My name is Mark Chatham and let’s take care of a tedious, but essential recitation first.
As of November 2017 I’m 59, married 39 years to Joanne, have four children, three grandchildren and live in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, eastern Canada. I retired after 30 years in the Canadian Coast Guard three years ago. I’m the author of Rescues on the High Seas which I wrote in 2005 for Altitude Publishing’s “Amazing Stories” series. I’m a musician and I play guitar, which I did as professionally from 1979 and 1983. Now I write, produce and record music out of my “man cave” with my business partner Don Dupuis under the guise of Groove Fondue.
From Flint to Flame
My life changed radically and irrevocably in 2015. Prostate cancer metastasis will do that to you, but not to worry. Weirdly enough it’s all good and I’ll go into that at another time. Suffice it to say, I’m happy and even though I’m on the clock I’ll be around for a while as the cancer is in remission and the prognosis is excellent.
Retiring from the Canadian Coast Guard has enabled me to pursue things that excite my interest. Family, travel, music, movies, writing and following the financial markets are probably my primary passions. I gotta say though, I do love it when the grandcritters come to visit.
“From Flint to Flame” is one aspect of these sea changes in my life. After writing “Rescues on the High Seas” in 2005 I stopped writing in any structured sense. Now that I’m finding artistic focus and I’m excited about life after 30 years of mind-numbing shift work. I want to tell stories again. Blogging seems to be a practical way to exercise that particular set of intellectual muscles.
In the interest of total disclosure, Jo says I talk too much, which I didn’t realize until she first illuminated this fact about five years ago. I thought maybe this was a new thing due to aging. Frightened I might be turning into a version of Grandpa Simpson I suggested this was surely a new phenomenon and nope. Apparently I’ve always been this way. I swear I’m ADD and fell through a diagnostic crack. I’ll go with the old cliche and call myself a work in progress. I’m like a sculptor’s lump of clay. We’re both being molded into something new and have the same complexion.
So why “From Flint to Flame?
While I’m not religious, I do like the idea of a divine spark within us. Whether you consider it pure intellect or something deeper such as a soul, it moves us.
Intellect is the flint which when struck provides the spark of an idea. Force of will and faith keep you striking that flint until that idea is realized, at which point you have flame and isn’t that a wonderful thing?
I’ve been hitting that flint regularly since 2015. Sometimes travel is the “striker,” sometimes it’s writing and recording a song, sometimes it’s trying to figure out how to jump through the %#@%$@ hoops to start a web page.
Initially my intent was to start a travel blog, but the idea has evolved into something a little more involved since then. The section on Auschwitz prompted me to add a “serious fare” category and I’m realizing that the website is moving towards more of a multi-media portfolio when I added the music and movie category. The website is about ideas. It’s also a place to develop and park cerebral clutter. I like telling entertaining stories, but I also have a more thoughtful side, concerned with social, political and economic issues of which I feel compelled to write, hence the “serious fare” category.
In September of 2017 Jo and I visited Europe for the first time. When I travel, I am a camera. When I get home from vacation, I take a look through the pictures to see what we did while we were away. I don’t post on facebook much, but when we travel you’ll get 138 photos every 42 minutes. Well… that may be overstating things a tad. That being said, rather than just posting photos on this trip, I started writing ridiculous captions to amuse and people seemed to respond. This gave me the idea for the travel blog.
My idea was to use the facebook photos with goofy captions to tell the story of our travels, but add a narrative that would include actual history and useful information. I figure if I’m going to talk too much, we all may as well have a bit of fun while learning something; yours truly included. This post isn’t following that format, but then this is a work in progress much like myself. My niche will be absurdity. Sadly, not much of a stretch. Which brings us to…
The Thing with Two Heads (T.T.W.T.H.)
The Thing with Two Heads came about in Zurich, Switzerland, about mid way through our European sojourn. Our kids mentioned they wanted to see more shots with Joanne and I so we started taking more selfies.
I’ve always loved movies, even bad ones. After seeing the above selfie we’d taken, a B movie with Rosie Grier and Ray Milland called “The Thing with Two Heads” came to mind and it became a running facebook gag and the sub-title of my travel blog.
The single sentence synopsis in IMDB doesn’t do justice to this deeply layered characters study: “Doctors are forced to transplant the head of a dying, racist surgeon onto the body of a black death row inmate.” The inimitable Roger Ebert actually pondered “is it better to be alive with Ray Millard’s head plugged into your neck, or to be dead?” before deciding most would probably opt for Ray if for no other reason than it’s a chance to meet a movie star. It’s kind of like a horror version of The Defiant ones with Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier except challenged for taste on every level. Fortunately, we’ve been spared a remake of Gandhi starring Terry Bradshaw where the twist is he’s also a serial killer who never gets caught.
Anyway, The Thing with Two Heads it is and I hope you have fun and enjoy! We did!