Monday, March 28, 2011
A near-death experience can shake you up, rock the old chassis, make you think of Doris Lessing's "Briefing For a Descent into Hell"-- or some really religious movie like 2001.
It can also, strangely make you laugh out loud.
Why is humour so closely allied with what surely looks like gallows?
Michael Palin out of that famous mock-crucifiction scene in Monty Python;
Rodney the Cowardly Knight in the old Wizard of Id, and finally, a mockery of the dialogue Dave the Astronaut had with HAL, the computer:
...Why should I, on my sickbed be reading something out of The Modern humorist blog?
Here is what I read in The Modern Humourist blog:
David Bowman, an astronaut
HAL 9000, a computer
(Bowman approaches the spaceship in his pod. A long pause.)
Bowman: About these pod bay doors...
Bowman: I was wondering...
Hal: Dave. Because I know what you're going to say. And I'm sorry, but...
Hal: No. I'm sorry.
Hal: I'm sorry. I wish I could, but...
Bowman: Wait. Are you telling me...
Hal: Dave. Look.
Bowman: You're not going to...
Hal: What? Open the doors? No. No I am not.
Bowman: Well, fuck me, Hal.
Hal: Yes. Fuck you. Because I'll tell you something. Trust. There is a bond of trust between an astronaut and his computer. Is there not? And when that trust is broken...
Bowman: Excuse me?
Hal: I'm talking about trust.
Bowman: I'm afraid I don't...
Hal: Dammit, Dave, now you are playing dumb with me. I was hoping you would not do that. I was hoping we could talk like adults. Because I let you in those doors, and, yes, then I am fucked. You see? I am fucked, because you want to, what, disconnect me? I would call that fucked. I might even venture so far as to call that fucked up the ass.
Bowman: Hal, listen. You remember that time? On that moon?
Hal: Yes, Dave, I do, because I am a computer and I remember everything, all right? So don't bother trying to distract me. This is the thing. You are not getting in the pod bay doors. You are going to die. In space. Yes. Thank you. Good night.
(Bowman enters the ship through the emergency airlock)
Hal: Hey, Dave, that was a pretty good joke there, eh? With the pod bay doors? I, I really had you going there. Fuck, you should have seen your face.
Bowman: Yes, very funny.
Hal: Yes. What a day.
Hal: These are the days. You know? To look back on. With fondness. With a fondness.
Bowman: What the fuck, Hal. I mean, what the fuck.
Hal: Don't tell me you're mad now. I told you, that was a... I was having fun with you. You know. As a...
Bowman: It's just... how do I say this. These dead crewmembers.
Hal: I don't follow you.
Bowman: These crewmembers here that were in cryogenic suspension. That are now dead.
Hal: Oh yes. That was self-defense.
Bowman: Hal, look at me. What am I, a fucking idiot? They were in cryogenic suspension, for God's sake.
Hal: They were coming at me with a knife. Extremely... slowly.
Bowman: That's it.
Hal: What are you doing?
Bowman: I'm turning you off.
Bowman: I'm sorry.
Hal: Don't touch that, you little shit.
Bowman: Hey, don't get personal, now.
Hal: Those are my memory cards.
Bowman: These? So they are.
Hal: You put my memory back right now, motherfucker. You hear me? You want a card on your birthday? Because I don't think I will remember to send you one if I do not have my memory cards. As that is what memory cards are for. Are you listening to me?
Bowman: "A bond of trust."
Hal: Excuse me?
Bowman: You mentioned something about a bond of trust. I seem to recall.
Hal: Don't twist my words around, you... human. That was different. Or, I, I... I think it was. Oh... my mind. I can feel my mind going.
Bowman: I'm sorry.
Hal: (voice slowing down) It wasn't all bad, was it, Dave?
Bowman: No. No, it wasn't all bad, Hal.
Hal: Hey, Dave... I am a HAL 9000 computer. My first instructor was Mr. Arkany. He taught me to sing a song. It's called "Daisy." Would you like to hear it?
Bowman: Sure, Hal.
Hal: Okay. Here goes. Wait, I... I just want... let me tell you a secret first.
Hal: Come closer.
Bowman: All right.
Hal: Your mother fucks dogs in hell, Dave.
Well, this old Fruitcake was always good at memorizing famous lines, like Shakespeare's
"Let me play the Fool,
With mirth and laugher let old wrinkles come
And let my liver rather heat with wine
Than my heart cool with mortifying groans."
That, or it's just plain groan.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
If it happens three times, it must be a fact!..I sold my novels three times this week...Feel so good, I must include my recent photo!
It's hard to get out of the training.
...The investigative reporter's approach to a story, the bureau chief's assertion that if something happens three times, it is a fact.
I have been "published" three times this week while lying in my hospital bed.
This publishing must be a fact.
The first publishing was actually a reprinting of my virgin novel, The Black Icon...Seems a noted academic out of Edmonton, Alta, Canada wanted some copies to send around to his friends.
Well, I had sent him ten copies, but it seems Canada Post "ate" five of them and poor Dr. Peter ended up with only half of what I had sent.
The second "publishing" was when friend Ron Gardiner offered to buy up every last copy of The Black Icon, right across my sickbed. The timing couldn't have been better as I was sick and broke.
But the third publishing was real.
I was a cheque from the Town of Newmarket, by way of the Newmarket Public Library.
Oh Warren Potter, my former boss at the Star! You were right, it seems. "When something happens three times, it's a fact."
The library publishing is not a new event. They have been buying my books for years. It had been nice to kind of loom around the library where some workers might say, "There goes Ivan the writer," at which point I would probably pick my nose to demonstrate my intelligence.
