Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Computer Framework for Algorithmic Music Generation

For the last three months or so I have been developing a piece of software that algorithmically generates music. The program works pretty well, but the algorithms that produce the music are still a little bit rudimentary. There is still a lot of room for improvement. The music it generates is usually not quite coherent.

I am giving a presentation about this project at California State University San Bernardino tomorrow. It should be good, because I won't really have to do very much other than explain how the program works and then run it.

Last night I finished up the program, cleaned up the code to make it presentable, and then put together a short PowerPoint presentation.

And then I went to bed and dreamed about another feature that the program needed. "But!" I kept telling myself, "I already finished it! I can't change it now!"

I woke up this morning, and for a second I thought about rushing to the computer to implement the new functionality.

After that second was over I realized that I had no idea what the feature was that I had dreamed about. So I went back to sleep for another fifteen minutes.

I think I might have dreamed about it again.

If so, then I forgot it again the second time I woke up.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Last night I dreamed that I was programming in a little programming language called brainf***. It was really frustrating, as though I just couldn't quite get the program to do what I wanted it to do, or as though the problem I was trying to solve just didn't lend itself well to a language consisting of only eight tokens. I think, now that I'm trying to remember it, that I was attempting to use brainf*** to develop a proof for some stupid theorem or something, but the theorem was really trivial and intuitive, and therefore proving it requires the use of brainf*** to make it more challenging, so that you don't get bored and subsequently die from said boredom. Or something like that. It's very hazy now.

In any case, the reason that I was dreaming about brainf*** is because on Tuesday (in real life) I spent an hour writing a brainf*** interpreter in C++. It works really well, though that's not saying much as it's such a simple language to implement.

Is there some subtle subconscious message coming out of this? I wrote an interpreter for brainf***, and then I dreamed about brainf***. How can I find more meaningful interpretations of my dreams? Et cetera.

In unrelated news (or is it?), I watched a film called White on Rice this week. It is the funniest movie I have ever seen. I recommend it for the whole world.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Old Dream Papers

So I discovered a number of old papers with dream notes on them under the table beside my bed. Some of them are a little unclear about the dream they initially represented, but I think I can put a few details together. Most of these are rather short and unimportant dreams. Let's start with those.

On the night of September 25, I apparently dreamed that I was babysitting a tiny toddler. I don't remember that at all, but that's what my notes say.

Same night, I dreamed that I accompanied my brother and sister to a shopping mall in order to purchase my brother's Halloween costume. For some reason, he was looking for hummus shoes. We tried to visit one clothing store that sold clothes that were too expensive to look at. The doors were angled and had wooden slats, kind of like the doors on some changing rooms. They didn't let us in that store.

I don't remember this, but evidently someone said, "Radar?" to which someone replied, "It's not instant," to which the first person replied, "Huh?"

Now, my brother actually was Radar O'Reilly for Halloween, so I guess this had something to do with that, but I cannot recall the details.

We continued wandering this mall, which was strange in that although it was made up of many different stores throughout, there was a single checkout area at which shoppers would pay for all of their desired items, procured from any of the stores, all at one time.

Then I was using a huge invisible sword to battle a big guy with two huge knives. During this battle, I was an acrobat of tremendous ability, jumping and flipping and blocking a lot.

At some point, I had this conversation:

"Where are you going?" someone asked me.

"I'm not going anywhere," I said.

"Be careful. It seems like you're almost going to go somewhere."

"You make it sound like... 'Be careful. You're almost going to fall off a cliff. You're almost going... somewhere!' "

I felt rude.

The dreams ended with a scene in which I was talking to a couple of people about class statuses. Like... "Oh, I'm a first year," or "I'm a second year," or "I'm a transfer student." One of these people looked a little like Jessica Szohr. She was wearing white gloves, had a weak handshake, and was complaining a lot about something. I think she said her name was Sona, which I thought was weird because that's the name of the company that created the product used for the University's Department of Psychology Research Participation System.

Then, on the night of September 29, I dreamed that I was trying to drive my sister's car, which was parked in front of my grandmother's house. I needed it to go pick up my own car somewhere else. The only problem was that it was blocked in by another car and blocks and plants. I had to open the garage door and move a chair in the process of getting things untangled enough for me to get the car out.

I don't understand it, but apparently my sister was honored, because that's what my dream notes say.

I drove the car to a pizza place, and the person working there was some middle-aged trucker lady. She probably looked like Large Marge from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. She created a Sonic pizza for me. As in, Sonic the Hedgehog. She used a blue fruit rollup for Sonic and a gumball for his eye. Otherwise, the pizza was pepperoni. There was a special narrative to this pizza made clear by moving scenery. It was the most incredible pizza-oriented work of drama I had ever seen.

Many days later, I had a more substantial dream that really requires a post of its own, and so I shall leave that one for later.

But last night I dreamed that I was some sort of winged warrior doing battle with an enormous two-headed wolf. But the second head was the head of a slug. And the wolf head had an extensible neck. And the slug head could shoot laser beams from its stalk-eyes.

I cut off both heads, and the creature died.

Then, the lord of the manor carried his crippled wife downstairs, singing a song to her. I don't remember the lyrics, though I do remember that they didn't rhyme, but I was nonetheless impressed with my subconscious for spontaneously producing lyrics to a song at all. Of course, it was probably garbage.

I said goodbye and went outside. I picked up my own wife and flew away. She asked me to sing her a song, but I told her I was watching for enemies in the skies above and around us.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Names from Decades Past

The guests of the dinner party were aware of every other's name, except for the man wearing the hawk mask. Normally, they didn't mind seeing new faces in the house at the top of the hill, but that was precisely the problem. They couldn't see his face. It seemed clear to them that there was something wrong with this. Why would a man conceal his face? What was it that he feared? And who was he?

Besides, he was well armed, a rapier on one side, a short sword on the other, and feathered armor made to match the hawklike nature of his headgear. And with his concealed identity, he was a well armed stranger.

It would not do.

But it was Anton the Host who had invited him, and that was the only reason that the Hawkman was still present. If not for his influence, they would have forced him to remove his mask or immediately would have had him cast out without a morsel to eat. But Anton said he was to stay, and so he stayed.

Everyone wanted to ask him why he wore the mask, but in their anxiety they all restrained themselves and tried to content themselves with the food and idle conversation.

