Friday, July 06, 2007

The god out of the machine

A funny thing happened on my way to the food bank.

There was no bread.


A traffic cop with no whistle, a fireman without a hose;
A food bank with no bread.

In the first instance, there was no bread (people stingy these days) and in the second, somebody joked that I should "go back to Yugoslavia."

Me? God's chosen, once well known as a columnist and a theatre critic?

"Why so glum, chum?" asked Ray Burdon, former director of the Newmarket Stage Company, just kitty- corner from the food bank at the Old Town Hall. "Come on in and see our play."


Not only was I thoroughly entertained by actresses Flo McLellan and Colleen Simm in their wonderful, spirited rendition of The Kitchen Witches, sort of two Martha Stewarts on the same TV show, but I was especially impressed by actors Travis Montague and Thomas Cooper as a Goth cameraman. Far out!
And director ray Burdon does a little skit inside the play.

They lower down Ray Burdon, as kind of a God out of the Machine, so he can test their desserts. They slop it over poor Ray and he begins to look like a happier version of Jalbert the professor-turned-clown of the The blue Angel.

And part of the comedy involved a Ukrainian cooking hostess.

Right up my alley.

And I got something to eat at the snack bar, courtesy of Ray Burdon.

Then I sneaked him the play version of my FIRE IN BRADFORD.

He took it, and gave me an insider's wink.

Who says it doesn't get darkest before the light?


Donnetta Lee said...

Sounds like you happened to be at the right place at the right time. I love to go to plays. About anything, anytime, anyplace. Just theatre. Even when it's bad, it's good. Glad you had a good time and got a snack on top of it!
Donnetta said...

I'm with you, Donnetta.
As long as the actors are really trying--and they really were to an audience of hardly twenty!--and as long as the play has life, we are bound to be wowed and entertained.

It is possible that they were trying exra-hard, since I still had a foot in the newspaper door, but the writing was good and the play delightful--two Martha Stewarts on the same TV set, each hating the other and intending to scuttle the other...Nicole Richie
and Paris Hilton?
The Canadian woman who wrote the play really got the snap of a situation like this, two strong-willed prima donnas on the same set, and the sparks that were sure to follow.
They try to over-impress the judge (Ray Burdon) by almost shovelling their desserts at him till the poor man's face is covered with tapioca and cream...I laughed till it hurt...Josie would have been delighted because of all the varieties of chocolate goodles on display by the two cooking mavens.

I meant to see "The Kitchen Witches" again, but had too much going, including having company over here.


EA Monroe said...

Sounds like fun, Ivan! I've heard that the theater has a dire need for good plays and this is the time to write plays -- while everyone is too busy trying to write the bestseller or whatever!

When Fire in Bradford hits the stage, be sure and send us tickets for the front row! (Or maybe the balcony!)

Josie said...

I still think life has good things in store for you. Just a gut feeling.

The Quarks definitely need front row seats to Fire in Bradford.

Josie said...


You're absolutely right about the need for play right now.

Unfortunately, at this very moment, the best I could do right now is to be like my friend Ray and be lowered to stage like "the god out of the machine".

They actually had a "deus ex machina" in the old Roman plays where neither auhor or director knew where the play was going next.
Lower a drunk (like me?) on ropes down to the stage.
The drunk then tells both audience and actors to more or less F-off,and suddenly, there is new life
in the script.
Deus ex machina.

I am afraid the good old days are gone forever!

Can't remember my lines? Hell, I've lost the script in any event!

&*%$#@**&%%%%%% !!!

Deus ex machina!

Ivan said...

Thanks, Josie,

The Newmarket Stage company had asked me to come again, many times, but I get so hung up in my own snits that I forget dates and miss appointments.
I will have to phone up my pal Ray and see if he liked the script though.
My family doctor once said I was "success-shy."
Wonder if he had something there.

Or maybe it's just my friend here with me right now, the one wearing the glass overcoat.
Johnny Walker and I are having a real good time.


Ivan said...

P.s. to Josie,

Your pal Al Gore went down to Sydney, Australia, and then to Victoria, same place, to clear the path for tonight's kick- off "Live Earth" marathon.
I think Pam met him.

