Recap May 2022

They wouldn’t let me try it on 😦

The TOpoet.ca following blog grew to ! The WP map does show my hits have come from  countries around the world. That Canada tops the list is unusual. That Poland (Witaj Polsko) & Ecuador (Hola lectores en ecuador) are in the top 10 is a surprise. Hello to my fans in Morocco (مرحباً أيها القراء في المغرب)!

Picture Perfect -119 sections, about 169,000 words posted so far with  20,000 approx to be edited then posted. These last sections took a fair amount editing, fresh writing & even some minor side plot development as I inch closer to the final big scenes now that the remains of the abducted children have been found. 

Watched an amazing documentary ‘Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra’ which starts as history of the Australian aboriginal dance company & becomes a powerful mediation on the cost of creativity. The dancing is stunning, the music is incredible & the cost of creativity is heartbreaking. A must see that is streaming on TVO.

Watched Midsommar, bound to be come a season favourite. The depth of research was gratifying & the ritual aspects of the story were spot on & thought totally imaginary felt authentic. When I watch it again I will skip to when they arrive in Sweden as the first act is dreary & quickly drained my sympathy for any of the characters. By the time they got to the commune I was happy with all of them dying. 

The extras on our edition of the DVD were banal though I was surprised that only one, of all the leads was American, as I assumed they all were until I heard their actual accents: Irish, Scottish, & that weird accent that is sort of Manx-African-Aussie. Sadly the soundtrack lp contains none of the Swedish chanting – so I didn’t buy it.

Read an excellent set of short stories: 13 Views of the Suicide Woods by Bracken MacLeod. Eerie, scary, inventive well-written tales that are Twilight Zone extreme with explicit gore & violence. Highly recommended for any horror fans.

May has been a month full of of activity, of breaking routines & getting dirty. Dirty digging in the dirt to get my garden ready for the summer. Some hostas were split & halves replanted else where in the garden. All the perennials returned, some worse for winter wear mind you. Loads of annuals planted – asters, alyssum, begonia, marigolds, snap dragons, impatiens, daisies, pansies, petunias, coleus, plus seeds are sprouting for four kinds of morning glory. It will a colourful garden for sure. 

a side & b side 🙂 bluer than they appear here

Getting back to my roots by adding some Stonehenge Preseli bluestone to my rock/crystal collection. Part of Stonehenge is a ring of standing stones made of bluestone that is only found is & was quarried from Preseli, Wales. I did an esty search & ordered some. 

Coming up in June is a day trip to Stratford to see Hamlet – after the excellent Richard III we saw in May I’m looking forward to this season’s take on Hamlet.

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

Recap March 2022

The WP map shows where my top 10 hits have come from. Bangladesh finally tops India but that Bahrain does too is a surprise.  I was glad to see ‘Behind Closed Doors’, one of poetry posts, was the top post of the month. Check it out if you haven’t already 🙂

Picture Perfect:  is up to 110 sections; about 158,000 words posted so far with at least another 30,000 yet to be edited & posted. I thought making deep cuts would shorten things but instead it gave me opportunity expand what remains to make it more plot forward. Such is the editing life.

Watched a couple of interesting movies. Deep Crimson: Mexican, La Ceremonie: French. Both more intriguing that great though both of them do have excellent performances & both of them involve blood baths, & both inspired by real events. Deep Crimson is a version of the Honeymoon Killers, La Ceremonie springs from the same murder that inspired The Maids. In both innocent people meet with dire ends. Deep is filmed with rich colours, La Ceremonie the colours are almost bleached out by the French sun. 

If you think Zora Neale Hurston is the only black female author of note before Toni Morrison then it’s time to read ‘Works of Alice Dunbar-Nelson’ – her first two published collections of short stories & poetry from l890’s. The stories transported me to New Orleans with their rich descriptions of black life there at the time. The various class distinctions are the subtext for stories of romance, Mardi Gras, daily life & hope. The poetry is more maudlin than political. I read the eBook – one of good things about eBook is often out-of-print books are given new life.

Re-read Boze Hadleigh’s ‘Conversations With My Elders.’ Published in 1986. It includes interviews with actors Sal Mineo and Rock Hudson; directors George Cukor, Luchino Visconti, and Fassbinder; and designer, photographer, and author Cecil Beaton. Their conversations with the author reveal much about the lives and careers of these celebrities and how their homosexuality affected both. I bought the hardcover back in the day for the interview with Sal Mineo, which is amazing. 

