Monday, March 31, 2008

The Existential Psychiatrist

The nice thing about not having to write or blog for your life is that you are in fact not doing it for a living, otherwise it's "Ooh-ahh! I'm on top of deadline and I haven't got a single idea."

I am told, in fact that in the case of a male writer, if he constantly keens "Oh-oh, I'm f*cked now," it probably shows gay streak.
This on top of everything else? Egad. You mean that on top of World War Two, some ugly sisters, a dirty fireplace, and--say it on!--career failure--I'm queer on top of all that?
"Well, no," says my friend the existenitial psychiatrist, though I had some doubts as he seemed to wave a cape at an imaginary bull in front of him, with the exhortation of 'Go on through! Go on through!'

Folding his cape, the psychiatrist says, "Nah. You find these thing early in childhood...Getting a biggie-on for the captain of the football team sort-of-thing....The brutality of those cleat boots..."
And don't forget, says the mad shrink, "You're supposed to say 'not that there is anything wrong with that.'"
"Funny thing, I told him in the hope that the polically correct crowd wasn't listening. "I thought GAY meant 'Got Aids Yet?'"
"I'll pretend I didn't hear that, said the guy who looked a lot like former comedian David Steinbeg, the guy with the comic MD embazoned on his lapel.
He seemed to suddenly go off into a reverie about some imaginary lover "Mona, why did you...How could you?"

"Ontario Hospital Insurance is paying for this?" I am laughing.

Said the existential shrink: "Trust me. I am a doctor, see?" He puffs out the MD on his lapel.
And then : "Mona!" , he moans.

Obviously, he may have had a hard time with anatomy in med school and he chose the crazy -doctor route.

"So I'm not gay," I sigh with relief.

"Probably not," but you show some traits that used to be called feminine, that "Oh-oh, I' m f*cked again cry when you're on top of a column deadline for a newspaper and you haven't got a thing to say.

"Fact is Doc," I really don't have much to say.
"Whaddayameanwhaddayamean? You think ya spending all this money for nothing?
"I am a doctor, trust me."

I was starting to get the idea.
I took off my shirt, urging the imaginary bull to ' Go on through! Go on through!'
Every so often, I'd look up at the ceiling in supplication, and sigh, "Mona!"

"That's it, said the existential shrink. You're getting it! You're getting it!
"Now go write you blog"

I suspected for some time that psychiatry was done with mirrors.

Well, who cares. I got this blog done, didn't I?



Saturday, March 29, 2008

Weird tales out of college

During my youth, I was something of a closet scholar.

I didn't do that well in high school, but but through the luck of joining the Royal Canadian Air Force, I took advantage of its educational opportunities there and managed to gain enough paperwork to be accepted as a mature universuty student.
Courses I took through the Departmen of Veterans Affairs:

English. Literature and grammar.
Russian. Grammar and literature.
Physics.-- Hey, a B+! How in hell did I ever handle the math?
Latin (never did get it).
French--Still largely a mystery to me, though I can read and, (somewhat haltingly) write in it...Maybe that's why I took Russian, a language familair to me.

In any event, I somehow managed to force my way into the University of Toronto, where finally, I too could wear that blue-and while windrbreaker with the big T on it and my graduation year, no longer jealous of the young men who wore such jackets and generally ate at that neat little "Grads" restaurant on College Street.

Already at the shank end of thirty, I was so glad to have a supporting wife and family, without whose help, the academinc dream could not have been achieved.

Came at the nick of time.

I had been teaching english at a community college, the appointment having come from my relative success as a commercial writer, and some of my students, though already possessing their B.A. in other disciplines, nevertheless had to go through me to get their jounalism credits.

...What? There were no jobs in Canadian libraries? Library degree not good? Get a job in New York, I had suggested to them.( I still had a raunchy sense of humour at the time). "Between, say, white water rafting, and New York City, which one will scare the crap out of you first?"

I did not seem to have a very inspired class that semester: They wrote down all my jokes.
Further, they were carping a bit at my somewhat thin Ryerson University paper, which they saw as somewhat inferior to Toronto or, maybe the Univesity of Western Ontario

O Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz.

I had to become a "real" prof at once.
I had earlier gotten a degree in Creative Writing, which I had laughingly described as "Master of F-all", which is to say, MFA.
Nobody laughed upon hearing this. They all wrote it down.
How did these doughheads--say it on!--idiots!-- ever get into higher learning in the first place?

