Viva Vivaldi

Did Vivaldi (1678 – 1741) compose anything other thank the Four Seasons? On my shelf I have a 40 cd boxset that isn’t 40 versions of the Four Seasons. In fact this boxset doesn’t contain his complete works either. He composed at a time when folks played music in their homes or heard it in churches. It was music for the masses & Masses, not for elitist concert halls & massive orchestras.

I do have multiple version of The Four Seasons though. As stand alone I have it by il Giordino Armonico which I heard on CBC. The sound quality amazed me – it is as if you are standing in the middle of the small chamber orchestra. I have Nigel Kennedy’s energetic romp through it. Also some fun jazz takes – Moe Kaufmann’s is  delightful & worth tracking down. Wendy Carlos’ Sonic Seasonings stretches it into the stratosphere. The Koto Ensemble version is also a delight.

The box set reveals the full extent of Vivaldi’s versatility as a composure with delightful sonatas for flute, recorder, violin, mandolin & more. All with complex continuo support, at times by organ, harpsichord or viola. There are some of his masses, motets, cantatas, concertos & songs. Even his transcription/adaptations of Bach. 

As I worked though the box set his influence on later romantic composers becomes clear. The final cd is La Senna Festeggiante which is one of his serenatas that is almost an opera. Like when listening to Mozart, you wonder

when did this man sleep. 

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Moe & Krzysztof

By Canadian flautist Moe Koffman I have as stand-alones: Plays Bach, The Four Seasons & Best Of. Best known for ‘Swinging Shepard Blues’ he has had an extensive career of jazz classical exploration. If you listen much to CBC radio his Bach pieces show up frequently as theme or ‘pause’ music. There is a jazz trend to interpret classical music, much like prog rock (i.e. ELP’s Pictures at an Exhibition). Koffman does this with more of a pop than jazz approach. Great music. Sadly, as far as I can tell, his Four Seasons is out-of-print & not available in any form. Some of the cuts are included in the Best of cd.

Next K is am MP3 cd compilation of creepy soundtracks & more classical adaptations. By Krzysztof Komeda: Rosemary’s Baby; Jack the Ripper; by Paul Glass: Bunny Lake Is Missing; Essential Hitchcock: st music from Lifeboat, Spellbound, Psycho & others; Mondo Cane Soundtrack. And explorations of Satie by Joe Santos & by The Camarata Contemporary Chamber Orchestra. Velvet Gentleman.

My partner had the lp of Rosemary’s Baby soundtrack, which I enjoyed. I eventually I replaced it with a clearer sound & its was paired with another of his soundtracks. Komeda, a Polish jazz musician, did soundtrack for other Polanski films. The music is  suspenseful & moody. Komeda died at 36, so is mostly forgotten. 

The Mondo soundtrack covers various styles & moods & got an 1963 Oscar nom for the song More. Paul Glass’s Bunny Lake Is Missing is another moody work. I had the lp which I bought solely for the tracks by the Zombies – this was time when British films makers had to include a scene with a live rock band. I was & still am a Zombies fan.

The Essential Hitchcock: st music from Lifeboat, Spellbound, Psycho & others. Moody, impressionistic stuff with the Psycho music being classic stuff. Those shower strings pulsate with terror. Elsewhere in my collection I have the complete Psycho soundtrack – well worth searching out.

Finally more classical – this time of explorations of Satie by Joe Santos & by The Camarata Contemporary Chamber Orchestra’s The Velvet Gentleman & The Electronic Spirit of Satie. Santos is  in the Tomita electronica realm but not as lush. Camarata is stunning. These were two must have lps at one time. Real musicians & moog combined to perfection. The lps cover more than the Gymnopedies. I love the spoken introductions on Electronic Spirit. Well worth tracking down for your collection.

scrap of a story from late 90’s found in an old notebook

The New House

The back fence was about twenty yards from the kitchen window. Kit could barely see the rag he had nailed to the post. It was one of the few intact fence posts. A few pickets angles away from it.

In front was a sturdy post for the mailbox. He’d painted it earlier in the week. His first claim to possession – the stamp of ownership. A new mailbox was all he could afford at short notice.

The sky blue of the box stood out against the green of the cedar hedge. When he found the time he’d add his name to the box. Moe too his efforts so far had been in the garden.

Untended for many years he had his work cut out for him. The ramshackle garden was the deciding factor in the decision to buy this house.

The red clay soil was a challenge he felt up to. He knew a year of two of mulch would bring rewards. A game of seeds was next to see what would suit in the mean time.

