The Tape Traders. #mondayblogs

Office

Great songs on cassette required serious work if you wanted to hear them again.

Rewind, then Play.

Or if you owned a Walkman that was lacking in a Rewind button, you flipped the tape over, hit Fast-Forward, flipped the tape back and hope you managed to get far enough to get to the beginning of that great song.

I still have most of my cassette collection. Occasionally I might find something to add to it courtesy of a unique eBay listing or a rare find in a store where I might otherwise be shopping for vinyl.

My own interest in heavy music allowed me to be part of a massive global underground tape trading network. Certain sub-genres of heavy metal were just not available through the normal channels of record stores unless you traveled at least 2-3 hours by car. In those instances you saved up as much as you can in order to acquire what you could on those trips.

Friends of friends, or in some instances, relatives of friends who lived in major centres had greater access to the underground. They would often mail dubbed tapes of the music to those of us who were looking to access it. If a relative of a friend was back in the home land for a few days, they would bring their collections with them so the younger crowd could make copies of those much coveted recordings. I recall many days where an entire evening during a weekend would be spent in a “recording session” where tapes were “engineered” and “mastered” by multiple users who would gather around the stereo to listen while the tapes were being made.

We did not know any better that what was happening was illegal. To our credit even if many of us had those dubbed tapes we would still purchase the originals when and if we could find them. It was not just about having the music. It was also about being able to unfold the liner notes of the cassette. To read along with the lyrics, review the often massive thank-you lists, or get information on ordering from one of the great labels.

The metal and punk rock scenes owe much of the success to the underground tape traders. It was buoyed by the strong musical product these acts were putting out.

Regardless of your taste in music, if you still have a working player but perhaps your collection is long gone, you can still find many shops that sell cassettes for a very reasonable price. Rare gems and entire collection lots can be found on eBay. Do the research and you will be very surprised at what you will find.

Just pop in, and push play.

International Childfree Day 2014 #mondayblogs

book Cover

This past Friday August 1, another International Childfree Day presented and passed. Certainly a humbling day for me personally having won “International Childfree Man of The Year”.

I am grateful to the selection panel for their consideration, my family, colleagues, friends and to the Childfree community as a whole for their kind words of support. I want to also acknowledge and congratulate Quebec’s Magenta Baribeau, winner of International Childfree Woman of The Year”.

I recently explained why I did not want to read any of my books again. My drive to revise might overtake me and I would have to resist the temptation to upload a newer version. During International Childfree Day, it was tempting to want to revisit Planned UnParenthood to refresh myself with some of the content.

It was unnecessary to do so. Thankfully I have enough of a memory of the book that I have smoothly been able to answer many questions about each chapter and explain the whole premise of why the book was written in the first place.

During a brief break in the day Friday, I had a nice chat with reporter Priya Sam from CTV Atlantic about International Childfree Day and spoke a bit about the book and a few matters connected to the Childfree community. The piece was connected to Halifax-based “We’re Not Kidding”, a fairly new social group of childfree couples.

http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/maritime-couples-not-kidding-around-1.1943050

The last few days I have been reflecting on the great success of Planned UnParenthood. Because of International Childfree Day, the book is set to connect with an even wider global audience. Truly an honour and humbling for myself. People have told me that I have said things for them that they have wanted to say. In one instance a reader commented that she felt like she could deal more easily with her parents who were constantly putting pressure on her to have children.

Parents have contacted me to tell me they understand more now. One reader apologized to me for ever commenting negatively towards anyone who made the choice of being Childfree.

I must be doing something right.  

Hopefully I can reach more through my writings on this site and connecting with readers through feedback on the book. Because the book contents are a great topic the content has the potential to read fresh for a very long-time before it ever were to become stale. Sure there are a few books on the market about not having children and more will emerge over time. The topic is still fresh and keeps being refreshed by many media outlets several times per year.

It is in those moments of refreshed stories that more people may feel better about the decision not to have children. More Childfree persons can and will connect with common causes and concerns.

The Childfree community is an incredible demographic. People of different occupations from different parts of the world, with different political perspectives and different interests. I have found significant common ground with Childfree persons who have a drive to promote animal rescue. Through many of these people I have learned about different animal rescue organizations and what those groups are accomplishing.

In another 2 years, or even 20 years from now, I will reflect fondly on this recognition and hopefully will have contributed something to inspire future winners. 

Planned UnParenthood – Creating A Life Without Procreating is avaialble at Amazon Worldwide and many other online book retailers across the globe.

 

 

 

 

 

Revisiting Revising #mondayblogs #amwriting

book Cover

I just sent another revised version of my first book to the distribution network. The revision is a simple one where I just amended website information. My domain is long gone for now but I am planning to set up a new one in the next year or so which will again connect readers directly to this site.

You may think that because I have ample opportunities to revisit the script for Planned UnParenthood that I would want to maybe add some things, perhaps do up a new chapter, but I will pass.

One thing about the word business that I enjoy the most is the process of revising. I’m fairly certain that I could spend hours just revising 4 or 5 pages once I had them down. Part of this I can connect to obsessive-compulsiveness.

