Sunday, May 30, 2010

memorial day tribute: a video link

click here for a MEMORIAL DAY TRIBUTE


dorothy fannin

A friend of mine from the world of fashion dolls is gone, passing quietly in her sleep at the age of 82.

Here is my interview with her from two years ago.

The Atelier Reverie Larke interview

It was great to know you, Dorothy.

* * *

Saturday, May 29, 2010

writer's retreat


starring Bruce Willis
= = = = = =
Blade Runner;
Stepford Wives;
Minority Report;
I, Robot

Friday, May 28, 2010

working towards a writing weekend

tickticktickticktick, continued

Once again, I am allowing myself the luxurious five-minute fantasy that I'll be able to dedicate great expanses of time to my writing this weekend.

The house is quiet, and I'm alone. All the laundry is done. There's plenty of food in the pantry. I have no place I need to be until next week's media job in San Francisco.

My fingers are poised over my novel, and I'm smiling at the prospect of digging in.

But wait! We're almost out of that special cat food I buy at the vet's office...

There's always something, n'est pas?

* * *

Thursday, May 27, 2010

speaking of horror films

This particular piece of digital cinema is so exclusive, only a handful of people will ever see it. You probably never will.

In my hand, I hold a CD with a CT scan motion picture taken of the inside of my body. This silent film (with subtitles) has a cast of one. It begins at the top of my head and moves down through my physical self, unfolding as a smoothly-animated series of cross-sections.

Few experiences are as fascinating-- yet unnerving-- as seeing inside one's body with such amazing detail. I was surprised at how clearly I was able to distinguish various organs without anyone pointing them out. And one favorite special effect is worth a special look: brilliant shards of light radiating out of my dental work.

The BNCG Story, a suspense film (or maybe horror, considering the blood and innards), appearing at a special private showing at a doctor's office near me.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

revisiting the mothman prophecies

The Mothman Prophecies (2002)

Starring Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Will Patton, Debra Messing, Lucinda Jenney, Alan Bates
Directed by Mark Pellington; screenplay by Richard Hatem, from the book by John A. Keel (covers of Keel's book shown above).

Special DVD edition 2003

The first time I saw this film, I was out of town on a video shoot. I was alone in my motel room, coping with the uneasiness of the situation in my usual way: leaving the television on after going to bed. On this particular night I found myself staying up far too late, watching a mesmerizing film called The Mothman Prophecies.

Fast forward to 2010, and I'm working on building my DVD collection of old favorites. The other day I found myself thinking about the film again, and became curious to see if it was as eerie as I remembered. As it turns out, it was.

The special edition has a second disk with additional material, including multiple accounts of supposedly true stories about ordinary people encountering a huge mothlike creature. From a filmmaking standpoint, I was surprised and amusesd to hear about accounts of mysterious men in black supposedly visiting those people who claimed to have witnessed the mothman apparition. This clearly formed the concept behind another non-recent film, Men In Black, one I viewed again, by coincidence, just a few days ago. I had no idea that the Mothman legend included government men in black suits, referred to as the men in black. (Of course, the film MIB played it for laughs, riffing on the legend of government men in black suits running around on coverup detail; this film is one of my guilty pleasures).

Don't look for an action film here, nor will you find a Saturday matinee-style horror flick. Creators of The Mothman Prophecies do not present you with a mothlike creature anywhere near as specific as the ones on the book covers shown above. Their restrained approach makes the film far more chilling, and the result is a beautifully crafted, eerie experience with many unnerving scenes that can still have a strong effect-- even without being viewed alone in a motel room, late at night.

* * *

Monday, May 24, 2010

black rain refrain

Today I watched director Ridley Scott's 1989 film, Black Rain, for probably the fifth time. Black Rain is quintessential visually-indulgent Ridley Scott, its wet-streets-and-neon trademark iconography almost comprising a genre all its own.

Most of my affection for this film is merit-based, but I do admit to a personal fondness for certain 1980s films for nostalgic reasons. After just a few chords of an 80s electronic film score, I'm transported back to my first contact with the film industry.

