Back to the Dream

When I’m having a dream,
A particularly good dream,
A dream that I don’t want to end,
I find a way to stay.

I try lucid dreaming,
A few decades now,
I’ve gotten pretty good.

I can change the tone of a dream.
Give myself miracle powers.
Fly.
Stop time.
Erase a character.
Even rewind and live a particularly good scene again.
Do something different this time.
I can wake when I want
Or stay.

Sometimes I stay too long.
Stay too long in an enjoyable dream,
An interesting dream,
Until my subconscious runs out of plot points.
Runs out of ideas.

But instead of letting the dream end
I still want to stay.
At times like these my subconscious creates an errand for me to run.

Through this door
Around this corner
You’ll be back
Don’t worry.

Then it turns around and makes it impossible
To find my way
Back to the dream.

I leave the room
The building
The store
For just a moment
Then I’m stuck in a maddening maze.
Looking for street signs
Searching through strange neighborhoods
Down hallway after hallway
Looking for the door
The way back to the good part,
Back to the dream.

Until I’m frustrated
Until I’m tired
Until I decide to wake.
And it’s over.
But now I know
It’s just writer’s block.

I dream of writer’s block.

– Mel

5 by 5: My 5 Favorite Films by My 5 Favorite Directors (5/5)

Finishing up my 5 by 5 directors series.

I had a hard time with this last one. I had to decide between The Kid and The Big One. Steven Spielberg will always be The Kid to me. And I know he has done a lot of great films (Raiders, E.T.,  Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List) but in the end I had to go with The Big One. The man with absolutely no limit.

James Cameron.

 

FANS: Can we do this even bigger?

JC: Yes.

PRODUCERS: Will it cost an enormous amount of money?

JC: Sure… Your point?

STUDIO: But will it also make an enormous amount of money?

JC: Damn straight.

CRITICS: Okay… But will it be good?

ME: Fuck yeah! It’s gonna be awesome.

Far too many talented directors get a huge budget and immediately forget how to tell a good story. James Cameron does not suffer from this.

 

His movies get bigger and bigger with each successive film. Within the film each action sequence gets more and more spectacular until by the end you’re staring at some insanely huge and respectively kick-ass bit of movie magic with your mouth wide open and your heart racing. (I swear to god he’s going to give me a heart attack one of these films). And the artwork never suffers… not even a little.

At number 5 on my list of 5 great films by 5 great filmmakers is (apologies to Michael Moore) The Big One: James Cameron.

 

True Lies (1994)

I love this movie. This is sort of the precursor to Brad & Angelina’s Mr & Mrs Smith. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis are both funny, sexy and thoroughly likeable.

 

She plays the wife that doesn’t know that her husband is a super spy. And Arnold plays that super spy to perfection. Throw in a great cast featuring Tom Arnold (at his best ) as the partner/handler, a young Eliza Dushku as their wild child daughter and Bill Paxton as a sleazy car salesman who… you know what you have to see it. This is a great action/comedy film.

And did I mention that Jamie Lee Curtis does a smoking hot and comically awkward strip tease that also has to be seen.

You’re welcome.

The Terminator (1984)

The best of the Terminator franchise, this is one of the 3 or 4 movies that I have seen more times than I can possibly count. Excellent in every way. Great cast, great story. suspenseful, infinitely quotable and enormously entertaining.

And for you Schwarzenegger fans out there, this is Arnold at his peak physique, at one point completely nude.

Again, you’re welcome.

Not to change the subject but I’m still mad at FOX for cancelling the Sarah Connor show. That thing was fantastic. (Though it did free up Lena Headey to play Cersei Lannister. [Give her an Emmy now… right now])

summer-glau-terminator-the-sarah-connor-chronicles-33873

Boo FOX just boooooooo

Aliens (1986)

Pure… Adrenaline… Rush. A small group of elite fighters… and Sigorney Weaver are all that stand between an alien race and the earth. Outnumbered and alone on a strange planet. Call it 300 Spartans in space but with automatic weapons, if the Persian army had acid for blood and fangs that extend from the front of their faces… of course.

One of the most exciting movies ever made.

 

 

Avatar (2009)

Yes, I know this film has a very heavy-handed environmentalist message but it also kicks ass. An epic sci-fi action flick with a decent love story and spectacular visual effects.  This movie is gorgeous and needs to be seen in all it’s splendor. Every time someone watches Avatar on an iPhone, the Lumiere brothers weep and Thomas Edison kicks Steve Jobs in the nuts.

Don’t let this happen.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

I almost didn’t include this movie on the list because it may just be a little too action packed for its own good. Aliens is a thrill-ride, yes. But it has a few well-placed catch-your-breath moments throughout. Terminator 2, however, does not. From the moment Arnold says, “Come with me if you want to live.” you’re fighting for air. I remember leaving the theater with a pain in my side thinking “Damn Cameron you just took several years off my life.” But I had to include it, because this is a fun movie.

 

And Linda Hamilton’s metamorphosis into the kick ass Sarah Connor is amazing. Also she is hot as hell.

