Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

anecdote- I’ve discovered Goth Cabaret August 10, 2014

I meet the most interesting people.

After the banquet at When Words Collide Writing Conference in Calgary tonight (I’m there as a presenter) I was sitting cross legged on the floor in my long skirt, when I looked up and spotted two young, tall, handsome red headed men.  (The hair was quite glorious, though not discussed).  We smiled at one another and I asked, “Anyone ever tell you that you two could be brothers?”

They laughed and commented that they got that all the time.  I asked who was older and Nathan pointed at Alex.  “He is, by 8 minutes.”

I asked what school they went to, and learned they’d just graduated, but that next year, one is going to do another year to learn art, music, and sewing.  The other is going to university with the aim to become a neuro-surgeon.

Conversation carried on a bit, and Nathan asked what kind of music I listened to.  I told him I play the harp, and so I like folk and Celtic music.  He told me he really likes Goth Cabaret, but that “you’ve probably never heard of it.”  I was intrigued,because I hadn’t..  He went rifling through his iPad in search of examples.  Finally, he gave up, and said, “I’ll just sing you one.”  He sang a verse of a song and then stopped, because he couldn’t remember the rest.  He had a discussion with his brother, and then the two of them turned to me and launched into a tuneful rendition of “When You’re Evil” by Voltaire.  Alex even dived into a lovely deep bass.  They sang the whole, four minute and something song, with perfect intonations and accents on the funny bits.

I had a personal concert in the corner of a crowded foyer. A hundred people were milling around us.  Everyone else was conversing or checking their phones.  I had a moment of pure delight being entertained by a pair of talented eighteen year olds.

It was the highlight of the day, and perhaps the weekend.

Just to share the fun with you, here’s a Youtube video of the song.  Though not sung by Nathan and Alex, I can assure you, it’s pretty close!  It’s  a little ‘Sweeney Todd’ style mayhem in a jaunty cabaret tune.  Delightfully dark.

You never know what’s going to happen when you talk to young folks.

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And here I am with these delightful young men.  Nathan on the left, Alex on the right.

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WWCNathanAlex

 

poem-broken August 5, 2014

Filed under: anecdotes,Poetry,poodles — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:33 pm
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We don’t appreciate

comfort

until the air conditioner

condenser breaks when it’s

40 degrees* out

because dog pee

corroded the evaporator coil.

The steaming

house is broken

and dogs get more expensive

every day.

.

.

*(that’s 104 if you speak Fahrenheit).

.

(good thing we love them, eh?)

 

 

 

allegory of the rich man and his gardener June 21, 2014

Filed under: anecdotes,Commentary,Pondering — Shawn L. Bird @ 7:20 pm
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An allegory:

Chris has the most beautiful garden in the city.  He has a gardener who has been working on it for years, carefully cultivating special plants, and creating special features that are the envy of people who come from all over the world to admire the garden.  The gardener is paid a fair salary for his expertise and years of training, so he is happy.

Years pass.  The gardener hasn’t had a raise in years, and things are getting more expensive.  Gas for his car now costs double what it did when he started working.

Chris asks the gardener to put in a fancy water feature, and several fruit trees. “I’ll cover the bill when rents are paid,” he says.  That’s fine, the gardener makes a good wage, and he loves the garden.

Chris goes around to his tenants to collect the rents.  To the small houses, he says, “The view improved now the neighbour’s tree is down.  You owe more.”

To the really huge houses, he says, “Never mind. You don’t have to pay your rent.”

Then he pays all his bills, but because he didn’t make the big houses pay their rent, he doesn’t have enough to pay the gardener all he’s owed.

Chris tells the gardener he still expects the fancy water feature and the fruit trees, as well as the lawn to be mowed, the beds weeded, and the shrubs pruned.

The gardener loves his garden: the new water feature is going to be stunning when he’s finished with it, and the fruit trees are amazing, blooming gloriously, but some fungus is creeping onto the petals, and then insects are bothering the fruit.  He can’t quite figure out how to stop that, but he’s read about a great fungicide that should work.  He just needs to test to see exactly what the problem is.

“I don’t have any extra money for this!” Chris declares.  “I pay you enough!  Your demands are ridiculous!”

The gardener wants his garden to be perfect, so he does his best, working in the evenings and bringing things from home.  He can’t afford to subsidize the proper fertilizer, tests, and fungicide, and when the mower runs out of gas, he can’t get more fuel  since he no longer can afford a car himself, so he can’t drive to get some.  He asks for an increase in his wages, and a budget that covers the demands Chris as made.

