Friday, March 23, 2018

Post 3683 - The Weekend Is Here

Hello again, you handsome little devils you.

Once again, my body shut down a bit early last night, so no blog post. So the dozens of you who stopped me on the street today and asked why not, know now. I'm sorry.

Patricia had a make-up Pilates class today, so we went there and I had an hour or more to kill. I went to the Good Things Within thrift store. They had, for fifty cents, a Harry Bosch novel by Michael Connelly that I didn't already have. They also had slightly used(!) 9V batteries for 25 cents each. They're alkaline. I am assuming they will work for a spell. I am tired of changing the time and alarms on 12 or so clock radios in the house every time the power goes out and back on again. Yes. I have that many clock radios. Five here in my home office. Five more in the recroom. One in the kitchen. One in the bathroom. One in the master bedroom. And two more in the middle bedroom. I think that's all of them. So, 15 or so. About 12 more down in the Valley home.

Whenever the power comes back on, I spend 20 minutes or so changing the times on these clock radios, and it is a pain in the rump roast. Better to use 9 volt batteries as back ups.

Before you all write me: Don't tell me to throw these radios out. They're like my children. How would you like if I told you to throw out one of your kids because you had too many? You probably wouldn't like it! So, now you know how I feel.

I am glad I got that off my chest.

We were planning to go to the Valley this weekend, but things are going on here that require our attention.

Anyway, after Pilates, we grabbed some lunch at the Wild Leek, a vegan restaurant on Windsor Street, right next door to the used bookstore, and incidentally a block or so away from one of the unsolved murders I wrote about for Frank (I will tell you which one if you ask me nicely). It being Burger Week in Halifax, we both ordered the Philly cheesesteak burger, made from products that never knew what an animal was. It was excellent. Just ask Patricia!

Nom! Nom! Nom!

That translates to: the dill dressing lovingly complements the house salad. Meanwhile, the ersatz cheese sauce is generously ladled on the too good to be true "steak" burger. Bev, being a male pig and all, opted for the fries, which were transcendent.

A couple chocolate treats for take out.

Patricia's meal came with a beer, which she reported (slurp! slurp! slurp!) to be quite good, if a titch bitter.

A wonderful meal, utterly meatless, which made us so full that dinner was nearly unnecessary.

We went to the bookstore next door. One of those places run by a guy who occasionally deigns to speak to you. He had a nice selection of Halifax history books. I will go back there soon and get a few, because he had titles I had never heard of before.

He also had an illustrated version of Sam Slick. Sam Slick was the brainchild of Thomas Chandler Haliburton, who lived in Windsor and was a judge here the better part of 200 years ago. The character's wry commentary on life in the province back then was extremely popular in its day. The "sketches" sold along the lines of Charles Dickens. And Haliburton's character coined/popularized several sayings that entered the vernacular and remain known to this day. "Quick as a wink". Uh, other ones. Like it or not, Haliburton helped found North American humour.

I first heard of Sam Slick, and Haliburton, more than 40 years ago when my Grade Six teacher, the late J. Earl Doyle, spoke of him with some reverence. I was intrigued enough to seek out the books. I am not sure if that was a good idea.

I have a couple copies of "The Clockmaker", which collected most of these sketches. And I cannot penetrate the writing style at all. One time, I got to page two. So I was surprised when people pissed and moaned about Haliburton and Sam Slick, and how racist and politically incorrect the content apparently was. The craven town of Windsor dropped or strongly de-emphasized its connection to Haliburton and to the Sam Slick character. They have not had Sam Slick days for several years now.  The character's complete fade into obscurity will be complete in the next ten years or so. Pity, really.

Anyway, we left the store and went to Sobeys and went home. I did the dishes while Patricia took a nap. Spent a quiet evening at home.

I plan to get up early Saturday morning, or at least relatively early. I think I will turn in.

See you tomorrow.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Post 3682 - Two Days Later


So, sorry not to have written the last couple of days. I wasn't feeling well. I pretty much went to bed at 5:30 Tuesday night. I got up around 11pm to get something to eat and then went back to bed.

It's been a busy couple of days. I guess the highlight is that my latest true crime piece, about the 1980 murder of Jason Barkhouse, was published in the issue of Frank that hit newsstands today. And... if you pick up the magazine in the Annapolis Valley or South Shore, the cover for the magazine that sells in that part of the province has my story there on the front cover. I think it is the largest space on the cover, too.

I am deeply flattered by this. I am just a freelancer there, not on staff or anything like that. So for my editor to put my work on the cover, yet again, is deeply gratifying to me, and validating to my work and what I am trying to do with this cold case series.

