Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bowling for Welfare

I am stuck on my documentary project, whose provisional title is Bowling for Welfare.

Here, all these years, I studiously practised my three-step approach, got to have a pretty good eye, won a few bets--and the next thing I do is bowl for welfare.

I had fallen in with some pretty baroque company--certainly not as heinous as the trenchcoat guys in Columbine--but bummy enough to be real dipsticks and sh*tkickers.

Actually, I'm pretty comfortable with dipsticks and sh*tkickers.

Really smart people can be a threat, can make your a**hole snap at fifty paces, they're so smart. They end up with jobs in government and they can do crossword puzzles in fifteen minutes, organize little assembly lines in copy centres at work and spell just about any word in the encyclopaedia.

I mean, a dipstick is pretty well on the surface. He isn't up to very much save maybe break into somebody's apartment and take not only the poor man's pornies but the cleaning lady's fifty bucks as well, the money sitting there nestled inside your old Air Force drinking cup.

I lose more pewter drinking cups and Paris Hilton tapes.

Don't know why, but Paris is my favourite skank.

And then she is developing a sense of humour: "You know, like most women, I like to shop. Shop a lot.

"But then I also like to turn a trick every once in a while"

Precious.


Anyway, I fell in with some really strange company. Fifty years later and they still affected "boogie cuts", sideburns ducktail haircuts and pegged pants balloning at the knees. Blue suede shoes.

Sh*tkickers. "Marty" type from the old movie.
Dipsticks.

And all of them bowlers.

The bowling alley nearby has been open for 50 years and it still seems to have most of its original clientele.

The women in their silk bowling windbreakers and skirts hemmed just over the knees, the men, some of them in porkpie hats and "strides", the ballooning pants. There was a tendency of this set to boogie. No, not Saturday Night Fever boogie, actual jitterbugging.

That's when they weren't bowling.

I wondered what most of them did for a living.

Apparently not much.

One day they pooled all their welfare cheques together and the winner would have access to one.

I bowled like I never bowled before.

Some poor kid is going without his breakfast and some dad without his ciggies, but I had been dumpster diving for some months and he seven hundred dollars was first payment for an apartment.

And I got on local cablecast as the guy bowling for welfare. Pooled welfare money.

Fame at last. King of the a**holes.

The closest thing to this kind of success was at summer camp, when I was the first kid to whistle after eating a box of crackers.

And I ended up with real Crackers.

As I say, I am trying to put together a documentary on all this, but I am at a loss to find a camera man and a soundman.

They are actually in my circle of dipsticks, sh*tkickers and bowlers.

The soundman, with his beard down to his chest had been fired by Magna for being a fire hazard, and the cameraman was probably the guy who stole my Paris Hilton tapes.

There are so many of the disinherited and the fired in my bowling group.

I finally traced the stolen the Paris tapes to the cameraman, but decided to let him keep the footage. I needed his services. So together, we'd watch Paris and her trick with the salami.

He ejeculated halfway through, lost interest in my project and said "I don' want to read your stupid book anyway."

Ah the problems of a budding documentary maker.

Oh well.

Another evening of bowling tonight. I still haven't even started on my shooting script.

The problem, as always, is in the writing.

I did know an author who had fifty book titles in his hip pocket. Also a film script. He had been fired by the CBC
for not being able to spell. This was before the days of spellcheck.

I noticed that when he was bowling, some folded pieces of paper fell out of his hip pocke

I plucked them forth after his team was through.

I mean, this is serious business.

Sometimes when you're stuck on a project, you have to steal.

I mean, I'm a pro at this.

I am not fooling around here.

I am bowling for welfare.


:)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Feel insecure? Still unpublished? Write a letter to the editor


Damned insecurity.

I haven't had anything published for months so I thought I'd scour the local newspaper for stories I could comment on in print.

Found a honey:

War bride learned to love Newmarket

By: Patrick Mangion. Photo by Bill Roberts.


Nearly 61 years ago, Martha Cullen took her son by the hand and boarded the Queen Mary. At the time, she didn’t know anything about what would be her new home on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean — a little town called Newmarket.


With the Second World War over in the summer of 1946 and her father’s blessing to embark on a fresh start, Mrs. Cullen, a 24-year-old Glasgow native given to home sickness, would leave everything behind, like so many other war brides.


Her husband, Joe Cullen, had already returned to his hometown from his duties as an army dispatcher in England by the time his young bride crammed into a tiny cabin with five children and six adults for the Atlantic crossing.Mr. Cullen died from cancer 29 years ago.


“If I was here first, I would have left,” she said, laughing about her Newmarket home.“I hated it. I was so lonely.”


At a time when Davis Drive was still a dirt road, the community marked a sharp contrast from the urban glow of Glasgow.


She would eventually warm to her surroundings and go on to raise a family of three boys, Matthew, Mitchell and Michael, and one girl, Janet.Today, the 83-year-old still calls Newmarket home.


But her journey here would test the mettle of anyone.

When it was believed two children in her cabin became seriously ill during the voyage, all 11 were quarantined for the trip.

“The sailors had to bring us our meals. It was terrible,” she said.“It was just a tiny room with bunk beds. We snuck out at night to go to the show.


”Things didn’t get much better by the time by the time the storied ocean liner steamed into Halifax’s famed port at Pier 21 — the gateway into Canada for countless immigrants.You might think Nova Scotia, with its Maritime charm, offered abundant opportunities for adventurous new Canadians looking to explore.But for Mrs. Cullen and son Matthew, the first place they visited was a navy hospital in Halifax.


She would later say she saw more of the city during last year’s war brides ceremonies, 60 years after first touching down on Canadian soil.


Canadian health officials at the port feared a child from another family, who shared the same cabin during the journey from England, had contracted spinal meningitis.

Mrs. Cullen spent a week, confined to her hospital room while doctors conducted tests.

It turned out it was all for naught.

She was released and stayed at a hostel until her train to Toronto arrived.

By then, she was suffering from whooping cough. It might be enough to make one pine for the days of food and clothing rations, regular rolling blackouts and ear-piercing bomb sirens gripping Western Europe during the war.


Living with the hardships of war just became a fact of life, Mrs. Cullen recalled.


With government-issued coupons to ration clothing during the war, she purchased additional coupons on the black market to pay for a modest wedding dress.


War’s grip even affected what would normally be a romantic and memorable moment when Mr. Cullen proposed on bent knee at a Glasgow street car station.

