2nd Annual Mind’s Eye Writers Retreat

February 25, 2018


Photo: Workshop leaders Rob Ritchie and John Brownlow with the Mind’s Eye Writers’ Retreat participants.

I just returned from a weekend of learning, fun, writing, creativity, scotch and great food with old friends and new. When my friend Lori and I reached Purple Valley, we were greeted by the McIvor House hosts, Jeremy and Tonya Miller. I had my first taste of scotch from a quaich, very cool!

The sessions presented by Rob Ritchie and John Brownlow were detailed and enlightening. Both are very knowledgeable about the writing industry and their own genres. We learned a lot,

it was rewarding to spend time with other writers. The goodwill, humour, shared interests and support from everyone made the weekend fun and invigorating, I left the retreat rested, restored, reflective and ready to write, I seemed to have contracted a mild case of alliteration.

Hosts Jeremy and Tonya Miller of McIvor House outdid themselves. Wonderful meals all day! The food will be remembered and raved about forever. Tutterbarts for everyone!

Let us gather the last weekend of February next year and do it all again. Keep February 22-24 open for the 3rd annual Mind’s Eye Writers’ Retreat.

MotW – Death at a Funeral

February 17, 2018


Tagline: From director Frank Oz comes the story of a family that puts the F U in funeral.

Death at a Funeral is a favourite film in our family. It is a wonderful farce. There is a 2010 American remake but we prefer the original 2007 British verion. The humour is dry, rude and hillarious. The whole cast is brilliant, but Alan Tudyk’s Simon is exceptionally funny.

We have a family joke because we have tended to tell others about it and given a disclaimer that the movie is a great family movie, extremely funny, but there is lots of profanity, bathroom humour, drugs, nudity and gay midget sex. We highly recommend it.

Here is the IMDb entry. If you haven’t seen Death at a Funeral, set aside ninety minutes. The time is well worth it.



San Cristobal de las Casas

February 12, 2018


At the end of the month, I will be heading to Mexico for two weeks. I am looking forward to the adventure, though as always, I am a tad nervous. I will be staying with my friends Bill and Miki in San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas Mexico.

If you are curious, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Cristóbal_de_las_Casas is the wikipedia entry for San Cristobal.

http://www.roamingaroundtheworld.com/things-san-cristobal-de-las-casas-mexico/ is a list of fifteen things to do in San Cristobal. Many are possibilities for me. I will, of course, be trying Pox. The word Pox comes from the Mayan language Tzotzil and means medicine.

I plan to spend the time soaking up the sun, the culture and the good times with friends. I am looking forward to reading, writing and studying magic. It promises to be a fun filled two weeks.


A Musical Countdown

February 7, 2018

Rolling Stone

My brother and his son are doing a countdown of the 500 greatest albums according to Rolling Stone. It sounded like a cool project so I jumped aboard. It will take me a bit to catch up, but soon we’ll synchronize our listening so that we can talk about the albums. Most of the music can be found on Tidal.

When I am on my holidays at the end of the month, I am going to try to listen to one album every other day, starting at number 500, Aquemini by Outkast. It will be a musical education as some of the picks are unfamiliar to me.

The link to the Rolling Stone article and top 500 list of albums can be found at https://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/500-greatest-albums-of-all-time-20120531. Feel free to share your music ratings in the comments as we go along.

MOTW – Groundhog Day

February 2, 2018

Phil: Do you ever have déjà vu, Mrs. Lancaster?

Mrs. Lancaster: I don’t think so, but I could check with the kitchen.


Since today is February 2nd and I am a few “Movie of the Week” posts behind, I decided that it was a good time to write about Groundhog Day. The IMDb entry is at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107048/.

Groundhog Day is one of the two movies starring Bill Murray that I picked as my MOTW selections. I have seen this movie many times and I highly recommend it. I am always left feeling positive and contemplative after watching it. Groundhog Day is a movie that challenges me to be a better person, to understand the meaning making of my own life, and to work to improve myself and the lives of others.

Here’s the original trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LFdjZnU57A. If you have never seen the movie, skip the trailer because it gives too much of the story away. Go get the DVD and watch it. We have a copy at the library.

For more Groundhog Day articles, you could read the Roger Ebert review at https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-groundhog-day-1993 and this one from the Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/feb/07/groundhog-day-perfect-comedy-for-ever.



I randomized the list of 50 remaining movies with https://www.randomlists.com/random-numbers. Watch for a few more posts until I catch up.

Kreegah! Ben-ze Rota

January 29, 2018


When I was a preteen, my Uncle Carl passed on the Tarzan comics that he and my Uncle Clark had collected. I devoured them and went onto read some of the books by Edgar Rice Burroughs too. I know that some people are offended by the racism and colonialism prevalent in the work of Burroughs, but the comics and books have a special place for me because Burroughs crafted worlds of fantasy where I could escape.

I read and reread the comics and I discovered the ape-language of the Mangani, the special breed / tribe of great apes in the Burroughs’ stories. Some of the comics would have a dictionary page that translated a few ape-language words into English. I wrote them out onto 3-ring pages and scanned the comics for other ape-language words and deciphered them by context until I had assembled a comprehensive ape-english dictionary. [My efforts pale in comparison to the well-researched materials at the ERBzine website http://www.erbzine.com/mag21/2113.html. The many links on the page are amazing!]

