Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Clark Kent forever

Who wouldn't like to have been Ernest Hemingway or Morley Callaghan?
As a young man, I gave it a shot, though my performance at Hemingway's (and Morley's) old home, The Toronto Star, was something less than stellar.
Oh sure, it was fun to have been the Big Man On Campus at Ryerson, to already have had a war background (refugee capacity), to have had stories published in the college's little magazines. But this was The Star. The Big Leagues. The Star was home base at different times to the likes of Hemingway and Callaghan and later to Star greats like Ralph Allen, Nathan Cohen, Robert Fulford.
Hey c'mon now. I was just an anglicized Ukrainian, long ago dropped as an infant like a doomed fighter pilot into the rye where my mother was inconvenienced to have me just ahead of advancing fascists. My waking memories were confinement, noise, dislocation, starvation, all the good stuff that usually hammers out a writer.
Thank God for the unhappy childhood!
I ended up in Deep River, Ontario where I fought mosquitoes and a tough new language aided and abetted by Norman Mailer's Naked and the Dead, Nicholas Gogol's Diary of a Madman --and Dick and Jane which the teachers were now trying to impart on me.
I saved my sanity by reading the comic books. Yes, Superman, the ultimate immigrant, Captain Marvel and Mary and the whole family, Wonder Woman, Batman and more. But there was a transition coming, a transition to serious literature, a strange little character out of MAD #2-- MELVING MOLE, A MAN OUT OF CONTROL.
Who from a minority group could not identify with Melvin Mole, this strange little apparition out of William Gaines' Humour in a Jugular Vein--Melvin Mole, file-toothed, rat-faced, pimply, whose sole (perhaps only) talent consisted ed of his ability to burrow with incredible talent underneath all obstacles, accompanying himself with obsessional mutterings: DIG! DIG! HAH! DIG! DIG! DIG! The underground man. And when burrowing underwater, the talk balloons would have bubbles attached. GLIG! GLIG! HAH! GLIG! GLIG! GLIG!
Melvin tries to rob The Last National Bank, avoids the omniscient guards by tunnelling and and digging, at one point pulling out an automatic, which he discharges in all directions, yelling JOHN LAW! JOHN LAW! HAH! HEEH! HAH!....YOU'LL NEVER GET MELVIN MOLE...NEIN! NICHT! NEVER! Eventually, Melvin is dungeoned, and after many escapes (DIG! DIG! HAH! DIG! DIG! DIG!) redungeoned.
I developed a strange fascination with Melvin, this first nihilist, until years later it dawned on me that Franz Kafka was born in a country just next door to my old Ukraine and there was a whole coterie of people out of my neck of the woods who were well acquainted with six-foot cockroaches and even strange space voyages. Stanislaw Lem, for example.
I sensed a tradition, but I was in the wrong country (and who wanted to be a Communist anyway?).
It dawned on me very early that there was much more to writing than just setting down words. The ideas (nightmares?) were non-verbal. I set out on a scientific and paramilitary quest.
Good at physics, I trained as a pilot at the age of 17, went solo, but as things turned out, I and ended up in ground crew, looking for Russians on a radar scope. It was becoming plain to me that I was not going to be the person I wanted to be, certainly not Top Gun. Like many another displaced body of our war-affected time, I was looking for some sort of home.
Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, which was serviceman-friendly, seemed to be the next place to go (I had already produced a really bad manuscript, and maybe Ryerson could teach me to write). Ryerson did teach me to write. And it fleshed out all my confused MAD magazine reading. A man named Jack Jones was writing in Explorations Magazine that MAD was DADA IN THE DRUGSTORE, that Melvin Mole was a nihilist figure, and Marshall McLuhan was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to serious intellectual pursuits of what was then Toronto, the first truly modern urban civilization. The philosophy prof at Ryerson was doddering and incompetent, but wow, did he ever get me to meet some people! It was the best Western Thought course I could have taken.
Nevertheless, I knew in my heart of hearts that I should have been a Victoria College, Toronto, where all the writers seem to have come from, but it was too late. I was already in my middle Twenties, and in any event, immigrant kids didn't usually end up at Victoria College. They went elsewhere.
I tried some SATs, and though impressive, I wasn't going to be the next Canadian genius. I had to settle for the raffish, glamorous way of the newspaperman-novelist, the Hemingway route, the Callaghan route.
Very early, I got to the Toronto Star. It was certainly a thrill, myself often accompanied by a younger version of Jeannie Beker, to take the same shining brass elevator upstairs to the newsroom where Beland Honderich "lived", my first memory of that great man now a sharp image of a well-suited, confident presence who undertook to empty the ashtray in front of my rewrite typewriter and call me a good fellow, and hopefully, a "Liberal" fellow.
I became a Liberal at once.
And there was more.
Where had I achieved the image of great competence? Did I get my sense of power out of good and great Beland Honderich or was it my early success (after hard military discipline) as an editor, short-story writer and poet?
Nevertheless, people were feeding me stuff. Pat Williams and Bill McVicar, all of them somehow assuring me that I would be a great writer. "Talent hides in the strangest places," Bill McVicar would assure, adding that it was a damn lonely profession nevertheless, but worth it. Pat Williams would offer me good novels to read, as well as an autobiography of E. W. Scripps, the big American publisher immediately before William Randolph Hearst.
The real truth is that I was probably a token ethnic. Society was sane and generous enough not to produce another Melvin Mole, not a nihilist, but a novelist, albeit a newspaperman as well. Bill McVicar, and Pat Williams, and Rae Corelli--all succeeded. And so did The Star.
Still, I have not made a serious dent into journalism, nor have I cracked the tough nut of Canlit, passe as it seems to be right now. My first novel, THE BLACK ICON was handled like a piece of fish by Robert Fulford (who later told his secretary I had made all the mistakes a first novelist makes). Mr. Fulford denies this today, saying he never got around to reading the book.

But Bill McVicar, and Pat Williams, and Rae Corelli, my newfound friends--all succeeded. And so did The Star. Still, I have not made a serious dent into journalism (does being a magazine editor count?) or have I cracked the tough nut of Canlit, passe as it seems to be right now. I have written some major stories for The Star, certainly Starweek Magazine when it still had some news space. I have had my own column. I have won small awards. I got my master's degree even though it was done just before the boom fell on Instituto Allende and the University of California withdrew its accreditarion.
Yeah, good. Adequate.
And yet, forty-plus years later, I am still haunted by that strange, repulsive little character, Melvin Mole, a Man Out Of Control. The immigrant isn't really at home anywhere, especially a nasty immigrant. The Star was smart and benevolent enough to have given me a home. But I kept burrowing under buildings and water courses GLIG! HAH! GLIG! GLIG! GLIG!...JOHN LAW! JOHN LAW! HEEH! JOHN LAW!
Not all that competent as a newspaperman, and fiction being too hard for me, I became an artiste, angry young man, very near the brink of becoming Melvin Mole. I was saved again by a good society and the Newmarket Era, owned by--you guessed it--The Toronto Star.
Somebody out there had faith in me, all the great Star people. I struggled and I faltered (was also fired a few times), and have finally produced four novels.

If you stick around, you'll be able to read all four.
The work (probably like yours) has to come out.
Just has to.
Otherwise, it's the Underground Man, and look at what's going on in the world! Thank you Ryerson. Thank you U. of T. Thank you Toronto Star. Thank you writing instructor Tom Mayer.

You tried to re-teach me how to fly, Tom, in your trusty Cessna.

I hope I am finally doing it.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Non-verbal blog

Getting to Blogger is half the fun.

Trying to upload photos

No further progress can be made till one realizes he's really stupid.
It has taken me forever to go beta and I still don't have it all. Thanks techie, and thanks Josie.
I think I finally have a piece of it.
--Didus ineptus (as in Dodo).

Beta had me buggered


I am trying to go beta here.

Still can't download pictures, something about signing in.

Here we go


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Where "Joanne" becomes Lana.

Looks like I'll have to take the positive response to my last posting to issue this "failure", two chapters of the actual book itself, where "Joanne" becomes Lana.
What is below is the first and last chaper of my novel, THE FIRE IN BRADFORD.
A top editor,having seen these chapters, was not at all impressed.

Chapter One

Lana appears before you while you are rolling your own cigarettes, the 1920's Vogue face, the bobbed hair, a Drew Barrymore fallen into the rye on one September day, though I knew in future September days it was not a field of rye that Lana would fall into, but a baroque field of dreams, of opium, and then the rush of cocaine that would make her thoroughly modern, thoroughly Chicago out of 1930.
Yet it was l986.

I was a newspaperman with a predilection for French authors, because they were so maddeningly thorough, the linchpin of real writers and so well did I get to know twentieth century authors in French that I soon got to teach a night course in it.
Ah, the French penchant for the absurd, the splayed-out mysticism of an Andre Malraux and the incredible clarity of image and idea that only Frenchmen possess, and they'd be the first to tell you. Despite the utter incomprehensiveness of their humour (Fat man wears mop-wig--ha- ha) the French are somewhat superior and they know it. Celine, for instance, or, for that matter, Celine Dion.

Enough that I was a teacher of French authors and she walked in one day with no hint of the Vogue beauty that I would later know, no inkling as to the heaviness of spirit that would later come to oppress me, no clue at all as to the beautiful woman who resided in the suburban Mam's overalls, the little white tee shirt with the red apple monogram, the closely cropped hair like Celine Dion in Las Vegas.

