Funny dream with Kelly

Two nights ago I had a dream that featured a guest appearance by my Canadian friend and fellow writer Kelly, a curious bumper sticker, and the coining of a new euphemism for sexual activity.

In the dream I was visiting Vancouver and thinking about moving there. At first I was with my maternal grandmother, who apparently had just moved to Vancouver and was big on living there. (In reality she died in 1997, in Florida.) As we walked uphill on a bustling street–a street somehow reminiscent of my early days in Philadelphia, or rather of my dreams about a city that has aspects of my first big city–on a sunny day, she was giving me a bunch of typically bossy advice about having my furniture moved and stored. Then somehow I was with Kelly and Alyx, who were encouraging me to move to Vancouver and singing the praises of Canada in general. All I remember of my response was a muttered and dubious, “Well, I should probably look into the taxes . . .”

I must have decided the taxes were worth it, because in the next part of the dream I was living in an apartment in Vancouver, in a big old building. At some kind of party or gathering I was sitting in a big chair when a man I didn’t know–nice-looking but not spectacular, 30ish (I was that age, too, how nice)–came over and sat on the floor, or on my chair, in front of me and leaned back into me in a very familiar way. We started flirting. At one point I bent over him and he leaned his head back and we shared a Spiderman-type kiss.  Then it turned out that the meeting was some kind of atheists’ activist group, and our big plan was to distribute blank yellow bumper stickers. Each of us was given a batch of them that looked just like a Post-it pad, only the size and shape of a bumper sticker. The idea was that the blankness of the stickers would proclaim the nonexistence of a deity.

In the next scene I was alone in my apartment with the guy from the previous scene. We were under a blanket on the couch. My POV was that of an observer, not a participant, so I don’t know how far along things had gotten, but the blanket was moving.

Just then the door flew open and Kelly stormed into the room, brandishing a handful of the yellow bumper stickers. She said, “What do you think you’re doing?”

I stood up with an attempt at dignity and indignation, holding the blanket (don’t know what the guy did), and said, “What do you think I’m doing? I’m getting my bing on.”  I have never heard, much less used, that expression.

Kelly then said, “You upset my beloved Nana with these things! Now she thinks there is no god.”

The last thing I remember is me saying, “Well, actually–” Then the dream ends.

Well, actually, I don’t think blank yellow bumper stickers are a very good way to promote atheism, nor do I love the phrase “getting one’s bing on.” But the idea of moving to Vancouver and being a Canadian, and a neighbor of Kelly and Alyx . . . ah, that’s a beautiful dream.

Dreaming a story

Early this morning I had a long dream in which I came as close to lucidity as I ever do. I didn’t realize that I was dreaming, but I did have an awareness that the dream was a story and that I should be taking notes on it. I also had a sense that it was connected in some way to my work in progress. The image that came to mind was that the dream-story was at right angles to the WIP.

The dream involved a sister and brother, a library, and, like my WIP, a much-sought-after secret way of passing from one world into another. But the characters were younger than those in the WIP, and the overall tone was much lighter. It had something of the flavor of one of my favorite children’s books, Dan Wickenden’s The Amazing Vacation.

Unfortunately, my dream recall was not operating at best efficiency this morning, so the story slipped away as I was waking up. (Not helped by Zachary poking me and saying, “Want to do a crossword?” The dear man.) But I like the fact that I had a dream that on some level I was comparing with, or relating to, my WIP.

End of the World dream

This morning I had the most vivid and exciting dream I’ve had in a long time. 

Zach and I were in a large chamber atop a tower, maybe in Mexico. We had ascended by climbing 150 steps–the place was a landmark we had come to see. There were about a dozen other people with us, and we all knew that the world was going to end that day. It was an astronomical catastrophe of some sort: rogue planet crashing into Earth, Sun exploding, not sure. Scientists knew it was coming, and people all over the world were preparing in various ways.

The people in our place were mostly calm, talking to each other in low voices. Zach and I sat next to a wall, holding hands, but I was curious and kept going to a big arched window to see what was happening, then recounting what I saw to Zach. First the horizon was rimmed by hundreds of small rainbows, like the scalloping on the edge of an old-fashioned pie plate. Then the sky got dark and thunderous. In the distance on the scrubby plain below, geysers of steam and water burst through the soil. I looked down and saw a herd of brown-and-white cattle running in confusion. Then I looked up and saw that the sun was a strange pinkish-white color, ringed in a glowing aura, and although Sol was not appreciably larger or hotter, I knew that it was time.

I went back and sat next to Zach. I said, “I hope you’ve had a good life. You’re a good man,” and we kissed (his glasses dug into my cheekbone). Then everything went dark.

I woke up in the same chamber, but on a cot. Through the window I saw an unnaturally blue sky. It was exhilarating being alive, but I my first words were, “Wtf? What happened?” There was a sense of anticlimax, almost chagrin; if we had all thought the world was going to end and it didn’t, I might feel rather silly, like those “end of the world” sects that have to keep revising the due date when their prophecies  annoyingly fail to come true.

I ran to the window. Our tower was now surrounded by dozens or hundreds of structures: round buildings made of clay or porcelain, huge metal constructions, elaborate palaces of bricks and glass, examples of many wildly varying architectural traditions all plunked down cheek by jowl. Then another form, like a huge metal eel studded with glass globes, glided silently past just above eye level.

