Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dream Themes

I'm back to the vampiric sleep pattern again...up 'till the crack o' dawn then sleep 'till know. Unemployed peoples' behavior.

Maybe it's the light penetrating the eyelids or something, I don't know, but for some reason dreams are much more vivid lately.

All dreams fall into certain categories, themes, if you will.

1. Location: Usually dealing with me living in a house or apartment that, in reality, I never did, but in the dream it feels entirely familiar to me. The dwelling usually has many interesting rooms and sometimes can be downright Escher-esque with staircases to nowhere and upside-down rooms. Location dreams can be the backdrop setting for another style dream layered on top of it or, by itself, can be wholly about issues of living there like cleaning, decorating, cooking, sleeping, etc. Fun, huh?

2. Familia: Typically I'll conjure up a dead relative or two and they will be instrumental characters in my dream. In the dream world, they aren't apparitions or ghosts since they never died. And I'm usually a lot closer to them than I was in real life.

3. Cinematic: Like watching a movie in a movie theater, these dreams are usually devoid of my personal interactions (so I'm merely an observer) and can be quite dramatic involving car chases, shootout scenes, you get the picture. They're my favorite because not only are they really entertaining, but I have a feeling that if I could only wake up with enough of the story intact in my memory, I'd have a very successful screenplay on my hands.

4. Chaotic: Not really a true theme, per se, it's the result of a dream devolving into a series of vignettes just as I'm starting to wake up. So they end up being disconnected tangents like dirty sneakers eating a 1970's style rotary dial phone while swimming across the English Channel.

The dream I just woke from featured me living in an upstairs apartment in an old brick tenement in Hell's Kitchen in New York. The landlady, who quickly morphed into my paternal grandmother, rented it to me on the condition that she live in the apartment with me. She also owned an Irish pub on the first floor.

Eventually, I got tired of her living with me, playing Lawrence Welk music on the radio and watching every little thing I did, so I moved out. As I was leaving, she needed a ride to her babysitting gig and so I dropped her off there. She greeted the kids and sat on the sofa in their house. I watched in amazement as a wingless black wasp the size of a house cat crawled out of a hole in the living room floor and stung an equally huge ant. The kids and my grandmother just watched calmly, smiling.

Then I woke up.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I'm With Coco

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on, now'
Cause there's too many places
I've got to see

"Freebird" - Lynrd Skynyrd

Here's a copy of an article posted on Huffington Post last night. I think the author just didn't get it:

Last night Conan O'Brien continued his employer funded assault on his soon to be former employer. The entire Conan-Jay-NBC soap opera has been oddly riveting. The extended late night family has joined the fun with David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel, among others, adding to the commentary on NBC's blunders. Sympathy and support for Conan is widespread while Darth Leno and Jeff Zuckermonster compete for head bad guy dishonors.

I haven't watched "The Tonight Show" regularly since Johnny Carson walked the earth, I'm more of a Letterman guy, but I did set the DVR for the final two episodes of the Conan hosted "Tonight." I was particularly interested to see how he would handle things post 45 million dollar separation deal. In my humble opinion, Conan's Tonight Show jumped the shark in record time in what has become an orgy of disconnected self-indulgence.

Millions of American's are losing or have lost their jobs. They are angry and their employment future is uncertain. That's where the kinship with Conan ends. Unlike Mr. O'Brien they didn't walking away with tens of millions in severance pay. And they certainly weren't provided with a high-profile pulpit from which they could publicly criticize their former employers.

I have no sympathy for NBC. This is a mess of their own making. When I tuned in I was squarely in Conan's corner and remain there on technical merit. After all, in negotiating the 45 million dollar exit deal, Conan made sure that 12 million of that would go to his staff. He is legendarily generous with those he employs and is widely regarded as a decent fellow. So while there is a clear disconnect related to how most of us lose our jobs and Conan is losing his, that's not the main source of my complaint.

My problem is with a segment introduced during the last couple nights in which something not very funny is done for the purpose of spending NBC's money. Last night's skit designed to waste network cash involved a racehorse in a mink watching restricted NFL programming. As advertised, it wasn't funny, but it did cost NBC 4.8 million dollars about which Conan gloated. He's having some pay back fun by burning NBC's money. The night before the price tag for gratuitous waste was 1.5 million and involved a ridiculously expensive automobile. The two-night total is a whopping 6.3 million dollars which is more than half of the 12 million total dedicated to severance packages for the show's staff. Adding to this offensive wastefulness is the fact that Rome, or at least Port-au-Prince, is burning. In fact, Conan made an appeal for donations to Ben Stiller's Haiti relief charity last night mere moments after reveling in the lame but expensive racehorse gag. Apparently it's not just Washington and Wall Street that doesn't get it.

I've been accused of being irreverent to a fault. I find humor in even the darkest scenarios. But given the stark contrast between the world of late night spats and the worlds of record unemployment and horror in Haiti I guess I've reached my limit. Conan O'Brien, because he could, wasted 6.3 million dollars of NBC's money on a sophomoric prank because he's angry that they've unfairly taken away his show. Who knows what tonight's total will be since he has 90 more minutes of air time to get even with the evil peacock network. Ben Stiller's charity and the people of Haiti could have done something quite different with that 6.3 million.

