Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I digitize a book, Sam by Lonnie Coleman ebook MOBI

As anyone with ears knows, I recently received a Kindle for Christmas.  I was disappointed by the lack of older books, specifically gay pulp fiction, I could only find one on any site, The Why Not by Victor J. Banis published in 1966 on Amazon.
I decided to digitize at least one and chose Sam by Lonnie Coleman, originally printed in 1959, this was the 1962 pulp re-print. It was labour intensive, I had to scan every page, proof-read the entire thing and then format it, but I'm very pleased with the result.  It took a little longer to do as the pages are yellow and the copy poor. I will do others, although perhaps less than I had originally planned.
I have worked previously as a professional proof-reader/editor so hopefully I managed to catch all the OCR mistakes.
You can download the book in Kindle format here .
If you have another e-reader format such as Kobo, you can convert the book to your preferred format using Calibre which you can download here.

* I believe the copyright for this book was not renewed and it is therefore in the public domain. If you have evidence to the contrary please contact me. Google shows the last copyright renewal as 1959.
"works published in the US before 1964 whose copyrights were not renewed, may have entered the public domain"

A 1961 Copyright Office study found that fewer than 15% of all registered copyrights were renewed. For books, the figure was even lower: 7%

Friday, December 16, 2011

Who authorized me having another birthday?


I did receive this very cool original Kevin Keller artwork by Dan Parent.  I love it.  Kevin is the new gay Archie comics character.
Also received a Kindle which I'm LOVING!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Fabulous Beekman Boys

 The stars of my favourite show and one of my favourite authors, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and his partner Brent Ridge.
And we even got to keep the sign!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I meet my favourite author - Paul Russell

I met my favourite author, Paul Russell, on Saturday night and had a great time.
I left the house a little early to head over to the Archives before the reading. I wanted to grab a copy of Paul’s book, The Gay 100, for him to sign for the archive’s collection. I wondered on the way if other volunteers were doing the same thing, but I suppose in reflection no one else meets famous authors with the same frequency as I.
Upon entering the Archives I heard the beeping of the alarm and went over, entered my code, and nothing happened. I started panicking, I entered my code again, and nothing happened again. Soon the alarm was going off full blast. Good times.

I picked the list of volunteers off the wall and started calling important people for assistance. Unfortunately the phone goes dead when the alarm is triggered but I was able to use my cell. The first two people I called didn’t pick up, but I had success with the third who also happened to be the alarm company’s main contact and all was resolved.

I hurried back to the bar where the reading was held and met Paul Russell. I sat down and we spoke alone for about 20 minutes or so, then another three or four people joined in the conversation and we all spoke together for about 2 hours. Around 9 pm Paul read the first chapter of his new book, “The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov”. The noise from the bar had grown quite loud by this point, despite the fact that we were in a private room some regular customers had wandered in. What made me most mad was the organizer of the event, the owner of Glad Day bookshop, was talking quite loudly beside us to someone else and making the most noise. Why organize a book reading and then loudly chat all through it?

I had talked to the owner of Glad Day book store about advertising for the event as I believe three people showed up other than myself. He said that’s the way the book world was now, that no one cared. I asked him how he had advertised the event as I myself hadn’t seen any advertising even though I was looking for it, and I said I wanted to be able to find future events held by the store. He said he had posted a message on their facebook site which held 400 members. I asked if it was in the gay paper and he said he was told it was. Now I looked through the gay paper looking for it and didn’t find it so I doubt it made it in. Also on Friday I saw the Glad Day facebook group had only 139 members. Also the group’s homepage was last updated in June. Unless I was looking at the wrong thing, this site posted news of the reading on Tuesday, which means someone would have had to check the homepage between Tuesday and Saturday to find out about the event, even though the last time the page was updated was in June.

The owner said the world was moving too fast and he wasn’t interested in keeping up with it, that he didn’t know how to advertise anymore and was waiting for bankruptcy. All this seemed a sensible solution, except I wish a more effective strategy had been used as both Bob Smith and Paul Russell deserved much larger audiences then they received.

I chatted with Paul Russell about many things, near the end I was wishing I had taken notes or recorded something as I believe it would have been a great fan interview, I wanted to know everything about him, about his books, his writing style. I’m going to try to remember some of the questions I asked him and his response but I’ll have to paraphrase.

