Dream Journal #45724

Technology had advanced; a compact virtual reality headset had transformed the internet.  Users could now visit a kind of wavering transparent ghost world and use their minds to visit sites, communicate with people, access information.  Social media was like entering a domed room full of shadows where the user's contacts were in full color, others muted shades of grey, all like projections of light on smoke.

I was part of a group of child-free who had developed the technology to enable someone to move their consciousness step back in time, to before they had children.  Their current self would go forward in this timeline so their family would not be abandoned, but they would have the opportunity to live a different life, from a point of their choosing.  I was one of several people who had the job of announcing this opportunity through social media.

When I made the announcement to the dome full of ghosts that was one of the official social media presences of the child-free group, I got a good response from a number of people.  Many were just grey ghosts to me, colorless representations of people I did not know, but several were in full and vibrant color - people I did know.  Suzanne was bold, not shielding her identity at all, just smiling at her unwitting family in the distance, represented by static icons showing they were not logged on. She said that as long as they would live a life with a perfectly real version of her in it and would never know, she'd like to take advantage of the opportunity to live another lifetime where she didn't make these choices.  I smiled – I had suspected that she would want this.

The personal timeline change was represented on the internet as a doorway.  Others in the child-free group were shepherding various people through their own doors.  I walked to it with Suzanne and helped prepare the door as she chose to go back twenty five years, to enter into a turbulent time in her life that spawned her decision to choose to marry a man who would insist that they have a family which she never wanted.  Without any hesitation or a backwards glance, she walked through.

Suzanne was immediately in that time, not online, but in reality.  She was aware of the future she had walked away from, but now in the body of the woman she was back then, the emotions, the thoughts, and the desires she felt at the time were real again as well.  At this point in her life fear and anxiety controlled many of her actions and choices.  She looked at me with a questioning look and asked "what day were you born?"  My answer caused her face to change, to conceal her emotions as she responded "I can't know you anymore, you're a Leo.  Leos are vain, selfish, hate learning and knowledge, and very shallow."  She then walked away from me, down the sidewalk, back to her apartment.  I knew I would never see her again, never know this friendship.

Pushing back against my loss and the lack of comfort that was the expectation of interacting with the self she left behind, I returned to the modern internet to meet the next person I was to send through the doorway.  I assisted and moved a few grey ghosts of people I didn't know through the door, and then, there before me was someone I did know.  Jocelyn stood before me crying, and then collapsed and sat down there, in front of the door.  I could see how painful her present life was, but I could also see how painful her past was, and that reliving everything she'd been through, making different choices, would be agony and torture either way.  Legs crumpled beneath her, she shook with deep sobs, unable to look at me, at the door to her past, or to make a choice. I looked around me at the various ghosts of people moving into the doors that the child-free group had set up and let the realization of the emotional weight that each of these people was carrying wash over me.  The forces that shaped their choices, the regrets they had now and the regrets they would have in their new lives, the pain that each one of them was carrying.  In this new virtual reality internet, this was like looking onto an ever expanding horizon filled with chasms and mountain peaks, great depths, heights, and immense weight.

Jocelyn remained a small ball racked with sobs and wet with tears at my feet.  And there was nothing I could do to help her make her choice.  I could only stand witness to the tides and storms that tossed her across the span of her years.

And then I woke up.

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Dream Journal #45723

Valco Fashion Mall had been remodeled into a “Nostalgia Mall” using the décor and landscaping of The Old Mill mall (anyone remember that one?) so that it was like an indoor Disney version of a Thomas Kinkade painting with little cottage store fronts and a stream flowing through the middle of the mall.   Several friends and I were trying to get through the mall from one side to the other in order to get to the parking lot and escape.  On the way there sales people and security guards were trying to slow us down to force us to see sales pitches and fill out surveys.  I was becoming increasingly annoyed, so I started quietly breaking salespeople’s arms, legs, and spines, or throwing them into the stream where they were sucked down into the water recycling machinery and drowned.

