Saturday, October 21, 2006

VTR History Project

"You don't know how to play the game," the CBC editor was telling me. ''It's not content, it's the money from the grants."

"So it's whom you blow?"

"Are you trying to get into my pants?"

"You'd like that, wouldn't you Fred?"

"Why you asshole. You; never finished anything you've started.The heroine of your novel is a total bitch...and even that you couldn't finish."

"So where's your novel, Big Producer? You can't even spell... Recruit some guy out of the oil patch without even a degree and call him a creative director. Brokeback mountain impersonator, who only knows artists for their gayness rather than the talent they've got and you haven't. So you order them around. You know how to fuck up an artist.
"That's why CBC drama is so bad...All the good people soon quit, being abused by people like you, who belong in an oil patch. Didn't even finish high school...And you tell me I haven't finished my novel.''

The producer sucked on his Havana. "Oh for Christ's sake, bring in the rest of your book."

But I didn't have that particular book finished.

Who was wrong, and who was right?

Ability hides in the strangest places? I did see a pretty good documentary with D.F.'s name on it.But all in all, it was still on my taxpayer's dime.

So there may be meat in the argument, supporters of Margaret Atwood, for example: Can you write eighteen books? And if so, where are they?

Eighteen books are damn hard to write.

It is with such trepidation that I now go on to Scene Four in Act II of my play.

Portrait of the artist as a playwright manque'?

But what the hell. It is a tragicomedy. Story of my life. Story of your life.

Who the hell invented my life?


OK Lord. I'm gonna build me an ark!

Act II, Scene Four

Scene: It is morning in the same yuppie apartment. A coffeepot is hissing merrily in the kitchenette stage left.

Lights: Up.

There is a woman in an 18th century corseted paisley dress and red granny boots. It is Celia. She is all energy and crispness.

Celia: All right. Let's get it together! Lief! David!

There is noise overhead. Lief presently comes down the attic stairs centre stage. There is a VTR in his right arm.
he is fumbling in his left-hand pocket for something.
The professor has hastily put on his trousers. There is a shirttail hanging out. He enters from stage right.
They gather around the oak dinner table. Celia busies herself, pouring coffee into portable plastic cups.
The professor gets his coffee and is about to drink when he notices that there is an unnatural bulge in Lief's left-hand pocket. Lief had placed the VTR on the table.

Professor: Doing something at work, Lief?

Lief: Uh.Yeah.

The professor is stil half-drunk. Lief is standing over him, a bulge in he left pant pocket.

The professor gropes at the bulge. "Whatcha hidin' there Lief?

Lief: Ah, just some equipment
. He is moving his left hip towards the professor, his crotch towards the professor's hand.

Professor: you're kind of moving into that, Lief. Come on whatcha got?

Lief follows the professor's hand, lingers there for a bit and finally produces a pair of jewelled opera glasses.
He places the lorgnette on the table, beside the VTR.

Professor (looking right to Celia, who is having her cofee on the left side of the chesterfield with its cofee table in front. He looks up again at Lief: He is half giggling.
Professor: Nice paraphanelia, Lief. Made in China.
Still has 'Peiping' on it.

Lief: Peiping Tom? He makes a face.

This breaks the ice. They all laugh.

Celia is now standing. She motions lief and the professor toawards the back door. No time for breakfast, guys. Sorry. We're running late. They leave the house.
Music: First bar of theme from William Wyler's olf film"The Collector.' Fade out.

Lights: Down

........end act II, Scene Four, THE FIRE IN BRADFORD.

And so we leave our characters for a bit. Hector the Director and his VTR and his lorgnette, Celia and her paiseley dresses, the professor, thinking he is superior to all this--but is he really? His sophistication, his self-assuredness is really a kind of emotion, heightened by something they had put into the cofee. They will be showing him the dungeon next, and he knows it.


Sela Carsen said...

Absurdist theatre? I'm anxiously awaiting your stage debut!

ivan said...

Heh Heh.
Thanks, Sela.

I once had to fill in as an existential philosophy prof.
I asked the woman I was replacing what she thught of the discipline.
"it's absurd," she said.

Josie said...

Hector the director? I love it.

Can't wait for the next installment.


ivan said...

