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Friday Afternoon Confessional: The Man of Plenty

I confess that I thought of so many interesting things to share that I am not able to draw any of them from memory at the time of writing this. I confess to not keeping notes of the plentiful stream of wonderful witticisms that constantly fill my mind. It is a real shame that twitter does not yet have the benefit of being directly connected to my brain (and is therefore stuck with this).

So, you’ll have to settle for: I confess I am puzzled when I see The Wife surfing the internet as if opening new windows is an activity that causes pain to her computer. I am even more puzzled when she refuses to open new tabs as if that would hurt the feelings of the emergent soul that she behaves as if could be housed in the browser algorithm producing this no longer very advanced feature. Maybe it is because we have an old computer of the type that those of us having lived a sufficiently long period of time in the XXth century remember being referred to as a desktop.  Desktop is an odd name because I have rarely seen a desktop actually being on top of a desk. Nor have I seen a lot of laptops being used on top of a lap. I confess mine is on my lap now, but that is an exception entirely due to the fact that I was far too lazy to sit at my desk.

Going back to the old computer we have (which is not on my desk because my desk is upstairs whereas the old computer is downstairs of where I am lying, uncomfortably, in bed): it makes this moaning sound whenever it is asked to do more than a little processing. This behavior is entirely consistent with the behavior of The Wife in opening new windows or new tabs. So I confess she may be in the right after all.

Be that as it may (and it may well be as it is), I confess to being an arrogant pompous little git who tries to mumble his way out of a lack of material to confess about. I further confess that said mumbling does not even avoid the typical stereotypes of the genre of pompous little gitly blog posts.

For this I will go further than a mere confession and I will apologize.


I finally confess some ideas are coming back to me as I see the hour at which I need to start doing something else is near (a drawing near which I am confident all of you will see as a fortunate event by now). One of them was the odd idea in certain circles that one always has to look for a win-win strategy and at the same time be aware of the fact that the only thing that’s on people’s minds is ‘what is in it for me?’. Another one had to do with modern feminism under what would probably be too controversy-seeking a  title: “Seals on Heels.”

I don’t quite remember how I was going to connect the title to the concept of modern feminism, but I distinctly remember that I google-image’d the title in the hope of finding a picture that I could hide under a hyperlink labeled NSFW. This hope was idle and therefore this post will have to go without an ending in which a reader like grrrl might be trapped into clicking too eagerly, too soon.

[I confess that I do not find the way to fully justify this text. I confess I am tired.]

May 27, 2011 Posted by | dreams, Friday Afternoon Confessional | 6 Comments

Monday Movies Goes Down a Level

It’s not always easy to listen to another person’s dreams. Are they interesting? The Coens know that “they always is to the party concerned.” Especially if you have the good fortune to wake up next to the same person most mornings, you may find yourself listening to the telling of a dream.

Several years ago I began to approach this challenge by concentrating on visualizing the images in the dream as it was told to me. Shortly thereafter, it occurred to me to journal my own dreams in screenplay format. The idea first appealed to me as a way to practice my scene-writing skills, but it soon became an experiment without a hypothesis.

I found, upon commencing last week, that the process highlights the least cinematic component of dreaming: the revelation of knowledge. For example, there’s no legitimate way in screenwriting language to suggest “he knows that no one must ever find the box beneath the bed where he keeps a human head wrapped in newspaper.” It’s useful knowledge for an actor — “what’s my motivation?” — but “he knows” is not easy to imply visually. I don’t think this is the most important part of dreams, but it does jump out when you try to describe them in an otherwise appropriate medium.

In Paprika, the final completed feature of anime legend Satoshi Kon, a team of corporate research scientists have created the “DC Mini,” a technology that allows the user to enter and affect dreams by means of a sleek and toothy headset. A spritely avatar named Paprika travels the dreamworld with the mastery of Neo in the Matrix, but her powers will be tested after a baddie steals the technology. (Neither Paprika’s identity nor that of the thief are immediately apparent.) As the story begins, one of the scientists falls into a raving, waking dream, and as he jumps from a window, we find ourselves in his ominously surreal parade in which “The mailbox and the refrigerator will lead the way!”

I love this parade. It repeats throughout Paprika, more thrilling and frightening each time. The villain — whose motives only marginally cohere, into a froth of Luddism and power-lust — eventually triggers the collapse of the dreamworld into the real. It’s the exact opposite of the layered clockwork* of Inception (moderately recommended at the Weblog, groused about by me here), and more fun.

Death at a Funeral (2007) — Matthew MacFayden winningly underplays his character at the center of this farce. Unfortunately, everyone else talks too slow, whispers too much, and pushes their jokes too hard. (Peter Dinklage does a pretty good job.) Frank Oz directed, and at times the characters seemed like British actors imitating Muppets, though Heist did not have the same problem. The accidental-drugs joke is repeated three times, to good effect. The script overall isn’t bad, I just wanted it to feel more British.

