Monday, December 17, 2001

McDonald’s Chocolate Milkshake Opera

I sit in my car at a McDonald’s restaurant drive-thru.

A voice comes on the intercom.

“May I take your order,” the voice says.

“I’d like a chocolate shake.”

There is a short pause the intercom comes to life.

“Okay…drive around.”

I pull up to the drive-through window. I see a woman inside, making my milkshake.

She wears a nametag.

Her name is Carmen.

She opens the window of the drive-thru and hands me the shake.

“You’re eligible for a free CD,” she says.

“What kind?”

“It’s the opera ‘Carmen’,” she replies.

“Sure,” I say. “That would be fine.”

I drive my truck around to the front of the restaurant. I shut off the engine, grab my milkshake and get out of the truck.

I open the doors of the restaurant and go inside.

I sit down at a table and begin sipping my milkshake through the straw.

A UPS van drives up outside the restaurant. The driver gets out and walks inside with a package.

He comes to the table and hands me the package. As he walks away, I open it.

The envelope contains a CD of the opera ‘Carmen’.

A fancy certificate falls out of the envelope.

The certificate reads, “Order a hamburger from Bertha and get Wagner’s “Ring” cycle, absolutely free.”

I’m not in the mood for a hamburger.

Then I woke up.

Friday, November 23, 2001

Parking Space Tiger Gate

I am visiting some old friends from college -- my old roommate, Paul, and his wife Kim. We are sitting in the living room at their house, talking about old times and catching up with each other.

We decide to go out for dinner. We walk outside; it is late evening. I get in my truck and they get in their car.

I follow them to downtown High Point.

Paul and Kim have a sub-sub compact car that looks like something out of a 60's British film. Other cars pass on the street -- everyone else in High Point has one too.

The streets are about the width of an alleyway and it is very hilly, sort of like San Francisco. I find it difficult to navigate my truck on the narrow streets and fall behind them in traffic.

Finally, I reach the restaurant where we are meeting.

All the parking spaces are too small. I can’t find a place wide enough to park my truck. I drive around the block and double park, filling two parking meters with change.

When I enter the restaurant, Paul and Kim are already seated and have food.

I sit down and we talk some more.

Then, we are back in their living room.

“Why don’t you go outside and say hello to Buttons,” Paul says.

Buttons is a small dog Paul and Kim had many years ago.

I walk through the house and open the back door in the kitchen. I step outside. It is daylight.

The backyard behind their house is all fenced off, with the fence connected to the house so that Buttons can’t get out.

At the far edge of the yard, I notice that a gate is open.

There is a small cat there, rubbing against the gate and wanting to get in. I decide to close the gate to keep the cat out of the yard.

I walk over and shoo away the cat.

“You’re not supposed to be here,” I tell her.

I close the gate and turn around, watching Buttons play with a small ball in the yard.

I hear a growl.

The cat is on the other side of the gate. It has transformed into a lynx.

Another open gate has appeared in front of me, making the fenced in area smaller, like a maze.

I shoo away the lynx.

“You’re not supposed to be here,” I tell her.

I close the gate and turn around, watching Buttons play with the small ball.

It happens again. And again.

Each time, the beast turns into a larger member of the cat family. I tell the animal they shouldn’t be there and close the gate.

The fenced in area became smaller and smaller.

A beautiful large tiger appears.

“This is ridiculous,” I say to myself.

I reach out my hand, rubbing it against the tiger’s neck. I feel it’s soft fur and massive body against my fingers.

The tiger purrs and licks my hand.

I wake up.

I am in Goatboy's cabin, visiting him. His partner Lane is there.

We have all just gotten out of bed.

I turn to Lane, stretching and waking myself up.

“I think you’re influencing me to dream about cats,” I tell him.

Lane looks at me, puzzled.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he says.

Then I woke up.

Monday, January 1, 2001

Black and White Village Ice Block Man

I am sitting next to my friend Gil in the middle of a large movie theater. We are the only people there.

A black and white film is playing on the screen. It looks similar to one that might be directed by Akira Kurosawa.

On the screen, peasant villagers work in a field. Men and women in tattered clothes till the soil or carry baskets.

A man approaches from the distance.

“Come here!” he yells, “They’ve found him!”

The man is speaking in Japanese and there are no subtitles, but we understand perfectly what he is saying.

The villagers drop their work and murmur to each other. They follow the man.

Music similar to the soundtrack of “Seven Samurai” plays.

There are men and women, old and young, following the man up the mountain. It is rocky and difficult to climb.

As they climb, the landscape becomes more sparse and rocky. They pass pine and cypress trees.

The man leads them to a flat stony clearing. There is snow on the ground and I can see breath coming from their mouths as they talk. From the clearing, I see the mountain jutting up far into the sky.

Three men are there with picks and shovels.

“Come help!” he says, “We have to get him out!”