Jason's murder is especially horrific. It is a terrible shame that it has not been solved. I hope that my story in Frank leads to some tips that can result in the cops reopening the investigation.

I have some other articles in the works. I will be figuring out in the coming days, which one I will be working on for the next issue of Frank.

I am off on Friday, so this is kinda like my Thursday. Our plans for the weekend are still up in the air. But there is a massive garage sale at the former Exhibition Park this weekend. Haven't been to a fleamarket or garage sale in years. They used to be plentiful in these here parts in the pre-Sunday shopping days. Malls would open on Sunday mornings and let vendors come in and sell their crap while the actual stores remained closed. After stores were allowed to open on Sundays, those fleamarkets largely ended. The one at Exhibition Park happens a few times a year. I think there is still a fleamarket at the Halifax Forum, but that is about it.

As I wrote the other night, I got one of the most influential books of my life at a fleamarket at the Pennhorn Mall back in 1988. Perhaps I will go this weekend and see what's there. Perhaps.

Anyway, think I'll turn in. Long day tomorrow.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Post 3681 - Required Reading

Just hours from now I get up and return to work. A week off doesn't seem like nearly long enough.

Tomorrow another cold case article goes live on the Frank Magazine website. It will be in the printed magazine that goes on sale on Wednesday. It is about a man who was murdered nearly 38 years ago. The details of this man's murder are especially troubling, and it is a travesty that his murder has never been solved.

When I was in the Frank Bunker on Thursday, Cliff told me that I was Halifax's Max Haines. I get where he was coming from, but I was quick to point out that I have never cared for Haines' writing style, which has always struck me as lurid and disrespectful toward the victims.

Now, here is a writer of true crime that I like a great deal, and I think you would like him, too.

Derrick Murdoch reviewed crime literature for the Globe and Mail for 20 years. When he published  "Disappearances" in 1983, he was revered. He won the first Chairman's Award of the Crime Writers of Canada in 1984, probably because of this book and his other body of work at the Globe. After he won it, they renamed the award in his honour, where it is given out biannually to the present day. Murdoch died in 1985.

I still remember buying this book. I had just moved to the city, so it was maybe May of 1988. I was living at 55 Dahlia Street in Dartmouth, close to Sullivan's Pond. Knew virtually nobody in the city, at least nobody who gave a damn about me, and whether I lived or died.

I was trying to find my way around the city, which was a big job for a Valley boy. I found Penhorn Mall and its huge fleamarket, one Sunday morning. I walked around and got some stuff. On my way out, nearly at the door, I saw this very book, the one whose cover I scanned in a moment ago, on a bookshelf along with other books some guy was selling. Fifty cents. On a lark, I bought it.

I got back to my little bachelor apartment and cracked open the book. And reading it scared the living hell out of me. I would parcel out a chapter a night, max; and there were nights when I knew that if I read any of it, I would not be able to sleep that evening.

Every little sound outside my apartment door, every car driving past my building, every voice in the parking lot, took on an added resonance, while I was making my way through this book.

This book remains the single best one about missing persons cases in Canada that I have ever read, or even seen. It should be required reading for anybody who has any interest in this topic. And it should be reprinted for a new generation to read, savor, and appreciate.

Derrick Murdoch is the writer I would most like to be like. He was that good.

No. You can't borrow my copy. Get your own.

I should turn in. I know there is a lot of work waiting for me tomorrow morning.

See you tomorrow, my lovelies.


Saturday, March 17, 2018

Post 3680 - Two Days Later

Yeah, so, hi.

I didn't write yesterday because... well, I am not sure. I turned in a bit late and fell asleep and didn't think to write a post. Maybe I should write them earlier in the day or something.

Today I was doing stuff around the house. The plastic place mat that held Newbie's food and water bowls was dirty so I washed it. Of course, he did not acknowledge this work.

Otherwise, I spent as much time today relaxing before returning to work on Monday. Vacations go by far too quickly.

Sunday, the day before I return to work, I plan to have some actual fun. Wash dishes! Clean the floor. Do some laundry. Stare lovingly into Patricia's eyes.

Maybe none of the above. There's some good TV on.

See you tomorrow.


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Post 3679 - A Special Night

I had a long day. Up early. Downtown Halifax to do some Frank stuff. Bought breakfast at the bakery not far from here. Haircut. Back home. Nap in the afternoon. And... then the evening came.

