On a still fall day, I walk through the woods near the river. The sun is out and this makes the birch bark shine in white vertical swipes on a background of dun and green. The river is every shade of blue, capped with white horses beneath a sky of mare’s tails.Continue reading “Piece of My Heart by Mitchell Toews”
For my sister Tracy – Happy birthday and I know that your mind will be elsewhere. Hope this cheers you up a wee tad.Continue reading “Franky And Jesus by Hugh Cron (Warning – Very strong adult content with what some would find blasphemous references. Do not read if you are likely to be offended.)”
A while back, I was reading an account, by the poet and journalist James Fenton, of the fall of Saigon (aka Ho Chi Minh City) in 1975*. In the middle of the despairing mob outside the US Embassy, begging to be evacuated, as the last of the helicopters departed, Fenton came across one man simply shouting over again, ‘I’m a professor, I’m professor.’ Poor guy, he was well behind the times, we university professors get dumped on nowadays just like any other employee. The trick is to spot when the shit-shower is imminent.Continue reading “An Historical Footnote by Michael Bloor“
I was visiting Fraser, an old friend, in Fife. It was one of those fine, dry, crisp, cold days that you often find in Scotland in February and we took a walk out into the countryside. Fraser pointed out a ruined tower in the middle distance, Balwearie Tower. The name was familiar, like a fragment of an old song: ‘Balwearie Tower? The home of Michael Scott, the Mage?’Continue reading ” The Laird of Balwearie by Michael Bloor”
I found him at a country fair. He sat apart from the other men, a distance only I noticed. Hearing the coin in my pocket, they turned when I approached. Money makes cocks of men. They tried hard to impress me with chest-bumping, fighting, and tidbitting. But this was the season for hiring, not mating.Continue reading “The Hireling by Florianne Humphrey”
In the heart of Chicago’s new butchering center, in a ramshackle apartment in a ramshackle house, a truly destined cowboy was born to a hard-working Scots-born butcher and his wife. The year was 1864 and the Scotsman had just got a job with the newly formed Union Stock Yards. Ralston Condor was a meat cutter, one of many that came with the swelling herds in the yards. Eventually, after 7 years on the job, he’d come home at night and tell his wife and son all the stories he heard during the day, at work, at the tavern on the way home, from friends on the corner … all about the great herds of the west, the cowboys and drovers and ramrods and trail bosses and the Indians along the way as cattle headed for Chicago and the stockyards and the butcher plants. For all those years he longed for the open country again, like the land he had known on the moors of Scotland with Angus cattle, a distinguished and hardy breed.Continue reading “The Broomstick Cowboy by Tom Sheehan”
Looking from one end of a story to another is enlightening in most circumstances. Often the surprises on tap happen out of the blue … or take a piece of forever to come around.Continue reading “Burial of a Dark Charger by Tom Sheehan”
I leaned against the largest maple tree, planted hungry years before upon a leech trench in my back yard, watching my going out of me at play and shining the souls of mirrors back, telling each other what we knew.
I loved him from the tree, later a window dark-squared above the wide grass, as I leaned toward his hands moving out of himself, making; and the corners of the house, the inners and outers hammered upwards from my hand in late repair.Continue reading “Flashing Mirrors at a House Built in 1742 by Tom Sheehan”
A Failed Attempt at Method Writing
I recently streamed a documentary about the Stanislavski “school of acting”–aka, “The Method.” Like all other artistic endeavors that get over, there’s a bunch of pretentious pontificating associated with The Method (which first got big in America about seventy-five years ago). Once you get past all the verbiage and “pillars,” the Method is mainly investing your own emotions in a character, to “become” the role you are playing. If the character is supposed to be sad, think of the day your hamster died and act accordingly.
To illustrate this the documentary showed clips of “mannered” performances from the 1930’s–those in which stage-like performances were filmed because talking film acting had yet to be invented. These were compared to James Dean and Marlon Brando emoting. To be honest with you I smelled plenty of ham baking in the early Method film performances. Marlon must have really loved that hamster named “STEEELLLLA!!!” But who am I to criticize?
Anyway, it got me thinking about bringing the Method to writing. I experimented with bringing forward a memory of someone I hated and attempted to use the emotion in fiction.Continue reading “Week 378: A Failed Attempt at Method Writing. And a Successful Saturday Special For Decoration Day”
On his twentieth wedding anniversary, and pondering various presents he might acquire for his wife Amanel, Viktor Drovnovich, a land manager in the eastern section of Pskov Province, scanned the offerings in Karpenko’s store front as he headed home from a three-week separation. The trip would take him two days, with a night spent at Madame Estelle’s Inn on the Tver road to halve the journey. He looked forward to that stop, for he left Madame Estelle always carrying good will and good spirits, warming him up for the return home.Continue reading “Midwife Legacy by Tom Sheehan”