All posts by Ron Thompson

The Tour Ends

APOL - Bus 2

I’ve Been Everywhere, claimed Hank Snow, and in APOL’s case, it’s true. APOL’s tour was from the start a whimsical  piece of performance art. APOL’s persona and adventures are all (Spoiler Alert!) products of my fevered imagination; yet the photos I’ve posted every week for the last two years were all real. The book really has been in all those places—thanks to its many fixers, enablers, friends, and fellow travellers; that is, thanks to many of you.

As Nelly Furtado once sang, All Good Things Come to an End. And so my effort to document APOL’s world tour ends here. This is my last official tour post. There will be a few additional housekeeping posts tagged to the tour, particularly to thank contributors, but I’m turning now to focus on other things. Next fall, my novel Poplar Lake will be released—I’m very excited about that. And I have several other projects underway. In due course I’ll post about Poplar Lake and other developments. Please check in from time to time, either here or on Facebook or Twitter, to stay in touch.

Although my weekly dispatches are ending, the APOL tour bus continues to roll. APOL is still on the move, somewhere Out There, headed for places and readers yet unreached. Godspeed, little blue book!

Note: “APOL” is the anthropomorphic version of my satirical novel A Person of Letters, which, in January 2016, began a global book tour without me (with a post-modernist wink and nod to magical realism). Every week for two years I’ve posted a dispatch from some near or distant tour stop detailing APOL’s quixotic (mis)adventures. Find them all in sequence on this tour archive or on my Facebook Author Page.  For information about the book, go to Martin Scribler Media.

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Canada’s Favourite Season

APOL - Toronto, Leafs 1

Home for the Holidays, because ’tis the Season. Hockey that is. To mark the NHL’s one hundredth anniversary, and the recent hundredth stop on its world tour, APOL performed a pop-up this week at a Maple Leafs game at the Air Canada Centre. It was suitably attired in the home colours.

Note: “APOL” is the anthropomorphic version of my satirical novel A Person of Letters, which has gone on tour without me (with a post-modernist wink and nod to magical realism). Follow APOL’s quixotic world tour here or on my Facebook Author Page, and read about all of APOL’s (mis)adventures in sequence on this tour archive.  For information about the book, go to Martin Scribler Media.

Open Content and Star Wars

Wikipedia edits on Star Wars - The Last Jedi

Just to illustrate the pros and cons of Wikipedia, here is how para 3 of the article on The Last Jedi read this morning, and again a half hour later.

I use Wikipedia all the time. It’s a really useful general resource, and I donate every year to the Foundation. Still, let’s acknowledge its limitations. Its open content status means it can be manipulated by anybody in the short-term.

There is no substitute for diligent, independent research based on multiple sources. In other words, get thee to a good old-fashioned library.

In the Heart of America

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APOL was in Chicago this week, ostensibly on tour, although dispatches received by its grumpy author suggest little actual work was accomplished. APOL is known to be easily distracted, and there is much to distract the ADHD-prone in Chicago. The Midwestern burg is known by many names—the Windy City, Chi-Town, Second City, the City of Big Shoulders among them. Perhaps the most apt of its monikers is “the Heart of America,” for Chicago has long had an outsized creative and cultural influence on the United States and the world at large.

Route 66 begins in Chicago. The Ferris wheel was invented there. Ferris Bueller spent his day off there. The zipper was invented there. Walt Disney was born there. Hugh Hefner started Playboy there. Ebony began there. The deep-dish pizza was invented there. So was the vacuum cleaner, and spray paint, and the Twinkie. The first-ever baton-twirling contest was held there. The world’s first skyscraper was built there, as was the first air-conditioned office building. The first blood bank was created there, and the first mail order business.

As Frank Sinatra liked to croon, “My Kind of Town, Chicago Is.”  (Yoda-like, Frank was.) Interestingly, “My Kind of Town” was nominated for an Academy Award in 1964 for best song. It lost to “Chim Chim Cher-ee” from Mary Poppins, a film produced by, yes, Chicago’s own Walt Disney.

Note: “APOL” is the anthropomorphic version of my satirical novel A Person of Letters, which has gone on tour without me (with a post-modernist wink and nod to magical realism). Follow APOL’s quixotic world tour here or on my Facebook Author Page, and read about all of APOL’s (mis)adventures in sequence on this tour archive.  For information about the book, go to Martin Scribler Media.

APOL Arrives in Port-au-Prince

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APOL was in Haiti this week, ostensibly to explore options for a Creole language edition of A Person of Letters—but it walked away from the deal when its local agent suggested that a “courtesy gift” to a certain official, in unmarked bills in a nondescript briefcase, would ensure a speedy release. Haiti is ranked 161 of 177 countries on Transparency International’s corruption index. It is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and corruption is a national blight.