Suddenly, just as we reached the exit, we were stopped by a phalanx of armed guards in front of giant video screens, multimedia lights and projectors, a wall of speakers, and three story tall bottles of vodka.  Taylor Swift’s new album was being released the record was tied in to some vodka promotion, and Ms. Swift was going to be in the mall promoting a new vodka cocktail she had invented.   Her new video and song was being projected on a massive screen and we were stuck in the middle of a crowd of pre-teen girls and their parents; we had little choice but to watch.

The video was nothing new or innovative, just Ms. Swift dancing around in piles of money, stacks of gold, and around expensive cars while wearing nothing but a bolero jacket to cover her breasts and a thin mesh and net g-string and heels.  But in the middle there was a segment where a hologram of David Bowie appeared and this caught all of our attention.  The camera closed up on Ms. Swift’s crotch, and the Bowie hologram diddled and fingered her vulva through her completely transparent g-string while rapping something about how good her cocktail was.

Parents around us flew into rages, children’s eyes were covered, crying and outrage was everywhere.

The music video stopped and Ms. Swift appeared on stage, trying to simultaneously calm down the crowd and hawk her new cocktail, but the crowd was quickly dispersing.  Publicity workers buzzed around, reading negative feedback that was coming in over social media and trying to do damage control.  Ms. Swift shrugged, walked off the stage and over to us, some of the last people left of the crowd, and asked tiredly if we’d like to try her cocktail.  Fancy cut-glass specialty glasses were handed around and we all sipped away at the concoction of vodka, white rum, lime, mint, and blue Curacao while waiting for the celebrity entourage to clear the exits.   Ms. Swift said nothing and looked utterly miserable.  The new look her stylists had come up with for her was not even slightly flattering.  She looked like she’d like to be anywhere else but here, and be anyone other than who she had become.  She pounded back one glass of the cocktail after another like it was water.

Eventually I became impatient with standing around and drinking with a depressed celebrity and came up with a plan to clear the exits and get us out of the mall.   I set fire to the Scientology Personality Test kiosk and the Israeli Dead Sea Salt Face Scrub kiosk, and then pulled a fire alarm.   A fire crew used fire axes to chop their way through the news trucks, wardrobe and makeup trailers and in the process hacked several handlers, body guards, managers, publicists, and other such to death.   Our path to freedom secured, we headed out over the piles of ruined trailers and dismembered bodies.  But I decided to keep the oddly shaped cocktail glass as no one would believe this day if I didn’t have it.

And then I woke up.

Impressions of the day - Saturday, July 2, 2016

My name was a problem.  It usually is.  Most people want to spell it with the wrong vowels, or add extra consonants, or change it to one of the more common variants, which is one of many reasons I only use my birth name for legal necessities.  However, this time the problem was that the man attempting to help me seemed to want my name to be something more suitable to his thick accent, as if because he had difficulty speaking certain letters, he could not hear me say them.  I did my best, in my fragile emotional state, to swallow the frustration at spelling it out for him five times, and when he still could not get it right and switched to looking for the ashes via the name of the deceased, I again had to struggle to hold my emotions back as he mangled that name as well.  Eventually he found the right box, but of course her name was misspelled, in a way that matched his accent.  I could feel another storm of tears coming and I hadn’t the patience left to correct one more thing, so took the wooden box and made an escape before I made a fool of myself in the funeral home lobby.


Driving into San Francisco I was struck by the sheer number of homeless encampments.  Every open patch of dirt and every wide stretch of sidewalk seemed to have a plethora of tents pitched, more than I can ever recall seeing before.  At the red light I looked out my driver-side window at the scenes of despondency that only differed from the Great Depression in the presence of nylon tents rather than wooden shacks.  I was stirred from my reverie by the sound of someone trying to open my passenger door.   A bedraggled and filthy man with wild eyes stood there, threateningly waving a knife at me.  When I pulled the knife I keep in the car and returned his gesture he fled back to the sidewalk, his blade now invisible, waving and smiling at me like I was a friend he was glad to have run into.  The light changed.  I drove on.

