Monday, August 31, 2009

Aerolution Films

I have a recurring dream, about once every 6 months or so lately, sometimes not for years, but I recognize the dream, it's the same theme and the same only happens when I'm tired or haven't slept much, or always happens the same way, I toss and turn, trying to FALL asleep when I know that I need to...
And then I'm transported to this familiar dreamscape which I recognize, because I've been there before in other dreams, "oh boy, here we go..." I say in anticipation of what could literally be a roller coaster ride of visuals. I remember a lot of this one.
The setting is usually an office space where bizarre projects are being worked on, sometimes populated by former co-workers I have known over the years, and a few other recurring characters...but at the center of it all are these two brothers who make movies, and in the dream, they gather everyone together to watch their latest movie...and here's the astonishing part, I remembered the title and much of the dream here in waking hours! I was driving on I-5 and all of a sudden it came to me, "Aerolution Films"!! straight out of my subconscious came this vivid image, as if a secret vault, or long lost computer folder suddenly opened into the light of day.
The two brothers, one looking like Cosmo Kramer with glasses, the other like Teller (from Penn and Teller) and the distinct logo, 'Aerolution Films'...Everyone gathered for the film and sat down on the floor to watch...
The film started with a simple scene of a cat sitting on a table, then the cat grinned wider and wider, until its mouth was completely open to reveal an inner mouth also opening, and then again and again, like watching a flower blooming in fast motion. Then this blooming effect took on the shape of an origami paper unfolded itself in a precise and geometrical way, and began to refold and reshape itself into a house, like a dollhouse...and through the windows of the house came two robot like hands, each holding a deck of playing cards. Each hand fanned out the cards, which sprouted feathers, like bird's wings. It was amazing to see the vividness of each feather sprouting and growing, and forming into wings. I half expected to watch the dollhouse fly away, but the house began another transformation as the wings folded back.
From all the other windows in the house, small boxes emerged, and they opened to even smaller boxes, and those boxes opened to reveal small rings interlocked with other rings, and as they began to rotate and sort of 'dance' in amazing choreography, the wings withdrew back into the house as it refolded itself origami style into a tree-like shape, onto which the rings attached themselves to the branches, like a Christmas tree...Then the tree twisted itself into a pole, like a spiral Greek column and within the cracks of the column, hundreds of birds squeezed out and flew all around the room...
All of this happened with a constant flow, as if it was a fast moving animation, well, that's what it was! It's the vividness that gets me every time, and it's always a different 'movie' every time I have that dream. It's hard to interpret, because of so much information and imagery...but I am looking forward to the next one!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Animals Can Talk

I believe that animals can talk, not just to their own kind, which they obviously do...but to us humans. At least they try to talk to us, in the only language they know, in their barks and meows, and in their body language and behavior, and we recognize some of it...When they're hungry, we know....because they'll be sure to tell us!
For those of us who have had pets, mainly dogs and cats, birds, or any contact with animals, I think we all know the way they look us in the eye when they're saying something to us, and we know what they're saying, because they're just like a family member.
Back in the 70's, Koko the Gorilla astounded scientists with her ability to American Sign Language...she displayed a definite intelligence, in which she was able to communicate with an amazing vocabulary...up to 600 words. Using sign language, they asked her "what is dead?"
she signed, "long sleep"...She described sour milk as "crocodile milk" because she didn't like crocodiles after seeing pictures of them. And she described dreams as "sleep pictures"...She distrusted newcomers until she was assured, "this man/woman good"...She described a policeman as "clown" because his shiny badge and parts of his uniform reminded her of photos of clowns.
So even though Koko is a primate, it is obvious that they think and dream...and have emotions and feelings just like we humans do...and there was the amazing story of the parrot who DID use human words as communication, her last words were, "be good...I love you."