It is but one of the country’s burdens. Nature has been cruel to Haiti, and humanity  unkind. The economy was shattered and tens of thousands of Haitians were killed in a devastating 2010 earthquake that left hundreds of thousands homeless. It has been a huge challenge for the government to house, let alone help, the survivors. In 2013 an effort was made to relocate some of the homeless to Jalousie, a shantytown of cinderblock homes on a mountainside overlooking the wealthy Port-au-Prince suburb of Petionville. In an effort to beautify Jalousie, homes were painted in bright rainbow colours. While the initiative created a striking visual impression, and was pleasant to look at from Petionville, it did little to house the homeless. Haiti’s difficult recovery continues, straining the country’s resources and institutions, which were inadequate to address the diverse needs of a growing population before the earthquake…

In the immediate wake of the disaster, help came to Haiti from around the world. The relief effort has been much criticized, and there has been significant corruption associated with it, but tremendous work was performed by countless people, to ameliorate suffering and begin rebuilding a shattered countryand not all of it by on-the-ground relief workers.

One small example among many: Rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars, fronted by Jared Leto, raised $100,000 for Haitian relief via charity auction.

APOL has become intrigued with Thirty Seconds to Mars, after learning that the band’s subsequent tour, which ran from February 2010 to December 2011, holds the Guinness record for longest concert tour by a rock band (309 concerts). APOL immediately set itself the goal of establishing the Guinness record for the longest book tour without an author. (“Knock yourself out,” grumbled APOL’s anthropophobic author.)

Note: “APOL” is the anthropomorphic version of my satirical novel A Person of Letters, which has gone on tour without me (with a post-modernist wink and nod to magical realism). Follow APOL’s quixotic world tour here or on my Facebook Author Page, and read about all of APOL’s (mis)adventures in sequence on this tour archive.  For information about the book, go to Martin Scribler Media.

Genny of Antigonish

APOL - AntigonishAPOL is touring Nova Scotia’s Northumberland Strait this week, where it had a homecoming of sorts in the town of Antigonish. It is revealed in Poplar Lake, the upcoming prequel to A Person of Letters, that Genny Patersdotter, the heroine and feminist foil for the narrator of both books, hails from Antigonish, and is a graduate of the town’s St. Francis Xavier University. To APOL’s great disappointment, neither the town nor SFX has yet erected a statue to the brassy Patersdotter. (There is a perfect spot for it, too, right in front of town hall…)

Antigonish is home to the storied Coady International Institute, named for Rev. Moses Coady, a founder of the cooperative movement in Canada. (There is a statue to him on the SFX campus…) The town is also home to the oldest continuous Highland games outside of Scotland. Yes, they’ve been tossing the caber in Antigonish since 1863. And speaking of tossing: before the APOL entourage left town it tossed a few back with the locals at the Townhouse Brewpub, where it found the in-house ales and cheerful company most refreshing. A good time was had by all.

Note: “APOL” is the anthropomorphic version of my satirical novel A Person of Letters, which has gone on tour without me (with a post-modernist wink and nod to magical realism). Follow APOL’s quixotic world tour here or on my Facebook Author Page, and read about all of APOL’s (mis)adventures in sequence on this tour archive.  For information about the book, go to Martin Scribler Media.

APOL meets Don Quixote

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Madrid, the Spanish capital, is a city of cultural treasures. During the country’s golden age it was home to such artistic geniuses as painter Diego Velázquez, playwright Felix Lope de Vega (the Spanish Shakespeare), and writer Miguel de Cervantes.

The latter is of particular interest to APOL, which visited the city this week on the latest of its quixotic tour stops. Cervantes is considered the greatest writer in the Spanish language, and his masterpiece Don Quixote is considered a founding work of Western literature—in effect, the first modern novel.  With the exception of the bible, DQ has been translated into more languages than any other book.

Title character Don Quixote—whose real name is Alonso Quixana—is a country noble who becomes obsessed with chivalry. Indeed, he goes mad, and sets off to roam the countryside as a knight, bringing justice to the world and reviving chivalry in the process, accompanied by his loyal squire, the peasant Sancho Panza. Shenanigans ensue. Don Quixote has been called comic and picaresque, a work of radical nihilism and anarchism, a spoof, a tragicomedy, the best literary work ever written.

“Picaresque,” “spoof,” and “anarchic” are all terms that appeal to APOL (and its author). Thus it can be no surprise that APOL was captured mooning the statues of DQ and Sancho, at the foot of a monument to Cervantes, in the city’s Plaza de España. No charges were laid, and APOL was later seen cavorting in a pool of vino tinto on the Plaza Mayor. Shenanigans ensued.

Note: “APOL” is the anthropomorphic version of my satirical novel A Person of Letters, which has gone on tour without me (with a post-modernist wink and nod to magical realism). Follow APOL’s quixotic world tour here or on my Facebook Author Page, and read about all of APOL’s (mis)adventures in sequence on this tour archive.  For information about the book, go to Martin Scribler Media.