Thoroughly modern.
But not me.
I was an old hot-lead linotype newspaperman just getting over a divorce, getting my love out of imagination, tossing the I-Ching, seeing my love in the allure of print until she walked in.
We had actually met the very first time on the stairs of Sacred Heart School where Seneca had a night class. She was on the way up and I was on my way down. She had looked different then, walking right up to what seemed the middle of a Goethe fantasy of mine. How these screwball women with their multiple personalities and costumes do attract one: She was the very image of Kathschen Shonkopf, Goethe's firs love, the nice high forehead so many girls from Ontario possess, the hair severely back in a bun with the neatest little bonnet atop, large haunting eyes like your mother's, straight nose somewhat probing, delightful little crooked lips and the cutest overbite.
She did encourage my Goethe fantasy. I saw another image of Lana, but this time with a pre-Victorian dress exquisitely corseted, nice breasts, waist hardly existent at all. And Granny boots!
So there were at least two Lanas that I already knew about, and after the years, many, many more.
But on this particular autumn evening, she was in to study French authors, a fascination for the Bastille, I guess, the French Revolution, socking it to the Bourbons (who would return a generation later to have learned nothing and forgotten nothing)--all that stuff of high drama for a fairly active imagination, constrained somewhat by a husband she imagined as pesky.
She did seem to know her French authors, but largely of the Victor Hugo mold and a lot of Dumas, the adventure, misery, suffering, cell-to-cell signaling. Was there a dungeon in her life?...Lord knows what the suburbanites in Bradford were up to these days.
I always found myself charmed to find that in spite of possibly rococo lifestyles up there in Riveredge Park, hardly anybody in my class, largely women, had ever read real novels like Madame Bovary or Anna Karenina, the substance of all those adventurous, adulterous wives who think their problems will end by leaving old hubber, only to find with Chekhov, that their problems were just beginning. Or was old Mr. Chekhov just a prig and a spoilsport who knew nothing about real swingers, a Wayne Newton who didn't know the first thing about Shania Twain. I don't know how I'd ended up at Lana's house.
A somewhat raffish untenured professor who enjoyed drinking with his students after class, I had no objections at all when she asked through a third person if she could come to one of the pub nights, and could she bring her husband.
Hubby was handsome as the night is long, like a European Wayne Gretzky, his manners continental, but no accent at all. Dracula in a hockey jersey, liked by all immediately, sweet as a pimp.
I could not help but marvel at the Vogue beauty of Lana now before me. What had happened to the closely-cropped hair? How did it reach lovely 1920's back-cut modishness in the scant three weeks that I'd seen her last, before she'd begged to get a little time off from her classes to go on a "camping trip"? A wig, of course, but it made her look more like Drew Barrymore, though Lana had a deeper beauty, more English, the inner glow, the hint of Viking.
I was lighting my cigarettes backwards. I had no idea how this present-day Julie Christie out of the Twenties had even broached the threshold of my life and wondered why she seemed so interested in me. I also wondered, as a veteran of not a few affairs, how many others had been pole-axed in the same way. She'd obviously been charming men for a long, long time, the blue eye shadow, the absolute blondness, pint size and everything about her fashioned, turned, just so. Sheer elegant femininity, and you could bet your granny boots there were at least three other guys playing here besides old hubber. Unnatural elfin beauty. A setup for loners and stoners.

The husband's name was Leif. Leif the Lucky. Or was he?

I balked at first when they poured me into their red SUV, to be carted home with them. Drunk, I was babbling, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his goods, nor his ass. Leif seemed somehow intrigued by this last reference to Immanuel Kant.

Enough that we somehow got to a neat white cottage in Holland Landing, the husband unexpectedly retired rather suddenly, passed out in the bedroom and Lana and I were left to ourselves in a shag-rugged and Danish-style living room with its U-shaped chesterfield facing an immense picture window with the drapes not yet drawn. And the chess table in the corner.
And suddenly I became aware of how lonely I was, me the divorcee and frequent near-separado from my subsequent live-ins, the man of many wives and master of none. It seemed I was suddenly curved up in a ball of loneliness, vulnerability, want. I just wanted her, anybody, anybody like her, to hold me. "Just hold me," I was beginning to keen.
Very deliberately, she put an open palm and extended, graceful fingers to the seat of where she saw the trouble to be. Maybe just a lonesome woman not sure of herself , or someone used to certain kinds of men, or maybe this had to a a wham-bam-thank-you ma'am, and that would be my fifteen minutes.
Earlier, she had gone to the hi-fi to put on an LP and I noted she kept bending over to reveal a beautiful pear-shaped derriere that she seemed rather anxious to display. Was she a virgin, the wife of some Ruskin, who was found years later to still possess her hymen after a lifetime of marriage? A lesbian? A lady of the night? Or maybe a lonesome woman. A lonesome woman suddenly not sure of herself because of a husband's imbroglios, or homosexuality, or extramarital affairs, or all of the above.

In any event, we settled down. She had put on, of all things, my favourite Bob Dylan LP, the "Bringing It All Back Home" one. Pop nihilism , but what an articulate and haunting nothingness. "It's all right ma, I'm only crying," the great American genius rasping it all out, sharp trick-of-the-trade F-chord penetrating the D tonic, then quickly to a G and then back to the D, doom-da-da-dadda dum.

Holy mackerel! She was right on my frequency.

Back to Title Page

Chapter Thirty-Four

Something was wrong in Hamilton; my father was acting funny. I was acting funny, the lack of sex, the frustration, the pain of the non-relationship after all these years, up to five hundred points on the Selye stress scale, which was only a hundred in the first place. At my parents home in Hamilton, I had been watching Italian movies late at night, and , making sure my parents were asleep, masturbating copiously, like a teenager. I almost missed the credits on the soft core flick. Produced by Salvatore Bathgate Gambini. The pimps were into blue movies now? In an orgy scene, the girl being eaten looked for all the world like Lana through the grease on the lens. This was all getting to be hard on clean socks and still harder on my sanity. Damn Lana. My brain was awash with alligator sperm.

I had intended to return to Newmarket Sunday night, just after the Italian movie. I checked into the bathroom to find my father lying on the floor. He greets me, but seems unable to get up. It is just before Christmas in l991 and my father is on the floor, disgraced apparently having filthied himself, like I had "filthied" myself before the TV with that Italian movie. My father cannot rise up, cannot get up. It is just before Christmas l99l and my father cannot get up.
I did the best I could. I summoned one of my sisters and then another but they would not come. Various excuses. I tried to bring my father around, but no good. He lay on the floor. I had no choice but to call an ambulance.

My poor father died in a matter of days, and though by Ukrainian law I as the son was the only heir. My sisters ended up with the new houses my father owned. The Canadian way. I ended up with a shack worth some money for the property alone. I knew it was worth $l00,000. I did have King Lear fantasies about my sisters poisoning my father for the properties, making my own breadcrumb sins nothing at all, but I dismissed all this as mere paranoia, considering my mental state over Lana. Despite my father's death, I was still in a state of shock. Things were going on all around me and they seemed to be happening to somebody else. I could think of nothing but Lana, like a drowning man snatching at a twig.
Maddened, I went to phone the only one I loved--Lana?--to vent my grief over may father's death.
"I'm married now, Daniel. I'm sorry about your father, but I am married now. I don't want to see you again."
I don't want to see you again. It was the first time she'd actually said it. When would I awake from his nightmare, to really get it, realize that it was all over, had been over from the very first few months.
I don't want to see you again. Her replies had always been "Leave me alone" or "Leave me and my husband alone." Never "I don't want to see you again."
Double depression. My father was dead. I would be rich, but where was the salvation, where was the soul of all this? What kind of monster would call his witchy mistress while his father was dying? Or did I realize that I was now totally alone?
I was going into a Tennessee Williams fantasy. I didn't go to the moon, I went further. I attempted to follow in my father's footsteps, a death wish.
I took $63,000, bought a car and attempted to find in motion what was lost in space. I traveled around. I drank and drank again for three years until the money was gone. I ended up in a West End hovel, staring at the Vogue cigarette papers package, still thinking of Lana, my beauty fallen into the rye herself, or more property into coca leaves and the poppies.
There were rumors of Lana being murdered by her pimp, but this could not be as the papers had shown a call girl ring broken and the pimp in jail. Nothing said about a murder. Served the bastard right for playing with my life like that. For egging Lana onto near killing me. Lana was definitely in a hole though. Like me in my mental hole. I had to find out if she was at least alive. Curiously, it was a Halloween night.
She was there waiting for the subway car. She would not speak. Certainly no now, the season of the witch. She would not acknowledge my presence. She passed right by me as she went to board the train.
I realized that she had put on quite a bit of weight. Her grimace, or near grimace as she had passed me was toothy. She wasn't quite yet a hag, but another fifteen years would do it. I had no doubt in my mind about Lana having become a witch.
Presently, just when I was starting to get things together, after in fact having spoken to Super-Fly on the phone with the weird information from him that I'd already won (he somehow knew who I was), just when I was trying to get this very novel together, to once again planning to waylay Lana again, I found that someone had set fire to my loft apartment.
Two days later, he succeeded. I was forced to do a swan dive out of a second-story window and lost in the blaze everything I had. Again, someone had struck. Hard. I also sensed that Lana was now dead. I recalled Gambinis's voice on the phone quite a few years back. You have a problem, Daniel. If you don't solve the problem, I will. I will Daniel." I knew now that he was after both of us. Lana's house probably burned to the ground. They were hoping to get witch and warlock all in one swoop.
I realized once and for all that there was a ring of people in York Region who would stop at nothing, not at murder, not at arson, not at subverting everything that is overground and legitimate, including, if necessary, a teacher of French authors at a provincial college. Demons. The dark side of York and Simcoe counties, here on the rim of Toronto.
I called the Attorney General, something I should have done at the beginning of this book. Superpimp and Salvatore Bathgate Gambini were rejailed and dungeoned. There was a search party out for Lana, who may have died in her own fire.