Anyway, first it's from Sydney and then Tokyo, and Shanghai and eventually working westward to London.
Looks like a good weekend for music.
I watched some, but it somehow reminded me of the winter Olympics at Salt Lake City. Kind of secular-religious-haute couture, if I can throw in some oxymorons.
I was wondering where Mitt Romney was. I'm sure Austrailia's John Howar will have some air time for sure.
I guess they're saving the top musicians for about the middle of the this particular marathon.

Oh, get this:
Al Gore has booked Garth Brooks (Garth Brooks??!!) to start a concert two buildings away from the DC legislature up on Capitol Hill.
Wonder if George will consider himself bushwhacked. :)


Josie said...

Ivan, I'm not a big fan of those "Life Earth", let's all save the world concerts. They're always hokey. Is Garth Brooks still on the planet?

Pam met Al Gore? He was in Vancouver not too long ago, but I didn't even get to see him. I watched him on Larry King last night though. He insists he is not going to run for President. I think he has a sweetheart deal with the Clintons. Don't run against Hillary, Hillary will win, and he will be given a top environmental post. You wait. It's going to happen. Betcha.

Anonymous said...

Yep, Josie, it is going to happen.

No matter what you say about the Clintons, neither Iraq nor Katrina would have been such disasters if the Clintons had been in charge.
That darned 22nd Amendment.
Now Hillary had to run.
And she no screamin' hell.

Hic nobis.



Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

I think perhaps I need a good sit down Ivan. There isn't that much here in Grand Rapids to go see and well most of those that attend seem like they aren't going for the play but to be seen. Ugh, I rather dislike people of such a nature.

Anyway.. I think you should come write here. You can make even the saddest person laugh and well that is worth more than anything. said...

Hi "inside".


Into the suds a bit tonight.
Now you know where some of it comes from: :)


Josie said...

I liked the Clintons. I thought Bill Clinton was the best president the US ever had. So what if he had his dilly dallies. Good grief, JFK was waaaay more promiscuous. Even Eisenhower had a "bit on the side". I know it's not right, but it doesn't make a bad president. Can they possibly get any worse than they have now? Where is that creepy little Kenneth Starr now? Hiding in shame, I hope. Now there was a scum bag.

Ask me how I really feel.. heh, heh.

Anonymous said...

Darn that Bill Maher.

Tonight, he referred to Hillary Clinton as "Mrs. BJ".
...I almost fell out of my seat.

But he did say that the Clintons actually listened to people and their concerns. They actually believed in governing once they heard what the people wanted.
Apparently, "The Decider" listens to no one.

I could watch whole hours of Bill Maher.
He was Dixie-Chicked the last time,but he's back strong on PBS.


Dirk_Star said...

Very groovy blog,dude...

I have enjoyed perusing your posts and must make it a point to return. said...





Sienna said...

:) :)

I would love to see you lowered by rope onto stage, as a surprise of course...Australians would totally love that, and get the significance of it, just don't ask them to explain..

Please explain!

I do hope you get to see the concert, Crowded House (technically New Zealand band, born and bred)...but we adopt and love them, Paul Kelly...I think you would enjoy (especially his acoustic work and lyrics) Wolfmother!! rock it to me baby....good stuff Ivan, just plain old good fun, Toni Collette doing a version of *Revolution* was kinda cool...I was on the road all day, (not literally lying on the road-travelling road show kind)..but caught the news tonight..

Pam said...


A big Hello!

Ye Gods, have you Aussies got talent down there.

I spent part of the night watching Missie Higgins.

Look out Avril Lavigne, look out Alanis, look out Toronto-based Feist.

Missie Higgins has truly got it. She has an electricity and stunning dark looks, and plays guitar and piano like Shchroeder. with a kinda Indie Rock inflection.

Verily, I uh, Pole-valted all over my apartment. All that talent and all that beauty!

Wolfmother is kind of a treat as well. Is he part Aboriginal?

Or own Indians, Robbie Robertson for one and Murray Porter for another, are wonderfully gifted.

For a long time Robbier Roberston was our king of rock and roll. He would hang around with Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell et all in this huge house of his called The Big Pink. Music from The Big Pink stayed number one for quite some years.

Ah, Deus ex Machina, that ancient device to actually lower an actor down if a script is too confused.

It has certatnly been used in Pirandello's "Six Characters in Search of an Author", a play about pain--extended families, bastard children and all--where the lowered actor is forced to hear all sorts of complaints about philandering husbands and their bastard children, about those randy characters who have had three or four wives and are trying to deal with them and the various kids. The "god out of the machine" is forced to hear all kinds of woeful tales. Who's your daddy?