Hi Josie

Surfed over to your site, where we are entreated to jot down some of our thoughts about life, love et al.
Will join in as soon as i get a new keyboard. This one's whacked and i've already double-printed on jay wells' site.
Ah, the play's the thing, to coin a phrase. But as in other forms of writing, you wonder where the hell to go to next.
I am a pretty good bullshooter, but a play? Talk about impossible!
Sure seemed more comfortable a couple of weeks ago, when all I had was the desire!

EA Monroe said...

Oooooh, Ivan! Your "absurdist theatre" is becoming a psycho thriller, aka The Collector! I hope the Professor has an escape plan stashed in his pant's pocket and better luck escaping Celia and Lief than the poor girl did in Wyler's movie.

"Sure seemed more comfortable a couple of weeks ago, when all I had was the desire!" ... I know what you mean!

I keep a sporatic "journal" -- usually whenever the mood strikes. Last spring, I began an intense period of collecting notes, ideas, writing scenes, etc. for a new book. Meanwhile, I'm trying to finish the rewrites for Book 4.

Today, I was flipping through the "journal" (because I'm working on a serial story for the blog), and I found this entry: Writing a new book exhausts me!

I'm glad your son got your blog straightened out!

ivan said...

Hi Liz (Omigod, people are going to talk!),
I really should read your archives more carefully...
Is Book Four for Deloris actually contracted?...I thought I'd read something about an acceptance.
If so, great. If not, I have a publishing company in my back pocket, though publishing a novel is so expensive in printing costs!

EA Monroe said...

Hi Ivan, no contracts or acceptances -- yet -- probably because I haven't tried too hard. I'm a chicken, too. Deloris is a great chum, plus she puts up with my craziness! She's a reader so she's been my "beta" reader. She sends me corrections as she goes.

I could use a publishing company in my back pocket! Come to think of it, I work in a printing company and we do publish other people's books. One of these days, I'll get a "quote," have the books printed, and then sell copies from the trunk of the car! ;-)

ivan said...

Jonathan Livingston Seagull was self-published, as well as Love Story, the book.
But people like Richard Bach were master marketers in New York. They knew how the game she was played and they had money. And luck!
I did some back-of-the-van selling when I was a younger man. It did work, and there were "angels" among bookstore operators who really helped a lot, by getting me on lists of poets and such. And thet helped me to get the book reviewed in the press.
I then related the experience to a major agent in Toronto (I think it was Beverly Slopen--I get her and Phyllis Grosskurth mixed up, it was so long ago)--I related the experience to Beverly Slopen and she said it didn't count. "What I have before me is a first novel, no matter how many you'd sold out of your trunk in the past.
"Unfortunately, we don't take first novels."
"Well how in hell am I going to get to New York if you don't take first novels?"
Said the lady, "I've seen your name in print. You know your way around.Go do it."
Well thank you!
Well, I did know some of my way around and got the book put out because I was a journalist and knew how to do that--but what an exhausting process!
Eerybody seems to lose on a first novel and the big kittens just don't seem to want them.
Now genre writing is a different thing.
I know next to nothing about genre save that Sela Carsen has sold her
NOT QUITE DEAD, and it is really a very good book from what I've read.
Sort of like Erica Jong, but totally Sela.

Paranormal and Swords-and-Scorcery
appear to lead a lot of writers to success. But then I look at some of
the blogs produced by those writers
and Yikes! This other lady has two books out and she writes like that!??...I am not talking about anyone who visits these pages.

I think you and I are interested in literature qua literature, and that, unfortunately, is a very tough row to hoe.
There is something that keeps me going,the notion that not all bestsellers are masterpieces, but all masterpieces are bestsellers.
We can always hope!

EA Monroe said...


JM said...


It was just past midnight Friday and I was torturing my acoustic with a slide --- Milkin' Cow Blues in open G, with a lash of whisky on the side -- when I thought back on your musings on Robert Johnson. He's been pillaged more than the pyramids -- by me, and you, and Keith Richards. John Mayall shamelessly robbed that tomb; Jimmy Paige ransacked it for gold and left only footprints. I commit crimes in his image, if not his name.
And I wondered -- and here I reached for my whisky glass, because it struck me as profound -- is your legacy assured if no one can remember your name?
Switch keys to D -- Death don't Have No Mercy.
Just ask Robert Johnson.


ivan said...

Welcome back, Jeff.

...Answered you in a riff, but the damn computer ate it.
Robert Johnson will never die!