At a Canadian community college, most of the profs come from work experience in the field.

Degrees are a secondary consideration. It was sort of a "publish or perish " situation, whrein the so-called "Teaching Mastesr" had already ploughed deep furrows into journalism or broadcasting.

At least, that was the idea.
Many of my peers had reached college teaching level, more often than not, by some essay in an obscure publication put out, by, say, Niagara Community College, just down the road from the falls, at Buffalo, New York.

My class of remustered librarians, therefore felt they were way ahead of their community college teachers. One of them, in fact, demanded I show some of my publication credits before she would even attend my class.

Where did they pick up such attitudes. Did they all go to the same diploma mill to end up in my class just to make my life miserable? I did in fact make some enquiries and found that they all lived in Bradford, Ontario, home of many a weird cult...And so did their Department Head. And the title of their progammme, HNIS, that is,
Historical, Natural and Interpretive Services.
Or was it "Historical, Unnatural and Misinterprative Services"?

Jim Jones? Local Guyana guy on my doorstep?. Or so it seemed to me; they just didn't act or behave like regular students. Cultist, somehow, and very clubby.

So when I (for some ego-satisfying reason) produced my scrapbook of magazine articles and my newly-minted diploma,
they all seeme to do a double-take, and began to register in courses perhaps less challenging, like maybe
Undewater Basket Weaving, or Studies in the Paranormal.

The serious students stayed and I managed to get some of them a job in the local newspaper,.

I went on to teach and write, but something seemed to encrusted itself into my bones. Like a badly-healed fracture.

Why did a teacher have to show his students his credentials? Where were their creadentials.?

Why is their deparment head now "screwing around" in a British Columbia park instead of teaching?


Were they real students.

The woods seem full of funny people here on the edges of Simcoe County, Ontario

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The cowboy devil --and not from Brokeback!

The night was cold, and dark and still
There was a cross upon the hill

(from The Klan, by the Travellers)

Hemingway used to say, "You're Death, you bastard. I can smell your rotten breath."
Papa seemed to sense death at every turn of him mammoth life.

I am no Hemingway--generally lousy at sports, though a fair drinker and much-overrated sexual acrobat--but I must say that I have been feeling very much like a belled slave this past fortnight, copmlete with Valkyric Klansmen chasing me all over the hill.

Woke up last weekend with memory at the most rudimentary level. I could no longer think, let alone type a blog.

Who me? God's chosen?

Yes, you! Alvin and the Chipmunks seemed to chime in.

Charle Brown!

I have heard the stock joke( by now) that death is nature's way of slowing you down.

Maybe it's that "Kissing Sweet" Scope I've been drinking,...If it was good enough for Stephen King when he was
really obscure, maybe it will have been good (and cheap) enough for me.


I've got to be a neater bloke, like John Lennon used to say. "The tea in the tea caddy, the pot in the pot-bag" and the medicine int he medicine ches where it belongs.

Good thing I had blogger Josie standing by as a medical consultant.

And some good friends who came by with really good Niagara wine to get rid of ll those poisons.

I used to have the digetive processes of a starfish.

"Not at seventy you don't!" from the high-seated Klansman.

"You do that again, we's gonna come down that hill again and find the nearest tree."

"Yes, Boss."

Once poisoned is enough.

"Friggn' idiot," I thought I heard one of the Vlkyric riders say as he joined the others.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Just like Tom Thumb's Blues

When you're lost in the rain in Juarez
And it's Eastertime too
And your gravity fails
And negativity don't pull you through
Don't put on any airs
When you're down on Rue Morgue Avenue
They got some hungry women there
And they really make a mess outa you
Now if you see Saint Annie
Please tell her thanks a lot
I cannot move
My fingers are all in a knot
I don't have the strength
To get up and take another shot
And my best friend, my doctorWon't even say what it is I've got
Sweet Melinda
The peasants call her the goddess of gloom
She speaks good English And she invites you up into her room
And you're so kind
And careful not to go to her too soon
And she steals your voice
And leaves you howling at the moon
Up on Housing Project Hill
It's either fortune or fame
You must pick up one or the other
Though neither of them are to be what they claim
If you're lookin' to get silly
You better go back to from where you came
Because the cops don't need you here
And man they expect the same
Now all the authorities
They just stand around and boast
How they blackmailed the sergeant-at-arms into leavin his post
And picking up Angel
Who just arrive here from the Coast
Who looked so fine at first
But left looking just like a ghost
(Just thought I'd lighten your mood on on this Easter Monday... Not for nothing is Bob Dyland called
"An American genius")