After the questions we went out for food. I paid for his dinner and asked him several more questions in this more intimate gathering of just four of us now, and I left before they moved on to Flash, Toronto’s most recent male dance bar, not wanting to overstay my welcome.

Q: Last year you picked “My Queer War” by James Lord as your favourite book of the year. Have you got this year’s selection already chosen, and if so can I have a preview of the title?

A: Yes, it’s “The Intimates” by Ralph Sassone. He’s a first time author and has written a wonderful book about the relationship between a gay man and a straight woman which is something I don’t think has been explored enough in fiction.

Q: Are there any other current authors you recommend?

A: I enjoy the works of Patrick Gale. I also teach with author Phillip Hensher. I would recommend his last two books, The Northern Clemency and The Mulberry Empire, I thought they were both superb.

Q: What is your favourite book of all time?

A: Ulysses by James Joyce. I also recently read Finnegan’s Wake. Some students came to me suggesting we read it as a group. I had tried reading it before but the novel is famous for being unreadable and after 25 pages I gave up. The students said they all had similar results and thought a reading group would help. We met once a week at a pub and would each read one chapters, so between 25 and 50 pages, in the preceding days. At first we would meet and talk for about 20 minutes, mostly saying “Does anyone have any idea what is happening?” but after a while we started to meet for longer periods. It was like learning a language and you could start to pick up on things you recognized before. At the end we were meeting for six hours at a time.

Q: What is your favourite book written by you?

A: Sea of Tranquility. It’s unfair, like a parent picking a favourite child, but Sea of Tranquility for the character of Jonathan who is closest to my heart.

Q: If you could make any of your books into a film, which would it be?

A: All of my books have at some time or another been optioned for film, but I believe the options on all of them have now expired. Someone recently wrote a play about the first half of my novel Sea of Tranquility which I was quite honoured by and quite enjoyed.

Q: That novel would be a difficult one to adapt for the stage as there’s a break between parts one and two of about 15 years. Also part one ends on a rather sad note with the one character telling the other “I renounce you forever” which would be quite a cliff-hanger for the audience.

A: Yes, they re-arranged it slightly so the play ends with a scene of them looking up at the stars, connecting the whole astronaut theme and again I felt it was very well done. My editor once said to me that I didn’t actually want any of my books made in to films as they would be butchered beyond belief. A colleague of mine once wrote a book that was turned into a movie called “Jack the Bear” and the whole experience was a disaster. Reese Witherspoon was cast in it but the filming ran long and she had other commitments. The whole project was put on hold for two years until she was able to come back and once she did she didn’t look the same and the movie got bad reviews. Now any time anyone thinks of “Jack the Bear” they think of the horrible movie and not my colleague’s book.

Q: What is your favourite vacation spot?

A: Turkey, I have been there seven or eight times.

Q: Your current novel, The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov, takes place in Berlin and Russia. Did you travel to either of those places?

A: No, I didn’t. There are some famous figures in the book such as Jean Cocteau and when I was in Paris, which also features in the book, I did try to find the places he had stayed and the famous gay bars of the time. I found out however that all the streets in Paris had been renumbered in the early 1970’s and as such I was unable to locate the exact location. As I was writing historical fiction I felt that it wasn’t necessary to spend an inordinate amount of time searching for the actual place, but instead felt free to wander around his old neighbourhood, knowing I was in the general vicinity.

Q: Did you do much other research for the book?

A: I did. I had written my thesis on Sergey's brother Vladimir Nabokov in the early 1980’s so I have always had an interest in him but it wasn’t until recently when someone suggested I write a book about him that I actually pursued this as a project.
The holy grail while I was doing my research was an adult photo of Sergey but it is something I was never able to find, I don’t believe one exists. There is very little left of him as his famous brother tried to wipe his existence from the face of the earth. There are four letters he wrote.

Q: In chapter one of the book, you quote Sergey as saying “England is the most civilized country in the world.” Was that a direct quote?

A: It was, and that quote is ultimately what got him imprisoned in a concentration camp. He had been watched as a sexual deviant for years but it was this political utterance which made them finally put him away.
There’s a gay museum in Berlin and they recently had an exhibition of gay themed material from the Second World War. A friend sent me a book about the exhibit and when I opened it to a random page, there in front of me was the arrest warrant for Sergey Nabokov. I didn’t know it existed and out of all the pages, that was the first one I turned to. I typed the text out to have it translated and as I was typing it out it suddenly occurred to me that the last time someone typed this out, the exact series of words, was when the person was writing this arrest warrant that would cause Sergey’s death. I had to stand up from my computer, I felt chills.