I attended my first Toastmasters meeting in nearly three and a half months tonight. A friend invited me to come. They're trying to establish a club in Enfield, so I drove there around 5:25 tonight and got there barely half an hour later.

Setting up a new club is not a trivial task, and not for the faint of heart. It takes real work done by real people who want to accomplish what amounts to a grassroots campaign to establish something out of nothing, where nobody is paid to be there, where everybody pays to be there. This new club, assuming it gets off the ground, appears to be in good hands.

My friend invited me because he was doing a speech that would honour former TM'er Holly Bartlett, whom I have written about here before. She was a member of my TM club until her mysterious death in 2010. Alan alluded to her death and used it as a metaphor for how to approach starting a new club and even how to approach participating in a club. It was maybe a bit of a stretch, but I had a chance to stand up and speak about Holly for a moment, which is never easy to do.

When the meeting was winding down, another member spoke about how he had known Holly. He ran a bookclub in Dartmouth. She, a blind woman, would take the correct bus from Halifax to the Dartmouth location where the bookclub met, and then reverse the process to get home.

The more I find out about Holly, the more I admire her, and what she did, and how she did it. She could have really been something, given the chance, and given the time that was robbed from her.

I returned to Halifax. Got something to eat at Wendy's on the edge of Bayer's Lake and then bought something for Patricia and brought it home. I had left her watching "Broadchurch" on Netflix. Hours later, she was watching the last episode as I got home. Eight hours of David Tennant should be enough for anybody.

I have had a long, fulfilling day, one that I must think about more in the coming days.

See you tomorrow.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Post 3678 - Day Three

Sorry I didn't write last night. Body shut down earlier than I meant for it to.

I have spent several hours today working on my latest true crime article for Frank. In fact, I just filed it with my editor a few minutes ago. In the morning I will go the the Frank bunker to borrow something from them that I will need when I go to the courts on Spring Garden Road, as I want to research my next next article, due in a couple of weeks. Another unsolved murder that has been grossly under reported over the years.

I cooked dinner tonight. A stirfry. Patricia pronounced it overcooked, and I have to agree. But the most disappointing part of it was the "Spanish rice" mixture we got for half price the other day. "Bland" does not begin to describe it. "Tasteless" is a better word. "Might as well not have been there" is a very apt description.

We watched last night's Black Lightning as well. I am sensing a trend in the show. The main character did not suit up as Black Lightning for story reasons, but I have to wonder if it is not just a way for the show to save some money while other characters demonstrate their own superpowers. Another aspect of the show that is starting to wear on me is the characters' near-constant focus on race and race relations. It is beginning to affect the story flow.

It is now 11:30. I have to get up early to do what I said I would do in the second paragraph.

See you tomorrow.


Monday, March 12, 2018

Post 3677 - Dratted Time Change!

Late Monday night.

We had to get up relatively early today as Patricia had a doctor's appointment in Dartmouth. We got there in plenty of time. She was finished by 9:20 or so. We killed some time until 10am, and then drove the short distance to John Doull's bookstore on Main Street.

Doull's bookstore was downtown Halifax for decades before he got sick of the b.s. and left. He told me this morning that he doesn't miss being there at all. I was less impressed with his most recent downtown store, but the one before that, on Granville Street in the old Roy Building, was most fun.

For many years, there were several bookstores on Granville Street. Doull's. The Book Room, of course. The NS Government bookstore. A bookstore in Granville Mall whose main entrance was on Granville Mall, so I am counting it.  At the other end of Granville, there was a place called Red Herring Co-Op Bookstore, about where the entrance to the ever-changing restaurant in the parkade at the corner of Granville and Sackville Streets. And... if you want to stretch things a bit, since an entrance to Maritime Centre is across the street from the abutment to Granville Street, there was the old Smith's Bookstore there; more recently, and still there, is Dust Jacket Books, which will likely have to move out of there before much longer. So, over the years there have been many bookstores in and around Granville Street. I am sure I am missing a couple!!

I got a Ross MacDonald paperback, collecting the early Lew Archer short stories. Doull has a massive selection of mysteries. We promise not to take six years to go back there for a return visit!!

We returned to Halifax, to the Bayer's Lake Superstore. We spent the $25 Loblaw's card and more on groceries. Drove back to the house. And that is the last I remember for a few hours.

I slept nearly all afternoon. I blame it on the bloody time change over the weekend, which has left me logy. I cooked a late dinner. We watched "American Idol", which is an absolute scream this year with Katy Perry as a celebrity judge.

Tomorrow is day two of my mini vacation. What I will do is up in the air.

See you tomorrow.