Reading it in 2022 I am amazed at the frankness of some of these ‘stars’; at their recognition things had to change & the various degrees of willingness they showed. Wiki tells me that Rock Hudson claimed never to have been interviewed by or even met Boze! I’m not sure if the book is still in print. 

In the real world (LOL) recovery meeting shave been slowly reopening & I’ve gotten back to one f2f meeting, so far. Made reservation for some shows at the Stratford Festival: Richard III in May, Hamlet in June. More to booked soon.

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

February 2022 Recap

Top 10 countries this past month shows a few surprises with Bahrain & Sri lank making an appearance. That India tops the list is interest but that Bangladesh & Kenya are in the top 10 is a surprise. Most popular post was Clean Up – the ecology still remains a hot topic, my fave is Look At Me  were Kazakhstan! Kuwait! 

 Picture Perfect:  106 sections, about 151,000 words posted so far with approx 33,000 to be edited then posted. I made more big cuts to the rough draft to smooth things to the eventual ending. 

After we watched Clouzet’s ‘Quai des Orfèvres’ we went on to watch the equally amazing Le Diaboliques. I’ve seen it before but had forgotten the boarding school setting. The plot moves with the same clock-work precision as Quai. We have the Criterion edition & the extras are excellent. For censorship purposes the plot of the book was altered. The film has the husband ‘murdered’ – in the book it is the wife who is the supposed victim. Such overt lesbianism wasn’t allowable on the screen. 

Reading: James Jones ‘From Here To Eternity’ that has been reissued intact. The original version (at nearly 900 pages then) had most of gay sections trimmed. To be honest I’ve never read that version so I don’t know how much was censored by the publisher. Set in Hawaii in the months before Pearl Harbour it is an endlessly detailed look at Army life on base & off. The gay life around the base is clearly represented – how soldiers exploited ‘queers’ for money, booze & sex. The men treat the women in the novel in such the same way. Jones’s depiction is more matter-of-fact than – look at those disgusting sad homos. He also doesn’t shy away from the reality of gay service men either. I can see why he was forced to make what cuts he made. By the time you get to the end of the novel you feel you’ve been through WWII. In the film the gay subplots have all been eliminated. Go figure.

I was disheartened & puzzled by the trucker convoy protests that accomplished nothing but irritating residents of Ottawa. What did they want? Attention, as much attention as they could get. A group that represented less that 1% of the population managed to grab 99% of the media. Too much, too late a many of their ‘demands’ were already slated to happen: loosening of passport & testing requirements. 

The invasion of Ukraine is worrisome with the casual threat of nuclear taking me back to my childhood fears of anyone dropping the big one. That sense of powerless was puzzling then & now is merely depressing. Did we get through the pandemic only to be wiped out by brats playing dare you, Putin’s pride making it impossible for him to back down. I don’t see an upside to this for planet. At least Volodymyr Zelensky is great eye-candy in his endless supply of military green t-shirts.

Will there be a March recap? For sure, unless they drop the big one.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to finish my bomb shelter – thanks? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Recap January 2022

The TOpoet.ca following is at 466 people. The WP map shows my hits have come from  19 countries around the world. That the USA tops the list is no surprise but that Ireland & Denmark are in the top 10 is a surprise. Most popular post by far was the photo essay Snow Forts:

Most popular prose blog was Food In Peace Out:

Annoying Children is my person favourite:

Picture Perfect:  102 sections, about 147,000 words posted so far with approx 39,000 to be edited, then posted. I’ve also cut another 4000 words from the rough draft to remove interesting threads that didn’t add enough the the major plots.

Watched some great movies: One-Way Ticket To Love – Japanese 1960. A sweet musical about an alto sax player, a pretty girl & a Japanese Elvis. A refreshing change from all those films about marrying off daughters. or bold samurai. This one was made  after the US occupation ended & film-makers no long had to deal with military censor. A pessimistic hero, a morally confused woman & great music – both Big Band & rock. A look at Japanese youth culture & highly recommended.

Also watched a a Canadian animated feature from the early 80’s Heavy Metal. The teen-boy target audience is defined by the large breasted heroines of the stories. Voiced by many of the voices behind the Spiderman series & also John Candy, Jackie Burroughs – this is a fun, hetero-sexist sci-fi romp sure to offend many today. Good fun. 

Another excellent film was ‘Quai des Orfèvres’ a French noir from 1947 – tightly written with a corkscrew plot that would (& probably did) make Hitchcock jealous. Director Clouzet went on to make the equally amazing Le Diaboliques. Sadly none of Stanislas-André Steeman works, one of which Quai was based, is available in English :-(. 