Saturday, March 22, 2008

"The bird was fragile, young and gay"

I think blogger Donnetta and BK's working on the garden this weekend got me into a springtme state of mind, but it's just wisful thinking here in the Toronto area. Brrrr. Robins are wearing snowshoes. And scarves.
Tonight (second day of Spring) will be one of the coldest nights of so-called winter, zero degrees on anybody's thermometer, and all those miguided
Al Gore fans, that is to say, arriviste robins, are walking around on miniature snowshoes and neat
little comforters.

This is a bad night for naked robins.

But there they were, picking at someting on the edges of huge snowbanks, as if on the edges of retreating glaciers, so high the banks, farther up the meadow, hammering hell out of the high Sumach, surviving, even so like the rest of us Ontarians, the worst winter in ten years.

"What happened to Al Gore?" I asked a twenty-something

But she is from Keswick Ontario, which, they tell me , is a lot like Appalachia, and she responded with: "Al Gore sucks.a ..."

Just me and my snowshoed robin out here, neither sure who is whose meal, here in Dumpster Diver heaven.

A sage Greek Dominion employee passes us and remarks, as I stumble in he snow, looking for vegetables, "At least the robin knows what he's doing."
Does he? Poor litle gaffer flew 1800 miles to freez his pretty red touche on thirty-foot high snowbanks.

We laughed ten years ago, when Mayor Mel calle in the Army to fight the snow.
Just a few hoots this year, if Mayor Miller had calledthe Army back--hardly anybody would have laughed.
Wimpy Torontonians calling in the Army every time there is a major storm!

But this has surely been an ice age, Al Gore be jiggered.

We been Gored!


Friday, March 21, 2008

Tales from the Script (Certainly tales out of school).

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

"So it's whom you blow?"

"Are you trying to get into my pants?"

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

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

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

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

But I didn't have that particular book finished.

Who was wrong, and who was right?

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

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

Eighteen books are damn hard to write.

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

Portrait of the artist as a playwright manque'?

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

Who the hell invented my life?


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

Act II, Scene Four

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

Lights: Up.

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

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

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

Professor: Doing something at work, Lief?

Lief: Uh.Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lief: Peiping Tom? He makes a face.

This breaks the ice. They all laugh.

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

Lights: Down

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

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

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Was It All Science Fiction?

Back in the days long before I decided to kill myself at writing--when was that? eighteen?--I used to read lot of science fiction, notaby, by, I think, Isaac Asimov.
Ah, those Galactic Empires!
Why did Pendleton kill himself on that overdeveloped planet, subdivision cottages laid end to horizon end.
Me, I took to the Road, on my Keroauckian fantasy.
After thirty years, I'm not sure why I did that.
Or now, thanks to Asimov an the suddenly late Arthur C. Clarke, I think I know.

P.S. : I don't know why I added the Spongebob Squarepants image.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Sage of Baltimore

It was the time that the great sage of Baltimore, H. L. Mencken fially blew the associative cetres of his mind, shut down his Batimore Sun articlesfor good, and was living in tenement aparment obove which was a noisy neighbour, who kept walkin around upstairs, causing old Heinrich Ludwig to cry out in exasparation,"Idiot!"
Well, I'm no H. L. Mecken, but I sem to have lost some of the associative cetres and I too, am yelling"Idot" at the guy upstairl wh has has just set his kitchen on fire. Thank God the fire department was on theitr toes,and they came to put out the kitchen fire.
Now, the "idiot" seems to stay pretty close to me, as I am not the only friend that he's got.
I've got my own problems over here.
I woke up last night to have n,my entire left side seizing up, thought it was a stroke, but all is semed to be was
not aloeter "Ein gutest bier"
Never mind, Old H.L., you were the greatest columinst of the twenties an thirties, and the only thing I shre with you is that old bubly, which, I'm sure was a lot bettet than that swill they brew over in MIlwakee, which is all I've been able ro afford lately.

Ein Prosit, old sag of Baltimore, my hero and one of my mentors.

I am Falling apart, Dave. I feel t, I can feel it.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

finally got here.

