Monday, March 31, 2014

Sailing the sky and the stage

Nothing gets your heart going first thing in the morning like exciting dreams; today apparently it was still too calm, so I got to have TWO exciting dreams!

The first one began aboard one gigantic starship, which turned out to be the deep space version of an aircraft carrier. Everyone aboard was either a fighter jock, an engineer/mechanic, or a medic. After some initial fumbling about I realized I was (of course) a fighter jock.

The fighters were unconventional to say the least. They were not sleekly aerodynamic; why would they need to be? They were instead built for practicality. Nearly perfect ovoid shapes, heavily covered in ablative armor, and capable of carrying heavy shield generators, powerful engines, and turret mounted energy and mass-driver weaponry along with a central ring of hard points to mount short range high speed missiles. The fighters were also roomy enough to carry two comfortably, and four in a pinch (more on that later). The pilots "chairs" were more like lounges with restraining straps. In casual flight, you sat down, strapped in, and reclined slightly; controls were in the armrest mounted dual joysticks. In combat, the whole thing moved so you were lying flat, and rather than the view ports which covered over in combat you had a 360 degree monitor view in front of your face.

Our first scramble came minutes into the dream, and it began with almost literally diving in to the fighters in low-gee, then being ripple-launched from tubes all around the carrier. My first view of the space we were in was breathtaking. Far ahead of us were massive streamers of cloud and interstellar gas, stretching for light years away from where our ship was moving. We were skirting the fringe of a field of scattered asteroids and more wisps of dust and gas, covering a region of space the area of Earth's orbit. We were deep in interstellar space; the closest stars were at least 4 to 5 light years away. Every direction I looked was awe inspiring; millions of stars, vast nebulae, billion mile long streamers of dust lit faintly from within by stars forming, from without by the glow from stars already born. Far off, but still close enough to see and recognize with the naked eye was the Eagle Nebula, and the Pillars of Creation.

Our destination was an exoplanet (maybe one in the constellation Serpentis) about 300 light years from Earth. Our fleet had been under way for 10 to 20 years, roughly half way on the journey. Our FTL drives needed to "recharge" periodically, so we were traveling below light speed. At some point we had run into another space-faring race, and war had begun almost immediately. We had no idea what the other race was like. Apparently in the two years or so of running combat, no prisoners had been taken, and either the enemy ship were self-destructing, or were simply so damaged in battle no useful wreckage was ever recovered.

The first battle was like a swarm of wasps fighting another swarm of wasps. The enemy ships were designed very differently, like a stellated Dodecahedron (look it up) with some of the points truncated for weapons, or engine ports. They were a bit larger and harder to destroy, but slower than our fighters. The swirling battle had at least 100 ships from both sides fully engaged over volume of space large enough to float hold Jupiter. The enemy objective was clear, they were trying to punch through and take out at least one of our carriers; we were fighting defensively to stop them at all costs. Behind us I could see more of our fleet, but in glimpses so brief as to give me no clue about size or numbers. I was focused on my HUD and on killing the closest attacker while not getting destroyed myself. Somehow our weapons never struck one of our own ships; I guess "friendly fire" was turned off. Regardless the space around me still was getting criss-crossed with intense bars of light from the energy weapons, streaks of blue glowing mass driver shots, and the occasional missile, fireball, or filed of debris. I had no real idea how many enemy ships I hit or destroyed, although I was certain of one as I flew right in to the expanding ball of hot gas and debris as it exploded.

My fighter spun and tumbled from the shock wave and the multitude of hits, then ricocheted off some stupid chunk of ice and rock that had wandered into my area. By the time I recovered full control the fight was over. The remaining enemy ships were retreating towards the asteroid field and dust cloud, and we were forming up into a wall of coverage until our carrier called us back.

That was when I got my first look at what we were actually a part of. The fleet was massive; at least a hundred ships in all, spread out so far that it would take minutes to travel from one to another even at the full speed my fighter could produce. There were two dozen carriers at least forming a massive sphere around an inner ring of what guess were battleships or destroyers, and inside that was the core of 40 or 50 gigantic colony ships. Each of those was at least the size of a large city. Imagine New York City being ripped out of the ground, subways, sewers and all, then stuck into a roughly spherical mass with San Francisco and Las Vegas sticking out from the other sides. Glowing lights, towering structures and vast stretches of metal driven forward by huge clusters of engines. This was more than just a colonization, it was more like a diaspora of an entire country.

When I got back aboard the carrier I was launched from, my first objective was food then a shower. That plan changed however when I ran across one of our senior medical staff; she was on her way to drop off something in her lab then head to one of the cafeteria style restaurants aboard. I asked if I had time to shower and then join her for food, and she smiled and said "sure!" She had dark blonde hair just past her shoulders and a rather pixie-ish face, and was perhaps 5' 6" or so. I didn't have to look down much to look in her eyes. When she moved on and waved I picked up my pace and headed for the showers and some clean clothes. Since we all seemed to wear jump suits I didn't have to worry about fashion....

