Dream Journal

Billionaire’s Birthday

I am specially invited to the over-the-top birthday party of a billionaire — already in progress. Individual areas of a landscaped hillside are dedicated to showing off his different interests. Part of a cohort of other guests, I experience a sequence of fully-themed gardens and rooms. One building contains a pool where the water level rises and falls, revealing more amusements. I point out in another that a sword, casually mounted on the wall, was one of the most expensive ever made for a TV show.

Yet I remember, when I was young, I used to walk a trail through the dry grass nearby. Maybe it was a former family home. It all looks so different now, it’s hard to believe.

Eventually we catch up with the billionaire birthday boy. His manner is underdramatic, overly familiar in an unsettling way. Maybe I do know him from somewhere before — the sale of the family home perhaps? — because he seems to act like he knows me. It slowly dawns on me and the other guests, though. The glittery bombastic showcase was essentially a distraction. This place is a trap; once at the bottom of the luxurious hill one must serve one’s betters in order to escape. I become a butler, or something like it.

I have become a lone warrior on a long-term mission. Lately I’ve been hunting in the corridors of a building which feels like an attic bunker, with inadequate lighting and unfinished wood construction. By piecing together and following old training instructions I locate and make entry into a small interior room. I’m led to believe I can recharge there (the resource is perhaps a powerpack, perhaps water or food, etc).

But waiting in the room is an adversary: a deceptively-presented large fat older woman with wispy greying ginger hair and bulging yellow low-class outfit. She attempts to poison me with urine in a cup. We engage in a heated struggle and are equally matched. Other characters appear also, led to the same room in the same way. One is like King Mob from The Invisibles comic series. All are formidable. These six fighters crossing paths in a small room reach a grueling stalemate and eventually, I’m forced to search for further options.

Upon consideration, such a confluence of skilled warriors seems not likely coincidence. I notice a soft-spoken Latina girl who’s gone overlooked until now — cowering, or perhaps simply willing herself to go unnoticed. Her name is Garan. I get her to sign her name, and share whatever advice comes to her mind with the exhausted group. It fits in like a puzzle piece, a tangram that somehow finishes a set. We are released from combat and from that room, all of us. There then remains though, among we six formidable folk, the strange knowledge that this shy young woman, with her reserved manners and heartfelt words, is akin to us somehow… for all our quite considerable collective violence.

I’m still serving the same billionaire. I’ve been doing it so long, while working off my debt, that I’ve been endowed superpowers — temporarily for the duration, at least. Today I happen to be in a cheap portable building waiting on a job, idly examining a small lizard wrapped around my right index finger. Powerful critter; my digit circulation gets cut off. I infer when I awake later that this means I was left-handed in the dream — an odd detail.

After that I inspect a performance stage below a tent. The backboard features quotes which Mr. Billionaire liked, which given any amount of self-awareness are monumentally ill-advised and cringe. Much like the man himself. I still recognize him for what he is, even though by now I’m supremely skilled at my job for him. Not that I’m any happier with being tricked into the work in the first place.

There’s an issue I have to deal with. As more people filter in for the performance, I need to lure a giant monitor lizard (a komodo dragon) away and out. This is an energetic, determined beast, always focused on something. Even with powers of flight this is a challenge as I can only go so high up. While I can get it outside, and can reliably distract it away from other people, it manages to climb a tall Christmas tree growing among the dry grass field. I’m finally able to shepherd it outside a containment boundary. I am granted, or perhaps simply remember, that I can utilize a very useful power — invisibility.

Dream Journal

Scraps of Dream

An old-timey cruise ship, looks like the Titanic, tilt-y coming out of port.

A thin cliffside gorge, zig-zagging along back-and-forth paths.

A bomb in old ceramic dish, beeping much too loud.

My old crush’s birthday. That’s all.