“There was a blackout. I couldn’t even see him in front of me,” laughing as she recalled how they had to call out for one another in the darkness.


The two met in 1940 while Mr. Cullen was on leave from England.


He and his pals regularly turned to Scotland for revelry and a temporary reprieve from war.

“I can’t recall if we met at a dance or at a pub. We met through a friend of his and that was it,” she said.

Despite only seeing one another for one week, every three to four months, their bond grew quickly.

The following year, they married in her hometown.


As a staunch Protestant, her father, James, would eventually warm to the idea of his eldest daughter marrying a Catholic.

But he would only learn of a second, Catholic, wedding, after Mrs. Cullen had converted at her husband’s request.

“My father had lots to say about that when he finally found out. Luckily, he liked Joe,” she said.


To support his young family, Mr. Cullen bought a truck when he returned from the war, hauling loads around Newmarket to make ends meet.

Mrs. Cullen kept her husband’s meticulous accounting books, showing 50-cent transactions for hauling gravel.

It was rewarding, but unstable work.

He turned to a tire company at the corner of Main and Queen streets.Mrs. Cullen remembered one phone call that caused a few tense moments around the Cullen household.

“He was repairing a tire when one of them blew up. I had to go get him at the hospital.”


Sadly, their time together would be cut far too short after Mr. Cullen was diagnosed with cancer.It spread rapidly and he died just five weeks after being admitted to hospital in Newmarket and still shy of his 60th birthday. He left her with four children.


Looking back, Mrs. Cullen never paid much mind to her ordeal.

It wasn’t until hundreds of fellow war brides descended on Halifax at last year’s ceremonies, honouring the European women, that she could appreciate her place in Canadian history.


The women, most of whom were in their 80s, were given a rock star welcome the moment they stepped off the train.


“People would reach out and try to touch us. You had to be there to believe it,” she said


.Canadians have only recently begun to take notice of war brides and their place in Canadian history, author Melynda Jarratt said

.She has written two books on war brides.“Most war brides would have an infinitely better life than they would have in the United Kingdom. They were heralded as a great addition to Canada,” Mrs. Jarratt said.

“Despite all the suffering and tragedy of war, something good did come of it: love, marriage and children.”



And here is my comment on this article, published today:


Letters to the Editor
Jul 28, 2007 06:17 AM Re: Building life in post-war Canada, July 24.


Here I thought my own family had a monopoly on suffering and woe during and after the Second World War, but Mrs. Cullen’s tale seems to reach epic proportions. The nightmarish journey of sickness on the Queen Mary, the family religious anxieties, the string of jobs Joe Cullen had to take, the blast at the tire shop and, finally, Joe’s illness and his passing away.


Here’s to you, Martha Cullen.You are some woman and yours is an incredible family. Good on you!


Ivan Prokopchuk

Newmarket

Wow. Just a matter of time until I am hounded by paparazzi and people wanting my autograph.


Heh.

Ivan

Saturday, July 28, 2007

John Prine made me think of my Dear John. And such mawkish poetry from this

The great John Prine was singing of other matters here at Ontario Place, right on the water but I was thinking of what mattered most. I knew that at this very time, my lover was penning me a Dear John. That's why she had sent a mutual friend to take me to this concert. Enough love left to care for my feelings.

Make me an angel
That flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster
Of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing
That I can hold onto
To believe in this living
It's such a hard way to go.



Make me an angel, Darling. Make me a cut-up doll. Make me anything. But don't make me a Dear John.

Peeing my eyes out.
Watching John Prine

To believe in this loving
It's such a hard way to go.

Unrequited love.
You know the result of this break-up.
You will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars as you sit in your aparment and drink.
This will take your mind right off business.
And so you will have to give yourself pleasure.

Make me an angel, Darling
Make me a cut-up doll.
But don't make me this.

Ivan

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I thought I was writing THE HAT PEOPLE...But thirty years later, someone beats me with THE COIL



Many, many years ago, I undertook to write a thriller, a novel of international intrigue along the lines of Man from U.N.C.L.E, my wife having fallen in love with David McCallum, who played Russian agent Ilya Kuriakin.

Seems that I failed because I couldn't plot very well.
So I changed it into a stereoscopic family saga of two houses, one conservative and the other Communist. The anti-hero of the conservative family was, uh, me.
I had married into a family of commies and had learned their ways. Especially about Russian gold.

But somebody was "after" this family of commies and that's where the thriller part came in.
I wrote the book on the fly, getting brickbats from Montreal writers on my crummy plotting, but finishing the book anyway. It turned out to be the story of a culturally displaced person trying to hold it all together in what was then commie Toronto. (Seems everybody was left-wing in l970).

The international assassins who were after my commie family I identified as The Hat People, 1940s style T-Men in hats and trenchcoats. They drove slightly- out- of -date Chrysler Imperials and wore slightly ou-of-date Forties suits.

Ah, how is it that things happen to us and only years later are they explained.

Very recently a Gayle Lynds has produced a novel she titled The Coil, the Coil being a shadowy group of
gnomes who control all politicians, all economies and all the imortant things going on in the world stage.

Paranoia, no?
But this shadowy group, whom I called The Hat People in my novel, turned out to be real people--The Bilderbergers,who, because of recent web and author research, are a real group, with real designs on the economic and polical workings of the planet.

Here is what author Gayle Lynds found out (info provided by http://www.grandinite.com/):

The Bilderberg Group: Don’t Bother To Apply.
"Coil" (my novel) Based on Real-Life Shadow Group

About eight years ago during research, I stumbled upon one of those paragraphs that are the lifeblood of a novelist. It mentioned a yearly meeting of powerful world leaders that called itself the Bilderberg Group. I was intrigued. Unlike the VIP-bristling World Economic Forum, which usually gathers in Davos, Switzerland, and Allen & Co., which is legendary for its low-key, high-level summits in Sun Valley, Idaho, the Bilderbergers were a complete unknown to me.
For good reason. As it turned out, the elite organization not only shuns publicity, it forbids it. Or as the Toronto National Post explained later, on May 24, 2001, "The conferences are held under absolute secrecy and tight security, with no media coverage allowed."

But back in 1995, I had no idea what I faced. I dove in, setting up shop in the library, hunting through thousands of U.S. newspapers, magazines, and books. I’m a researcher. I know how to find the most arcane data, but I was stymied, until I discovered Spotlight, a right-wing populist newsweekly based in Washington, D.C., which claimed to have reported Bilderberger’s annual assemblies for more than two decades. Taking away Spotlight’s extreme political and emotional spin, but figuring in its on-the-scene photos, lists of attendees, and lists of yearly venues dating back to 1954, I began to believe Bilderberg might not only be real but an idea for a book.

