Saturday, October 29, 2005


Snoopy types: It was a dark and stormy night.....

I have had some great outings on dark , moody days. I have missed the sun lately. The sun has snuck out now and then in the past couple of weeks but not when I had an opportunity to see it.

I have tried lying on the beach because this is supposed to be appealing. Umm, for me its not. Dang, someday someone has to explain lying, laying, lie, and laid to me. There is something about a chicken and an egg. Never mind, to continue…

I don’t get soaking up the sun on a beach. Then again, I don’t get meditation. My mind is a meat eater, a real carnivore.

At last Monday’s general committee of the City of Cambridge Council a well-known developer appeared as a delegation. In front of council and forty of the general public he described Mr. Bob Paul as ruthless. This was the joke all day on Tuesday and continued all through the week. Now the gentleman that called me ruthless, I admire very much. His description of my actions was an honest opinion. An accurate one too I think.

But it adds to a myth, a myth that I encourage. Now the gentleman in question, lets call him John. Why?… because his name is John. He is a man of action. John doesn’t wish to be told that things can’t be done. That is a waste of his time. If you wish to speak with him come armed with solutions and not problems. He is a good man with a wonderful heart. People don’t get him. I do.

John isn’t a sun soaker. There is nothing wrong with being a sun soaker. He ain’t one and I ain’t one.

There is the diver and the dive. One is an action and the other is a person. When I coached diving I ‘d tell the diver how they might improve their dive. I would praise the attempt and give constructive advice. This is the way we learn. When I bring writing to the editing circle, I thrive on opinions on how I may correct and improve my writing. And I soak up being the centre of attention for a few minutes. Last editing circle… blew me away. Everyone’s writing and the story telling was mesmerizing. I comment on story because honestly I am a poor editor. I would not be the type you wish to proof read. And comments on my writing... well I am not there to soak up the sun… Any attention to my writing is sunshine


Monday, October 24, 2005


niagara falling
leaves falling
czars falling
angels falling
dominoes falling
walls falling
stars falling
trees falling
pillars falling
hopes falling
wishes falling
like niagara leaves czars angels dominoes walls stars trees pillars hopes wishes
have I forgotten any
will I remember when wishes fall like niagara
when niagara falls like leaves
when leaves fall like czars
like angels
like dominoes
like walls
behind stars
behind trees
behind pillars
beyond hopes
above wishes

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Further on freefalling...

Leslie said....

I am not quite so excited about going fearward as Bobby Bacon but I think there is wisdom to it. I also hope to experience some of the exhilaration Marianne mentioned without having to actually jump out of a plane. I am much too cowardly for that. Brian was very brave. I wish I had known him. By the way for those who are interested, you can visit Barbara's website at

Of boats and poetry...

Why are some days like this and others not? Today, poetry is everywhere. I actually hear the words spoken aloud in my head when I walk the dog, when I clean the kitchen, when I bid for yet another kayak on eBay.

For Netty and Dianne and Janet when they come kayaking with me next summer, I tell myself when I justify the eBay bidding, four kayaks and a canoe already in the garage, and then a poem speaks in my head about it, a "kayaks in the garage" poem.

You can never have too many boats, kayakers are fond of saying. Other kayakers understand immediately. Non-kayakers just look at you as if you're nuts, an "Imelda Marcos" with too many shoes. Not a bad analogy, shoes and boats. You wear a kayak, rather than ride in it like other boats. There are different boats for different occasions, different weather and water conditions, different levels of expertise. You wouldn't wear sandals in the snow in winter, although sandals are perfect for the beach in summer. I don't want my friends to tip in the Grand River, nor to have to lug a 50 pound boat up and then off my car and to the launch point. The little eBay kayak, brand new and located in my hometown so I don't have to pay shipping, will be just the right fit.

It is a wet cold October day. Drearily ordinary in many ways. Yet poems speak in my head in loud whispers. I actually hear the words. Everything is a poem, and it is exhilarating. You can never have too many poems, a poet might very well say. And kayakers would understand...


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Freefalling in Fall

I am about to Freefall!

Barbara Turner-Vesselago was one of the speakers at CanWrite in June. I had the pleasure of hearing her session and was impressed. She talked very little; mostly she read examples of what students in her Freefall writing courses have written. Some of the writing was memorable, all of it was compelling and all of it rang true. Freefall Writing is a little like the Wild Mind writing of Natalie Goldberg but different too. Freefall writing can be broken down into four basic decisions:

1) I will write down what comes up for me
2) I won't change anything
3) I will give all the sensuous detail
4) I will go where the energy is, i.e. go "fearward"

Barbara teaches Freefall Writing workshops around the world. She also offers on-line sessions. In one format, a general subject is suggested (like 'write about a scene from childhood with a specific smell attached to it') and the writer Freefall writes about it once a month. This material is not submitted to or reviewed by Barbara. In another format, called a Correspondence Course, a general subject is suggested once a week for eight weeks and the writer submits up to 16 pages to Barbara for editing and comments.