Dinner must have been successful, as the next part was a montage covering several days. A few more scramble missions, some scouting and "Combat Air Patrol" during which I got to look more at our fleet as well as more moments of talking to the woman (who must have had a name, but we never seemed to use any) and at one point waking up in either her room or mine and deciding that it was breakfast, regardless of what time it was aboard ship. She also seemed to be spending a great deal of time tending to my minor injuries or more serious injuries after each mission. I guess she liked me.

Finally during one of the lulls between fights where our scanners and patrols could find no sign of our opponents I invited her to take a short joy ride in my fighter. She had never been off the carrier, and had barely even had time to look at any of the displays of the space we were drifting through. We only had another day or two before we could resume FTL travel and I wanted to show her the fleet and the incredible views. Our launch was much less bullet-like as there was no threat, and I had a passenger. Her gasp came instead from the sudden view of the nebula directly ahead of us that filled a full quarter of the sky (I had carefully chosen where to launch from). Each slow turn of my ship brought another exclamation of joy or amazement from her, and several pats on my shoulder or back; it's hard to hug while wearing a flight suit. She was obviously having a spectacular time. Our tour cut short after only 20 minutes or so as a warning came that there had been possible contact reported. Before I could get us back aboard a flight of maybe a dozen enemy fighters screamed in towards us, and I was not going to dogfight with her aboard. That was up to our CAP to handle, and I fled at maximum toward the cover of the ring of battleships as they were closer than my carrier was, taking evasive action while staying as close as possible to a straight line course.

We made our escape with nothing more than minor scrapes and burns on the hull where something made it through the shield, and she was remarkably calm during the flight, only reacting once we were aboard the battleship. I thought a certain amount "ohmygodwheredidtheycomefromwealmost got killedareyou OK?" was called for myself. I was annoyed enough however by the stupid enemy doing enemy stuff that the moment my fighter was checked and fully armed I took off and joined a huge patrol group that was going to sweep the asteroid field several thousand kilometers away. Seemingly the little raiding party had attached their ships to some of the outlying bits of debris and powered down, lying in ambush. Taking the large number of fighters we did turned out to be an excellent decision, as a swarm of enemy fighters detached and engaged us as we began our sweep. Either they had nothing aboard their ships that allowed them to determine how many fighters we had until it was too late, or powering down left them unable to scan. Either way the result was the same. Our patrol contained nearly half the total number of fighters in the whole fleet, perhaps as many as six hundred all told.

We came in like a swarm of piranha, savaging the enemy fighters en passant with the lead ships and letting the ones behind us finish them off. Scanners lit up like fireworks as a single enemy carrier lurking deeper in the asteroid field scrambled to bring its own engines and weapons on-line before we struck. They didn't even come close to making it.

Fighter after fighter swept towards it almost completely ignoring the defenders it was trying to launch, unloading every missile and firing every weapon at the carrier as we closed, then making the hardest skew-turns possible in order to bring weapons to bear again. The fight was over in less than two minutes; silent explosions and gouts of debris, vapor and ignited gasses were shooting out from every section of the carrier. Even in zero gravity the vessel was pitched at a bizarre looking angle and tumbling as well, as engines and steering jets were firing in erratic bursts as control systems disintegrated, or simply blew apart themselves. Asteroids and smaller debris began adding to the destruction, and with the last enemy fighters savaged into vapor as well we turned back toward our fleet. Behind us another silent explosion of massive scale took place as the power sources aboard the carrier all failed, making a tiny and very short lived star.

Close to the edge of the field I broke off from our ragged formation; something had caught my eye near one of the smaller (house sized) chunks of ice/rock/iron floating about. Drifting along near it I saw a trail of debris, looking like the remains of an enemy fighter, but larger and more intact than ever. My best guess was that one of them had either struck or been struck by the small asteroid, and had come apart before whatever scuttling charge aboard could destroy the remains. Even more surprising was my realization that there were two humanoid suited figures there as well. I stopped my fighter relative to the rock and exited my ship. Sure enough there were two intact suits, looking like fantasy armor and with completely feature shrouding helmets. I secured them with some thin wire rope I had brought with me and stuffed them inside my fighter, then flew back to my own carrier.

For some reason I didn't signal ahead with the information of what I had found, so there was no one but the normal crew of engineers and medics, along with my new girlfriend when I arrived. The reaction when I pulled the dead or unconscious figures from my ship was as expected. The alarming part came when one of the crew yanked off the one helmet, then the other. The aliens inside where human, apparently just as much as we were; and they were also clones. Command personnel arrived, and since the cat was already out of the bag they told us the truth. These were in fact people from Earth, from our own country in fact. They had been sent out by a new government that was opposed to our journey, and they had been cloned and trained solely for the purpose of stopping us and eliminating every ship in the fleet.