A great deal funnier than the first Terminator, it also has a bigger budget, so Cameron pulls out all the stops with the action and the effects. T2 is to Terminator what Aliens is to Ridley Scott’s Alien. We go from suspenseful horror film to action packed all out war action. Two very different films; both of them really good.

James Cameron has created some of the most exciting and iconic action film franchises in history. From Rambo to The Terminator. From Avatar to Titanic.

He has advanced film making and technology (now science and exploration) into the 21st century with the artistic blockbuster. The massive movie spectacular that doubles as an art house flick. Just give him all the money and watch him take home all the awards.

…And we are done.

I hope you enjoyed my 5 by 5 directors series even if you didn’t agree with my picks.

I think I’ll do a foreign language 5 by 5 and an animated 5 by 5 next. (This is fast becoming a movie blog… who knew?)

– Envy

5×5: My 5 Favorite Prophetic Films (& how they came true)

Here are 5 good movies that I think everyone should see that show our current society. Not some far off future. Not some parody of our politics and our problems but a slightly (only slightly) exaggerated version of where we are today.

Bob Roberts (1992)

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Politics & Media

Bob Roberts tells the story of a society where a political candidate who is a prepackaged, insincere, self-described rebel, who manipulates the public with his good looks and slick slogans can become a national treasure. Tim Robbins creates a political mockumentary that in my opinion should be watched before you are allowed to vote in an election.

With an all-star cast that includes a young Jack Black and the sensational Alan Rickman, Robbins himself as the title character and Gore Vidal as his opponent, a great soundtrack, fantastic writing, directing, acting and social commentary, Bob Roberts is one of my top ten films of all-time.

Bob Roberts the candidate is a guitar playing, motorcycle riding, singer of right-wing conservative propaganda “folk” songs, that will do anything to make money, promote his agenda and to defeat his opponent; (with the fantastically macabre name of Brickley Paste) an honest, compassionate, intellectual under-funded incumbent senator.

When it first came out in theaters, this film was a cartoon version of our political process. But today, this movie accurately represents our current condition. The sorry state of politics and media. Bob Roberts would win any election, in any state, in a landslide. This film predates the Citizens United supreme court ruling that allows an endless flow of corporate money into our political process and also the liars & fear mongers at Fox News. It predates the Tea Party’s pretend grass-roots up-swell and the smear campaign against the Occupy movement. It accurately shows the state of political campaigns in America today. Only slightly exaggerated… And only ever so slightly.

Idiocracy (2006)

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Health & Education

Idiocracy tells the story of a society that has neglected the importance of education to such a degree that all citizens read, write and problem solve at extremely low levels And the story of an intellectually below average man from the past who is by that society’s standards the smartest person in the world.

This movie is a cartoonish exaggeration of the dumbing down of society however, Health and Education have been our lowest priority for several decades. And in that time we have raised a generation of ignorant and arrogant illiterates with extremely short attention spans.

I once believed that the human race would evolve to be smarter. A lot less social but more intelligent. As it turns out evolution is not a big fan of being anti-social. We are only a few generations from this idiocracy.

Intellect is mistrusted and often ridiculed. Many of our brightest kids feel a need to hide their intellect so as not to be ostracized. The brain is a muscle and if the youth are not encouraged to exercise it, it can and will atrophy. The 6th grade girl who pretends not to be good at science or math in order to be popular becomes the 10th grade girl who is not good at science or math but is popular.

Our elected officials, our news media and even some of our best thinkers can barely converse at an elementary school level.

“Are you smarter than a fifth grader, congressman?”

“No sir. No I is not.”

Southland Tales (2006)

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Privacy & Celebrity

Southland Tales tells the story of a society where nothing is private and everyone lives their lives on camera, on the internet, on the grid and under the watchful eye of… everyone else following a nuclear attack on Texas and a discovery that can make energy from seawater. Southland Tales takes place 2 years in the future (now 4 years past) and is a comic take on paranoia in our society told through the lives of a boxer, a porn star and a police officer.

Today’s technology has virtually taken away our privacy and our anonymity. And although I believe this to be a good thing in the long run. It has also allowed the public to locate steaming nuggets of human excrement and elevate them to celebrity status. Romanticizing bad behavior and raising an entire generation of kids to want to be rich and famous and don’t care how.

Common ways of achieving fame and fortune these days include: getting away with murder, having sex w/ a psuedo-celebrity and scandalous or reckless behavior or

With technology, the internet and instant access to other people’s public meltdowns we are able to view the world and find people who are less able to cope than we are. We take the very worse of these people and vilify but at the same time glorify them because in the end they make us feel better about ourselves. So I’m all for it. But if kids are looking at these folks as role models, they’re missing the point by a lot.

Brazil (1985)

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Bureaucracy & Paranoia

Brazil tells the story of a society where astronomical amounts of bureaucracy, red tape and paper work are the cause of nearly all of their social and economic problems. Including a perceived terrorist threat that may or may not be a filing error. Terry Gilliam does a great job of painting a picture of this bureaucratic nightmare and one man who is just trying to get the girl.

