Wednesday, February 25, 2009

To sleep, perchance to dream

Last night I fell asleep watching Anthony Bourdain. That could have been dicey. Typically in my dreams I conjure up some of the images of my last waking moments. By recycling Bourdain, there was the possibility of finding myself chowing down on yak tongue or reeling from the effects of absinthe.

Tony aside, I love to dream. I encourage it. I keep journals. Often I force myself back to sleep so I can finish a dream that’s interesting. Sometimes I have fun lucid dreaming where my conscious mind gets in on the action.

Even dreams from my childhood remain remarkably vivid to this day. On several occasions I asked my mother if she remembered certain experiences and in her blank response realized they were from an astral plane, not of this world.

In recent years, while I still enjoy the thrill of imaginative dreaming, I also appreciate the practical side. Dreams are a powerful force in our lives and understanding what they are telling us can be quite transforming.

Unfortunately, there is no universal dream language. No pat textbook interpretation that makes the work easier. Driving a car may mean one thing to you and something completely different to me. All elements of the dream world are extremely personal.

Yet knowing that, I couldn’t help but pick up a book a while back at an estate sale titled “The Mystic Dream Book: 2500 Dreams Explained”. Mostly for the kitsch and because it had a cool cover. There is no author listed, but it was published by C. Junceau with a copyright of 1937.

Without getting into the sophomoric and somewhat frightening introduction, the dream explanations themselves are proof that this practice of fixed symbols is pretty darn bogus.

Here are a few excerpts taken exactly as printed:

Sleep – to dream you sleep is evil.
Fun – excessive merriment is a bad sign.
Grief – this indicates joy and merry times.
Gain – to dream you are making a big income is a bad sign, unless you appear to have scored by cheating.
Lice – to dream of lice and that you are killing a good number of them is a very good omen.
Mustard – danger from free speech.
Roast meat – affectionate greetings.
Rye – eating rye bread denotes popularity with the opposite sex.
Slaughter – you will attain a high position in the world.
Turnips – disappointment and vexation.

Reading back through that list, I’m not sure whether to laugh or scream. Hopefully there was a very small readership for this publication back in its day.

Just know that dreams provide a great service and you, oh wise one, are the master of that power.

If you have a question that needs answered, ask your dreams. If you’re looking for direction, work it out in your dreams. If you need to lighten up, have fun with your dreams. I swear…excessive merriment is not a bad sign.

Anthony Bourdain at bedtime is another matter.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Never ending quest

While I typically don’t make New Year’s resolutions, I am on a never ending quest for self improvement, or just expanding my knowledge base. It could be technology, meditation, cooking...anything goes. But on a fairly regular basis something catches my fancy and I run with it. Some of it sticks, some of it doesn’t.

Towards the end of last year I decided I was living with a very narrow range of music in my life. When I’d read the list of the top ten songs or CDs and didn’t know about 90% of them, I decided it was time to explore.

I grabbed the Rolling Stone issue that listed their choices for the top CDs of the year. It proved an invaluable tool for making me feel like a fuddy-duddy. But it was also a fabulous check list for embarking on my musical journey. I started reserving titles from the library and the tunes came rolling in.

Of all the music I discovered, there were three CDs of artists new to me that really stood out. Not possessing any musical talent, or having the skill to understand theory or orchestration, I lean toward strong vocals and catchy melodies. I love music that is “singable” – that means I can understand the lyrics and I have fun crooning along.

Here are my current favorites, in no particular order.

I had in the past mistakenly dismissed Pink as just another tough, punk party girl. Wrong. This woman has the goods. Her new CD, Funhouse, runs the gamut from rock, to rant, to ballad. Her voice is strong and so are the songs. Fueled by the break up of her marriage, there’s a lot of emotion in the music.

Raphael Saadiq has been through many incarnations over the years, including performing in groups and producing. His solo CD, The Way I See It, hopefully is a mode that will stick for a long time. He was nominated for Grammy’s in R&B, but I think his work falls much more in line with gold ole 60’s soul music. It’s sultry, it’s smooth…try to listen without moving to the groove.

The freshest sound and most infectious music I have heard in a long time comes from the young group, Vampire Weekend. Thank goodness Rolling Stone recommended it, because with that name, chances are pretty good I would have never plucked it off the shelf of my own accord.

In a time when it’s often hard to tell one band from another, this group clearly has a unique, easily identifiable sound. I’ve played and played this self titled CD and love it more with each listen. Everything I like is here: distinctive vocals and harmonies, wonderful percussion and a terrific use of string instruments. As a bonus, the lyrics are printed in large type so I can read/sing along while driving. Maybe not safe, but so much fun!