Wow. Trying to get in thoug the spaces of all the world's busy signals.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Portrait of the artist as a lucky sh*t--Or: Trust your own style

Something out of my own novel:

She was lying face downwards on her terrycloth towel, a breeze toying with her fine blonde hair. I reached out to stroke that hair, so spanking clean, and the woman turned to face me with her full pale blue eyes, wide apart and a little crazy, the high California cheekbones and a mouth as wide and pretty as an idyll’s.
We were lying in the grass before a Mexican spa, one of a dozen in the central plateau, the hot springs of Los Antes, lush and tropical in a benign late February sun. Before us steamed a pool, hot as a bathtub, fat old tourists squatting therein like latter day versions of souls being cleansed in Dante’s purgatory..”

Hah. Any excuse. :)

...Anyway, that's what I threw into SOUTHERN FRIED CHICAS while Tanya (SHE'SAWRITER) was hosting that group blog.

Tanya had been concerned about "Wham-Bam-Thank-you-ma'am" writing when it comes to love scenes in romance novels. This gave me a perfect excuse to forcefeed someting on friendly Tanya while she was host .
The response was good.
I should write romance?
Egad, I'll have to rewrite all my books, the subject of most of them being Rejection, Failure, Pain--the good stuff.

Clutching at straws
Clutching at straws.

T.S. Eliot:

We are the hollow men
We are the hollow men
Heads made of straw
Heads made of straw
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang
But with a whimper.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

A writer's notes from the psycho ward. Or: "O Canada"

Every so often, some gassy young fool will decide to write a novel and this fact alone will alter the course of his or her life.

Have you ever tried writing a novel?
It’s impossible.

So you suture a whole bunch of your inchoate drivel together and hope that by some sort of Occam’s Razor, the thing will line up right.

A Reader’s Digest notion, in the joke section, will submit that a neurotic builds castles in the air.
The psychotic moves right in.
You will probably finish your novel, and maybe even get it published.
You will have been a successful nutbar.
But how badly do you want to be a psycho?

My poor wife.
Ivan with his writer mystique. “You didn’t take time to learn how to write, ‘draw hands’. You picked a hard thing to be.

And all the while, evidence that you are failing is all around you.
You had been a media jackrabbit, good at the short stretch, hero of the little magazines.
You wrote your first “novel” at 28. Not hard to do when the actual material of your life was far stronger than any fine writing that you would actually attempt.
Vainglory, your book published by an editor who happened to be your personal friend.

Now the Hare is meeting all his turtles.
Women thirty years your junior, ploughing deep furroughs in the hardcover book market.
Men barely literate, not just “off the boat” but actually working on the boat, and by some strange luck meeting a famous Canadian author.

A snoozer of a novel, The English Patient turned into a film that caused you to snore all the more.

Public policy. All these grant-grabbers knowing how to play the game, aware of public policy. The grant system and its unspoken rule to stay away from religion and politics. But sex is okay.
Masterpieces are produced: “Young People Fucking”.
"Corner Gas."
"Little Mosque on the Prairie."

Canadian fiction and film could not exist in a coutry where 16,000 copies is a best-seller. You need government help, though I wonder who the bureaucrat was who put up the money for “Young People Fucking.”

So you do a "George W. Bush", forge ahead against all admonishment that you might be wrong, totally wrong. You produce novel #2, then three, then the fourth.
You drive your family away so you can produce Novel #5, and that is where you have gone one bridge too far.
Alone in a Mexican hovel, with scorpions for family, and a nymphomaniac who wants to argue, you finally produce Novel #5.
This will show ‘em.
I’m gonna read my stuff and bring the house down.
Well, not quite.

“We regret to inform you that the selection process comes first and we are sorry that we had to go the way of a form rejection letter.”

Ah. Policy. And public policy.

I know the people in this particular publishing house. I have gotten drunk with them in Copenagen, at the Celebrity Club on Jarvis Street. Drunkards, whoremasters, fart-faced trolls..

The only thing that makes them notable writers is that they are Canadian.
It’s sure as shootin’ not in the writing.

Yes, yes, I have heard all the excuses. We can’t compete against New York; We can’t compete against Hollywood. "So we have to have a grant structure, we have to be imaginative."
The woman saying this, despite her 40-odd novels, has certainly been accused by the New York Times Book Review as having no imagination at all.
O Canada.

So what do you do?
You become your own patron, your own grant-giver.

You take twenty thousand dollars and print every novel you ever wrote.

