Archive for the ‘Memoir’ Category

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29/07/2011

July 29, 2011

How’s that for a catchy title, huh?? A real eye-grabber.

What’s new…. hmmm…

Well, my grand-daughter Madison turned 3 the other day. If you didn’t catch this post on FaceBook here is the link to a photo session that her parents arranged: http://video214.com/play/O​5eCA4jJ7Y394cYFdiecSw/s/da​rk . Such a sweetie. I sent a message to my daughter-in-law Melissa saying I wish I could visit way more often so I could see the changes in Madison as she is growing. It is also less than a month before Melissa is due to deliver baby #2, ‘C’ section scheduled for Aug 25. They had some prego pics done as well, here: http://video214.com/play/DMyKs0m4wzgJVdj2360mUA/s/dark

Oh, glory-be!

Last week I marked off another successful year of ongoing sobriety through working the miracle which is the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I know I have thought this previously in this my twisted life’s journey but….. if I can stay sober through this past year I can survive anything. One day at a time and all that good stuff.

straight around

I’m glad I keep book review columns that I see in the newspaper otherwise I likely would have missed out on reading Rodney Crowell’s ‘Chinaberry Sidewalks’. I finished reading it last night and it was a terrific piece of memoir. He had me hooked from the first page and didn’t let up till it was all done. Highly recommended – 5 stars.

rush

Lynda and I enjoyed having g’son Owen with us for all of last week – he’s quite a character. We’ve also been getting out doing a few social things due to the fact that I have my weekends off (PTL). Tomorrow night we’re heading into Toronto for an evening with some of the folks I went through my Addiction Studies course with…. probably be a dozen or so of us. We haven’t done one of these get-togethers for a few years so it ought to be interesting.

 

lazing around at the flea market

Have a good weekend, folks. Time to get cleaned up for work tonight.

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Long or Short…. of it

November 24, 2010

Not too sure how long I’ll be sitting here. My back has been grinding and seizing up for the last few weeks… then I guess I screwed it up yesterday raking, bagging and carrying the last of the nice, wet, heavy leaves. Gotta have a little lay down soon before working tonight. Heating pad, ibuprofen, rest, la-la land…..

Frosted

I’ve read a couple of memoirs lately by a two Toronto musicians (and writers) – Dave Bidini formerly of The Rheostatics and Paul Quarrington of Porkbelly Futures. Dave’s book recounts his adventure as a solo act touring the world following the Rheostatics break-up. He hit London England, Scandinavia, Russia, China, a couple of African countries and a few Canadian dates… the book’s title is ‘Around the World in 57 1/2 Gigs’. Paul’s book ‘Cigar Box Banjo’ is a blend of thoughts on music and life during his final year following a diagnosis of Stage IV lung cancer, which proved to be terminal. A downer of a read this definitely ISN’T. He stayed busy writing the book, a screenplay, writing songs and recording right up to three days before he died early this year. Paul grew up not too distant from where I did and we were about the same age so he mentions a number of places I’m familiar with and events we both attended.

Now I’m better than half way through Bill Bryson’s ‘Notes from a Small Island’ recounting his tour of Britain before moving back to the States (having lived in Britain for about 20 years). He definitely appreciates the ‘best of Britain’ but doesn’t hold back on his criticism of what he sees as ‘the worst’ either. Next up – and how could there two such divergent choices, anyway? – is either the Dalai Lama’s ‘The Middle Way’, or Hunter S Thompson’s ‘Fear and Loathing in America: The Gonzo Letters II’. Have to see how I’m feeling later and make up my mind then.

Had an interesting email from cuz BJ in response to that last post regarding John’s advice. Noted dear cousin; I’m not committing myself to anything fast and foolish. More like sober consideration.

Also re Kel’s comment/ question….. would have been tracking down courses except my back has kept me from the computer. Pretty much anything ‘Human Services’-wise would do. There’s a post-grad Addictions specialty degree offered at the local university so I’ll look into their course load.

bye-bye peonies - hack & slash

Nap time for Bonzo…..

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Words and Music

November 15, 2010

Music: Lately as I’ve been reading the daily papers (Toronto Star, National Post, NYT) I’ve been clipping items from the entertainment pages that contain ‘tinyurls’ which lead either to audio versions of songs or sometimes the opportunity to download them. Mostly I’ve remembered to hang onto them and when I have some time at the computer check them out. It did get me curious about tinyurls as I’ve really been out of the loop for a long time now and know nothing about them (God bless my tech challenged head.). Yesterday I came across a site strictly for songs and you can plug in a song title or artist / group and listen to it or share it via Twitter, Facebook or email. The main site is http://www.tinysong.com/ (We’ll see if it works here…. ahem, lemme see…) http://tinysong.com/rFWZ Ta-Dahhh!!!! This is the Johnny Cash song which accompanies ‘The Johnny Cash Project – an open source compilation of various artists works for an animated video of the song….. found here. (Be patient; it is large and takes a few seconds to load) http://www.thejohnnycashproject.com/. (Scroll down to watch the video.)