"The weather has taken a turn for the better, I'd say," said Markus the Stalwart.

"I hear they've discovered gold in the north," said Ulysses the Tall.

"This blowfin steak is superb," said Timothy the Hungry.

Yet the room bore in the air a tension that would not fade, like lines of live wire stretched taut across the room. Everyone had noticed that the Hawkman was not eating.

"Sir, I'm afraid I didn't catch what your name was," Lucille the Delicate said to him.

The chatter ceased, and everyone turned to face him. The ticking of the grandfather clock at the far end of the room counted to five, but he gave no answer.

"Please, my friends," said Anton the Host, "our honored guest's background makes necessary a most unusual measure of privacy. Suffice to say that he simply cannot share his name with you at this time."

Timothy changed the subject. "Might someone pass me some more of that turquoise shelltart. It's incredi-"

"Why do you wear the mask!?" Markus blurted out.

Anton stood to his feet. "Markus! This is outrageous! Silence yourself!"

The Hawkman turned his head and faced Markus the Stalwart directly. The Stalwart, though unable to see the other's eyes in the darkness behind the hawk mask, felt momentarily less stalwart, as though the Hawkman's gaze had skewered his heart through a gap in his steel breastplate. Nevertheless, Markus stood to his feet.

"I demand to know who you are, what you want, and why you wear that ridiculous mask!"

Anton started to speak, but he knew that the merriment of the party was gone and could not be restored. He looked at the Hawkman anxiously to see what he would do.

The Hawkman stood to his feet and seemed about to say something, but suddenly he cocked his head as though listening intently. Instantly, he reached for the rapier at his side and leaped over the table.

Amidst the startled cries of the other dinner guests, Markus drew his own rapier and made to thrust it into the Hawkman's chest, but his opponent was much too fast. The Stalwart thought that he was doomed, but the Hawkman ignored his threat and darted past him toward the front door.

The door burst inward, landing flat on the floor. A mass of animate yellow headed corpses came pouring through from the darkness outside. The man in the hawk mask lunged and put his rapier's point into the left eye of the first one inside. Momentarily phased, it shook its head violently, wrenching the sword from the Hawkman's hand, and it continued racing forward. The swordsman retreated, drawing his short sword from his other side.

"Zombies!" cried Anton. The others began screaming and standing to their feet, but the corpses seemed not the least bit slowed by death. In an instant, the zombies had set upon Timothy and Ulysses, the two nearest the door.

Timothy's neck became a crimson fountain as the monster's teeth sank in. His mouth flew open with gurgled screaming, bits of his dinner flying from his mouth and intermingling with his blood. Ulysses began trying to pummel their attackers with his long arms, but soon the zombies began to chew upon his limbs, and he fainted in weakness.

The Hawkman guided his short sword through the necks of two of the monsters. Their heads flew across the room, one of them landing in the roast hamturkey, and their bodies slunk to the floor.

"We can kill them!" the Hawkman shouted, lunging toward another corpse.

"There's too many of them!" cried Markus, smashing a zombie's head with the hilt of his rapier. "We must retreat!"

The Hawkman decapitated another of the monsters and leaped backwards from another's groping hands. "We have hope until you stop fighting! Keep fighting!"

But Markus the Stalwart turned and ran to the window at the back of the house. Lucille the Delicate tried to follow him there, but a zombie grabbed her from behind and quickly loosed the blood from her neck. She screamed and fell to the ground.

"Damn you, coward!" the Hawkman shouted. "They cannot be infinite!"

"Die alone if you wish," Markus said and disappeared through the window.

Anton the Host fled up the stairs, and the Hawkman followed him. He sliced off another of the zombie's heads before following Anton into the bedroom, locking the door behind him.

"What are they?" asked the Hawkman.

Anton caught his breath and answered. "They're zombies. The living dead. They won't rest until they cover the earth."

They heard banging and growling on the other side of the door.

"Why are they here?"

"I don't know," said Anton. "They do have a commander, but I don't know who he is. Perhaps if we find him, we can put an end to it."

The Hawkman stood thinking. "I will find him."

The banging continued.

"How did they destroy the front door?" asked the Hawkman.

"I don't know that either, but it means that we don't have much time," said Anton, making his way across the room to the window. "Perhaps we can escape down the far side of the hill."

He opened the window and climbed out onto the side of the house.

The door burst open, and zombies poured through. Backing slowly from the horde, the Hawkman cleaved another two of their heads off.

Anton turned, saw the zombies, turned again too quickly, and fell shouting to the ground below.

The Hawkman killed another zombie and leaped through the window. He spread two great wings from the sides and back of his armor and glided softly to the ground. He looked around for Anton, but then he heard a scream.

He turned and saw a group of zombies descending upon the Host. He rushed toward them and sliced one of their heads off, but the others turned toward him, and he was forced to retreat.

The Hawkman leaped into the air and used his wings to propel himself to the roof of the house.

For a moment, the relative peace on the roof was almost serene, as though the zombies were but part of a dream. He looked around himself and saw an immense valley to the east. To the west...

Nothing but fire. The entire countryside in the distance was ablaze. How had they not noticed its glow during dinner?

He heard growling at his feet. The zombies were now clambering up onto the edge of the rooftop.

The Hawkman sprinted to the east side of the house, jumped toward the darkness, and flapped his wings downward as hard as he could. He spread his wings out on either side, gliding over the valley, leaving the zombies behind him.

The growling of the monsters became louder behind him, but then they began to fade. Soon it was completely quiet.

He knew that he was losing altitude, as he could not actually fly, but only glide, but the valley floor continued to descend away from him, producing the illusion that he was rising. He continued to glide as far as he could, hoping to put as much distance between himself and the zombies as possible.

After a long time, he began to see footprints in the ground far below. At first they were quite small, almost invisible, but to his astonishment he began to see larger and larger tracks. The feet that had produced the largest of them had to have been about the size of a small tool shed.

Finally, he touched down at the edge of a river at the valley basin.

He turned. In the darkness, he could not see the house, even with the fire burning beyond it. How far had he gone?

The Hawkman began to make his way south along the river, and soon, he came to a house built upon a wooden platform over the water. He crossed a wooden bridge and came to the doorway.

There was a sheet of paper beside the door. Looking at it, he realized that it was a guestbook. He scanned the list of names.

