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JOE returns Ap. 6
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I try to refrain from dreamblogging, because the sensations of the netherworld can rarely be captured on the page – at best you can communicate the impression left by a dream, the bizarre discordant fugue whose lurid logic you instinctively grasp at the time and lose as soon as you swing feet to the floor. But sometimes they stay with you all day, and you can feel the dream’s peculiar power for hours. Even so, who cares? That said: this morning I had two corkers, one of which took place in DC, and was so richly, exhaustively detailed I truly felt as if I’d lived another life. Again, who cares. What I remembered was Act One, which began in a Warner Brothers gangster movie; I was driving a car through back lots, then up a mountain road, gunfire sparking on the fender and pavement; a voice-over was added, and in my dream I thought, well, this is the sort of bemused and portentious narration you get in a Twilight Zone episode. So I’m inside the dream and outside of it at the same time. “And just as the rat scurrying down a tunnel comes to realize that there is no exit ahead, so our hero found himself at the end of the road,” the voiceover said. I found myself at an employee canning and dispersal site, a place where troublesome workers were packed into star-shaped cans and thrown into the ocean. Here’s the deal: the company was so confident that the bodies would never be found that the cans had the employee’s name and reason for dismissal stamped on the outside.

For that I thank the “Suspense!” episode I’d heard that night; a murderer – England’s most famous poet, as the story had it – had murdered the servant girl, then put her body in a canvas bag and dropped it in the Thames. Only after he had slid her corpse into the torpid water did he remember: his name was stamped on the canvas bag. D’Oh. We’ve all been there. Makes you pause when you order those personalized body-sized canvas bags, doesn’t it.

All day, though, I’ve recalled that line in the dream: “the bemused and portentious narration you get in a Twilight Zone episode.” Even at the time it took me out of the dream, because I thought – as I drove the old Packard up the slick dark hill – that this was a really good description of Sterling’s voice-overs. But we’d all hate to hear the real voice-overs for our lives. If it’s Sterling style, we know some clever ironic twist will soon provide closure to our life. If it’s done in the style of Harrison Ford in “Blade Runner,” we will suspect that our life requires much tweaking in post-production and suffers from too much interference from the producers. If it’s Clifton Webb in “Laura,” well, don’t believe a word of it.

Okay. It’s Monday night; finished the Strib column and the Newhouse column. And it’s only eleven. Wonderful day, in an ordinary way. Gnat, I have learned with pleasure, has gotten bored with TV. She turns it off after one show in the morning, plays with her computer or gets out the Barbies and creates little stories. (The other day I caught her marrying two Care Bears: “Do you take this husband to be a wife?” ) She went downstairs to the keyboard, got out the sheet music and learned a tune we hadn’t yet attempted. As I may have noted, I gave up on strict lessons, and more or less ignore the week’s assignments if she balks. She’s just a kid. Better she learn the joy of music now than have it driven out with rote drudgery. As a result she wants to do more than the lessons require, and the look on her face when she masters a tune is indescribable – not just the pleasure of accomplishment, but the ventricle-piercing expression of joy for having made me proud. You want to tell the kid that everything makes you proud, but that’s something they’d best not know right now, or they hand you loose playing cards and you have to act like they’ve split the atom.

Oh, that smile.

We kicked around the house, hit the grocery store, then went to the Bottle Store – where a clerk informed me that my favorite beer, James Page, was sold to Point. This is like learning that Apple has been sold to Gateway. Page Pale Ale was a great beer, and not just because the box and label art was done by Nora Wildgen, a brilliant local artist who (ahem) illustrated my columns at the Daily in the early 80s.

Well, at least Point beer has a good beery beer logo.

Then home. Made supper, greeted wife, walked dog, got to work. Now this. I suppose I could do the Noir thing now, or I could finish the Newhouse column and give myself a happy morning without care or worry, or I could quit now and watch TV . . . but. I’m tired of Judge Judy. The TiVo still records Star Trek Next Generations, but it’s the first season now, which is just sucktacular. So it’s back to work. See you tomorrow. Oh: new Fence. And two weeks to Joe’s return, if you’re interested. Read it in a bemused and portentious tone, if it helps. It does for me.