I’m still on this quest, so let me know if there’s anybody else I should be listening to.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rite of passage

This blogger neophyte has been tagged. And with that tag I am introduced into the fascinating world of memes. In the blogosphere, the first tag and the accompanying meme seems to be rather akin to a Bah Mitzvah. Or maybe more like an initiation. A blogging rite of passage, for sure.

The lovely Quirkyloon has asked to peer into the murky pool of my own quirkiness. I don’t know about you, but it scares me.

(NOTE: To my non-blogging friends – a “tag” is when someone calls upon you to answer certain questions. I’m still not quite clear about what the term “meme” means but it has its own Website and you can click here to see it.)

If your house was on fire and you could grab only 3 things before leaving, what would they be?
· The bottle of Pat’s Pop that I’ve been lugging with me from state to state for about 25 years.
· My Smile-on-a-Stick, because I don’t think I will have anything to be grinning about for a while.
· My sock monkey, “Rocco Socko”, cause I’ll need to see a friendly face.

Do you believe in extraterrestrials or life on other planets?
NOT to believe would be a violation of the Inter-Celestial Species Swap Treaty. I have been an honorary member of this peace accord for about 15 years…ever since my landlord made me peel the aluminum foil off my windows.

Do you believe in ghosts?
I would say I believe more in spirits…and wood nymphs, leprechauns and the boogie man.

What do you value most in life?
The ability to breathe. I wouldn’t get far without it.

What do you think is the greatest invention in your lifetime and why?
The Brillo Pad. Have you ever tried to clean your dirty stove burners with a computer?

What do you think is the secret to a good life?
Flossing regularly. Everything else just falls into place.

What would be your dream job?

If you read my earlier posting, you will see that I think Paul Shaffer (of the David Letterman Show) has the best job in the world. It’s not about Paul, it’s the job!

If you could have three wishes granted, what would they be?
· To eat anything I want without gaining weight or clogging my arteries.
· To spend a week at George Clooney’s villa in northern Italy. And, yes, George needs to be there. All other details are to remain private.
· To have the same nimble, toned, flexible body along with the coordination and grace of any one of the normal sized ladies who perform in Cirque du Soleil. Can you imagine the possibilities? (See bullet above.)

If you HAD to change your name, what would you change it to?
Well, I rather like my porn name (you know that formula): Rusty Ridge

What evil lurks

My computer has been running so s-l-o-w lately, this is how I feel I will meet my maker. Sitting at the desk, staring at the monitor, watching the little hour glass dance around the screen and seeing the pinwheel whirl around in the load bar.

The stress of watching, waiting, watching, waiting will take its toll and my head will loll over and smack the keyboard.

Honestly, as I sit here I can feel brain cells dying off. It's like I'm caught in some big Twilight Zone phenomena of psychological torture that makes water boarding seem like a trip to Pleasantville. Does Dick Cheney have stock in Intel?

At the very least I'm in a borderline trance and extremely susceptible to the power of suggestion. Oh my gosh, that's it. Dell has hijacked my PC and they're sending me subliminal messages. Last week I had to desperately fight on overwhelming urge to buy a new mouse. This week they must have stepped up their game because I've been daydreaming about laptops.

Oh, the humanity.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Shine a light on me

Being raised catholic, I spent time in a church filled with statues, candles and incense. Hated the incense. Still do. Must be a throw back to a previous life. But I always loved the mysterious statues and the flickering candles.

I was the only catholic on the block, so I was taunted by the protestant kids who said I was a pagan who worshiped “false idols.” (Remember, during this time they were making movies like The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur.) They thought we Catholics gave too much attention to Mary and the other saints, not enough to Jesus.

I loved having so many saints on my side. And I was intrigued that they all had their own “specialty”. When I lost my Brownie ring, my mother told me to pray to St. Anthony, the patron saint of all things lost. So I did.

One day, sitting on the front porch, I saw something in the grass catch a glint of sun. Getting down on my hands and knees I saw packed down in the clover my beloved ring. It had been mowed over a couple times and the stone was chipped, but St. Anthony had come through for me.

These days whenever I’m in a store that sells those tall votive candles featuring Saints with their own dedicated prayers, I can’t help but pick them up. I’m fascinated by the images, the lore, the symbolism. Every saint, it seems, has a niche.

But for my life today, I’m thinking I need some new saints and some new prayers to keep pace with the ills that torment me.

To aid me in my never-ending frustration with technology, I need a St. Bill. In those times of hair pulling, anguished screams and pounding fists, I will call upon him for patience and tech savvy.

Oh unblemished creator of programs for the geek challenged
Enlighten me with thy software intelligence.
I beg your intercession as I surf the perilous waves of cyberspace.
Grant me patience and unrelenting fortitude.
I am at your mercy.