The test came a year later, when Spotlight predicted the group would hold its next covert confab at a luxury resort outside Toronto. I ordered the Toronto Star and held my breath. On June 6, 1996, I had confirmation at last from a mainstream news source: "The Bilderberg Conference of 120 world business and political leaders is unfolding in secrecy," the Star reported, "just as they planned" at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce’s leadership center at the former King City Ranch.

That night, I celebrated with a large glass of excellent pinot noir.

Over the years as I wrote other novels, I continued to research the Bilderbergers, a hobby, perhaps an obsession. As a result, my new thriller, The Coil, delves deeply into the Nautilus Group, which is based loosely on the Bilderberg Group. Both have headquarters in the Hague, both were named for the hotels in which they first officially met, and both employ extreme security, color-coded badges, and sniffer dogs. But after that, the facts diverge. For instance, I have no information or knowledge that a diabolical inner circle such as the Coil exists within Bilderberg.

I’m pleased to report that because of the doggedness of some journalists and protesters and the vast resources of the Internet, news coverage of Bilderberg is widening at last. In fact, London’s Sunday Times jokes that Bilderberg meetings are "the world’s greatest networking opportunity," while Portugal’s The News refers gravely to the group’s members and guests as "the world’s unelected leaders."

In a tongue-in-cheek article, The Guardian of England and Wales points out, "It is, according to some, a sinister shadow world government dedicated to seizing control of the levers of the global economy. So why . . . put Lord Carrington’s picture at the top of this column? He runs [Bilderberg] along with Henry Kissinger and David Rockefeller, billionaire owner of New York’s Chase Manhattan Bank. . . . What will they discuss? Don’t know. There are no statements, no sound bites, no photo calls. . . ."

The Atlanta Constitution seems to have a better handle on the situation: ". . . the Bilderbergers say the required pledge of delegates not to discuss what goes on at their meetings is simply to provide a private, informal environment in which those who influence national policies and international affairs can get to know each other and discuss, without commitment, their common problems."

Still, with media giants like Donald Graham of The Washington Post and billionaire bankers like Edmond de Rothschild and auto tycoons like Jurgen Schrempp of DaimlerChrysler and politicians with global clout like James D. Wolfensohn of the World Bank and Donald Rumsfeld of the U.S. Department of Defense in attendance . . . the Bilderbergers continue to hold my interest.

They may just be talking shop, but the clandestine nature of their gatherings continues to provoke. As The Financial Times once pointed out, "If the Bilderberg group is not a conspiracy of some sort, it is conducted in such a way as to give a remarkably good imitation of one."

Its current secretary-general, Martin Taylor of WH Smith, says he’s done his best to increase its openness, according to The Sunday Times. But then, the minutes of its meetings have been secret for the past half century, which likely hinders that goal. When Time magazine analyzed the top six "Business Power Camps" in its July 20, 1998, issue, it awarded exclusivity ratings. Ten meant the most exclusive. Only one group rated it — the Bilderbergers.
You’ll learn all about the fictional Nautilus Group, the high chamber of the high priests of capitalism, in The Coil.

contact the webmaster
© 2005-2006 Gayle Lynds


The Story
Liz Sansborough thought she had left her past behind forever. A former CIA field operative as well as the daughter of perhaps the most notorious Cold War assassin — the man known to the world only as the Carnivore — Liz is now a university professor in Southern California, specializing in the psychology of violence. Then her dead father's legacy sweeps back to overtake her.
Someone, somewhere, is claiming to possess the Carnivore's secret files and is using information from them to blackmail prominent world figures to promote some clandestine agenda. Files that Liz swore her father never kept. When Liz's cousin is kidnapped, the only ransom they'll accept is the assassin's records, and if Liz is to save her cousin, she must somehow resurrect her old tradecraft skills and, in a desperate hunt across two continents, locate the files and uncover a dark and dangerous conspiracy linked to a shadowy group known only as the Coil.
...............
Ah those Bildebergers. Name the incubus and you shall have power over it, says a l9th century writer.
Many years ago, I undertook two write a novel about a secret society that "ran everything."
I termed that group "The Hat People", since I envisioned them as wearing T-man style fedoras, raincoats and all the while driving luxury car of almost another era.
I didn't know much about writing in those days.
Maybe if I read Gayle Lynds' book, I migh pick up a few pointers.
But then, mayby I might not.
The Coil is a highly touted book in New York. I think I'll give it a try.
Ivan

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Stuck in the Sixties (Seventies? Eighties?) in a Mushroom flashback





After two years of running The Main Street WhizBang, Newmarket's first (and last) underground newspaper, we found that we had lost an entire fifty cents.


The bankruptcy was awful.


People were diving out of basement windows.


One of our lady writers commited suicide by impaling herself on a mushroom.


(Or is it that she had some mushrooms?)


I lost all my groupies, this the unkindest cut of all.


(You want to get laid? Start an underground newspaper. You get chess broads and ladies in blue leotards and net stockings. Underground newspaper office, replete with espresso machine, is also a great place to pick up poetic guys for the chess broads).

But there's such a thing as having too much retro fun.


You wanna get your office burned down and the cops giving you heat?


Start an underground newspaper.


But you have to plan for disaster. You might lose fifty cents.

You might also step on the toes of the powers that be.


The incumbent mayor, against whom I once ran said, "Don't buy ads from Ivan...He's an as*hole.


I got tired of going to all the merchants to collect money anyway.


Print adertising and graphics got to be a drag.


My waitress at the pub said "Stay small. If you get large, you go crazy."


I did.


Hell, this was too much like being overground.


So we packed it in.



At least we showed it could be done in ultra-conservative, white-bread Newmarket.


Sure as hell had my fifteen minutes.


But buying all those asbestos suits got to be expensive.


The landlord made money on the fire insurance, but he wasn't sure if that was the royal road to riches.


My advice to budding" Georgia Strait" underground newspaper editors:


Municipal politics is dangerous.


Trespassers will be incinerated.


.................................


I am going through major depression over here and can't seem to get up the mental acuity to put my Schomoozer award up on a proper post.


Correspondent Josie, who has been so kind as to help me with the reproduction above, has offered me detailed instructions on putting up the award, but all she got from me was a Wooodstock &%$#%%%%&^%$#%%%%%%%%%.