The sales girl in the used furniture store introduced herself as “Titsy.”  The giggle she followed this introduction with as she asked if there was something she could do for me caused her extremely ample bosom to jiggle lasciviously in her extremely low cut top, thereby eliminating any possibility that I may have misheard her name.  This burlesque-worthy introduction, however, was all in vain - the fake leather chair that was coated with a strange and tacky residue was not the reading chair I was looking for, and I would not purchase it, regardless of the bodacious talent show I had been given.


On the side of the back road paralleling the home-bound highway I stopped and looked at the reservoir.  The summer-gold grass framed by oaks and madrones and occasional Coulter pine gave way to the glassy surface of the water, tiny reflective peaks whipped up by the wind making thousands of little mirrors.  Beyond that, the coastal hills arose in a wall of green sagebrush and Manzanita before straggly patches of Douglas Fir and a scattered few Coastal Redwoods led to the summit where curtains of pale grey fog were seeking the sky with ghostly cold tendrils.  I held the wooden box of ashes in my hands and cradled it to my chest, letting the sorrow and the loss wash over me, reminded that I too will someday be gone and perhaps someday someone will feel this same way about my death.  I let myself hope that there will be a way my remains can return to the earth, decompose and become one with the landscape in a place much like this, without cremation, embalming or even a casket.  After some time letting the fractured and reflected light burn into my red and stinging eyes, I returned to the car and set off towards the summit, towards my favorite views in the world, to lose myself where the rolling coastal hills of California lead into the Pacific and the nightly fog and mist turn all their rounded crowns into islands floating in a dream.

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film review

Cecil B. Demented Memorial Movie Review - Grabbers (Irish, 2012)

I honestly didn't expect too much from Grabbers.  An independent film produced by a clapper-board's worth of production companies and financed by the Irish lottery, one would expect a hodge-podge of low quality guffaws delivered by people who never let you forget that they are in a movie, and very little more.

But pleasingly, the acting in this film isn't bad at all. Richard Coyle and Ruth Bradley both turn in fine and believable performances that keep you in the film and with them. The direction doesn't slow down or bog you in exposition, nor does it leave so much out that you're falling into plot and continuity holes.  And the special effects are quite above what I was expecting, to be honest.  The monsters didn't look like something out of a videogame, although there were a few rubber moments as tentacles slithered around people.

That's not to say they didn't have fun making this one - quite the opposite.  For example, they do themselves a good turn when embracing the cliche that is almost inescapable - the hero has to deliver good wisecracks when dispatching monsters.  So in an Irish made monster movie where alcohol is toxic to the monsters, calling out "Slainte!" as you feed the beastie a bottle of home-made poitin has a delightful appeal (that's Irish for 'cheers' by the way).  

Grabbers makes a charming little ride with all the best bits of the formula monster movie present, but without the smug and self-congratulatory smarminess of most domestic productions.



The twenty something couple in the Safeway is arguing.  He does not like broccoli.  She is adamant that she cooks the very best broccoli, and she tells him that he is not allowed to say he doesn’t like broccoli until he’s had her wasabi broccoli with soy bacon bits, which she knows will change his mind.  He insists that this won’t change him - no matter how it is prepared, he just doesn’t like broccoli.  Exasperated, she stomps her foot with tiny rage.  She turns her face to his, cocks her head slightly to one side like a pleading puppy, and asks him what would happen if they were in a Chinese restaurant and she ordered almond chicken and he didn’t order Kung Pao vegetables with broccoli?  Then he could share her chicken, but she would not be able to have some of his broccoli.

The man looks at her, his mouth forming words, but no sound comes.  The combination of her being adorable and complete lack of logic has him on edge. He is on the verge of defeat when the stranger behind them in the checkout line speaks.
“You know, my girlfriend doesn’t like broccoli either.  I still cook it.”
“See?  SEE?” says the woman.  Her enthusiasm boils over as she feels victory within her grasp.
“But I don’t make her eat it.  I make something different for her, or if we’re out and we’re sharing, I pick something that we both like.  I can have my broccoli later.”
The look of betrayal covers the woman’s face like a wet tarp over a bonfire, extinguishing all warmth, driving forth great ominous clouds of bitter, acrid smoke that foul the air.  Her triumph gone, the woman turns her back on both the man and the stranger and pushes her way past the other shoppers.
“I’ll be outside” she says curtly.