Q: Where do you get your ideas for your books, for example in The Coming Storm?

A: Everyone assumes I was raised in a similar environment, in a private boarding school. I wasn’t, I went to high school in Memphis, Tennessee in a very poor, predominantly black neighbourhood. I remember our teacher was dealing drugs in the school. He saw the police coming and he knew it was for him, he jumped out the window and ran in to two other police sitting outside, he just stopped running, hung his head, and walked over to them, knowing he was caught.
I wish I had been raised in a boarding school like in the novel.

Q: So this could have been your ideal school setting you were depicting instead of your actual?

A: Yes, definitely. As research I called up a few of these kind of schools and claimed I had a problematic son I was considering enrolling. They were all very helpful; I was surprised how much so. I received letters and pamphlets and DVD’s featuring a day in the life of a student.
What I hadn’t counted on was how aggressive the schools would be at recruitment. Several schools called me repeatedly and one I finally had to send a letter to saying that my “son” was now happy at his own school and could they stop contacting me.

Q: What about War Against the Animals? Did some hot young guy come cut your lawn?

A: Actually it was the reverse, I was the young guy.
It’s funny afterward I had a young guy and his brother come and work on my house. They stayed around and were hopeless workers, they were usually drunk and after they left I had to get the roof completely re-done. But we had a connection, the guy knew the score. Eventually the police ran them both out of New York State.
I remember thinking this was my novel coming to life and I was worried the guy would read it, but they were both functionally illiterate so I didn’t have much reason for concern.

Q: Why is so much of the head cut off on the cover of your new book?

A: Have you not noticed? I do that with all of my books, I never show the face.  This guy has more of his head than most.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

 You can't really tell but this guy was a streetlamp and it looked really good.  He was sticking very close to his large group of friends so it was hard to take his photo.
 My favourite was the Prince from Katamari Damacy.  He even kept rolling the ball around.  Everyone kept saying "Who is that guy???"
 This guy was a ferris wheel, but like a little bit of a creepy one.
 There were thousands and thousands of people.  The streets were full like the day before Pride.
 Liz kept hawking her perfume.
 This one was also excellent, the people were standing behind the seats. The best costumes were originals.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

There's a Strange Cat Outside

Nuit Blanche 2011

It seems they edited Blogger as inserting photos and placing text between photos is now quite nearly impossible, plus once you do get it when you hit post it looks like crap.  So good job, thanks for that.
Less to see at Nuit Blanche this year. I couldn't find as many crazy things like looking up a woman's dress or a huge clown head.  I picked four things.
The first was an exhibit called Residue where a guy breaks into abandoned buildings and takes photos and objects people have left behind.  I liked this locker for the ninja turtle and the found porn.

Isn't the word "Oriental" racist?
The exhibit was okay but the photo gallery had too many photos and the sizes were too small.  They had some great photos of Detroit but they should have made larger prints and had less of them to help show the scope of the empty buildings.  They also had what looked like exhibition catalogues for sale but with no posted price I couldn't buy one.
As I was leaving a 1951 TTC Streetcar mysteriously pulled in front of me, no idea what that was doing there.
This was my second stop, a video presented on a 360 degree screen from Moscow called "The Feast of Trimalchio".
The concept was cool and you had to keep rotating your head around to see the different images. The video was about 1.5 hours long so I only saw the first 20 minutes or so.  These people arrived on an island by cruise ship, and I noticed it was the huge cruise ship I was on:
Then they got fanned, saw peacocks, played tennis, it was kind of weird actually but I think I liked it.
On the walk to my next item I saw "The Police Station" where fake cops arrest people.  Weird.
From there on to "Another Protest Song: Karaoke With A Message" which was hosted by Keith Cole and someone else and when I went the someone else was hosting. This guy sang "Dream On" by Aerosmith and was the worst singer I have ever heard.  He had no tone, didn't know the words even though they were printed in front of him, it was a disaster. I tried to take a video of it but screwed up and when I thought I was hitting start I was actually hitting stop; I got about 1 second of video.
Finally, "Honey, I'm Home!", a 90's sitcom where YOU get to be the character of the dad.  The show was pre-taped and random people from the street got to be digitally inserted into the show, with the idea being that 90's sitcoms were controlled by white men and this would create some alternative families. There were lots of females, a 6 year old Asian girl and a drag queen all who played "Dad" while I was there.
The video was projected on to a brick wall:
And beneath it was the set where the people could jump into the show.
Least year I went with friends, Kent Monkman signed my book, had an amazing time, so this year was a bit of a let down.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Vacation in Muskoka

