Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas card season

'Tis the season for exchanging Christmas cards. I rarely send them, but we manage to get a few despite our grinch-like card etiquette.

Anyway, I can always count on getting a few from various clients and/or colleagues, and one such card just came in the mail. The message, hand written, was so perfect and poem-like that I thought I'd share and wish the same to my readers:

Pour 2007
De l'air pur,
De l'eau claire
Et de l'encre à profusion.

I love it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Andy Mckee - Drifting - www.candyrat.com

I often get asked what kind of music I like, and as a musician, I have a hard time answering. Of course I have preferences, but mostly, I like anything played by a "real" musician. And by that, I mean someone who plays as naturally as they breathe. I just stumbled on this guy through the magic of YouTube, and he fits the bill as well as anyone.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Grammar Geekfest

A couple of interesting sites for grammar geeks (and let's face it, if you're a poet, you should be a grammar geek--even, and perhaps especially, if you like to break the rules, you should know what they are first).

Anyway, the first is from the Language Log, an interesting site I recently stumbled upon. Lots of interesting posts in the archives, including a statistical look at one of those silly rules of the English language: "i" before "e" except after "c". Don't let the statistics scare you off; it's surprisingly readable (and actually kind of funny, in a grammar-geek sort of way).

The other is yet another podcast and website (lately I've been thinking I should change the name of this blog to Poetry and Poets in Podcasts): Grammar Girl. Much of what you hear in the podcast is transcribed on the website, but the podcast is quick and painless (or, as Grammar Girl likes to say, "quick and dirty"). The podcasts usually run four to five minutes, so they don't tire your patience, and Grammar Girl has a nice, laid back attitude towards grammar, a refreshing change for a subject that tends to have almost as polarizing an effect as religion. She also talks about both British and American usage, which is refreshing too. I must say that she has cleared up a couple of nagging questions for me (quick, what's the difference between "toward" and "towards"?). Plus there are lots of links and references at the end of each transcript on the site. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Roald Hoffmann

I have just discovered a marvelous poet named Roald Hoffmann. I learned of him this morning while listening to the Scientific American podcast (go here to listen or subscribe to the podcast; the part about Hoffmann starts at 10:58 into the program for November 15, 2006).

So why was a poet featured on a science podcast? Well, because Hoffmann just happens to be a Nobel Prize laureate in chemistry (1981). His site contains a wealth of his poems that you can browse through. I really enjoyed my reading at his site. His poetry has a simplicity and innocence to it that conveys his obvious wonder in the face of nature. I doubt he'll win the Nobel for literature, but for me, as someone who feels a great sense of wonder in the universe as science describes it, he's worth reading.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Podcast on Alexander Pope

This week's BBC Radio 4 program In Our Time is on the 18th century English poet Alexander Pope. You can listen to the program from the website or download the audio file. You can subscribe to In Our Time (a really excellent program that discusses a different historical figure or event each week) on the In Our Time home page, or search for it in iTunes.

Get it while it's hot. The BBC only keeps its programs up for a week. If you miss it, drop me an e-mail. I might still have it. ;-)

[update:] In the comments on Frank Wilson's link to this post, Ed over at The Bibliothecary pointed out that while the podcast is only available for download for a week, In Our Time keeps an archive of all past programs, where you can listen to a streamed version. I stand corrected, but let's face it, streaming audio is sooooo 2004.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Fantastic machine

I first saw this video when friend emailed it to me with the question, I know its mechanically possible, but is it musically possible?

To me, the question should be the other way around. Musically, the piece is possible, but mechanically, I doubt we have the technology to do this.

But what a feat of animation it is. I'm in awe. If anyone knows where this comes from and/or where I can see the whole thing, please let me know.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Fall Geometry

Like a plaid shirt in a pumpkin field,
autumn juxtaposes spheres and cubes.

You are the small box of thoughts
in a crop circle extending out to the horizon.

October sun, box and harvest moon are three
points connecting a line across your world:
the base of a triangle pointing to zenith.

Walk the line carefully to the earthbound
anchor of a white rainbow, grasp the tangible
corners of this moment. From there

you will see the crisscrossing scars
of reapings past and yes, glimpse the gaudy
crosshatching of glory yet to come.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


You stand in the cold like a graveyard monument,
letting wind and rain rip at that pretty yellow
dress and peel it off, shred by shred.

Clearly drawn to winter, you yearn
for the cleansing anti-fire of ice on skin
while snow falls and rises about your delicate waist.

Spindly fingers wave at me, playful and accusing,
shaming me to venture outside and lean my cheek
against your frozen face for one last hour.