He’d seen  several shows on TV about how some plants helped the acid balance of the soil.

“What’s up?” Jim, his boyfriend, stepped on the veranda with him.

“Jim! I didn’t expect you up this early in the day.”

“I expect danger pay for barring those early birds.” He did a little dance like bird pecking around Kit’s head. “Actually I’m up because Carol called.”

“Carol?” Kit knew that could only mean one thin. “Time for Bix’s seasonal check up? Seems he just had one.”

“About this time last spring.”

“Well, we don’t want the stress we get when we skip them.”

“Right and we’ll get to see if the change in climate has been as good for him as it has been for our relationship.”


That’s it 🙂 I have a scattering of such fragments were I’m experimenting with just making people talk.  No outline or idea of where etchings are going, or who is going be there as the words bring them into the story. 

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Offenbach Orff

I had an lp to cd transfer of Jacques Offenbach’s  Overtures that I finally replaced with an mp3 download. It leads off an over 7 hour collection of music. I enjoy the Overtures but have refrained from his operettas, some of which I did see in my teens. My musical knowledge isn’t all the extensive so I’m not if all the overtures are for actual operas or merely suites. Pleasant & melodious.

I did see Carl Orff’s Orpheus once & have added that to this cd. Not as rhythmic as his Trionfi, which contains the choral warhorse Carmina Burana – if you think you don’t know it trust me you’ve heard sections of this choral work in hundreds of movies. I have this complete on a stand-alone cd. Great choral work.

I’ve also included mp3s of Richard Strauss’s orchestral suites from Don Juan, Macbeth, Tod und Verklärung. Emotional, almost suffocating and great for writing break-up scenes. Suites from actual operas. 

To lighten things up I added the Vivaldi String Orchestra’s The Four Seasons. I heard this in our car driving to Stratford one year & the engineering was stunning & the playing was so energetic I had to have yet another recording of the Season. It made sense to me to include Moe Koffman’s Four Seasons – this is an excellent jazz interpretation that everyone should have.

Finally because of the ‘plucky’ work by the Vivaldi String Orchestra I added the Taka Koto Ensemble which includes their variations on the Seasons plus new & traditional Japanese music for the koto. Another piece of music worth searching out if you haven’t heard it. 


The first rake after winter was one of my favourite days of the year. Even with some snow still here and there, the true warmth of spring had began to seep into the ground. Crocus tips were showing and soon flowers would be popping up. Without the tips I probably wouldn’t have remembered where I planted the bulbs in the fall.

The rake loosened the snow crushed grass and I could see some hints of the first green of lawn at the roots. The smell of stale earth was welcome.

‘How’s it coming?’ Bill from next door asked from his front walk.

‘Good. I guess. I just hope those squirrels don’t go on the same rampage they did last year. Still haven’t found way to keep them at bay.’

‘Fresh garlic?’

‘Only works for vampire squirrels.’

He laughed and went into his house. 

I had a dirty black-brown pile of leaves and twigs. Next task was to bag that mound to make space for the next mound. Wasn’t too bad. I’d put the chicken wire back down over the major beds. That had been the most effective deterrent that I had found. Even kept the birds from seeds. 

The afternoon sun felt good. Once I was done in the front yard I would go to the back. It was always more of a challenge. First to get the banks of snow along the shadow side of the fence – I’d dig them out into the sun. Distribute that wet more evenly as well or I’d have a swamp by the composter.

I’d only given the back a quick glance but even there I saw the welcome signs of growth. Plants couldn’t wait, could they? Once the temperature was right, they were so eager to wake up.

Funny, for me when the temperature was right I just wanted to curl up and sleep a little longer. 

Ah well, that’s the way of the world. First I’d see the front yard looked tidy and then that backyard morass.

Seed catalogues flipped open in my mind to all the wonderful things I could plant, things that I had tried but which never really looked like the photos. I guess I needed to be a camera man and not a gardener to get the garden I dreamed of.

‘Phone for you, Dave.’ My partner Dan poked his head out the front door. ‘Sounds important.’

That much I figured, as he usually would just let me putter and take a message.

‘Keep your eye on that pile.’ I said as I went to the house. Last year someone had walked off with my rake when I was inside, so now we joked about anything left out front.

‘What about the squirrels?’

‘If anyone wants to steal them, they are welcome to them.’

every Tuesday 2019

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

August 8: Highland Arts Theatre: 

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Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors


Stratford Festival – The Crucible


The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C. 