A few others – Neil Young’s new one ‘Walk With Me’ produced by Daniel Lanois. Scroll down to video screen. http://www.speakersincode.com/2010/09/jam-of-day-neil-young-walk-with-me.html

New one by The Cars – ‘Blue Tip’ http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=445115559565

The Decemberists – ‘The King is Dead’  video preview http://www.decemberists.com/

Tired Pony – The Place We Ran From – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sC68mAQYstE

(These are the pages which the tiny urls took me to.)

Words: So, since last time around I have read…

actually reread both Jeannette Walls ‘Glass Castles’ and Malachy McCourt’s ‘A Monk Swimming: a Memoir’.

A powerful memoir by David Sheff titled ‘Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction’. I have his son’s book on hold at the library which covers the same ground from his point of view… Nic Sheff – ‘Tweak’.

Bill Bryson’s ‘Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid; a memoir’.  I have a couple of his others on hold too…. ‘A History of Nearly Everything’ and; ‘At Home’.

I don’t typically read many novels but I was glad I bought this one at the library’s sale, ‘The Secret Lives of Bees’ by Sue Monk Kidd. Beautifully written… transporting.

A collection of Shel Silverstein’s poetry called ‘Light in the Attic’ which was as entertaining for his illustrastions as his words. (Also bought at the sale – a steal at $2) On the same trip I found a tribute album of Shel’s songs performed posthumously by a variety of artists, including Kris Kristofferson, John Price, Nanci Griffith and Lucinda Williams. It is called ‘Twistable, Turnable Man- A Musical Tribute To The Songs Of Shel Silverstein’.

I’m currently reading a mystery by Harlan Coben which helps pass the time until I make it back to said library.

Other news – Cousin BJ and I will see one another at the end of the month for the first time in 2 to 3 years. The occasion is a celebration for her father (my late father’s eldest brother) who is turning 90 years young. So, barring any screw ups in my work schedule we should get some face time.

Other, other news – Looks like (same proviso) long time blog friend Kel and I may have a face-to-face meeting along toward New Years. She and her hubby are celebrating Xmas on this side of the Pacific and doing a bit of a road tour which will bring them past our front door. This is one of those ‘once in a lifetime opps’, so count me in.

Must get on with the day, accomplish something, have a nap and then off to work for the night. Bye.

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Recently…..

November 4, 2010

A couple of nights working; now a couple of days off. I finally made up my mind to take the severance package so I’m no longer associated with the rehab centre. Guess I’ll finally have to update my profile page here, huh? Last night my A.A. home group was responsible for putting on a meeting at another groups meeting place (a thing called Interchange) and I decided I was ready to speak. Previously I hadn’t felt emotional, mentally or spiritually stable enough to get up and do that. It went off pretty well with a number of people coming to me afterward to talk about what I had to say, including one previous client from ‘the house’ who has been out on another booze and coke run. Anyway, I only choked up once which I thought was pretty good considering circumstances lately.

Other A.A. stuff – my term as chair for our district meetings ends at years end. It’s been a good two years, service-wise. I was elected to a committee chair position which will be lighter duty – another 2 year post. (Spirit of rotation so you don’t have the same crew running things and everyone has a chance to get involved.)

Musical interlude from the ‘Crazy Heart’ soundtrack – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zelvaxvTaUk

Lots to do today once it warms up a little . The trees around here are about 75% bare so I have about a kazillion leaves to bag up before garbage day tomorrow. Shopping to do. Lynda and I are taking Mom out for dinner tonight.

More music? Roseanne Cash’s “September When It Comes”. Duet with Johnny the year before he died. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oqqzwcJwMk

Finished reading Alice Munro’s “Hateship, Friendshhip, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage” and thought it to be very good. Got about 3/4 of the way through George Carlin’s autobiography ‘Last Words’, which was finished posthumously for him by Tony Hendra. You get a good picture of the things that drove his success and his ways of thinking about comedy as a way of confronting society’s foibles. I came across a book of Shel Silverstein’s so that is next up. He’s always struck me as being a bit ‘out there’ so we’ll see how it goes. Should be fun.