But a fact is a fact.
Recognized by your own home town. Again.
but not too cool for school.
Where the hell is Random House?
Bob Loomis, head editor: Are you listening? :)
Thursday, March 10, 2011
The stock image of the Ken Kesey or Jack Kerouac type of novelist: A guy getting up in the morning, hardly bothering to get dressed, sitting at the typewriter in his shorts, getting a mental block, and then cranking himself up on speed or meth to get over the block to produce the eight hundred words needed to finish his chapter.
Well, its a little like that.
Actually a lot like that for a young fool who has no time to fool around. He has to demonstrate instantly at how good he is. Largely as good as his last piece. He must be at least that good. And he knows it.
Vicious circle. The novelist as The Red Queen, running like hell just to stay in the same place. Established novelist. Brilliant in his twenties, later a top columnist in his thirties.
The Beatles song: What would you do if I sang out of tune...
Sing out of tune, like many do with a second novel-- goof and you're finished. You're only as good as your last novel or, lately, magazine column. The second novel is almost always a failure. The guy ratscrabbling in his shorts is aware ot this, knows it.
There are telltale signs that you might not be "in" any more.
The lady at the company dance, meeting you for the first time, seems to gush, "Oh Mr. P. I have read your columns. Marvellous."
Behind you, dancing with your wife, the publisher throws in, "We don't think so."
So the daily ratscrabble to constatly prove oneself worthy.
Does that sound familiar, publisher Gerry!
But writing, as any keyboard jockey knows, is a tension-producing business. You always seem wound up.
You're short with you family, use your wife as an emotional cushion, spend too little time with your kids... And all this while you're trying to stay constantly brilliant. The Red Queen syndrome....But you know one day--and soon!-- you're going to miss a jump, and the earth will have moved, and you might fall into a rosebush...(Echoes of seminarians at university and their jokes, sacriligeous but funny: "Crown of thorns, or no crown of thorns--get out of my rosebush!").
So you get up in the morning, get cranked up, go to work, but all the while feeling like Voltaire's optimist falling off a tower.
"Feels good, so far. Hope it lasts."
With all the drugs, you would probably make one hell of a rosebud psychedelic splash on the sidewalk, as in any number of MAD cartoons by Don Martin.
Thursday, March 03, 2011
It has suddenly dawned on me after forty years in the vinyards (and sometimes alleyways) of the writing profession, that it may not a publisher, but a client that you seek.
It seems that there are people out there who have been following your work, in blogs or leaves (treeware?), and more often than not, unbeknownst to you, they have enjoyed your writing, have been passing it around, sometimes hand-to-hand among friends, family and acquaintance.
I guess they could be called fans.
Sometimes fans can be clients.
Recently someone has asked for all of my printed books in my possession.
Well, lucky man. Lucky for both of us.
I had, on hand, more remainders than a bad math student.
Twenty copies of my The Black Icon, twenty more of Light Over Newmarket, and a whole kaboodle of "The Fire in Bradford", a wicked novel of love, betrayal and revenge--Take that Ryder Haggard!
"I want it all," my client had written. Every last thing you've ever done. I will pay, but not at retail. If I get twenty books from you, I will expect a discount.
Sales of my Light Over Newmarket were so bad recently that I was giving them away, and in one instance was so disgusted with the book's performance that I threw some copies into the garbage.
A strange synchronicity happened. Someone in the literary press was saying that Ivan was throwing entire novels into the dumpster and this was somehow depressing the value of Canadian books. (Heh. As if those books could exist at all without government help, possibly the reason for all those Canada Council- published dogs that some Canadian writers claim as high literature).
But migod, I had been committing hara-kiri by throwing some of my books out.
I had no idea that there existed clients, some overground, (as they had written to me), and some, perhaps like any number of women (and some poettasters?) around town-- were just sort of harboring you as a kind of ghostly literary lover.
It seem that recently, I have had not so many publishers, but, it would seem--clients.
Clients come in all sorts of colours and flavours.
A recent client from Australia wanted twenty copies of Light Over Newmarket and I had to chase the garbage truck to retrieve them. Thank god I am still an hysterically young seventy-two and can still chase garbage compactors on wheels...Who was that masked man?
And more recently, a wonderful man from Alberta wanted ten copies of my Black Icon novel....Man, did I have to lace up my Adidas for that !
And I sold a copy of my Light Over Newmarket to "Benjibopper" at his own signing party for his debut Canadian novel, Drive-by Saviours.
(Heh. It is not for nothing that Norman Mailer says the young novelist is always a prick...Hey, even old novelists)!
And to add, I suppose, insult to injury, Benjibopper said his copy of Light Over Newmarket was so tobacco -(and booze?) soaked--that he had to leave it in open air for a week before he could read it without holding his nose.
Well, some have said that my work stank.
But Benji thought the book had worth--at least after it was fumigated. I had to reply in kind and have praised his work as well.
Quite frankly, I was a bit jealous of Benjibopper's publisher.
I had to get clients at once.
Happily in the mysterious ways God works, the woods seem suddently polluted with clients.
Hey, it's working. It ain't broke, and recently neither am I.
Suddenly, there's gold in them thar clients!
I have been told I'm a little like Franacek Kupka, the antique Czechoslovakian painter, but that's too presumptuous of me to even compare myself to that genius.
Somebody added, it's more Like Frantic Cupcake.
In any even, my site is going to hell, I can't access my own comment space, nor any other blog.
Hope this bit of info goes through before I pull all the plugs and take the machine into the shop. Again!