We were leaving town after a series of comic misadventures, and it seemed to be the end of the movie – you could tell because the camera’s point of view raised up high, showing the small car moving erratically across the road as if to indicate a humorous struggle inside. Then for some reason Kris Kristofferson turned the car around, got out a pickaxe, tore up the road, and revealed a cable, long hidden. When he pulled it a door swung open on a shed across the road, and a movie projector began to play. There was no screen. It was clear to us all – in an instant – that the projector was somehow communicating with the ancient wrathful spirit in the woods, and we could sense its presence moving through the trees with murderous frenzy. That’s when we ran.
Unlike most dreams, I could actually run. I heard the screams behind me. I made it to a house. As I gripped the knob I turned around –
And woke up in a state of such total terror it took a minute, maybe two, to calm down my heart. I laid in bed and put it all in context – bits and pieces assembled from “Lost” and “The Ring,” it seemed. I went back to sleep and was rewarded with a great, multi-plot dream full of adventure, culminating in a dash to cross a highway. The traffic was so constant that people accumulated on the median, waiting to run. I struck up a conversation with the fellow next to me, asked where he was bound.
“To see the dress of Jack Murtha’s first wife,” he said, as though I should know what that meant. He had the shiny face of a devout pilgrim. Later he drew me a picture of a bunny. A while later the median strip turned into a bar, and I was presented with a bill for 75 bourbons. I woke up in a state of such total terror it took a minute, maybe two, to calm down my heart.
So the day began. The highlight, really. Is there anything more enjoyable than a truly good dream? Years ago I dreamed of a shopping arcade in the basement of a late 20s office building – in the dream it was the 40s - and I can still see the place. I wonder if we remember all our dreams, somewhere; it’s a haunting thought to realize that somewhere in your head, side-by-side with the encoded perceptions of things that actually happened, there are countless hours of things that never did.
Good day. Gnat woke late; she needed the sleep. She’s extracting every last moment of Summer Freedom out of these weeks, and if you can’t stay up late and sleep in there’s no point in being a kid. It’s not like we have to slop the cows and milk the pigs. Or something. I worked on buzz.mn, on posts and the Super Secret Project I hope to get approved down the road; having planned Phase One of the buzz.mn 2.0 – not a jot of which is implemented yet, because they have their hands full – I’m on to the next step. After I dropped her off for the afternoon event I headed to work. And after work I headed home. There you go. Life. Oh: noted a book on the giveaway pile: a memoir of Tony Hendra’s daughter. I wondered: why? Hendra is famous for National Lampoon and Spy, and popped up a few years ago with a sad website that didn’t seem to go anywhere – my way of saying I never went back, even though millions may have. What had his daughter done?
Tonight I took Gnat for our monthly McDonald’s. It rained on the way; it’s rained a lot lately. Better at the end of summer than the start, I suppose. We were on our way to Toys R Us, to see if they had an ePet – it’s a new Webkins knockoff, and for some odd reason I gave into her entreaties to get one. (Provided we selected another old toy and gave it away to the Salvation Army.) I usually don’t say yes to the usual “Can I have it please?” requests because A) her mother is the softie in that regard, and B) someone has to model curbs on instant gratification, and C) you can really light up their world when you say Yes right out of the gate. So off we went. Toys R Us, however R not having them. They have their own pseudo-webkin, complete with website adjunct, but kids know: lame. It doesn’t have a major marketing campaign behind it. Ergo, no. Her disappointment was total; “Toys R Us let me down,” she said. Well, yes, that will happen. We had supper and laughed a lot over this and that, mostly notably memories of her Amazing Amanda doll. Oh how she wanted that. Oh how she turned against it, fast: it was super uber creepy, with its Bad-Seed smiley persona and flat needy requests for food and clean undergarments I made up Amazing Amanda dialogue – I want candy mommy or I will put glass in your oatmeal – and Gnat was in stitches.
Oh you’re funny, Dad, she said. No review could make me happier.
We checked Target, just to see if they had one. They did. Glee unparalleled. I checked to see if I needed anything else, and actually found myself in the Camping aisle, contemplating a hand axe. A man should have a hand axe. If only for personal defense. What if Ed Ames should break into your house?
It doesn’t work on many levels. It works on exactly two.
(I’d forgotten Carson’s response: killer.)
Anyway: we got stuck on the way home, a tale I’ll relate in buzz.
Did I mention that I watched “Perfume” the other night? I did. Not for everyone, but if you read the book you will not be disappointed. It’s not as good as the book – or at least the book I recall – but it has its merits. Its view of the 18th century is unsparingly filthy, as if everyone got up in the morning, slapped on fresh mud, rubbed a dead rat under their armpit and swam ten laps in the sewer. The first half hour is dank and stinky, but I imagine life was like that if you were a poor fishmonger who worked in the Le Arrondissement Merde. Nice turn by Dustin Hoffman.
Let’s see. Elsewhere:
Save the earth!Kill Bullwinkle! "Norway is concerned that its national animal, the moose, is harming the climate by emitting an estimated 2,100 kilos of carbon dioxide a year through its belching and farting." I just put a lot of money in cork futures.
Interesting book review in the Wall Street Journal today - John Leo reviews Diana West’s “The Death of the Adult.” On one hand I’m sympathetic to the concept, but I share Leo’s demurral. He makes a fine point:
"The 1920s is a far better place to begin detecting the seeds of adolescent revolution, but Ms. West thinks not. She finds "no mention of teen-age problems" in the famous Middletown studies done in Muncie, Ind., in the '20s and '30s by Robert Lynd and Helen Merrill Lynd. But in fact the Lynds noted the rising conflict in Middletown between parents and their young. Arguments about too much drinking (this was during Prohibition) and staying out too late were common. The automobile, mass produced and available to ordinary families, offered the young the means of forming peer groups and a place to have sex.
The Roaring '20s were a shock that did much to loosen parental controls. A familiar argument holds that the rebellion of the 1960s might have occurred decades earlier if the Depression, World War II and the recovery period of the 1950s had not intervened. By not noticing the forces unleashed in the '20s, Ms. West misses a chance to analyze the 1930s youthquake that might have been."
Imagine a 60s-style youth movement in the 30s. Can you imagine these people grooving to Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway at Woodstock? (Armstrong, after all, did enjoy the herb.) If the Depression hadn’t been as severe, and the youth of the thirties had fought the draft and argued for pacifism, could we have fought WW2? Then again, without a global economic downturn, perhaps the Nazis wouldn't have seized the opportunity. And everyone in Eu ropewould be part of the Great Soviet Prosperity Sphere - i.e., poor.
The fifties and sixties would certainly have looked different - imagine the marketers of Madison Avenue catering to the aging youth market through the new medium of TV, ladling on the flattery and reassurance they'd come to expect. It's almost impossible to imagine the 30s and 40s as a Want Culture instead of a Duty Culture, but I suspect it would have spent the storehouse of culture confidence much quicker. Some days I fear we’re down to dimes and nickels. The next time we need it, we’ll have to root through the sofa cushions.
Ah. Well. Off to buzz.mn; enjoy a Minneapolis update, if you like that sort of thing. A very old tall building today, long gone. See you at buzz!