The phrase, Kreegah, Bundolo (Beware, I Kill) can be found in popular culture. It even has a wikipedia entry. When writing my short story Kismet’s Kaleidoscope, I used the ape-language as one of the ways to introduce both danger and recollection to the story.


Tarzan read the scratchings on the leaves. This image is from Joe Kubert’s 2nd DC issue of Tarzan which was dated May 1972.

The title of this blog post translates as “Beware. Great Entertainment.” If you want to read more about the Tarzan comics:


Playing With a Full Deck Now

January 25, 2018

magic castle2

Tonight was a Board meeting and it included our annual employee service recognition. I am truly lucky to have amazing coworkers that demonstrate an exemplary commitment to both the library and to our community every day.

The picture is of a deck of playing cards from the Magic Castle in Los Angeles. I would love to visit one day. When I was working on my MLIS, for one assignment, I interviewed Bill Goodwin, the Magic Castle Librarian. He was very generous with his time and talked to me about his duties and the magic collection that he curates. It was a real fan moment for me. There is a beautiful night shot of the building by photographer Joe Pugliese in this article about the Magic Castle http://www.lamag.com/culturefiles/magic-castle/.

It was also Robbie Burns night and it was nice to end the evening sipping a Benriach that was waiting when I arrived home. I finished the evening with some more magic cataloging. A very nice birthday!

More Magic This Year

January 22, 2018

“Learn as much as you can, as widely as you can, for the joy of it, for the sheer sake of learning. Seek excellence in your own work and also in the people with whom you surround yourself. Seek mentors.” – Jamy Ian Swiss

Jamy Ian Swiss

It have some learning goals for 2018. I want to spend more time on my magical studies. The quote above is part of a Q and A with magician Jamy Ian Swiss. He recommends Books Every Magician Should Read in this article at http://conjuror.community/jamy-ian-swiss-creativity/. Definitely, some for me to seek out. One of the things that I am doing is orgazinzing and cataloging my magic collection. I find it very relaxing to spend time this way. A librarian at work and a librarian at home.

The pic above is from a visit on Craig Ferguson on December 15, 2010. Here is the clip:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqoz7MwDaAo. I am fascinated by magic that is performed with playing cards. Time to read and practise.



Retreating to Write – Feb. 23rd – Join Me

January 17, 2018

McIvor House Retreat

The Mind’s Eye Writer’s Retreat is one of the best ways for writers to rediscover the inner motivation to push on, to write regularly. Spending the weekend with skilled, knowledgeable and successful writing coaches and other writers was the best tonic for me to resume my writing goals.

The daily activities were fun and inspiring. Workshop facilitator, Rob Ritchie, brings humour, knowledge and optimism to every discussion, while skillfully guiding writers through the challenging world of the writing industry. Multi-talented and successful in a variety of creative pursuits, Rob provides “down to earth”, truthful guidance and encouragement that leaves the writer motivated to chase words and describe situations.

The opportunity to write regularly and workshop with other talented authors was very useful. The weekend was filled with positive, encouraging and supportive moments, but I also appreciated the opportunity to examine my own work and scaffold new story ideas. The camaraderie and fellowship was a powerful encouragement to put pen to paper.

I haven’t mentioned the beautiful surroundings of the McIvor House Bed and Breakfast or the tasty meals provided. (Now you know… worth the trip itself.) Tonya and Jeremy Miller are wonderful hosts!

I’m heading back on February 23rd. Come join us. There’s room for you and your stories too.


MotW – Aloha Bobby & Rose

January 13, 2018


Today’s movie is the first of 52 that I decided to examine.  At first, I thought I would do them in alphabetical order so Aloha Bobby and Rose happens to come first. I will do randomize the order of the rest.

When Aloha Bobby and Rose was released in 1975, I was nine years old. It was a movie that my mother and soon to be stepfather went to see on a date. They liked it. Later, us kids got to see it with them at a drive-in theatre which was probably one of the ones on the outskirts of Toronto.

Aloha Bobby and Rose is one of the first movies that I remember seeing. I still can visualize the robbery scene. I have incorporated the wrong person in the wrong place theme into my own writing as riffs from this concept that I first saw in Aloha Bobby and Rose.

Both Diane Hull and Paul Le Mat are still acting. Dianne is an accomplished acting coach! The movie was made on a $60,000 budget and grossed over 35 million in the United States.

The songs were the ones that were on the radio in the mid seventies (lots of Elton John) and I still enjoy listening to many of them today.

  1. “Begin the Beguine” – Artie Shaw
  2. “First Impression – Part 2” – Emerson Lake and Palmer
  3. “What Does It Take to Win Your Love” – Jr. Walker and The All Stars
  4. “Just My Imagination” – The Temptations
  5. “Locomotion” – Little Eva
  6. “Smiling Faces” – The Undisputed Truth
  7. “Bennie and the Jets” – Elton John (uncredited)
  8. “Since I Fell for You” – Lenny Welch (uncredited)
  9. “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” – Stevie Wonder (uncredited)
  10. “Your Song” – Elton John (uncredited)
  11. “Tiny Dancer” –  Elton John (uncredited)
  12. “Honky Cat” – Elton John (uncredited)
  13. “Like a Rolling Stone” – Bob Dylan (uncredited)

Here’s the trailer.

Richard Brody provides a review on video here. His article at New Yorker can be found here and it includes the video review as well. The IMDb information is here.

Here’s a review from the Eclectic Screening Room.

Some have said that the 68 Camaro is the best car portrayed in a movie ever.