And yet the image of Lana, my little Helen of Troy, continues to haunt me. I go out to find companions, and failing that, cigarette papers with the Vogue design. To stare at her face, perhaps through flame, forever.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The loneliness of the long-distance hooker

Holding down two jobs and trying to keep and unhappy hooker happy can take the brain right out of you.

Trouble was, both jobs were writing-related, a one-way thing. Writing and teaching about writing. I had no hobbies save for the unhappy hooker. That and what Irishmen call "the Creature", that is to say, Gibson's Irish Cream.

The hooker was unhappy because of "Marko and Luigi", who, I suppose was her dyarchy of pimps.

It was definitely off-putting to be spending some time with my unhappy hooker while Luigi seemed to be tramping about outside, muttering, in Sicilian, probably, "Not too long Joanne, not too long."

There were days that I supposed, Luigi in his zeal, would become so impatient as to do a Ron Jeremy on old Ivan and have me half-speared before I even finished the business at hand.

Low-rent, no?

"Write about squalor," says Esmee in a J.D. Salinger story.

Squalor would come to visit Ivan. Quite a bit.
Not entirely Ivan's idea.

But Ivan was in a tough creative spot.

There was the newspaper column he had to produce every weekday.

Writing for money. Four-and-a-half typewritten pages every day, not a word less.

I would sometimes have short paragraphs, use lots of white space, make the printer work and put lots of lead in where there were so few words.

The linotype operator, always a gay guy, would entertain me with entire stanzas of The Walrus and the Carpenter, beginning with "You are old (brother Ivan)."
Did this mean I was showing my age, bitch?
He got a laugh out of that.

At least the paper had hired two of my students. One wrote really well; the other took pictures.

But my unhappy hooker wanted in.
In a different way.
The hooker was unhappy because she was really a writer, not a hooker, and the day job she had as cover to keep the constabulary at bay was at Ronald's Printing (now out of business) which was really a daytime house of ill repute.

The printing business was real, very real, there were millions of dollars in TIME Magazine reprintings and miles of advertising flyers. But there was a sub-enclave in the office which very nearly resembled a night-time massage parlor, and all doors seemed to lead to Joanne, in her ONE WAY ONLY glass cage to which happy, singing Italians would come.
They came out even happier, singing, "Oh what a friend we have in Joanne."

I had to "catch- as -catch -can."

Embarrassing to meet Joanne after work, the sweaty Italian still a little heated after his rapture, and everybody trying to act normal.

Sleazy, no?

But the woman could write.

She gave me a story based on her father, a Flower Class Corvette captain during the Second World War.
I was tempted, in my own giddy way, to ask, "Was he a rear admiral?" But the way poor Joanne was walking at the time, I let it ride.

The story was good.

It was about loneliness at sea. A terrible storm. And at about the time the sailor realized who he was, and among whom he moved, the meaning of his life, an answer out of loneliness--that he was swept of the deck, never to be seen again.

How many stories there are of loneliness.

It is, some say, a barometer, your barometer. In a condition of profound loneliness, you are being told something.

What did you do to arrive at this condition of loneliness? Whom did you hurt? What did you do with the money?
Why are you 47 and all alone?
I was forty-seven, and, in the process of going through a divorce. All alone. How did I get this way?
Seems that once you puzzle that out, you may well have touched on the Christ Principle and emerge a new, better person.

But the Sea has not time for solipsism.

It can sweep away the popular and the lonely.

My attraction to the unhappy hooker stemmed from the fact that she used language really well, she was vaguely English with that impossible-to-copy Peterborough accent, she was not writing in her third language as I was, and the stories that came out of her were natural and pure, straight trom the mother tongue. She was a kind of lady Shakespeare without the Elizabethan inflection. She came from Prince Edward County in Ontario, where all the good Canadian writers come from, Toronto be damned.

What is a woman from a good Ontario family doing in her entertainment of Little Sicilians?
And some of them were quite kinky.
Big-booted Italy kicked little Sicily?
The mind boggled.

She said one night at the Grey Goat that she seemed to be in the movie, Naked Lunch.

I took it as a joke, and wondered all the while how director David Cronenberg ever managed to turn an inanimate typewriter into a talking anus.

But it was my poor Joanne who was the talking anus. So many Sicilian construction workers taking up astronomy, looking for Uranus.

The stress of our "relationship".
Hertz rent-a-chick and half the time I had no money. She would accept a new VCR.

And all the while, the two jobs. Newspaper columnist by day and teacher of writing at night.
She would always come to my classes. But there would be the mysterious Marko in the wings. He too, had registered...Just keeping an eye on things.

I had told her, in a moment of honesty, that after reading her material, and noting her excellent poise and elocution when she read her own or other people's stories--that she was a class act, and, quite frankly a better writer than myself.
This gave her a sense of control.

She soon seemed to delve into every aspect of my life, was obsessed with me (as I was now becoming obsessed with her)--and one day, as one of my feature stories appeared in a magazine distributed everywhere, she had complained, "You were doing this story all this time--and you didn't even tell me!"
--So I should reveal every aspect of my thought and writing processes?
Like many another hooker who liked to be wined and dined, she was fast becoming a control freak. Quite a bold one, really. "I know you better than you know yourself."

My relationship with Joanne began to affect the class. They knew.
I had made Joanne my TA, my teaching assistant and she was very good at it, reading each submitted story out loud, no author actually named, just the material discussed...a good way to go; saves the critique group writer some embarrassment if the story reallly clangs.

Afterwards the pub nights. She would show up in something gold lame and shimmering, but always long-sleeved.
Always in long sleeves.

So that was it. She had to stay near her sources, and Marko and Luigi were the sources. "Do this for me, or I will pull your plug."

I was soon a second-hand addict, as she used me as a sounding board, tried to control me, as addicts will often do, while it was her habit that controlled her.

I chose direct intervention. Behind her back.

But she would disapper then, sometimes for three weeks and be the same manic-depressive Joanne.

Like I was fast becoming a manic-depressive Ivan.

I could no longer handle the mind games, to be used as a sounding board by a beautiful addict.

The relationship was getting in the way of my work, of my teaching.

And the Dean caught on to what was going on.

Soon I was out of the college job and the newspaper had just been sold; new editors. Now this job too was going fast.

Suddenly, no job, no girlfriend (funny how quickly they leave when you turn out "no good").

Driving a cab in my loneliness.

Realizing all the while that I had somehow escaped.

The sea wave was benevolent. I had prepared my lifeboat.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Not for nothing do I keep a Mongoose in the house

Here I was peacefully drinking my Mongoose beer, reading the Toronto Star and I come across this:

A Toronto man whose giant, loose cobra forced the evacuation of a rooming house also kept a huge viper in his living room and a third venomous snake in his locker at work.
Helder Claro pleaded guilty to mischief and creating a common nuisance yesterday as more details of his curious hobby were revealed in a North York courtroom.
The man in his 30s rented a semi-detached house at 18 Church St., near Weston Rd. and Lawrence Ave. W., when his Egyptian Cobra got loose and moved through the ceiling into the other half of the semi, terrorizing tenants last September.
The Egyptian Cobra is extremely aggressive when cornered, Toronto Zoo reptile expert Bob Johnson told provincial court.
Before he was arrested, Claro was a trainee baker at Nova Era Bakery. His replacement, when cleaning out Claro's locker, found a Tupperware container that contained another Egyptian Cobra, Crown prosecutor Frank Schembri told court.
When the female cobra was captured and brought to the zoo, Johnson said, it lashed out repeatedly, leaving droplets of venom.
The uproar began last September when a tenant at the rooming house saw a 2-metre snake in the kitchen, Schembri said. It raised its head as if to strike.
Animal control officers were called but couldn't locate the cobra. Tenants later spotted him sticking his head out of an unfinished electrical cabinet.
Toronto zoo officials were called and police ordered the tenants evacuated. But the snake's owner could not be found.
When Johnson and fellow reptile experts entered Claro's house they found other animals: a large dog, parrot, green frog, and two lizards.
They also came upon a 2-metre Gaboon Viper, a poisonous African snake with 2 1/2centimeter-long fangs, in a living room aquarium, its top poorly secured by a damaged mesh.
Johnson and his colleagues also found three shed snakeskins, two of which – from Egyptian Cobras – were hung in the courtroom yesterday. One of them matched the female in the bakery locker. The other, larger one, is believed to belong to the still missing snake.
On Oct. 10, police found a car with stolen plates and arrested Claro, Schembri said. Claro, through his lawyer Carlos Rippell, contends the plates weren't stolen, and that people's lives were not endangered by his hobby. But he essentially agreed to all the facts set out yesterday.
The last confirmed sighting of the cobra in the house was in early October.
It is believed to be still somewhere in the walls.
Both adjoining homes remain evacuated.
Claro's sentencing hearing continues today before Justice Leslie Pringle.