The second dream was more prosaic by far. I was an actor in a troupe that had decided to produce a huge original production based in part on Treasure Island. The actors were expected to help the technical crew build sets, hang lights etcetera, as there was no way they could get the huge task completed on time otherwise.

Our director unfortunately was a blend of Uwe Boll and the crappy manager played by Meryl Streep in "The Devil Wears Prada". He had all sorts of huge visions for the show... which already used a full scale modular pirate ship as the stage.... but every facet of construction was micro-managed with sarcasm, harsh criticism and periodic outbursts like a verbal Vesuvius. At one point I was working with a fellow pirate, who was insisting on tacking down the black carpeting that covered all the deck surfaces without taking out the bulges and wrinkles. I was moving along behind him, re-tacking everything when the director saw me. "What are you doing? Are you a moron? Maybe you can't tell the difference between something that's done and something that isn't!" I stood up and pointed at a long ramp with so many bulges in the carpet it looked like a black Ruffles potato chip.

"You are going to have over twenty people all carrying swords and black powder pistols running up and down that ramp, sometimes under nothing but dim blue light. If you want to die that way, you play all the parts." He stared at me in utter disbelief for a moment, then turned on the other actor. "Are you some kind of low grade moron? What sort of utter idiot would leave ripples like that in stage carpeting? People could TRIP on that you half-wit! Both of you, get that carpet fixed NOW! Do I have to supervise every single step of this?!?" Off he stormed, and for a moment it was a toss-up between the other actor and I as to who was going to put a staple in him from behind. Instead we went back to pulling up the carpet and re-stapling it.

At some point we finished the construction, because we began performing the play itself. I have to say, either our skill overcame his directing or it was so well written no one could really screw it up; the audience loved it. Thunderous applause, cheers at the end of every fight scene, and an ovation at the end of the show. (I have no clue what the actual story was; this part of the dream was just rushing about, shooting, fighting, more rushing about, and the sounds of crowd joy...)

We must have done really well, because the next thing I knew we had taken the show on tour. This only added to the complexity our dear Fuehrer added. Now, we were building the whole thing so it could actually float, still come apart into various sections, and the audience would watch from bleachers built to look like ship hulls constructed on the shore of whatever damned lake we were now floating on. I was going not-so-quietly apeshit. Among other things I have an aversion to mixing power cable and water; this was true for the dream me as well. Now, to add verisimilitude (I guess) we were all wearing pirate garb while working, actors and tech crew alike. Not our actual costumes, cheaper stuff..... but still well made and fairly expensive. And hot. This included the director of course, who was now strutting about in a black velvet version of Captain Jack Sparrow's regalia, shouting orders, praising his vision, belittling our efforts and talent, and generally pissing everyone off.

The final coda came during a rehearsal on the new, floating, awkward, unstable set. During one scene another actor tripped as a set of stairs shifted under him. He turned to blame me, as he decided either I was the one who built them or because I was the closest. Regardless it was a very bad choice, as not only do I not tolerate being blamed for things that are not my fault in real life, at the time I had a cutlass in one hand and a (blank firing) Flintlock pistol in my belt. Before he finished his sentence I was in his face, and so close I could have either kissed him or bitten his nose off. I cut him off and delivered a quick warning about watching his mouth, with a large helping of adjectives and nouns added.

The director chose that particular moment to step up and open HIS mouth. I have no idea what he actually planned to say, as I took four quick steps over to him, lifted him by his stupid sash belt and a lapel, and threw him off the set. Deck. Whatever. He found out several things very quickly. Velvet is very heavy when wet. Lakes can be very cold. Water has no respect for you or your job, and goes where it wants. You can't yell and drown at the same time.

While he floundered about in all of four or five feet of water, I stepped right back into the face of the other actor. "Is there something you want? Something you have to say? No? Then shut up, pull that idiot out and shut HIM up, and then get back to work."

That unfortunately was where I woke up, with an odd sense of both accomplishment and sadness. The sadness was because my costumes were REALLY good, and I don't actually own any of them. Rats. At least now I know what to wear for Halloween.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

86th Academy Awards; Go Ellen!

86th Academy awards shows... and Ellen DeGeneres has firmly taken root amongst my favorites. Johnny Carson still reigns supreme in my book. Billy Crystal is second, with a tie by David Niven from 1974 for his adlib after a streaker ran across the stage "One of the nominees for short films, I see....." The MPAA tried Hugh Jackman, then dual hosts... then Seth McFarlane... who was only slightly worse than James Franco. OK, much worse. Finally, back to Ellen. She's funny. She's lively. She can poke fun without being an asshole. She has very bright blue eyes. Let's keep her.