Koko had the ability to communicate using sign language, but our dogs and cats don't have the hands or dexterity to do that, so they communicate with us humans in their own way, through their barks and meows and their incredible language within those...and of course their body language. Many books are available about cat language and dog language, and it's true, they are communicating to us, or trying to...but, they don't have the ability to sign, or mimic the human voice...but if they did, I think they would tell us wonders...I remember Jake, a lovable Golden Retriever when I lived in Pleasant Hill, a big goofy night I brought him out a steak bone, he clenched it in his teeth, took a couple of steps and then dropped it!! what dog would drop a meaty bone? Then he ran and jumped on me, licking my face profusely...he was thanking me....
"yeahhh okay okay, I love you too Jake!"...then he stopped and just grinned at me, in that doggie smile way... "wuff" and grabbed his bone and off he went...
Dolphins in the ocean are also incredibly intelligent. There are endless stories about dolphins in the sea who have protected men in shipwrecks, by surrounding them and shielding them from sharks. Dolphins are smart...and they're mammals, just like whales...and they sing.
Gabby, who lives here has an entire cat vocabulary all her own (that's how she got her name!) Her meows range from little peeps to drawn out meows to a staccato-like chirping...this is her language. Like all of our dogs and cats, each one has its own personality, just like humans...
My mom says, "my god it feels like she's talking to me! directly to in Chinese!"
I wish I knew what she was saying exactly...other than 'where's my breakfast?'....I wish I could communicate with Gabby on a level other than the basic stuff, because I know she has WAY much more to say...and I think she's just as frustrated as a zillion animals in this world who are sentient and have a certain intelligence, and would LOVE to talk to us, and ask questions...and I would love to talk to them....and ask questions.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I've Seen All Good People

"I've seen all good people turn their heads each day so satisfied, I'm on my way"...That is a line from a classic Yes song, and after nearly 40 years, I still don't know what to make of it...or maybe that was the idea, Jon Anderson who wrote the line, and has always said, "it's open to interpretation.."
Well, fair enough...When he referred to all good people turning their heads, did he mean turning their heads away from being good? and being a pop star during that time in all of its decadence, was he on his way too? or were all the good people turning their heads to something better, a greater good?...that is the question and it pretty much summarizes everyone, turn their heads to good or evil, or somewhere in between?
I think good and evil exists in everyones' soul, whether we acknowledge it or not...and I don't necessarily mean this in a religious sort of way, but more in a biological way which is more secular, but if you want to apply religion, then so be it, it still works...because I have come to believe there is good in everyone, and Good usually wins. Because if there wasn't Good, none of us would be here....
Of course, there's the sociopaths, the serial killers, and the truly bad people out there, filled with violence and hate, and terrible crimes...what got in to them to commit those things?
Not to mention Adolf of the biggest thugs in history...who can stop these people? Well, Good people do...Hitler was destroyed, and criminals go to jail...well, most do...
Anyway, I think that most people have Good in them, people who just want to get along and help when they can, because I think it's hard wired in the human psyche that it's better to be good, it's better to help out, because it just means survival in the long run...
During an accident, the first thing people do is jump out and help the injured...
In war, soldiers help their buddies, even though they just blasted the enemy, whether or not the blasted enemy was 'evil' is only relative....especially those German kids in WWII who only got drafted towards the end...those frightened kids were not evil, but got swept up in a bigger Evil.
When I worked at the store, where the policy was, 'World Class Customer Service' I experienced quite a cross section of people coming through the line...from the wealthy who lived up on the hills above Santa Rosa, to the gang bangers who lived down below...each customer came through the line with a certain personality and attitude, I don't know whether it was because it was simply a grocery store, but everyone was Good, usually...aside from the cranky customers, crackpots and old coots mostly...I saw everyones' good side, even the gangbangers, their polite side...maybe because they were gathering food, an age old human ritual...and all the while I tried to remain Good, even though sometimes I wanted to commit murder...
But that made them happy for the time being, and Good.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Musician as Artist