For a memory boost, especially at those times when I am trying to speak (or write) and words do not form in my brain, I could call on St. Carnegie.

Hail beloved guardian of brain cells
I beseech thee to share thy power
in times of befuddlement and in the absence of word recall.
I am humble in your glory.

There are all too many areas in my life that could benefit from a spark of divinity. I suppose until those infirmities can be remedied with a saintly connection, I will ask the Goddess of Good Humor to shine her light on me.

The eyes have it

My cat, Vicenzo (aka Vinny the cat), loves to hang out on my desk. It gives him the opportunity to keep an eye on the backyard, monitor my work and lord over the dogs. He thinks he is the king of all he surveys.

I turned around the other day just in time to see his eyes reflecting back at me in the frame of my dogs’ photo. It’s just so perfect. Amazingly he stayed quietly in place as I ran to fetch the camera. I think he knew it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity to reign supreme. And to have it captured for posterity.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Will blog for bacon

I have wandered into the Land of Bacon and stumbled out bleary eyed.

While browsing through blogger profiles recently, it caught my eye that an unusual number of folks had listed bacon as an “interest”. Now I love fried pork as much as the next person, but I guess I never thought of it as an interest. A craving, often. A grocery staple, of course. Maybe even an obsession. But not a hobby. Definitely not a manifesto.

So I took a trip through bloggerville and pulled up each profile that referenced this (not-just-for-breakfast) meat. Yowza. Over 530 people love bacon sooooo much they included it on their profile.

There are several blogs out there totally devoted to cured meat, whether it’s eaten, photographed, sculpted or still running around on four legs. They come under many creative headings, including: Baconista, Bacon Ace, Bacony Good….and my favorite…I Was Told There Would be Bacon.

So then I decided to research how bacon was ranked among other interests. That was very telling. One lovely lady puts it between her fiance and vintage lingerie. For Jeremy, it’s surrounded by campfire sing-a-longs and tire patching. And Mikey ranks it between politics and drawing on boobies with sharpies.

On a very serious artist’s blog, bacon was nestled between Diane Arbus, Jasper Johns, Mark Rothko and Balthus. I contacted the blogger and his quick reply informed me he had updated his profile to accurately reflect his interest is in Francis Bacon – not the meat. Oops.

From here I went to Google to seek out bacon lovers on a larger scale. I wasn’t disappointed. There are aficionados and resources a plenty. At they have their own theme song, motto – “Bacon is meat candy” – and line of greeting cards. You can learn about Swine & Dine or order a gift basket.

At you can join in the fun with a bacon lovers’ forum. Taking it a step further, offers the standard gifts and recipes, along with a section on bacon porn.

They only riff I could find is whether as a bacon lover you should be referred to as a Baconite or a Bacontarian. For me it seems a constituent in the Land of Bacon would be a Baconite. I believe a Bacontarian would belong to a club or society where passwords, secret handshakes and initiation rituals are commonplace, but secretly guarded.

As it would be at the end of any research project, I feel better informed, somewhat overwhelmed and completely amazed at how creatively people express their passion. The images seen here have been lifted for your enjoyment from bacon lover sites. One image I was captivated by, but passed on, was The Bacon Bra. If you want to see it, you’ll need to Google.

Rock on, Bacon Lovers. I am humbled to be included in your ranks.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Neither here nor there

My brain has gone on hiatus. And it has taken my motivation with it. I find myself bogged down by a lack of inertia and an absence of muse.

But being a believer that this saying..."Out of sight, out of mind"....bears more weight than...."Absence makes the heart grow fonder"....I wanted to post a bit of prattle before more time passed.

So here's a mish mash of some current thoughts in between hic-cupping brain waves.

My last posting mentioned X-Files and it brought to mind two of my favorite lines from the follows:

Fox Mulder, on a crime scene, was examining a toilet seat. It was frozen or something equally X-Files-ish. He reached in, pulled out a watch, turned to the camera and panned, “Now that gives new meaning to passing time.”

In a different episode, at another crime scene, Mulder found a thumb and dropped it into a sandwich bag. Holding it up to Scully he asked. “What do you think...Siskel or Ebert?”

Bahda bing.

The other day at the health club while I was pounding away on the elliptical machine there was no one worthwhile to watch on the Food Channel so I headed to the Cartoon Network. My lucky day -- it was the Tom & Jerry show. Sigh. They just don't make cartoons like they used to. I still laugh out loud at the antics of this cat and mouse.

When I got home I Googled T & J, to see if I could find any of their stuff on the Web. What I stumbled across was a game based on them. You can click here to play along. Naturally, it involves cheese. I always play from Jerry's perspective. And I'm throwing down the highest score is 1900 and I caught the wedge three times in one game. Hah. Beat that.