Thursday, December 31, 2009

Position sought: Demagogue





Resume

IVAN PROKOPCHUK

Present position: Demagogue.

Position sought: Canadian Senator (A real good Demagogue).


Experience.
1955-l956 Student pilot. (Air Cadets)
1957-1963: Royal Canadia Air Force, full time; air control technician.

l964-1967Journalism student, Ryerson Polytechnic University.
1967-1968 Graduate student in Writing, Instituto Allende, Mexico (U. C.) Wrote novel The Black Icon. Got tuition scholarship on basis of novel.
1969 Staff writer, Metro Mirror then Star Weekly
1969 Staff writer at Star Weekly while also contributing to Toronto SUNDAY SUN..
1970 to l973: Wrote novel, The Hat People, and freelanced for Reader's Digest to support myself..
1974-1975. Teacher, then Columnist TOPIC Magazine, Bradford, Ontario; freelancer TORONTO SUN.

1974-1985. Professor (untenured) Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology, King City, Ontario..
1985-93 Politics. Ran for Mayor and Regional Councillor for Newmarket, Ontario. Wrote new novel, Light Over Newmarket and a monograph, "Storm and Stress on the Campaign Trail--The l985 election in a small Onario Town."
--Published by the Newmarket Public Library.

Novels written: Four --and the monograph on Newmarket politics.

All novels published by the Bradford Witness Publishing Company, Island Grove Press and the Newmarket and Aurora, and Uxbridge Public libraries.

Number of words in print to date: Three million.
(Now that's grounds for demagoguery, no?)

Career Objective:
To be the best damn writer and politician in Canada, and the first New Democrat Senator (I don't belong a party right now, though definitely a party animal, but I know the New Democrats, like Catholics and Communists, will take just about anybody!
'Hey, Jack Layton. I am your man. I want to be the first New Democcrat senator ever...and I'm electabble, even though in nepotist Canada, senators are appointed. So appoint me, Jack when you become Prime Minster.

It is time I got a job after too long a retirement.
Hell I could start even tomorrow.
Whatta ya say, Prime Minster Brian Mulroney?
How about a Looney?

--And Happy New Year!

##

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The play's the thing. The play's the thing!



Drafts, drafts. Too many drafts. The beery kind and now drafts of a play that some people suddenly want and I can't finish the damn thing. Reminds, me, oddly of the time I set out to be a writer and the money came long before I finished the book.
I will never have that kind of luck again and have lately had to go the hard way. Flogging my play--though still unfinished--to all an sundry until some producer finally twigged.

Anyway, another draft of the play


THE FIRE IN BRADFORD

ACT ONE. SCENE ONE. INT. PUB NIGHT.

A MAN IS DRINKING AT THE BAR. IT IS DAVID.
HE IS IN A REALLY COOL ENGLISH- STYLE PUB, IN FRONT OF AN OAKEN, BRASS-CORNERED BAR. THERE IS GENERAL TUDOR- AND -PLASTER ATMOSPHERE. THERE ARE OAK TABLES IN FRONT OF THE BAR WHICH NOW DAVID FACES. WELL PAST THE TABLES AND ON ANOTHER WALL THERE IS A DARTBOARD AND SOME SCOTTISH- SOUNDING PLAYERS HAVING A LEISURELY GAME AT IT.

DAVID NOW TURNS AWAY FROM US TO FACE THE BAR, ON WHOSE LEFT WALL THERE IS A WIDE PLASMA TV SCREEN WITH SOMETHING PLAYING ON IT. THERE IS NOW A STILL IMAGE...IMAGE OF A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN. IT IS CELIA, IN FULL MARILYN MONROE MODE. SAUCY. COQUETTISH.
DAVID STARES AT THE SCREEN, TAKES A DRAUGHT OF HIS ALE AND THEN TURNS AGAIN TO FACE US.

DAVID.
Oh. Hello.Pleased to meet you. We've been drinking for a while, and, as you'd expect, you get someting like my life story, or part of it. Urequieted love really. My story might be like The Fall-- out of Camus or somewhere. Or an opener for a bar scene in a movie. You know the drill: "Excuse me, said the man at the bar"--But I'm really glad you're here. And have I got a story for you...No.Don't fidget. You may identify! Listen, now.

I am a wigged-out English teacher.
And ah, yes, yes, You're starting to yawn but no, this will wake you up. You got your beer...Go ahead. Have a good draught.Have a smoke. Now just look up there...
Just look up at that screen for a bit, and I'll supply a sound track for you...Maybe a soundtrack for your own sad love. No. Don't fidget. I guarantee that this will be an experience. You've been in love. I've been in love. Can you not see Celia the way I see her? Look up. Focus on the screen now. I want to share this with you.