Though I ache with the thought of you,
I stay inside, rotting in this dark room,
cool and damp, lit dimly by a December fire.

Spring will be here soon, I tell myself, knowing,
like a forest knows fire, that it will be too late,
that green will clothe your body by then.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Insignificance complex

Lately I've been having a hard time writing poetry. I wouldn't say I'm blocked so much as I'm feeling like anything of any significance has already been written. I know in my heart that's not true, but sometimes it's hard to convince yourself.

I have also been listening the the podcast of Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac lately, and on Tuesday, he read a poem that so perfectly expressed how I've been feeling that I am overlooking my normal abhorrence of poems about poetry and linking to it. The poem is called "Rereading Frost", by Linda Pastan.

You can subscribe to the Writer's Almanac podcast via or in

Sunday, October 15, 2006

My friend Bud Bloom has just put up a fascinating post on Donald Hall, current U.S. poet laureate and husband of the great Jane Kenyon. His post starts with a touching poem by Hall called "Retriever," written in memory of his wife.

Which reminded me that last year I wrote one in her memory too, though I of course never met her except through her poetry.

Dust Jacket Photograph II (in memoriam J.K.)

Photons touched you once then died
on film—-a worthy sacrifice, now fossils
set in printer’s ink and hard stock.

Eyes left a daydream to focus
on the lens, lids held open by dark
irises, the corners of your mouth
only just north of indifference.

What a presumption to read you,
though life is one long presumption,
the search for meaning in other faces.

Your head, heavy in your hands, the secret
bee ring on your finger climbing
toward the flower of a face
that never really opened into the sunlight.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Hiromi Uehara - Kung-Fu World Champion

I'm ripping off this idea from a friend, but this is what I'm listening to tonight. I came across this incredible jazz pianist through the magic of Pandora.

Rarely has a young musician blown me away like this. This tune is just one example. Check out her website for more. If this tune is too funky for you, she does more traditional style jazz too. Search for her on YouTube and check out the great duet on "Spain" she does with Chick Corea.

Now that I've heard her music, I'm dying to see her in concert.

Monday, October 02, 2006

A friend reminded me...

...that it is Wallace Stevens' birthday today.

I think we owe it to ourselves to take a half-hour out of our busy lives and reread Stevens' great poem Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction.

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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Frustrated with your computer... this should help you let off some steam!

The site is in Spanish, but I think this sort of game, like music, represents a universal language.

Metele al ordenata

I don't get frustrated with my computer, of course, since I use a Mac. ;-)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

67º 52’ N (A Song of Å)

67º 52’ N (A Song of Å)

The music of the maelstrom is a mirror.
     Reflected in a glassy oval flattened into the sea
by whirling currents and savage tides,
     Helle-bound peaks sing a jagged profile
in the slow Nordland twilight.

Standing waves, the lands of our forebears
     flow into the sea, crest upon crest,
each cape jutting behind and past
     the one that came before
until the tune is lost in the gathering fog.

But turn around and always there is a new melody
     rising raw and pink as the sky at dawn—
the cry of a lone kittiwake, the plaintive chant
     of a Lofoten gale through rigging, the dull
pulse of a diesel engine from beyond the headland.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ode to a pip

Carelessly discarded, a seed
may find fertile earth, germinate,
mature over time into the flourishing
tree that gives forth fruit—
a pear, for instance, plucked with wonder
by a knowing hand.

in response to...

A sort of inquiry at Frank Wilson's blog Books, Inq.

The poem posted above is revised from the offering I posted in that thread; I never could leave well enough alone.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

In remembrance

Written September 15, 2001, revised September 10, 2006.

Just a Moment

Just now, I am struck by the terrible
significance of my office window:
fragile pane, too-permeable membrane, separating
innocence from sin.

I turn to look at the expanse of humankind,
but a 767 fills the view, its black nose
poised against the glass like a dog
waiting to be let in,
a dog with sad eyes.

I see a crack
form and creep
across the sheet:
an insistent pressure
builds until
it must break

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Thursday, August 31, 2006

What a scream... The Scream is back!

News outlets around the world are reporting that Edvard Munch's paintings "The Scream" and "Madonna" have been recovered.

I was at the Munch museum in Oslo not two weeks ago. You'd think the police could have worked a little faster! I'm pissed... (tee hee)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Lofoten Images III

Å.JPG, originally uploaded by rangerteper.

Note the hand of the cloud monster in the background as it attempts to pull itself up and over the mountains.

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Lofoten Images II

Lofoten sunset.JPG, originally uploaded by rangerteper.

Yes, the sky really looked like this.