I've been at Wayne's cottage for three days now and am going home today.  He's a former teacher of mine who I met again at a dinner party given by a friend of my father's and he invited me up to his beautiful family cottage north of Huntsville near Burke's Falls, Ontario.  I was looking forward to going for a couple of reasons, one being that I recently discovered that my teacher's from high school were all living breathing human beings with lives and hopes and dreams of their own.  I think in my youth I largely ignored that fact, as one ignores the fact that their parents are people and just sees them as a parent.  The other thing is I had some extra vacation time and a week away, particularly while I was trying to quit smoking, sounded appealing.

On Sunday I went to the AIDS walk with my mom and step-dad and it was a great experience, I am fortunate that so many wonderful people pledged me.  I really appreciate that.  Afterward we went over to the Word on the Street, Canada's largest book fair.  An author named Brian Francis was reading from his new book "Natural Order", a story of an elderly Ontario woman.  The author began with the idea of shame around deaths from AIDS in the early part of the disease, and wondered how these people felt now that there was more acceptance.  How did they feel about the cover ups and lies and decisions they made at the time, and that is largely what the book is about.  I was anxious to go as the author lives in Toronto and as I have aged I have also developed more appreciation for local talent. I remember a time where I mostly read John Grisham or Stephen King or very commercial authors like that and now I am interested in local people and the art of others similar to me with similar experiences. I find it very satisfying to go and see a play with an actor I have met, or see music from a local band, or read the writing of another gay Ontario man.  The reading was fantastic and meeting the author was great, although I still didn't have my voice back fully from my recent flu, however it has now come back more or less 100%. I mentioned to the author the book club I am involved with and he said he would be interested in going to one of our meeting to discuss his book which sounds amazing.  I am looking forward to that and plan to contact the local paper and produce flyers to publicize the event, it would be great to get a huge turnout both for the author Brian Francis and for the club.
Over the course of the next three days I quickly devoured the book. It was great, near the end I started to read more slowly as I felt that at the end my heart was going to break, and it did, although not as badly as I had feared.

From the word on the street I spent the night at my mom's in Minden and then went to meet Wayne my former teacher and off to his cottage.
On the way we stopped in Huntsville and went to a lookout, notice the little island in the middle right:
 
I thought this little island looked like a cool place.
This is the town of Huntsville:
I thought this house looked cool:
This is a nearby dam:















Wayne's cottage is a beautiful property right on the lake with boats and a huge porch.  My memory of growing up is that when I was 10 or so we moved from Toronto to a small town and I remember not wanting to go.  This coloured my opinion of small rural living for about the next 20 years and it's only recently that I stopped coming up here with a feeling of dread, as if my entire world were being ripped away from me.  I still can't say I really enjoy it, but it is less painful and I am more apt now to look around and enjoy my surroundings.
When we got here Wayne quickly decided we should go out in a boat and asked whether I wanted the paddle foot boat or the canoe.  I opted for the paddle boat and we went out into the bay and it was quite enjoyable, although still quite hot.  I think Wayne had some trouble steering so we quickly gave that up and soon went on a hike in the bush.  The bush is not my best friend, and although I'm glad I went on the hike, I spent most of it staring at my feet, trying not to step on poison ivy, or a snake, or run into anything like a bear, which he said frequented the woods. By the time we got back I was quite glad the forecast for the next couple days called for rain as it might put an end to the parade of activities that had yet to allow me to sit down.
We did go to the home of a nearby artist who makes sculptures from cement:















This is Wayne:


















This is the guy's house. His chimney is a dragon and smoke comes out his mouth when the fire is lit.  A bit over the top perhaps. I just kept thinking about the resale value.















Supper every night has been wonderful but there's a lot of preparation involved when you have to source all the ingredients yourself from the land, pick and wash everything and clean the meat.  Wayne's sister Pam and her boyfriend live here full time and are quite into the land, having spent the day I arrived picked cranberries from the bog and shooting partridge. This also must be tiring as everyone here was in bed by 8:45 pm.