OUT OF HIS TWEED JACKET POCKET, DAVID PRODUCES A POUCH OF TOBACCO ALONG WITH A PACKET OF YELLOW VOGUE CIGARETTE PAPERS. HE PUTS A PINCH OF TOBACCO INTO THE KNURLED OPEN PAPER AND BEGINS TO ROLL A CIGARETE WHILE SAYING:

VOICE OVER
Celia appears before you while you are rolling your own cigarettes, the 1920's Vogue face, the bobbed hair, a beautiful flapper not yet fallen into the rye on one September day, though I would know in future September days that she had a hunger for opium and cocaine, and that would make her thoroughly modern, thoroughly like My Lady of the papers.

Hash papers, and hot knives.

I was in fact a newspaperman,and something of a linguist. Being Canadian, French came easily to me and I was influenced influenced while young by French authors because they were so maddeningly thorough, that mark of real writers, and so well did I get to know 20th century authors in French that I soon got to teach a night course in it. Ah, that French penchant for the absurd, the splayed-out mysticism of an Andre Marois, and that incredible clarity of image and idea that only the French writers possess--and they'd be the first to tell you. The French are somewhat superior and they know it. Heh. And they will tell you. "To know our history, you will have to know our pain."
Enough that I was a teacher of French authors and she walked in one day with no hint of the Vogue beauty that I would later get to know, no inkling as to the heaviness of spirit that would later come to oppress me, no clue at all as to the beautiful woman who resided in the suburban Mam's bib overalls she used to wear to my classes, the little white tee shirt with the apple on it, or the closely cropped hair of the liberated, funky, suburban young woman.

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

Scribble, scribble scribble, eh Ivan?

##

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wasn't it good, working for MORA WOOD.



Ten years ago, on a wet and slushy Christmas Eve, I was working for Mora Wood, here in Newmarket ON, loading furniture. A grunt and his truck making deliveries to Toronto.
I was working for Mora Wood Products, my rescuer at a time when all my publishing projects had gone kaput. I was supposed to be a writer, but hadn't sold anything in years, save for the underground newspaper that I was trying to keep afloat.
On the front page, of course, was my paean to Paul Naismith, my benefactor, Paul Naismith, proprietor of Mora Wood Products, 28 Allura Boulevard, Aurora, Ontario L4G 3S5 (Tel:: 905 726-3584. Yes. I had to get all that in. I am still plugging my former patron!

Paul had saved my sorry ass as a writer and small publisher. For some reason, our personalities just clicked when I first met him, while spreading my "Main Street Whizbang" newpaper around to all the industries. "You are a busted writer. I am a going-broke cabinet maker. We are artists, I suppose, in an applied way. Maybe we should hang around together."
And so I worked for Paul as delivery man while Paul and his crew would craft the finest handmade cabinetry. Wonderful hutches, chairs, armoirs, solid oak tables (Which I had a hell of a time carting, as they weighted some 200 pounds), Amish "sleigh beds", which somehow made you think of Santa Claus while you flew in your dreams. And exquisite cabinets.
My father too had been a cabinet maker, but I was the one who got the education, which, I must confess, made me something of a no-goodnick for work, and instead, becoming a young man on the make, retired the first time at 32 because my studies of Cicero (not the pig) and rhetoric at Trinity College had made me an expert at bullshit and puffery-- and even got me some of the girls, one of whom was an heiress. Get an education, my father would quip. End up marrying a rich woman. Lose yourself. Maybe even your identity. Well, what the hell. All talent and weak hands.
My writing and my wife had retired me at 32, a published novelst and media writer.
But then came 52, and whoops! The groupis came too often, I weakened, what the hell, there was enough of me to go around, what's an extra-marital roll in the hay here and there?
Friggin' fool lost everything, wife, kids, house and even jockstrap. And nobody was buying my scrips any more.
Time for a new script. At about the time I met Paul Naismith.
Paul himself was suffering from a bad karma with creditors and suppliers, he nevertheless offered to be my "karma mechanic", and at this he was marvellous.
Three months into working for Mora Wood, I suddenly sold a personal essay to Toronto's national newspaper, The Globe and Mail. My own newspaper perked up with advertising and I suddenly found myself back on my feet...But propped up all the while by Paul, his work and advertising revenue for my paper.
But while I started to rise, Paul started to sink. Saint Christopher mired down. Forty thousand dollars needed for his suppliers and he didn't have it. My own game was simple. Write good, work good. His was more complicated.
To make wood, you gotta buy wood and oadk pine were becoming becoming damn expensive. And then there was a staff of about 12, me among them.
I had the excuse some writers offer when they are forced to work with their hands and brains at something practical. "I did it for therapy...I was becoming too itellectual, too fucked up, too abstract I had to get my feet back on the ground."

