Saturday, March 13, 2010

Such strange things did I viddy in my dream, O my brothers…

All right, you guys, I had the weirdest dream. So weird, in fact, that I felt I had to tell it in detail here.

This dream was long, uninterrupted, very vivid, and extremely geeky in all respects, which is extremely odd because my dreams are usually none of those four things. I had not had a particularly geeky day; I had read no comics, watched no movies or TV, not even thought much about anything to that effect – I fell asleep on the couch at one point reading A Clockwork Orange, but that did not factor into my dream in any way (thank goodness for small favors, one supposes). I also want to stress that I am getting over a cold, but I had not taken any NyQuil or anything like that which might be blamed for the dream. I had one bottle of hard cider, essentially equivalent to a single bottle of beer, at around 10 p.m., and anyway the dream must have started after 6 a.m. sometime, so I do not think that ought to have played a factor.

I was, however, extremely tired that night.

I am going to provide links in the anchor text for people who might not get every single reference (hello, Zach … and possibly my dad). I just had to share it because I do not remember ever having such a concentrated pop-culture dream.

I swear, what you are about to read is not exaggerated from my recollection in any way.

* * *

The earliest part I can remember begins with Batman protecting a mobster in the basement of police headquarters in Gotham City. The headquarters was basically the one from The Dark Knight, but Batman was a very ‘90s looking comic book Batman (not actually Kelley Jones, but someone who would have drawn part of Knightfall or something), and the mobster was Al Pacino, but Al Pacino as Big Boy from Dick Tracy.

Now, in my dreams I tend to, like, “transfer consciousness” a lot, where I’ll be “playing” one role in the dream, and then halfway through I’ll transfer to another “character” in the dream. So in this one, I think I started out as Pacino, because I remember being worried that the Scarecrow was coming to kill me (hence being under police and Bat protection), but at some point I must have switched to Batman, because Pacino excuses himself for the bathroom and didn’t come back. As Batman, I investigate the bathroom and find there was a large, loose panel that must slide back and lead to some hidden tunnel. But I’m terrified to look in it. Like, horribly, deathly terrified that if I slidd it open, some horrible thing would come out and kill me.

So I get Agent Scully to do it. The deal was, she’d point her gun at the panel as I (suddenly Mulder) open up the panel. There was somebody cowering in the bathtub as well. Maybe it was Pacino/Big Boy, although he was supposed to be gone. So I open it up, and Scully assures me there was nothing moving inside. It looks, in fact, just like some weird cave that leads into the darkness. Scully goes in, and I follow her.

And suddenly I am no longer Mulder in the tunnel, but I am me reading a comic book of these events at a picnic table in the park on a sunny day. The comic book is an issue of Fantastic Four, and the FF are going through the tunnel, and it winds up in some sort of buried underground New York filled with the sort of denizens you would expect to inhabit a comic book underground New York. I finish the comic, and I am convinced that this is the greatest issue of Fantastic Four I’ve read in years and years, and I look back at the credits and see that it is apparently a contemporary issue of Fantastic Four drawn by Steve Ditko.

So I’m going on and on about how great this issue of Fantastic Four was to the guy sitting at the picnic table with me, and that guy is Kurt Busiek, who asks me if I’d like to tell Ditko that myself (Busiek, for whatever reason, has Ditko’s phone number). So I say I would, and I call Ditko on my cell phone and discover, contrary to his reputation for being a recluse who never talks to fans, very friendly and open. I keep gushing, just wretched fannish gushing, about how great I thought this comic was, and Ditko tells me where he got the idea for the underground city, the backstory he’d created for it, all of it.

And then suddenly, I see Ditko’s lips moving, and they’re surrounded by a fluffy white beard. The camera pulls back (I am no longer in the park on the phone, but rather watching TV) to reveal it’s John Travolta, except that he looks like he’s been cast in the lead of the new Santa Clause movie, and he’s “playing Ditko.” (It should be noted that Steve Ditko in no way looks like that, of course.) He hangs up the phone and says, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”

So I guess I’m watching Saturday Night Live, right? And Travolta in his Santa beard is hosting. And we go right into the first sketch, which, in defiance of all reason, is another sketch in which Travolta is playing Ditko.