Surprise. The critics loved one book. Television time. Klieg lights. Grants from the Ontario government. Job offers in publishing, groupies, women on the phone.

And yet, something’s wrong.
The burr in your saddle wasn't just some irrelevancy.
Feelings of angst, soon corroborated by the newspaper:

TORONTO - Despite heavy promotion and critical praise, the Canadian shows "MVP," "Intelligence" and "JPod" aren't being renewed by CBC-TV for next season, the public broadcaster said Friday.
"We certainly recognize they were frankly terrific shows and in many cases they attracted quite a degree of critical acclaim, but unfortunately they were unable to attract an audience," said spokesman Jeff Keay.
"Audience is not our only consideration, but it is an important one."
"MVP," a steamy hockey drama, and "JPod," a dark comedy about Vancouver video gamers, were launched in January and CBC had hoped they would lure younger viewers, said "MVP" co-creator Mary Young Leckie.
She said that while "MVP" succeeded on that front - getting 72 per cent of its audience for this week's episode from the 25-to 54-year-old demographic - the overall numbers just weren't big enough.
"We created I think an amazing show. It has become a household name in nine weeks and I'm really proud of it ... so it was really disappointing not to be renewed," said Leckie, co-founder of Screen Door Productions Inc.
"But we accomplished a lot and I think the network feels it was a success too. They got a younger demographic than they ever get and we were pulling in a new audience for them, and I think one of the things that was a problem was that there weren't enough of them."
Leckie said CBC traditionally attracts viewers age 55 and older.
The drama "Intelligence," about an informant for Vancouver's organized-crime police unit, wrapped up its second season last fall.
Shows being brought back for the 2008-2009 season include "The Border," about an elite team of Canadian border-security officers, and "Sophie," a dramedy about a single mother, the CBC said.
Also returning next season is the family drama "Heartland," the sitcom "Little Mosque on the Prairie," the entrepreneur show "Dragons' Den," the talent show "Triple Sensation," the political competition "Canada's Next Great Prime Minister" and the epic prime-time soap "The Tudors."
Next season will also include many well-established shows, including "The Rick Mercer Report," "This Hour Has 22 Minutes," "Air Farce Live," "Just for Laughs," "Halifax Comedy Festival" and "Winnipeg Comedy Festival."
CBC staples "The Fifth Estate," "Marketplace," "Doc Zone" and "The Nature of Things" are also coming back.

Also Sprach Zarathustra:
"Audience is not our only consideration, but it is an important one."

"Audience is not our only consideration"...??
Well what is the main consideration?


What kind of doublespeak is this?

O Generation of Weasels!

Friday, March 07, 2008

In the garden of Gethsemane. Three teeth gotta go

Ah, when we try to do the good!
I had intended to put blogger Josie's picture up for all to see, but blogger images foiled me again.
Ah well. At least I was able to put one up of The Man, hoping I would get some Divine Assistance in the course of my long, long appointment with the dentist today.
My attempt to put up a cartoon of people waiting for the denstist was cropped the wrong way...I think I am cropped the wrong way!
There will certainly be parts of my mouth missing by this afternoon. Ouch!
Hey. Divine Intervention. Already!
A picture of Josie finally came up in my Gifs!
...Will have to save Josie's pleasing likeness for another day.
Migod, getting Blogger to work propersly is like pulling teeth some days.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Josie, The gloomy Slav still waits

My intention had been to put up the latest picture of correspondent Josie here.
Josie is beatutiful, talented and very smart. She has her own blog and a large following.
Ah poor Ivan the Terrible ("Good Grief" said Lorrie Goldstein, Editor of the SUN. "Is that what you call yourself?")
Yep, terrible at putting up pictures. Josie's latest, beatiful photo would not come up for me today.
All that came up was was a blurry picture of old Ivan...I had sent to picture to the Quarks, our, sort-of literary club. If nothing else, they could have a good laugh over an image of this disheveled old tippler.
Pam, from Australia, had a little fun with the photo and outfitted me with pink shorts and and fuchsia socks...or are they puce?...Light pink, in any event.
Hell of a fashion statement.
I pondered the picture.
Good old Pam, taking time from her busy Ausralian ranch life to produce a really wild new me
I just had to put the treated picture up!
Hey, I could maybe even attract women!
So up goes the picture of old Ivan in pink shorts and ever pinker socks.
I was now becoming chary of my notion.
What if the picture reaches San Francisco and I get a whole bunch of "Yoo-Hoo"s in my email?
Or even Yahoos.
Nope. At least not after an earlier version of this blog.
Instead, something else appeared out of the ether.
My fidling with my gifs somehow produced a picture of a Cassowary bird, known among other things, for walking right up and eating people.
A purple people-eater.
Story of Ivan's life.
"Take me. Devour me."-- I was offering myself to the world!
"I'll come over and eatcha all right," said the wild-eyed cassowary.
Playful treatment of my photo by talented Pam from Australia.
And now there is a cassowary to the fact!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

