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.


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Post 3676 - Three Days Later

Hi. Sorry I haven't written the last few days. I did not purposely take time off from the blog, but it just kinda turned out that way. Both Friday and Saturday nights, I turned in early and slept like crazy. I guess my body knows it is on vacation for the next week and has decided to go by its own schedule.

I wish I could say I have done a lot the last few days. But, I haven't. I have washed dishes and cooked and at this late hour on Sunday night I am washing some dress shirts in the laundry room, right outside this home office.

I will be turning in shortly as I have to get up early-ish tomorrow. Patricia has an appointment over the Dartmouth side, for 9:15. It means getting up no later than 7:30 and being ready to leave an hour later. Crappy way to start a vacation, eh?

This is another Frank deadline week. I have been working on a promising case the last few days and even contacted a source regarding it. On Tuesday I will concentrate on his story, about which I have found very little until I spoke with my source the other night. Another one of the many, mostly-forgotten unsolved murders in Halifax.

Some cases get all the press. I tend to ignore them for that reason. The more obscure cases are the ones that capture my interest the most. Their stories deserve to be told just as much as the better-known ones.

Which all leads to the following: If you know of any Nova Scotia-based unsolved murder or missing persons case, please feel free to contact me right here. I swear I will grant you anonymity if you request it. You can also message me on Facebook, if that works for you, but the email address I just supplied is the best way to contact me.

And, just because I may have already written about a case, doesn't mean I can't revisit it. If you have enough information to let me justify a second article about a case to my editor, then that is certainly do-able. It happened last year with a case, and can easily happen again.

Thank you.

See you tomorrow.