The conceit of the sketch is that Steve Ditko and Stan Lee are corresponding to each other, except it is Victorian London, and Ditko is basically Bob Cratchit, and Lee is basically Ebenezer Scrooge. And Travolta-as Ditko-as Cratchit is wearing some kind of footie pajamas and standing on the cobblestone, and I’m aware of how hard and sharp and hot the ground is on his feet because suddenly I am Travolta-as Ditko-as Cratchit, and I start walking toward where I know Lee/Scrooge’s office to be, and every step is painful.

And then, all of a sudden, I am me again, and I am in the Mall of America with my father and brother (the three of us are actually going to Minneapolis for something this month, so this is not altogether weird yet). We’re walking by a bunch of movie company boutiques – there’s a Disney store and a Warner Bros. store. And then, strange though it may seem, there is a store devoted entirely to Ghostbusters memorabilia, as indicated by a sign that’s nothing but the logo.

So I pull my father and brother into the store and I am just ecstatic (as one would be if one discovered against all odds that a Ghostbusters store would be profitable enough to stay in business). Stranger still, inside the store, the ceilings are very high – we’re talking three stories, maybe, and the ceilings were molded white plaster (apparently we were supposed to be in the Ghostbusters firehouse, although I do not recall the Ghostbusters firehouse looking anything like that).

Now, not only is there Ghostbusters memorabilia in this store, there is also some kind of weird nightclub at the back of the store, and all the employees are wearing like Ghostbusters uniforms. My dad asks my brother and me if we want anything to drink, and I consider a rum and coke, but it seems weird to have a rum and coke at a nightclub in a Ghostbusters store at the mall, so I just order a Diet Hi-C (I am not sure that such a product exists). It comes in a paper cup like at a fast food restaurant, and I grab a lid, and just like I always do in real life, the first lid I grab is a size too small and so I have to take a bigger one too, and now I can’t put that small lid back because I’ve already touched it and I feel bad for being wasteful.

So I’m drinking my Diet Hi-C and we’re leaving the store, and the three of us talk about where we’d like to get dinner in the mall. My dad suggests Burger Hole, and my brother is not having any of that. He’s like, “Burger Hole? That place is a hole!” And I’m trying to remember where I know the name “Burger Hole” from, and I think, Isn’t that the name of the restaurant in the movie Role Models?

And then I wake up.

* * *

So that’s the dream. I shudder to think that any of it means anything. My wife and I bought a crib and changing table that night, so I’d hate to think this is some sort of weird metaphor for impending fatherhood in some way.

That is all.


Your Brother Zach said...

i swear, if there's a ghostbusters store at the mall of america when we go to minneapolis this month, i am gonna blame you on its construction. BE FOREWARNED!

also, i liked that the weirdest thing was thinking about getting a rum and coke at the ghostbusters nightclub and NOT THE GHOSTBUSTERS NIGHTCLUB IN THE MALL ITSELF. bad choice on the diet hi-c though; shoulda opted for the ecto cooler hi-c. would have been fitting in that setting.

Bill Reed said...

If such a place existed, however, I'd go broke, but at least I'd be broke and wearing a Ghostbusters uniform, with a giant portrait of Vigo the Carpathian as my only means of shelter.

Ecto Cooler is also the shit, and I will totally accept a terrible Ghostbusters 3 if it means I can drink proper Ecto Cooler again.

plok said...

So...pretty much the sma edream I have every night, then.

The cider makes me curious -- I've been wondering if putting a lot of weird sugars into your body before bed affects the vividness of dreams...

Josh said...

I believe that in fact you have overlooked the strangest part of this dream: Christopher Nolan made the bold move to install bath tubs in the GPD holding cell bathrooms.

As a side note, I was just at the Mall of America last week and much to my disdain there has yet to be a Ghostbusters store there. They do however have three GAPS, two Bath&Body Works, three Victoria Secrets, and yes, a pb&j restaurant (I know this was your idea many many many years ago but again, someone has plundered your thoughts and capitalized on your brilliant ideas.)