One man's progresss: STUD, DUD, FUDD

Don't be a schizoid," warns an old self-help book from back in the days when I was looking for "help".
"Schizoids are needed in society, the artists, painters, even some psychologists.
"But weirdness is not for you. It is best neither to be an extreme introvert or extrovert.
"We think it's best to be an "ambivert:", that is to say adjusting yourself to situations, becoming a real person, with just the right amount of introversion and extroversion to to make you well-adjusted and middleclass.
"Schizoids abound in the upper and the lowest classes. That's where the mad seers and artists come from.
"But most people are in the middle class, where you belong."

Well. After a lifetime of vaccilating between Juke and lowly Kallikak, I don't know where in hell I belong.
One thing is certain:
One is odd.

Seems the last forty years has been a strange enactment of male's progress, biologically and socially, that is to say, STUD, DUD, FUD.

I have been through studhood, married, had children, and yet a particular kind of adolescence persisted. I kept being interested in rock music. I kept writing novels (heh) and that old crotch cobra just kept leaping out of its basket. My wife tried to arrest me with that hook they use, but it was of no avail. The thing had a mind of its own, and predictably, its energy was soon depleted, and by 50, I was a journeyman DUD. No wife, no career, sleeping in old cars.


Dudhood was no fun at all. The knowledge by my peers that "old Ivan can't get it up any more"--meaning that Ivan wasn't writing professionally any more-- led to false starts to prove oneself: jobs as magazine editor, columnist, short story writer. Great furrows ploughed in all directions, some of them impressive, but as in the case of old Wile E. Coyote, the Roadrunner outmanoeuvred me every time.


"I won't live with a man who is a dud." First from the wife and then from all the eight girlfriends.

One of the books I had to teach while duddily ploughing still another furrow as a prof was, strangely, "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz," by Mordecai Richler.
Lower-class kid mentored by his grandfather to "own property, move up. Be somebody. Be a man."
This advice Duddy followed and became a big wheeler dealer, but still Duddy Kravitz, that is to say, a prick.

Well, at least a prick has force of character. You need force of character to be a prick or, let's equal opportunity here-- a bitch.

I don't think I was quite a schlong by the time I reached Dudhood--I was certainly one as a beginning novelist--but being a dud was being nowhere at all... Chekhov character. Immobilized, echoes of my own father's words in my head, long ago, "Pepsi Generation Good For Shit".
Right on Dad, broken English and all. I are a dud.

There is a school of thought that maintains a deprecating parent, telling a child he is no good, will result in the adult child actually becoming a no-goodnik, but I am too old and too experienced as a parent myself to put too much stock in that.
It's just that old pattern, of STUD, DUD, and eventually, FUDD.

So here I was a DUD. Fifty and f*cked up.

I go to other fifty-year-olds.

"At first you fight it. Eventually you learn to accept it. You just slow down, and there is nothing you can do about it."

Ten years later, I meet the man again. I had, somehow become a successful journalist. He is still f*cked up.

Oh Duddiness.

This morning, I woke up to find my computer haywire because Microsoft says "Microsoft has discovered a problem." I click onto the "more info" boxes and all the right places and "Microsoft (is still) reporting a problem.

I am experiencing a familiar moment of weirdnes. A dud for so long, overcoming my condition by what might be called persistence--and now this. My computer is immobilized. I am immobilized. Dudhood lasts a long time!

Somehow, by hook and by crook I managed to write around the "error" box.

I have had my six coffees. I have composed something resembling a blog. I am starting to feel better.
If I had a partner right now, I'd probably drive her crazy in my dudhood.

But wait. I am starting to enjoy this hanging-in-the-air feeling.

Migod, I have become a FUDD.

Now where is that pesky wabbit?