So she didn't persist, realizing the the old neo-hippie had probably had one mushroom too many.


I have tried to get my techie to help, but he has just started his own business and his time is precious.


So here is my brain, stuck in second gear, stuck in the Sixties forever. mailto:&&&&&&&&&%%%%%%*&^%$#@%%%%%%%%



Ivan









Sunday, July 22, 2007

Blogging the Unbloggable; Writing the Unwritable; Publishing the Unpublishable

Reading blogger JR's accounts of his experiences as prison educator, I somehow seem to have prison on the brain.

At least two Canadian novelists have been in jail--big time--but that did not stop them from gleaning top honours and awards for their writing.

Take the late Dan Bailey, grade-eight dropout and ex con.

That an ex-con (eight years for armed robbery) can enter the Canadian literary establishment, is a story well documented by the con himself whose Memories of Margaret made large ripples in the Can-lit movement some years ago.

Don Bailey was a personal friend of the brilliant Canadian novelist Margaret Laurence and some of his
comparisions to prison habitues and literary lions are pretty hard to beat.

To wit: Top Canadian writers and the jailhouse experience.


Bailey has just met a pudgy, folksy, but important author at the top of the Can-lit food chain.

"My mind began to drift, and I began to think about the rituals that took place when you arrived as a fish in the joint. The serious power freaks approached you like the three wise men bearing gifts. They promised to protect you, supply your with chocolate bars or chewing gum for the occasional blow job or anal sex. These guys needed sexual dominance to feel okay about themselves. They never perceived themselves as homosexuals. In fact, thley hated queers.

"The queens, wearing grotesque makeup, made their pitches, licking their lips lasciviously. They twitched their hips and competed madly to have the largest entourage of young men in their stable. They were openly gay and the more suitors they had, I guess the better they felt.

"Then there were the solid guys. No sex for them. Just tough, closed-mouthed walk int the yard for therest of their lives, kind of guys, but they were lonely for a partner. Someone who was in on a good beef, a bank robber or a safe cracker, who, when he got pinched, took the fall himself. Didn't squeal on anyone, though everybody knew other people wre involved. Solid . Someone you could talk a at a few years away with. Share some bullsh*t. Rationalize your life of crime and bestow their blossing on you. Make you feel okay about yourself, even though sometimes you felt like a zero.

"Lower down the pecking order we the skinners, the walking wonded, the junkies and the dealers. Everybody wanted something. I guess in the end what counted was that you ahad a visible position in the hierarchy. It was criticalc that you were someody to somebody, that somebody cared who your were because they either feared you or they liked you.

Whatever.

Don Bailey submitted his manuscripts to Robertt Weaver, Robert Fulford, John Robert Colombo, and eventually Margaret Laurence.
He was in.

When I was teaching college, I casually mentioned to a colleague that I had written a book, but was having a devil of a time getting it published.

Somehow, this other teacher was in the know.

"You wrote two good books.

"Your problem was that you didn't suck."

I didn't suck? You mean I didn't suck?
"Precisely, my friend, you who didn't know how the game is played.

"Look at Ms...........

You mean P..........?

"Have a good look. See? She has square-shaped lips.

"Comes from handling odd-shaped objects."

....................

Well, I don't know.

I did meet the man recently. He had had a nervous breakdown, had become involved with a student and had had a divorce. Also a negative experience with his psychiatrist.

"So how are you doing?" he had asked.

"Got four books out and am holding my own."

He paused, and had a drink out of his flask.

"I haven't seen you for a long time, and now I've already seen too much of you. Goodbye."

I am practising on a big Allen wrench to affect square lips.

But I did somehow make it to the Globe and Mail, the literary page.

Would have hated to have gone the other way.

Would have tasted awful! :-)

Ivan

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ring Around a Rosie. My problems with interior monologue




Going through my bookmarks out of sheer need for topic, I happened to chance upon Miss B's blog on indirect dialogue.
Indirect dialogue is when larger scenes or dialogues may be too boring and too detailed, so out pop these bits of indirect dialogue so the action and pace of a story is not slowed down.

Interesting, yes, but not quite what I was looking for.

What I was really looking for was interior monologue and thereby begins my despair as a writer.

My very first novel, The Black Icon, had losts of interior monologue, viz,

There is a buzzing in my ears. The worms, the worms are coming. There is a craving in my mouth for acid, any acid, pickle brine, vinegar, malt. I sob to my sister, who knows what is going on with me and she knows what to do. She lifts the covers off me, turns me over so I am on my stomach, picks up a wad of newspaper there for just such an event, snatches the first roundworm, which is vituperative--full of life; she pulls the wire-consisten parasite free, then deftly dumps the horrid thing into a bowl of acid by the bedside.

This passage was deleted by my creative writing instructor.

It was not so much that the passaged may have been gross, it was because I was not yet adept at rendering interior monologue.

I was not to play with italic fonts, perhaps like Faulkner in The Sound and the Fury.

But I was not Faulkner, and neither was my novel "The Sound and the Fury", though my tale, truth be known, was something of a tale told by an idiot, as in the Faulkner story.

So we finally edited the book to read straight and direct, almost UPI newspaper style, and the style was sparse and dramatic enough to have the book work. It went through three printings. It was a local bestseller. Its name was The Black Icon.

And yet and yet, even after three books out, I am still not all that good at handling indirect dialogue, certainly interior monologue.


Here is how a Canadian mini-Master handles it:

He is in a working-men's pub . He has met a gambler, a woman. He has spent eight years in jail for armed robbery, he is just out and he can't believe that he can actually sit in a pub with an attractive stranger. He had mentioned to the lady horse-player that now, in this new free life, he is looking for an identity.

Here is how the dialogue (and what I used to call interior monologue) go together:


(The gambling stranger says to Roger):

"Did you find it when you were there?"

"What's that?"

"The identity thing. You said you lost it. Is that like amnesia?"

"Sort of. I kept thinking I was somebody else, like God sometimes or Santa Claus in the middle of July. But I've got it all fixed up now. That's what I carry in the suitcase. Rolled up in my socks."

"Hey, you know, you're all right kid."

HERE IS WHERE THE INTERIOR MONOLOGUE KICKS IN

You hear that, Roger? The lady says you're all right. Yeah. I hear.

The waiter again.
"Another for you folks?

I should go. You're weak, Roger. Yeah I know.

"Come on kid, have another. Watch the races with me. Ya might bring me luck."

