Friday, July 17, 2009

Mightily, the Overflood

I was going through some of my old travel journals and came across this little gem. These are tasting notes for Vinium Karalahna, a wine my wife and I drank plenty of during our honeymoon on the Turkish Island of Bozcaada:
"Profound ruby red with violet tints allures to stare at it into depth and strong scents of cherry and plum flood out, mightily. At a first stir, it is a powerful overflood of mellow fruits like cherry, dewberry. wild strawberry. Thorough harmony of scents and savours. Highlight of pleasure which seduces to sip it over and over again."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Making Light of The Wall

This Israeli commercial for a cell phone company is a shameful example of how some Israelis view the Occupation. I don't know what I find most offensive: the light-hearted portrayal of a symbol of apartheid, or the fact that the Palestinians in the commercial remain invisible.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Walls Book Update

I am still working on my walls book. Those who have been following my blog already know I've spent much of the last two years abroad conducting research for the book. So far I've visited Algeria, Morocco, the Western Sahara, Ceuta and Melilla, northeast India, Kashmir, Israel, Palestine and Cyprus. Starting in mid-August I will begin a ten-month residency at the University of Calgary to try to turn my stacks of illegible travel journals into something resembling a first draft.

My original idea for this book had me covering walls and barriers in about a dozen different countries and territories around the world. Lately I've come to the realization that this was, perhaps, rather too ambitious. There is some concern about whether I can manage a narrative line that links all of these diverse places. I don't want to write a series of postcards. I want to write a story.

So, I am going to simplify my intentions. Aside from a return to Kashmir (my time there last November was too brief) and a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, I will focus the 'walls' book on the places I've already been. I am excited, and honoured, to have the time and space offered by my residency to get this done.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

After a long silence

I arrived home from Cyprus in May and have spent so much time hustling for freelance writing jobs that I have neglected this blog. It has been a strange few months. By the time I returned home my grant funding had dried out, I didn't have a bartending job anymore, and my writer's residecy would not start until mid-August. So I've been working hard turning out stories for various magazines to keep the wolves at bay.

In two months I finished a long story about my time in the Saharawi refugee camps, a history of Tmol Shilshom cafe in Jerusalem, a 'reconsideration' of Tangier, an account of the archery stakes in Shillong, a feature about great home chefs in Calgary and two short profiles: one about an Olympic bobsledder and the other about a self-described 'philanthropy junkie.' I also have deadlines for a pair of stories about a retired zoo-keeper on Denman Island who raises rare Pekin Robins. (More on 'The Birdman of Denman Island' in a future post.)

I have writer friends who do far more than this, but personally I've never been this productive. There is nothing like potential starvation to spur one on.

(As you can see, I changed the look of the blog. The photo is from the fabulous medina in Tangier. I am not sure about the white text on black background, though. Any suggestions would be welcome.)