New Flash Fiction! I’m on TikTok! I’m still here!

New flash fiction either in Podcast or print format. This new and original story, while a work of fiction, is based off a fever dream I had when I was in the hospital. Coming damn close to death in April made me think about a lot of things and people in my life. In the aboriginal community, dealing with resiliency, there is the idea we have to be like the American Buffalo or Bison. The Bison faces into the storm, walks through and toward it. By doing so, it gets out of the storm faster.

And sometimes it sucks where part of that storm is seeing a sibling with a terminal illness knowing that by this time next year, she won’t be around. It sucks knowing everything changes, yet nothing is truly lost. And senior citizens plant trees the shade of which they know they will never sit in.

So, what trees shall I plant? That’s why I write even sometimes when there is a storm in my soul.

Also… I’m also on TikTok now, I’ve cut short my hair, I’m still getting used to the supervisor position at work (more hours, slightly better pay, but still protected by the union), and I’m trying to remember that the future is an adventure as the seasons change. With that, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons recomposed by Max Richter

COVID-19, Writing, and Edits

April 2021 will always be the lost month, as I was hospitalized with double pneumonia due to being infected with the South African variant of COVID-19. I was hospitalized for 13 days at the Rockyview hospital here in Calgary. It gave me time to think about my priorities in life.

I will be doing more writing, pushing myself to find ways (grants/online work, other) to live as a writer, even though I may have to work part-time at other jobs.

There is a casualty to this – the whole “Alone Plague” journal I was writing (and then – nervous cough – abandoned) will be removed from my website and Podcast pages over the next few days. It seems…juvenile now. That’s not to say it won’t come back, but as the writer I’ve decided this needs to be removed for the time being. True, nothing’s ever gone from the Internet, and I don’t hate the work, it’s just been superseded by life.

Short Theatre Stories

So, while I was posting these short theatre stories on another site, I thought “Ummmmm….maybe put this on your website?” So here are a few short Theatre stories from my youth:

Theatercraft
Our instructor for Theatrecraft 101 was a real easygoing guy, probably about 35. This course covered the basics of creating a set, lighting, costuming, sound, etc. And he had a lot of stories…from an insane stagehand who made a large set piece (house roof) come screaming earthward for shits and giggles to an incompetent assistant who nearly electrified the instructor. But the one that is relatable is on X-acto blades. As we were working in foamcore to build set dioramas and cutting it with X-actos, he made sure we were careful and used cutting surfaces. Because when he was in school (back when X-actos were a lot sharper and unsafe), a classmate was cutting foamcore with his jeans, skin and muscle as a cutting surface. Idiot Classmate finishes, stands up, notices his jeans are shredded, notices the blood starting to seep out, and then notices the pain. Blades back then were surgical sharp. Ouch.

Oh Apollo!
Theatre History 101. Our instructor, Alex, was a big bear of a man, 6’3″ and a little chunky. He’s got this deep baritone voice, and one day while studying an ancient Greek Tragedy, he mentions how sometimes a translation can miss the subtle directing cues the original work has. He describes a scene from Oresteia (an ancient Greek tragedy by Aeschylus) where Cassandra cries out in despair to the Greek god Apollo as she knows what’s going to happen to her. The English translation is essentially “Oh! Apollo!!” and Alex said this is where the translation fails. So – picture this bear of a man, a professor, mid-50s, inhaling in such a way it felt like he was trying to devour the air, then a split second later:

oooooOOOOOOOOOO!O!O!TOOOOYTOOOYYYYY!!​!! APPPPOLLLOOOOOO!!

Cue the class in shock, people in the front row with their hair blown back, and the DudeBro Frat guy in the back flicking his Bic lighter like he’s at a concert.

Drying or in character?
An actor can forget their lines (or “dry”) for various reasons…but the weirdest situation is when they forget the line because the actor is no longer there but their character IS.

So, theatre school, final project. We stage The Sport of My Mad Mother. I play the naïve American tourist. The rest are members of a London Cockney street gang. V—-, playing one of the gang, has a scene with me where we are comforting the female lead. I’d just said my line, and was waiting on V—-. And waiting.

Now to be fair, actors performing operate on stage-time (where every second for the audience is 10 seconds to the actors) and I have ADHD which is hyped by my adrenaline from the performance, I’m operating on a level of Matrix-like Bullet-Time.
I look over at V—-.
I realize V—- isn’t here anymore.
I then think “ohshiatnowwhat…hey, do I need to pick up milk later? No, no, I’m good…could do with some butter….okay where are we in the play again?” I mentally page through the script to his line, and quickly reword it so I can say it. The next actor picks up her cue, and the play goes on as normal. Afterwards, I ask V—- about it and he says “No, I said the line” to which everyone else in the green room says “Nope”. He genuinely did not remember. I’m glad it happened in a quieter moment, not in the middle of a fight scene.

Bonus Theatre “Cool Story Bro”: Accidental transposed line from Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas at the Walterdale Theatre in Edmonton. This play has a cast of dozens along with about 5-6 stagehands and crew. The original line spoken by the First Voice is “Heads are picked, noses are wiped”. Unfortunately, (and you should NEVER DO THIS TO ACTORS OR PEOPLE SINGING SONGS unless it’s Weird Al Yankovic or someone similar) during rehearsal, someone in the cast jokingly made parody scenes and lines. The actor had heard the joke version, and that night transposed the nouns in that sentence. The First Voice caught her mistake and paused for a split second. Meanwhile, the entire cast and crew backstage and onstage are quietly exploding in laughter. But we continued on with no issues other than sore abdominal muscles from clenching them to prevent laughter.