So, on tonight and my completely biased view of both the ceremony itself and the winners. Deserving or not. First of all, the academy voters agreed with me on 13 out of 24 categories. Not bad guys; try to do better next year. I certainly should have placed some Vegas wagers on this. Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Animated Feature, Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Documentary Feature and Short, Best Editing.... even best Foreign Language film (and the only one I saw... ). So, what went wrong with Best Picture/Actress/Supporting Actress... first off, "12 Years A Slave" was not a pleasant film. I did not enjoy what I felt followed in the giant footsteps of a brilliant film, "Amistad". The performances were wonderful, the story was compelling.... but I felt beaten over the head with the horrible treatment of people that my own ancestor opposed so vigorously. "Dallas Buyers Club" touched a nerve over something all too often swept under the rug, our federal and state agencies denial and suppression of AIDS related issues and treatment, as well as a personal issue, losing two good friends to AIDS in the late 80's. "Blue Jasmine" was wonderful, and I would be Cates PA in a heartbeat. No one takes care of you like a worshipper. I still thought Sandra Bullock stepping out of Rom-Com and lighter fare "Blind Side" not included, was better. I have a crush on her too, so.... and thank you Cate for "...the world is round!" Galadriel and Elizabeth have spoken Hollywood. You had better listen...

Supporting Actress was a little more of a struggle. My vote finally went to June because, well, she was funnier. Hard to be funny and charming while being an abused slave. Lupita certainly was well deserving of the Oscar. "Frozen" deserved both awards, even if I had to let go of the minions. No one can torch a song like Idina, and o...m....g..... I played it back twice. Very sad to learn that Chris Buck's son had died.

I was overjoyed to see "The Lady in Number 6" win... that film, and her story, were remarkable. Very sad to learn that Alice had died, on Feb 23rd of this year. Speaking of which, I both hate and love the "In Memoriam" section of the Oscars. Christopher Reeves death is till the one that hit the hardest, but I am always saddened to see my heroes, hated foes, lovable side-kicks and others fall along the way. Regardless of where they have gone, I miss not sharing the journey any more. Blessed Be to all of you. We loved you, even if you were sometimes pretending to be horrible people.

Some other moments stood out for me; and some of them I can't read my own notes for, so we will skip them (note to self; don't slam a glass of champagne for the first award... things get a bit iffy after that, like... penmanship). Thank you Angelina, for making the slow walk to help Mr. Poitier look like a stately procession. Kudos to Brad Pitt.. who is so much better now than he was 15 years ago... please re-make "Seven" for me Brad. Thanks to Bette for making the "In Memoriam" better with your voice... and how the hell do you singers keep it together long enough to sing??? Thank you Pink for a marvelous "Over the Rainbow", and Sandra O for a lovely ballad...because nothing says "punk goddess" (way to go, Zack.... look up the words "inspiration" and "aspiration" next time) like a prom formal and a moonlight acoustic serenade... and thank you Idina for knocking another one into low Earth orbit.

Also, I think Chris and Charlize should have kids. They would create perfect Vikings together.
So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Golden Rule

Here is what I don't get; the complete double standard that we STILL have to deal with, even now that the Hippy/Flower Child/Summer of Love teens are parents. How is it that they demanded change, and then fell right back in to the same rut? Why aren't the children born since 1980 more enlightened, more polite, more responsible? I just finished reading a post by Chris Brecheen; here's the link to the article:
I was born into the upper middle class. My parents divorced when I was nine. My mom raised my brother and I, and never re-married. I don't recall any heavy-handed "No means no!" or "Women are people too!" lectures or rants. Is that why I don't act like the antagonist in this story? I don't think so. Was it theatre? I had some amazing role-models growing up, and as a teen boy several of the older men in the theatre companies "pitched in" to help, even if they were not dating my mother. Was that it? Again, I don't think so.

I'm also a pagan by nature and by choice. More to the point I am what has come to be known as Wiccan. I'm not obsessive about it; I don't advertise it with stickers on my cars, I don't talk about it incessantly, and I don't wear layers of intricate black lace, or pointy hats and robes with stars and moons on them. Except on special days. Wicca is about balance and equality in all things, including gender. Is that why? No, though it might contribute now.

I have met a number of confident, smart, talented, and yes, gorgeous women over the years, many in theatre of course. You all know who you are. Becky. Cathy. Barb. Val. Marge. Cory. Lyn. Some I was even lucky enough to date... you know who you are as well (grin). Are these women the reason I am not a "douchecanoe" (thanks for that new word Chris) when it comes to women? Once more, I don't think so.

I've been attracted to women for about as long as I can recall. I was flirting (badly) with older girls by the age of seven. If you want to know, that involved showing off my new bike to two ten year old girls from the neighborhood. I rode in a very tiny circle around them as they walked. Until I tipped over and crashed. The training wheels had only come off the week before. They laughed, helped me up, and walked off still laughing. Sigh. At the age of twelve on my first solo flight from California to New York, I hit on two college freshman sitting next to me. I didn't get any phone numbers.... but I did get a glass of wine.