The villagers watch as the men clear earth and snow from a mound. The mound contains a large block of ice. One of the men wipes the snow away from the top of it.

The villagers become excited, murmuring to each other, and gather around the unearthed object.

I see a shot from the perspective of the block of ice, looking up. The faces of the villagers are all around the frame. They look astonished.

I see an overhead shot of the block of ice. Encased within the ice is a man. The features are indistinct at first, but the camera moves closer.

I realize that the man enclosed in the ice is me.

Then I woke up.

Pinball DJ Hotel Wizard

I am sitting in the control studio of a small-town radio station.

I am researching some kind of book on AM radio and interview the DJ that is on duty. It is early evening.

The man is a little older, perhaps in his fifties. He tells me he is the owner of the station.

I wonder why he was working such an odd shift. Usually, a radio station owner wouldn’t be on the air at that time or wouldn’t do on-air work at all.

I ask him about it.

He tells me that he has broken up with his wife recently. He has joint custody of the kids and has to take care of them while they are on break from school.

We talk about the way radio is changing. He is sad that small stations like his are disappearing.

I stand on a hill in back of someone’s house. In the yard is a camping tent, much like one that would be used by a family at a campground.

It is a rural area, sort of like East Tennessee or the mountains of North Carolina.

A black woman is there. We know each other. She reminds me of Weebe, for some reason, but it isn’t her.

She tells me she is spending the weekend there for some type of gathering. A woman connected with the event lives in the house and is allowing her to stay in the tent in her yard.

We step into her tent as we continue talking. It is decked out with all kinds of furniture ­ it is more like the room of a house than a weekend camping tent.

She is annoyed with the woman in the house.

“I’m trying to stay away from her,” she says.

I walk outside the tent. The woman who lives in the house has just come into the yard.

She is rather dour. She tells me about all of her problems. I have never met her before.

She tells she has a “no good husband”.

“I’m going to look for him,” she says.

She walks up a hill in back of her house. I follow, curious where she will go.

Soon we come to a large hotel. It resembles the one in “The Shining”. We walk inside.

The hotel is crowded with people. It looks like a cross between a hotel and a bizarre. We pass a check in desk and chairs in the lobby and then booths and tables where people are selling things.

I look around, watching people mill about.

I have lost track of the dour woman.

I walk around the lobby, watching the people talk and buy things from the vendors.

At the far end of the lobby is a room that looks like a gambling joint. It has blackjack tables, slot machines and roulette tables. It is crowded with people.

I see the owner of the radio station, gambling on a rather odd machine.

The machine has a glass front and reminds me of the machines they have in convenience stores and truckstops with all of the coins in them. The player stands in front of the machine and looks down in it, through the glass top.

The man keeps putting money into the machine, over and over again. Once in a while, he wins and a few coins fall out of a slot.

I talk to him as he plays and ask how he is doing.

I know that he is the “no good husband” the dour woman is looking for.

He continues playing, getting a little more lucky with the machine. However, it still only spits out a few coins.

Another man comes up to him and talks to him as he plays.

“I’m getting more lucky,” the radio station man says, “I can almost feel when it’s going to pay up.”

“Perhaps you should follow the yellow brick road,” the other man says, “You’re so lucky, you’d probably get rich there.”

“Yeah,” the man says, “maybe I will.”

The radio station owner walks away from the machine towards a road.

Through the gambling joint and leading out into the hotel is a road. It is made of tile, not yellow bricks. The tiles of the road have odd shapes and are in colors that no one else seems to have wanted.

I follow the man as he walks on the road, through corridors, into rooms, through hallways, through the kitchen.

Finally, we come to a set of big metal double doors painted brown. There is nobody else around.

He knocks on the door three times.

The doors open.

We walk into a strange kind of empty room.

It is full of bright, colorful light -- very warm, calming light that pulsates in red, yellow, green, bright blue, white. The room seems infinitely large, with no ceiling or walls.

We walk for a few moments further into the room. We see a man there dressed in shabby clothes.

"You must be the wizard,” the radio station owner says.

"Yes," the other man replies.

"I feel really lucky today," the man says, "I can almost feel when I'm going to win."

"Yes," the wizard says.

The wizard motions towards his right. In the room is a large pinball machine, several stories high. It has bright blinking lights and is filled with all kinds of levers, switches and shiny metal balls.

"Go ahead," the wizard says, motioning at the machine.

The man takes a token out of his pocket.

“This is the only one I have left,” he says.

The man grasps the token in both hands and closes his eyes.

"C'mon, baby," he intones.

The man drops the token in the slot of the machine.

The machine springs to life, emitting all kinds of colored flashing lights and strange metallic sounds and bells.

The lights and sounds keep building, louder and louder ...

The machine burps.

Literally, the machine just lets out a big belch and sits there.

The man is disappointed.

"It's okay," the wizard says. "You've found your heart's desire anyway."

Then I woke up.