We do however have both of these guys in town:

Justin said...

Zach: Well, if there does turn out to be a Ghostbusters store at the mall, drinks are on me, clearly.

Bill: Yeah, but if they brought it back, we'd all drink it and go, "I don't know, I could *swear* the formula is different." I suspect Ecto Cooler is in fact lost to history, but seeing as how the internet and DVD technology allows me to get in touch with everything else I ever knew as a kid, I am not so sad.

Plok: The Ditko bits did indeed make me think of you. As to your scientfic inquiry, one bottle of Hornsby's (I can't stand the taste of beer; never acquired the taste for it) has 9 grams in it, but that's less than a glass of milk.

Josh: It was a nice bathroom, too. Very clean. And all I can say about the lack of a Ghostbusters store is WHY HAVEN'T THOSE GUYS AT YOUR LINKS FILED FOR A SMALL BUSINESS LOAN?

Update: My wife has read this post, and her current working theory is that in the absence of my usual intake of pop culture, my brain became starved for it and decided to invent its own. But, rather like a hyperactive child telling a story, it's convoluted and doesn't make any sense and just throws a bunch of stuff at the wall, none of which sticks.

Ah well. Tonight I will probably be back to my usual routine, which is to either not remember any dreams that I have, or to have that wretchedly common one about being on stage and not remembering any of my lines. (It has been eight years since I was in Fiddler on the Roof; I really ought to stop dreaming about it by now.)

plok said...

Don't forget the alcohol! That decomposes to sugars too, doesn't it?

(Hmm, I could be wrong about that, actually...)

Bill Reed said...

They totally kept making Ecto Cooler up until 2006 or so, but under the name "Crazy Citrus Cooler." It tasted like liquid childhood. I think I bought the last packs left in the state.

plok said...

What the hell is Ecto Cooler?!

Justin said...

It's sort of a cultural touchstone of Generation Y. A flavor of Hi-C (kind of nectarine, except it was bright green) that came in juice boxes with Slimer from the Real Ghostbusters cartoon long after maintaining such a license would have been profitable, found in the lunchboxes of many an elementary school student in the 90s. They don't make it anymore, and because of the unattainability, most people my age would step on their mothers to taste that lost nectar again.

Not me, though, I love my mum.

Josh said...

I always wanted "Ectoplasm." Do you remember this product? It was marketed along side the GB movies and the real Ghostbusters cartoon. My friends all had it but my parents thought it was too messy for a child to play with in their house.

As a side note I forgive my mother and also still love her.javascript:void(0)

Your Brother Zach said...

that reminds me of gak....our mom wouldn't let us get any of that for the same messiness reasons. probably more because justin had red shag carpet in his bedroom and i had sky blue shag carpet in mine at the time...regardless, i wanted it.

Justin said...

False. Zach, we totally had Gak. It was blue. It's possible that you weren't allowed to play with it, however...

Josh: I never had Ectoplasm, although I had the firehouse playset, and I seem to recall that there was like, a grate on the top of it that you were supposed to pour slime down. That firehouse is still in my parents' basement, waiting for my heir to be born and grow old enough to play with it.

Man, what was the deal with toys with slime from the 80s and 90s? Do they not make that anymore because of parental complaints, or are kids not actually into slime anymore (it seems IMPOSSIBLE that they would not be). I even had slime for He-Man, and the instructions stated very clearly not to use it on any of the fuzzy or hairy figures.

Your Brother Zach said...

ehhh....i could be making this up but i seem to remember it as you borrowed someone's gak (which i do remember was blue as well and i even remember the shape of the case. but then i thought mom made you get rid of the gak after said shag carpeting was getting "ruined" (as much as red shag carpet can be).

or this could be a dream i had.

Josh said...

Hey man, kids always love goo. I remember sticking Gak (which was actually thicker than ectoplasm and stickier) to the top of the ceiling fan blades. Then I'd turn on the fan and see how fast it got before the Gak was catapulted from the blades against the walls. Parents were right to not let their kids have this.