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Friday, August 25, 2006

Lofoten Images I

Reine.JPG, originally uploaded by rangerteper.

Can words add anything?

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Monday, August 21, 2006


We hear the music of the spheres:
    Earth tilts away, and the sun dips
behind the mountains earlier each day,
    rises later from the sea.

Gulls fall silent then slip
    away in the gathering dark.
Fishermen prepare seines and boats
    for the long night-days trailing
fruitful lines in the maelstrom.

Their eyes tell you that soon
    the only sunlight they will see
must reflect first off moon and snow.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

On vacation...

Tomorrow, I head out for three weeks in lovely Denmark and Norway, where I will meet up with my good friends Rus, Paula (whom I will be meeting for the first time but who is a dear, dear friend nonetheless), Helm, Carol, hopefully Judy (though we haven't heard from her in a while), and our Norwegian host, Aisha. Every time we get together, it's been a blast, and this time will be no different for sure.

In any case, if I don't manage to blog while overseas, I wish you, my dear readers, a great August. I'll post pictures when I get back.

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Two Years!

Today marks two years of FFTMC. Hard to believe, I know. It's also my nephew's 8th birthday today, whatever that strange little coincidence means.

Anyway, to celebrate (or start you laughing with derision, or simply to drive you away never to return), here is my first post, once again, in all its glory.


Lost in a crowd
I feel the secret thrill
of the middle aged
walking through in the bad
end of town in daylight

"Don't be scared
it's only street art"
scrawled on a wall
bikers and hookers
smiling at me

I'm not scared, oh no
just getting old
so I start a blog
maybe go to a rave tonight
drop some E

(or does "drop" apply only to acid?)
A better and cheaper solution
than buying a Ferrari
maybe buy a can of spraypaint
spray this on a wall

maybe need some editing though
I know I won't anyway
nor drop the E
but starting a blog
harmless fun, no?

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Robin Robertson

Thanks to my good friend Carol and the Canadian poetry journal Arc, I recently discovered Scottish poet Robin Robertson. Arc is running a series of "introductions" as part of a Scottish-Canadian poetry exchange, and Robertson is the July feature. This is a fine, well-written introduction to his work, but Carol, who is an extraordinarily insightful reader of poetry, has also contributed a fine post on Robertson on her blog.

The Arc article mention's Robertson's poem "Wedding the Locksmith's Daughter", which is a wonderfully musical, dark and erotic love poem. But I guess to describe it as a mere "love poem" is to do it an injustice (even though I have always felt that love, viewed by so many as an inappropriate topic for the modern poet, is still the purest motivation for poetry I can think of), since the poem works on so many levels: the physicality of erotic love; the perfect, complementary mesh of two minds ("Sunk home, the true key slots into its matrix"); the ecstasy of text and music finding their perfect matches ("the the way the sung note snibs on meaning/ and holds"); how the lines of a poem can fit together with such ease to produce such a rich picture (Dactyls, iambics —/ the clinch of words — the hidden couplings/ in the cased machine").

I need to get ahold of Robertson's books and study them. Here is a poet who, in the few poems that I have read, speaks to me in a way that I have only experienced with writers like Robert Frost, Elisabeth Bishop and Jane Kenyon.

Thanks Carol!

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Canoe Quest

People who know me know I'm a canoe nut. So when a friend of mine pointed me to this very cool site--Jay's Great Canadian Canoe Quest--I knew I had to blog it. This guy is paddling solo through Canada's vast Boreal forest along one of the old voyageur routes to raise money for CPAWS, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

The guy is courageous and strong, and he seems to know what he's doing. He built the canoe himself, and it's gorgeous!. He's already travelled well over 2000 km, but still has a ways to go before he reaches the Arctic Ocean. At this point, I think the last part of his trip is going to be cool (as in brrrrrr.).

Jay is keeping a journal, which has an RSS feed (here). I know I'll be following this with interest. It has been a long-time dream of mine to travel Canada's north. This summer, I'll get to at least travel north of the Arctic Circle for the first time, albeit in Norway, but one day, I really want to see some the vast wilderness that is northern Canada.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Interesting lecture by Katherine Barber

Katherine Barber, editor of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary and often referred to as Canada's word lady, recently gave a half-hour lecture entitled Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to Do with Pigs for the TV Ontario series Big Ideas, a TV program dedicated to the art of the lecture. Fortunately, for those of us, me included, who do not live in Ontario, the program also offers the audio portion of its broadcasts as a podcast. Barber's lecture--the title of which is also the title of her new book--is a brief but fascinating trip through the history of the English language. She's funny in a geeky sort of way, and she provides some really interesting examples of how and why English is such a strange and wonderful language. You can download the audio file (about 13 MB) here. I highly recommend it.