Although I have no special fondness for Michael Douglas, he did a very good job in Black Rain as the tough NYPD detective barely scraping by. Andy Garcia was perfect as the brash yet charismatic young sidekick, a role he took to a higher level by implementing several of his own smart script embellishments. Kate Capshaw brought cool glamour to the role of a Chicago expat.

The two most memorable performances were, to my mind, those of Ken Takakura and the late Yusaku Matsuda; the former was truly appealing as the quiet, by-the-book detective, and the latter was chilling as the sociopathic would-be Obatsu for the Yakuza.

Hans Zimmer composed the film's distinctive score, a resplendently electronic and percussive work that was perfect for the otherworldly ambience of late 1980s Japan. Jan de Bont was the cinematographer ideally suited to bringing the characteristic Ridley Scott style and vision to life (under apparently challenging conditions).

Once the neon signs are turned off, the fan blades have stopped, and the smoke and rain machines are put away, it's good to remember that nobody can indulge in films like Black Rain without the offerings of solid writers like Craig Bolotin and Warren Lewis.

Second Life photo by Reverielarke Wirtanen

Sunday, May 23, 2010

total running time


An Original Screenplay by
Brenda Cox Giguere

It is the fifteen-year anniversary of the making of a low-budget horror film that forever changed the lives of its cast and crew.

When the alums agree to meet at their old remote movie location for a reunion, each arrives carrying maximum allowable baggage.

Meanwhile vengeful locals-- with long memories of the film people's first visit-- script an eccentric plot all their own.

(Suspense/ humor)

Friday, May 21, 2010

looking for the pause button

Looking for the pause button is how I think of it. When every time you turn around it's Friday again, and everyone seems so happy it's the weekend again, but all you can think about is, another week has gone by in the blink of an eye, and why aren't I any closer to where I want to be? So the dream is to find the pause button. Instead, it feels like fast forward. So much of my life lately feels like that. This anxiety about being behind is why I'm still up at 1 AM; the fact that I'm doing nothing more than writing this post is what gets me into this situation in the first place.

Above is a scan of a collage necklace I made years ago. It has no direct relationship to this post.

photo by joy loveday

This exceptional photograph was taken by a family friend, Ms. Joy Loveday of St. George, Utah.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

tomorrow becomes today, and so much to do

Priorities. Always an issue for people like me who have projects in the works.

Two strategies for life effectiveness are always at war in my psyche. The first strategy, and basically the correct one, is to undertake the most important tasks first. The idea that time is slipping away on petty tasks while my big dreams are incomplete is horrifying, but the second strategy is based on my greatest secret fear, which is the idea of not having all the little-but-important things taken care of before the big and important things unfold. Few things seem as horrible to me as not being ready when opportunities arrive-- and arrive they do. Oddly enough, I've never feared having the prerequisite basic skills and talents for my chosen pursuits. But I do fear being unprepared.

Of course, in the real world, the truly cunning approach combines both strategies according to an elaborate mental algorithm.

The first strategy dictates that I work on my novel and screenplay instead of fooling around with domestic tasks. The second strategy is where I make sure I don't have two inch gray roots and nothing to wear when the limo arrives.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

an island villa awaits

My visits to Second Life are far less frequent than before, but it's still nice to know my lovely virtual home is there waiting for me.

* * *

grand prix de monaco

In all my travels across time, space, and media, I’ve paid very little attention to motorsport. You could hardly find anyone in contemporary America who knows less than I do about racing. But I do have a lot of vague visceral impressions. One persistent mental picture I have of auto racing in particular is the one where everyone drinks beer, the girls wear tight cutoff shorts and tube tops, and the crowd waits for cars to crash. The other kind of racing in my mind’s eye is where everyone drinks Veuve Clicquot champagne while wearing expensive eyewear, the announcements are in French and Italian, and the crowd waits for cars to crash.

This lack of knowledge didn’t stop me from fantasizing about being a race car driver when I was a young teenager (without so much as a learner’s permit). During this period I came up with a comic book character alter-ego named Karalin Blue and her special car, the Laser II. My graphics and story ended after about three hand-drawn pages, but at least I did design the body of a blue and magenta signature car, and gave Karalin a matching jumpsuit. My friends and I watched the campy Japanese cartoon, Speed Racer. I was also into spy shows like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Avengers. All of this was a great deal more compelling than lugging schoolbooks around in the suburbs, and planning how to spend my dollar-a-week allowance.

