Secret Origins: Another Summer Festival?

A week or so ago, I walked through the downtown park that hosts most of the summer festivals for which London, Ontario, has become noted. Sunfest, Children's Festival, Home County Folk Fest (alas, a casualty of COVID, killed after 50 years, though perhaps ready to return to life in '25), Ribfest, Bluesfest... I've lost track, and felt surprise when I saw a gathering of food trucks and some minor banners as I neared the park's central hub. Poutine fest! How very Canuck, like beavers or coalition governments. Granted, it consisted of, well, a handful of food trucks and some minor banners, but still, from small and artery-clogging beginnings…

No, really: a celebration of deep-fried potatoes, curds, and gravy, along with every thematic variation the small assortment of vendors could devise. I virtuously declined—and then stopped for a beer on a patio as I wound my way home.

Promoted to Captain

Last Sunday Nancy and I joined a JASNA event, amateur performances, often with little preparation, in tickle-trunk costuming that approximated or suggested that Regency. We had two scenes; the second one reminded me of why some authors last. Persuasion, Jane Austen's last novel, concerns a thwarted romance. Her family has standing and status, but declining finances. He springs from humble origins, but has the ambition of a future self-made man.

The principals meet eight years later. Anne Elliot, now 27, remains unattached. Frederick Wentworth, Captain Wentworth, has made his name and fortune, and returned, a hero of the Napoleonic wars. He's a Regency rock star.

We performed his second proposal, eight years after she turned down the first. One can view the scene and the story from many perspectives, but what struck me was that Wentworth, who has stood down armed foes and cannon fire, now faces the one thing that can shake him to his core. She can refuse him again.

Their situation is shaped by a time and place and its mores. The emotional interaction feels universal.

From poutine and Austen to forthcoming events.

I’ll have more to write about these topics after the fact. Today I'm running a discussion of Watchmen at the local library.

Sunday… Okay, I shall just steal the press release from Brain Lag Publishing, which will be starting a tour of several conventions and other events this weekend:

...on Sunday, June 2nd, we will be at the London Book Fair & Market at Forest City National Golf Club, 16540 Robins Hill Rd., London, ON. Come out for a bookish extravaganza and meet authors JD DeLuzio, Lumen Quill, Arlene F. Marks, and Catherine Fitzsimmons. Admission is free.

I shall also double as chauffeur, since I will be picking up the prolific Arlene Marks and her husband at the airport in the morning. They could actually walk a short distance from landing to festival location, if they didn’t mind illegally strolling across the runway, hopping a security fence, and trudging through a short though thick stretch of woods.


Today I spent at medical appointments, though not for anything life-threatening. In the midst of these I stopped for a coffee at a local Tim Hortons. The temperature had risen to summer for mid-day and blue skies brought people out, clad in simulacra of summertime. A pair of gaunt blond missionary twins approached me. "Good book? Good book?" one asked. I grunted a response and the clean-cut young men moved on, settling on an older woman. A man with a dirty smile looked up and he appeared to eye the Asian woman and her daughter, perhaps 11, in a short pink sundress. They procured beverages and left. He arose and followed. At least, it seemed so to me—but I looked out the window and he turned into the lot, while they went the other way to the sidewalk on the far side of the plaza.

A woman and her adult children sat outside, curbside—or maybe they were just three unrelated acquaintances of different ages. A woman in a hijab happened by.

In reality, I don't know who any of these people might be, but from such observations we shape stories, works of passing microfiction. Be careful; his bow-tie is really a camera

While there I finished reading The Mayor of Castro Street, Randy Shilts's 1982 biography of Harvey Milk. I already knew the broad strokes of the story from the documentary, the biopic, and being alive at the time. What struck me in the retelling was the expression, alongside the outpouring of grief and support, of open hostility and hilarity expressed towards Milk and Moscone after they were killed. Members of an old guard—in particular, members of the police force—rallied around ex-cop and killer Dan White.

In the days that followed the killings, graffiti appeared in cop shop washrooms of dead queer jokes and credits to White for showing people they can fight city hall. A group of officers deliberately abandoned a group of queer men in the Castro who were beset by a band of armed thugs.

I'd like to think we've progressed beyond the kind of fanatical, irrational partisanship that would lead some law and order supporters to applaud a felon and consider him a hero, but recent news reminds us that isn’t the case.*

A final, cryptic note

While clearing things out, I stumbled across something I'd forgot I had. I thought I’d do a little research into the tiny tome online and discovered that I may have something rare indeed. The author's oeuvre has been declared worthy of preservation by... someone, it's a little unclear. Scholars, apparently. In any case, his other works, in their first editions, fetch high (okay, not especially high) prices, but mostly exist as repros. But this one? I cannot find even one original copy of it anywhere online, despite it being perhaps the most celebrated work of this now mostly-forgotten individual. I can find only references to one being in a collection, though surely, more must exist. Curious.

My copy has sustained some damage, but it does appear to be a first edition. I will be doing some research into it over the next couple of weeks and I’ll report back when I learn anything.

*Footnote: "projection" illustrated:

"...a demented man propped up by wicked & deranged people willing to destroy our country to remain in power"—law 'n' order and "restoration of American institutions" Senator Marco Rubio describes American president Joe Biden, in the wake of the conviction of his presumed opponent on the basis of, you know, evidence and judicial process.

The guilty party meanwhile warns that it could happen to anyone! Yes, that's the point of an independent judiciary. Anyone who breaks the law can be convicted.

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