Nothing could ever be more fun than a draiser.

UPDATE: In addition to what’s below, I’m also featuring at the Art Bar this Tuesday the 10th. Also featuring are Brandon Williamson and Ivy Reiss. Now read the rest…

Hey kids.

September is going to be a busy month.

But not as busy as October. There’s lots of stuff happening in October. But September’s busy too. I mean, busier than I’ve been on the spoken-word and storytelling front for a long time.

That was rather anticlimactic. Let’s try again.

Hey kids. Do you like fun? Have you declared yourself ideologically and morally in favour of fun times? Is this aforementioned “fun” a concept of which you approve?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then get yourself to the Black Swan Tavern on the evening of September 15 – for the KEEP CALM and GET RID OF JEFF Fundraiser!

Because I want to go back to the U.K., to meet up with a few friends and see shows and whatnot. So this is your big chance to help kick me out of the country for eleven days. That’s a worthy cause, right?

We’ll have music by High Heels Lo Fi and Kirsten Sandwich; stand-up comedy by Marilla Wex and Magdalena; spoken word by Dave Silverberg and Mike Bryant; a raffle for great prizes; and Jeez Leweez, we’ve even got ourselves a sponsor: Ganolife coffee. What more could you want, my good man?

Why, there’ll even be a surprise ukulele player. Except that it’s not a surprise anymore, because I just told you. But I don’t even know if anybody reads the blog posts on my website anyway, so maybe it really is a surprise. Well, it’s too late to go back and bugger around with that bit, so let it stand. Damn you.

But the good times end not with the draiser of fun.
The following Friday, you can catch me at Red Rocket Coffee for Makin’ a Racket at the Rocket. I’ll be featuring alongside Kelli Deeth and Pat Connors, with an open mic too. Regardless of the venue name, there will be no TTC streetcars. So you can traverse easily within the café, without ever having to wait for half an hour.

That was a very awkward joke about the TTC and its notorious ineptitude. Waiting! Snicker.

I hear the Toronto Film Festival is in town. That sounds like a perfect excuse to read my new Toronto.com article, “Hollywood North: Toronto Locations Used in Film”. Make with the clickety-clack, Padre.

And look for my review of Lower Ossington Theatre’s production of Next to Normal, on Digital Journal this Saturday.

Now go back to school. There’s a good lad.

The August of Her Soul II: The August of Her Souler

How are ya fixed for stories, mac?

I’m doing Storytelling at Caplansky’s again this coming Sunday. It’s the Simcoe Day edition. Also featuring Amy Zuch, Hayley Kellett, Briane Shelly Nasimok and Rick Jones. Hosted by Marilla Wex, the creator of the site what you are reading now.

More stuff coming in September and October.

In the meantime, want to read some more reviews and articles by me?

Here’s some recent stuff on Digital Journal.
Also go to Toronto.com, search “cottrill” and then narrow it down to “Article only”. That’s because I’m too damn lazy to link every separate article here. Earn your salt, boy. And I just started working at OHS Canada, so expect lots of stuff on their site too.

(I typed “dame lazy” by accident there. That sounds like something a scrivener would say in the 1930s, doesn’t it?)

Happy new month. Get a tan. Or don’t. See if I care.

I can still remember when they called it “Dominion Day”.

Happy Canada Day, hosers.
This morning, the Canada Day Moose came galloping down my chimbley and left me Crown Royal sacks of Canadian goodies. Maple syrup, milk in plastic bags, Alice Munro books, free health care, loonies and twonies, basketball, Timbits, people named Gord, Joni Mitchell’s Blue and a healthy dose of passive-aggressive politeness. Next year, I’m asking for power.

You may have noticed some changes on my website. Uh… okay, maybe you didn’t notice at all. Maybe you just came straight to this blog entry from the home page without looking at anything else. If you did… congratulations! You found my website. Now please tell other people to come here.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch: I’ve just added three new mp3s to the Spoken Word page: “The Jim Show”, “Iamsooffended?” and the uncensored version of “A Love Letter”. Listen and enjoy. And no, I don’t want to hear any complaints about the hooker line at the end of “A Love Letter”. All you’re doing is announcing to the world that you seriously need to get out more. If “A Love Letter” offends you, then I insist that you immediately listen to “Iamsooffended?”, just to get a sense of what you sound like to me.

