Saturday, February 27, 2010
THE FIRE IN BRADFORD
Act I. Scene FIVE.
INT. MORNING. STILL IN LEIF AND CELIA'S HOUSE.
THE PROFESSOR IS SITTING ON THE C-SHAPED CHESTERFIELD WITH A LARGE DANISH COFFEE TABLE IN FRONT. CELIA IS SITTING ACROSS FROM HIM IN A CHAIR. SHE IS WEARING A GREY SILK BLOUSE AND A FULL-LENGTH, NEARLY VICTORIAN PAISELY SKIRT. SHE HAS HER KNEES TOGETHER IN A VIRGIN POSE.
SHE IS NERVOUSLY SIPPING AT HER COFFEE. SHE CRADLES THE MUG WITH BOTH HANDS WHILE SHE SITS KNEES TOGETHER. ALMOST A VIRGIN POSE. SHE IS RUNNING AN INDEX PAINTED FINGER AROUND THE RIM OF HER CUP.
I hope you don't think I'm a loose woman.
Of course not.
I don't know about this relationship. It's kind of crazy.
SHE SUDDENLY PUTS HER COFFEE CUP DOWN AND LOOKS SQUARELY AT THE PROFESSOR.
We've been seeing too much of each other. Let's go back to the writing circle. Let's go out with other people.
What is that supposed to mean?
Come on. This soap opera. Tristan and Iseault . (SHE PLAYS WITH HER CUP).
David, I really like you. But.. it's Lief. Lief's jealous of you.
PROFESSOR (SOMEWHAT MOCKINGLY)
SHE TAKES A SIP OF HER STEAMING COFFEE. HER EYES ARE DOWN.
CELIA. SHE SUDDENLY LOOKS UP AT THE PROFESSOR
I don't want to go to work this morning.I'm going to phone in sick.... Lief and I Idon't have any friends any more. I like being with you.
So you tell me we should go out with other people. Then you say you want to stay with me his morning. Say what you mean, Celia.
I am very, very fond of you.
Uh, how could I tell? HE SMILES.
Mutual admiration society.
THE PROFESSOR BENDS ACROSS THE TABLE AND KISSES HER.
SHE KISSSES BACK..
THERE IS A SUDDEN CRACKING SOUND FROM A TRAP DOOR IN THE CEILING. A MAN'S SHOE CAN BE SEEN THROUGH THE NOW DISTENDED DOOR. A VTR CAMERA CLATTERS TO THE FLOOR, JUST BEHIND
CELIA, WHO GIVES A START.
What the hell.
LIEF VOICE(FROM OVERHEAD)
Celia, I can't find that insurance policy.
THERE IS A SUDDEN RATTLE AS A VIDEO CAMERA FALLS THROUGH A TRAP DOOR OVERHEAD
CELIA (PICKING UP THE CAMERA FROM THE FLOOR) SHE GIGGLES.
What were you going to do, take a copy of it with the webcam?
THE PROFESSOR IS TOTALLY BEWILDERED.
I thought Lief was away.
He was. But he came back early, in the middle of the night. You were asleep. Said he'd forgotten something.
PROFESSOR (WHO IS GETTING A BIT EDGY)
Forgotten to take videos of us?
SHE SUDDENLY RELAXES. SHE LEANS BACK. LIEF IS MUMBLING SOMETHING THROUGH THE DISTENDED TRAP DOOR OVERHEAD..
Sorry I almost hit you with the camera.
I still can't find that insurance policy.
Try that pigeonhole. It should be right in front of you.
CELIA (TO THE PROFESSOR):
Tacky, isn''t it?
THE PROFESSOR STAND UP. HE FACES US WITH A BEWILDERED LOOK.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
THEY ARE NOW IN FRONT OF THE NEAT WHITE COTTAGE IN HOLLAND LANDING. THERE IS A WEEPING MOCK CYPRESS TREE TO EACH SIDE OF THE FRONT OF THE HOUSE. THE PROFESSOR AND CELIA WALK ALONG STAGE LEFT OF THE HOUSE, AVOIDING THE FRONT DOOR. THEY ENTER THE COTTAGE FROM THE REAR.