Holding my breath regarding the time and monetary commitment, I have just signed up for Barbara's correspondence course which starts next week. I will be freefalling for the rest of the fall, until mid-December.

You may hear some Freefall writing of mine in future, we'll see. Wish me luck!


Mavis Gallant's Advice to Short Story Readers

Stories are not chapters of novels. They should not be read one after another, as if they were meant to follow along. Read one. Shut the book. Read something else. Stories can wait.

Larry's Advice to Short Story Writers

Wear platform shoes.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Waiting for Guffman

by Bob Paul (whoops smiles)

"Waiting for Guffman" is a movie. This type of gentle humour appeals to me. This is by the same people who did "This is Spinal Tap".

The humour is similar to the blogs Lunchbucket Larry writes. If you read this Larry and you have a moment can you provide us with a link to your site. Sorry, I have not taken the time to really figure out how this site works. Now, I am off track. Where was I?

The thought process started with one of Larry's blogs. A band with some sort of reputation comes to Octoberfest and all of sudden Larry's band becomes the second fiddle sorta speak.

For whatever reason I was raised with a strong feeling that no one is better; not because of reputation, title, money or position. I am not better than anyone nor is anyone better than me. A common theme in Frank McCourt's childhood was that the King or Queen of England still has the same toilet needs as us mere mortals.

In the work of Spinal Tap there is a gentle mocking. It is not mean but it is insiteful. Other such works is "Best of Show" and "Blowing in the Wind".

People in position and power lose their way sometimes in self importance. In my career I have always approached self important people with humour. I once attended a meeting with eight architects. They were all dressed in black. Now a better man than I would have ignored that. But I am no better so I teased them all through our meeting by talking about architects in black. The next meeting with them, there were fewer people dressed in black.

I need to mock myself on a regular basis otherwise my ego commits fraud on the world. I see this in the writing of Leslie Bamford and John Bolden where they tend to tease themselves more so than the other characters they write about. They can take the most mundane situations and make them laugh out loud funny.

Marianne Paul's mockery is a different style. One is swept away by intricate detail of a split second then BAM the bizarre. The so called truth, fact or fiction seems to be her major target.

Netty Meyer uses nature to mock daily living and our worries, while Christine teases herself through reflections on a maritime childhood. Shirley on the otherhand deals with the mean form of mockery and exposes bullies.

I have yet to read enough of Matt Binn's work to know where his sense of humour will take him. However Matt is a comic in real life. He has a keen eye which will find itself in his writing.

Writing isn't serious but can take on serious subjects. I liken writing to sand paintings of Buddhist monks. They spend hours doing these beautiful intricate designs then sweep them away. I liken writing to building of a sandcastle. If I make writing too important then nothing is put onto the page. It remains blank. This is where Waiting Guffman comes in. If we look carefully our pomp and circumtasnces is a never ending source of entertainment and fun.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Beam me up...

I have one of those old clunky cell phones - so old the battery plate fell off and I taped it back on - then the Scotch tape wouldn't do the job any more and finally, the phone died. So I figured I'd just go out and buy a new one. One of those thin spiffy models that look like "Beam me up, Scotty" devices. Maybe spend a half hour on the task. Yeah, right.

I use "Pay-As-You-Go" since I can't stand the idea of another monthly charge. I don't use the cell phone that often to justify it. And hey, I'm an email kinda person, just not on my telephone.

So I surf the web, and find a myriad of phone choices. I get rather excited when I see I can buy a phone for $19.99, but there's a catch - I must sign up for three years with a monthly plan and billing. Oh, sure, I can bundle it with my Hi-Speed Internet, and save a few bucks each month, but I don't wanna do that - all I want is a phone! Not a plan!

And then I read the fine print - that $19.99 is the price AFTER the mail-in rebates. I hate mail-in rebates. They never show up in my mailbox unless I chase them down by arguing with some faceless voice at the end of an 1-800 number. And then I read more of the website description - that $19.99 phone is, like, $300 if I use Pay-As-You-Go cards.

Okay, so I give up on the website - too many choices anyway and the FAQs never answer my specific questions. So I brave the traffic at Fisher-Hallman and Ottawa (most accidents per year at this crossroads) and get the cell phone spiel from the kid at the Source electronic store. I make a decision to buy a MuchMusic Pay-As-You-Go phone right there based on his pitch (why the hell would I want to download music?), and he says to me, absolutely straight faced, "We don't have any of those phones right now." Sends me to the Rogers Wireless store across the street.