Heh. Having spent some time in the "pain industry" I can really identify with Pirandello.

He too was at one time homeless and had gone to the Italian equivalent of food banks and dumpster diving.

But what a play to come out with. Genius won out.

Pirandello managed to tease a comedy out of the tragedy of "Six Characters in Search of an Author."

...Like Oscar Wilde used to say, "Anybody who doesn't laugh out loud over the death of Little Nell--has no heart." :)

Anyway about the actual method of the god out of the machine, I got a bit lazy and went to Wiki:

The Latin phrase (deus ex māchinā, plural deī ex māchinā or deī ex māchinīs) has its origins in the conventions of Greek tragedy, with ancient Roman dramatists continuing the use of the device. It refers to situations in which a mechane (crane) was used to lower actors playing a god or gods onto the stage. Though the phrase is accurately translated as "God from a machine," in literary criticism, it is more commonly translated to "God on a machine." The machine referred to in the phrase is the crane employed in the task. It is a calque from the Greek 'ἀπὸ μηχανῆς θεός' ápo mēchanēs theós, (pronounced in Ancient Greek [a po' mɛ:kʰa'nɛ:s tʰe'os]).

The Greek tragedian Euripides is notorious for using this plot device as a means to resolve a hopeless situation. For example, in Euripides' play Alcestis, the eponymous heroine agrees to give up her own life to Death in exchange for him sparing the life of her husband, Admetus. In doing so, however, she imposes upon him a series of extreme promises. Admetus is torn between choosing death or choosing to obey these unreasonable restrictions. In the end, though, Heracles shows up and seizes Alcestis from Death, restoring her to life and freeing Admetus from the promises. The first person known to have criticized the device was Aristotle in his Poetics, where he argues that a good tragedy must remain plausible...

Cheers and love,


Danny Tagalog said...

Hi Ivan,

Funny as usual, even if I feel like I've intruded on a private conversation.

I wouldn't like to compete against that JR (if that's what you are doing) - he's got some big bad mates.

Josie said...

Happy Birthday, Boychik :-)


TomCat said...

Happy Birthday, Ivan!! said...

Danny Tagalog,


Yeah, JR is bound to beat me.
Would be a lead-pipe cinch.
Sort of like a shiv in the ribs. :)

Josie says JR is very cute.

Some Avril Lavigne fan down there is probably already composing a match song for "I want to be your girlfriend." :)


EA Monroe said...

Happy Birthday, Ivan! Get out of that machine so we can party! ~Liz said...


Thankee, fair lassie.

I got a bunch of musical bithday cards today, all of them asking me to register in their card service.
...Good thing I didn't.
Got some really cool spam along with the musical birthday cards.

I will not be quite feling myself in the next few hours, but like my pal the Newfie says, "It wasn't a good habit anyway."

Peace and love,

Ivan said...


Thank you.
Yepper. Today's the day, though I like to say I'm 38--when I was born.
I used to say I came all this way after years of self-denial, but ex-wife says, "You hedonistic so-and-so...You never denied yourself anything in your life!"

So, maintaining my hedonistic tendencies, Let's party!

Ivan said...

thanks Tomcat.

When I first started this blog, I was very political too, but now, with the arrival of the Quarks, blogging ladies and others--I'm just having too much fun.
I just realize how talented my quarks are, each strongly gifted at something.
You heap smart too.
I enjoy your blogs.

the walking man said...

I have been reading in repose for a bit and have always liked your comments on other peoples blogs, so I guess it's time to quit lurking and say Happy Birthday.

Much Peace, Hedonism to your hearts content and The second scotch goes down much better than the first

Happy Peaceful Day

TWM said...


Thanks so much.

We have a certain affinity for each other.
Your pain is far more real than mine, but you rise above it!
I get a lot of inspiration from your blog.


Josie said...

Ivan, check out my blog. You don't know it yet, but we're all coming to your place tonight for some serious fun and games.


leslie said...

*singing a la Marilyn*


I'm bringing helium balloons. Will they go with the scotch? ;D said...


I am so drunk that I am looking up to see a high-seated charioteer up in the balloon.
He looks kind of Greek and since those dudes wore kilts, he must feel like Donald Duck, surprised one day to find he had no pants on.

Ivan said...


Well, you never, ever say what you don't mean!