CELIA AND THE PROFESSOR ARE
INSIDE THE WOODY, DANISH-
STYLE LIVING ROOM OF THE WELL APPOINTED HOUSE, WITH ITS OAKEN WALLS, ITS MILLET AND CEZANNE PRINTS AND ITS FILLIGREE TAPESTRY.
THE PROFESSOR AND CELIA CLOSE THE REAR DOOR AND SEAT THEMSELVES ON THE BY-NOW-FAMILIAR C-SHAPED CHESTERFIELD.
Want a drink?
Yeah, could I use one! Comedy of errors. Car breaking down three times. Good thing we found that Italian mechanic. Jesus. What a night....Give it to us. We'll screw it up!
CELIA PEERS A LITTLE CLOSELY AT THE PROFESSOR, ALMOST A FIXED STARE AS SHE GOES TO THE GLASS LIQUOR CABINET.
Are you hungry, David?
Well, let's just keep drinking.
THE PROFESSOR PEERS AROUND. STAND UP.LOOKS INTO ONE BEDROOM TO THE LEFT OF THE HALLWAY LEADING TO THE BATHROOM. THERE IS ANOTHER BEDROOM TO THE RIGHT. THERE IS APPARENTLY NO ONE ELSE IN THE HOUSE... HE HAD FEARED THERE WOULD BE. HE TAKES CELIA'S PROFFERED DRINK AND SITS DOWN, CELIA SOON JOINING HIM WITH HER OWN WINEGLASS.
THE PROFESOR PUTS HIS DRINK ON THE COFFEE TABLE. HE LEANS BACK.
CELIA HAS PUT HER OWN DRINK ON THE END TABLE TO THE LEFT OF THE CHESTERFIELD.
SHE SUDDENLY, UNEXPECTEDLY, PUTS UP HER DRINK, MOVES TO KNEEL IN FRONT OF THE PROFESSO, LIKE A MADONNA IN SKIN-TIGHT DESIGNER JEANS.
SHE IS VERY LOVELY WITH HER BLONDE CORNROW HAIR, WHICH CASCADES DOWN TO HER SLIGHT SHOULDERS UNDER WHITE SILK BLOUSE.
IT IS AN EROTIC ACT.
SLIGHTLY STARTLED BY THE UNEXPECTEDNESS OF THE MOVE, THE PROFESSOR EVER- SO - GENTLY PUSHES HER AWAY. BUT SHE WILL NOT DESIST. MILDLY REBUKED,SHE STANDS UP NOW TO PUSH THE PROFESSOR ONTO HIS BACK AND BEGINS A PROCESS ESQUIRE MAGAZINE MIGHT CALL A LESBIAN DRY-HUMP.
THE PROFESSOR IS BECOMING HEATED. HE GETS INTO THE SCENE, CRADLES CELIA'S HEAD IN HIS RIGHT ARM WHILE HIS LEFT HAND MOVES TOWARDS THE TIGHT DESIGNER ZIPPER ON THE FRONT OF HER DUNGAREES, BUT ONLY GETS THE JEANS PART-WAY DOWN, TO GIVE CELIA THE LOOK OF WEARING HIP-HUGGERS.
CELIA'S LOVELY, LUTE-SHAPED DERIERRE IS NOW PLAIN TO THE AUDIENCE, AND IT IS OBVIOUS THAT THE PROFESSOR, WORKING AT THE FRONT OF HER, HAS FOUND THE OBJECT OF HIS DESIRE. HE SEEMS TO BE FONDLING CELIA WITH HIS LEFT HAND AND HE NOW LEANS OVER HER.
You're pretty smooth".
CELIA HAS TAKEN TO BE VERY STILL.
NOW THE PROFESSOR AGAIN TRIES TO GET CELIA OUT OF HER SKINTIGHT JEANS. HE IS VERY AWKWARD.HE FIRST UNSNAPS THE STUD TO HER JEANS. BUT THEY WILL NOT ROLL DOWN FROM HER HIPS. HE GIVES A TUG.
NO LUCK. SHE IS NOW HALF LYING AND HALF SEATED. THE POURED-ON JEANS WILL NOT COME OFF.