His own name was on it. A name from another time. He'd been here before, decades ago.

He took the pen and scratched his name out until it could not possibly be read.

The door opened, and appearing in the doorway was a humanoid with the features of an insect, an ant. He walked on two feet and held a cup of tea with one of four arms.

"I knew I heard someone out here," he said.

"Ant-Z," said the Hawkman.

"You remember?"

"Of course."

"Come in. It's just me and the missus right now."

The Hawkman made his way in.

"You look like shit."

"Feel like it, too."

~  ~  ~

I feel as though the above is probably poorly written. Oh well. I had a lot to write, and I didn't want to take too long. I don't dream about zombies often. In fact, this might be the first time. But I thought it was an interesting dream, so I put it down on paper.

Not sure what else to say so I'll just stop.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


It's infuriating, my rotten luck. After an untethered space jump, hours of fighting my way through a space station shaped like a mushroom, and improvising a means by which I could cause the space station to induce a jump through hyperspace by tumbling end over end repeatedly, I find myself trapped in a distorted version of my own childhood.

I don't understand it. One minute I'm hurtling through space at well over three times the speed of light, and the next minute I'm stuck in a child's body trying to deal with these damn oppressive authority figures. They think they are providing me with well-deserved discipline, though in reality they are endangering the galaxy and all its inhabitants.

The big guy is bad, but the old woman is the worst. Yes, it's the bouncer with rectangular muscles that is forcing me into the prison cell. But it's the old woman who's telling him to do it. I wonder, if he were to be made aware of her corruptions, would he turn against her? Somehow I doubt he has quite enough brain cells to manage the justification of a moral upheaval on his own. I'm not sure...

Why the hell are they putting me in here anyway?

No, it's pretty clear. After seeing the alligator pit in the back of the room, it seems obvious.

So I calm down a little, feigning exhaustion, even going along with their prodding in a display of reluctant surrender. I wait until the opportune moment, and then I dart for the door.

The bouncer tries to grab me, but I anticipated that. I shift my weight the other way and circle around him. He's strong, but much too slow.

The old woman is shouting something behind me that I don't register. It doesn't matter now. Now what matters is getting the hell away from this place.

Out the door I go and I'm in a large hall. Something seems familiar about this place, but I don't have time to think about it. I have to keep moving.

I go through the double doors at the end of the room. I go up the stairwell there and open the door on the second floor, but I go back and hide in the corner. The others run right through the door, too hurried in their pursuit to think of every possibility for my escape route.

Back down the stairs I run, out into the main hall again. I remember now why this place was familiar to me. It has the same layout as the old church where I grew up. They've made it into something terrible. I see the old woman running on the catwalks above me now. Laughing, I cry, "This place could be good! It could be beautiful! It's neither of those things!"

~  ~  ~

I no longer know the exact date of this dream. I'm sure that it dates back to shortly after my last post, which was a little over a month ago. So given its age, the details here may have been ruined a bit.

When I wake up, I write down some notes about my dreams so that I can remember later when I have time to sit down and write a proper blog entry. However, these notes are usually pretty hurried and not very descriptive. They're generally intended to remind me of what happened, not provide a complete depiction of anything.

For instance, the notes for this dream read as follows:

Space Jump, Mushroom Space Station, Tumbling Hyperspace.
Spirited Away, Old Church, Big Guy Bouncer, Alligators, Running, Double Back, Get to 2nd Floor, "This place could be good! It could be beautiful! It's neither of those things!"

That's it.

Sometimes I wonder what someone would make of these notes if they found them lying around on a bus stop bench or something.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Granny (and Some Burst Dreams)

It's all very hazy now. I can't remember how I came to be in this place, but for some reason, it's important that I stay.

I can't remember why I stay. There's nothing preventing me from going outside. Indeed, I go out for fresh air often.

The place is obviously an old abandoned orphanage. There aren't any children here any longer. It's completely empty except for me.

No, that's not true. There is one child, a small South Asian girl, under my protection. I don't think she can leave. Maybe she can, but she won't.

I think she is why I am still here.

She talks often about the old woman who used to be in charge of this place. Apparently, the kids used to call her Granny. I don't remember if I've specifically asked her anything about the old woman. She simply volunteers the information. Mostly I don't listen anyway. I already know everything I need to know about her.

She is evil.

She is coming.

I'm trying to persuade the girl to leave with me, but she doesn't seem to want to go.

"This place is dangerous," I say.

She doesn't answer me. She only talks about Granny.

She does leave the building with me sometimes when I go outside for air. She seems happy enough in this miserable place. But I can't leave her here. She doesn't understand. She thinks Granny means her well. Maybe she does. But I can't let her stay here. She mustn't be here when the old woman comes back.

Every time we go back inside, the girl shuts the door. She always leaves it unlocked for Granny, just in case she returns. I never lock the door. I'm sure it's dangerous, but I intend to get out of here before the old woman gets back, anyway.

We're sitting outside on the porch. I'm talking to the girl, trying to get her to focus. Finally, she seems to be hearing me.

"We need to leave this place," I tell her.

"Why?" she says.

"There are things you don't know."

"About Granny?" she asks with an innocent smile.

I'm not sure what to say now. She doesn't need to know everything.

"Well," I say at last, "it's my job to make sure you're safe. You won't be safe here any longer."

She seems to be thinking.

"I need to take you with me," I say.

Reluctantly, she agrees to leave.

We go back inside to gather our things. This time she enters first, and I shut the door behind us. My muscles are working automatically. I lock the door.

As I'm crossing the living room, the girl is already upstairs. I'm gathering some things for the trip when I realize that this is the first time the door has been locked since I arrived.

Suddenly, I understand.

The old woman has been here the whole time. She knows that I've locked the door. She knows that I want to keep her out.

She is angry.

I turn and fly to the door to unlock it in the desperate hope that it might appease the witch, but I find that though the bolt is thrown, the door is ajar. A mere sliver of the light of dawn shines through. And then the sliver swells and the light fills the room, blinding me.

Then I see her. The old woman has finally revealed herself in the doorway. Her skin bears the pallor of asphyxia. Her hair is of the exact same color, long and stringy, floating stiffly behind her like shards of glass. Her face is short, but very, very round, and protruding from its center is a profoundly long and pointy nose. Her back is hunched over dramatically so that she stands somewhere between three and four feet in height, though upright she would stand about five. In her left hand she is holding what appears to be the carcass of a kangaroo. In her right hand she is holding an enormous three pronged fork.