Not for nothing do I keep Mongoose in the house and a trusty elephant gun for the next scene.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"Lucky" old Ivan

The lucky world has no shortage of Ivan pictures or Ivan stories.

Made sure I wrote lots, published lots of pictures, for better or for worse, and now all you have to do is google to find old Ivan.

But E.A. Monroe now wants our high school senior pictures and I just realized I'd used mine as backing matte for a better portrait by some American master on my wall. Actually its "mistress", some lovely portrait done by a Baltimore woman a hundred years ago. Shows an attractive woman in a Victorian dress, in a lovely flower garden fulll of hollyhocks and sunflowers. I dig sunflowers.

Just as well, I suppose.

The vanity of it all. Your own picture up on your own wall.

Like Mick Jagger stuffing half a roll of toilet paper down his crotch to make him appear, uh, well endowed.

Well, Mick Jagger is never overexposed.

Myself, I fear I am becoming overexposed. Says E.A. Monroe, "I know you, and I know what you did."

Did somebody install a webcam and catch me at it?

I am fast becoming like the raincoat guy with the false pantlegs in front of the Woolworth's. I think I am a tad overexposed.

I am trying to scrape the glue off my high school picture, but in the meantime I'll empty my "my pictures" file
and offer you still one more example of the poor naive dweeb who thought, as a lone political candidate that he could make it in a room full of Masons and Mafiosi.

But there's like running for mayor to peddle your novels.

It works.

Sold a whole whack of "Light Over Newmarket" novels--what other title? Gotta start your novels where you stand.
Title your novels from where you stand.

And then the novels you write after being politically defeated..

My novels usually go, "This is why I f*cked up."


"My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends!"

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Meaner than a peach orchard shoat--More idle puns on the word Pig

Year of the Pig.

Why are pig jokes so funny?

Idle and whimsical today, I offer ten headlines with a pig reference.











Well, that's my contribution to the Year of the Pig today.

Confucious say, "Foolish man give wife grand piano.
Smahht man give wife stiff, upright Ohhgan."

...I know. I am beyond redemption.


Saturday, February 17, 2007

More Selected 'Shorts--Definitely Not William Hung

I don't know.

Seems my non-verbal blogs get peoplemore excited than my verbose ones.

So, happy Year of the Pig.
You have to get really close to read the whimsical pig monogram.

And though you are from California, Happy New Year, William Hung

Give us a song.

Give us the whole shebang.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Writer's Block, Teacher's block--days when you just can't get your wheelie to go

It was the fall of l985 and word was already out that Ivan couldn't get it up anymore.

Nothing in print for a year, often showing up late for his classes, creating quite a buzz among the students.

"I wonder what happened to him this time."
Last time, he stumbled upon a houseful of pimps and came back with a black eye and two lovely ladies who looked for all the world like movie stars. Brought them over to the faculty do, the dean kept coming around, and one of the "ladies", talking to somebody, said, 'F*ck- off garbage-mouth, can't you see I'm busy?'

"I'm sure they're looking at his lifestyle."

"He is definitely late," said the beautiful teacher in the paisely dress, who had enrolled in hopes of learning something about writing.

"He has lost his clout," said a former politician who had hoped to submit a book of memoirs.

But the teacher had finally stumbled in, munching on a huge Italian sandwich.

A whisper from the third row: "Boy, that must give him quite a rush. Looks like he hasn't eaten for three days."

"Look at the comment he left on my last piece," said smart Rehvka Alewitz. He commented, ''What can I say?'. I expected a little more."
Husband Phil, along to monitor the class, a hipster, said, "I don't think he's from L.A."

The teacher, suffering from a year of really bad luck, had started a publishing company, published some students, but the success was too unexpected and too resounding.. Fiddlehead poetry magazine had said, "It is obvious that you don't publish to make money, but the quality is high. We would like to hear more from student A, B, and C."
But he had lost the letter, had lost a couple of manuscripts--an almost unforgivable offence--and now he had to write to the poetry publishers to resend the letters.

Fact is, the teacher was seriously blocked.

A marital separation had forced him to operate on one cylinder out of four, sort af a two-stroke motorbike engine in the old Buick of his life; publishing deadlines were coming up and he may as well have been sniffing buttercups and daisies. "We'll print anything you produce," said the publishers, impressed by previous work.

So he sent them something:

"I wake up in the morning undecided between shaving and cutting my...."

"Things I don't want to hear, said the publisher, himself separated.

Ah, what to do when you're the Elephant Man out of the movie, a portion of your brain seeming to stick out and you're trying all the while to act normal and be accepted by people.

There was the writing trick in the attic, cranking oneself up on eight coffees, hoping that big fit will come, when one will become a firehouse of words, when LSD lightning seems to flash about.


Blank paper syndrome.

Now it is time to pay for everything. All those bright boy quips, the aphorisms from the Surangama Sutra.You begin:

"Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party."

Huh. Nothing else is coming.

Your name, top right.

Well, it's start.

"The cultural-philosophical attitude knowns a nihilism vanished at about the time of the Russian Revolution.
Where did the nihilsm go? Was it guilty? Was it evil?"

Nah, used that in your thesis already.

"You don't get things," says the estranged wife. You can't seem to think on your feet. You didn't get too far at the Star because you weren't smart enough."

You bump into a student at the stairs, a smart little Newfoundlander with a good job. "You don't know who you are, do you? I have seven brothers and sisters and I sure as hell know who I am."

"People talkin' at me
I can't hear a word they're saying."

One is in a deep well.
The shock of the separation seems to have people talking to you as if through a tube. Only scant months ago, you had been in the world, and how you were in the world, the writing, the teaching the dancing at night.
And now you can't surface. The psychology prof in your class says, "Why don't you stop being neurotic, see an analyst, put up periscope and maybe see the world for the first time.
"But maybe this is the way you have to be.
"You got me writing again. You've got the magic. Use it! Focus your genius!"

The instructor finally reads something from Borges to the class.

"I drove forty miles to hear someone read Borges to me," said the engineer."But..I enjoyed it anyway."

The students' eyes are starting to glaze.

Shortly after finishing reading the Aleph out loud, I said to the class, "I don't know what's happened to me.
"Maybe the instructor needs to get laid."

Three hands go up.

We had quite the class party in the pub.

Felt much like Odysseus, almost home.

Tended by gentle nymphs.

Is that all there was to it?

Woke up the following morning and finished all three stories. Found the missing manuscripts.

Picked up my Fender and cracked my spine doing a Michael Jackson calisthenic in the dark.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Theory of Everything

Every so often, one of us takes a run at a wall.

But the wall knows all too well about what it is to exist and a poor adventurous writer will brain him/herself
against it, like a mole digging and hitting a rock.


Shake off the old whiskers, paw at the reddened nose. Something wrong with the plan.

In my "Light Over Newmarket", I had a slightly maddened scientist go off to try to find the theory of everything.
He had worked it all out, he had read his Einstein, his Niels Bohr, his Planckt--yeah, even his plankton!

He was going to find the theory of everything, especially how physics affects people, the way we are and among whom we move.

Hit a rock.

Sore nose.

And constipated.. Can't pass a thing.

The great Borges tried it.

Struck blind.

But came back with wondrous art.

For my Kevin Logan, there was something wrong with the plan.

It seems he did a reverse Borges. He started out blind.

Every day we are bombarded by the Theory of Everything. Three a.m. and the scientists are in there pitching on the the public channels, the Bohrs Continuum now permeates our classes in Physics, The Big Bang is all around the seminars. Chatty scientists make good dollars on the lecture circuits.

My Kevin Logan had to find out for himself.

Leaves wife, hearth, family, job, warmth and security to find the Theory of everything.

But on the way he meets a beautiful woman, who says, I can give you all you need; I can supply all the knowledge you need. You have landed on a planet that can fulfill every one of you needs. Even your intellectual needs. And so, her alien hands do a turn and she suddenly produces a flower. And then a picture of a past love.

The seeker does not believe his luck. He had set off to find the theory of everything, and here she was. Isis.
Ishtar. Nuit. Goddess of the sky.

F*cking witch.

Literally. F*cking witch. Fucks his brains out.

Feebleminded professor.

This encounter, of course, relegates Isis to history and our poor professor is even farther back than he first started.

Theory of everything.

Catching Hemingway's fish.

If only the quest was as easily explained as in the old fisherman's tale.

The quest is quite something else.

Trying to find Immanuel Kant, our poor seeker ended up with Moira Cunt . Blue Angel. Finally laughing at the professor, makes him put on a clown outfit and crow like a rooster. He has not yet come across what will be the soundtrack of his life. Alice in Chains.

And he thought that he knew so much, had taken particle physics, sociology, had read his Robert Frost.

Ecce Homo.
No, not in contemporary trems. Human, all too human. Also Sprach Friedrich Nietzsche!

Professor Kevin Logan, trying to be the Superman, trying to steal fire from the gods, but ending up all too human.

Prometheus bound.

Lost everything, wife, home, job and jockstrap.

And one day, as he is sitting on a rock scouring for cops in the park, it suddenly rains down on him.

All science is in a religious matrix. All sex is in a Hollywood matrix.

Cosmology is attempt to find God.

Sexual athleticism is an attempt to find Marilyn Monroe.

So Einsten was a religious nut?

More properly a religious person.

Certainly after he riffed his sister-in-law. This made him thoughtful. Very thoughtful.

Like it made my poor hero, Dr. Kevin Logan.

Finally, Kevin Logan writes an epilogue for his quest. The travelling is done, all done.