The man and the stranger now stand alone in the line, surrounded by the uncomfortable silence of the other customers, who carefully maintain their poses of indifference - all the while observing them keenly.
 “I am sorry, I apologize” says the stranger.  “It was not my place.  But it felt all too familiar and I was speaking before I could help myself.  Been there myself you see.  I hope something so small will be just as quickly left behind?”
“Thanks, but that’s going to make it worse” says the man.  “She’s probably calling her mother.  I’m gonna be in a lot of trouble.  A lot of trouble.”   The man’s blue eyes are focused far away and the stranger is drawn to follow the man’s glance through the glass door of the store.  There, in the parking lot, the woman is speaking intensely into a cell phone, her arms stabbing the air, making wild gestures as if summing by magic and incantation the scene to replay before her, then skewering, stabbing, and slapping to the ground all those who had so cruelly wronged her with her wildly flying hands.  The stranger and the man stand in mute observance of the woman’s performance.  The others around them did their best to watch as well, or at least as best they could without being seen to do so.  At last it was time for the man to man pay for his groceries.  His transaction complete a cold mask of resignation slid into place upon his face; he leaves the store without looking back.

Cecil B. Demented Memorial Movie Review - Shadowheart (Independent, 2009)

Shadowheart is an independently made western.   This film is a great disappointment.  The script was a predictable bad guys come to town, good guys get revenge with the help of noble savages piece of nonsense -  the acting was poor, and the direction was somewhere just short of a 1970s soap opera.  I was very disappointing to see Michael Spears and Tonantzin Carmelo in such a crap production and turning in such cardboard performances when I've seen other films that have demonstrated that they are both capable of so much more.  Sadly, this looks like they were both involved for the paycheck, not the project.

All throughout the film there was a thick, viscous, goopy string of annoying and preachy pseudo-Christian morality that utterly gutted and arrested the story in it's tracks.  Plot became completely transparent - If a character drinks, fights, or fucks, they’re either a bad guy or doomed.  Indians are scary, but they can be saved if they convert.  And if the conclusion of the film stretched my patience to the snapping point – it was so bad I expected the lead villain to sprout horns and a tail.   If the film had not been over, I would have pulled the DVD right there and then.  

This is not a film to waste your time on.


Cecil B. Demented Memorial Movie Review - A Very Long Engagement (Foreign, 2004 )

A Very Long Engagement is delightful.  In French with English subtitles, the story follows a young woman searching for her fiancé after the conclusion of the Great War.   All the actors turn in excellent performances in a true ensemble cast where it is clear that they were all dedicated to the story and working to make it a success more than embellishing their personal stardom.  The true star of the film, however, is the cinematography and Jean-Pierre Jeune’s direction.  Every shot, the rural farms and villages, the dingy interiors of urban apartments, even those that show the hell of a flooded Somme trench, is a perfect composition of color, framing and movement, taking you in and out of the picture, moving perspectives from scene, to actor, to scene, and then to another actor in the most amazingly artful way.  It is a pleasure just to watch the visuals.

I shan’t ruin the plot for you, I shall only say that I found it very deeply moving, switching from joyful, to vengeful, to depressing, to uplifting with a seamless grace that I seldom see.   It is detailed, twisted, and convoluted, making it difficult to unravel the mystery, but so well written that losing track of one of the interweaving story lines will not detract from the film.  By the end all is wrapped up quite satisfactorily and beautifully.

Dream Journal #45722

Just a few weeks into my new job my new employer had announced we were relocating to Carsten, Nevada, a barren nowhere in the middle of the high desert that was trying to cash in on the prestige of Carson City by having a confusingly similar name.  I was miserable about it, but without any other immediate income prospects and limited cash reserves due to remodeling expenses, I was forced to sell Shadessen and move to a one-room cottage at a vintage motor lodge on a desolate highway on the outskirts of Carsten.   The landlady had happily allowed me to stash some of my furniture in the lobby of the motor lodge, so I at least got to keep a few of my possessions, including a magnificent art nouveau china cabinet I’d purchased, the perfect place to store my Spanish cobalt blue dishware and serving set.  Someday I promised myself I’d have use for these things again.