What amounts to chump change in the land of network shenanigans is huge money in the real world. In the real world it's the kind of money that can change lives or perhaps even save them. And while I know that there's no simple formula for moving such money from one place to another, I really don't care. The contradiction between multi-million dollar pranks and appeals for disaster relief from the same host on the same show separated by mere minutes was more disconnect from reality than I could stand and I just had to get it off my chest.


It now appears that Conan's spending spree on NBC's tab is not quite as costly as advertised. Moments after posting I received this link:

My faith is Conan has been partially restored.


First of all, as other commenter noted, these are gags and don't really cost that kind of money. The Bugatti was on loan from the Peterson Museum, for example. I highly doubt that NBC now owns a horse. The only offense I took to the bit was the mink - don't know why we needed that. So, these bits really aren't costing NBC all that much.

And I can guarantee you that the bits are generating a lot more viewers and a lot more advertising revenue. Net, NBC is coming out ahead. Which is what any show business venture is all about. If you really don't like show businesses being profitable, than you might as well crucify Deal or No Deal for giving away millions of dollars to random people instead of sending the money to Haiti. Hey, here's an idea, let's shut down TV altogether until there is peace in the world.

I can personally guarantee you that those bits do not cost as much money as Conan is pretending they do. It is a joke, relax. Besides, let's say he were spending 4.5 million, do you think if he didn't use it on the air, NBC would just hand it to him to give it to charity? No, they would spend it on the olympics, which they are already pumping over 200 million dollars into. It's the nature of these huge TV networks, wasting insane amounts of money, Conan's just pretending to play the game. Luckily, he didn't really buy the horse and the coat wasn't really made out of mink, et cetera. Interesting to see he got a rise out of you, though.

Whatever cost Conan actually burns through, the money would have gone to nbc exec bonuses, investor dividends, etc.

Do you just not have a sense of humor? It was CLEARLY a joke. How could you think he was actually spending that much money... bad reporting, if you ask me.
Long live Conan.

Wow. A "column" with absolutely no evidence as to whether he actually spent that money or it was just a prank. Do you really think NBC would allow $6 million spent???
Do some research before you blast a COMEDY SHOW.

Well, for that matter, tonight Conan revealed that NBC "paid" for the fossilized skeleton of a prehistoric giant sloth holding a hose which squirted a large amount of Belluga caviar onto an enormous original Piccasso at a total cost of $65 million.

And then he shouted out, laughingly, to the idiots watching: "It's all fake!"

Amen Coco! It's all fake anyway!

Enjoy your $33 million. It's been "real".

Love ya, and can't wait to see what you come up with next. I know I'll be watching.

Peace out.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

VIDEO SCRAPBOOK: Top 10 Movie Theme Songs

1. Jaws Main Theme by John Williams from Jaws (1975)

Admit it. This song still gives you shivers when you hear it, right? 35 years later and you still unconsciously hum it when you go in the water at the beach. That's the power of a great theme song!

2. "Also Sprach Zarathustra" by Richard Strauss from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Grand, Booming and Awe-Inspiring, the opening melody is like the dawning of a new age: precisely the subject of the movie. A perfect fit.

3. Star Wars Main Theme by John Williams from Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope (1977)

Well let's face it, this one's on every one's list. Likely recognizable by villagers in the remote jungles of Sumatra. It's truly iconic and totally evokes the grand space opera setting of the movie.

4. "Venus" by Frankie Avalon from The Strange Possession of Mrs. Oliver (1977)

"Huh? What?" you say? This obscure TV movie of the late seventies was very low-key and probably considerably bad, but this creepy psychological thriller story stuck with me and the way the theme song weaves into and throughout the plot in twisted variations leaves me shivering whenever I hear it even to this day. This clip is from American Bandstand (check out Dick Clark!) since the clip YouTube had of this flic was crap.

5. Close Encounters of the Third Kind Main Theme by John Williams from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Who would have thunk it? Five notes. How many tunes can you name in just five notes? Betcha can name this one. And perhaps, just perhaps, there are beings "out there" that can name it too.

6. "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion from Titanic (1997)

True, the massive overplay by pop radio stations throughout 1998 dampened the song's magical impact a bit but this unbelievable theme really does sum up the heart-wrenching story of undying love captured in this film. You hear this and immediately you think: Titanic.

7. "Gonna Fly Now" by Bill Conti from Rocky (1976)

Of the many versions on YouTube, I think this is the "real" original. I remember the extended opening trumpet solo fanfare and the persistent background (very 70s) "waka waka" beat. One comment on YouTube complains about the tempo of this version but you know I think it originally was this fast. They slowed it down to add drama and weight to it as it became uber-popular as the de facto Symphony for the Rise of the Underdog.