Arada the ascetic was sitting under a tree.

The tree is shimmering in the heat.

A voice comes out of the tree and says: "Arada, I am thisty. Get me water!"

"I will, my Lord," says Arada

But on the way to the water, Arada meets a woman and her father. And the father is very rich.

And Arada soon marries and he is very wealthy. Pear trees grown in his fields.

But one day a great earthquake shakes the land. The ground opens up, swallows the wife, the child and then the second child lost in a fissure as Arada tries to pull him out.

Half mad, wandering, Aradoa is brough before the same tree.

"ARADA!" screamed the god. "WHERE IS MY WATER?"

Right here, dear god, right here. Take it. Take it now. Before the final humiliation. For you are a thirsty god and I know you're going to want more.

Until I learn.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Spongebob Squarepants Says I Love You

Keeping with the spirit of the day, I thought I'd put up a non verbal blog.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Home thoughts--from a guy!

It is not for nothing that every writer searches for his accomplice, perhaps his guide.

For years and years, mine has been Jorge Luis Borges, who writes in flashes of lighning stemming from a profound erudition which includes the venerable Pascal, who wrote, for example, "Nature is an infinite sphere whose center is everywhere, whose circimference is nowhere." Borges hunts down this metaphor through the centuries and produces incredible stories, such as the Aleph, this infinite sphere whose centre is everywhere, whose circuference is nowhere. It is Borges' open-ended stories that charm and mystify and give us, finally, a sense of God that is almost right up against us. And we dare not speak His name. But Borges appears to actually utter all the names of God and perhaps for that, he is struck blind


He was stuck blind.

Well, I for one neither have the profundity of Borges, nor do I want to be struck blind, but it is nice every so often to get a story from an "accomplice" a friend who sometimes does reviews of my stuff on his blog.
He really seemed to dig my LIGHT OVER NEWMARKET and other times agrees to have me put up a story of his that I really like.

Home. We are all trying to get home, one way or another. The Aleph is a wondrous, spooky symbol, but all the occultness does not really bring us back home and the ones we love.

Here is what I picked up from Aaron Braaten,

I had the most amazing dream.

I was in a hockey arena cafeteria, the place of Canadian community and belonging. I was raised in Alberta’s hockey rinks; this is where I come from. The air was humid and warm, and I could smell hot chocolate, coffee and grill grease from the canteen. The low rumble of conversation was muffled by all the puffy coats and toques.

You were there, eating with your parents. You knew I’d be there. You didn’t even have to look behind you to know I was present. You saw it in your father’s eye movement and furrowed brow.
You got up, turned around, walked over to me. After a hug and a kiss, you simply said “I love you. I’ve missed you”.

And then, something pulled me out of my dream. Something woke me up. The sound of a thousand trumpets. I followed the trumpets out of my dreamscape, back to my reality, and I realized these were not trumpets, but Canadian geese, making their way home after wintering in the south.

Needless to say, I was floored by the symbolism this morning.

I awoke, ground some coffee and boiled some water and mixed the two in my french press. A bottle of maple syrup stood on the counter, from making lemonade last night. I came to the computer and started writing this while the coffee soaked. After hammering out the first sentence or two, the smell of the beans told me to pour them out, so I did. I poured out my coffee, threw in a little cream, grabbed my coat and my pack of Djarum cigarettes and went out onto my balcony for a morning smoke, hoping to hear the geese again.
I put the coffee cup on the cement ledge near my window, and watched the steam rise to meet the cold air as I lit my cigarette, and I looked up at the evergreens in the courtyard. They’re cedars, but I imagined them to be the spruce trees of Rocky Mountain House, as I looked up at their green silhouettes juxtaposed against a clear blue sky, much like one would see in Alberta. I was reminded of those many times I’ve spent camping with Dad, sitting in a lawn chair, staring up at the sky. When I stare up at trees against the sky, I feel at home, and for a moment I did. I knew my place in the world, and this wasn’t it.
My eyes watered as an uncontrollable sickness washed over me. A mixture of love and home sickness. I took a puff on my cigarette, and remembered the Player’s Light that my Dad smokes. My coffee tasted like Tim Horton’s, and I heard the voice of people singing.

O Canada! Our home and native land! True patriot love in all thy sons command. With glowing hearts we see thee rise, The True North strong and free! From far and wide, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. God keep our land glorious and free! O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

They sang it apathetically, low and slightly off-tune, as Canadians often do. But to me, the sound was that of angels singing to my soul. The national anthem is usually something we endure before the hockey starts. But for me, this morning, it took on a whole new meaning.

--Aaron Braaten.
(Published electronically by Island Grove Press) Mr. Braaten holds all rights

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Running for Mayor of Newmarket, ON

Ah, if we could only see ourselves as other see us.

I saw myself as a serious candidate for mayor of my home town some years ago, but some cartoonists saw me as quite something else.

I did have a rep for canvassing with a full briefcase full of lunch, beer and other chewables.
I was also a lounge singer for money when not writing for the Independent News.
In my briefcase too, were novels I wanted to sell.

I can't say it was quite Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trails, a la Hunter S. Thompson.

But my opponent did burn my campaign office down.

No sense of humour, that incumbent!

Ah, the thins we do to get our 15 minutes.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Adventures of Phoebe-Zeitgeist. (or): Who wouldn't loved to have been Michael O'Donoghue?

It was Norman Mailer who first posited the novel as "The Great Bitch."

The Great Bitch , La Belle Damme Sans Merci, that unattainable Helen of Troy that gets you just about there, but not all the way, and leaves you howling at the moon, sometimes for years. You go to pursue. You scheme. You plan. To no avail. You will never be with her.

I do feel that I have been chasing The Great Bitch all these years with the feeling that I was the only guy in town who couldn't get laid in a Ho-house.

Now Mailer is an experienced enough artist to tell the novice writer that getting laid is not really the the point, it's producing the book about almost being laid, as in the original version of John Fowles masterpiece, "The Magus" At least that's what I got out of Mailer's "An American Dream," for all its gaucheries and crudities.( Not to say, ever, that Mailer is gauche or crude, it's just that the embittered PI in the piece seemed gauche and crude.A real asshole).

And violent. Treated women like the Russian whoremasters of all the 'Stans today.

Dissolve to:

Just last year. A song: James Blunt, in his rather arresting falsetto:" I saw your face in a crowded place, and I don't know what to do...

"You're beautiful! You're beautiful to me.
But it's time to face the truth.
I will never be with you."

Cut to:

Old Ivan, straddling three generations, and yet, still, somehow in love. With the Great Bitch, the Great Unnatainable. Again and again. Was it the woman or the unattainable novel that I sought?

I was starting to get reruns of my life.

The quest started in the late Sixties, A comic book collaboration between geniuses Michael O'Donoghue and Robert Springer, "The Adventures of Phoebe-Zeitgeist", a gorgeous drop-dead Moonbeam McSwine, almost out of old All Capp, perhaps, but nothing McSwinish about Phoebe- Zeitgeist. She is beautiful, especially when drawn nude and in extremely stressful situations.

She is a Serbian debutante, an aristocrat, really--I don't want to mention Mila Mulroney in the same breath, but as gorgeous as Mila Mulroney anyway, but younger, and very, very sexy, in no matter what scene, what level of chains and degredation.

Phoebe-Zeitgeist, the belle of any ambassadorial ball, is suddenly kidnapped and captured by a series of bizarre characters, such as crazed Eskimos, Nazis, Communist Russians, Chinese foot fetishists and lesbian assassins.
She does have a hard time of all this.
She is variously rescued, recaptured and rescued again. How I would have loved to have rescued Phoebe from the clutches of those evil Red Chinese, Russian Communists and all the assorted rejects of Katmandu.

I was fresh out of liberal arts school, still high on old Hege;'s notions on the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the age, that old German shepherd seeming more abreast of the times even today, than he was during Bismarck's reign, where a united Germany seemed to be the actual zeitgeist. And Hegel had all the brains. (Of course, right now America seems to have it all. But brains?
Bob Dylan: Don't let Henry Kissinger tie you in a knot...When you gonna wake up?).

But cut to the chase: I was just out of the liberal Arts school, a former army guy, like James Blunt, guitar handy, sitting in front of a radar console to look for Russians, a real Norman Mailercharacter, inspired by the best art of my time, like Howl, by Allen Ginsburg, Advertisments for Myself by Norman Mailer, Jack Kerouac and, especially Michael O'Donoghue. His was the "Mr. Bill", plasticine puppet on Saturday Night Live, always being dismembered by some sadistic ogre-puppet.("Oh, Oh, no! Ooooh!)

I was half in love and on the way to writing a beautiful novel about Toronto, and if not that, at least meet my personal Phoebe-Zeitgeist.

A naked woman in chains, political correctness be damned,was a huge turn- on for a young horny fool who wanted to write.

I had to be as good as Micheal O'Donoghue. I had to find a love object as beautiful as Phoebe-Zeitgeist.

Three novels later, I found myself in the unenviable position of an old balding guy in love with a woman out of an erotic coming book, the very epitome of some pimply guy with a guttering candle stuck his head, looking for Paris Hilton.

Always the Phoebe- Zeitgeist comic strip in Evergreen, Grove Press and even Playboy.

Michael O'Donoghue's perfervid imagination, a Diogenes not with a candle in his hand, but with a candle on the top of his head, the picture of his chained porn queen firmly embedded in te demented seeker's brain, and he had to get her. "Gotta get!"