I also recommend the Big Ideas podcast itself (subscribe in iTunes here or get the XML feed here). The program has featured a wide range of speakers (including such notables as Steven Pinker and Bill Clinton) on a variety of topics. It's almost always a worthwhile listen.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A couple of poetry sites well worth a visit.

The first is the Poem of the Week site of Canada's poet laureate (the position currently being filled by Pauline Michel). A wealth of fine Canadian poetry here for the reading. My only grip is that it doesn't seem to have an RSS feed. I sent a comment about that to the contact e-mail address. We'll see where that leads.

The second is the very cool Quickmuse site. Sure, it's poetry's answer to speed dating, think of that what you may. And though I suppose the process can be manipulated somewhat, it is undeniably cool to watch a poem come into being one second at a time.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The end of an era

robin nesting7.JPG

I go away for a few days fishing and stuff HAPPENS! Our cute little chick with a mohawk has turned into a bonafide gangly teenager. I knew they grew fast, but this is ridiculous.

I took this picture this morning, and by this afternoon, S. and I had become a couple of empty-nesters. Either the little guy fell out of the nest to his doom or he fledged successfully (I'm hoping the latter, of course) and is now trailing after his parents begging for food and possibly the keys to the car.

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Gone fishing...

According to recent CBC story, Quebec's mosquito population is currently three times it's normal size and exceedingly hungry because of our cool spring thus far.

This unfortunate situation coincides with my annual spring fishing trip, which starts tomorrow morning at 6 a.m.

I write this to inform you that I won't be blogging for the next few days. If you don't hear anything for a week, you might possibly assume that I ended up as the main course of a black fly feast, but I hope to return triumphantly with a cooler full of trout. Last year will be hard to beat, when I caught a 5.5 lb speckled (I swear it's not photoshopped ;-)

In the meantime, I give you a recent poem, composed in happier times (i.e., before the black fly and mosquito larvae hatched).

Winter Wren

Perhaps jealous of the sound—a rivulet trickling
down to wash stones and fallen branches—
the winter wren sings its spring digs,
a tangled rising-and-falling in the brush.

I stop and listen, feeling every moment
the trill must soon stop—surely this
small brown creature cannot go on so,
drowning out the stream; it must be all lungs.

It does end, of course, and the sublime eternal
duet of water and earth emerges in the ensuing
quiet, seeming to pick up where the bird trails off,
dipping up and down over moss and twig.

The wren again inhales damp May air;
it cannot sing forever, though it will die trying.

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Friday, June 02, 2006


A couple of days ago, I peeked into the nest and was saddened to see only one chick left, plus the unhatched egg (which was finally booted out today on to our patio). The surviving chick's two siblings either died of the heat (we had some unusually warm weather for May), starved to death, or the biggest chick pushed the others out of the nest. In any case, yesterday I looked in the grass below the nest and sure enough found the two dead chicks, only slightly putrified (thank god!).

And then there was one... This little guy seems pretty vigorous though and is growing fast. So far, these tenants aren't as messy as I thought they would be, owing to the parent's disgusting habit of... well, if you saw the video, you know what I'm talking about. But hey, if it keeps the deck clean, who am I to complain?

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Sidewalk translation

In the comments to my previous post, meb kindly gave me permission to translate her ephemeral cinémotscope #3. We had some serious rain yesterday, so this piece is undoubtedly nothing more than random bits of chalk floating through the Montreal sewer system right now. Ironic how much crap gets published these days, but this little gem ends up--literally!--in the gutter.

As is usually the case, it sounds better (flip-flops and all) in its original version. If you haven't yet done so, I highly recommend watching the video, since that's all that's left (sniff).

--by meb

Write around the holes
Between the lines of others
While out for a walk
See in the letters
Proof of one’s
own fingers
A drawing of things

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sidewalk poetry

Over at the blog of fellow Montreal poet MEB is the latest in her installment of Cinémotscopes. It's in French and I wouldn't presume to translate it without her permission (if you read this, MEB, let me know if I can, or point me to your own translation for my pretty much unilingual anglophone readership). But even if you don't read French, the sound of her flip-flops as she pans over the poem is very cool and worth a look in and of itself.

Monday, May 29, 2006

The landlords are perverts...

...spying on their tenants, even taking videos of their most intimate moments, such as when they eat the excrement of their children (toward the end of the video). Hey, who said nature is pretty. Hope you didn't just eat. You've been warned

Lodgers... the saga continues

So three of the four eggs hatched last Wednesday and this is what they looked like. Basically little balls of fluff. But it's amazing how fast these little creatures grow. Almost literally before your eyes.