This, I understand, is meant for me.

I'm not having this. I have a long invisible lance in my hands, and I make good use of it, stabbing her in the gut again and again and again. She is bloodied, but she still comes at me, apparently unphased. I retreat backwards and continue to maim her.

This continues for a while, and finally the witch seems to have had enough. She declares, "I'm resigning! It's no longer good for the kids anyway."

Suddenly there is a red Cadillac outside with the steering wheel on the right-hand side. The driver is a young man who looks like a greaser straight out of the 1950s. In the passenger seat on the left side sits a young woman that I understand to be a marginally famous South Asian film actress, though I have no idea what her name is.

The witch rides away in the back of this vehicle, and that's that.

I go upstairs to find the girl.

~  ~  ~

I don't know what happens next. I woke up. This dream gave me chills, although I lay in bed for a little while thinking about how I would alter the details in a film adaptation to make the dream more terrifying.

I closed my eyes again and I could see the Cadillac's skeleton as though the car's skin and muscle were invisible or removed. The skeleton was formed by long, curved blades like katanas. I've often thought about Ubiquitous Trees* made from blades. They seem to me especially deadly if they appear everywhere at once out of nowhere, simultaneously gouging anything that is anywhere. This was not a U-Tree. It was merely a skeleton, the foundation upon which my subconscious mind had built up a more detailed dream-entity. As my mind was demolishing this particular entity, I returned to the ether and witnessed its skeleton, sort of like observing the wooden framework revealed by tearing away drywall.

I wrote down the details of this dream and then returned to sleep. I drifted wearily in and out of the ether for the remainder of the night, experiencing a variety of burst dreams. These included:
  • Being lost at a new school. My class was starting soon, but my schedule was not in my backpack.
  • Lying in bed, writing down the details of a dream. I realized that I was dreaming and decided to do some stream of consciousness writing while still dreaming. I distinctly remember writing down some random words strung together incoherently. These were structural words like "because," "after," "in," and "the." Then, I wrote down, "there's a place for me in Heaven, no matter what you think," followed by scribbling frantically, and then, "OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD," whereupon I woke again.
  • Running into one of my professors. I asked him if I could still do an Independent Study. He said that I couldn't. The policies had changed and now disallowed what I wanted to do.
  • Waiting in a queue of cars, each one being accosted in turn by a very, very shady looking carjacker with a knife. When I was second in line, I resolved to floor the gas pedal and escape when he tried to approach my window. But when he approached, and I tried to floor it, I realized that the car was backwards, I was in the back seat facing backwards, and there were no pedals. I scrambled for the driver's seat as the carjacker started scratching the window with his knife.
 Amongst others that I must have forgotten.

~  ~  ~

* Please see the end of The Ubiquitous Shredded Chicken Tree for more on U-Trees.


Eternal night veiled the campus at the University I was visiting. Whether this is a natural feature of the surrounding area or a man-made one to accommodate the vampire population of the student body, I don't know, but the night-time that engulfed me was forever.

I was attempting to register an account at the campus computer lab in order to use the Internet, but the process of registering required that I complete a quiz about the points scored in the most recent baseball game that had been played on the campus. I had to identify which players from both teams scored in which innings (strangely, called pads in this area) and the final score at the end of the game. I had to do this in the form of an essay.

Needless to say, this is a very difficult thing to accomplish without having watched the game, taking notes as it progressed. I had not done so. And so I sought out the local scoreboard, which kept such records until another game was to be played. I started trying to take notes on when different players scored, but it was very difficult to read it as the information was scattered around, apparently at random, and every time I looked from the scoreboard to my paper and back to the scoreboard, everything had changed completely. The only things that were consistent were the letters "NMC" at the top.

Frustrated, I went to a nearby car wash and got my car washed. No one was there. I simply helped myself to the equipment and did it myself.

I went to class, but right before I entered, I realized that I was naked. Luckily, the blinds in the classroom were closed, so the other students inside could not see me. I hurriedly put on my clothes and ran away.

I went back to the car wash with my wife and kids. We entered the washing area, but we had no car. We had ordered personal washes. The machines sprayed us with water and soap and got our clothes all soapy and wet. I think I was screaming during this whole ordeal.

I tried to go use the drying machine, but the controls were too confusing. There were two big buttons, one of them labeled, "load." The other button's label was too faded to read. There were also six smaller buttons in two rows with just single letters on them. The bottom row were N, M, and C. The labels on the buttons of the top row were also too faded to read. There was also an unlabeled small red button.

I watched another customer dry off with another machine. He pushed some of these buttons and the machine dried him off.

So I tried the top button with the label worn off, and the airflow that came out of the machine had specks of spit in it. I realized then that the label had read, "Camel."

I tried "Load," but the same thing happened.

I asked the attendant for help, who looked at my receipt and informed me that no drying service is included with personal washes. She informed me that you have to get a car wash to dry. It was at this point that I realized that I was already dry anyway.

I told the attendant that I had used the machines earlier. She told me that they had been closed at that time.

"But I used it!" I said.

"The machines still work," she said, "but we were technically closed."

Whatever, I thought.

I returned to the baseball scoring table again, but this time it was really crowded, which made it ever more difficult to get the information I needed.

I was getting really frustrated.

Checking In

All right. I've gotten my Internet connection up again in my new place, and I'm all set to go. Of course, as I had suspected, my dreams from Friday night are lost to the ether forever and ever. I have no idea whatsoever what I dreamed about. I am pretty sure that I did not dream about spaghetti, chocolate or otherwise, but that's about all that I know. Whatever I dreamed about, it must not have been very noteworthy, because I didn't bother to write any of it down. Of course, I was busy picking up U-Haul trucks and moving couches and chairs and tables and boxes and stuff, and so I really didn't have time to write anything down in any case. So it might have been slightly interesting.

But it's gone forever! So nevermind.

My move was pretty uneventful. So nevermind about that too.

What else to talk about? Um... Well, I beat my high score in Balloon Fight! That's pretty important stuff, isn't it? I was at about 520,000 previously. This time I reached about 580,000. Someday, I'll record a video of myself playing Balloon Fight, and I'll post it on here for everyone to watch and be amazed at my skills.

