared with the religious & political intrigues that run though the play. But the play is also an emotional look at the disintegration of a marriage regardless of the political context.

The staging was simple, the costumes were detailed, though there were more sequins than one would have expected at that time 🙂 The ending bows were cleverly  choreographed. Highly recommended.

 

My only quibble is with an audience member, in my row, two seats to my right who felt it was perfectly fine to use his smartphone to check messages & text replies two different times, while the show was in progress. I guess I should be grateful he didn’t start a whispered conversation on it. 

 

 

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

Sneak Peek – May 2019

April recap:

April unexpectedly proved to a rather retrospective month for me. In looking for the print-out of the Armstrong family tree I came across a pile of poems written way back in the late 60’s, early 70’s. I though – Easter = resurrection. I culled some out and did a very light edit as I input them. By light I mean dispensing with punctuation, start of line capitals, made spelling & typo corrections.

My fan base continues expanded slowly but surely. WordPress is up to 316, Twitter sits at 217, & Tumblr is at 224. Coal Dusters continues to grow as I get nearer the end with 96,500 words posted so far, about 37,000 words to go. The clash between the striking miners & the militia has been great fun to expand. I’ll be doing more research when I visit Cape Breton in August that’ll make the final draft even better.

The other April highlight was finally getting new glasses. It’s been several years since I’ve had my eyes checked it was about time. My vision has improved with age ( much like my sex life). This time there was no resistance to visible bifocals – I tried the non-visible but the bi-area was too small for me. I like a larger bi, for some reason. Opted for real colour for the arms – something I’ve never done before. They are a strong yellow. 

Not much coming up in May though 😦 Going to Stratford Festival to see Henry VIII – a play I’ve never seen before. I’ve also booked a tour of the Festival costume department that morning. After the costume sale last year I wanted to see more of the warehouse. Tours have to be booked in advance & are limited to 30 people. Lots of photos should result 🙂

One thing I’m not looking forward to this month is missing Capturing Fire on May31/June1. Though if lotto max coughs up before then I’ll book an emergency get away 🙂

Aim 

it doesn’t matter where I aim

I come back to earth

my arc cannot lift me 

far enough way 

to escape the greedy clutch of gravity

my aim is set beyond

the horizon

beyond belief

around the silent corners

that wait for all

no not even wait

waiting involves expectation 

of something arriving

they have no expectations

the earth is mere witness

no not even that involved

the earth doesn’t see

doesn’t feel

it remains constantly present 

regardless of what goes on around 

above

beneath its surface

no emotional investment 

in anything

anyone 

 

how sweet to be a rock

a stone 

a boulder

being what one is regardless 

of what goes on around you

even the pulverizing machine

creates no fear

no perception

safe in stoney silence

blind self-contained

even when in a pile of other stones

absorbing the same heat

or frozen 

in the same icy rain

not struggling next to one another 

for warmth 

no complaining of being too close 

 

the arc of the tossed rock

as it sings though the air

can’t throw it high enough 

hard enough 

fast enough

for it to escape the law of gravity

it falls to the earth

as we all fall to the earth

our bones may break

our expectations 

higher than a stone can be aimed

when they return unfulfilled

we aren’t crushed

but continue to practice

how to survive rough landings


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

writing blocks broken at Loyalist