"The same," I say and (the waiter) shuffles off. Tired feet.

"I've got a real good thing today," she says. Squeezing my arm like I'm a rabbit's foot. Can hardly pay attention. Head's buzzing. After one beer. Not acclimatized. What's she saying?

"...he's in the fourth, a friend of mine told me to go heavy. I got him twenty across. Ships That Pass. He hasn't won this season. You follow the nags?"

"No," I say. An honest answer. Lots of guys in the joint did, but safe old Roger is cautious of those pitfalls. Much too smart to gamble.

"He should go off at least ten to one. I'll tell you what, if he wins I'll buy ya a steak supper. You look like you could do with a good meal."

Sharp laughter, like somebody stabbed her in the gut. Is she drunk or what? Or nuts? Or just friendly? What have you got that she could possibly want? Skinny bone wreck, two inches away from being a midget. Smashed-in face. Bad teeth. Hair falling out. Ho, you're in great shape. Just great. Ya, well, I've got one commodity money can't buy. Yeah? Yeah. Youth. I can't argue with that, Roger. Especially when where your thinking is concerned. Yeah, well maybe. But my poems are young. Somebody told me that. Mercy, Roger, your jokes jokes choke me up. Shut up, you.

"Whaddaya say?"

"I was thinking of a poem..."


This interior monologue of the late Don Bailey's really has two people in it, Bailey himself and his alter ego.

It makes not only for a an interesting read, it makes for good instruction in how to handle not only interior monologue, but a kind of indirect dialogue, where only the important aspects of a scene jump out at you.


"You write great travelogues, great adventue stories--I can see them all between covers.
"But you can't write fiction."
This from a Canadian editor to me twenty years ago. Ouch!

I still have problems with interior dialogue, though I am solving a couple of them.

1) Avoid italics in interior monologe. Lay it out in plain roman.
2) Develop an ear for indirect dialogue.

Nice work if you can get it.

Yet something nags at me.

Neither W. Somerset Maughan nor Will Durant could last a month working in a newspaper office...They did try.

We meet at funny places, we writers (though I must say I am nowhere near those two greats).

But we still seem to meet in the same places where it comes to published work.

Whores' Corners?


Ivan

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

We don't think you're all so abominable




Says web pal Josie:

Schmooze: etymology: Yiddish shmuesn, intransitive verb : to converse informally : CHAT; also : to chat in a friendly and persuasive manner... transitive verb : to engage in schmoozing. Well, it seems I have been awarded the Schmooze Award by not one but two of our blogging friends, LGS and TomCat. My gosh, I'm honored, and a little bit embarrassed because my boring-little-blog is just fluff. But this is indeed a compliment, particularly coming from these two extremely savvy, intelligent folks. The problem with memes is that we have to pass them on, and the difficulty is in finding someone to pass them on to. I mean, I have a list of blogs down my side bar of people I love to visit. How can I choose just five from that wonderful list? Well, there's a little catch-22 here. Because I was tagged twice, I get to choose ten people. (Five x two = ten.) Ha!
So, in no particular order, here they are. And I would advise everyone to click on the links here and visit these great people.
Ivan - Well, we all know Ivan is the king of the schmoozers, and a great writer.
Geewits - A lady with the most irreverant and fun sense of humor I know.
Hearts - One of the funniest writers I have ever read, male or female.
Liz - A fellow Quark, a fabulous writer and a good friend.
Donnetta - Likewise a fellow Quark, also a fabulous writer and a good friend.
Pam - Another Quark, a good friend, and she has the most fabulous photographs.
JMB - A very classy lady, who definitely raises the blogging bar.Sylvia - She and I go way back, to when dr*am w*aver roamed the earth.
Mark - A man who bravely walks to the beat of his own drummer.
JR - We thought we had lost JR for a while, but he's baaaack.
Pekka - the honorary schmoozer award goes to Pekka, who really needs to upgrade his computer and get a blog, because he's no glue-sniffing moron
.OK. I guess this is sort of in the form of a meme.
....................
Says Ivan:

I have selected my five nominees for the schmooze award, though, like Josie, I hate to narrow it down to just five, so many good writers and schmoozers out there.

I had previously honored JR's Thumbprints & other such Vagaries with my Big Foot award ("We don't think you're so abominable") but the Schmooze award seems a little more respectable. Heh.

So here are my picks for the schmooze award:


JR's Thumbprints & other such Vagaries

Benjibopper

Sela Carsen~Author :: What Was I Thinking?

Inside our hands, outside our hearts The Emotional Being

Jaye's Blahg


Okay.

Bring in those sheaves.

Schmooze party afterwards.

Ivan

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The feebleminded professor


Many years ago, Seneca College made me into a Teaching Master.

That is to say, I would become a don.

That's great stuff, I decided.

People could say, as they met me at old Lady Eaton's estate, where I taught, "Hi Don."

Or, "How's it going, Don?"

I began to affect special emphasis on how I wold pronounce my esses--sibilatntly, and with a hint of a lisp, so I could pretend I'd gone to Oxford. I did manage to steal a robe from one of the regular students at Trinity College, where I had taken an extension course. All God's chillen got a robe.

Thus robed, I would stand in front of the mirror, mortarboard and all and begin to practise that studied earnestness
that dons possess: I would become a budding Mr. Chips.

But old habits persisted.

At the college, I would be called Doctor.

But at the redneck pub that I loved to frequent I was called "A**hole."


"What do virgins have for breakfast?" I had asked the young barmaid.

She gave me a smack.

Looking up from the floor, I declared through an alcoholic haze, "I guess there's no point in even discussing oral sex."

I was soon out in the street.



First day of lecturing.

Oh, what a bunch of hostile eyes.

I thought I would break the ice by saying I'd just received my MFA degree adding that it probably means Master of f--All.

"He's drunk, " somebody yelped.

And all of them were writing down everything I was saying.

What do you do when you'r digging your own hole?


I was a replacement teacher for a girl who had been teaching something called Existential Philosophy. She took her March break early so as to get in some skiing. "What can you tell me about existential philosophy, I asked Cathy before she boarded the train.

"It's absurd," she had said.
"I know its absurd," I had told her"'....And that other thing too: Nietzsche's peachy, but Sarter is smarter....But do you have any notes I can use?"

"You won't need any," she had said. "I know you are a born dramatist.

"I have supplied the course structure and you can supply the drama."

"But I know next to nothing about existentialism.