Regardless, I am interested in women. A lot. I might have been interested in the girl on the BART train, especially if she was reading a Game of Thrones novel. I might even have said "How do you like.... " or "Did you just start reading them.." or "Is Peter Dinklage owning that role and that show, or what?" What I would not have done was keep on going if she said "I'm trying to read" or had just given me blank face. I would have nodded, maybe said "Sorry" and gone back to just sitting there. Nor would I have thought "You bitch."

Why is that? I've had some pretty snotty and, in my opinion, uncalled for reactions by women over the years. Once at a club I saw three women sitting at a table; I noticed after a while that none of them had dates lurking about. I walked over and asked one of them to dance. She looked me up and down like a butcher checking out a side of beef, slowly, then looked me in the eye and said "I don't think so" in a tone that was decidedly rude. "I was asking if you wanted to dance, not blow me in the parking lot." Turning to one of the others I said "Can I ask you to dance?" That one laughed and said "Sure". I once stopped to get gas, and as I was filling the tank a very pretty girl drove up. When she got out of her car she looked over at me. I nodded and, using all my years of practice and my skills, I said "Evening"... or "Hi" (mad skillz I have, yes.....). "Fuck off" was not the response I expected. "Rude much? I was being polite. Bitch." Yeah. I did that. Because the instant hostility from her was, in my opinion, uncalled for and unnecessary.

See, here's the thing. If I ask a woman to dance, that's all I am asking. "Hi" means hi. "Do you like reading books by an author who is slower than continental drift" means just that. I have no subtext. It's not code. There is no hidden agenda. I may think the woman is pretty; I might wonder, fantasize or pray that there would be more to follow. I don't expect it, and I don't plot for it. If I ask a woman to dinner, the movies, whatever, I don't assume that if she says yes I am going to get laid. I don't plan on that either. I'm asking what I am asking. Is that because many times, such simple beginnings have led to friendship, romance, or simply a wild weekend? OK, that would be "yes". I don't lose sleep over "no" either. My masculinity isn't damaged. Nor my ego.

I'm not a pillar of virtue. Far from it. What determines my actions is in fact probably absurdly self-centered. I don't do things to other people I would not enjoy having done to me. I don't run stop signs, because I would be furious if I got hit by someone who did. I don't like people pestering me, so I don't pester them. I hold doors open for women AND men, because I like it when it's done for me. It's really that simple. My manners and my morals are based pretty much on "do unto others". How is it that so many people act exactly the opposite? Sadly, I think we have managed to create a society where you are not held accountable for your actions, where you can get absolution by saying "Forgive me" even if you go right back out and do it again, where no one is willing to call people on their behavior, because it is "confrontational" or "aggressive" or "not correct".

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Justincaseyouhadn't Noticedhe'sabitch

After working on Justin Bieber's first world tour in 2010, my opinion of him (not very high to begin with) dropped even further.

First there was the set. A monstrous collection of crap, and over 20 trucks. That usually indicates a talent issue. More trucks = less talent. Three stories tall.. and utterly bland. Second of all was the video wall; huge, and so lo-rez as to be nearly CGA. Wow. They paid for this? Next was the instruction to security; no signs allowed. Every fan was made to leave their signs on the floor outside or in the garbage, and some of these girls had put a lot off effort into them. Fourth, he was about 40 minutes late getting on stage; and he is so pompous, there is an hour/minute/second countdown displaying to the audience as to when he will actually start. Way to treat the fans, little boy. Finally was his conduct backstage after the show. At 16 years of age, Justin can't walk the 60 feet from backstage to his dressing room; he has an electric cart brought over. He sees all of us waiting for him to go away, and mistakes it for adulation; he stands up in the back of the cart and starts "throwing down gang sign". Ooooh. How street. Pffft. The only "street" for Justin is that he should still be holding his mom's hand when he crosses. The best part of this was that two of his male dancers (who did lots more work, but had to walk..) saw this, looked at each other and snorted back laughter, then shook their heads. Thye saw me laughing and shrugged as if to say "Watchu gonna do?? Boyz lame..."

Having him back just made it clear that he is a punk who will flame out faster than Brandy, and probably bigger than Brit or Lins or.... His stage is a large three story... and just as bland. He also has the same giant countdown displaying, which told he audience he was almost an hour late starting. Why? Some VIP's in the green room. Far more important than the paying fans (who recognized and shrieked when the came out into the house. No idea who they were. Other music punks, I guess. There are a pair of 15 foot wings he wears for his entrance that cost $150,000.00 to make. They don't move, or light up, or do anything but stick out. He rides in wearing them, flown on a half-million dollar "carousel" that takes 40 seconds to carry him from upper backstage to down stage center.... and then they go backstage and are dismantled and put back in a truck. The only interesting part of that bit is that he looks terrified while riding them in.. .and I've seen riskier stuff done by Cher, and Gaga, and even Bette Midler. He can't even unstrap himself; two (male...hmmmm....) dancers kneel in from of him and unstrap him.

