Monday, January 24, 2022

Boggle Boy

Having a carless childhood, Dan got very good at the subway game: Reworking the station names into smaller words and counting how many we could get out before the car left the station. The fun started at Dundas West: One, wad, wads, sweat, nation. Lansdowne Station…land, down, downs, dew, swan. The trip to Scarborough a pedagogical feast until Castle Frank. A knit eyebrow and a bouncing foot telegraphing an internal, imaginary struggle between Professor Calculus and Captain Underpants. Then a gamy smile: Stank, Fart, Farts!!! Proving once again that you can lead an arse to Warden but you can’t make it think.
Image: istockphoto

Monday, January 17, 2022

High Roller

I’d been living the good life but things turned quickly. Property, that’s what did me in. I was inexorably drawn to high-end real estate, and now all I had left was a tux, a silver roadster and a thousand dollars in crinkled small bills. Nothing for it but to roll the dice.
     A burst of mocking laughter. “Vroom, vroom . . . ” My eyes scanned ahead and I saw where I was headed. I counted it out, crossed the railway, missed a final Chance and slammed into destiny. The grin on Victor’s face was insufferable. “Boardwalk, one hotel. That’ll be two thousand bucks.”

Image from Cool Material. Inspired by This Bit of Innocent Play.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

This Bit of Innocent Play

My cardboard doll house with its miniature kitchen with its miniature rag rug, where everything is imperfect and definitely not square or even to proper scale and who cares anyways, sits in a corner of my home office. Started and then abandoned (for now). Covered in dust, lopsided and forlorn, it is chewed on occasionally by the cat—but even she gets bored of it. I will not throw it out—this bit of innocent play. It’s hopeful. It speaks to me of life devoid of the mundane worries and existential global crises that crush me incrementally each day. 

Inspired by the playhouse in Four Very Short Stories about William Shatner.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Four Very Short Stories about William Shatner

Considering she’d never met the man, my mother certainly had her share of William Shatner stories. There’s the one where they’d both gone to the same high school in Montréal, even if they were seven years apart. There’s another where she first saw him perform at the Mountain Playhouse; and then maybe the early years in Stratford, but she’d lost all her programmes to a flooded basement and couldn’t be sure. Oh, and one more about how she had to convince 11-year-old me it really was Captain Kirk in those Loblaw’s commercials, because he looked so weird out of uniform.
Inspired by Winter Whiteouts and Memory Blizzards. The 1950 photo of the Mountain Playhouse is from the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, where I also found one of the Playhouse programmes from 1952, which lists Mr. Shatner in two roles: “Richard Stanley” in The Man Who Came to Dinner and as the Assistant Manager of the Playhouse itself.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Winter Whiteouts and Memory Blizzards

The theme is music and I’m supposed to follow the lead and the cursor’s blinking and I’m stewing over whiteouts and car rentals and another trip to the frozen prairie to move a loved one into long term care. I made the fateful decision and now must see it through—and I’ve got nothing, absolutely nothing for the blog.
     Suddenly I overhear a snippet of an old song on seasonal rotation and the memories come flooding. Lost and out of reach to her, suddenly vivid and alive to me. Yes, I‘ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.
Sheet music by Melrose Music Corp., ca. 1943. Author’s note: To accommodate travel requirements, I wrote this contribution before Nancy posted her delightful ode to summer flowers. On the day this appears on the blog I will be in Saskatchewan, where in December there are no snowdrops but those falling from the sky.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Momentary Sunshine

In the big backyard of her parents’ suburban house, Zinnia chases after her older sisters Hyacinth and Magnolia, but they are mean and refuse to be caught and they laugh at her.
     “Maggie, wait!“ Zinnia whines. “Cinth, slow down!”
     But they're already gone out the side gate, locking it behind them. Zinnia falls on the grass and rips off the sunhat her mother insisted on. She closes her eyes, tilts her head up, and in the warmth of the summer afternoon sun, forgets for a moment her constantly teasing sisters and how she loves and hates them at the same time.

Inspired by You Are My Sunshine.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

You Are My Sunshine

There’s this young guy, spends way too much time downtown and way too much money at Funland, and he sees this old guy, night after night, begging in a doorway off Yonge, strumming his ukulele, singing the same sad song to a little stuffed dog, just trying to make change for a meal. And it works for a while, until the strings start breaking—no money for strings—even after some punk steals his uke, he sits there still, strumming those invisible strings, still singing that same sad song to his little stuffed dog: “ . . . please don’t take my sunshine away.”
Inspired first by Your Report on the Subway, a Toronto moment Kathy captured back in January 2016. Now, almost six years later, Laurie’s It’s Raining Mensches got me to finally write down this very old and very sad memory of mine. The photo is by Ciatus, who has an album on Fickr that perfectly captures the Yonge Street on which this story unfolds.

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