"You exist, you ARE, aren't you? You are "I" in answer to my THOU, are you not?

"That's Martin Buber!" I had said, dim memories of that great Hassid suddenly popping out of my own lecture notes.

"They don't give you your kind of paperwork out of a popcorn box," the lady prof had said confidently. Teach them about existentialism.


I began by saying that Nietzsche had said people leave marks on each other.

I saw a girl playfully scratching at the face of her neighbour.

"It is best to be alone.

"Also sprach Zarathustra, lonely on his mountain top. Listen to Zarathustra sing!

I hummed a few bars of Wagner's opener for the movie 2001.

They thought I had gone mad.

"He's drunk, he's drunk, another co-ed yelled out."

But I somehow got through the lecture.

"From Zoroastroism to Zarathustra." Surely, this was my theme.

I was winging it as I went along.

And suddenly, as I reeled off the quotations of the mad kraut, I saw the heads bobbing, and people almost saying "Amen."


At the end of the lecture, two girls came to me. One of them, a brunette said, "Hey, you could really start a cult."

"When we graduate, are we all going to be like you? She demonstrated by plowing her face into the coat rack to the right of the balackboard, as I had done in the middle of the class, while looking for notes in my overcoat.
I had upset the rack, fake fur coats and all. "Venus in Furs, I had joked, while partially introducing the class to the works of the revered Leopole von-Sacher Masoch.
"Masochism," some preacher's son yelled. "Decent!"
"Zoroastroism!" two Goth girls joinined in. "Handsome men in caves performing Mithraic rites!"

This is going to be a very interesting semester.


Ivan


Thursday, July 12, 2007

It's a MAD, MAD Meme


The lucky world is in no shortage of Information about old Ivan (Usally supplied by old Ivan) as pamphleteer, novelist, columnist, university professor (does Mexico count?), poet, lounge musician, politician--and not-at-all-underrated dumpster diver. I dive dumpsters for furniture and food...The worst thing is sitting on a bus with a bagful of really hummy turnips, the lady next to me saying, "Do you suppose some small animal died and is still somehow in the uphostery?

Such are the demands of greatness. LOL.

There you go, Donnetta, who has just tagged me for "eight random things about you."

It's all here in a nutshell.

...Come to think of it, I was once a nut, a voluntary mental patient--but that would make nine things.
(I must say the place drove me crazy...Everybody there was pretty well doing the same thing, booga-booga).

My friend, Abdulla the Shrink finally said I should go home. "You are making me crazy too."

These memes threaten to drive me into relapse.

And I do fear for the sanity of poor Abdulla the Shrink.
Very nervous guy, actually.
Wouldn't you be if your name was Abdulla in these democratic times?


I think I first started to undermine Dr. Abdulla's sanity with the following story:

A sheik was sleeping in the desert.
During the night, someone stole his cloak.

The next day they caught a suspect who told the tribunal the following story:

"I met the sheik while he was lying supine.
"He had sexual relations with me, then I took his cloak."

The Sheik immediately yelled,
"That is not my cloak!"

Not so often does a shrink meet a reader of Borges.

And Borges, like Keierkegaard, can turn your mind into a real kaleidoscope (or, I suppose, an I-Pod).

So there you go Donetta, who has passed along the meme from James Goodman.

I was supposed to tag eight other people, but this very blog might be enough to screw up at least eight computers.



Love and cuddly hugs,

Ivan




Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Madding crowd



Some web gal on JR's blog says that she would like to see me in shorts to see if my legs are like JR's.
They are.
Not only does JR look exactly like a young version of yours truly--we even share the same body type. .. Uh, Cossack, athletic, though I'm the one with the pot!

Unfortunately, through a series of house moves (never my idea!) I have lost all pictures of me in shorts.

There is, however, a cartoon of me in shorts while I ran for the office of Mayor of Newmarket.
...Uh, nobody took me seriously that time either :)


But there is the subject of memes. I hate them. They always remind me of my clerical incompetence.

But because I like Lone Grey Squirrel who has passed a meme onto me, I will do my duty.


Five things I wish to do before I die.
1. Breathe .
2. Breathe
3. One last good roll in the hay.
4 Breathe
5. Is there oral sex after death?
Five things I Can Do.

1. Anything but algebra
2. Anything but teach agebra
3. Anything but do algebra
4...I can fly and land an antique Aeronca Champion airplane.
5. Anything but eat beans. (DO NOT EAT BEANS! warns Pythagoras.
Five things I Can't Do.
1. I can not tie elaborate knots
2. Hell, I can't even tie shoelaces
3. ..I Keep breaking fingers trying to catch line drives
4. Can't play shortstop; can't catch.
5.... I have an even harder time thinking of algebra while perched atop somebody.

Five Five things that attract me to the opposite sex.
1. Women who look like Natalie Wood.
2. Women who look like Sigourney Weaver
3. Really smart women. No, not just like Miss B :)
4. Empathic women
5. Well read chicks who can also play the piano (Missing someone, I guess).


Five celebrity crushes.

1. Christopher Walken (Yeah, I know. He's a guy).
2. Steve Martin (ditto)
3. Dan Ackroyd
4 Humphrey Bogart
5. Ingrid Bergman

(The last two are dead...Necrophiliac looking for dead ones? :)


Well, that's my due to de debbil.

Now I've got to go out and find a job!

Living on plastic for so long I feel like a l940's superhero.
Ivan

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

You Can't Always Get What You Want

Lone Grey Squirrel, a scientist who happens to be a writer, has, in his current blog, introduced a story.

It is a triangle, the most basic of all plots.

But the triangle turns bloody as the husband (don't they always come back?) is possessed with rage and jealousy and almost literally cuts his wife's ghostly lover into little pieces with a hunting knife.

Stark.

LGS' story has triggered something in me.

It made me think of a play I have been fashioning.

I had been writing the play to give myself a catharsis, so that I too wouldn't go out and cut some poor bloke into little pieces...Or be myself skewered.


Some of you have seen snippets of my play before.

But it seems somehow fitting that now, after reading LGS' piece, I realize that the agony stemming from a love triangle can sometimes be vented by a play.

So here goes (again):


THE FIRE IN BRADFORD

A play in twelve acts



Act IV
Scene 1


Interior: We are back at the professor's apartment. He has the stereo on, while massaging the inside of his left arm. Song on the stereo is You Can't Always get What You Want, by Keith Richards and Mick Jagger.