Birthday/Christmas Wishlist 2010

  • any shirt that looks like those pictured
  • bow-ties, like real bow ties that you tie on, especially ones with patterns or polka-dots, are cool
  • 2 terabyte hard drive for cheap received!
  • a magical easily-obtainable driver’s license for wifefriend Lynae
  • accordion (note: a very complicated choice that I’d really like to make myself… at some point in the future)
  • this toy caveman is pretty awesome, and is all of $7 (for the thrifty present-giver)Although… you know, as long as I’m mentioning it here, the toy manufacturer (Papo) makes a really great Plesiosaurus and Allosaurus, too. I have their Oviraptor and it’s top-notch. Consider it mentioned.
  • iPhone 4, for better or for worse, cf. “I must have the iPhone 4 […] I need the one with more gee-bees”
  • iPhone-to-FM transmitter, car mount, case that can safely get run over by a car
  • a new comforter — because apparently 5 years should have been considered a good run
  • Better Internet – we’re considering a local Wireless ISP (WISP) named that requires an up-front investment for an antenna. We’re still deciding on this one, and it’s not glamorous, but an upgrade from 3M/b download to 30M/b for less per month is a heck of a win-win.
  • The Secret Museum Of Mankind, Vol. 5 – you know how often I go for physical CD media, so this better be special. Indeed it is — I have the first 4 in the series, and they’re amazing, but for whatever reason this is missing from the Internet and thus my collection.Check out this 1939 track from South Africa, from the only recording studio in sub-Saharan Africa at the time, and the origin of the melody for “Lion Sleeps Tonight”:
    [audio:Solomon Lindas Original Evening Birds – Mbube (South Africa).mp3]

This Year’s Birthday Theme

My birthday falls exactly 12 days before Christmas. Yes, there’s a song; no, nobody sings it. Although there are certainly worse calender dates (like February 29th, or Christmas itself), the placement has always been problematic. But I made a discovery the birthday before I went to college: the present season goes better if I have a theme.

Two years after that I was going to Australia. Excellent year as far as “stuff I’m definitely gonna use,” and made me happy. I think a theme is called for this year. Considering my current state of unemployment, and the protracted lack of funds which that implies, this year I want:

to maintain my quality of life!

Yes, that’s right. Sometimes it’s just nice not to have to sacrifice the enjoyable things. Things like:


Monica has a Birthday

Fifty strangers meet in a public park. Many have never met before, some have. They are dressed variously in matching outfits, funny wigs or hats, or just colorful sunny day clothing. They have come for a singular purpose. However, what exactly that purpose is none are certain—except one. They have placed their faith in a leader. This leader, a sprightly woman, short, young, with twin feathery poofs emerging from her brunette hair, and dressed in a festive old west leather skirt and cowboy boots, assembles the convivial horde. The mob slowly quiets.

Megaphone in hand, pointed in no particular direction, she announces her name is Monica. She is turning thirty. Cheers. Welcome to her birthday! she says. Cheers. Much commotion and fumbling in pockets and, shortly thereafter, a blast from the megaphone. Even greater commotion. Another signal tone, a pause, much clapping and yet more cheers, then ebbing to silence, as the crowd seems to contemplate their plight. No one knows where to look so everyone looks everywhere. Two minutes pass, and the group is silent. Except for some minor fidgeting, the fifty party-prepped people together on the green grass stay still on this bright, sunny Saturday afternoon in the park. But then, inexplicably, with no cue from Monica or anyone else, the crowd begins to cheer again.

This is when some sort of magic starts to happen. Over the next half hour, with no apparent direction, revelers flap their arms and pretend to fly around in circles, play tag, dance at random intervals, engage in staring contests, hum the theme from Super Mario (more or less), go hide elsewhere in the park, form a spontaneous line to spank their beloved leader as she crawls between their legs, and finally, carry her bodily to her waiting birthday cake, where they summarily deposit her butt-first into it… and of course, must then sing “Happy Birthday.” Maybe just one more dance party, the crowd seems to decide. Much applause follows for super-special birthday-girl Monica who has rightfully earned it by pulling off this ridiculous, puzzling, and joyful spectacle. Then the magical shenanigans are over. One by one, people in the crowd pull out their earbuds.

You knew there was a big reveal, didn’t you? Well, of course—San Francisco is quite a magical place, but not that magical. It does have a lot going for it, though, such as a great many people who are willing to assemble at, say, a pre-determined location at a certain time carrying necessary props, just for the promise of fun. It has a lot of tech-savvy individuals who can coordinate over the internet, a lot creatives amongst them who can think up fun things to do. It has a viral culture that spreads ideas fast. The inevitable combination of qualities like these has been called the Urban Playground movement, although I’d say it’s less of a movement and more like “something humans have wanted to do since *at least* the industrial revolution but have just gotten around to acquiring the technology and inspiration and freedom to do so.” Zombie mobs, sidewalk pie fights, lightsaber duels, riding the subway in one’s underwear, gigantic pillow fights (on Valentine’s Day, no less), all are things that have been a long time coming.