I had somehow stumbled, after my three novels upon an untenured professorship in English and the porn queen seemed to suddenly apper live as one of my students in a night class.

Professor and the Blue Angel. I was not aware, in those days that women who went to night school risked the House of the Rising Sun, if not serious marital difficulties.

But my Phoebe was more a graduate student, graduate habitue of the House of the Rising Sun. Lately, all the Ho's are taking Creative Writing. At night class. Or so it had seemed to me. And why not? What are you going to do with a plodding statistician husband, and you with all the imgination.?

She told me she was an actress--and what an actress, I later found out as I checked out her VCR's.
I was in love with the BJ queen of Holland Landing.

Ah the professor and the Blue Angel.
Vanya and Phoebe-Zeitgeist.

There was a dungeon in her basement. We would visit it on her off days, when the pimp was away dealing drugs in Edmonton out of little red Toyota trucks.

But it was not me that she sought. It was the idea of me, the tweedy prof, raconteur, classical guitar player (Learned it from Leona Boyd, at least some Ponce preludes). What she really needed was a new pimp, at least one who didn't have to dress up in her clothes, put on her panty-hose, high boots and somewhow finally get himself off.

I was seriously out of my league.

She dumped me for a new pimp. I hardly had the resources. She stopped bedding me, of course, terminating what passed for sex between us.

I still had her in the hippocampus of my groin. I had her smell. "Better easy conquests, said old Herodotus. Better that, or your body will drive you mad as you seek the unattainable."

Yet there I was, in late middle age, the candle on top my head, a character, suddenly out of Michael O'Donoghue.( Mr. O'Donoghue was by now dying of cancer quitting his Saturday Night Live position. Why him? He was, after all, the genius of my quest, the explainer, the interpreter of our time. I was just a follower... With the candle on my head).

Yeah, yeah, it's fun to be a genius, of course, but keep that old candle before the cart.

Listening to Bob Seeger all this time.

Twenty years
Where'd they go
Twenty years, I don't know.
I sit there wonder some times
Where they'd gone.

I beat up the pimp and have scattered the foot-fethishists and lesbian assassins.
The PI side of me.
Had to break it up. Hero in my own novel. But to me she would still not come. She went to others.
Still the candle on my head.

Art imitating life?...I had the spookiest notion that she was art and I was life, not the other way around.

I sit here on a rock, along with my old Bob Seeger and Julian Lennon tapes, my old walkman with me. Daydreaming in the park.

"Sittin' on a pebble by the river playin' guitar
Wonderin' if we'll ever get that far."

Doing the Ivan-man.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Travels in Time: Scouring Through Potted Biographies

Potted biographies.

Favourite device of the journeyman novelist.

Potted biographies. You have your list of characters. They all have histories. You place their histories in little pots you can uncork when you need to refer to why a character actually does something and how he/she does it.
W. Somerset Maughan says, however, that the writer actually ends up painting his own face, potted biogriaphies or no.
Wonderful writer, at times, that Maugham. overall success in his plays. But, as people have asked me, "Are writers really human?"

I have seen your face, Billy-boy.

I fear that you may have been blown ashore.

I am given to understand that Maugham disowned his daughter

His vast millions? The inheritance? I don't know.
And his poor, ignored wife.
As if we ourselves were not guilty--oh how guilty!
Some of the things we have done in this dark age, would cause even poor old St. Augustine to blanch. Or W. Somerset Maugham.

Potted biographies.
Past lovers in bottles. Auras, really, some auras powerful, almost incandescent. The bottle shines bright, as if full of fireflies on a May night, when you and she, her eyes eyes responsive , were in your bower, yourselves like the winking fireflies.

Now it's just you and your potted biographies.

The past is gone.

Today, a scene become gauche.

It is in the shower that we sort out parallel universes, actually the universes of our past lovers.

Yes, yes, the hip savant would say, "You forgot to masturbate", but I think it's deeper than that.

Just like Augustine, we suffer (enjoy?) the auras of our past lovers.

I am a hell of a lot older than the revered Bishop of Hippo at his death, so my auras are all but overwhelming.
Somebody's face is nuzzling against my thigh. It is Celia, the most powerful of the auras, and I hardly had all that much to do with her sexually. Why the strong, almost magnetic pull? Because she was a lot like me, and like tends to attract like, and though a writer's worst enemy may be another writer, this was a female writer and women are best at the plays of relationship known as fiction, and she could really get it on.
Unpublished, though, but really banging against the wall of my lifeboat at one time as I tried to madly paddle back to a sinking marriage. Celia, gorgeous young Faye Dunaway. We were a little like Bonnie and Clyde.

She wanted to fellate me one day, but I was struck by her beauty and took her another way.



You had no compunctions with all your cycle sluts and even the one who loved you most.

Yet, for some strange reason, missionary position or nothing.

And even there, the haunting presence of another halo, King Mark, and I was the Tristan in the piece?

Would King Mark have slain me if he'd seen us in the act vulgarly known as sixty-nine?

Would he have just said, Hello then, let's have a cup of tea, shall we?

Or would he have wanted to join in?

Potted biographies.

My own potted biography. The older I get, the more I think of the past, but it is really a pastiche of parallel universes.

I am in Denmark. I am in Spain. I am in my ancestral home home in Chernobyl, Ukraine.
Rarely I am in Canada, that Chernobyl of the spirit, where there has been a meltdown, a dying of the country's spirit as the Northrop Fryes and McLuhans and Penfields and Bantings rise up to the sky, fingers upwardly pointed. And hardly anyone notices our spiritual malaise.

With the death of McLuhan, everything died spiritually. "Leave the poor man alone," said McLuhan's wife to the jealous academics. "You are killing him."
They did. And with that, cutting-edge Toronto had to give it all up. We are now Maryland's Baltimore, , soon slated, probably, for ugly urban renewal. One of the paradoxes.
Greatest modern urban civiliazation turned into increasingly seedy H. L. Mencken country.

Potted biographies.

Forget plot. Use character. Character is everything. Character IS plot.

You write your first draft on the fly, just let one word follow another, forget the sophistication you want to convey, just do it, do it to that last page 300 where you finally write THE END.

It is shit, yes, but out of shit grows the flower. Then you go into the second draft, another five hundred pages( two hundred of which you will have to throw away).
Still want to be a novelist?
It is a technique (some Satanists would say a Technology ) ninety-nine per cent talent, ninety-nine percent hard work and ninety-nine percent imagination. And potted biograhies. Especially your potted biography.

"I was born..."

John Fowles " I was born the son of middleclass parents, themselves under the shadow of that monstrous dwarf, Victoria...It soon became apparent that I was not equipped by heredity to be the person I wanted to be..."

Now don't that turn your brown eyes blue?

How did John Fowles he arrive at his book? He has no idea and says so. "I just wrote and wrote, hardly knowing what I was doing."

First draft.

Potted biographies. His own autobiography in a huge pot?

The potted biographies really go into your second draft; that's where you flesh out the characters, that is where
things click into place. That is where they do what they do because they have no choice. That is where you do what you do because you had no choice. Your biography,

I am still in the shower.
Use your vices, your alchollism, your lechery, your addiction to tobacco--as rewards. Do not just surrender to your vices, your piggishness. Use your vices as a reward when you finally succumb.

I will not masturbate this morning.
Surrounded by the auras of all the past lovers.

Jacques Barzun: More people f*ck than philosophize.

But then, Jerzy Kosinski: If you must masturbate, do so, but you could try writing about it as a Gongorist trick.
And Philip Roth took the advice, hook, line and stinker.
Produced a book called "Whacking Off."

O how profound, we male writers!.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Visions of Joannah--Guest story, by Josie

I’m not a writer like most of you wonderful folks out there, so this story will probably sound very awkward. And it may or may not be a true story, and I may or may not be an observer in this story. And any relationship the characters bear to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

I grew up in a small town on the edge of a forest and my best friend, Helena, lived on the other side of the creek from our house. We spent all our time at each other’s houses, playing hopscotch, skipping, swimming, playing with dolls and doing all the other things girls do. Helena was a goof and she made me laugh. We went through elementary school together and we ate lunch together every day. We would often trade lunches, and I always looked forward to the days when Helena’s mother made her chocolate bar and banana sandwiches. Yes, they were delicious.

We grew apart as we got into high school and found we had different interests. Helena was very athletic and involved in girl’s basketball, where I was more involved with the school choir and painting. We went our separate ways and didn’t see each other again after graduation.

Helena became a teacher and moved to another city and I got married and moved to Vancouver. After my husband died it was necessary for me to go back to work very quickly, so I became a legal assistant with a large law firm. I worked for the senior partner and his junior assistant, a young articling student named Paul.
Paul was a very sweet young man and everyone liked him. He was dark, attractive and sort of self-effacing, but he was a very promising articling student. However, he had made one serious mistake in his personal life during his articles. He had been accused, but not convicted of a petty criminal offense, and there was a question as to whether he would be permitted to be called to the Bar and practice law. A hearing was held before the Benchers of the Law Society. When the hearing concluded it was agreed that Paul could take the Bar and practice law, but only on the condition that he secure a position in any other location, so he moved to a smaller city and found a position with a law firm there.

Re-enter Helena. Helena had been diagnosed with a condition that required surgery. The doctor who performed the surgery botched it, leaving Helena in chronic pain. Helena sued him but it is very difficult to win a case against a doctor and she lost. The firm she had retained to represent her was the same law firm where Paul now worked.