I have some dreams for you from the last two nights, but let's give them their own posts, shall we?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Oh, by the Way...

I won't be using the Internet for a little while on account of moving. I won't be able to make another blog entry until probably late tomorrow afternoon/evening, and by then the details of whatever I dream about tonight will have changed a lot. So I'll try not to have any dreams at all tonight, but usually that's not really up to me. I'll probably have some awesome dream about making chocolate spaghetti or something, but by the time I have my Internet connection back up, it'll be regular old non-chocolate spaghetti, and what's the point of blogging about that?

I just thought I should say something so that all you 300,000 readers will not be clamoring for a new entry tomorrow morning. Why don't you go write your own blogs!?

Carbon Copy

Once again, very few details remain of my dreams. Just about all that I remember is that I handed a two dollar bill to some money changer or some such person, who examined it and gave me back $778. He gave me a seven hundred dollar bill, a seventy-seven dollar bill, and a one dollar bill. The seven hundred was extremely thin and translucent like carbon copy paper. I was extremely pleased.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Three Throwaways

Only three things remain from my dreams last night:

  • A rollercoaster that I was about to ride that was cancelled on account of no one else wanting to ride it.
  • An HR rep who was very rude with me and who... wanted... fish...    ...    ...I think?
  • April from Parks and Recreation. She turned out to be kind of a fantasy/RPG nut and had a whole tub full of old NES and SNES cartridges, including Diablo, Diablo II, and Diablo III, in addition to a wide variety of other games I'd never heard of (and which probably don't actually exist).

That's all.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mass Effect 2 and Death by Pizza

Night before last, I had another Mass Effect dream, kind of like this one. I think my subconscious was trying to remind me that the new downloadable content has been available for about a week. I had forgotten. Anyway...

This time around, both my wife and I were members of a large group of mercenaries, and we had been hired to rush into some base and take out the jerks who had taken it over.

So I told my wife that I'd go in front, and that she should stay behind me. We rushed in, and I took cover behind a small wall, but then I turned around. Somehow, I knew that there was a sniper way up high on a ledge above us and a little behind us. The cover that I was hiding behind didn't protect me from that angle, so I pulled out my own sniper rifle and shot him in the head.

Things got hazy here, but I ended up way up on that ledge, which was simply part of a higher floor in the base, and I was sneaking around corners, shooting the jerks as they appeared from around other corners.

Later, we were being briefed on another mission at a mine set in the side of a steep hill/cliff face. We were told that the builders didn't know what they were doing. Indeed, right before our eyes, the holographic model of the whole mine base collapsed and fell off the cliff.

When we got to this mine, my wife rushed to the lowest point of a tall shaft and started sniping the electronic eyes located at the top. Then some gas leaks appeared, and I told her to get out of there. She did, and we were both fine.

Then, last night, I dreamed that my wife and I were in line at the commons at the University of Redlands, from which we both graduated with our undergraduate degrees. We wanted some kind of new pizza that we'd heard about, but when we got there, we learned to our horror that the meat on the pizza was made from a particular citizen who had proven himself a subversive member of society.

Needless to say, we didn't want it any longer. I think we got some plain ol' pepperoni instead.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


In the near future, after our precariously balanced civilization of comfort and individualism has succumbed to the ravages of nuclear war, we will find ourselves desperately trying to survive and rebuild within a tribal society of raiders and looters. There will be no iPhones or iPads or wi-fi networks or anything at all that allows you instantly to get step by step directions from Fallbrook to Brawley.

It will not be complete anarchy. There will still be rulers of sorts. They'll call themselves whatever they want--chieftains, sheiks, kings--but no one will have any greater rightful claim to power than any other. Muscle will matter a great deal more than it does now. Intellect will not appear to matter any longer, although this will be an illusion. The real leaders will still be those with brains, but it will be all the more necessary to cultivate more immediate forms of personal protection.

At least, this is the way it will be where I end up.

When I arrive in the community where I eventually flourish, the local ruler will call himself a King. His Queen will already be dead by the time I come onto the scene. How she has died, I will not at first know, though I expect that sooner or later that detail, presumably an important one, will become clear.

In this community, like every other, all of the men and boys will care only about practicing their fisticuffs and wrestling and occasionally their trash talking. I will be the single solitary exception. Some of the other men will attempt to take advantage of me.

They will wish they hadn't.

I will belong to the brainy minority. I'll spend my time observing the others to find their vulnerabilities. I'll search for ways to circumvent the immediate need for muscle. I'll make them understand that though my frame is slender and my demeanor makes robbery tempting, I am not to be trifled with.

I will also understand on some rudimentary level that the extreme winds are produced as a direct or indirect side effect of the radiation from the war. I will not understand the details of why this is, but I'll understand enough to know that it can be reversed.

I will find a long red blanket in the wilderness. The strong winds will seem to think that it is a sail. I'll let the wind take the blanket from me, and miraculously it will return directly to me with another blanket in tow. This one will be at least four times my own body length. Why the men of the future will determine to make blankets so much longer than they are at present, I do not understand now, nor will I understand it later.

I will go inside the campsite with my blankets, and a lady of the King's court will try to take the longer one from me, but I'll wave her off, saying, "No, I've got it."

I will make my way around the group of boys practicing their fighting, rhythmically circling each other with fists clenched and chanting on their tongues like a song and dance from an age long gone but now returned, a dodo rising from the ashes of an eagle. I'll turn a blind eye to their absurdity. I'll understand the necessity of their foolishness. Every machine needs cogs and wheels.

I will stop at the entrance to the central keep. I'll listen at the door, for I'll suspect that the lady just inside is talking about me with one of my brothers. Satisfied that no foul play is afoot, I'll enter.

The King--he'll remind me of the King from the Wizard of Id--will ask for wood. The brawny men, obedient as they are, will bring him a heap of scrap lumber that they'll find scattered all over the wilderness. One man in particular, a large, bald, shirtless, hairy man, in fact a craftsman of some sort, will push the heap onto the central fire.

A cloud of smoke will explode from the fire. A chessboard will emerge. Another miracle.

One of the rooks on the board will have a red tag that reads, "Private." The men will try to touch it, but it will evade their grasp, darting footlessly about the board, between pawns, along the lines dividing rank and file, outside the boundaries. No one will be able to seize it.