As in the Old Navy ads, it isn't just singer Sally Sash or her "FASH" that's gonna get me.!

I can be gotten. :)

Ivan said...


Must be Leslie's helium balloons.

A twelve-foot moth just rose out of my lampshade.

Think I need another break.

Fridge break!


Josie said...

I was attacked by a moth while I was cooking my breakfast this morning. I thought it was a 747.

EA Monroe said...

After all the rain, we have mosquitoes that huge! 747-sized. I've been catching some of the Live Earth show on the tube while I piddle around. A rock band with no guitars just finished playing! Heh.....

Sienna said...

Happy 7 Birthdays Ivan!!

I am in tears of laughter here..this is so funny, and fun!

You like Missy Higgins, great, I will send her, she is very clever, very talented. 23 you know, and has a great heart, did the concert for tsunami victims too.

Say, the God out of the machine, is perfect for the Quarks arrival into the screenplay...wild storm and lost at sea, damaged boat for Sailor and the crew, lost supplies, and bingo, out of the gods of sea appear the Quarks...just when all seemed lost. Brillant! Apparition stuff.

Have a great birthday mate!
Lots of love and peace and fun


JR's Thumbprints said...

C'mon sevens. Lucky lucky sevens. Roll me a seven. Ah crap! Happy Birthday Ivan! On 07/07/07.

Anonymous said...


Pilots tell me a 747 can "do anythning but read."
But I think giant moths are nearsighted, even though they can probably read... They are always looking for the light!


EA Monroe said...

Ivan, the firecrackers on your birthday cake exploded and guess what?! Out jumped 7 wet girls!

Hope you are having fun today! ~Liz said...


Isn't it amazin what computers can do for musicians these days?
Sometims I try to visualize in my head an E-7 chord way down on the fingerboard while my tonic key is B-mi.


Bmi E7
I heard and old ragman out
D Bmi
Making his rounds... (Oscar Brown Jr).

This can now be done by just establishig the tonic and you just wave your fingers around and get perfect chording, as well as clean riffs, if you want them.

Heck, who needs a guitar?
...And all these years I tried to sight-read!


benjibopper said...

Happy birthday and nice handoff of the play! I once slipped a short story to Salman Rushdie. He accepted it but he never called. Hopefully you'll have better luck. said...


I think you're onto something.

Viewers probably won't even know you used the device.

Seems right-on.

Ivan said...

Ah, Wet Girls.

I just finished watching the jumping, exotic-dancing Pussycat Dolls out of London, and I think now I'm all wet.

Al Gore and his talk of pollution...
TMI, I think.

Ivan said...


I think my pal Ray the producer probably knows Rushdie.
Ray once directed "Look Back in Anger", the great "angry young man" play out of London, written by John Osborne.
Theatre folk and writers used to hang around together in those days...I'm thinking of John Braine and Canada's own late and great Mordecai Richler.
Ray had been in that circle, I think.

Interesting that Salmon Rusdie actually took your play home.

I hope I don't have the same luck with Ray.

Myself, I once thought of doing a spoof on Toronto's gay community, titled, tentatively, The Satanic Purses, though I'm sure that would be a real hard sell.

Ivan said...

Thanks JR,


I was once an investigative reporter in Copenhagen, and when I sent out my dispatches in that porn-ridden town, I almost signed off,

O O 69


Donnetta Lee said...

Oh, heavens! I am in stitches over the Satanic Purses!! I really needed a good laugh and that did it. Hope your day was just all that and more! Thought about you all day. Nighty night.
Donnetta said...


Seven wet girls jumping out of a cake.
And I haven't even graduated yet from Bomber School. :)

Ivan said...

G'night Donnetta,

I'm getting a little bleary-eyed over here too, though high on all the comments.

Yeah, Salman Rushdie.
I hear they have a contract out on him all over again.

Ah well.
Into each life, a little Saudi must fall. :)


benjibopper said...

it's all because england decided to knight him. i hope nobody ever tries to do that to me.

apparently my handoff to rushdie later appeared on Rogers cable - i didn't know i was being filmed (or digitized) but several acquaintences have since mentioned seeing it on TV. who knew so many people watched rogers? said...

Ted Rogers will sometimes give you a leg up.
I'll bet they gave you a temporary web site too.
They gave me one, and it was slick!

Rogers, cablecast seems a force in the world.