Taking to the airwaves!

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Dissolving Moon, photo by JS

You are cordially invited to listen as I take to the airwaves and guest-host a half-hour of instrumental music with wonderful co-host Dani Elwell and ace producer William Heaton at Jazz FM91. Mark your calendars for:

Date: Sunday July 30th
Time NOW CONFIRMED: 4:30 to 5:00 EST (UTC – 5:00)
Where: tune in to FM 91.1 in the Toronto area or listen online anywhere in the world.
Why instrumentals?
Like abstract images, instrumentals allow us to imagine our own stories and drift into moods that marry music and soul: happy, light-hearted, energized, groovin’, inspired, transcendent, dreamy, relaxed, at peace. And also bothered, rubbed the wrong way, disrupted … although I hope this doesn’t happen to you very often!
 
Over the next few weeks I’ll post bonus tracks, the show’s playlist and bonus material about the instrumentals I chose to feature. Stay tuned!
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Funny and self-skewering: The Slip, by Mark Sampson

CommittinThe Slipg career suicide, whether deliberately or accidentally, has figured in all three of Mark Sampson’s novels to date. In the very serious and aptly titled Sad Peninsula, first-person narrator Michael finds himself teaching English to children in Korea after knowingly sabotaging his livelihood as a journalist back home in Eastern Canada. In The Slip, first-person narrator Philip Sharpe shares with us, his dear readers, the gaffe he unknowingly commits on live TV and the week-and-a-bit of mayhem, both hilarious and sad, that ensues.

Read the full review on Goodreads.

Totally Taken by So Much Love

So Much Love Rebecca Rosenblum

How does a woman’s abduction affect a small community? Rebecca Rosenblum’s So Much Love explores the multi-faceted aspects of this horrendous act through the eyes of the people most affected by Catherine Reindeer’s disappearance, including her mother, her husband, her co-workers, a university professor and, of course, Catherine’s own eyes.

Read the full review on Goodreads.

“Clicking, clacking of the high heeled shoe”

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Courtesy of Wikipedia
One Saturday night when I was a science student at the University of Ottawa, I was in my room listening to the radio while doing a  lab report – you know, writing my observations and conclusions in one of those hard-cover notebooks.
I sat in the dark except for a desk lamp when the song, Madame George, came on, the quiet strumming of the guitar, then Van’s voice breaking through. The emotions. The vulnerability…
I knew right away that I had to listen, really listen, so I turned off the light to give my ears a chance to absorb as much as possible.
The song poured right into my soul.
Even though I knew nothing about the world Van was singing about, I felt his longing and how it lingered long after he left wherever it was that he was leaving – Belfast, as it turned out.
For me it was a mystical experience, a communion with something sacred and enduring. And 40 years on, reading comments online, I see that I’m far from alone in cherishing this particular song from Van’s 1968 album, Astral Weeks.
Enjoy!
The quote in the title is from the lyrics to Madame George, which can be found here.
Listen to Jazz FM91‘s Nightlab, hosted every Sunday night from 10 to midnight EST by the wonderful Dani Elwell, and you might hear this story and this song in the not so distant future.

The Creative Writer as Voyeur

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The Aunties, National Palace Museum, Taipei – Photo by JS

I was in Taiwan recently and, looking through the pictures I took, found a few where I’d snapped groups of strangers.

Who are you and what brought you there? All delightful possibilities for the imagination to explore.

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Schoolgirls 1, Chung Ching Shrine, Taipei, Photo by JS
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Schoolgirls 2, Chung Ching Shrine, Taipei – Photo by JS
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Railway Lunch, Fenchihu Station, Alishan – Photo by JS
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Sightseeing in Style, National Palace Museum, Taipei – Photo by JS

Thanks for the memories, fellow travelers!

p.s.: I’ve done my best to blur all faces.

Dylan, Ear-Worms, and More on Draft 12.1

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Credit: bobdylan.com

Bob Dylan’s star is shining bright since the announcement that he has been chosen as the 2016 laureate for Nobel Prize in Literature. Congrats, Bob! Well deserved, and thrilled that literature, in the eyes of one of the most visible literature prize committee, has been expanded to include song composition! Readers of these pages will know that I often use examples from song lyrics in my posts because I find that they connect us more tightly than words that live only (mostly) on the page.

Which brings me, in a round-about way, to a strange ear-worm of mine, strange because I’ve heard the song only a handful of times in my life. Oh, but what a powerful song Dylan’s Ballad of a Thin Man is, with it’s dirge-like tempo and angry insistence!

Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

(Pa-pa-pam pam pam!)

It comes to me at odd moments, a stray thought about a misunderstanding big or small, and the lyrics will pop into my head and stay there for a day or two, pa-pa-pam pam pam!

And speaking of words that live beyond the page, if only fleetingly, a reminder that Draft 12.1 is only a week away. Check out Draft’s newest related post, The Writer’s Unblocking: 4 Authors Share their Ideal Writing Spot.