Now that I’m remembering those teenage fantasy interests, it makes sense that the real world of auto racing—the upscale champagne one, that is, where everyone shows up in a yacht—would appeal to me as an adult. I might personally never have the opportunity to hang out at a Grand Prix de Monaco, but if nothing else, it seems just the ticket for a story location. After all, the lead character in my novel is a wealthy heiress, and it wouldn’t take much of an excuse to drop her, and a few pieces of matched luggage, into that situation.

But as I said earlier, I don’t know anything about it, even though I suspect there could be something there for me. A friend had been enthusing about it on his blog, and my interest had become piqued. So the day before Monaco, I thought I’d better do a little online research.

My first stop was the Formula 1 official website, and the first video edit I clicked on was from last year’s race at Monaco.

Just when I was privately feeling a bit embarrassed for thinking of racing in terms of all the non-racing glamorous lifestyle components, up pops the official video which opened with… a fashion show. In fact, the entire video confirmed all of my racing scene fantasies.

Sure; I’d like to learn more about motorsport in general, and Formula 1 in particular. And just think how fun it would be to plan a Monaco vacation wardrobe…

* * *
With special thanks to Mike at the Secret Base.

Monday, May 17, 2010

car trouble and dreams of monaco

Rarely do I take pictures of my car, but for some reason I did this morning, a silver car on a cool, silver-gray day near the ocean. My errands were finished and I was going for a drive, then a walk, after sipping fresh-squeezed orange juice at an outdoor cafe (despite it being a mere three miles from my home, I hadn't known the place was there). It was a terrific morning of quiet solitude... just a girl, her walking shoes, and her wheels.

Little did I know that a couple of hours later, my beloved cat-car would be on a Jeri-Dan flat bed tow truck on its way to Coventry Cars. Truth is stranger than fiction, and twice as ironic sometimes: I was organizing my impressions of Sunday's Grand Prix de Monaco to write for a blog post when my car lost power.

The "engine safe mode" light immediately came on, which explained why I could go no faster than 10 MPH, and I limped to safety, hazard lights on.

The car had just been tuned up and had been running fine, which could only mean one thing: something seriously expensive had probably just failed.

Even so, not all news is bad. To wit:

1. AAA was able to get a tow truck to the scene within ten minutes.
2. I have 7 mile towing coverage, and my car repair service was precisely 6.8 miles away from where I pulled over.
3. The repair shop was going to close early today, but I got there in time and they took in my poor car. They also gave me a ride to Enterprise car rental.

Meanwhile, back in Monaco...

to be continued

a serious film

Discussion of the Coen brother's film, A Serious Man, is something I'd like to take on, but it deserves more than something thrown together in a rush. I'll see what I can do.

But yes, I do recommend it. Funny, but darkly so.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

that eighties film

Over 25 years later, the somewhat ill-fated extravaganza Buckaroo Banzai comes into its own...

an overdue overview

Years ago, before I really knew what a blog was or what it could be, I grabbed myself a few good blog titles. They sat there in the metaverse for a while, gathering digital dust, until I decided it might be fun to self-publish.

And so, I began to experiment. At first, I wrote primarily about couture for fashion dolls, which is my primary hobby. My posts on various topics had been sporadic up until this year. For good or for bad, I've always kept civics and current events separate from my art and culture ruminations. For a while, the former categories superceded the latter, but in time, I longed for life to at least feel normal again, which in my case meant focusing again on the things I really loved. Gradually I began to engage once more in various art and design projects, which led naturally to posting more often here at DL&CS. Dreamland Literary and Cinematic Society is a title I'd come up with back in the Nineties but hadn't really explored; now it's an important part of my life. If nothing else, it's faciliated daily writing, and I'm happy about that.