The parents are not very happy with their landlords, I suspect, as we are very nosy and noisy, especially with the warm weather of late. But if you sit quietly on the deck and don't move too much, they will eventually come and feed the young.

As you can see (pic 2), now that the little buggers have grown a bit, they've taken to sporting Mohawks, as the young folk are wont to do. I wonder if the parents don't think it's a little early for such experimentation. Likely they're just relieved they haven't gone in for tattoos and nose rings.

As I mentioned, the parents are not to happy with us and are not above giving us the evil eye (pic 3). Our revenge is to hang our laundry on the line. It's pretty funny to see them trying to keep their balance on the clothesline as we move it out.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

A few poetry links...

I was away last weekend and so was not around to read the article on Internet poetry by Frank Wilson of the Philadelphia Inquirer when it came to press. As Rus Bowden has mentioned on several occasions, Frank is a great friend of on-line poetry, and his blog, Books, Inq. is a good read for bookworms and has recently become an on-line poetry clearinghouse as well.

People who know me, know I'm a big fan of podcasting, so I thought I'd point to a few recent podcasts I have taken in that have dealt with poetry. (BTW, contrary to popular belief, you don't need an iPod--or even an mp3 player for that matter--to listen to a podcast. You can just download the file to your computer and listen to it there if you so desire.)

The excellent CBC program Ideas now has a podcast: The Best of Ideas Podcast. The most recent program features three short interviews with poets Billy Collins, Bruce Meyer and Sheldon Zitner on the uses, the sound, and the meaning of poetry. Worth a listen, especially for the Collins and Zitner interviews. (Download the mp3 file here; subscribe to the RSS feed here; subscribe in iTunes here.)

The Bionic Genius Roundtable. I don't listen to this podcast regularly, but they did an amusing interview with Billy Collins last month (it was BC's first ever appearance on a podcast). (Download the mp3 file here; subscribe to the RSS feed here; subscribe in iTunes here.)

Let me know what you think of these, and if you know of any others, I'd love to hear about them.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

The poetry of hockey

OK, the title is just to legitimize my posting this in my artsy blog, but since nobody is reading my brilliant piece over on Newsvine, I thought I'd post it here too.

Just so you know what you're getting into when you click (and you will click, won't you?), it's a piece on the real reason fans of the Edmonton Oilers (a hockey team for the uninitiated) are so happy their team is doing well in the playoffs.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Temporary lodger

Spring appears to be manifesting itself in unusual ways this year. In my friend Rus Bowden's hometown of Lowell, MA, the Merrimack is flooding its banks. Luckily, Rus hasn't had to break out the scuba gear just yet (or else he wouldn't have been able to bring us the latest installment of Poetry & Poets in Rags). On the other hand, they're forecasting 30 Celsius tomorrow in Calgary, where my sister lives.

Here in Montreal, however, we've had typical rainy May weather. Maybe that's why this robin decided to build her nest under our covered patio. I think she'll be in for a shock once the weather warms up, though. It's going to get warm up there. And there'll be a lot more coming and going too, with S. and me parading back and forth to the pool, and barbecuing and whatnot. I hope she will get used to it.

I have a funny feeling she's going to be a messy, noisy tenant once her kids hatch. Maybe I should have insisted on a damage deposit.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Spring is a beautiful thing

Originally uploaded by rangerteper.

We planted this magnolia a few years after we bought our house. After 7 or 8 years, it's finally hitting its stride. This is what it looked like in our back yard this afternoon.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Poetry and Poets in Rags

My good friend Rus Bowden, who for the last several years has compiled Poetry and Poets in Rags, diligently prowling cyberspace to bring poetry lovers the latest news about poetry and poets, has just started up a companion blog. The nice thing about it is that you can leave comments and start a discussion, something that isn't really possible on the IBPC site.

And now I find that he's included my site in his blogroll, which is both nice of him and a little scary because now I might actually have to start posting poetry on a regular basis, instead of silly posts about strange trombones and other arcane blog fodder.

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Eternal Spring

Two lovers in a fortunate clearing
of a lost wood, white bodies
blossoming in the sun's warmth.
She arches back onto his arm,
kissing him as he leans down.

Among their tangled limbs, white
and yellow blossoms open, the buds
having arched out of a January abyss,
to be kissed by the sun, which leans
down closer with each passing day.

