I just got back from seeing Godspeed You! Black Emperor live.
They've been one of my favorite bands forever.
Seeing them is a spiritual experience.
Last week I watched the live streaming video feed of the burning of Zozobra, an annual festival in Santa Fe. Every year, the city of Santa Fe constructs a fifty-foot tall marionette of Zozobra, "Old Man Gloom," and burns it to the ground in effigy. Zozobra flails around on fire, his eyes rolling and flashing, his mouth opening and closing, his arms waving and sweeping (at least until the strings burn through). When Old Man Gloom goes up in smoke, he takes with him all the anxieties, depression, fears and troubles of the previous year.
It's surprisingly cathartic, even through a computer screen from hundreds of miles away.
When I was a kid, we'd make the trip up to Santa Fe every year to see it in person. Surrounded by massive crowds, with hot fry-bread in my hands and Zozobra looming ridiculously huge in real life, it was a magical and wondrous experience. There's just something about watching the larger-than-life embodiment of misery writhe and scream on fire that's liberating and empowering.
Of course, it's also fun to just watch stuff on fire. No matter the time of year, little-kid me would build mini-Zozobras out of toilet paper tubes stuffed with napkins. I'd laboriously decorate them with magic markers, trying to get the furrow of the massive brows, the grumpy grimace, the bow-tie, just right-- before setting it gloriously alight with a book of matches and watching it burn to ash. I'd make little whispery grumbling and howling sounds to accompany the blaze, and it would always make me feel better for a while.
The older I get, the more thankful I am to my parents for giving me these things. Introducing me to Zozobra, going to see the Balloon Fiesta, the cross-country road trips and vacations. The Petrified Forest. The Ozarks. Even the garish and ridiculous spectacle of Branson, MO.
Thank you for that, Mom and Dad.
And especially thank you for taking me to see Old Man Gloom bite the dust, year after year.
So last night I had a strange dream.
I was working in a standard, generic-style office environment. I had a desk out in the open, with a library cart next to my desk, and my boss's desk was near mine. My boss in the dream was Jon Hamm, dressed like Don Draper.
So I was working at this job, in the dream, and at one point I got up to make coffee and then decided to fall asleep at my desk. I woke up, in the dream, and Jon Hamm was driving me somewhere in his car. I was like "Oh creeze, Mr. Hamm, I'm sorry I just straight-up fell asleep through seven hours on the clock!"
"Don't worry about it," he said, and then it became apparent that we were headed to another work function.
We pulled up to some building and walked inside, and there was just row after row of people sitting at cafeteria tables, with mounds of hotdogs piled up on trays every few feet. I intuited that this was every employee of my new company, and that this was a massive hotdog eating contest.
You should know that I think hotdog eating contests are gross as hell. I watched Bill take place in one a few years ago-- eating hotdogs until there were literally tears streaming out of his reddened eyes-- and it always seemed like one of the most awful things that a person can do. Also, as a gentleman of a certain stature, I have issues with getting up in front of a bunch of people and performing gluttony as a spectator sport.
So I sat down at an empty spot at one of the tables, and figured I'd just sit there and not eat any hotdogs, and then one of the other people at the table figured out that I was planning on nonparticipation, and started busting my balls about how I needed to take part in this team-building activity or whatever. Fucking fine, I thought, and grabbed a hotdog; I'm sure I can perform at least reasonably well. Bill got through about a half-dozen of the things in five minutes, if I recall correctly.
Unfortunately, once I had the hotdog in my hand, I realized that it was some kind of massive goddamn half-pounder or something, all kosher beef, and was packed into what looked like some kind of artisanal hoagie bun. I gritted my teeth and started eating the goddamn hotdogs. I got through two and a half of 'em before I woke up. It was time to go get brunch with Barb and my mother-in-law.
I swear to you that I felt just full as a tick. Those two-point-five "dream dogs" were taking up what felt like very real space in the ol' tum-tum. Not for very long, but for a little while after I woke up I felt just disgustingly overstuffed.
And now, a picture of one of my cats turtling on the carpet.
* I'm sure that if you're some kind of pervert Freudian, you'll probably interpret that whole thing as some sort of fear-dream that I'll have to huff all kinds of metaphorical dongs at my new job. I personally think Freud was full of shit and deep-throated one too many cigars, and that in this instance, being forced to put cylindrical meaty objects in my mouth is just being forced to put cylindrical meaty objects in my mouth. So there. You dirty-minded jerks.
We're talking about Levar Burton.
(20:38) Pipere: When I was a kid, I referred to him as "Reading Rainbow."
(20:38) Pipere: Like.. that was his name to me.
(20:39) Pipere: I remember the episode where he took the viewers on the set of Star Trek and showed them how tv shows are made.
(20:40) Keith: I saw that one!
(20:40) Keith: I remember it vividly because Picard kept sneering at Geordi and yelling that the children should all die in a fire.
(20:40) Pipere: I DON'T REMEMBER THAT
(20:41) Keith: "I hate children. I think they should all catch on fire and die."
(20:41) Keith: Let me see if I can find a youtube link.
(20:45) Pipere: I can't find anything on this supposed 'Picard telling kids to die in a fire' on the Reading Rainbow show.
(20:46) Keith: Oh, I couldn't find it either.
(20:46) Keith: dang the ol' DMCA
(20:46) Keith: It was great, it ended with him tearing off his Starfleet shirt and pounding at his bare chest with his fists.
(20:46) Keith: His face was like SUPER red, too.
(20:47) Pipere: NOWAY. Full of lies. There would be some blog about if that happened.
(20:47) Keith: Yeah! I read somewhere that he actually collapsed on the set after that, and he had to go to the ER for exhaustion and dehydration.
(20:48) Keith: He issued a watery apologetic press-release, but you could tell his heart wasn't in it.
(20:48) Pipere: LOL. was it a blooper?
(20:49) Pipere: "Most notably, the episode included a set of Star Trek: The Next Generation bloopers - the only legal release of such material."
(20:49) Keith: Well, they left it in the episode I saw, so I don't think so. It was this really weird shift in tone where LeVar was keeping it calm and cool and kind of patronizing, for children, and then Picard just starts screaming about killing children and ripping off his clothes.
(20:49) Keith: Maybe they didn't have enough footage to stretch and they HAD to use it or something.
(20:50) Pipere: BUTTERFLY IN THE SKYYYYY
(20:50) Keith: I THINK THE KIDS SHOULD DIIIIE
(20:50) Keith: SO TAKE A LOOK
(20:50) Keith: GO FUCK YOURSELF
(20:50) Keith: I'M FALLING OVER
(20:50) Pipere: the entire episode is on youtube