The others were looking out the window and trying to figure out where we were (“Is this real?” “Is this heaven?” and so on). I ran to the opposite side of the room, which had been solid before but was now one huge window. I called out, “I think I know what happened–we were rescued by a race that travels around the galaxy, saving people from dying worlds!” The view was of a huge landscape (think <i>Ringworld</i> or Jack Vance’s <i>Big Planet</i>): ocean, mountains, and this surreal city that stretched on and on, with flying machines and spaceships. Zach and I were jumping up and down with excitement, thinking of the extraordinary adventure that was about to begin. (Even better than Iceland, although that may have been the source of the geysers.)

When we woke up and I told him, he said, “Don’t tell that one to my sister. [fundamentalist evangelical] She’ll say it was the Rapture.” But I’m pretty sure it was aliens.

The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival

Last weekend was the annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival here in Portland. (Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!) In recent years the minions of the Old Ones have gathered for this event at what I consider the perfect venue (and not just because it’s close to my house):  the Hollywood Theatre, a shabbily magnificent old-style movie palace, with three screening rooms, one of which is enormous. A winding ramp leads up to the second floor. The ramp is oddly off-kilter, but its non-Euclidean geometry is the perfect introduction to the Mall of Cthulhu on the second floor, where vendors hawk all kinds of good things: books, comix, Miskatonic U. athletic wear, and much, much more. I always treat myself to something during the festival. This year I bought a CD of a 30s-style radio play of At the Mountains of Madness. It was produced by the good folks at the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, who also created the wonderful silent-film-style live-action Call of Cthulhu a year or so ago. I haven’t yet listened to the CD. I’m saving it for the end of this month, when Zach and I may venture into the aeon-blasted peaks surrounding the fabled plateau of forbidden Leng . . . er, drive to Chico to visit Z’s stepmom, then take the long way home on back roads through the Klamath and Siskiyou mountains. We shall strictly avoid any ancient buried cities we happen to find.

Each year the HPL filmfest presents half a dozen or so feature films, old and new, and several blocks of shorts. Some are directly based on Lovecraft’s fiction; others are indirectly Lovecraftian–sometimes very indirectly, but the festival’s organizer, Andrew Migliore, is pretty good at keeping the focus on weird and cosmic horror rather than pure grue. I often find the shorts to be the best of the fest. They are wildly varied in tone and quality, but they always represent wonderful inventiveness and energy. Another reason I like to I catch all the shorts blocks is that at least some of the features are available on DVD. John Carpenter’s The Thing and In the Mouth of Madness, frex, were screened this year. So was Larry Fessenden’s new film, The Last Winter, which sounds very promising. I would’ve worked it into my fest schedule had I not learned that it will play at the Hollywood for a regular run in December. There are, however, always features that are difficult, if not impossible, to get on DVD. (I will never forget an amazing, confusing, but very Lovecraftian Italian film I saw at the fest a few years ago; last time I checked it was not yet available in NA format.) A film called Wishbaby had its world premiere at this year’s festival, and one called Chill, based on “Cool Air” had its regional premiere.

Highlights of the weekend, in no particular order:

–A very funny live skit by Chuck and Dexter, a pair of prankish auteurs who have contributed some of the cleverest videos to recent festivals . My favorite short of theirs is “Antiques Road Show: Arkham.”

–A 21-minute short called “Of Darkness” that I thought was brilliant. It was a simple idea, filmed in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, with very a simple set and minimal props. It was about half a dozen kids (not professional actors, but amazingly well directed) in a simple, terrifying story about a book that opens and lights that go out.

–“The Masque of Ollock,” an eerie 8-minute animated horror fantasy created by Robert F. Kauffman, based on his book of the same title. The soundtrack was disturbingly cool; I scanned the credits and saw that it was by The Church, which reminded me of how much I liked that band and launched a search through boxes of old CDs when I got home.

—“A Short Film About John Bolton,” a funny-scary parody of a BBC documentary about a British painter; spot-on skewering of a pretentious gallery owner and a clueless interviewer; a nod to “Pickman’s Model.”

Nobody, a 90-minute feature that made its regional premiere, starring Costas Mandylor and George O’Ross (the director, Shawn Linden, was at the fest). It was slow and stately, but deeply atmospheric and filmed in extraordinarily good, lived-in-looking 1950s period detail. It’s a film noir about the fateful intersection of a mobster, an assassin, and a witch on a winter night in some nameless city . . . with structural echoes of Groundhog Day and Memento.

–Two adaptations of “The Shadow Over Innsmouth: Cthulhu, a feature length piece filmed here in the Pacific NW, and “Call,” a 43-minute “long short” made in Scotland. I liked Cthulhu but liked “Call” more–the setting in a Scottish seaside city, with actors speaking their lines in Trainspotting-thick Scots accents, added piquancy.

I was too busy all week, finishing an overdue book about Rodents (couldn’t work in a reference to “The Rats in the Walls,” though), to write this up. As I went to bed last night, I was thinking about the festival and preparing to write about it. Then I had a dream about NEXT year’s HPL film fest. Zach was there (highly unusual–he almost never goes) and so, for some reason, was Sharon Stone (I think she had a bit part in some horror movie that was showing and stopped by to sign autographs or something). A bunch of us were sitting around in what looked like an elementary-school classroom, talking, and she asked, “Who is this Lovecraft and why do you like the stuff?” Everybody started babbling enthusiastically, and after a minute she said, “Maybe I should make a Lovecraft movie. What are his women characters like?” General hilarity ensued. Just then a crane outside the window accidentally drove a long metal bar right through the wall, about 3 inches above Sharon Stone’s head. Everyone sat there stunned for an instant, and then Zach said, “Stuff like that happens all the time in Lovecraft.” I was about to take issue with him and point out that he’s never even read any Lovecraft, but I woke up.