I will approach and perform another miracle of my own. I will take the rook in my hand.

I will not be surprised or caught off my guard. The King will be angry. I'll see it coming.

"I will give it to you," I'll say, offering the rook to him. He won't hear me in his fury.

"I will give it to you," I'll say again. But again he won't hear.

It won't matter. The final miracle is still to come.

The departed Queen will coalesce from wisps of smoke and hover over the chessboard.

"No," she'll say, "it belongs to me." She'll challenge the King to a game of chess. He'll approach the chessboard to defend himself, but his time will soon come to an end.

Why will the rook be subject to me? I won't understand it at first. All I'll understand is that I am something special, that there is something extraordinary and terrible about me. The others will fear me, and I'll even come to fear myself. They'll begin to call me King. This, I'll understand, is and always was my destiny.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Assorted Throwaway Dreams

The night before last I dreamed that I was Kevin Arnold from the Wonder Years. The family and I were sitting at the dining room table, and Karen was complaining about something, although I can't remember what it was.

Last night, I dreamed that I was setting up my equipment for some kind of talent show or competition or something. I was going to play a CD of a piece of music that I had written, and I was quite sure that I'd win the $250,000 prize. My only real competition in this competition was this guy who looked like he must have been a member of the royalty of Yemen or Jordan or some such place.

But then I realized that the CD I was putting into the CD player was not my music at all, but rather that of Matt Glickstein, an old peer from my days as a music student. He was the only other person in my class with the same major as me, Music Composition. Now that I think about it, I don't think it would be fair to win the contest by playing his music. But at this point the contest was forgotten anyway, and I simply told Matt, who was suddenly present, that I really liked his album.

Later, Tracy Jordan from 30 Rock set up a fun house with colorful rubber bouncy walls and floors that allowed people to jump really high and far. Mr. Jordan was also on a throne in a prominant position in this fun house, from which he was throwing large inflatable rubber bouncy balls at the people in the main area. I don't remember what he was shouting as he was throwing the balls, but I'm sure it must have been pretty hilarious.

TJ: Get outta my fun house!

Later still, my wife and I were putting gas in our car and using squeegees to clean the bird poop off of the windshield and rear window. Suddenly, a small Asian girl, about nine or ten, appeared out of nowhere and starting helping us clean the windows. We thought it was very strange that she would do this. Then, she was in the back seat of the car, and we said, "She's stealing our stuff!" I told her to go home, and she wandered off.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Ubiquitous Shredded Chicken Tree

Last night, some old friends, some new friends, and I were playing some kind of weird game involving golf balls in the courtyard of a shadowy motel. This courtyard consisted of a peanut-shaped swimming-pool-like depression in the ground, which was covered in grass at the bottom rather than cement and was surrounded by an ordinary sidewalk. At the two central points in this depression were pits covered by grates consisting of only a few iron bars. One could easily fit through these bars if one tried to. These pits were quite deep, and at their bottoms we could see dark murky water. I jokingly referred to these pits as sewer foyers.

By accident, some of the golf balls fell into these sewer foyers. We knew, sadly, that they were lost forever.

I was planning to jump up to the sidewalk surrounding the grassy depression, as all my friends did, but I became aware that this area was a sort of "horror movie/game area, or something," and my curiosity held me there. I wanted to see just how scary the horrors of this area were.

So I stayed put.

I had the option of loading up different "levels" of this horror attraction, and so I tried some. The water level rose until it was at the brim of the grassy depression, and I was submerged up to my shoulders or so. Piranhas and sea monsters came up out of the water, but they didn't bother me, as I am tough.

I asked my younger brother what he felt the scariest level of this arena was, and he told me it was called Undermann.

So I loaded that one up.

Instead of sea monsters and piranhas, a young girl, probably around eight or nine years old, came up out of the water and started floating on her back at the center of the flooded depression in the ground. Her face was pale, and her eyes were off-white with no pupils. She tried to grab me and pull me down under the water, deeper and deeper, I was aware, into some unfathomable watery abyss.

I withdrew upwards in that dreamy sort of magical flight and escaped her grasp. But she leaped upwards after me without altering her horizontal position, though she turned as she rose, sometimes orienting herself face down, sometimes face up.

"You can't escape," she insisted. I believed her.

Nevertheless, I continued to withdraw higher and higher. Still, she continued to rise after me, reaching toward me.

"I'll pull 2,000 Bibles down, too!" she cried. I understood clearly that this was an extraordinary measure of evilness.

There was something in this whole ordeal that had to do with Islam. The girl, Islam, and fear were all connected somehow, though not in any obvious way of which I was aware.

As I drifted back to life from the world of the ether, there existed a Ubiquitous Tree. This is a tree-like structure, a thing with a root and branches but no ends to the branches. It extends forever in all directions, continually branching out and filling every part of the Universe. This particular Ubiquitous Tree was made out of soaking wet shredded chicken.

~  ~  ~


I've been reading a book called The Muslim Next Door by Sumbul Ali-Karamali. It is about the misconceptions that people have about Islam and Muslims in general, and particularly about how the sensational images of brutality and oppression that many Americans have come to associate with the religion do not actually represent most members of its community of believers. It's a very good book, I feel, that has taught me how little I actually know about Islam and the Qur'an.

I am really starting to like Islam a lot, though I am not becoming a Muslim at the present moment. I don't believe that I am presently capable of choosing my religious beliefs volitionally, but let's leave the discussion of that matter for another time, because it's large enough on its own to serve as a whole blog entry without a dream to report at all.

Islam is very interesting to me. It's amazing to me how backwards the misconceptions about the religion appear to be. Now I'm having dreams in which Islam appears to be taking form subconsciously in subtle ways. I'm pretty sure that this dream does, in fact, stem from my subconscious reaction to reading about Islam, although I'm not sure what it indicates. I'm very uncertain what it indicates.

The 2,000 Bibles bit seems suggestive of the moronic Qur'an burning that's planned for this weekend in Florida. Let me just go on record officially by saying that it's a stupid idea. It's a very, very, very stupid idea. While we're at it... If anyone is even reading this, if you see Muslims celebrating on 9/11, they are not celebrating the destruction of the twin towers. They are celebrating Eid al-Fitr, which occurs at the end of Ramadan, which happens to fall by coincidence right around 9/11 this year. They are not being hateful! They are just grateful to God that they are once again allowed to eat and drink during the daytime!