A little crooning by Bryan Ferry from his latest “Olympia”…. scroll down and hit play. http://stereogum.com/543642/bryan-ferry-song-to-the-siren-feat-jonny-greenwood-david-gilmour-roxy-music-stereogum-premiere/mp3s/

Would any post be complete without a photo. Some have seen this one before as it was taken at the rehearsal for the wedding in Calgary there about 7 or 8 weeks ago. I like the lighting of the space.

Pause

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Gleanings

October 26, 2010

from The New York Times: a story of a father inspired (by his son’s questions) to send a video camera attached to a weather balloon into space.

http://www.brooklynspaceprogram.org/BSP/Space_Balloon.html

from Elvis Costello’s “Spectacle” – Neko Case performing Harry Nilsson’s “Don’t Forget Me”. I love the full, rollicking quality of her voice…. and I think she’s really pretty, too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9KrotLtC-Y

I just edited my previous post correcting a couple of errors. Since then (last post) I’ve finished reading Neil Peart’s “Ghost Rider”. While good I didn’t enjoy it as much as his follow-up “Travelling Music”. Michael J Fox’s “Always Looking Up” was a really engaging read and inspirational as well. The last couple of nights I’ve been enjoying a short story collect by Joyce Carol Oates entitled “I am no one you know”. Such a ‘voice’ this woman has. I had been seeing repeated references to her and I’m glad for the introduction to her work. Wonderful.

I had a meeting last Friday with the big cheeses up at ‘the house’ – the treatment centre – where I was offered another severance package. Lord, it has been a year since the layoff… which explains the meeting. They’re required to offer another package at a year. Nice thing is that the offer is more than double the original so I’m considering it. They want an answer by Friday. They say that construction has been delayed by the approvals necessary from various government agencies and have yet to tender the job. Completion sometime in the spring…. b*llsh*t!!

Purposely hadn’t mentioned Lynda of late but thought I’d say she’s coming around somewhat and has returned to work. Still a mixture of good and bad days but the general trend is upward. The only good to have come out of this tragedy is that we’re closer and more in love than ever. She’s my gal.

I’ve been in touch with the woman who hypnotized me a few years ago for smoking cessation which resulted me being free of the damned things for about 7 months. While I’m ready to have another stab at it she has some upsetting stuff happening in her family and isn’t taking appointments for another few weeks. Soon….

Copy of Roma’s FB post regarding Mary Carr’s “Lit”, to whit:

Roma Arellano

Roma XXXXXXX – I tore through Mary Karr’s third memoir Lit so fast that now I’m going to re-read it.

    • Janine  I loved Lit. Hadn’t read Mary Karr before that (no idea how I missed her) but then got to read Liar’s Club and Cherry, very satisfying.

      October 16 at 1:09am ·
    • Barbara  Lit soars! Like Janine, don’t know how I missed the other two. Happy to have them to look forward to— so hard to chisel out actual reading time these days. 😦

      October 16 at 7:57am ·
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      Norm  Just finished it myself and thought the lot of them wonderful. Liar’s Club A+, Cherry a B, and Lit A+. Sweeping use of language.

      October 16 at 10:21am ·
    • Laurie  Agree with Norm except maybe skip the + on Lit. Got Lit for Christmas last year and like Roma consumed it in one sitting — but Liar’s Club is a mighty tough act to follow.

      October 16 at 10:57am ·
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      Norm  ‎@ Laurie – The + was because she succeeded in making me cry in Lit. A very rare accomplishment in my reading experience.

      October 16 at 11:58am ·
    • Roma – Norm, I’ve been tearing up in airport terminals all over the place. 🙂 Laurie, I can imagine a similar set of grandparents–your parents are firecrackers, too. And that touch of twang in your voice… 🙂

Mr BigHead

coldfirexray

Oh yeah; afterthought….. A few weeks ago I saw an ad for this concert and impulsively bought tickets for it (tho we really can’t afford it). Hadn’t been to a concert since Dylan was in town a couple of years ago so “What the hey”, eh? Great line-up of artists presenting some of my all-time fave music. http://www.experiencehendrixtour.com/schedule.php.  I’ll let you know how it goes. 

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Recent Readings

October 19, 2010

Alrighty then……. (drum roll) here we go. Not sure I have enough time for a lot of description or editorializing or rating what I’ve read during these last few months but we’ll see if I have time at the end for that. Right now I’ll concentrate on getting it down accurately.

First off a couple of books about writing – how to write properly; and the process of it.

– re-read Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style” – the sourcebook of choice.