A great heap many other factors made Monica’s awesome birthday party awesomely possible when it happened in Dolores Park this Saturday, February 9th:

  • The ubiquity of MP3 players, to start with. Sure, everybody might’ve had a Walkman in the 80’s but in the past five years it’s become normal for anyone and everyone to be wearing earbuds practically anywhere, all off in their own musical world.
  • On the website set up by Monica and Co. they credit inspiration to fellow, uh, “playgrounders” vis-à-vis Improv Everywhere’s MP3 experiment. Quote: “you’ll be part of a group of people obeying a shared voice in your head.” Coincidentally, Improv Everywhere is affiliated with the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, an improv group with a show on Comedy Central in the 90’s—to my knowledge the first to try this sort of just-for-fun situational public pranking.
  • One can certainly give credit to Maer, Monica’s DJ friend, putting together the MP3 track by such recently available tech-wizardry as having access to editing software and a library of music.
  • I’m sure her boyfriend Jason is owed some due, seeing as how he put together the website and, with her, hosts regular swap meets in San Francisco. The self-taught promotion skills and network of acquaintances they set up couldn’t have hurt either.
  • Quicker now: the shared modern urge to discover entertainment which is participatory, engaging, and/or doesn’t require spending money.
  • A continuing societal obsession with youth and youth culture (since the boomers actually) now manifesting as a growing hole between the walls of childhood and adulthood; call it “kidulthood.”
  • The Victorian invention of the civic public park that preserved spaces of open land in cities for recreation (told you it went back to the industrial revolution).
  • The western traditions that place value on an individual, combined with
  • the near universal superstitions of astrology that place such weight on the stars of an individual’s birth.
  • Also, the many inspiring bands of 1978, all those thirty years ago.

The most important reason, of course, being… hello, party! An oversimplification, surely. Perhaps not an unwelcome one. Hope this has been an educational experience for you all.

And you, Monica… thanks for having us… 😉


Thanks Are In Order

I had a lovely birthday. Thanks, guys. You called me on a cold pier as the sun was setting. You called me as I was trying to navigate a radioactive abandoned Navy base. You wished me health, prosperity and success in your studies (even though I don’t have any studies… but thanks anyways). Some made me cake, and damned good cake at that, cake that wasn’t even choco-nutty-poke. Some of you even let me call into work sick with a “head cold,” whatever that is. Twenty-four. I don’t feel the need to look up the number on Wikipedia this year. Just wanted to say:



Birthday Wishes

Starlight, star-bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may I might… you know the rest.

I didn’t actually get that much for my birthday. Bought myself a wireless keyboard. Walked my dad through getting another year of Flickr (typed in the credit card myself.) What I got was um… kind of a uh… peace-a-mind. A resolve. Something I’ve wanted to do for at least a month now: write everyone in my life who deserves to be written. Oh, and there’s a big list to get to…

  • Aynne Valencia
  • Lynae Straw
  • Meredith Scheff
  • Jenna McKay
  • Donna Fitzgerald
  • Emily Wentz
  • Michael Bandli
  • Lauren Wolfer
  • Josh Nebgen
  • Petr & Zdenka
  • Allegra
  • Ryn
  • Jerome Gagnon-Voyer

And I think that’s it. I’d always like to add more. This year for my birthday I want something from myself [laughter]. I want myself to be the kind of person who fulfills that which I want from myself. This is all very deep, and very cathartic. And I’m glad I went outside with a tape recorder and acted all inspired and talked into it and then came back inside, feet freezing, and transcribed all of it. I might go outside more often.


Self-Portrait Tuesday

There is such a thing as self-portrait tuesday. I didn’t make it up as an excuse to post “pix” of me posing for a silly internet contest that a friend interrupted and made cooler and more posse-like. I put this up here, cause, well, I ain’t gonna look this good forever. Tomorrow I turn twenty-three.

Twenty-three. Nothing important. Hump number. Odd, not even. Obstinately indivisible by anything but itself and one. Not between anything; just older. Twenty-three Skidoo. Psalm 23. Michael Jordan. The human genome and its 23 pairs. In mathematics, “The Birthday Paradox” — given a group of 23 or more randomly chosen people, the probability is more than 50% that at least two of them will have the same birthday (ask my good friend Emily). On a standard QWERTY keyboard, the 23rd letter W is right below and between 2 and 3. Alright, alright, this’s just getting ridiculous.

Twenty-three: not as boring as I thought. I might even have fun this year.