THE PRFESSOR, A LITTLE MADDENED, NOW TRIES TO REMOVE HER JEANS BY TUGGING FROM THE CUFF ENDS.
CELIA FALLS TO THE FLOOR,SHE REACHES FOR HER BELTLINE, NOW SOMEWHAT DESPERATELY TRYING TO SNAP BACK THE STUD TO HER JEANS.
THE PROFESSOR STOOPS DOWN TO HER, HIS ARM NOW AROUND CELIA. HE LIFTS HER BACK ONTO THE COUCH.
How drunk are we?
THEY BOTH NOW SIT ON THE CHESTERFIELD. BUT NOW CELIA, A LITTLE CRAZY, IS AT HIM AGAIN, DRY HUMPING THE POOR DRUNKEN LOTHARIO.
THE PROFESSOR IS NOW IN HIGH HEAT. HE HAS HIS BACK TO THE AUDIENCE, BUT IT IS OBVIOUS THAT CELIA IS MASTURBATING HIM.
SHE STOPS. THEY BOTH TURN. SHE AND THE PROFESSOR ARE NOW SITTING DOWN AGAIN, FACING THE AUDIENCE.
SUDDENLY FROM CELIA:
Come in your drawers, Prof?
PROFESSOR, NOW TAKEN UP WITH THE COMEDY OF TYHE SITUATION
The Ice Man Cometh.
Humour during sex becometh not.
CELIA, NOW RISING FROM THE COUCH:
You'll have to excuse me for a minute.
Yeah, me too. Going to have to use your washroom.
THERE IS A BIG WET STAIN DOWN THE FRONT OF THE PROFESSOR'S PANTS.
LIGHTS BACK UP.
MUSIC IN BG: THERE IS NOW BACH CHORALE MUSIC
THE PROFESSOR HAS UNDRESSED CELIA. THEY ARE SOMEHOW LIKE TEENAGERS. DRUNK. HARDLY AWARE OF WHAT THEY'RE DOING.
SHE HAS HER FOREHEAD AGAINST THE PROFESSOR"S FOREHEAD. THEY ARE PLAYING CARTOON EYES.
HE IS OVER HER. THEIR FOREHEADS ARE LOCKEd THEY STARE INTO EACH OTHER'S EYES.
Do I remind you of your wife?
Yes, yes, very much.
HE DRAWS BACK A LITTLE. REACHES FOR HIS DRINK.
HE ALMOST SPITS IT OUT.
Hey, what's in this?
THE PROFESSOR TAKES ANOTHER SIP--AND SUDDENLY APPEARS TO LOSE CONSCIOUSNESS.
HE LIES SUPINE ON THE CHESTERFIELD.
CELIA GOES INTO HER BEDROOM, COMES BACK WITH A SYRINGE, ROLLS UP THE PROFESSOR'S SLEEVE, AND INJECTS HIM.
Friday, February 19, 2010
I am not very impressed with myself tonight.
Should have been writing the play but wasted two hours surfing the web. And that can belong to the devil.
Successful people finish things. Im having trouble finishing the play...Surfing with a glass and the devil.
I can see her there in her satin dress
In a room where you're dioing what you don't confess.
Memories of Celia.
...Get down to professorizing, Professor.
Write your damn play!
And so, I begin. Rough draft. Goes like this:
Ah, how we anima-haunted men like to put on the dog.
The Sixteenth Century Shakepearean outfits, the pantaloons, the Marquis boots, the big, inlaid wood, somehow pregnant lute in one hand , cigarette in the other, coughing, perhaps a little fruitily,smoking too much, hoping not to go off into a coughing fit that would scare away the damsel in front of us.
The professor is an accomplished phoney. He knows all the ins- and -outs of intelligent women, prefers intelligent women, in fact, because he could say cutting things to them and they would get it, these qualities picked up from a mother who should have been locked up, beating the little boy professor with an ugly stick so he would know something of the world. Women run the world, dontcha know. Thre is no defence against them. But they have one weakness, a big one: They fall in love.
And so this evening, the professor has somehow lured Celia into his office-apartment in Newmarket ON, the back of which is a bedroom. The professor is something of a renovator. The room had just been redone. The professor is trying to make it into a bachelor's apartment.