Then the performance begins.. and he is as bland as his set. Towards the end he has his shirt off (spoon chested!) and is letting his black vinyl pant slide off his butt. So Justin, you know what that signifies, right? The final punkness is confirmed not just by his conduct at home, and the stupid car mods (like chroming one of them) and racing about... he has a pair of Segways. He uses them to go around back stage, while again the sweating hard working and professional dancers.. walk. Keep going Bieber; the sooner you wreck your career the better.

Friday, May 31, 2013

One for the records, even for my weird dreams. Zombies, Man eating Dolphins, I am both myself and a blonde girl. My dreams always have a certain level of "rules". For example, I might be on Earth in the Renaissance; in which case the basic laws of physics all apply, even if there is magic and we have dragons. Or I am in space on an FTL cruiser, so outside without a suit = dead, and a zero-G zone on the ship means we are in zero gravity, and things behave accordingly. I might be able to fly, but there are always limits of some sort. I can't fly supersonic, or out of the atmosphere, or I can only fly if one or more conditions apply, like I have to jump hard; and it might also have to be dark. Or I can only fly for short distances, like 100 yards at time.

Or else I am in "wherever", a place that may or may not be earth-like, and anything goes. Even there the "rules" remain constant. If I can fly, I can always fly. If ghosts can walk through walls but I can't, I can't ever walk through a wall. Other things can be wildly variable. I am not always me; I'm not always in First Person mode. I'm not always male. I can be female, a film or TV character, and watching from a spectator POV. Or once in a while, I body hop; I am always "me" then, but my persona can hop from person to person within the dream, changing POV each time.

This dream falls into the "wherever" category. The place is earthlike, has gravity and air, and transportation and tech are all modern day. We also have zombies, man eating land based dolphins who can swim through the ground and through floors, but rather like they are swimming through molasses; and a few women have "abilities" that both attract the dolphins as well as slowing and to a degree controlling them. We have to travel from place to place in cars, trucks etc, but we cannot stay outside for long periods, especially at night, because something will happen to us; and inside buildings is where the zombies and dolphins can hunt us. We seem to have no weapons such as guns or flamethrowers, though we can use bats and edged weapons. I am part of a group of three people; a woman I don't actually know who is brunette, me as myself, and also me as a blonde woman, also not a person I actually know.

It's after dark, and we are racing to find shelter for the night. I (from now on "I" is always me ion the woman's body, and "Scott" is me in my own body... make sense? Good. Explain it to me later) am not just looking for any old place; I know that a friend, Heidi Levin, is in a local hotel taking shelter, and that she is in trouble there. Heidi and I both have an ability to slow and control the man-eating dolphins, an essentially psychic power that lets us impose our will for short periods, but requires touch to initiate. Heidi is with another woman like me, and possibly one or two men.

Our van, which Scott is driving, swings around a corner and we have to swerve wildly, because there is a wreck directly in our path. Whatever danger haunts the night has upended a motor home, and is wreaking havoc inside it. We veer over the edge of an embankment and find ourselves careening down a hill ( went lucid here. the van doesn't crash, though it takes damage and can't move any further). Surprise, there is a Mustang Blackjack conveniently close by with a full tank and keys in the ignition. time to go! We race off from the now alerted dangerous thing, leaving it far behind. The powerful Pony, which Scott is driving, easily climbing back up to the street and tearing off.

Scott suddenly hits the brakes again and makes a hard right turn, tires screeching but holding on to the road. He has seen or sensed where Heidi and her friends are, the multi story apartment complex just a few blocks ahead. We roar in to the parking lot and stop underneath a balcony. Without touching the ground we jump atop the Mustang. Scott leaps up and grabs the balcony railing and pulls himself up, then grabs me and helps me up and over, then the other girl. Inside the apartment we can see Heidi and her group. At least a dozen zombies are in there, and half a dozen or more dolphins are circling around on the floor, diving and then trying to thrust up far enough to get one of the people, who have taken refuge atop a pile of sofas and chairs and tables. Heidi is reaching out and touching each dolphin any time one comes close, keeping them controlled and at bay, but she is clearly exhausted. There are two men and one other woman, who are using tables legs and one two-by-four to fend off and bludgeon the zombies.

We yank open the door and race across the room, knocking over several zombies as we go (they are the nice "slow" kind) and even stepping on and pressing under the floor briefly a pair of dolphins. Just as we reach the safe zone of piled furniture, a zombie gets a grip on the hand of the guy with the lumber, and pulls him off balance. He hits the floor and is taken immediately by a pair of dolphins and several zombies. Heidi is too weak to keep going, and sags into the brunette woman's arms, and it's up to me to take her place for a while. Scott take over where the one man went down, and lays into the zombies with a vengeance; he hasn't been fighting them off for an hour already, and has an aluminum bat. I turn and touch three dolphins in rapid order, sending them flopping back under the surface of the floor, and then smacking two other zombies with my own aluminum bat, hard enough to take the head off one (yay, threat ended!) and knock the other completely off its feet.