In order to get to know my new surroundings I decided to ride the local busses for a couple days.  The bus was equipped with slot machines on the back of every seat and an overhead video screen that shouted adverts for casinos and all-you-can-eat buffets where Velveeta covered scrambled eggs on white bread toast would be served to you 24/7 while sitting at a blackjack table.  The view from the bus windows was desolate and depressing and I desperately missed my friends and my home.
After a few hours of riding about, looking at empty, dusty storefronts and suffering through constant dinging of slot machines, slimy sales pitches for timeshares and other abominable advertising, I found myself back in front of my home – the crumbling motor lodge on the forgotten highway.  I walked into the lobby and found that while I was gone it had been completely remodeled.  It was now a dark wood, frosted glass and polished brass dining room with a bar, in the style of a fern bar just a decade or two out of date.   This wasn’t so bad, so I sat down at the bar and ordered a cider.  To my surprise, the cider was the best I’d ever tasted.   Perhaps I could spend the next two years buzzed while I stockpiled cash for my escape and looked for jobs back home on craigslist.

The dining hall was being set up for a wedding; white tablecloths being spread across long dark wood tables and burgundy velvet backed chairs where being slid into places.  A catering company had come in from some distant city with everything necessary and the bride was fluttering and fussing about.  Being that the whole place was being taken over, I decided to head back to my little room and try to get to sleep in the comfortable few hours between the sweltering day and the freezing night.

The next morning I came back to the dining hall to find breakfast only to see amidst the stacked rental chairs and folded tables, broken blue glass being swept up by the catering crew.  My eyes immediately swung to my china cabinet – both the glass doors were smashed, and half the dishware gone.  A discarded broken gravy boat and tureen with the handles now missing sat on the front desk.  I confronted the landlady asking her what happened.  Without looking up from her knitting she muttered “Oh well, too bad. You shouldn’t get so attached to things.”   I asked if there was an insurance policy to reimburse my losses when the father of the bride and the groom approached us.  They were smirking and sneering at me.  “So you were the one who bought that old junk!  Well, you should be glad I don’t sue you!  It nearly ruined the wedding!  I mean look at this!” said the father holding out a plate.  He swung it sideways into the front desk and it shattered into shards.  “Cheap garbage, something like this could have hurt someone!”   “Well then you should not have used it since it wasn’t yours to use in the first place!  You’re going to replace every damn thing – and you’re going to pay for the restoration of the china cabinet as well!”  “Oho!  Don’t you speak to me like that, I didn’t get to be the richest man in Nevada by being stupid enough to pay for things when there’s something I can use for free right in front of me!  No, you listen here!  My new son in law is going to teach you some manners!”  And with that the groom grabbed my shirt and shoved his face into mine, his eyes bloodshot and temples throbbing beneath his short military haircut, telling me he was going to make a present to the bride of my teeth.  The bride looked on smiling and said “beat him Brian, beat that little freak real good!”

Being that I’m a lucid dreamer, I have absolute control of reality in my dreams.   Often there is a moment where I make the conscious choice between letting my dream play out, and taking control.  I felt that decision move through me as I made the choice.  Over the next few moments the dining hall of the motor lodge became a human abattoir, leaving not a single survivor…

…and then I woke up.
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In defense of burglars and thieves, or not.

Today someone tried to tell me that burglary is not wrong if the thief doesn’t have privilege.

This came up when a coworker asked why I was smiling and I told her about my neighbors recovering property of great personal significance that had been stolen from a commercial storage locker thanks to a police raid on a drug house that turned up hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stolen goods.  My coworker launched into a commentary about how the police are the enforcers of class warfare and people who steal only do so because they have to due to lack of privilege, or a need to self-medicate in order to survive our cruel, racist, sexist, brutally oppressive society.  She had no sympathy for my neighbors, only harsh and hateful words for them and the police.  I walked away from her and ignored everything she said to me for the rest of the day.
I've been working very hard at ignoring people who spew this kind of politically correct privilege politics nonsense, but I am having great trouble shaking this one.  Like a thorn in my shoe, it just digs in and irritates.   I consider apologists for criminals and others who disregard the rules of civilized society to be utterly contemptible vermin, unworthy of even the most basic respect and civility.   In that way, she is no better than a lawyer who suppresses evidence that would put a malefactor in jail by framing an innocent man, and I feel the same about her as I do for such a lawyer – a deep and sincere wish to hurt, cripple, and maim them.