Most people think of the government when they think of bureaucracy (the DMV comes to mind first) but the more harmful bureaucratic entities are in the private sector; Banks, insurance companies, Hospitals, Corporations. Places staffed with the inept and the uncaring or the caring but unheard. However mostly with people whose only concern is passing the buck and keeping their jobs.

What you find when you examine heinous acts by corporations is that there is no conspiracy in place. But as the document that will destroy thousands of lives is passed from desk to desk each person chooses not to object. Because what you have in the middle of this bureaucracy are a bunch of individuals who are born in debt, buried in paperwork and live in fear. Fear of being out of work and out on the street, while thousands upon thousands lose their homes, their limbs, their loved-ones, and their lives.

1984 (1984)

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Language & Authority

1984 tells the story of a society where language has devolved to such a state as to eliminate the ability to complain. Where authority has forced it’s way into people’s homes and relationships and micro-manages every detail of their already pathetic little lives in the name of fighting a “common enemy” and of the one man who is just trying to get the girl.

1984, the grand daddy of them all needs a little title change. If it were called something other than a future year, now past, I think it would still be as much a part of the discourse as it was in the 60’s and 70’s. Sadly the novel wasn’t future proof and the year 1984 has come and gone. Orwell was prophetic as all hell, just a little arrogant to actually pick a date. So the book is not discussed as much anymore.

But what remains are the ideas.

The video screens in every room, with cameras to spy on the citizens aren’t mounted to the walls. They’re in our pockets and have GPS and contracts. And the cameras are mounted on every corner and every doorway.

The simplification of language and the changes to the meaning of words. (intellectual, patriot, wealthy or climate change for example) The inability to communicate complex ideas or nuanced belief systems without a greater vocabulary in the speaker or the level of comprehension in the listener. (it’s bad, it’s good, it’s godless, it’s from god, it’s Hitler, it’s not Hitler)

The common enemy or enemy of the month has been replaced by two sides. Two warring factions fighting for control over absolutely nothing. (Liberal, Conservative). Either the rich give their money to the government, it gives it to corporations who then give it to rich people OR the poor people give their money to the government, it gives it to corporations who then give it to rich people. (an over simplification but the fact remains the rich get richer no matter who is in office) and why is the other side always Hitler. Dude has been dead for decades and he is still the go to bad guy.

The authority. The Big Brother. The corporate authority that creates more and more laws and more and more restrictions on what we can and cannot do in our homes, or with our stuff and in our spare time. The micro-managing of our lives as they track our every move. Every website. Every purchase. Every call. Every movement. Again we find that what was once an analogy for government control is actually corporate control.

USA: The United Stock-holders of America

Unlike the other four movies. I recommend reading the novel 1984 over the movie. The movie is decent but the book is a lot better. Even if it does need a title update.

– 4 of these 5 films should be considered comedies. And are very very funny (all but 1984). And each of them benefit from viewing in a heightened mental state, if you know what I mean. But as a social commentary, you can’t go wrong with any of these films.

And some might say we are speeding right past these 5 and heading straight for Hunger Games, Fahrenheit 451, Matrix, Handmaid’s Tale and Children of Men. (No resources, no education, no individuality, no choice and no hope) But I have faith in us and I think we’ll make a correction. Unlike the frog in the proverbial pan, we live to complain. And pretty soon we’ll get the fuck up out of that pan and turn the heat off.

“what the hell do you think this is? A sauna?”

– Mel

Post Office Politics

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I got into an argument with a man at the post office today. He was irate because the office had lost all of his mail for 3 weeks. No laughing matter. But as he began to bang on the bullet-proof glass from across the lobby, the woman who had been fetching packages from a side door, closed and locked the door. I was next in line.

I was being patient. Sure I wanted my Amazon box. (A new can opener, A new game controller and Brita filters) but I could wait for the excitement to die down. However when we heard the door lock, I asked the man in front of me “Did she just lock the door?” The man smiled and sad “I think so.” Which made me chuckle. Tough guy from across the room heard my laugh and assumed I was laughing at him. An argument ensues.

He’s mad. He’s angry. I’m insensitive. “You wouldn’t laugh if it were your mail. So shut the fuck up.” I apologize and tell him we weren’t laughing at him. But he wants to “step outside.”

I say “Just calm down.”

He replies “What are you my life coach?”

It was then I annoyingly repeated my suggestion to calm down. Not what I should have said. What I should have said was “Wait… you have a life coach? Then he’s not doing that great a job is he?” but I just said “calm down” again.

Him: Mind your own business and don’t tell me what to do.

Me: (smiling) Don’t tell me what to do.

Him: (Angrier) Don’t tell me what to do.

Me: Fine… then we’re all in agreement here.

I fully expected a few laughs from that last line but I guess everyone thought there was going to be a fight and didn’t want to get him any angrier. I knew there wouldn’t be one.

The supervisor emerges and tells him his mail is gone. He curses and begins to storm off. But before leaving tells me if I want to step outside, we can step outside.

I say, “You go and wait for me. I’ll be there in a minute.”

He wasn’t there.

And I was all ready for some more posturing and puffing. Next time.

I got cans to open and noobs to frag while drinking clean water.

Oh yeah. Remind me not to go outside anymore.

– Mel