This is the reason why I have never read both of my books again after completing them for release. I know that I would find things in them that I would want to amend. In the creative process, one can safely reach a point where a script is complete and realistically requires no revision. Even with Planned UnParenthood I ended up working through 4 or 5 actual revisions after a handful of copies were sold. This was more for optics in order to correct a few formatting errors which turned up in the book copy but were missed in the script file.

In freelance work, revising comes down to a matter of time. If there is a deadline to meet then one cannot spend significant amounts of minutes editing everything just for the fun of it, or because it is an obsessive-compulsive behaviour. On most of my freelance assignments I will polish things up to a satisfactory point and ask the client if they want to make further edits.  In most of the assignments, a rewrite is rare.

Most of my colleagues will post reasons why having an editor is a positive thing. It is easy for me to agree with 99% of their reasons. I may be a rare instance of wanting to stray away from that purely on the basis of the process. A second set of eyes is truly helpful. However, the first set of eyes can learn from errors by going through the revising process multiple times on one project.

In writing, the plan sometimes evolves during the actual process. Whether you choose to edit something yourself or pass it off to someone for their perspective, whatever works. I suggest allowing yourself to spend more time on revising so the end product still remains closely associated with your personal writing voice. If you want to pass along product to a second set of eyes for revising then perhaps ask that editor to keep the words within the realm of how you want them to read off the page.

Many editors will properly narrow their focus on to the role of assisting with simple revising of the end result, where needed.

Charlie Haden #Bass #Mondayblogs #jazz

As a teen I would spend hours on end reading different articles in Bass Player Magazine. I was spending more time playing regularly just in the neighborhood with a few others. Others who would be doing the same thing some evenings. Sitting in their rooms listening to music and reading the publication of their chosen instrument.

Much of what I was playing was rock and metal. Metal is the very core of my musical background. It is still the music I enjoy listening to the most.

Bass Player Magazine opened my mind to putting names and faces to musicians of different genres. While I always liked hearing the occasional jazz piece on CBC Radio, I never thought much to put names to the musicians. I was playing electric bass guitar and had hoped to branch into playing upright eventually. Through Bass Player Magazine I began to read about upright players who would become influences. Charles Mingus, Christian MacBride, Eberhard Weber, just to name a few. Then there was Charlie Haden. Haden recently passed away last week. His life and career are being celebrated by the bass community and the music community in general.

While I no longer have a copy of the interview I remember it so very well just from the photo header and some of the things that were written. The cover page was Haden relaxing in a chair reading something. Reading his thoughts on music and life were fascinating. Before I would even hear him play I figured out that this was an incredible talent who was a key figure in the change of direction for the instrument.

It was not too long after reading this interview that I found a concert of his group “Quartet West” on a Bravo Television edition of the Montreal Jazz Festival. The concert was a terrific display of musicianship and creativity. Haden’s phrasing and tone became easily recognizable. Over the years I was able to obtain a few of his recordings on Compact Disc. Worth mentioning is his masterpiece duet record with guitarist Pat Metheny “Beyond The Missouri Sky”. This record is a marvelous display of bass and guitar with minimal extra accompaniment set against the backdrop themes of living and growing up in the mid-western U.S.

The opening track “Waltz For Ruth” (written by Haden for his wife Ruth Cameron), is something worthy of being called a standard. This piece remains one of my favourite compositions to this day. The melody was something I would start to just play as part of warm up exercises and just jamming at home. Literally almost every time I pick up a bass, I end up playing the melody from this track. It is a song that I have wanted to record just with 2 basses. My electric upright for the bass line and perhaps a six-string bass guitar to play the main melody.

It is time to dig out this record and the Quartet West CD’s again. I owe it to myself to seek out and find some earlier recordings of his work. Especially with the Liberation Music Orchestra and Ornette Coleman.

I encourage others to do the same.

This Old House – Last Call. #Writing

House Last Call

For most of the first 20 years of my life, this was one of the places I called home the most. It was the first place I ever knew as a home. Even while living a 10 minute drive away on and off through my teens, this was known to me as a home.

In the last few months, there have been days where I have wanted to walk up to the entrance of this old house and hope that Dad would answer. Even knowing full-well that he would never be there again. I have wanted to walk in and put the kettle on, or grab a beer from the fridge, then rack up the table for a short best-of-seven series of 8-ball while spinning a few records. Or perhaps hear a classic old song with Dad singing lead and playing rhythm guitar. After which we would then pick up where we left off on our lifelong argument about proper guitar tuning.

Side Story – Dad played guitar tuned a complete half step-down from standard tuning. For years he insisted it was the proper tuning. When we would play a few songs together it was always easy for me to adapt on the bass and just roll with it. I now have that great old guitar. Years ago during one of our discussions he said to me perhaps out of frustration, “One day when this thing is yours you can tune it exactly how YOU want it to.”  

So I did.

Although you cannot see it in this photo, to the left of the house stands a tall willow tree. For years I wondered if it should have at least been trimmed back. My thinking was that the damn thing is so tall that if a good wind were to pick it up it would literally fall completely on top of and over the house. I should be giving the tree population in general more credit. When the roots are as strong as the ones on this willow, you realize it’s probably not going anywhere.