It is this bedroom that the professor has lured Celia into (or did she lure him?--She had come to his studio's back
door, wearing a long white broom skirt tonight No jeans to pull off. No fumbles like the last time when he'd dragged her half way across her bedrooom trying to get her skin-tight jeans off... No comedy of errors tonight. No mistakes.
And so we come to ACT IV, Scene 3 of our play, THE FIRE IN BRADFORD
Scene: We are in the bedroom portion of the professor's studio apartment. There are two doors to the place and Celia has entered directly from an alleyway into the professor's bedroom. The professor notices that she has long sleeves to her gey silk top. Fitting somehowShe has lovely arms. Yet long sleeves. Long sleeves of late. The professor is rally a dreamy guy a tad
dyslexic, comes from being in a war. But like a colour-blind furniture maker or an illiterate waiter, he is otherwise very savvy.
Celia seems flustered, hurried. As he greets her at his back door, she answers his embrace with only one arm, the other up against her little bicep under the green sleeve.It's as if she is trying to conceal a wound in the crook of her arm.
The meetingj is slightly awkward
( In her slightly musical way):
Hey What's that on your cot? A lute?
Tipple, actually. It's a lot like a guitar. I'm trying to learn to play it.
Celia is still standing, just inside, the door not yet closed behind her. She closes the door, but it is plain to the professor that she is favouring the inside of her left arm.Very awkwardly, she takes off her long, fake-fur coat.
(helping her in and putting the coat on chair):
You seem a little defensive.
Celia( rather suddenly):
You are too observant.
PROFESSOR points to a typewriter in a corner, on its raised stand:
Comes with the territory.
PROFESSOR( to Celia, who is wondering where to sit. He motions to the cot:
A little white wine? I fear I've had a bit already.
Celia indicates yes. He has a little Lazy Susan liquor cabinet that hed liberated from some garage sale. He goes to it, pulls out a bottle of Bright's Catawba, a really cheap Canadian wine, tries to hide the label and pours Celia a drink into a rather heavy goblet from the Salvaion Army. He offers the goblet to Celia. She is sitting a little tensely, knees together on his cot. She is now clutching both arms, a little akimbo. The professor sits next to her, causing the cot to sag a little. He had observed previously that Celia, though very petite, was very heavy when physically lifted, as he remembered from past carry-ons-- like a possessed person. They sit very clos together. Celia is physically hot.
Woo. You are hot, and I don't mean skateboard talk.
He touches her shoulder. She pulls away a bit, rises and takes a chair across the antique coffee table from the cot. The professor is sitting on his cot, the little guitar by his side, almost riding into the hollow they had made in the cot.
(indicating to the little instrument)
Play me something.Can you?
Professor (sotto voce, and starting to grin) Does a cat have a tail?
He picks up the guitar, plays a few medieval progressions, easy, as they are mostly in A-minor and D, and begins:
With a hey, ho the wind and the rain
A foolish thing is but a toy
For the rain it raineth every day
For the rain it raineth every day
But when I came to man's estate
With a hey ho, the wind and the rain
'Gainst knaves and thieves
men shut their gate
For the rain it raineth every day.
Music in BG: The refrain is picked up by medieval recording, by Medieval Baebes, an English baroque singing group. UP
Lights dim, to dark.
The heretofore nattily dressed tweedy professor is now in full Elizabethan regalia, replete with chancellor's hat, tunic and pantaloons and hose, buckled shoes. Celia is transfixed.
Music in BG by Medieval Baebes now down, to fade. Professor does a natural segue and goes on to sing:
But when I came alas to wive
With a hey, ho, the wind and the rain
By swaggering could I never thrive
For the rain it raineth every day
For the rain it raineth every doy.
The professor now segues to an instrumental from the same period, Greensleeves, the ongoing deadly intrigue between Henry VIII and Anne Bolyin.
"Alas my love, you're mean to me, to treat me so discourteously."--but the professor keeps it strictly instrumental.
Celia is looking at the professor, rapt.
He puts down the little guitar for a bit and kisses her right on her mouth
He puts the tipple away, like a pianist in a painting, and they embrace. This they keep up for a long while, until the professor finally unhands Celia and says:
Whoo. I'm feeling a bit woozy. More wine?