For a while, we just fight off everything that comes at us. Through the walls we can hear other people fighting and dying, and a few more zombies and dolphins now head our way. While this is going on the brunette manages to get some food and liquids into Heidi and the woman with her, and the remaining guy as well. We need Heidi to help control the added dolphins though, so her rest is short. Scott has a plan, and after getting us in specific positions Heidi and I bring six dolphins up at once, touch them rapidly and send them thrashing a path through the zombies. Scott jumps to the floor and I follow him, touching more dolphins, while Scott presses four zombie backwards, out the balcony doorway, and over the edge. They hit the ground, and that ends them as threats. We spin around and race back inside and now we are grabbing the zombies by clothing or arms and tossing them over the edge as fast as we can. We only have about 90 seconds before the dolphins shake off the effects of my touch and come after us. Heidi shouts at us, and we realize that we need to stop tossing out zombies. There is a threshold level of zombies to dolphins, and if we go below that more dolphins will join in.

Back inside, and I come up with a plan; if take the arms, legs and lower jaws off the zombies they stop being any kind of real threat; then we only need to deal with the dolphins, and they have limits on how high they can reach (they can't leap out of the thicker floor medium, it seems). "We can also cover more of the floor space with a double layer of tables!" Heidi shouts, and we have a measure of safety. Racing from room to room in little parties, we manage to drag back a motley collection of tables, a couple mattresses, and some dressers and another pair of sofa's and armchairs. We flip table upside down, then place tables atop them right-side up; this prevents the dolphins somehow from getting through underneath. We form a ring of sofas and armchairs with the backs facing outwards, and lay the mattresses in a double thick stack in the middle of the circle. One woman can now sleep or at least rest while the other patrols the perimeter, and one guy can stay with her to fend off zombies. Scott takes calculated risk and races out to the hallway to find a fire ax; and when he gets back has an extinguisher as well, so we can now blind the dolphins with CO2; we can't safely kill the dolphins, as doing so sends them into a frenzy, and the psychic charm doesn't work until the frenzy passes. But we now have a way to make a place safe overnight, and even create larger havens.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Never make a Gypsy girl mad.....

Like many of my more epic dreams, this one began in fairly mundane fashion. I was back at my old San Jose office, and was looking out my window and having coffee, watching it rain. Our QA manager came in and was talking to me about an upcoming ISO audit, and was followed by our HR guy talking about a celebrity he had driven around in a limo (his weekend/evening gig), and then our AP clerk Gabby, who was trying to voucher stuff and having problems. Ho hum.

I noticed that in a rather large departure from my normal attire, I had on my black boots, and one of my black silk "poets" shirts, usually worn only at RenFaire or clubs. Hmm. Obviously, it was time for some mischief. I puttered about the office for a while, then made some absurd excuse and left. It had stopped raining but was very overcast outside.

From here on I began a series of small adventures and encounters. The first involved tracking someone who had done something reprehensible (and who I had actually worked with, a real sleaze named Bruce Bartley). My task was to verify he was the culprit, and inflict a suitable punishment. This began the weird; because what I did was use a bit of ritual magic, and make his "three times three" both literal and immediate. He had been treating a subordinate badly. On his drive to Los Angeles, he got stopped three times by police who treated him the same way. He rolled through a red light, and then narrowly missed getting hit three times. Each crappy little thing he did came back on him within minutes. I really liked that one.

A few similar types of events then, with total strangers. Then it was time to do some of my own karmic cleansing, and make a full-on effort to find a former girlfriend, Marge Balla. My little Romany lover had dropped out of touch almost twenty years ago; it was time to find her again and see if she was OK. To my great surprise, it turned out to be almost absurdly simple; some internet searching, contacting some people she had gone to high school with, and paying a PI to get her social security number from a former employer. Plus a bit more magic.

Step two didn't go quite as smoothly; actually talking to her was frustrating, to say the least. She was willing enough to talk briefly on the phone. A face to face didn't go as well; she was polite for about three minutes. Then the facade fell away. She blamed me for never staying in touch (not completely invalid) and for crushing her self-esteem by not keeping in touch with her, not being around when she needed me, which then escalated to never really loving her in the first place. "uhh wait, what? I ...." Hell hath no fury like a woman. She stormed off , and subsequent attempts to reach her were ignored. Fine then.