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

Hot Cross Buns

I don't give a rat's ass about Easter and all that, but food is definitely a topic to warm my heart. However, since hot cross buns are related to Easter, and that originally pagan celebration is fast approaching, it seems appropriate to post a recipe for my favourite Easter comfort food. Loyal FFTMC readers will recall my love of sweet breads (not to be confused with sweetbread) from my previous post of a recipe for panettone. This recipe is also inspired from Breads by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

hot cross bun

Hot cross buns
1 tbsp (1 package) dry yeast
3 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp salt
3 to 3-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup currants or raisins
1/4 cup of a whatever various candied fruits you can find
1 egg yolk mixed with water for glaze

Dissolve yeast in warm water with 1 tsp of the sugar. Let stand until foamy. Add remaining sugar, milk eggs, butter, orange zest, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, salt and half the flour. Beat until smooth (or your arm gets tired, whichever comes first). Mix in the currants and candied fruit, then add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead dough for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding a little flour from time to time to prevent sticking. Place dough in a bowl in a warm place free from draughts and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled.

Grease a large baking sheet. Punch down the dough and divide it into 15 or 16 pieces and form into balls. Space the balls evenly on the baking sheet and cover with cloth and let stand another hour or so (sometimes a bit longer), until doubled again.

Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Use a sharp knife to score a shallow cross (or the pagan symbol of your choice) into the buns and brush egg-yolk glaze over buns. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. If you like, you can drizzle some frosting into the scores, but you'll have to find your own recipe for that.


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Friday, March 31, 2006

It was 21 degrees in Montreal today, March 31, 2006. A little taste of the summer to come, I hope, and not a moment too soon. I actually managed to get some work done this morning, but this afternoon, I said "fuck it" and went for a bike ride.

When S. came home from work, I drove down to the grocery story to get some ground beef and we had hamburgers on the BBQ for supper. The patio door was open, and it didn't get really dark till about 7.

The main indication that it isn't summer was that our pool looked like this:

I fear the next few months are going to be long. S. is talking about getting a solar heater for the pool, which means if we're lucky, we could be swimming by mid-May. What do you think; am I dreaming in colour?

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Second FreeMacWare contest entry

As many FFTMC readers will know, I love my Mac and run a separate blog for my Mac- and Internet-related blogging. But the lure of filthy lucre has made me cross the line this one time. A great website I frequent called FreeMacWare is running a contest in which entrants post five pieces of freeware they use on their Macs. The winner gets a $100 iTunes gift certificate. Now the site is offering a free iTunes song for every entry, and since the contest allows separate entries for separate blogs, I'll take this opportunity to mention some less sexy--but no less useful--Mac freeware. Just so you know, I feel no shame in inflicting this on my non-geek readers. Suckers for punishment can see my first entry here. The theme for this second entry is apps that do one thing but do it well (DOTBDIW--just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?).

  • First up is Monolingual: a DOTBDIW application that every Mac user, especially those on older machines or with smaller hard drives, will find useful. It removes the OS X language localizations you don't need, thereby saving approximately 2 Gb of disc space. If your HD is 40 Gb or less, that means a significant increase in space.
  • Another DOTBDIW app is CoconutBattery. It lets you know how well (or poorly) your laptop battery is aging. Simple but effective, and attractive too.
  • If you've ever had a hard disc fail, then you are probably already worrying about the next failure (and if you've never had one, don't kid yourself--it WILL happen some day). This is where SMART reporter comes in. It launches when you log in and monitors your hard drive for imminent failure. The little green hard drive image in your menu bar means everything is reassuringly fine (for now). If it goes red, back up your critical files immediately. (You do back up all your non-critical files on a regular basis, right?)
  • Sticking with the DOTBDIW theme, Address Book Exporter does one thing. Can you guess what it is? If you want to import your Address Book entries to Gmail or Yahoo Mail, or to any number of other services, then you will need this application first.
  • And finally, MacStumbler is a great little app that scans for wireless networks within range of your AirPort card. It even tells you if the network is open or protected. Invaluable for those long road trips when getting on-line is essential.

    And there you have it. Rest assured that I'll try to resist the evil power of contests in future (not that it will do me any good).

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Friday, March 17, 2006

The low-brass story of the decade

I'm linking to an AP article posted on Newsvine about the first female tuba player to win a job with a top-five US orchestra. Carol Jantsch is only 21 and not even out of college. Unbelievable. Here's another article from philly.com (with one of the best headlines I've seen in a long time), which also includes a link to a sample of her playing... Astonishing!

As a trombonist who has witnessed my fair share of discrimination against female tuba players, including the girl who played in my brass quintet at McGill--one of the most musical brass players in the faculty at the time--I get a real kick out of this. You go girl indeed!