I take my life in my hands and brave the Saturday afternoon traffic. A young woman explains all about the phones all over again, and the Blackberries too (just in case), but they require monthly plans (I can bundle it, she says cheerfully). Once again I choose the MuchMusic phone, and she says to me, "Oh, those are all sold out - go over to the Sources store across the street...." I mutter something about just being there, and she says, "Then try the Rogers store at the Highland Mall." Yeah, right.... that intersection is just as insane on a Saturday afternoon....

Well, I do finally get a new phone... went to my neighbourhood Rogers video store - some nerdy young girl (she told me this story about her father, and how he had this really old cell phone for the longest time, and taped the battery plate to the back of it....). Got me the phone I wanted, didn't try to sell me anything else, even did all the paper work for me. You know, I bet that nerdy kid writes poetry in her spare time. Damn good poetry too.

Hey! Where You All?

Larry sez:

I'm wondering why nobody else has posted on this blankity blog? I hope it ain't cuz y'all think it needs to be some sort of polished little gem of cosmic insight? An insight joke would be just as good, eh?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Mr. Nobody...and friends

By: Larry Keiler

Now that I've tested, here's my little rant...not exactly about writing...more about fame and non-fame and how conditions change moment to moment.

Do you have any idea what it's like to be one minute, "the show", where everybody's paying attention and you are the main event and people love you and think you are "awesome", a word which everybody seems to use these days? And the next minute you are Mr. Nobody. Nobody listens. Nobody pays attention. Everybody ignores you. 'Cuz you're not the one they came to see. But still, you have to be there, put on your show, make nice, be a pro, do your thing, be just as awesome as you always were except that nobody cares.

That's what it's like doing these off-night shows at the #1 Party Place in Lunchbucket during Oktoberfest. Everybody, including management, falls over the "stars", the hot new stallion in the stall, feeds 'em apples and sugar cubes, while us Mr. Nobody Workhorses get nuttin' but stale oats and a smack upside the head.

A perfect example is one of the headliners from last night, Aaron Pritchett. Up and coming country star. Of course, I'm biased. But my impression of him and his band was that they were awesomely ordinary. Well, that's not quite true. The band was good. Great guitar players. But the songs were undistinguished. And Pritchett, the apparent star, was, to me, just an ordinary singer.

Ah! Enough ranting. It was a country crowd. They don't know from Ein Prosit, even though I taught them, and still they managed to sit on their hands and stare at us goggle-eyed as if we were the ones out of place. Somebody famous said, "You can always tell a country crowd, you just can't tell 'em much."

Testing, testing, eins, zwei, drei

Hello everyone. Just testing the water.

Signed: Larry

Monday, October 10, 2005

Something Good - Jumping Off The Train Bridge

By Bob Paul

That is my first thought of each day. And each day something good does happen. Sixteen hours of the day can go poorly and then in one brief moment something good happens. That one good moment makes the whole struggle worth it.

I wrote a short story “Suddenly Quiet” based on best friends of mine that have died. The story is about Brian and Irene. They meet in the middle of a train bridge high above the Ottawa River. I jumped off that bridge many years ago. Brian persuaded me to jump, which I recorded in the book “Sandcastle Memories.” It has been fictionalized but I can’t decipher between fiction and fact anymore. I write in third person and assume the role of David.

Brian had made him laugh and had pushed David to his very limits of perception.
They had walked along the railway bridge that crossed the Ottawa River. David, a stickler for rules, had protested that they were trespassing on railway property. Every time he mentioned it, Brian would roar with laughter.

“David, outside of my job, I just have one rule, and that rule is passion and compassion.”

“Meaning what?”

“Meaning, look out there. See this?” Brian pointed out from the bridge.” This is where we are.”

David looked in the direction Brian was pointing.

“Do you see it?” Brian asked.

“See, what?”

“Christ almighty, David. You are so fucking desperate for solitude. Have you ever in your life ever opened yourself up to anyone or anything?”

David felt his anger rise, but he quickly subdued it, not allowing his friend to get under his skin. Staring blankly out over the river he had no idea what Brian wanted..

“Aw, man! Would you at least do this for me? Close your eyes. What do you feel?” Brian asked.

David closed his eyes. “I feel the breeze on my face and hands.”

“Good, we have established that you do feel. Now open your eyes and describe what you see.”

“The Ottawa River,” David said.

“Is that all?

“Sure.” David shrugged his shoulders.

“You know what I see out there? Images of something real, true, ecstatic, blissful, revealing, wondrous, magical, and divine. Water stretching for miles. Gulls hanging on puffs of air. And do you know what else?”

David shrugged again.

“I see the face of God!” With that statement, Brian walked away.

So Brian yeah, my buddy and my best friend died in a sailing accident near Kingston Ontario in 1991.