The shredded chicken forming the U-Tree probably has something to do with the tacos that I had for dinner last night.

I'm kind of a weird person, I think.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


So... the fact of the matter is that my interesting dreaming seems to come and go in phases. For a while I'll have very vivid, fascinating dreams with long cohesive narratives. And then for a while I'll have boring dreams of which I might remember maybe a few details from one scene only.

Like last night... All I can remember is sitting in a classroom answering questions about what different signs mean.

"That one indicates an escalator," I said at one point.

This is an extremely boring thing to blog about.

I'm wondering whether I should only just blog when I actually have some interesting dreams or if I should expand the concept of this blog to include other things as well when necessary.


Monday, August 30, 2010

The Pig Mask

I dreamed last night that I was about to be graduating from college again. I escorted an old lady to her mailbox, and while I was there I decided to check on all of my stuff for graduation, which was in an oversized mailbox measuring about 4 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet.

Then I was helping the cast of Parks and Rec put on a play for children called the Pig Mask. It involved an Easter Bunny that seemed vaguely reminiscent of Baby Jesus from a Nativity. But it was purple and talked in a really high pitched voice.

I opened an Easter egg, which contained shredded cheese rather than candy.

Some airheaded lady mistakenly thought that Mark Brendanawicz was gay, and so he persisted in making fun of her mistake throughout the rest of the dream.

I also dreamed that my wife and I discovered an additional closet in our home that we weren't previously aware of. This made us extremely happy, because we need more closet space.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Aquatic Shopping

Little to report in dreams last night, sadly. I was in some kind of underwater department store wherein everything was connected by large catwalks. On account of the buoyancy afforded by the water, one could jump long distances from one catwalk to another. However, I was warned about doing this, because there was a large fish in the area that could potentially swallow anyone whole who tried it.

I tried to go upstairs and wound up on the second floor, which was much smaller in size than the first, consisting of only a single room. The way up to the third floor was closed at the moment, and for some reason, they wouldn't let people go back down to the first floor.

So everyone was just waiting.

Eventually, the area with the escalators changed into a wooden pier at a shoreline, and I dreamed about two guys having a sword fight. It was like one of those fights you might find in a movie where the protagonist is obviously up against someone vastly his superior, but then toward the end he musters his determination and manages to defeat the villain despite the odds. These two guys kept going back and forth trying to maim each other, sticking knives through each other's ear lobes, cutting off each other's fingers, and so on. I think one of them may have been played by Orlando Bloom.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Aliens and Robots and Pianos

So last night my dreams were pretty unremarkable, mostly just involving gunfights with aliens and robots. I mean, don't get me wrong. I enjoy that kind of dream action as much as the next guy, but it makes for pretty uninteresting reading in a blog, wouldn't you say?

It's pretty straightforward the way these dreams go.

Run, shoot, shoot, run, dodge, shoot, run, dive around corner, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, run, shoot, shoot, and so on...

I was battling aliens. And I mean the aliens from the movie Aliens. One of my teammates was a Predator. You know, like from Predator. So one could say that it was like an Aliens vs. Predator dream. But I never saw that movie. I never wanted to see it. Why am dreaming about this stuff?

There was, however, one pretty nice moment where I was standing on top of a door frame and shooting straight down into the head of the alien mother queen. She didn't like it very much.

An angry alien

"Walter was right about you," she said. I don't know who Walter is, but I think that he must have been another alien that I'd fought in another dream on an earlier night. They're conspiring against me.

Anyway, I awoke early this morning with only this to go on, so I went back to sleep hoping for something a bit more bloggable. What I got was more shooting, except this time with the Big Daddy robots from Bioshock.

A big daddy. Is this better or worse than aliens?

Run, shoot, shoot, run...

Back to sleep again, and this time I got something about helping the secretaries at a temp agency move their stuff from their old office into a new one. In particular, they had a baby grand piano that needed transporting. I could tell they were waiting for me to volunteer to move the piano myself, but I didn't want to do it unless they were going to pay me for the work. My services aren't free, darn it.

Come on, subconscious. I need some good dreams here. You know... good ones.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hotel Unacceptable

A young woman and I were traveling by boat down a river somewhere in a jungle, perhaps in Malaysia or India or another similar place. The woman was hardy and adventurous and looked something like Marion Ravenwood from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

We came upon a little village or town situated beside this river, and after we decided to stop there to rest for the night, some of the villagers warned us about the proprietor of the only hotel in the area. I don't recall his name now, but from their descriptions of him he seemed to be a sort of Moriarty type character, a devious and dangerous man to be avoided if possible. Nevertheless, we wound up not only at his hotel, but in his very company, as he himself sought us out, evidently finding us to be very interesting travelers indeed.

Mr. Moriarty told us that he wished to be honest with us. The rooms in his hotel, he said, were quite dangerous places. Each room, according to the man we still did not trust, was fitted with a lethal trap, and only with quite precise caution could anyone survive the night. In particular, he warned us of a special class of device known as a milktrap.

We told him that we'd been assigned room number X (I no longer remember the exact number), and he immediately suggested that room number Y would be a better choice (again, I cannot recall the number). The milktrap in room X, he said, was especially deadly. Room Y, he said, though also being equipped with a milktrap of its own, was much less demanding of its inhabitants. We would have a much greater chance, he said, of survival.

So we were to stay in the room of Mr. Moriarty's choosing.

In the interest of displaying true hospitality, Moriarty decided to show us the room personally. Now, upon viewing the room, I was unsure of whether this establishment was a hotel at all or if it was rather a prison, indeed, a veritable dungeon. The room's walls were of dank greenish stone, fitted only with a torch on either side of the room to light with dim orange glow the unsure pillars extending up from the dark pool of water far below to form a haphazard floor, whereupon we stood with ever growing anxiety.

Moriarty waved us over to a niche at one end of this depressing display of meager accommodation. Here, he informed us, was the milktrap.

The device was in two parts. There was a large gas engine or generator of some kind fixed to the floor and standing at about waist height. Attached to this engine was a series of glass or hard plastic reservoirs connected by tubes stair-stepping upwards and away into the darkness of the chimney above. Moriarty wanted to light the flame of the engine. My companion said that she was afraid that this would ignite gas in the room and cause an explosion, but the shady proprietor insisted that there was no chance of this happening.