Well, did I ever get feet on ground. I began to sell essays to big publishers, Paul somehow acting as my agent--Paul could do anything--and his shop fax machine was busy processing my literary endeavours. Seemed like Mora Wood had become Mora Publishing.
But there was pressing concern for Mora Wood. Not enough work coming in to pay all the suppliers. And a staff to pay.
Unfortunately, Paul went out of business at about the same time I rose again in journalism and fiction.
But then I too began to falter without Mora's financial backing for my projects. And with my groupes, I suddenly had trouble with a different kind of "wood" problem. Colossal literary fossil with a docile tassle. "You call that a dick?"
No more pretenses. You couldn't get by on literary reputation now. The frost was on the pumpkin and you couldn't even go dickie dunkin". Sixty-six Almost an apocalypse. And passsions spent.
So much for the randy poet.
Broke, seemingly castrated and alone, I sought Paul out to see if I could borrow some money. I was not only impotent but broke again as well.
This was the miracle with Paul: Even though I had not worked for him in years, he nevertheless acted as if I still worked for him, and every Friday I would come to the new shop he was working in "fer to collect my pay." Writers are parasitic! But Paul, though himself broke would always give me a stipend to keep on going with the literary projects, though they by now --rarely worked out.
I put in my last ad for MORA WOOD before my paper sank.
Seems that Paul and I sank at about the same time.

Years passed. I knew I was done for and was convinced Paul was bankrupt as well, but I passed a woodshop in Aurora Ontario and, well, lookee here: MORA WOOD PRODUCTS. "Expertly crafting the finest handmade cabinetry. See Paul Naismith."
Paul Naismith has resurfaced.
Just at about this time I myself rose a bit with an offer from a publisher.
Something Paul told me when I worked for him:
Never give up. Never give in.
And, hey the other day I got an erection!
Wood Armature!

Monday, December 14, 2009

A funny thing happened at the shrink's office



Like many another borderline psychotic, today I seem to hiss, "If one more thing goes wrong!.."

If one more thing goes wrong it's out with the horse pistol and do in this old equus. They shoot horses, don't they?
Ahh. Echoes of beautiful Jane Fonda out of that old movie.

Things going wrong. Things winding down. It is nearing the end of December and all creatures are stirring to cause trouble, even the mouse...Squirrels stole my pizza which I had left out in the balcony to cool. Glass coffee table broken where I'd slammed down the whiskey jigger. Out of coffee, out of cigarettes, worse still out of rum. Spiderwebs all over. Computer all but crashed. Entropy. Things are winding down, going to hell.
Ever have one of these days? Like fingernail on the blackboard--or greenboard as I remember from my teaching days.
I begin to imagine how PMS might be like for a woman.
One told me, in a recent crisis, she wanted to commit homicide. I pointed to her husband. "Is this the homin you wann cide?" "Yes!"
I wanna go out and "cide" someone.
"Let's get rid of some of this piss and vinegar," a lover implores.
Afterwards, "You're still an asshole. I can't stand you."
Tough luck, Henrey Muck.
Press F for Psycho.
It's a bit like the weekend hunter on a Thursday afternoon. He stumbles around the house, breaks TV, crashes computer, argues with wife. Bull in a china shop.
He can't wait to hear the familiar beep of his asshole buddy's truck so he can load the guns and gear and get the hell out of the house. "And good riddance," sighs the harried wife.
Well, I am more fisherman than hunter, but something's up.

I got an email from somebody important in publishing.
And it crashed halfway through. I got the gist of it. A possibility of an award, but where and from whom, as it was sent anynumous. I could tell by the Bronx inflection in the copy that it was from New York.
Lost it. Now from me a Bronx cheer. Waszuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuup.

Seems this morning I am not going to make New York until I am posthumous. Dead.
Ha. Now that would be a career move.
I am letting that enthusiasm pass.

"What's wrong," says the doctor. "You got your health."
"You're the one making a hundred dollars an hour. You tell me."
"You're an asshole," he says.

"For crimminy's sake, I knew that! You're getting a hundred dollars an hour for this revelation?"

"Blah-blah-blah blah blah blah blah Mother
Bah blah blah blahe blah blah blah Penis
Blah blah blah blah blah blah Money."

"Omigod.You hit the nail on the head.
It's not mother, it's not penis, it's money!"

"So what else is new?
I think we can finish for the day....Oh. You're in Canada?
Am I going to send Premier McGuinty a bill!"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Phoenix. A 55 word poem for Galen, or G-man on his blog...Galen loves 55's but is ailing today. Get well Galen. My poem migh act as an emetic .




Dunno what's up with me.