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Omigod! I got an E on my essay

Like many another vain body, I sometimes put up a great quote by somebody and then follow with what I hope is good prose just underneath.

Well, I just got a great quote from TomCat who has me on his list of "E for Excellent" bloggers.

Blogger Josie! I will now join you at the podium where you thanked everybody for your Blogging Mentor Award. ..And congrats to you on that one!
I too would like to "thank the Academy", though my award seems to come from the letter E.

The award come at a good time, as I am not all that well these days, and neither is my poor techie.
Soon-- as both techie and I feel better-- I will put TomCat's award up on a permanent post.

February has been a terrible month for just about everybody. Tomcat is bright and political as usual, despite his own bout of ill health; the Quarks (our club) have also had things happen to them. The best that can be said for February is that it's over.

One seems to be recovering from one's funk ( and really bad teeth), but now comes a period of healing which is usually accompanied by a severe bout of March Hare Syndrome, that is to say, jumping from place to place while trying to stay in one spot. The Red Queen?

Recovering from an illness seems to leave you a bit vulnerable, and even shy.
Oh, say it on. Ya got Spring Fever!
We try to keep ourselve under control, we try to hold ourselves back.
We do this by compulsive blogging and some ladies here by actual compulsive knitting.

So many projects in the can. Stories to do, some contracted. But one is still illish (Like Vladimir Illich?).

I certainly have that "Uncle Vanya" feeling like the Chekhov character who knows he has to do someting, knows he has to get a move on, but his wheels just won't go.
Ah, Chekhovian character. Dreaming out all his fantasies, some of them sexual, in the middle of the Cherry Orchard.
"A change, change change will do ya good," sings my love fantasy, Sheryl Crow.

Well, getting a blogging award is certainly a good sign, and a portent of change.

It's been awfully damn quiet around here!


Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Memes of March

Says our correspodent Josie:

I love this meme. Finally, an intelligent meme. Cedarflame has tagged me with this meme, and I challenge everyone to try it.


1. Grab the nearest book of 123 pages or more.
2. Open it to page 123.
3. Find the first 5 sentences and write them down.
4.Then invite 5 friends to do the same

Say I :

I have given up on not only memes, but the reading of The Dogs of March, by one Ernest Hebert.
It's about a barely literate factory foreman in New Hampshire whose plant has been outsourced, of course, let go. His wife suffers from hysterical paralysis. His daughter brings only sorrow. His rich new neighbour is scheming to take over his farm. Even his son rejects him. His bare literacy makes it difficult for him to articulate his feelings as he tries to cope with changing world. Poor Howard.
And so in Howard-- as in the marauding dogs around his farm who relentlessly hunt down helpless deer in the snow-- there is a sudden surge of anarchy.

Well Yippie Shit. What else is new?
It is the kind of novel all of us lower-level managers write." My life and welcome to it" sort of thing.

Two reasons why I don't like the book.

1) Mr. March got got an MFA scholarship at Stanford University, where I was turned down for a similar scholarship by the late Wallace Stegner, head of Stanford's Creative Writing program...I guess I'm just plain jealous; I had to settle for a satellite campus of the University of California, in Mexico, where I finally got not only a scholarship, but a fellowship.

2) Possibly because I'm jealous, I find Ernest Hebert's hero, Howard Elman a crashing bore of an idiot with a mechanical bent.

Anyway, I opened Ernest Hebert's The Dogs of March on page 123, as in the rules of the meme, and here are the five paragraphs as I was instructed to supply:

They rarely came in all at once like this, Arlene explained; usually they appeared in ones and twos. It was the time of year. Like everybody else, the Jordans were nervous in their houses.
Zoe asked about the strange, dull shine on their faces, which looked like old plastic toys.
"Simple dirt."
"Not your usual precise answer, Arlene," said Harold. In fact, it's kitchen grease and wood smoke. The shanty people all take on that complexion in winter. Wood-stove tan."
"Ignorance," accused Arlene."
"Deep ignorance," said Harold. "Ignorance upon ignorance, like rocks in a rock wall."

You wanna play this meme? Yes? No?

Personally, I hate memes, but since this one came from good friend Josie, I have taken a minute or two off regular blogging.

Note: For all of my irritation with memes, I must say I had something of an object lesson in reading at least a part of Mr. Hebert's book.
Are not all of us middle managers a lot like Mr. Hebert's Howard?....Hm. Dare I steal a peach? Pretty good premiss for a novel, actually.