January of this year, I was given a nudge by a blogger friend of mine whose site, The Secret Base of the Rebel Black Dot Society, I really enjoy. Mike is one of the sharpest and most engaging young people I've met online, and I'm glad he posts regularly. Just as I was turning the page into 2010, we had this comment exchange:

Mike Wilson said...
What do you want to bet that this is the last time all year you and I have the same number of cumulative annual blog posts?

January 6, 2010 9:26 PM

brenda cox giguere said...
Oooh NO! Manipulated by the most simple and obvious psychological device. Simple but so effective. Curses!

Happy New Year, cyberfriend- and here's a toast: May we both fulfill our personal blogosphere goals.


January 7, 2010 5:08 PM

What? Was this a... challenge? (Apparently, one blog post every blue moon just wasn't cutting it).

This might sound strange, but I never really thought of my blog as having readers. I saw the whole blogging endeavor more as a way to give tangible form to my thought processes, create a kind of personal imprint or archive, explore the aesthetics of online publishing, and engage in the writing process. But apparently a few people have wandered in now that I'm leaving the door unlocked.

By the way, who would have thought such transparent child psychology would be so effective? Go figure!


Saturday, May 15, 2010

private magic world in a shoe-box

The first dioramas I ever built were pretty crude, but I did the best I could to create magic in shoe-boxes, tissue-boxes, or whatever I had on hand.

After my first visit with my family to the incredible Disneyland in 1961, I couldn't stop thinking about the wonders of little scenes. There were drive-through rides like Alice in Wonderland and Snow White, and there were peer-in dioramas like the ones installed in the Sleeping Beauty castle. When those magical little constructions were removed from the castle years later, Disneyland felt a bit diminished for me. I'm sure people from my generation remember those beautifully staged and illuminated fairy-tale scenes of the atmospheric castle bathed in blue light. I suppose in this day and age we can't have the multitudes placing their eyes up to those little peek holes.

Disneyland's beauty and power haunted me ever after. But how could I recreate such wonders at home? All I had to work with were my box of crayons and some paper to create props and backdrops. But I soon realized a sheet of dark blue construction paper made a great sky, and with tiny holes punched in it, I had an instant starry night. Close off the box except for a tiny peek-hole, and voila... a diorama I could hold up to the light and be transported. Another pleasing effect I was able to achieve was a mountain lake, using a purse mirror and some cotton for snow.

Decades later I'm the same person now as I was then, but with more tools and skill at my disposal.

Friday, May 14, 2010

why your humble correspondent doesn't have a tattoo and probably never will

Close your eyes. Imagine for a moment you are 18 years old. Think back to that time long ago. Remember who you were then, and what year it was. Got it? Good.

You're getting up in the morning in your old bedroom, getting dressed in your favorite jeans and shirt, thinking about your day. For some of you, this will be senior year of high school; others will have already entered that first strange, heady, bittersweet post-school summer; still others will be working at some entry level job, or excitedly attending college for the first time. On this particular day you are walking, nay, truckin' down the street, humming the latest pop song under a cloudless sky.

Suddenly you hear a high, vibrating sound, and stop, puzzled. None of your peers in the vicinity seem to notice. Louder and louder it grows, and to your amazement, the world and everyone in it seems to slow down, then freeze into immobility. The air around you begins to glitter and vibrate, and a wave of vertigo comes over you.

To your astonishment, materializing in front of you is a smiling, nattily-dressed gentleman. I leave it to your imagination just how a nattily-dressed gentleman would look in that year of your life, but you might experiment, in your mind's eye, with something that combines, in an artful way, the outrageousness of vintage Elton John with all the class of your preferred version of James Bond.


You: Who are you? What's going on?

Stranger: (tipping his hat and bowing) Lockart Inkfast, Esquire, at your service. I'm here because you're an incredibly cool person and you should have a tattoo.

You: A tattoo? You gotta be kidding. My uncle has a tattoo on his arm. He got in the Navy during the war. It's all green and faded and distorted, and has age spots and a lot of hair all over it.

Inkfast: Tattoos look much better than that now, I assure you. This is 19-- after all; every aspect has vastly improved.

You: (frowning in concern) This is crazy. And why has the world stopped?