Taste the Memories: new fiction!

Alrighty. NEW PODCAST! “Taste the Memories” click here for podcast, or for the text version, click here.

What else? Oh, yes, a Table of Contents (TOC) for my Library of Stories. After installing the widget and poking at it for a few weeks, being generally afraid of the work I suspected was involved, when I was posting the text version I saw there was a toggle button for a table of contents. One click later and “ta-da!” You can click on the icon on the top left of the TOC to expand or collapse it. For my next trick, I may do pages, or some sort of “back button”.

Other than that, as I peer out the window, it appears the snow squall forecasted has arrived. Music that might help: 1960s Jazz Music.

I was listening to some Lalo Schifrin and Jerry Goldsmith movie soundtracks from the 60s/early 70s. There’s something about the music of that time…yes some of it verges towards elevator music, but there was a lot of good stuff like the background music for the 1967 Spider-Man animated series. Yes, really. Or to get a really good idea about the energy of the music, try Herbie Hancock’s Cantaloupe Island.

This week’s podcast – Left Foot, Right Foot

Alrighty – a new podcast in our lovely Podcasts section: Left Foot, Right Foot. I read off a story I’ve previously posted in the Library of Stories which gives a look at the solution to crash landing on an alien world if you’ve got powered armour. Hint – it involves a lot of walking, and madness.

I was going to post another story I wrote over the weekend inspired by grocery shopping in the time of the plague, but I realized that it needs a few weeks to ripen. True, all my stories are “works in progress” but sometimes I need to put something new out of my mind for a few weeks while my brain gets some needed distance.

As ever, if you like what you see, follow me here, on social media (today linking to my Twitter) or on Podbean…but I’d really appreciate it if you tipped me by pressing on the Green “Buy me a coffee” button to go to my Ko-fi account and donate what you can.

Tomorrow, between taking the next chapter on my Gale SEO course, I will also (spoiler) post Day 3 and 4 of the Alone Plague Journal.

The Now, and a Story of What Could Happen

“I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now” – Edna Mode

I’ve got for you a new speculative fiction along with some random thoughts below. But first, the story: Corporate Bliss a Story Told in Emails. It’s about capitalism, life, and depression all through email conversations in an office setting. Comments welcome here or on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram…

And I’m not depressed, but Winter always makes me reflective. I wanted to post some memories my mother has shared with me. I then thought, “What about me? Who will I share my memories with?” I then thought of other LGBTQ2SA folk with no kids. Or of couples who were childless. Or even single people. Who sings their stories after they are gone?

“Who cares” but as time goes on, and the world changes, often it’s the slice of life that give colour to the past. Telling you I remember being a teenager and on a bus with school mates singing along to The Pointer Sisters “Jump” and you can say “So what?”

Yet. Point out that at the time, I was still dealing with my sexuality. I had been bullied in elementary. I was mostly ignored in Junior High, but wasn’t part of the “In” crowd. In high school, playing football suddenly made me part of the “In” crowd because I was a jock. And it was….an education in tribalism, and why it was and still is, an utter load of bullshit. Hating someone because he/she/they are not part of your religion, your family, your nationality, they don’t like sports, they look different, etc. etc.

So, with that as context, when I say it was a bus of football players in gear, singing and jumping to that song “Jump” after coming home from a football game, the colour in this slice of the past is bright, as it was a happy moment for me – I felt I was part of something, part of a crowd, a team. Yet it’s a memory tinged with sadness as I remember feeling lonely because it was also a lie: I made sure never to let my eyes linger on another guy while in the change room, knowing I was different even while on the outside I appeared to be one of the crowd.

15 Minute Hate – new flash fiction

Warhol mentioned 15 minute of fame but in the flash fiction (or future speculative fiction) I’ve written, it might be more like a 15 Minute Hate. What happens when the government regulates the outrage machine on social media. Is it a better or worse world? As it is a draft, any feedback let me know on my Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages.

Cree [Nehîya] Language Learning

I’m learning Nehîya Pîkiskwewin [“Cree Talk”, pronounced nay/i/yah pee/gs/gway-wn]. This is thanks to the Calgary Public Library, the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary and teacher Ernie Poundmaker. Recently, when I was on the Facebook page “CreeSimon Says” someone asked the Cree word for “cat”. A couple replies came, but my mind was blown by them.

What I can gather so far…I *think* the traditional word is “Minōs” [pron: mi-noose]. That was cool. But my mind was blown when it was indicated the slang/modern Cree is “poosees” [yes, pronounced the same as pussywillow].

The reason? Back in the 70s, my Aunt (maternal aunt so, the word would be “nisikos” – knee-si-gos or kne-si-kos) had a house cat at her farm called “Pussy Cat”. So, given that my Mom [“nikâwîy” pron: knee-gah-wee(yuh) with the yuh almost silent] and her sister had *some* exposure to Cree in their youth, my aunt may have called the cat…uh, “Cat Cat”.