Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Here we go again: Ruff Times

There is a story by Howard J. Ruff, the wildly successful author of How to Profit During the Coming Bad Times, where the great Main Street financial guru actually went broke to the point of using up everything in the fridge as his stocks tumbled and tumbled.

This will not do, said Ruff. You need stress reducing food, like roast beef, preserves, pickles.

So he sat down at his desk and invented Ruff Times, the most successful financial newsletter ever, along with two best sellers to follow in coming decades. He got into a pickle and ended up buying lots of pickles, millions of them.

Ruff times here too. And Ruff was dead right, even though thirty years earlier. Gotta tightent the old belt, buy anti-stress foods, sardines, pickles.

You can still buy pickles at the dollar store, but I'm really tired of smoking my own butts, drinking Listerine (don't worry about the skull and crossbones) and generally known around writing circles as a mooch.

My former wife, who had for years subsidized the aforesaid mooch while he worked on the great Canadian novel, soon told me that she was harboring a grudge, and that grudge was me. "Paint some furniture, Grudge, make yourself useful."

I am probably the most widely published author in Canada (counting internet). And also the poorest.

I know where it all comes from, a life that would make the philandering St. Augustine blush and a thirst that's crying out to God.

"No water-drinker ever wrote anything decent," says old Ovid. I make sure that I write good.

Art. All for art. You're a hell of a guy, Art. First you help me set the Toronto Star on fire and then as a reward you throw me in with a bunch of dumpster diving bums who are so stupid and bored that they make sexual advances toward old Ivan. Boy, they must be really bored. And if I'm not careful, so will I be.

Charles Bukowski, bum poet, with his cry of "Liquor!" and not "arsepeck" as some old vicar was yelling out in a now-dead television series.

Liquor, gotta get. And hookers. Must get hookers, now that it looks like I'll be able to get them through OHIP. I mean, I've been crazy for some time. It's a disability. Disabled Danes are trying for government-subsidized hookers. Why shouldn't I?

Poverty can make you crazy. It's making my friends crazy.

"How much is the touch for this time, Bunky?"

I have been rich. Richer, probably, than you'll ever be. A cool million.

But then I said to myself, "doesn't everybody?" and took off with a hooker that sent me half way to the moon. I narrowly avoided the AIDS. Who wants to spend a million just to get AIDS?

The feminists are right. Men think with their lower heads.

Yet there is this Hemingway quest for truth, "The upper head is hungry for truth, while the lower head will seek out any conquest possible. It would be noblest for a man to cut off his lower head and put a gun to his upper head."

Yeah, noble as hell.

A story is told about a brilliant American writer, Pietro di Donato who went to Hemingway with his book, Christ in Concrete.

"What do you know, you Wop? Immigrant writers never make it. They only record their crudities and show their awkwardness."

Ouch. Pietro di Donato wrote even better than Rosie di Manno.

But poverty, what can be said about poverty?

I went to James Polk when he was editor of ANANSI in Toronto. "Lend me twenty, Jim."

He answered, more or less, "Don't Jim me. We are not such good friends."

Ouch again. Much later, he was more generous and expansive. "Look at your you have an exciting life, you are involved in a ménage a troix, you drink to your heart's content and you've actually published a book. My life is full of dross and it is boring."

Oh well, now is the time to pay for all those superiorities.

Small wonder that I only got a 49 in Economics at Ryerson.

Upper head in the stars, lower head caught in a sling.

And I'm not that good at plucking stars.


JR's Thumbprints said...

Nothing's as messy as a loaded shotgun to the head and a pulled trigger. No one deserves to be in that type of pickle. Keep on keeping on.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Good comment, JR.

I didn't know Mr. Ruff's father had done a Hemingway on "hisself".
Offed himself.

Midnight said...

Ivan, this Bud's for you.
If anyone can figure it out, you can.

Good Luck.

Drink beer. Stiff upper lip.

Face in the Wind.

(PS - you might enjoy Olaf's blog. He is hilarious.)


the walking man said...

Time to assemble the memoir old man so that those of us who can only see the stars may be able to reach up and pluck yours.

Midnight said...

Actually, Olaf is one of the best.

He swings to the right, but is mostly centrist, non-partisan, and not afraid to smack any Party or Leader who needs it (US or Canada).

It's too bad his old blog appears to be lost in cyberspace. Fun times.

He is brilliant, refreshing, and original. And the f*ucker should be paying me good money to say this. But it's true.


Lana Gramlich said...

Even more published than Margaret Atwood (gads, I HATE her stuff!)

Midnight said...

An excellent idea, Walking Man.

Though perhaps that is what Ivan is doing, here, before our eyes.


Midnight said...

Oh, and this is fun, too.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...


That's am honest sentiment.

Having pretty well committed literary hara-kiri in Canada, I really have nothing to lose, but I did know these people and they have done me some good. Blut it's a club. I have never been fully in.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...


That is gracious.

Thank you.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...


Everybody is being so nice.
Thanks all.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Why shouldn't they be Ivan. You are our leader of sorts. You have friends and fans here. Isn't it nice to be supported so wonderfully?

Soft love,

Midnight said...

Well ... in my case....

I have been an athlete ,

but never an athletic supporter.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...


Nice to see you. And thanks.
I hope you have solved the housing problem and found a new means of transportation after that car accident.
"Study hard. Get grades... And then comes the WHAM."

Boy, haven't I been there.
Stay well.