The next day everyone got up around 5 or so except me, and the big controversy in the morning was that someone had raided the pudding in the night.  Pam had made a fruit pie covered with biscuits and fruit she had picked and apparently someone had eaten some of it in the night.  I finally fessed up and wasn't run out of town on a rail although I'm not sure they appreciated it and may still be lying in wait to give me my come-uppance.  It was sitting on the counter and was the only thing readily accessible and I always eat in the night. Oh, well.  Shortly after rising I was asked about fifteen times or so if I wanted breakfast and after the 15th "NO!" they gave me fruit and yogurt.  "I just finished a huge pudding hours before!" I wanted to say, but didn't want to get them started on that again, so I quietly ate my meal.  We got up and Wayne decided we should now try the canoe. I have only been in a canoe once before, when I was 19 or so my partner at the time and I and another couple camped somewhere only accessible by canoe. I remember it involved a portage and the canoe ride seemed never ending, we were in the thing for hours, and I really didn't want to try it ever again.  It didn't seem to be a question however and before you know it I was in the canoe.  The thing was so tippy every muscle in my body was tensed. If I relaxed one muscle at the back of my elbow the thing would heave violently to one side and threaten to tip so I tried not to breathe for the entire ride.  Wayne would talk about the scenery and I'd move my head for half a second, say "YES!" and then move back into position to prevent a tip over. Eventually we made it back and Wayne said something like "That wasn't so bad" and I said "It was a spin through Hell for me". It may shock you but I can sometimes be a little blunt or direct, and I'm not sure how that's gone over with Wayne. He's so quiet and reserved. I gave him a book on the life of Phil Andros when I arrived and he said he would need a shower after reading 50 pages of it. I offered to take it back but he said "No, I didn't say I didn't like it" and who knows what that means. I feel sometimes as if I may be offending his delicate sensibilities, but then he'll tell a bawdy joke and appear to get right in there. He's a riddle inside an enigma.

Yesterday Wayne had a meeting to go to for most of the day. I got up and took some great photos of the sun rise, it was coming up behind me, but you get the idea. Then went back to my room and watched some tv, napped and read for most of the day. It was quite nice and gave me the relaxation I needed. 

This is the sun set that night from another vantage point.















Today it's 8:47 and I'm taking the bus back to Toronto at 2:30. I have a play tonight at 8 in the city.  I'm kind of hesitant to get out of bed as these people watch the news incessantly and I don't like TV and can't read while it's on. Also I know the second I step outside I will be hounded to eat something so I may hide hear a little longer.

LATER...

We had some time to kill today before the bus from Gravenhurst so Wayne and I stopped off at a local nursery to see their "giant straw maze". Turns out the maze was only giant if you were 3 feet tall but it was still fun and they had lots of cool tableaux set up with pumpkins.

























This one is my favourite, the magician cutting the woman in half:
















There was a long train and this at the start of the tracks, also so cool! They just needed a pumpkin Snidely Whiplash.















From there on to a park with a waterfall as we still had more time before the bus came. I love the beach in the distance, I wonder if there's a time you could sit on it on a nice day when it wasn't full of children?
























Wayne looking serious.  I said "SMILE!"
























and then the bus.
I noticed the bus had WiFi and took my laptop so I got to surf the net for a while before the battery died just outside of Barrie. I noticed a plug on the bus and got off to get my cord out of my bag but the driver decided to let 300 people on before he let me at my bag. After about person 250 I realized the seat beside me would now be full and I had left my bag on the aisle seat - the outlet was on the window seat!  I raced back on the bus as the driver was calling "Once all these people are on you can access your bag!" and found some damn woman sitting in the window seat. As I didn't think she'd let me drape my computer cord across her lap, that was the end of that idea and I sat back, resigned.
I have been getting progressively more grumpy about this smoking thing and with nothing to do, this woman decides this is a good time to brush out her hair for an hour. The whole trip this woman is brushing and flicking her long hair all over me and it's all I can do not to grab it all pull it out by the roots. Once we hit Yorkville, I made a dash for the exit and took the subway downtown. The bus passed me as I was waiting for a streetcar so I made the right decision.
This no smoking thing, it gets easier, right????