The man activated the engine, and a little flame appeared, shooting out just an inch or two from the top of the device. Slowly, I noticed, milk began to travel up through the tubes, filling up the reservoirs with steady equality, despite the variation in their vertical positions.

The pillars began to shift with extremely subtle motions. They seemed to move about the room, and yet simultaneously their positions did not seem to change at all.

At this point, Mr. Moriarty confessed that he really did not understand the milktraps at all, neither their internal mechanisms, nor their overall function.

Suddenly, I witnessed before me an array of silver spoons, and I heard a voice in my head, saying, "Fill thy bonnie circle with my ground."

I could make no sense of this statement at first, but upon pondering it, I began to understand, or I thought I did.

I recognized the voice as my own, and I began to suspect that Moriarty intended to use the milktrap to transform my companion and myself into silver spoons. The bonnie circle would be formed by Moriarty's thumb and forefinger, and the ground referred to in the statement would be the shafts of the spoons.

The milktrap, I believed, had rendered me slightly more willing for this to be my fate.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mass Effect and Bubbly Tea

I think perhaps I have played a little too much Mass Effect of late. Or maybe not enough. Not sure. Last night I dreamed that I was battling mercenaries in some kind of space station, and Garrus Vakarian was ostensibly helping me by sniping from a high point in the corner of the room. Realistically, however, he was doing nothing, leaving me to do all the fighting on my own, wielding a sniper rifle myself, of course, and shooting all of the mercenaries in the head.

Garrus Vakarian, expert "sniper"
Now, I've long felt that it would be a great addition to Mass Effect 3 if we finally got to have squad members representing some of the "less important" species in the Mass Effect universe. It would be really cool to save the galaxy fighting side by side with volus and hanar. So perhaps it should come as no surprise to me that one of the mercenaries against whom I was fighting was a great lumbering elcor.

An elcor, great lumbering slowpoke
Of course, I shot him in the head, too, and that was that.

I don't really remember much else from my dreams last night. Just that at some point I was searching in a grocery store built like a supply bunker into the ground for some new kind of carbonated green or lemon tea developed by Coca-Cola. Despite the fact that I couldn't find any, I wound up spending inordinate amounts of time waiting in line to check out.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Subterranean Ether

I was visiting my parents' house the other day, and present there was a young man whom I had never met. He was upstairs in my brother's room, and as a lowly member of the military he was working on a puzzle as a part of his duties. As he worked, I spoke with him a little bit and tried to understand why he was in my parents' house. Eventually he became quite frustrated with his puzzle and gave up.

"The military is coming to get us," he said. "I'm getting out of here."

He left without another word.

With nothing else to do, I took a look at his puzzle myself. It was a large rectangular case with a glass panel on the front side that allowed one to see a series of rows of tiles with various letters on them. The tiles were attached to long rods that extended from one side of the case to the other, and by manipulating the handles on either side of the case one could remove the tiles from these rods and move them to new positions on other rods. In this way, the young man had been trying to spell the word mayonnaise at the bottom of the case, although at the moment it read, "mo unaise."

I figured that I could finish what he had started, and so I moved the "o" right out of there and replaced it with an "a." I found a "y" and tried to move it into place, but upon doing so the tile split into four: XY, YX, XX, and YY. Frustrated, I moved those out again and tried another "y." Same thing.

Around that time, I glanced out my parents' window and noticed that there was a large silver van arriving. I knew that this was the military that the young man had assured me were on their way, and I also knew that I had to get out of there. So I grabbed my things, mostly a stack of books and papers, and made for the back door.

I tried going around the west side of the house, but after opening the gate I saw that the soldiers were already getting out of the van and would spot me if I went that way. So I went back the other way and through a large arched gateway into the alley beside the house.

Proceeding southward down the alley away from the building, I glanced over my shoulder to ensure that the soldiers were not there. I continued past a small golf course and then a desert enclosed by large sandstone walls.

Eventually, I found a cushion evidently made into a makeshift bed by a hobo. So I lay down there and set down my things beside me. Looking back, I saw a hobo coming and immediately stood to apologize.

"No, it's okay," he said, waving his hand dismissively. "During the daytime I don't need it."

So I stayed put.

In a short while, I noticed the silver van coming down the alley, so I hid beside a corner and waited for them to pass.

Of course, they did pass, and I observed that luckily none of the soldiers inside were being quite observant enough to look around the corner, and so they didn't see me. Unluckily, they stopped a short ways down and got out to search the area. I clearly could not escape without being seen.

So I did the logical thing and lay down again, pretending to be a sleeping hobo.

I felt that my performance was really top notch, that even if they were to find me there, they would be fooled and I would be free. I snored loudly, lending further credibility to my charade.

The soldiers did indeed approach, and upon examining me they discovered my perfectly groomed fingernails.

"This is no hobo," they said.

Having seen through my act, the soldiers sent me away, back to my parents' house. Strangely, they allowed me to return on my own without an escort or guard. So I decided to travel back there by cutting through the desert I had passed earlier.

Making my way across the sand and amongst an array of large sandstone blocks, I came upon a woman with blonde hair off to my left. She was leaning against two of the large blocks, which had fallen and were lying lengthwise rather than upright.

As I approached, she smiled without really smiling, lending slight pronunciation to the subtle wrinkles on her face. She was neither a young woman nor an old one, but I felt that she was important.

"What is the meaning of all of this?" I asked her.

I don't remember now what it was that she said to me. Not the exact words. I believe that she said something about how the meaning was up to me. Then again, that might be what I only hope she had said, just a subsequent fabrication or reconstruction of my mind, created only in retrospect from out of the ether.

~   ~   ~ 

What is the meaning of all of this? Indeed. Who can be sure?

My name is Luke, and the narrative that just ended was a dream that I had last night. There are details that are gone, and some of the details that appear above have almost certainly changed from initial dream to subsequent recollection. But what can I do about that? Perhaps it doesn't really matter.

Subterranean Ether is a blog in which I record my dreams. I have been in the habit of posting snippets, mere snapshots of my dreams, as status updates on my Facebook Wall, but at some point the idea dawned on me to record them more completely in a blog.

So here it is.