Dunno what's up with Galen, or "G-man" as he is known on his blog that features 55 word pieces. He is sick this weekend, I am told.
Hold up, old man!
Not too good over here either.
I woke up this morning with my entire left side seized up.
And the old ticker is going thud, thud, thud. Very likely psychosomatic. I haven't had a drink in a while.

Love that old joke about heart attacks:

Death is nature's way of slowing you down.

I am slowing down. Blogger Galen is slowing down My apartment's a mess. The centre does not seem to hold. My penis droops. Creativity is low...Have to conjure, have to augur.
I am rolling stiff socks around my parquet floor,conjuring, auguring hoping to compose a Flash 55 for Galenwho is the local judge and abitrer of these things.

Best I can do is recycle a recent poem of mine, paring it down to 55 words. But I can't count. Oh well, here goes.

THE PHOENIX

At first they tried to starve the phoenix.
He meandered from field to field, picking plucking, thinking.
They finally tethered the phoenix.
Fed him rocks and gruel.
Called him French Canadian. Called him woodpecker. Bash de face against de tree
They finally tethered him. He became spavined. Molted.
Till one day the flash.

(Is that a 55?) Only Galen knows and I hope he takes a gander here. Gander? Well, no. I'm trying to put up a Phoenix Pfiffty Ffive..

##

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I am having a nervous breakdown, so pal John Dowson will take over with his Christmas story on Ivan's Blog



A most unforgettable Christmas
By John Dowson November 18, 2009

On Christmas 1962 I was living in Calgary Alberta , I had planned on spending the Christmas holidays with my younger brother Richard who lived with our older brother Bill and his family in Drumheller about 75 miles east of Calgary. Drumheller is world famous as the paleontology capital of Canada and the home of the Canadian Dinosaur museum. The town is located in the Alberta badlands in a deep canyon cut by the Red Deer River. Driving to the town on the flat bald prairie you would never know there was a deep canyon with a town at the bottom until you were right on top of the cliffs overlooking the town. There are no trees to speak of on the prairie, but on the top of the cliffs overlooking the town there are small spruce trees clinging to the edge. Where they came from no one knows, but there they are holding the cliff edge from eroding. I arrived two days before the big day and was immediately taken to the local IOOF (Independent Order of Odd Fellows) lodge to get into the Christmas spirit. In Alberta in the 1960’s there were no drinking establishments in small towns unless you joined a lodge, and as it turned out everyone in Drumheller was a member of the IOOF lodge or the Legion.

On the afternoon of December 24th after Christmas more spirit at the IOOF lodge Bill said “Why don’t we go out and cut our own Christmas tree”? “That’s a great idea” I remarked, so we picked up a saw, a hatchet and some rope to tie the tree to the top of my station wagon and drove up the canyon. Bill scoured the top of the cliffs for the perfect Christmas tree. “There it is” he hollered as I slid to a stop “It’s the Dowson Christmas tree”. I got out of the car and looked up and 200 feet above on top of the canyon wall stood a row of fir trees. “Get out the saw and the climbing gear” he said “we’re going after a big Christmas tree”. To fortify ourselves for the climb we took a few swigs on the Christmas rum bottle we had with us to keep out the cold and started for the top. . Halfway up we stopped and had a keep the cold out drink and proceeded to the top. When we reached the top we celebrated with the Captain, and began searching for the perfect “Dowson Christmas Tree” The largest tree we could find was about four feet tall.

“Theeessee is tha one” Bill exclaimed as Richard untied the saw and the hatchet he had strapped to his waist so he wouldn’t lose them on the climb up. We began sawing, but the saw kept bending in the wet wood so we took out the hatchet and began hacking away but the hatchet blade was dull and it just made marks on the little trunk. “Leave it” said Bill “leths get another one, one”. So we left the little battered tree and struck out at another one. After hacking at it with the hatchet, and sawing Bill gave a yank and as the tree broke free it began tumbling down the cliff with Bill following, making sure he didn’t lose the Cpt. Morgan on the slide down. An outcropping stopped their fall, so we rested, had something to keep out the cold and as I started down I slipped in the snow and we all began sliding down the cliff. The tree passed us on the way down and when we got to the bottom the three of us rolled over the Christmas tree. When I stood up the “Dowson Christmas tree” lay broken in three places and with most of its branches missing. “What’ll we do” I said, aw said Bill cunningly “it’s not to late, old Art’s Christmas tree lot is still open, he may have some left, let’s buy one and take it home” . We found a lovely six foot high spruce with spreading branches and drove it home. Bill’s wife and Children were at the door waiting for our own Christmas tree. “There’s the Dowson Christmas tree” he said and the children were overjoyed at its size and shape. “I didn’t know the fir trees at the top of the canyon grew that tall” Bill’s wife exclaimed. Oh Bill said, “There were taller ones than that, but we left them for next year” and we all went in to house to decorate “The Dowson Christmas Tree”