Finished 100 Short Stories – a budget collection of pubic domain stories by the likes of Kafka, Poe, Saki, O Henry, Twain & even Mary Shelly. Many were ‘punch line’ stories that existed for the last line. Lots of nostalgic memory, many without a word of dialogue, a good helping of Russian angst & even some really good stories. I was amazed by Kafka’s The Hunger Artist.

Really enjoyed David Demchuk: The Bone Mother – a delightful scary collection of linked short stories with a fine Ukrainian folk-lore underpinning. Highly recommended. Also highly-recommend is: Joshua Whitehead ed: Love After The End – Two-Spirited Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction, out of Arsenal Pulp Press. An impressive collection of queer-centric sci-fi that is cutting edge in its use of de-gendered language. 

For Xmas I got removable cleats for my winter boots & thanks to an abundance of snow have made frequent use of them. They come in handy for my treks through the Williamson Ravine.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & get more music by Japanese hepcats – thanks? paypal.me/TOpoet 

2021 Recap

Over the past year by TOpoet.ca following blog grew from 445 to 468! Doesn’t sound like much but I did a cull of followers who are no longer active on WordPress. 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 include 2 out of the archives! Born To Be Blown – from 2014 – https://topoet.ca/2014/01/24/born-to-be-blown/; & Sydney Academy 2 from 2019 https://topoet.ca/2019/08/12/sydney-academy-2/.

I made a few changes in my blogging routine to give me more time for actual writing 🙂 At the start of the pandemic blogging daily was an excellent way to get through the lockdown. Then it became work I had to keep up with & was no longer fun, so I cut way back.

In 2020 I did 322 posts; in 2021 I only 260 blog posts – of course having no live poetry readings or Stratford show to review reduced the quantity. Though on of the highlights of 21 was seeing Three Tall Women on stage in Stratford. Martha Henry’s tour de force final production.

Picture Perfect: Picture Perfect:  98 sections, about 142,000 words posted so far with approximately 45,000 to be edited then posted. I’ve been enjoying the slow process of edits & have made some major cuts in the final set of rough drafts. As usual my biggest issue is keeping names straight – what did I call that rcmp constable a hundred pages ago? I’m really enjoying creating the weekly graphic for each section. I do have an endless supply of frame & paintings that people have thrown out.

Like many people I’m weary of the pandemic, of people’s reactions, of the roller-coaster of restrictions, & now the paranoia. Is it allergies? A cold or covid? How ‘sick’ does one have to be to get tested? Who pays for it? By the time you get tested, have the results, early onset treatment is too late. How long before neo-citron markets a neo-covid hot lemon drink?

Highlights of the year: contributing a forward to Philip Cairns book Hollywood Poems; having some pieces of mine included in Pandemic Poetry. Extensive work on my garden. Deep house cleaning in a lock-down pandemic purge of the house top to bottom, in particular a basement full of stuff – some not touched since we moved into the house some 40 years ago. 

I did get used to zoom recovery meetings & now seriously doubt if I’ll go back to face-to-face. I do meet up with fellow recoveries for face-to-face conversations & sharing. Going up to my room for a zoom is much easier than getting ready an hour or so in advance to get there with the hope the TTC hasn’t shut down. 

What am I looking forward to in 2022? Good question. Travel out of the country is out of the question. Even for travel within Canada testing rules can change while I am landing so I might never get off the plane or end up living in a tent on the runway until I can get an appointment for the right test. But I am considering another week or so in Cape Breton if pandemic travel rules loosen up enough. Stratford has a tentative season with a couple of shows we’re interested in seeing but will it end up a repeat of last season’s open air productions?

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to pay for travel covid tests – thanks? paypal.me/TOpoet 

December 2021 recap

The WP map shows my hits have come from  29 countries around the world. China at #4! Romania & Jamaica in the top 10! Most popular posts were, as expected, the sets of Christmas Lights – Lights Delight. Tied top blogs were Here to Stay & Measuring Up. Both of which are personal faves as well.

Picture Perfect:  98 sections, about 142,000 words posted so far with approximately 45,000 to be edited then posted. I made another major cut of just over 4200 words – fun stuff but a tangent that didn’t add enough to any of the plots. There’ll be more cuts to come in what remains – so maybe Perfect will be done by the end of 2022. Then what?