8. "Arthur's Theme" by Christopher Cross from Arthur (1981)

"When you get caught between the moon and New York City, I know it's crazy, but it's true." Oh, how I wished I could live Arthur's life. Oh wait a sec...I do! Only without the money. :(

9. Jurassic Park Main Theme by John Williams from Jurassic Park (1993)

Ugh, yes, yet another John Williams song. But he's "da man" when it comes to movie theme songs, what can I say! BTW, regarding this song, the thrill is still palpable even these days when I visit IOA and walk towards the "stone" gates of that "island". Just wish they could keep those torches consistently lit. It's all in the presentation, folks.

10. "The Colonel Bogey March" by Kenneth Alford from Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

A classic whistling ditty of defiance and British ass-clenching. Unfortunately, by my generation, this song, thanks to the power of TV commercials, had become indelibly associated with Getty gasoline.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Boob Tube Rubes

What the hell is with the networks lately? They're either clueless or literally run by a bunch of idiots. And not just one of the networks, all of them!

Here's what I mean:

ABC: They've been pissing me and countless millions of other viewers off for the past few years, actually, with their split-season bullshit. They hook you on a popular show and then, in mid-season, stop airing it until the next year. And they do this with shows that are filled with suspense and mystery hoping you are an exceptionally severe nerd, marking off the days on your basement-apartment wall calendar with a drool-slicked crayon, fervently masturbating to your poster of the pixie-like Anna from "V".

CBS: Well they've always been screwed up. But recently it seems they've just given up altogether on any original programming choosing to rely almost exclusively on reality shows. All of which are a variation of a sort of "Survivor". I think they've voted themselves off the island long ago.

FOX: Once the upstart wannabe, now clings on to the two wildly different audiences propelling them upward past the others: pot smoking, zit-faced, emo teens crazily voting for their favorite American Idols and thick-headed, Jesus-lovin', flag wavin', radical Republicans dreaming of lynching the President and barebacking a falling bomb, ala Slim Pickens in "Strangelove", as it drops on any Muslim city. Now they added Sarah Palin to their roundup of prime-time loonies. "I can see Russia from my backyard!"

NBC: So now after they decide to stir up the late-night mix a few months ago, they go and really threaten to spoil the whole shebang. Leno at 10, no, now Leno at 11:35. But Conan would have to move. Well he doesn't want to. What about Jimmy Fallon? He'll do whatever he's told. And Carson Daly? Oh, is he still on? Oh well, drop him. I guess only the three people who watch him will be upset.

Remember this...

Seems like some things never change.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Snow! Huh? WTF! This Is Florida!

Believe it or not, it snowed early on Saturday and there's likely to be ice and maybe more flurries this morning. Right now, it's 29 degrees. That's right, 29 degrees. In Central Florida. This is crazy.

The little ceramic space heater isn't able to keep up with this inundating cold so I had to pull out the DeLonghi hot oil electric portable radiator.

Luckily this severe cold snap will be over by Wednesday when we'll be back to mid-70's again.

What with all the complaining I do much of the year about the heat, who would think I'd be wishing for warmer weather.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Day 56

56 days of unemployment. Thankfully, I have my unemployment benefits coming in but at just $300 a week, and a pre-determined limit based on past contributions into the system, I'd guess, I can rely on it too heavily.

According to the budget I've stepped-out, I should be okay until the end of March or so. Then I will need to get a job.

So until then I live a retiree's life. All leisure and no work.

Oh yeah, I was made for this.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Size DOES Matter

I've commented before how one could draw a similarity between the erecting of humongous skyscrapers and the perceived penis-size-envy of its creators. Especially in a male-dominated society like Muslim Dubai. So I won't go there again.

But with an ostentatious fireworks and light show, the gown-wearing macho men of the UAE (perhaps clothed so as not to wear pants which may reveal rather under-packed crotches) have unveiled (pun intended) its enormous phallus-symbol. With modern-classical music, dancing fountains and a big lotus flower sculpture (oh, homophobic brothers of Islam...I gotta say this reeks of gay flair and panache) the Burj Khalifa (formerly Burj Dubai) is open for business. And not a day too soon since the tiny emirate is now hard up for cash, go figure.

Seriously though, all jesting aside, a tip o' the hat to Dubai for this stupendous accomplishment. The timing of its opening day in the midst of a worldwide recession is merely a coincidence, I guess. Though it's not unprecedented. The Empire State Building opened as the Great Depression took hold and the World Trade Center debuted during the oil-crisis, inflation, unemployment riddled 1970's. The Petronas Towers' ribbon cutting took place at the start of the 1990's Asian Market crisis. Even the record-holder of the world's tallest building prior to today, Taipei 101 opened just days after the deadly Indian Ocean tsunami killed tens of thousands and ravaged that area's economy.

So swing it proudly, Dubai. Turns out you're no different than the rest of the freakin' patriarchal world. More concerned with sporting a raging hard boner to stick it to whomever is chosen than anything else. Especially in your culture, as identified in the snippet below:

The Arabic Jelqing (or Arabic Jelq) is a very old Arabian technique. The name Arabic Jelq originated in the Middle East where fathers used to prepare their sons for sexual relationships by showing them a penile massage technique (jelqing) which enlarged the size of the penis.

....(slightly blushing) "Oh, Daddy! Pump it, Daddy! Pump it!";0

And now I surely have a Fatwa put on my head. ;)