Are you in Ottawa? Do you know anybody in Ottawa who likes spoken word and humour?
Because I’m going back there in a few weeks. I’ll be doing my fourth feature at the long-running Dusty Owl reading series. Sharing the stage with me will be Ottawa slam poet Just Jamaal, and there will also be an open mic for poetry and music.

Each time I’ve featured in this series, it’s just moved to a new venue. This time, it’s at the Mugshots pub in the Nicholas Street Jail Hostel. That’s right, Ottawa’s famous haunted hostel. Are you scared yet? Are you scared?

Are you scared?

Boo.

Now you are. Wimp.

Just for fun, here’s OntarioGhosts.org’s page about the hostel and its alleged unearthly residents.

And one more thing before I go: It isn’t just Canada Day today. It’s also the fiftieth anniversary of the day when the Beatles recorded one of their most overrated songs, “She Loves You”, at Abbey Road Studios. And you know what that means: BUG MUSIC.

Toodles, eh.

Keepin’ it short and sweet this time.

Next gig at Storytelling at Caplansky’s: June 2

New article on Toronto.com: “Toronto’s Tourist Hot Spots”

New stuff on Digital Journal: click here

That’s it for now. Go watch Mad Men.

I was Deep Throat. Actually… no, I wasn’t. April Fool!

This Sunday, I’m back at Storytelling at Caplansky’s, also featuring Megan Fraser, Dom Paré and John Hastings, with an open mic, and with author Michael Wex hosting.

Seems like it’s the only performance series of any kind in town that wants to feature me these days. And as long as I get free smoked-meat poutine out of it, I ain’t complaining. No sir, I ai not.

Not that I’m still avoiding all local poetry events. I’ve been out to the occasional one in the last two months – just to listen, not to perform. But as I ranted about a few months ago, in a post on this site that I’m sure almost nobody has read, I’m still a bit uneasy about the Canadian slam community’s tendencies towards humourless PC groupthink, and the witch-hunt mentality that comes out of it. There are times when the slam scene seems like a truly hateful, reactionary community to me, viewing everything in black-and-white, looking for excuses to be outraged and taking everything you say so damn literally. And it’s heartbreaking to see a (former) friend or two being sucked into the indoctrination.

The best way I can think of to sum it all up is: It’s just no fun anymore.

I think my problem is that I see spoken word as an art form, and nobody else does. To most of the slammers, spoken word is either a pulpit or a cult-like form of group therapy. Thing is, if I wanted to preach, I’d become a minister, and if I wanted to lose control of my emotions and revel in everybody’s shared vulnerability, I’d join a support group. I don’t go to literary events for these things. I go out of love of writing and, to a lesser extent, of performing. But while every slam has some variation of the slogan, “The points are not the point, the poetry is the point!”, I don’t think poetry is the point at all. It reminds me of when I co-majored in creative writing at York University and all the instructors and students tried to force me to be a minimalist: just like back then, everybody’s trying to eliminate everything that I find fun and enlightening about writing.

But while I’ve put spoken word aside temporarily, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. On the contrary, I’ve continued to contribute articles to Toronto.com and Digital Journal.

Check out my recent articles for the former: “Toronto’s Best Staycation Destinations” (a guide to 2013 March Break hotel packages, now outdated), “The Best Bookstores in Toronto” (a three-part series), “The Best Spas in Toronto” and “Toronto’s Bookstore Cafes: From Comics to Cappuccinos”. In addition, a series of golf-related stories I wrote for them in 2010 have recently been updated and re-posted for some reason.
And you can read my most recent Digital Journal reviews and stories at this link. My review of the movie Mad Ship got more than two thousand hits in less than twenty-four hours, for no apparent reason. I have no clue what I did right this time (especially since it was a negative review). Maybe it got linked on some Rotten Tomatoes-type site?

That’s it for now. Time to find out if April truly is the cruelest month.

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