Music: I saw her at the reception
In her glass there was a footlose man
She was practise at the art of deception
I could tell by her bloodstained hands

Music.Fade to:

Narrator:

I spent a few days in a fog. A fog in my head, right among the pillars. Deadly fog. On the edge of my consciousness, armies were gathering. A vampire fell from the sky. What in hell did she do to me, vampire?
The only time I'm happy now is when I'm with her. Without her, I go through withdrawal. Bleeding man at the bottom of her glass.

Stage business: The professor moves from the couch he had been siting on, drink in hand and goes to the stereo again.

Music. Stones song from the beginning. UP

I saw her at the reception
A glass of wine in her hand
I knew she was gonna make her connection
In her glass there was a bleeding man.

Music: FADE

Professor (in soliloque): God damn Lief and Celia. Thank God I had those tranquillizers from my last dry-out. Didn't know what hit me.

Sound: The telephone is trilling.

Professor picks up phone: Hello.

Voice at other end is Celia.

Celia: Hi David. You still alive after last night? Lief and I had to pour you into the truck and drive you home.
I hope you're all right.

Professor: I'm uh, all right. You?

Celia: Fine. Hey, can we scrape enough together for lunch? There are things we need to talk about.

The professor pauses.

Celia. Come on David. Let's get together.

Professor: When?

Celia: How about in two hours?

LIGHTS: Down to black.


Scene 2

Celia is waiting for David at the restaurant.

David approaches her booth. She stands. On the ring finger of her hand there is an engaement ring and a wedding band. He goes to kiss her, but she draws away a little.

Celia: You'd think you hadn't seen me for a couple of months!

Professor: It's the way I feel.
Celia: I know how you feel. I know you better than you know yourself.

The professor does a slight double take and sits down.

Professor: This is getting a little hard-edged.

Celia: Is it?

The waitress approaches. They order drinks.

Celia (over her glass of wine): David, I don't want you to think I'm a loose woman. I think we should start seeing other people, at least start going out with the class, the class that you teach. Again.

The professor: Un voyage d'aller et retour. Where are we going with this?

Celia: You think you're the only one? This isn't easy for me.

Professor: Well, I'd say this whole situation is getting close to intolerable. What does your husband say about all this?

Celia: Lief understands. But if we want to keep going out together, I'm going to have to bring Lief along. (She gives a flash of rings).

The professor quietly drinks his beer.

MUSIC: from "You Can't Always Get What You want again. UP.

to: Fadeout.


.................End act IV , scene 2


Ah. The hanging man in the tarot.

Adlultery kills. Never mind the trendy wife swappers. Adultery kills slowly or straight-off. But it kills all the same.

At least so it seemed to me as I was writing this play.

In a comedic twist, the sheer thoughtfulness off all the pariticants in the play from real life--somehow saved them all from mayhem and murder.

Is Lionel Trilling right?

The way out of tragedy is intelligence and right intention?

Hm.

Ivan

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Shunning and avoiding the people who love us


I share with my correspondents a certain sense of unfinished business when it comes to people who love us; we take that love for granted, give our friends, old and new, a kind of "one- hand- in- my- pocket- the-other is -hailing -a -taxicab" treatment-- and move on.

Or is it my Alanis Morisette obsession, where she writes to a friend in a song, saying, "My life was in a state of turmoil then and I really wish I'd given you the proper time and attention, back then."

Over the past forty years, people had been trying to contact me, enter into a relationship with me, but so fixed was I on the pain in my head that I pretty well fobbed them off, concentrating instead on some woman who was playing with my head, or another woman whose head I'd been playing with.

Harry the Rat with Women, will sometimes say to himself, "She loves me. That's her hang-up. Ah well. There's enough of me to go around. I'll eventually move over to her. First, I've got to get rid of Betty."

But the lover "out there" doesn't have all the time in the world, and Harry will get around to his ghostly love all right, but she'll be introducing him to Fred.

I swear that mankind's biggest problem is not climate change but our miserable failure in relationships.

Sin and neglect cause Global Warming?--Good a theory as any.

Icelanders, who haven't had global warming for at least 800 years, are now into sin and soul. Fishing is boring.
"We got nightclubs. We got hookers."

Interesting what will happen once the fjords start melting. And they are.



Snapped continuity in relationships.

You don't need to be a geopolitician to figure this out.

We either don't get along or turn a fishy eye to people who want to get along with us.

Hit me, says the masochist.
No, says the sadist.


Everything is altered, of course, if suddenly you lose all your money.

Then you dig up those old friends. Then you re-establish those old contacts.

The money will be forthcoming. But there will be a certain sadness in the giver.

"All these years, and you want to re-establish a relationship on a mere fifty dollar loan.
"Why did you leave us in the first place?"


How close our lives can sometimes be to the characters in the great novels?

Madame Bovary, the liberated hair-flowing-free adultress, letting her spirit run wild-- until one day she loses the money. Goes to the most effeminate of her lovers--and he doesn't have any money.

No money. And the old lover can't even get it up any more.


Becky Sharp runs out of gas.

We all, at different times, run out of gas.


Some years ago, I had run out of gas as a journalist, went to the editorial department of the Toronto Star, talked to all my friends there.

But I had omitted one.

The most important one.

My old mentor at the Star, Len Coates.

It took me a full week to realized that Len had been there waiting to shake my hand, to talk to me, and in the rush of people from the past, I had totally ignored him.
And he was really the most important one. And he'd had an opening in his sports section in the Star. I could have had a job. This I find out later when I meet Len on the street.
We have two beers and a Drambuie each and leave the taproom, a little saddened. We exchange cards.
In my carelessness, I had soured a lifelong relationship. Just when Len wanted to have a beer with me, reminisce about the past, offer me a job--I was too full of of trying to be the social mover, all the while trying to ignore the pain in my head.

The same with former Mayor Crombie, of Toronto.
We had been great friends.

Eight years later, I am walking down the street, David going the other way.
He moves to embrace me as a friend, and I just keep walking. What is on my mind? "Why that damn bitch!... took all my furniture, my guitar, my typewriter, my means of making a livelihood. All to support her %&*# ing drug habit."

It could almost see the hurt on David's face. A man of that stature does not wear his heart on his sleeve.
He had for years supported me as a poet and I all but tell him to eff off.

So the next time you're in a crisis, all in a flap, all in a hurry, The Sky Is Falling, pause, do pause, when you meet an old friend. Give him the time.

The pause may even result in your solving the problem right there.

The problem of you not getting along with people who love you.

##

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.

Egad.