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The dogfart trombone


I recently learned about an alternative to the stunningly useful Web 2.0 resource that is Wikipedia. It's called Uncyclopedia, and it's basically a take-off of Wikipedia, with satirical and parody articles on everything from politics to music.

I'm not sure what I expected when I searched for "trombone" (regular FFTMC readers will recall that the names you can call the author of this blog include "trombonist"). So I was pleasantly and hilariously surprised to find this article describing a heretofore little-known (and I dare say under-appreciated) instrument called the dogfart trombone.

I won't spoil the ending; I'd rather let you discover all the marvelous details for yourself. You can thank me later.

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Memoires vives

Feuilles mortes qui tombent
mais ne touchent jamais
le sol, ces souvenirs jaunes novembre
pétillent autour de moi, me rendant ainsi
un faucon taciturne et sans ailes.

Partir? Je ne veux pas. Comment tourner
le dos aux eaux vives du Saint-Laurent
coulant vers l’est? Louis Cyr saurait peut-être
comment le détourner à l’ouest, mais comme toi
il n’est plus là.

C’est pour moi donc cette grande plaine d’Alberta,
vaste inconnu sans fleuve, sans feuille,
sans même un arbre solitaire veillant sur une butte.
Ce sont pour moi ces longues hivers noirs au grands vents
où je vais prier—oui, je te prierai—
qu’un jour l’un de ces feuilles remonte le courant
du passé et redonne à ma vie un brin de couleur.

Mais pas tout de suite. Il faut que je t’oublie un peu
pour mieux un jour me souvenir de toi.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Now THIS is a great idea!

I just came across the blog of the Monreal poet Meb (for Marie-Eve Bouchard), who has posted what she calls a cinemotscope--a nice play on words in French that translates roughly to "motion picture word filming." And there you have it, I have just given new meaning to the term "rough translation."

You can see her initial cinemotgraphic effort here, a haiku. I, for one, will be keeping an eye on this blog. She's reading tomorrow in Montreal with some other poets, including, my friend Maxianne Berger (who usually has the audience rolling in the aisles). Unfortunately, I am otherwise occupied, so I won't be able to go.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Here's to Norwegians

If you're Canadian or Norwegian, you probably already have heard this story about Olympic generosity, but I thought I'd post it here in honour of my Norwegian friend Shisa, whose lovely country I will be visiting this summer.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Finland vs. Sweden = Habs vs. Leafs

On Sunday, the Finns and the Swedes play for Olympic gold in men's hockey. And while no one would have predicted that Canada (or the US, for that matter) would be knocked out of the medal round altogether, there is still a Canadian connection to the gold-medal game (let's face it, there always is).

Sweden is captained by Mats Sundin, who also captains the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs. Finland is captained by Saku Koivu, who captains the NHL's Montreal Canadiens. Neither player has won a major tournament, whether it be the Stanley Cup, World Cup or Olympic gold. That will change for one of them on Sunday. Both men are veterans known for their blue-collar work ethic and white-collar scoring touch; both have gone through rough spots due to injury and/or illness (with Koivu beating cancer a few years back); both are very much deserving of a gold medal.

So for Canadian hockey fans, the Finland-Sweden match up essentially boils down to a Montreal-Toronto game, though to make it more realistic, it should be held about 12 hours earlier, on Saturday night rather than early Sunday morning.

As a Montrealer and Habs fan, I'm rooting for Finland. I think a gold medal would do wonders for Koivu's confidence and silence some of his critics, who say he doesn't have what it takes to captain a championship team. I've never believed it, and watching this Finnish team play during the Olympic tournament has only confirmed my feelings that Koivu's not at fault for the Canadien's recent woes. He simply needs a team that is willing to follow his lead; the Habs' current crop of over-paid whiners simply won't.

Go Habs--er... Finns--Go!.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

February 22, 2106

Ungainly as a rock-bound iguana,
my once sleek, bird-like body
sits rusting in a barren red field,
my ghost free to roam the open road,
terror of the empty earth.

Monday, February 13, 2006

My good friend Paula, kind soul, is handing out daisies. Unfortunately, Montreal is going through a relative cold snap, so all I have to offer is some St. Lawrence River ice.

Monday, February 06, 2006

This just in: same old same old

Stephen Harper was sworn in today as Canada's new PM. You remember Stephen, don't you? The guy who ran on a platform of accountability. The guy who--like all aspirants challenging a party that has been in power a while--made the most of the issues of government corruption and cronyism (as Cretien did so well in demolishing Mulroony's Conservatives in the 1988 campaign).