Inkfast: Before you say no, listen to my offer. Normally tattoos are really painful, which I know some people say is part of the committment process, blah blah blah. And I know you don't have a lot of money right now, either, but I'll simply snap my fingers and give you one, for free. Better still, it'll be painless.

You: Listen, I need to get going... I'm meeting some friends at the record store.

Inkfast: (slips a chummy arm around your shoulder) Look, I just want to make the world a more interesting place, one tattoo at a time. Thought I'd start with you. Pretty great, eh? Wouldn't you like to be on the leading edge of something amazing?

You: There must be a catch.

Inkfast: No catch, as such. That is to say, it's flaw is really its feature.

You: Um, I need to think about this.

Inkfast: Oh, I can help you with that. I have pictures. It can be anything you imagine, anything at all. Any color, style, placement, or subject matter... but the most brilliant thing of all is this special questionnaire. (hands you a flat, futuristic and amazing-looking cordless electronic device)

You: What's an... iPad? How does it work?

Inkfast: Easy peasy. Here, let me show you...


You: (handing over the iPad, still amazed) Well, I filled it all out. You're right-- those questions really did help me choose.

Inkfast: So, you've decided. For me, this is the fascinating bit.

You: Let's do it. How does it work?

Inkfast: A cinch. Just close your eyes, click your heels together three times...

You: You've got to be kidding.

Inkfast: Why is that any harder to believe than this iPad? Let me finish, OK?

You: Sorry. You were saying?

Inkfast: Click your heels, and say Time Stands Still, Tomorrow Never Comes.

You: That's it?


In your hand, yellow and crumbling around the edges, is a printout of that questionnaire you filled out all those years ago.

How you answered the questions on that fateful day in your eighteenth year-- and the permanent design it inevitably led to-- is something only you can answer.

Favorite color
Favorite typeface
Favorite movie or television show
Favorite book
Favorite graphics style
Favorite substance
Favorite inspirational saying
Favorite fashions you wear
Favorite area of your body you want to enhance
Favorite exotic culture
Favorite person in your life

Lucky you, to be visited by that Time-Traveling Purveyor of Permanent Dreams, a certain dapper and accommodating Lockart Inkfast, Esquire! Not that it's any different in the long run, but legions of other tattoo-seekers must submit to that awful needle and pay hard-earned money for their permanent body art... but you-- you lucky devil!-- you got that really great one for free, simply by answering a few key questions, and clicking your heels.

Time Stands Still, Tomorrow Never Comes.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

early morning in an imaginary airstream

Once again, I awoke at around 4 AM. Rather than fret over this, I got up and did a few things around the house before assuming my post here at the nerve center. Emails out of the way, social networking sites checked, I inexplicably but somehow logically ended up on the Airstream trailer site, looking at gorgeous photos of sleek metal designs. Within moments this activity actually became a kind of waking dream of a drive on a deserted morning road through spectacular scenery, perhaps because I was looking at these images during the very time I would ordinarily have been in the classically long REM morning dream period. * * * and the dream continues

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

in praise of digital photography

Just as the best exercise is the one you'll actually do regularly, perhaps the real benefit of digital photography is how effortlessly it can become part of daily life. I know there are purists who lament how shooting real film has dropped away and become almost a folk art, and I also know there are differences between the finished look of digital versus film. I'm not insensitive to these observations. and there is much to be said about the complex beauty of film.

Not long ago, I finally packed away my old Pentax SLR film camera. And despite my tendency to steep myself in poetic nostalgia in such crossroads moments, this actually was not a terribly hard thing to do.

However much we may love and appreciate the art and craft and history and specific look of "real" film and processing, what digital technology has done to open up photography is nothing short of revolutionary. Freed from the ritual of shooting rolls of film then submitting them for the process of developing, our photography can open up and become something new in our lives. Suddenly free of a constraint many of us have grown up with, we can easily shoot virtually as many images as we want of anything that catches our eye, from serious to playful.

The first photographs I ever shot were black and white, with a Brownie box camera. I was twelve years old. It might have been exciting waiting to see how these turned out, and every roll of film thereafter, but the romance and appeal of that 20th Century ritual has its limitations.