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."

Well.

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?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

If you think Sienna is mean, you should see the size of her pets



It was Sienna (Pam) who started all this fish business by mailing me the wakiest fish stories.
But then I have spent some time in Missouri, and I have to be shown.
Went up the Mississippi and tried fish noodling on my own.
Eat your heart out, JR Tomlinson, who is in a "fishing match" with me.
Heaven for bid there should now be a culture derby, a short -hair count, and the inevitable anxieties of competition:
Is he,
a) Stronger than me?
b) Smarter than me?
c) Less odd
Sienna says we should all visit her ranch in Victoria, Australia, but if you think Sienna is mean with all her big fish stories, you should check out the size of her pets.
I'll noodle a fish, but I'll be darned if I have to make it with a kangaroo.
Ivan

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Country Joe and the Fish


Seems I've been posting a lot lately on entertainers and musicians.


Some of my contentions have been challenged by J.R., of the JR's Thumbprints. He maintains, for example, the Fiona Apple is a better singer than Alanis Morisette.
Posh, I say.
But JR has an an interesting blog where he often posts stories of his fishing trips.


Well, have I got a whopper for J.R.


The picture above has been sent in by Pam, who comments on both my blog and JR's by signing herself "Sienna".


So, from Australia (probably by way of of the U. S. Southern States) comes a picture Pam had meant to send to JR, but she couldn't find his email address.

She has asked me to get this photo to JR somehow.
Guess I will alert JR to this blog, and he can copy--if he dare.


Eat your heart out, JR.


Size matters!


Ivan

Monday, July 02, 2007

O Canada and teenage angst


I am sure Donnetta Lee, a correspondent to this blog, and who is ailing--like really sick!
--would realy identify with these Alanis Morisette lyrics.
Thank U

"how bout getting off these antibiotics
how bout stopping eating when I'm full up
how bout them transparent dangling carrots
how bout that ever elusive kudo
thank you india
thank you terrort
thank you disillusionment
thank you frailty
thank you consequence
thank you
thank you silence
how bout me not blaming you for everything
how bout me enjoying the moment for once
how bout how good it feels to finally forgive you
how bout grieving it all one at a time
thank you india
thank you terror
hank you disillusionment
thank you frailty
thank you consequence
thank you
thank you silence
the moment I let go of it was the moment I got more than I could handle
the moment I jumped off of it was the moment I touched down
how bout no longer being masochistic
how bout remembering your divinity
how bout unabashedly bawling your eyes out
how bout not equating death with stopping
thank you india
thank you providence
thank you disillusionment
thank you nothingness
thank you clarity
thank you
thank you silence


Ah precocious Alanis Morisette, Ottawa girl whose unrhyming odes seem to get us right where we live.


It has struck me a number of times that some gifted and energetic people seem to do more by age 26 than the rest of us do by 66.
Alanis Morisette is one, Hank Williams is another, and all those suicidal Bing Crosbies From Hell the same.

Precocity.
My name sounds a bit like that word, but I was certainly not precocious.
There was a war going on, people were trying to kill us, and we were very focused on The Problem, though here and there some partisan would actually crank out a novel and another would pen a song for the taking of fortress
Monte Casino.

I can still hear echoes of the Sailor Dance played on a squeezebox and can easily visualize Russians in their felt boots and quilt tunics, their automatics dangerously slung to one side while they did a cobbler's step, jumping around, dancing with each other.
Russians are friggin' crazy.
They have a charming natural confusion. Many of them had had spell in the Gulag ("I was innocent, but to find the truly guilty is to expand bureacracy, and that's really expensive. So I shut up and did my time. It is all for the Party.")

(Down on his hunkers now, arms crossed, right foot suddenly kicking out...So much like a scene out of Fiddler on the Roof).
Such a hard luck people, yet related to us. We Ukrainians, who started Russia in the dim Kievan past, can still understand them, but we don't seem as Asiatic, not so confused. In fairness, I must say that Asians proper, are rarely confused.

So war stunts you creatively.
I started writing at the age of ten, but there was no pen to be had, no paper. I used what little toilet paper was around from those Rabelaisian privies for communal relief around the camp. I recall stealing a crayon from a good friend and this bothers me to this very day. A crayon was a rare and beautiful thing.

I do so identify with the aging children of dustbowl Oklahoma, where life was hardscrabble and full of sand.
I would wager it would have been an experience not unlike war. There were certainly camps. And so little to eat.

But why was I pole-axed when I first heard Hank Williams' songs of love and loss?
I suppose it was because Hank wrote about the simple origins of emotion. Urequited love, songs about the Bible,
those lonesome, lovesick blues. Maybe it was the song about the Apocalypse.

From the gates of Eden
To the Battle of A-mu-goten
They'll be trials and tribulations
There'll be sorrow and regret.

He has said be not ye troubled
For these things will come to pass
Then your life will be eternal
When you dwell with Him at last.


Yeah, sure. Plow-jockey music. Sort of Jesus-freaky.
But the roots of it are black.
Old-style country music is an antidote for cultural tyranny, like the Blues.
........................

Back to Alanis Morisette.
Some audience members would walk away from her concerts with something like confusion.

"Alanis sucks a .....

"What is her problem?"

Sounds like one or two love affairs had gone truly bad and she had to write it out.
Or maybe take a jagged little pill.

..............................

No one has as yet written a true novel about the Second World War.
It was probably too horrible, too close to an uncomfortable truth, our atavism, our savagery.
An entire continent given to genocide.

The singer-songwriter Alanis Morisette comes from a more tranquil, more intelligent culture.
She is a truly creative spirit.
Maybe we all fought to bring an atmosphere condusive to the rearing of such people.

I'd like to think so anyway.

Yet a forgetful generation still has echoes of Marx, and and there a kind of nazism afoot. Don't let the Suzukis and the Gores fool you.
We work so hard for our money and three-fourths of it goes to government or gas. There are more and more things we are not allowed to do, allowed to say.
But only people like Alanis Morisette venture to say them:

"No Smoking signs on your cigarette."
And:

Thank you india
Thank you terror
Thank you disillusionment.
.................

It is still the tail-end of Canada Day.

We have produced an Alanis Morisette, but I get the spookiest feeling that one day her lyrics will be censored, and her songs will be burned.

But probably not.

We are allowed, so far to protest, to write.

But increasingly, only about certain proscribed things.

You can be angry, but only about government-approved anger.

What if a form of cancer is catching and no one dares tell.

##