Not being one to give up easily, and hating to admit defeat.... I cheated. Off to see her mom, who had always liked me more than any of Marge's boyfriends. Easy enough to find mom; she was still living in the former home. This was now a three story San Francisco Victorian, rather than the actual Palo Alto Eikler. Crowded in amongst many similar, the "new" home had a gorgeous stained wood panel exterior rather than paint. The inside was like a cross between "Antiques Roadshow" and movie set for a Gypsie camp. Her mom was in full blown Romany clothing, something she never wore. Marge's room was draped and had an altar at one end (very Wiccan) and the rest of the house had fetishes and lace and candles galore. As I was exploring, listening to her mom lecture me about how I never should have let Marge get away, the atmosphere changed.

One minute it was dimly lit and atmospheric; the next it was dark and ominous. Something was approaching, and not from the Northwest. This was descending like a shroud over the whole block. Her mom instantly began a chant and warned me to take cover or run. As I moved quickly down the stairs, a spirit began to form almost directly ahead. A quick ward deflected it away from me, leaving it lost and confused; but I wasn't going to be able to that again and again. As I reached the room where her mom was sitting, telling a rosary and muttering a spell at the same time, I saw one quick option that might work. Some shawls and lace work that belonged to a grandmother were draped over a sofa. Like a kid hiding under the blankets, I wrapped the shawl around my head and shoulders and then literally dove under the lace work, pulling in even my feet. I could feel the heavy presence of something searching, and it so intense as to be nearly visible, like a purple searchlight sweeping the room.

After an interminable ten or twenty seconds it just vanished, like a circuit had been cut. The spells from Marge's mom perhaps, or whatever had sent it ending the summoning, or else it had simply given up, for now. Her mom insisted it wasn't the type of working Marge would ever do, or even could do; it was time for me to go talk to her again however, no matter how angry or unwilling she was. Her mother had me take one of the small lace objects, a black doylie, as a bit of deflection magic. Summoning both my rather frayed courage and a handy ward, I slipped off again into the night.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The commercials and halftime show for Super Bowl XLVII certainly were not good enough to take the stench of defeat away; nevertheless they were pretty good.

Car commercials were all good for a change, rather than the frequently bland ones, or those relying on special effects. The Dodge Ram commercial was a nice look at dedication to hard work, back by a Paul Harvey commentary on farmers. I think the winner for cars was the Audi commercial, with the kid going solo to the prom. Toyota was a near tie, with Kaley Cuoco on the roof as a Genie( I also liked the promo for BBT, with Leonard dressed wrong. Kaley looks good even in football gear ). Mercedes was my third place pick. Any company using "Sympathy for the Devil" as a score and Willem DaFoe as the devil, in a Bourbon Street diner setting ala "Angel Heart" is a winner. Dodge at fourth place, only because it was so serious. KIA came in last, because I think KIA's suck after my two experiences driving them, but mostly because Space Babies was not as funny as Audi, they didn't have Kaley in it, and it wasn't as creative as Mercedes.

The top place for food commercials goes to Nabisco. An Oreos battle in the library was just genius, and completely unexpected. The Rock's Milk commercial is a very close second place; way to go Dwayne! Dorito's goat commercial was third. After that would be the two Bud Light Voodoo commercials, then the (tired of it now...) "Crackin' Gungam Style".

The odds and ends had some great stuff; the commercial for Axe having an astronaut beat out the shark-punching lifeguard was great, as was the Speed Stick "I'd fold your panties any day" and the Gildan T-shirt as well. I didn't like the Sketchers ad at all; never deprive a Cheetah of food, you jerks. Also was not awed by the GoDaddy bit; the premise was funny, but it played like a bad SNL sketch. Seth Rogan I rarely find funny at all, so his bit falls off the bottom of my list.

My overall winner was the "Two Broke Girls" pole dance number, with the Budweiser Clydesdale a bare point behind. Teary eyed on both, for totally different reasons of course. I have yet to see anything as good as the FedEx commercial from Super Bowl XL; the cave man with the jerk boss was not only funny, but described my former Materials Manager, Dave Pyne to "T". They folowed that one up with the giant pigeon commercial, equally genius. Top slot ever still belongs to EDS for the cowboys herding cats.

Regarding the halftime show, as usual the speed and efficiency of the stage hands was epic. I loved the use of a video floor, and the synch of video to dancers when the short wall came up was perfect. Pyro was understated for a Super Bowl show, making it that much more effective, as you could see the precision of the opening squib/torch progression forming the outlines, without losing the lighting in the resulting haze. I especially like the wedge lead guitar with showers; gotta love a guitar player holding something shooting a jet of burning potassium chlorate, charcoal and aluminum powder out of both ends.

The elevator lifts for the dancers near the end executed perfectly! And while I am not a huge Beyonce fan musically, she has a lovely voice, a great figure, and she totally owned that crowd. Unlike many performers she also is not afraid of them, performing within easy reach. I only saw one person actually touch her, very gently. I would love to see how those sets are constructed, to roll without damaging the turf; presumably there is ply under them.