Oh yes. Oh, yes please, offering him her glass.
They drink their wine, both on the couch now. Celia is beginning to check her little gold wristwatch. A little nervously. The professor goes to embrace her again. She draws back a little, starting to reach for her fake fur coat, which is sitting on a chair.
"I've got to go now.
PROFESSOR: Go? We're just getting started.
I've got to go. Lief is in the house all alone.
Screw Lief. You are my woman, goddamit!
The professor notices that Celia has now become fidgety again.
You have a temperature. You are very hot. Are you all right?
Celia is about to reach for her coat again.
You do this every time. You come to my place cranked up on something, get me all hot and then you take off!
(herself a little angry now):
There are things about yourself you can't see. Your heavy drinking and chain smoking, for example.It scares me sometimes.
My drinking and chainsmoking? And what are you doing up there with Lief in Bradford?
I'dsay it's like a parady on an old country song: "Silver Chains and Golden Needles."
What's that supposed to mean?
You're needling it.
She now has on her coat on and is moving toward the door.
lay" you too! And if I had another drink I wouldn't put it that gently.
He follows her out the door. Presently there is the cranking sound of a Mustang starting up. The professor has a good look and there seems to be a man alongside Celia as she goes to drive away. He is wearing a white leather hockey team jacked with numbers on it. It is not Lief.
The professor closes the door, gulps down his drink and turns up the Stones again on the Stereo.
I saw her at the reception
A glass of wine in her hand
I knew she was going to make her connection
In her glass there was a footloose man.
The professor reaches into the cabinet and pulls out a bottle of Jack Daniels. He takes a huge swig from the bottle. He takes the tipple by the fingerboard and smashes it against the cot.
............end Act IV, Scene
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Would you believe I once dated the Gidget girl on the right, Betty Conner?...Now I'm the middle aged lothario on the right.
Ah the joy of paparazzo.
Nowadays I'm like "Clark Bent" out of MAD magazine. Superman no more.
Barfly at singles bar, hobbling from spittoon to spittoon.
...Get backhanders from beautiful women, with their talk balloons, "CREEP!"
Gotta get the old 35mm out.
Used to be paparazzo.
Now just an old azzo.
Foxy chicks. Gotta photograph. Gotta get.
But all I get is "CREEP!"
But happy Valentine's Day everybody.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
On the night Tee Dee died, the government, who owns the casinos, was still running one or another kind of billboard anti-gambling campaign.
The last time I had a drink with Tee Dee, we'd both surrendered our paycheques to the jockeys at Toronto's Woodbine Racetrack.
Back in Newmarket, barkeep Vince had somehow agreed to let us keep a tab.
"Ivan. We have become on-the-tab winos. What's wrong with us?"
I'd had some university and pulled a Quote out of Ruskin:
"Things are in the saddle and they ride mankind."
"That is friggin' profound," said Tee Dee. That's exactly what happened to us. We, runts of the litter who want to be Donald Trump... Where'd you get the quote?"
"Ruskin. English critic. 19th century. Doctor of Literature."
"Well, I hope he can doctor your literature. You haven't made a cent in your writing in ten years. And you play the ponies."
Ah. Sportin' life.
Damon Runyon: All horse players die broke.
Tee Dee placed his last bet last week. He bet all his paycheque at the chemical company on the favourite.
He died quietly at home.
Sure going to miss him at the online bet bar.
Monday, February 08, 2010
This is a blue Monday on which I think I'm down to my ninth life.
Sylvester is finally going to be done in by that blue-eyed smartass Tweety.
Like they say in Newfoundland, "he's so disorganized he can't even manage a shit fight."
Familiar story. Out of booze, out of cigarettes and out of luck.
...And Tweety is right in there. "I tought I taw a puddyta!."
Landlord at the door. Ivan on the floor.
"So what else is new, says friend Creighton, a cartoonist whose own publishing company just went for a dump. Low sales...."You've been down, say, how many times? You're an expert at it. No surprise."
Durn. All that meticulus planning budgeting, scheming.
And, as they say in Toronto, "Jackpot. You f*cked up again."
Surely there must be some reason for this apparent masochism.