Helena was frustrated with the outcome of her case, and after exhausting all appeals she set out on a mission to take justice into her own hands. She went to the law firm looking for the lawyer who represented her with the intent to shoot and kill him, but she shot Paul instead, who just happened to get in the way. She was captured while she was on her way to shoot the doctor who had botched the surgery.

After a lengthy trial, Helena was found guilty of murder. Canada doesn’t have capital punishment so she was sentenced to life in prison. At the time that this happened, I was in anguish for both my friends. I could not believe that the little girl who had been my best friend could take someone’s life, and the life she took was someone I had met long after she and I had gone our separate ways. But even sadder was the fact that if Paul had not been required to relocate to another city, it would not have happened to him.
That lovely, sweet young man was in the wrong place at the wrong time, just one of those perverse times when something goes wrong in the universe.
And what, I wondered, had made my friend Helena become so desperate she decided to take someone else’s life.

My heart broke for both of them because I had known them both to be charming, kind, funny people. I think if they had met under different circumstances, they would have liked each other.Anyway, that’s my odd little story of how the universe can sometimes tilt on its axis and throw everything askew.

Editor's note: Island Grove Press takes full responsibility for the above "livier a clef".

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Once Upon a Time There Was a Tavern--Guest story by E. A. Monroe

Note: Sometimes, when I am writing a scene, I experiment and write it out in first person. Later, when I add the scene/chapter to the current novel in progress, I rewrite the pov into 3rd person. I write close and personal. The reader wears the character's skin. I offer no explanations for the following scene, the before or the after story. Take it for what it is... a work in progress... an idea searching for fuition.

“What is the winter for? To remember love.” — Theodore Roethke

I had not set foot within the Blue Swan since the night of the Winter Ball scandal. Not because I didn’t want to, or could not bear thinking about the darkest night of my soul ― but from shame.

I had treated Tisane unfairly, although she had enjoyed jiggling her hips on my lap, and later in her room upstairs. In all fairness, I had used Tisane ― not that she minded being used, but I thought I should make amends, and apologies would not suffice for a creature such as Tisane.

The noise level dropped a few notches when I walked into the tavern. Men turned in their seats, stared, at least those men capable of lifting their heads from their ale tankards and peering at each newcomer who strode through the entrance. Even those seated at the bar swiveled on their seats. A man poked his comrade and nodded ― Have a look. It’s him.

Significant stares followed me through the smoky din, from curiosity mostly. I would make no apologies. Respect was earned; my countrymen did not give away free respect.

“Well, well, look here who decided to rejoin the living. Dragged yourself outta the pit, did ya, Fayerfield?”

I nodded at the man and walked on past him. I was looking for Tisane, not trouble. I’d had my share of trouble that winter and was in no mood for more.

I saw a table tucked in a dark corner near the hearth and headed toward it. I knew I should have avoided the Blue Swan and that chimney corner, but I keeled toward the table and empty chair without thought or care.

Several men hurling darts at a scarred dartboard cast a quick glance over their shoulders between dart tosses. I heard laughter rumble and crude remarks, but paid them no heed. I pulled out the chair and sat down, my back to the wall. No one bothered to intrude into the chimney corner I had claimed.

Through the tavern racket ― a typical night for the Blue Swan ― I heard the twang of gut strings and the accompanying rasp of a musician’s rusty voice. The boy sang no better that night than on another night, slightly out of tune voice and lute strings, yet I found his voice oddly compelling. I glanced at the musician and received a nod, a flash of teeth. The lad cocked his head and twisted a tuning key, more interested in the pitch of the gut string than a stranger’s casual interest.

My gaze lingered, as curious as any patron that night, perhaps more so, if only to take my attention away from the curious stares and whispers. The musician wore oversized clothes more than a couple of years out of fashion and faded from the vibrant colors that had once dyed the threads of tunic and trousers, but despite the bagginess of the boy’s clothing, I could distinguish fragile bone structure and delicacy of face ― a face that had yet to feel the stroke of a razor’s edge. Young, I thought, too young to earn a living playing taverns and back alley establishments, but I had learned hard lessons that winter. A musician, even a boy, could earn a decent livelihood playing more than out of tune lute strings and rasping half forgotten folk ballads. A man could buy anything for his coin, depending on the willingness of the one selling. I wondered what the young musician sold, besides a song for a penny?

My attention drifted toward the barmaid I spotted edging toward my table. She was one of Tisane’s friends ― another blue swan working the tavern for more than tips and wages.

“If you’re lookin’ for Tisane, she’s not here,” the girl said. She set a full ale tankard upon the table before me.

“Where is she?”

“Working.” The girl glanced toward the rafters that spanned the common room’s smoky ceiling. “She’s entertaining.”

The barmaid’s dark gaze scoured me, and thinking she wanted coin for the tankard of ale, I fished an eagle piece from my pocket and tossed the coin upon the ale stained table. She scooped up the coin and tucked the silver piece into her skirt pocket, but not before she leaned close and murmured, “Ya broke Tisane’s heart, ya know. You and that San Bargellian bastard.”

I was inclined to disagree that I or any other man was capable of breaking Tisane’s heart, but the barmaid sniffed, turned away in a swirl of scarlet petticoats, and sauntered off toward the group of men clustered around the dartboards. I caught the flash of dark eyes glancing my way when she leaned toward one of the dart throwers, whispered something to the man. He laughed and pulled the girl into his arms for a hearty smooch on her lips.

I looked away, caught the roving gaze of the musician who launched into a melodic rendition of Barmaid’s Lament ― she stole men’s hearts, she took their coins, and drained their tankards dry-o. A grin tugged the corners of my mouth. I laughed, shook my head and pushed the ale tankard away. I had lost my taste for Blue Swan ale. One sip was all I needed to feel every savage craving that had sent me reeling into that bottomless pit of need. I knew I should not have entered the Blue Swan, but I could not avoid my life or confronting my demons.

I stared at the untouched tankard. I wanted a drink more than I wanted anything ― anything decent. Decent men stayed at home and tended their children; decent men did not haunt midnight taverns nor make amends to blue swans for perceived wrongs. Who said I was a decent man? Blue swans possessed more scruples and decency than I did.

I picked up the tankard and drained its liquid contents in long, thirsty swallows. The potent brew rushed straight to my head and burned all the way down my gullet into a pool of simmering fire that spread through the pit of my belly. I wanted more. Oh, I wanted. I wanted Reece Rau’s bane of bliss. I wanted the aching hunger I had tasted and devoured like a starving creature clawing its way from the imprisonment of its skin.

I heard a feminine, husky laugh and, looking up, I watched the barmaid set another ale tankard upon the table before me. I smiled into dark, knowing eyes and then my gaze slid beyond the girl, into the watchful squint of the dart thrower’s eyes and the red fletched dart he pinched in his thick fingers. I tread dangerous territory, but I pushed forward, relentless in my disregard of another man’s prior claim.

I tossed the contents of the second tankard down my throat, swallowed each mouthful. Heat spread from my belly into my limbs ― a tingling that scoured the hunger from my blood. The hunger was always there, lurking beneath the surface, whispering, waiting. I would spend the rest of my life fighting that particular need and, in the end, would always wonder at my success. Victory was temporal, but a man could fill the hunger with other needs ― like ale ― or the wicked promise gleaming in a woman’s eyes or curling at the corners of a lush mouth.

I almost groaned aloud imagining the curl of the barmaid’s lips ― the scorch of her tongue. I ached for more than the narcotic bliss I craved and needed. I had only deceived myself, again. Amends or apologies had not brought me to the Blue Swan that night, but Tisane ― then I realized ― any woman would suffice, including a night hag like Maybelle Flower. Whatever held the power to vanquish Reece Rau’s forbidden touch and the nagging doubt that I craved Rau’s lust as much as I hungered for the opiates that he had plied to rouse me.

No! I refused to follow the dark despair of that path. I stared at the dart thrower, locked my gaze into the blackness of his eyes, and feeling a lick of heat pulse through my groin, I flecked my tongue across my lower lip. I tasted ale, and smoke.

“Why are ya lookin’ at me like that, Fayerfield!” The man lumbered toward my table, all brawn and swagger and I wondered if he was related to Duncan of Whitehorse. The barmaid backed up a step, smiled, dark eyes shuttered. Did she think the impending confrontation was between two men quarreling over a woman, over her?

“Damn you Rau,” I muttered.

“What did ya say, man?”

“Nothing. I was not speaking to you,” I said to the man who now stood at my table and intruded into my privacy. I had not asked for a quarrel, but neither was I in the mood to back down either, no matter how much bigger the man was than me, or stronger.

I leaned back in my chair, aware of the lull in the surrounding din, the lilting warble of the musician launching into another lively tune. Oh, a lover’s quarrel spilled his blood and she wept for her lover slain-ain. From what hidden trunk did the musician find his ballads or did he improvise?

“Well, now Fayerfield, I can't figure if it’s Meggie here ya want to bed ― or myself,” the man drawled. A grunt of laughter drew a chorus of uneasy chuckles from his dart game partners.

“Can’t you?” I quipped. I did not care for the barb of the man’s words, but rather than feel the sting, I resorted to humor. The dart tosser did not possess a sense of humor.

“No, I can’t.”