“This is not in line with what other gardeners are paid!” Chris shouts, though the gardener knows he is not asking for anything more than every other gardener in the city gets for the same kind of garden.

He begs Chris to please provide him with the budget necessary to do what he’s been asked, but Chris glowers and tells the gardener he’s being greedy and lazy.

The gardener tries repeatedly, feeling guilty about the way the fruit trees are dying, and he is frustrated because he knows if he could just get the proper funding for what is required, he could produce the kind of show garden Chris he wants.

With so much work, no extra staff, no supplies and not enough money to buy them, the garden inevitably falls into ruin.

“What a terrible gardener!” Chris says.  “I’m going to take back pay because he’s not working hard enough!”

“What a terrible gardener!” his golf club cronies in their rent free big houses agree, adding.  “It’s so hard to get good help cheaply any more.” Then they shout, “FORE!” as their golf ball sails over the artificial turf and the plastic flowers of their golf course.

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.

.

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In case you missed it:

Chris is Premier Christy Clark, the garden is the education system, and the gardener is the teachers.

 

 

November 4, 2013

Filed under: anecdotes,Friendship,Pondering — Shawn L. Bird @ 4:44 pm

I was around when Anna was born, and watched her grow, a small, quiet girl with an independent spirit right from the beginning. I love reading her blog. This one is particularly poignant, because I knew and loved her granny as well. No one had as young a spirit as she did.

 

poem- parenthood September 26, 2013

On a non-stop eight hour drive,

we paused for fuel.

“What?” you asked

As you intercepted smirks

passed over your head,

when you climbed into the back seat

after the gas station bathroom break.

“Nothing,” we said, as we pulled

back onto the highway.

Even though your sister had been

traumatized when I left her

standing in the driveway as we tore off to the bus stop

that time,

while you waved at her from the back seat

and waited for me to notice,

this time

when your dad slammed the car door,

buckled up,

and drove away,

destination in his mind,

she was the one who said,

“Missing anyone?”

so when you climbed into the car,

you never even knew

you’d ever been left behind.

 

anecdote- overheard August 10, 2013

Filed under: anecdotes,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 10:07 pm

Overheard at When Words Collide Writing Conference (Calgary):

“It’s strange just being at a writing conference.  I kinda miss the Klingons wandering about.”

I am at a Writing conference that emerged from what was previously a Sci-fi and Fantasy writing conference.  I have never before been around so many fantasy writers.  They are quite an interesting crowd. How so?  Well,  I suspect most of them get the jokes on the Big Bang Theory.  The Sci-Fi writers not only ‘get them’ they understand the physics and can critique it.

The fantasy writers can discuss the strategies to building religions, and crafting entire civilizations.  They are experts at “building worlds.”   To say they have imagination, is understatement.

In most crowds, I am one of the nerdiest people there.  Around here, I am not even close.  It is quite astonishing.  I am thoroughly enjoying being with creative, intelligent, unique folks!   I feel right at home.  Here are writers, editors, and publishers who appreciate the skills and challenges, offer interesting perspectives, fun ideas.  The banter and exploration is fascinating.

There is a lot of talent in this building!  Talent that changes worlds with every stroke of their pens.

A token poem-

It doesn’t feel quite right

Not a Klingon in the room

But let the writers into light

They’ll draft some very soon.

Good night from Calgary, When Words Collide 2014!

 

memory- This One’s for Shawn August 9, 2013

Earlier this week, Diana Gabaldon dedicated her Daily Lines to me, and sent out to her 250,000 fans on Facebook and Twitter the message #ThisOnesForShawnLBird.  I was just remembering another time when my heart was warmed to bursting by a dedication from someone I looked up to.

Once upon a time, when I was 15 or so, a boy I adored worked once a week as a Disc Jockey on a late night radio show in Calgary.  Some nights, even though I lived 650 km away on the other side of the Rocky Mountains,  I could listen to him on the skip that happens when meteorological conditions were good.  One night I called him up to say I was listening, and he dedicated this song to me.  I have the dedication on tape, and when I hear it, it still chokes me up!  If you have fond memories of your first love, you may want to get out a handkerchief.

“This one goes all the way out to Kelowna, BC.  This one’s for Shawn…”

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(I sing “Share this thought with me” as “You shared the start with me”  Hmm.  Either way!

How about you?  Do you have fond memories of a very public dedication you received from someone special?  Tell us about it!

 

 
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