So what is the first thing he does as Canada's new head honcho? He appoints Michael Fortier Minister of Public Works, a portfolio that controls billions of dollars of Canadian taxpayers' dollars. Who is Michael Fortier, you ask? Why none other than Harper's co-chair in Quebec during his campaign to become Conservative party leader. What riding does he represent? Well, that's where Mr. Harper has some explaining to do. You see, Fortier didn't run in the last election. Our illustrious leader had to appoint him to the Senate so he could take on the porfolio. Isn't that the same Stephen Harper who said he'd never make a Senate appointment for purely political reasons?

But wait, there's more. Harper also appointed David Emerson as Minister of International Trade. At first glance, it looks like a great choice because Emerson is one of the few people in Harper's new cabinet who has any previous cabinet experience. But there's one small problem with this picture. Emerson's experience came as Minister of Industry in Paul Martin's cabinet, and last time I checked, Paul Martin was a Liberal PM. How is this possible, you ask? Simple. Emerson pulled a Stronach (in other words, he crossed the floor, defected, changed sides, turned traitor--you get the picture). Seems to me I remember a whole bunch of Conservatives making a whole lot of political hay (not to mention tasteless insults) when Belinda Stronach crossed the floor to join Martin's cabinet.

So, we have a public works minister wielding boatloads of our cash but who doesn't have to answer for it in the house because he's not elected, and we have an international trade minister who, after winning his seat as a Liberal in the last election and saying he would be a thorn in Harper's side, is now at Harper's side, but not exactly as a thorn. So much for making government more accountable and frowning on opportunism (or was that what they meant by "Standing up for Opportunity").

Throw in the fact that only six of the 27-member the cabinet are women (22 whole percent), and you have a fine first day as PM. Nice start Mr. Harper. Where do we go from here?

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Go Girl

I just love this story. I would love to have been a fly on the wall in whatever hole these two idiots crawled into after getting taken out by a 15-year-old girl.

IDIOT # 1: (nose swollen and bleeding) "Whad da fug was dad?!"

IDIOT #2: (rubbing shoulder and walking around trying to shake off the dull ache in his balls) "I dunno man, maybe some kind of superhero. Y'know, like Cat Woman, or Super Woman?"

IDIOT #1: "Well, dads the lass dime I'm listening do one of your bride ideas, you fug!"

IDIOT #2: "How the fuck was I supposed to know the kid could fight!"

IDIOT #1: "Nex dime, leds juss pick someone older, K?"

IDIOT #2: "But not someone with a walker. Those things are lethal, man."

Friday, January 27, 2006

At last, a story I can proudly post on both my blogs

Apparently, some dude is developing a "smart" poetry fridge magnet . They're not available yet, but they look like a sure fire way to get me out of my poetry doldrums. On the other hand, I think I'd get bored with writing poetry in front of the fridge pretty quickly. Not hungry, but bored.

[via Engadget]

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

American Idol, Canadian Hero? I think not.

I don't know what came over me, but this evening, I watched about 15 minutes of American Idol. But I forgive myself. I'm cured. I honestly don't understand why people watch the show, especially these early audition rounds. But what I don't understand even more is how the judges (what are their names again?) sit through days and days of idiots trying to sing bad pop songs. I think I would turn suicidal after a few days of it. And they're into what, year four? You couldn't pay me enough.

I'm dead serious.

Last night, I watched for several hours as my fellow Canadians elected a Conservative minority government. New minority government, different party. The only thing that has really changed is the name of the leader. How long will this parliament will last? Two years, tops. Just in time for another Quebec referendum.

Maybe I'll go back to watching American Idol after all.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Breast feathers veil
clasping feet
snow lightly as down
You, jay, perch in a willow
look straight ahead
look side to side
ready to fly into
grey sky in an instant
but you wait there
like a camera shy model
until the lens is pointed elsewhere

Thursday, January 05, 2006

RIP, Irving Layton

One of Canada's great poets has died at the age of 93. He'd been suffering from Alzheimer's disease for many years and so hadn't written anything for a very long time. But when you speak of the great Canadian poets, he was near the top--if not at the top--of the list.

The CBC website is running a good obit.
Also, visit the Irving Layton website.

I was never a huge fan of his writing--prefering the simpler (and to my mind more elegant) work of Fred Cogswell, and the more subtle humour of Al Purdy--but I have to admit that he paved the way for so many of today's fine young Canadian poets.

In recent memory, Maurice Richard (hockey player) and Pierre Trudeau (former PM) both recieved lavish state funerals at Montreal's Notre Dame Cathedral attended by numerous dignitaries. For both, there were long line-ups to file pass their caskets. Somehow, I doubt a mere poet will rate such treatment.