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Koto Vivaldi

Next on the classic shelf are four cd’s of various stringed instruments: koto, lute, mandolin & guitar. Two are lp to cd transfers of the Koto Ensemble performing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (rounded out with a different group performing Japanese Melodies), the other of the Ensemble doing Mozart’s Nacht Music & Symphony 40 (rounded out with more Japanese Melodies & Bernard Hermann’s The Impressionists).

pillows composition in white and yellow 

The Koto pieces are, shall we say, very plucky – the music flutters by rapidly, there is some assistance from a violinist on the Seasons – more a curiosity than anything else but satisfying. The Melodies are traditional folk melodies which I love. The Hermann is another curiosity. I found this cheap at a garage sale & couldn’t resist it. Best known for his film music here he conducts music by Debussy, Ravel etc. sweet.


etude in roots flat

Lutz Kirchhof plays Lute Music for Witches & Alchemists: Renaissance music that isn’t as emotional as the album title suggests. Pleasant enough and I do love the sound of the lute.

snowcapsolo rhapsody in white

An lp to cd transfer: Virtuoso Mandolins is like the Koto recordings – as 10 mandolinists tackle Vivaldi, Scarlatti for a very plucky session of fun music. An energetic rush of orchestral strength washes over these pieces for some rousing music. I topped this off with selections from a 5 lp set of music for Lute, Guitar, or Mandolin. It spans eras & composers. I remember buying the set in Halifax and wanting to hear all of it all at once.


March 26 – Thursday 8 pm – Judging – Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam – Supermarket – 268 Augusta Ave., Toronto


April 26, 2015 – Sunday – 2-5 – Featuring – The Secret Handshake Gallery – 170 Baldwin Ave., 2nd floor, Toronto.


May 7 – Thursday – 8 pm – Judging – Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam Season 1 finals – Buddies in Bad Times Theatre – 12 Alexander St., Toronto –


June 5-7 – attending – Capturing Fire – Washington DC


(2015 registration posted but details not posted yet. I’ve registered already 🙂 )

June 21-26 – attending – Rosemary Aubert’s Workshop: The Novelist’s Selfie – Loyalist – Belleville


register now while there is room at the table

page 23 for details next page down for registration info

June 27, Saturday – 7:00-  Feature: Hot Summer Nights at Hirut, Hirut Restaurant, 2050 Danforth Ave., Toronto


September 3-6 – attending – Fan Expo


October 18, Sunday – feature: Cabaret Noir: Inner Child Sacrifice


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“Nothing you do surprises me or anyone.”

“So you’re angry! Think of how I feel for a minute. Have you even thought to do that? Have you?”

“Look Carl, we have done nothing but that, but just because you are in pain is no reason we should suffer too.”

“Then get the fuck out of here. I don’t want your pity.”

“You aren’t getting our pity. I try to be helpful or at least as helpful as you will let me but I don’t have to put with this bullshit from you or anyone. Just because you may be dying is no reason for me to put up will your crap.”

“Then do as I suggest. Get the fuck out of here and send in someone who knows what they are doing. I’ve been getting nothing but promises since I got this room here. Let me tell you, it hasn’t been worth the the effort it took to get here.”

“That isn’t my fault. I just happen to be one of the guys who work here. I am trying to make things easier for you.”

“Don’t do me any goddamn favours Stew or Brad or Dickie DooDoo or whatever your fucking name is. Just leave me alone. When I want some incompetent asshole to come I promise I’ll ring for you.”

“With that attitude you can ring all day before anyone will come to help you.”

“Crap crap & more crap. No one ignores the dying. Us poor martyrs get heard.”

“I’m surprised you’d want to be heard by any of us considering how incompetent we all are.”

“Have I hurt your feelings. Oh poor baby I’m so sorry that I don’t give a shit. You get to walk out of here alive. I’ll be wheeled out of here on a gurney. That is if someone can manage to get one of here without dropping me down the stairs again.”

“No one dropped you on the stairs.”

“Then how did I end up on my fucking bony ass. Good thing I didn’t break anything.”

“Well, you didn’t end up on your bony ass and besides that was over two weeks ago. Must have been the highlight of your life the way you go on about it all the time.”

“Get out. I don’t need this.”

“No one needs this Carl but we are stuck with it. Can you reach the lunch tray from there?”

“I am not totally incapacitated, and, yes I can reach the lunch tray from here. Not that I can eat much.”


“No, I’m just a picky eater who doesn’t like to see his lunch puked up five minutes later.”

“Then don’t look.”


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