Phone smashed

Basement Counter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here you see part of the basement. This spaced was used as a practice area for hockey shots, an indoor bowling alley and a jam space. This space originally was used as a salon by the first owner of the home. She briefly ran some sort of operation right out of the basement. For those of you born after 2000, the phone you see is a rotary phone. These were the most common phones used for decades. When I went to the old house prior to cleaning it out I was touring the basement with a friend. I explained to him that this phone had been here since day one. It still was running for a few years when we lived here but eventually the wires were snipped. It was crusted with dirt, dust and mildew from decades of being in this basement. The outside casing was smashed off with a croquet mallet.

This old house saw happy and hard times. It is in those happy times that a few more moments of peace have come from the grieving process. Being able to have this house organized so it would show well to potential buyers and exploring every part of it to remember the complete picture of what it was has been healing and helpful.

There are a thousand stories to tell that involve this old house. Maybe even a thousand more after that. I’ve spent many mornings over the last few weeks sorting through them and figuring out which ones to write and which ones to perhaps save for another day. Most of the stories I have been able to reflect and remember have been positive ones. Some of the best ones are worth telling, while some are worth saving for another day.

Good memories will always stand stronger than the foundation of any house. I expect that the new home owners will start writing their own chapters today as they take possession. I will miss it and the relative quiet of the community it sits in. So I happily let it go and bid this old house a bittersweet yet fond farewell.

The most valuable currency is not money, it is your life. So raise a glass and spend it all.

 

 

 

 

Blizzards and Basketball #mondayblogs

 

Basketball

In behind the overgrowth of branches in this photo you can see a basketball net. The backboard is well worn from over two decades of weather and bank shots.  The ground pounded down from heavy footsteps and layup pathways.

Hours were spent here in every season. Even waist deep winter storms could never stop me from my overactive imagination.  Multiple fake NBA championships were won at this net.  Mostly because the game-winning three-pointer would be called back on “fouls” from the opposing team.  This would give the “refs” the chance to “reset” the clock and allow for one more long-distance shot at the net.  Many of these “games” would go on well past 2 regulation NBA games without “players” getting fouled out or the refs getting called for some seriously questionable calls.

As a kid this was one of my sanctuaries. A short walk outside the door of Dad’s house. I remember many nights walking out here after supper and coming in only when it was way too late to even think. By the late hours the court was only lit by the faint overcast of a nearby street light.  It barely allowed for a decent clear view of the basket.

One evening, my brother and I wasted several hours attempting to connect a football throw from the opposite end of the yard.  He succeeded after at least two hours of throwing. Did not even strike the backboard or the rim on that winning shot. Clear sailing through the mesh.

The court has not been used for some time. Branches have taken over the once clear and wide air paths for flying basketballs. Many have walked the grass in front and sank many shots while launching them from almost every piece of the land.

My parents rarely every called me in during a school night that I was out here. Why would they? I was getting decent exercise and doing something that I found calming. For the brief period that I moved back into the old house before leaving Nova Scotia, I took to this old court again. How great it was to again find peace while playing sport just for fun.

I was always grateful that Dad cemented this into the ground. The old court net still stands there today, strong and solid.  If the new owners were to tear it down I certainly would understand. I’m happier knowing that the memories of all those shots, all those games, all that time outdoors, will outlast almost anything.

Twitter: @WriterDann

 

 

 

 

This Old House, Pieces of Time. #Writing #MondayBlogs


clockwheel

This old clock on the wall is a symbol of time in so many ways beyond the obvious. It is more than a time piece against the backdrop of an oft-painted kitchen wall.

In the middle of the night if I had woken up I would peek into the room to check the time. Even though I owned a digital clock at a young age. Perhaps I trusted this one more since it never left its’ place on the wall. I started to think about where it could go in my own home. The trustworthy electronic powered gears would give off an audible hum that could be heard anywhere upstairs in the home. When there was no other noise around, you could always hear this clock rolling along with time.

I remember seeing similar clocks in a few antique shops somewhere and occasionally running into them in different homes I have been in throughout my life. When I see them it takes me back to this place. This old familiar site on the old familiar wall. Where it was surrounded by the sites and smells of many meals, baking, or even just warmth from a tea kettle.

As I walked through the rooms of this house for one final time I had intended to take this old clock with me. I figured I could find a home for it somewhere within the surroundings of my home office. Maybe continue to enjoy the familiar sounds I had become accustomed to for nearly twenty years. It is a sound I would occasionally think of on a few sleepless nights when I was far away from it.

When I returned to the kitchen I reached for the wall with the intention of removing it before I left. I stopped and thought for a second or two about how empty the wall would seem if it was gone. How out of place it would look if I removed it.

It didn’t seem right.

So I walked away from the room for the final time with the clock left in place. Whether it will remain there or not will be left to the new homeowner’s choice. From my perspective, it belongs to this house and on this wall.  This is how I will remember it, regardless of where time takes it next. 

 

June 17, 2014 Update. Hours after this was posted, my brother called me to say that after he read this, he decided he wanted the old clock. So it’s going to stay with the family after all.