Now approaching a half century of taking pictures, I find myself in the digital age. No longer must I ponder the selection of Kodachrome versus Ektachrome and then keep the rolls out of the heat, or worry about getting the exposed film quickly and safely to the lab. I no longer think of photo sessions in terms of 20 or 36 exposures because now my images can pile up by the hundreds on tiny disks that hold gigabytes of data, happily firing away as long as I keep my battery charged. I'll never again experience the deep despair of finding that a roll of film never moved through the camera. I can shoot a brilliant sunrise series, and then turn my lens on my morning orange juice.

Does all this ease and quantity lead to a loss of quality? This is a fair and logical question. Did the limits, both practical and psychological, imposed by film impart any uniquely positive characteristics to my photography? I don't honestly think so. I can, and do, still take my time over a photograph. I still play with lighting, think about composition, and enjoy the process. Photography still gives me great joy, both on location and in a controlled studio setting. And I still am pleased-- even excited-- when I review my images.

Monday, May 10, 2010

the screenplay returns

Stop the presses, postpone the housework, table the novel, and dust off the screenplay: there's been a change in plans. All on his own, my friend has been networking on my behalf.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

dreams about grade school

Recurring dream: I am walking at night through the corridors of my old grade school. Nobody is there, and I have a vague feeling of dread.

Variations on this dream include walking along the bridge across Pine Creek.

In some dreams, I'm not alone, but in a crowded school yard at dusk, or maybe dawn.

Photo: Meadow Homes Elementary, unaltered photo taken winter 2003.

the imaginarium of doctor parnassus

Loved, loved, loved this film. It's going to become one of those I watch again and again. I'll write a review once I've received my own copy.

As a side note, it's dismaying to view it knowing it's that poor young man's final performance, but the director and his associates solved the situation of the partially-completed film project with uncommon cleverness, artistry, and respect.

Friday, May 7, 2010

undercover viewmaster

Above, the portion of my museum diorama that features a Viewmaster and reels.

Above, Florence Thomas at work on a clay figure diorama.

One of the greatest Christmas presents of all time was the Sawyer Viewmaster 3-D stereoscope slide viewer; as kids, my sister and I each received one of these for our very own. The housing was wonderful brown Bakelite, well-made and with some satisfying heft. This particular model was extra wonderful because it used C batteries for self-illumination. No lamp or window needed! This meant we could look at The Christmas Carol or The Grand Canyon or Hearst Castle under the covers at night, in secret, again and again.

From time to time, we got new slide packets as gifts. Enclosed in each slide package was always a master list of available titles, and I used to fantasize about which ones I'd buy if I had any money or control over that sort of thing. I recall it was an amazingly long list, and I believe each packet of three 7-image reels was $1.25.

Somehow I only have retained a few of the original slide packets, and the original viewer seems missing, as well. But I've rebuilt a collection of many of the titles I fondly remember, and added a few extras. I've also put together a small collection of vintage Viewmaster viewers, which shouldn't surprise anyone who knows my inclination to turn nearly anything I like into a collection.

For my diorama in the Oakland Museum, I included a Viewmaster device and some reels. I'm glad I still have other viewers I can use for the duration of that exhibit because I just obtained a replacement clay-figured Thumbelina reel from eBay and really enjoyed seeing it again.

Curious about the beautifully done clay figure scenes photographed for many of the stories, which I still consider true works of art, I recently explored online and learned about a virtually unknown woman named Florence Thomas. You can read about her here, which is where I obtained the historic photo shown above.

For its role in my creative development, I can't give enough credit to the Sawyer company and all those who helped bring those three-dimensional miracles to life. I was fortunate to have an undercover Viewmaster inspiring my appreciation for many key ideas: storytelling, cinematic vision, art, the diorama, travel and travel photography, and more.

Monday, May 3, 2010

vintage books: the last angry man

"One of the most vital characters in modern fiction."

* * *

This is the cover of a copy I found of Gerald Green's well-known The Last Angry Man, a September 1959 third printing Cardinal Edition Pocket Book.

From the back cover:

"There aren't enough people left who get mad, plain mad. Mad at all the bitchery and fraud. We take fraud for granted. We like it. We want to be had. That's where Abelman was different. He knew he was being cheated, and it didn't like it one tiny bit. He was the last angry man."