Watched a great Argentine film-noir La Beastia Debe Morir  adapted from the novel The Beast Must Die. The novel begins with a diary entry “I am going to kill a man. I don’t know his name, I don’t know where he lives, I have no idea what he looks like. But I am going to find him and kill him …” Which is perhaps one of the best openings I have ever read next to “Which one of us is going to kill Mother.” Anyway the film adaptation beings with the killing, eventually gets to the reason. It is tense, heated & excellent. I recorded it from TCM. 

Alan Zweig’s follow up to his 2000’s Vinyl is called, for some reason, ‘Records.’ It is another, less depressing, look at record collectors & what drives them to collect. The collectors run from single men, women, married couples with children, even one gender questioner. Having been an amasser at one point I have major empathy for these people & the lure of one more. Not that I don’t have a vast mp3 collection already, but you know one more is waiting to discover me.

Fortunately, I guess, for me the closing credits that listed all the music played slid past too fast & was too small for me to read 🙂 There was more than one moment of ‘listen to this’ as an interviewee dropped the needle on a track. That brought many memories of me doing the same for a friend. I have to admit I did make note of a couple of lps: J. K & Co., Rusty Kershaw & listened to samples on YouTube but stopped there. Both Vinyl & Records are highly recommended.

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

Recap November 2021

Over the past month by TOpoet.ca following blog grew to ! The WP map does show my hits have come from  countries around the world. That India remains near the top of the list is interesting but that Ecuador & Finland are in the top 10 is a surprise. Most popular posts were I Got You Covered (https://topoet.ca/2021/11/16/i-got-you-covered/), Toys Curbed (https://topoet.ca/2021/11/14/toys-curbed/). The Kafka Hotel (https://topoet.ca/2021/11/23/the-kafka-hotel/) is a personal favorite.

Picture Perfect is inching to an end with 94 sections posted so far, about 136,000 words with approx 55,000 left to be edited then posted. I love the editing & also the creating of new images every week.

I reread Lush Life by David Hajdu – an amazing biography of composer/arranger Billy Strayhorn. Strayhorn worked closely with Duke Ellington & wrote, amongst others, Take the ‘A’ Train & Lush Life. Never heard of him? Well, unless you are a big band jazz fan I’m not surprised. He was often uncredited for his work & thanks to Ellington’s homophobic PR man his name was frequently removed from articles about the band.

Strayhorn was out to those who knew him, but because of the times kept a somewhat low profile. Reading about his life is both sad & inspiring. He knew his race & sexuality would hold him back from real fame but he persisted in doing what he did best. I read the book when it was first published in 1996 & was happy to read it again. As a result I dowloaded a some lps of his work & it is prime big band jazz that leans into modern classical – a suite for piano & french horn anyone? It’s time for a biopic or at least an American Masters profile.

Came to the end of Melissa Scott’s Astreiant series (https://mescott.livejournal.com/43451.html)  I was hooked after reading the first in the series, thanks to the amazing world-building & engaging characters. Each novel took us into a different aspect of this world as seen through the exploits of our hero & his lover. Spells cast by flower arraignments, the travails of dog racing, the murky underworld of the docks. Each is a murder mystery as well. All can be found on Amazon. Sadly there is no hint of a new adventure 😦

Watched Tom Jones (1963). The criterion edition includes two versions of the film – Director’s Cut & theatrical release plus some excellent extras. The cinematography is amazing & stands up to anything now being done with cgi & green screen. John Addison’s music is a delight – I’ve had the soundtrack for decades & it was nice to see/hear it in context. Energetic performances carry the story. Hugh Griffith steals every scene he is in as the permanently drunken land owner.  

Also watched the hilariously bad southern gothic Walk On The Wild Side – it has excellent opening & closing credits by Saul Bass plus an amazing soundtrack by Elmer Bernstein. A must see if you like over-heated brothel romances with Barbra Stanwyck riding a a lesbian subtext into the sunset.

Wounds of the Saints

Gentle Reader let me tell you that, Dolly Dinty, your friendly reporter has certainly had quite a week-end to share with you. As you may remember in my column on Friday, I said I would be checking out the Family Fun Fair at St. Sufferer’s Cathedral. I did this and also found time to go to the pet show at The Pig Driver’s Arena by Buttontown Airport and the Bridal Show at Pester’s Mall. 

Yes, a very busy Saturday. Sunday was as bad, what with the opening of the new font at St. Sufferer’s, a baby shower for the latest in the McGinch clan and finally a fund raising dinner in Crab Apple Corners for the Maple Valley Fire Department.