So now I sit here and contemplate the world I live in.  Once upon a time I had complete contempt for society’s rules and flew the rebel flag proud.  Whatever liberal cause raised its head, I’d embrace it and fight for it. But here I find myself stopped dead in my tracks by someone who stands where I once stood, a champion for the poor and less fortunate, who gives moral justification to burglars and thieves.  How is it this new political correctness has risen so quickly, swallowed up so many people, and gone so much further than it did during the 90s when we first beat it back with common sense and mockery?  How is it that people can be so blinded as to accept situational ethics based on identity politics, and defend something so basically wrong as robbery based on the skin color of the robber and the victim?
I question myself, who I have been, where the world was, where it is now, and who I am now.  I know I’ve changed and left the youthful idealistic radical behind, but even when I was a long-haired anti-establishment wanna-be hippie, desperate to live in a socialist utopia, I think even he would be sickened by what the liberal radicals have become.  The forces of oppression are still there, cruel, greedy and heartless as ever, but the forces of liberation have become just as disgusting and repugnant.
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Barbarians, technology, poptarts

The child was already whining when I entered the bagel store, emitting a high pitched nasal keening like fingers on a chalkboard, intoning the hatred the child felt for bagels and desire for something I could not understand as she pulled and tugged on her mother’s clothes.   The mother ignored this, fascinated by her phone, staring into the screen, tap-tap-tapping away.   Ignoring them I walked to the counter and placed my order, then retreated to the back of the store and waited, savoring the smell of toasted herbs, onions, garlic and seeds, reminding myself to disengage, doing my best to practice my meditation techniques, to go inside my mind and shut the horrible noises emanating from the gaping black hole of screamy discontent in the center of the horrid child’s ugly, pig-like face.

The sound of chair slamming to the ground dragged me back with an adrenaline start.  The child was now throwing chairs over, kicking tables, screaming barely coherently about what I now realized was a pop tart.  The mother continued to ignore this, focusing on her phone.  The owner, however, did not.  Smiling kindly, he came from behind the counter with a piece of pastry in hand, shushing the child and offering her a “special just for you.”   And fast as a viper strike, she grabbed it out of his hand and bit him, then ran out of the store screaming that she hated him, hated bagels, hated, hated, hated  - and that treat wasn’t a pop tart.  Then, for the first time in minutes that felt like hours, she fell quiet as she crossed her arms and glowered into the store.

Her mother still didn’t move, didn't acknowledge any of this, still tapping at her phone as it made jingling chimes and sounds – and I realized she was playing a game. The owner had retreated to the sink to wash his hand when his wife came forward with a paper bag for the woman on the phone.   She took the bag without making eye contact, no thank you or apology offered, and walked out, still tapping and chiming, her daughter falling into line behind her and restarting her whining about pop tarts.  The doors of their family van opened to receive them just as my bagel was ready. 

I could ill afford the twenty I stuffed into the tip jar, but could not help myself.  Guilt and embarrassment flooded and flushed my face.  I should have done something, but I didn’t know what.   Should I have started laughing and smiled at the child?   That usually makes children nervous enough to cling to their parents for at least a short while.  Barked at the child to cut it out and act her age?  Should I have unleashed my temper on that horrible parent, told the unconscionable bitch to restrain her hellion?  Should I have given the child a light smack across the head, enough to snap her into attention and focus?   I would like to have grabbed her by her legs and flailed her against the walls until I painted them with her brains and blood, laughing maniacally, hell’s light glinting in my eyes, my actions a warning to forever strike fear into the hearts of her mother and all other uncouth barbarians like her and her hideous offspring.

Sadly, I did nothing but observe.

My heart is sick and exhausted with contempt, both for the horrible parent, the beastly child, and for my inactivity in the face of this ugliness.