Stephen King’s “On Writing” – wonder of wonders; well written!! (Ha,ha) Very accessible.

A couple from my ‘recommended list which I haven’t tracked down as yet but intend to read as and when I can. Anne Lamott’s “Word by Word”, Lawrence Block’s, “Spider Spin me a Web” and anything I can lay hands on by Natalie Goldberg (esp. “Writing Down to the Bones”). We have a good, well stocked library system but alas, no Natalie to be found.

Carrying on, this next list wouldn’t be here except for the interest generated in me by the two women at red Ravine, ybonesy and QM, who have written extensively about memoir. I used to think it was a fancy name for autobiography and have happily learned the difference. Onward!

“Glass Castles” by Jeanette Walls

“Drinking: a Love Story” by Caroline Knapp

“Liar’s Club: a Memoir” by Mary Karr; it’s sequel “Cherry”, and completing the tryptic “Lit’.

Roseanne Cash’s recently released memoir “Composed”. (Same trip I found her new CD “The List”. Woo-Hoo! Bonus!!)

Neil Peart (drummer and lyricist for the rock band Rush) “Traveling Music: Soundtrack to my life and times”.  {Robin – I think you’d like this. It’s not about band tours} I’m currently 100 pages into his previous memoir “Ghost Rider: Traveling the Healing Road” which describes the extended road trip he took following the deaths first of his 19 y.o. daughter, then of his wife 16 months later.

Autobiographies – Biographies – Tributes

Eric Clapton; an autobiography

Michael Moore; a biography by Emily Schultz

Michael Streissguth – “Always Been There; Roseanne Cash, The List & Spirit of Southern Music”

Crystal Zevon – “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: the Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon” – interviews and anecdotes from bandmates, friends, producers, etc compiled in a chronologic fashion. Very interesting.

A tribute to life lessons learned from late husband Hunter S Thompson – “The Gonzo Way” by Anita Thompson.

Farley Mowat’s “Otherwise”.

Next on my list is Micheal J Fox’s “Always Looking Up” which marks 8 years since his first autobiography.

Next section is short and untitled but comes from the fact I needed a spiritual kick-in-the-ass as I recovered from my stepson Craig’s death back in June. Had a wee problem with this ‘power greater than myself’ – anger, resentment, etc – not a good head space. So I picked up one of Joyce Meyer’s many books – ‘The Secret to True Happiness’. No I didn’t expect to find my solutions between the covers of a book but it managed to at least begin the dialogue once again. God and I are on speaking terms again – I try to let him do most of the talking, then act accordingly.

Novels; I haven’t read very many and found a couple which I couldn’t get into lately. I’ll share a few I really enjoyed. First off, one recommended by cousin BJ – “Water For Elephants” by Sara Gruen. Excellent!! She has a just newly released book called “Ape House” which is also getting good reviews (edit: subject is a species of monkey called Bobobos). Another Canadian author is Elizabeth Hay. I really enjoyed both “Student of Weather” and perhaps slightly less “Late Nights on Air”. Great flowing prose, wonderful eye for detail. Hmmm…. another Canuck; a humorist by the name of Arthur Black, author of “Black is the New Green”. I like his satiric take on the everyday. (He works his surname into all his titles.) One novel that broke a lot of rules and that I liked is Reif Larson’s “Selected Works of T S Spivet”.

Is anyone excited about non-fiction?? In Stephen King’s “On Writing” he recommends reading more than you write; read according to your interests; and read great writers as you’re bound to pick up things useful to you for your own expression. Well, one of Canada’s greatest writers – prolific, varied, etc. – is Margaret Atwood. Over the years I’ve read some of her fiction and enjoyed it but I recently borrowed her “Moving Targets: Writing With Intent 1982 – 2004”. It’s a compilation of her essays, book introductions, speeches, reviews…. you name it. I started the book with some trepidation as she can be a sometimes daunting figure to approach. What I found was one of the singularly BEST collections of writing I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. Fluid, insightful, compelling… now wonder she’s Canada’s acknowledged ‘Lady of Letters’. She has written poetry, fiction – both in short story and novel, criticism, a couple of series of childrens books, taught at several universities, been writer in residence, etc….. it goes on and on.

Writing about her reminded me of another noted female Cdn author – Alice Munro. Noted short story writer and recipient of awards too numerous to mention… I read one of her collections a few months ago, Selected Stories (?). Highly recommended.

That’s all the time I’ve got right now. I’ll expand on impressions when I get a chance. Funny how I when from a very occasional reader to hard core in such a short time. Reading is a great diversion sometimes but this has also been an interesting and entertaining portion of my life lately.