So, where to begin? If I hadn’t had my trusty map with me I surely would have gotten lost at the very start. St. Sufferer’s Cathedral is one of the largest churches in Pumpkin County but also the most difficult to find. It’s spires can be seen for miles in all directions but every turn of the road seemed to put it at my back and not in front of me.

I hope the next function they hold is to find funds to put up more accurate signage. The Fun Fair was fun for the entire family. Bobbing for pears, a banana tossing contest and even some feet painting for the children. It was a carefree time that made all feel closer to their Creator’s pain. I was deeply touched by the drawings of the Sunday School classes that depicted the various wounds of the Saints.

I was reluctant to leave there for the Pet Show. Fortunately finding The Pig Driver’s Arena is much easier.

The first thing I was confronted with though, was the Hijil’s Farm elephants. Not the sort of thing one expects at a pet show and who amongst us can judge them? They did do some rather charming tricks – rolling over to play dead and fetching the tree – but I think a more simple approach would be better. The prize ribbon went, as it has the last several years, to the McCracken’s of Daw Hill with their trained herding sparrows.

So, I was pretty tuckered by the time I got to the Bridal Show. I did get there & walked down that aisle longing for the time I would have time to actually walk down the aisle of St. Sufferer’s for my sacred wedding sacrifice. Bea Petratica’s Bridalle Shoppe had a new shipment of fine pearl crushed velvet lace that would make any bride look like a dark queen.

One of these days Hank Grebly, one of these days. You – me & the aisle.

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

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August 2021 Recap

Over the past month my TOpoet.ca following stands at 464 ! The WP map does show my hits have come from  countries around the world. That USA tops the list is no surprise but that Bangladesh moves up to 3rd spot & that Bahrain is in the top 10 is a surprise. China! Ireland! sill up there. Ola Spain. Most popular post was The Beaches (https://topoet.ca/2021/08/12/the-beaches-august-2021/  ). My personal fav is Summer Striptease https://topoet.ca/2021/08/23/summer-striptease/ .

My Tumblr is at 332 followers. Twitter at 229 followers. Picture Perfect: 82 sections, about 112,000 words posted so far with approx 72,000 to be edited then posted. Returning to the Rules For Monks on Wednesdays for this month – October will see a return of scary poems on Haunted Wednesdays. 

Finally watched Rocketman & loved it. The film is a visual, sonic & emotional delight. Surreal & yet true to life. I liked the way the narrative flowed from music to reality to surreal so smoothly while inviting me in to the addictive mess his life had become. Taron Egerton did his own singing (unlike the Freddie Mercury bio in which the lead won the Oscar for best lip-syncing). Like many recovery stories this one is too much about the glamour & glitter of the downfall with the recovery dealt with in a minute. Highly recommended.

Another great watch was ‘Ma Vie en rose’ 1997 – a sweet, remarkable movie about gender identity. A young child – supposedly 7 – decides they are a boy-girl & experiences & survives cultural resistance & forced gender norms & transphobia. Excellent writing, unforced humour, great performances. Highly recommended for all ages.

read: Germinal is part of the Les Rougon-Macquart a collective title given to a cycle of twenty novels by Emile Zola. This was, I think, the fourteenth in the series. It is brilliant. I’ve read two other ‘versions’ of it – each English translation is a rewrite of the original & retells it through the eyes of the translator. Zola is a French Dickens, only, unlike Dickens, his stories are grittier, darker & more directly sexual. If you don’t know Zola start with Terese Raquin. I have an Amazon Kindle collection of the complete novels & am about half-way through them all – I only have 150 hours of reading to finish them 🙂 Zola is one of my prime fiction influences.

Read ‘Farewell to the Sea’ the third novel in Reinaldo Arenas’ Pentagonia: a five novel “secret history” of Cuba. I’m re-reading all my Arenas, he’s another of my prime fiction influences. Farewell deconstructs the novel with free-wheeling interior monologues, ranted poetry, shifting p.o.v. in his no-holds-barred attack on Cuban justice, politics &queer sexuality. Funny, mythic & compelling. A mid-century masterpiece. 

It has been a good month with no major events as things slowly open up after the long pandemic shutdown. Waiting for what form this vaccine passport will take. Will I have to give the wait person access to my OHIP info to order a meal? Probably works only for smart phones.  Wondering how the need to prove covid status will effect things – rapid test costs $40 at Shoppers – so tickets for events that ask for that status will now cost $40 more. Friends looking for new jobs and/or apartments now searching the obituaries. Not so brave not so new world.

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