Maybe I am trying to inflict pain upon myself so I can get over the snag in my novel....Hell of an economical way to do it....And to have once been once the richest novelist in town. Now eyeing the ashtrays in front of the pub, to stick your arse out to be kicked.
...And here is the news editor of the Era and his girlfriend from" A" TV channel in Barrie, ON.
They almost bowl me over.
"Let some people through."
I am probably punishing myself for ten years work and only two pieces published, published large--but only two pieces?
That's like in the movie, The Owl and the Pussycat, where that writin' cat couldn't get past Page One, so he went out and got laid instead. Maybe that's the trouble!
Even my best friends are saying, "Ivan, get the rag out. Time you wrote somethin."
I can't write nuttin.
All I can do is write crap like this.
Well, who knows. Maybe I'll make money at last.
Or make a paper airplane out of this and aim it at that pesky canary's tailfeathers.
I did, I did. I did tee a puddytat!
You should join your pal Bugs Bunny
"Eh, what's up Doc?...Aren't I an asshole"
I have become Elmer Fudd, in a Beatles's Captains uniform, blowing bubbles out of my bathyscape.
I can hear Bugs Bunny.
"If you bite at the bubbles you're a Snark!"
"Bugs, did you know your could be a real asshole at times?"
Thursday, February 04, 2010
Long ago, I was a Teaching Master in Writing. I had a secretary and a receptionist and a computer hard drive full of emails from important living novelists whose work I lectured about. I was still in that circle, but they had stopped making contributions to Island Grove Press, my publishing company , which was largely for my students, though I certainly welcomed contributions from the Big Cats--when I could afford them. I think those established writers were still smarting from suddenly being rejected by snotty small press editors, even after years of overground literary success. The problem? Belle Lettrism.
Well, dog my cat. Weren't their letters supposed to be belle?
Wasn't Graeme Gibson, Margaret Atwood's husband, a fine writer?
Or how about Harry J. Boyle, whose Great Canadian Novel actually, was!
Nope, said the small press editors. That's belle lettrism, in the Frank Harris Edwardian English tradition-- fine writing, sort of like Margaret Atwood when she does reviews of other people's work.
When I learned of this arrogance on the part of the small press editors I began to think of those little magazine cyphers -- so mean in spirit and so low in stature--that I wanted to kick their ass....Especially when they actually rejected Robertson Davies, possibly the fines belle lettrist in the world. Ever.
And besides, did I myself now have a chance? Well, maybe. I was so post-modern, I could probably write "Fuck You", a novel by Ivan Prokopchuk and get away with it....But I was well known as a literary loose cannon in the Toronto circles....And I'd certainly had my share of rejections....And definitely not belle lettrist. And so minimalist as to be almost penis-parvis, or, like all the Canadian lady writers, who, with some trans-gender exceptions, were definitely penis-minus. (I was charmed, by he way, when Margaret Atwood described in a review, John Updike as a penis with the thesaurus, but I digress).
The Canadian novel format went: Young girl,
preferably aboriginal, and with problems, growing up in a redneck Northern Ontario town where men were men and so were half the women.
This was already done in the forties by a man named Reid, from a man's point of view, but everybody forgot.
So the entire Canadian modernist literary movement was retrograde, and the really good writers were considered belle-lettrists.
So, Mr. Robertson Davies, we want no business with that novel of yours, "Fifth Business", though it was considered a masterpiece all over the world.
Little Hitlers, little corporals...."We don't get no disease of the privates, 'cause we's corporals."
Recently, I got a comment on one of my blogs where I spoke about someone writing about a cockroach (Again?)-- and he said I should stop blogging, produce something somebody might want to read, and cease my slagging of authors who were postmodernist (real assholes from Toronto who thought themselves as... Franz Kafka?)
It was probably a small magazine editor who had commented thus, adding that if my work were ever to cross his desk, I would be dead meat from the word go.
All fine and good, but in his two-paragraph comment, I could spot eight stylistic and spelling mistakes, and he really should take a course in belle lettrism!
Literature in Canada is politics.
And if you publish independently, world-wide, no way we're gonna get you a grant. We worked hard, brown-nosed long to get our $40,000 Canada Council grants every year, certainly as publishers. Who said anything about writin'?