“No?” Cocking my eyebrow, I raked my gaze down the man ― the degrading stare a man gives a woman when he has only one thing on his mind. I smiled and tossed a second eagle piece upon the table. The coin spun, flashed silver in the lantern light. Astonishment flared in the man’s eyes ― right before his fist hurtled toward my face and all hell broke loose.

The lucky punch the dart thrower landed slammed me into the wall. I shook my head and staggered to my feet. Wood splintered; I looked up. The musician held his lute by its broken neck and the coil of loose strings. Surprise riddled the boy’s face, but he wasn't as surprised as the dart thrower sprawled on his knees and the melon shaped body of the lute busted over his head.

“I’m gonna wring your scrawny neck, boy!”

The brawl erupted like a summer wild fire devouring parched grass and spilled from the tavern into the stable yard. The crowd surged outside and I followed. I parried fists, ducked punches, jumped and avoided swaggering bodies. Throughout the rioting dance, I watched the musician. The boy clutched a wooden staff, grabbed as he had run from the tavern, and was using the long pole with an amazing skill ― unlike any thing I had ever seen before, although I did recall Chaeran using such a long, stout pole to propel his body over stacked bales of hay one summer. The musician did more than use the staff to swing at the heads, arms and legs of those who lunged toward him. In a furious dance, he jabbed, poked, bashed, swung, struck, and swept― an expert in the fighting arts or at least the use of a wooden staff to defend himself.

When a group of louts decided enough was enough and ganged up to take the musician’s stick away from him, I darted through the throng and ducked the swing of a staff whistling past my head when the boy launched it through the air. Grabbing the boy’s arm, I tugged him away from the melee.

We dashed through the deserted village streets, and running for our lives, we left the noise of fists smacking flesh, cracking bones, grunted curses, and shouts behind. We ran until a stitch of pain stabbed my side and I collapsed into a grassy patch beside the road. The boy laughed and plunged down beside me gasping for air.

“You didn’t have to do that.” I sucked air into my lungs and wondered if I’d ever be able to breathe again.

“Do what?”

“Break your lute over the man’s head.”

He shrugged. “The instrument was worthless and couldn’t hold a decent tune.”

In the darkness, I caught the gleam of the boy’s smile. “You saved my life back there,” I said.

“I’d done the same for any fool.”

“Yeah, I deserve that.” I planted my elbows into the grassy earth and leaned back. Above, glittering constellations marked the night sky and the wheel of the hours.

“You started it. You didn’t have to―” The boy paused.

“Do what?”

“Toss down the coin―”

“Like I was buying the man for the night?” I glanced at the boy who had stretched out on his back a few feet away, his arms at his sides. He turned his head toward me. I caught the glint of an eye exposed from the shadows that obscured his features.


“Call it self-defense,” I replied.

“I call it asking for trouble.”

I laughed. “Yeah, well. I should have known better. You are right. I am a fool.”

“Most men are,” the boy said.

His statement intrigued me ― spoken more from a female’s point of view I thought than from the mouth of an inexperienced boy, but then I doubted most boys who played taverns for their supper inexperienced.

“I gotta go. It’s been fun.” The boy stood, shook out the folds of his tunic, dusted grass from his trousers.

“Are you all right?” I don’t know why I asked, or cared.

“Yeah, sure. And you?”

“Couldn’t be better.”

When passion turns you into a stupid child

Getting correspondence from Ms. Donnetta Lee of late.

Two things twig.

The unreality of the world.

The unreality of love.

Corollary: The spookiness of our universe.

I am moved, for some reason to reprinting an old blog of mine, when I was still crazy and half in love.

So here we go with an exploration of passion at leas how it migh apply to literarture.

Recently, on the internet, lady genre writers have been excited over expressing passion in a character, perhaps so much passion that it may overshadow the plot.
Don't know about my own writing. I've certainly been described as an actual character on many occasions. But when it comes to my own characters, there is passion aplenty.
And there are times when emotions are so powerfully felt, they must be put in the shape of a poem, for here is where you can express these emotions.
Something I published quite some time ago in a Town of Newmarket promotional magazine (I knew the editor personally, a lady):

Love Poem

He saw the teardrop on the rose
And again, he saw the teardrop on a rose
And he knew he could never melt the teardrop
And he knew this was already the end.

So he kissed he face of the evening wife
As he had kissed it before, in all its vaying forms
And again said hello to the precipice of silence
A precipice of silence
For his eighteen months of loving

The Queen of Swords is crossed over
And all the king's horses and all the king's men
Are trying to get her together again
like me
To no avail

Gigolo and Gigolet
This side of the lake of mutilation
Strike a match
And the hotel burns

There is only
this path of silence
As we dump our gods
And become like them


And here is the experience that gave rise to the poem, though I fear the writer, at the time was more jejune than talented:


Life lays down strange ashpalt for men to tread on in the dark and I have just left Yuppie City.
She was gorgeous, but she was expensive, the other guy had more and so defeat has left me divided, anger was very much in my taste and I contained within myself all the bitter exhaustions of a 47-year-old man while maintaining the cockiness of a bright boy:

Yuppies threw me out.

I was on the edges of what first seemed a literary circle, new friends high on Jung and something mysterious late at night that I was not quite privy to until I met the one I loved, heretofore a clearspoken and articulate girl rolling her O's like an idiot and really strung out on wgat nust surely have been heroin.
Life lays downs strange asphalt and who knows whoat people do in Hell, especially when the other man was driving a new BMW, mustachioed Italian, his Newsboy hat on, tweed jacket with elbow patches, the pimp outfit, and you were still stuck in second gear.This was all so far ahead of you, they and their hiss of long cigarette lighters, the spoons, the garbled talk, as if they were driving a bottlemobile.

There is an old B movie abut voguish modern people who were allowed to party all the days of their lives, it seemed, till you realized that down below, there was a vicious mutant ant colony that would snare the revelers, one by one and stick them into a cocoon for later, casual devourment.
Yes, they were all down there south of Finch Avenue where the grass was dream grass and women would come and call themselves lonely.

How does it come to a man just hitting his prime, at the top of his professional form, in the middle of his success to be snared on a path that must surely be evil and only the strength of the mad can save him as the Chickletty
smell of crack is high upstairs and the one you love in the clutches of a beast?

The middle class can sometimes be a class of bozos.
They always seek definitions, rathere than seeing things for what they actually are. They try to define pornography, for instance, withouth realizing its palpable effect on them and other people; they toy with concepts of personal freedom without realizing that outright pimps snare beautiful women ever day, even from the apartments where they live. It's not all heaven in those gated communities, but more like like wiveswaping and uppermiddleclass peeping tomism while while the beat goes on and the roses fade.

An old Russian proverb says untruth did not begin with us, nor will it end with us, nor will it end with us; praying kneads no dough.
I had no dough, prayed often, and Yuppies threw me out.
Can it be, can it just be that money is all there is, that people will prostitute themselves for it, live in hell for it and worhip is as the newly rich do, even unto the gates of organized crime? For that is the sinister "safety net": At the bottom of the drinking the sex and the drungs and the open marriages are the Masters who make the rules for the wise men and the fools in a lower branch of Yuppiedom, the unholy collusion of Big Business, Big Government and organized crime.
It was an expensive education for an aging don still high on literature, a onetime luminary at the college, but now known by all to have gone more than a little to seed, especially by the company he was keeping.

First came the unofficial literary circle, then the intruduction to an "open marriage" (a strange concept to me in those times, even though everybody seemed to be doing it), and then the inevitable jealousy, the pain and the final revulsion.
What a shitty documentary I was in.
Nevertheless, it was the Yuppies who threw me out.

At first I resisted. One-on-one relationships were less complicated, the only ones that would work in the end.

After the first contact, I stayed away-- chaste fiance' , hah-- dated no one. I wanted my love all to myself, not ad hoc, not in some strange daisy chain on the edges of Hell.

Until the frightening realization came to me that evil was just as much in me as in them and that I was beginning to love this woman very much and would almost gladly go to the ends of hell for her.
And she had told me that I was not the only one "in love."

A half-fucked fox in the middle of a forest fire.

She bought me a toaster one day and I did not understand.
She paid my rent one day and I did not understand.
She said she wanted "out" and I did not understand.
And now the Beast is with her and I finally understand.

I did not have the guts or the intelligence, dumb prof, to go through the depth of Hades to rescue her and now must go through another hell of considering how weak I had been, how bad my timing had been. I was no better than those phonies at the literary circle, that collection of poseurs and wife-swappers and the fault was all mine.

She passed my door on night sobbing.
She had been beaten up and was high on blow.
I raced out the door to be with her, but she was gone in her bright grey BMW.
Even in the world of l988, demons, witches and warlocks still inhabited the landscape.
She had not been crying for me, but for her demon lover, of whom I somehow was now a part.
I stood there high on German exhaust, considering a badly remembered poem.

I had a mother and a father
Who I knew were mine.
I had perfect eyesight,
so I could see the imperfections of nature.
I had wisdom
that lay like an asp
at the bottom of the well

And when the unworthy plrince came
I turned
and in all my beaty
Rejected him.

I stood there in the rain like some old Hemingway and realized that the asp in the bottom of the well was a guy richer, smarter and sexier than I was.
I couldn't bllame Yuppies. I couldn't blame the drugs. I couldn't blame orgaznized crime.
I could only blame myself, for I needn't have gone downtown for my answer.
I only needed to stay in Newmarket and pray in the rain.

How adolescent we become when we fall in live at 47.

What embarrassing screeds we produce.

...But it sure make you want to play your guitar.