Source Code — Like Zowie Bowie‘s excellent first movie, Moon, this uses the repetition of a central element to stage a dramatic scenario unsettled by a moral/ontological problem. Unlike Moon, Source Code never quite finds anything like the shattering moment where Sam Rockwell’s character reaches his daughter on Earth. I have some thoughts about it that I can’t get into without major spoilers but if I write them up at the other joint I’ll drop a note in comments. To tease it slightly: Harriet McBride Johnson would object to the third act; and it only takes a slight view askew to turn a mushy live-in-the-moment lesson into a Being John Malkovich-style horror ending. Michelle Monaghan is a waterfall but Vera Farmiga is an ocean.

Go down a level into the comments section and let us know what devilish flickers you saw as if in a waking dream this week.

April 4, 2011 Posted by | dreams, Monday Movies | , , | 3 Comments

Excerpt from a dream

I had been told to rescue a girl, who turned out to be held captive in a back room in the Hopleaf (a bar in Chicago). I found where she was being held and then assured her I would be back to rescue her. When I did come back, she was up and about, getting ready to wait tables. I asked her about this situation — was she free to leave after her shift? She hemmed and hawed and I said I could help her sneak out while she was waiting tables, but she said, “I don’t know — in this economy, it seems better to be a prisoner.”

July 31, 2010 Posted by | dreams, economics | 2 Comments

An epic dream

Last night, I had a spicy pizza about an hour before bed, an activity I encourage because it leads to truly awesome dreams — in my case, a seemingly hours-long epic with something for the whole family.

It begins on an old country road, which I recognized as Richfield Rd., where my grandparents lived when I was a kid. Driving along, I crossed a rickety old bridge over a river that might also have been a ditch. Something seemed to be “up,” and I would have to return that night to figure out exactly what it was.

Cut to class — business class, that is, where I am stuck doing a group project where we have to design a menu for a luxurious meal. I have a lot of questions about this project, most notably: Why wasn’t there some kind of food service/cooking prerequisite? I have no idea what I’m doing. I skip out on the group meeting that evening to go check things out on Richfield Rd., where my grandma — who for this section of the dream has turned evil — spots me and starts chasing me down. I manage to get across the rickety old bridge — barely.

I narrowly escape and return to class the next morning to find that my classmates have covered for me. Everyone’s meals are heavy on greens and mushrooms; many of the entrees are shaped like Africa. I skip out in the middle of a group presentation and find that my school is actually in the middle of the Burger King factory — meaning the factory where all Burger King products are made. The centerpiece of this factory is a veritable river of boiling oil, an open-air deep-fryer. The scene cuts to two of the workers, with ample Fu Manchu-style mustaches. They are making something out of pigs (i.e., whole, live pigs) and accidentally drop one into the deep-fry river. Seemingly unaware of what is happening to it, the pig gradually disintegrates.

I walk further and find a kind of food court, not serving the standard Burger King fare but rather showing off all the many possibilities inherent in the foodstuffs themselves. I walk up to one of the counters to order and she asks me if I want a rocket sandwich or a reuben. Although I repeatedly say I want the reuben, she still asks several times (note: in real life, I lost my voice on Friday and was on shaky ground most of the weekend). When it comes time to pay, I enter into a new phase of the dream, where it’s not clear whether I’m wearing clothes or not.

Having had enough of the food court, I decide to wait for the train out of the factory, which is like a subway train. When the train comes, I’m not sure how to handle the quantum state of my clothing and keep looking from car to car — what I’m looking for, I don’t know. I get to the front car, not having found whatever it was, and I just have to get on if I want to leave. On the train are my grandparents, and my grandma is not evil at this point; neither seems to notice me. Also on the train is The Girlfriend, who has a blanket. I sit next to her, under the blanket: clothing problem solved for now.

That’s when I woke up.

April 12, 2010 Posted by | dreams | 3 Comments

Boring dreams

Last night I had a dream that I was picking up a couple courses at a community college in Kalamazoo to make extra money.

The night before, I had a dream that I was trying to find The Girlfriend a route home and I somehow had to assemble the route according to the rules of Blokus. (We had played Blokus, which you can do online, FYI, that day and had difficulty getting home via public transportation after our New Years party.)

What boring dreams have you had recently?

January 2, 2010 Posted by | dreams | 13 Comments

Guitar Thief

Last night I had a dream that I told The Girlfriend about my idea for an innovative video game called Guitar Thief. She praised the idea highly, calling it the most clever idea I’d ever shared with her. The rest of the dream was spent on the concrete details. Who did I know who could help with this project, specifically the programming elements? What would the controller look like? How could we combine the Guitar Hero guitars with a controller that was suitable for the action sequences (in which guitars are stolen)? And who would’ve thought that the idea for a classic video game would come from my blog — which was formerly, within this particular dream world, entitled precisely “Guitar Thief”?

The moral of the story: chili mac is probably a better choice for lunch than dinner.

June 1, 2009 Posted by | dreams | 3 Comments