* * *

on dreams: what to believe and not, part one

One of the posted topics of this blog (see the masthead above) is dreaming. It occurs to me that, while I've posted dream accounts now and then, I've never discussed my views about dreams and dreaming. My closest friends have some idea where I'm coming from, but the rest of you (all half dozen or so) can probably only guess.

One of the most intriguing subcategories to me is something called lucid dreaming, which is a great place for me to start my discussion.

As a young person I was always interested in dreams in general, and kept sporadic dream accounts. I still do. From time to time I spontaneously had some lucid dreams, and eventually pursued them through study and preparation because I found them so amazing.

Lucid Dreaming is the term applied to the state of consciousness whereby one is fully aware that one is dreaming while the dream is happening.

This immediate knowledge that everything around you is a mental construct facilitates a powerful and provocative dream-state, a kind of personal virtual reality which I look forward to eventually describing for you in some detail.

Lucid dreaming has multiple applications, including cognitive studies, self-improvement, and pure enjoyment. Intriguingly enough, lucidity can eventually be attained by most people via specific learnable techniques.

The human mind in general with regard to cognition and consciousness always seemed a fascinating field of study, and lucid dreaming provided some compelling possibilities therein that seemed obvious even to me. It was this, along with an interest in lucid dreaming's artistic and creative potential, that drew me in.

Although I could only approach the subject of lucid dreaming as a somewhat casual journalist because I am not a scientist (with no graduate degree), I was for a time quite involved in the fascinating field of lucid dreaming study as a dedicated amateur. I was privileged to assist reputable researchers as a laboratory subject at Stanford University, and also through writing the occasional lay article, or helping sort through research data.

By the late 90s, the notion of consciousness during sleep, with its often controversial allure of dream control, gained an appreciable level of popular interest. After working on lucid dreaming techniques and spending time with my researcher friends, I surprised myself and began making occasional public and media appearances, sharing information this way despite my naturally introverted nature.

My fascination with the subject remains more or less intact, even though I have been inactive in the public realm since moving to southern California. It should be noted that I have never been a fanatic who believed lucid dreaming could change the world. (And because I haven't been active for some time, these days a great many other names will come up online before mine does... and rightly so).

And now, before you start clicking on search engine links, here's a quick disclaimer. Perhaps not surprisingly, lucid dreaming has always been loosely associated with the so-called new age movement, which in my view has been of some help, yet even more of a hindrance. Despite it being a legitimate, proven physiological phenomenon with obvious research value in more than one field, as well as being pleasant, inspiring, and even of practical use to a variety of people, the subject of lucid dreaming retains an unmistakable whiff of flakiness.

Leaving that sticky wicket for now, I can state with confidence that there need not be any fear of lucid dreaming. It is a fascinating, genuine, well-documented, natural, legitimate physiological state well worth exploring; it poses no inherent conflict with science, religion, or for that matter, being a normal, well-adjusted human being.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

a pirate's life for me, for now

My father is still on dialup, which is the subject for another day. Not that I'm complaining as such; I'm fortunate he's part of the online world at all.

The real situation is, I've yet to get the whole remote email thing organized to my satisfaction. More often than not, when I stay at my father's house I am able to pick up unsecured WiFi on my notebook. But the neighborhood is getting wise, because for four days, I've had no WiFi signal here at all, other than those with security protection. Curses!

Seeking a more legitimate and civilized solution, this morning I had a frustrating time at the local hotspot Starbucks, a tale too annoying-- even painful-- to recount. Checking yet again a few moments ago, not expecting different results than I've had since arriving, here in my father's living room I saw the amazing sight of green bars on my notebooks lower task bar. A signal, an actual signal! And... it was unsecured!

The floodgates opened, and hundreds of emails came pouring in. Jubilation!

Unfortunately I still can't seem to send emails remotely, however-- another problem I need to solve. I am always a few steps behind total technonirvana.

None of the emails were even remotely important, but at least now I know there isn't anything I'm missing, right? And so, flush with success, I'm now attempting my first remote blog post.

Testing, one, two, three...