I have always loved music, since day one, or at least the day that I had cognitive memory. I wrote about this before, about shaking my leg to 'The Best is Yet to Come' by Frank Sinatra when I was 2, or singing 'I Wanna Be Around' with my dad in the car when I was 3...
I would have loved to be a musician, be a musician meant to play a musical instrument, and play it skillfully and with a certain signature of emotion, or sing a song with a strong voice, also with skill and emotion and timing... After playing trumpet in school and trying to learn to play the guitar, the music ends at my wrists...and I tried...over and over, music teachers always say 'practice practice!' and that is very true, even Rick Wakeman, the keyboard player in Yes said, "I can only recommend practice, I can't emphasize that enough"....and I did practice. And I was able to play the notes, but I never *felt* the other words, I couldn't express them in a way other than just reading them off a music sheet, like taking a Great Ape staring through a cage at an elusive wonder, my musical ability is only a whim.
But that has never diminished my appreciation for music, and those who create it...because they are incredible Artists. Those who are able to play an instrument, or sing with a natural flow, as though the music is within them, and it pours out of them with ease...they have a gift..
You see, I think that I envy musicians because it's an instantaneous, communal thing that can be if you brought your guitar and someone else brought theirs, then you can jam, and play and sing...even if you play or sing in a pedestrian way it doesn't matter, because you get to share the experience, which can only be a fun thing! I never got to that point...
I became an artist anyway, but the solitary kind...I love to create images and I always will...but it's a solitary way of creating something, and yes, there's art guilds and classes...but it's still an individual endeavor. And then maybe you can share it later on, once it's finished...but it will never be spontaneous, like playing music with people in real time, creating it on the spot, and the cameraderie and sheer joy of doing it when it's happening! not to mention the audience who is also watching and listening and experiencing the whole thing...real time as it's being created...the way people smile at each other during the song...and I've seen it, the smiles people give each other when playing and singing, whether it's a small gathering, or onstage at a big arena, music is a shared experience...and I guess I'm just jealous...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

One Thing Leads to Another

A long time ago when I was in kindergarten, my parents had been planning to buy a house, and move out of the house we lived in, which was my dad's parents house in San Jose. He and his siblings inherited that house when their parents died at a young age. So my dad, at age 23, basically finished raising his younger siblings. Of course, that didn't sit well with some of them, so they moved out as soon as they could. My dad stayed on, got married and then I was born, and we lived in that house until I was 5.

They found a house in the Willow Glen neighborhood, I remember driving by there a few times, peeking through the windows as they would show it to friends and relatives. The deal was just about done, but then something happened and the deal fell it was back to looking again. A couple months later they found another house on Doma Drive, and that's where we ended up moving to, and that was the house I grew up in, we lived there for 20 years.

As I grew up and went to the same school for 8 years, and then on to high school along with those same kids, I would often think back to that house we 'almost' lived in, and how much different my life would have been, with different friends, and different experiences...would the trajectory of my life path be entirely different? or would it veer back in the same general direction? What opportunities were missed? What disasters were avoided? Well, none of us will ever know, and it's the same for everyone. There are major forks in the road in everyones' life path...some we take by choice, some by circumstance. And it is always by chance, or by fate, that in a single instant one's life can change course forever.

I remember driving to a job interview back in 1985. I lived in San Leandro and the interview was in Concord, so I allowed myself some extra time. But sure enough, traffic was horrendous and I found that I was running almost 15 minutes late! As I approached the exit I wondered if I should just blow it off since I was so late, but I thought, "no I might as well go in, I'll just explain it was the traffic."
So that's what I did, and they were very understanding, and the interview went extremely well! The guy who interviewed me was named Ron, and he introduced me to Mimi, who was one of the artists working there, we all hit it off that day and sure enough I was hired. We've all been friends ever since, and through them, became friends with a wider constellation of people.
Had I decided to skip the exit and drive home that day, I would never have known any of them. Who knows what course my life would have taken? Would I have met another different set of friends? probably, but the idea of never having known any of these friends leaves me with an incredibly empty feeling.
Similarly, in 1987 I was freelancing, and jobs were getting pretty few and far between...I remember going through the drive-thru at a Jack-in-the-Box, and there were newspaper racks along the drive-thru lane. So on a whim, I bought a SF Chronicle to read during lunch. As I skimmed the want ads, I saw an ad, "Illustrator Wanted - Computer company seeks artist/illustrator w/ traditional skills..." Even back then, I knew the odds of landing a job through the paper was pretty slim, since they get tons of resumes, but I thought, why not? So I sent in my resume with some samples...sure enough they called! And I went in and I got the job, it was at Spectrum Holobyte, a start-up game company when computer art was in its infancy, and I learned as I went along and rode the crest of a computer graphic wave for 15 years! And I've met some wonderful friends on that wave...friends that I would never exchange for the world, in any 'what-if' time line....All because of that one moment when I decided to buy a paper at that Jack in the Box. If I hadn't bought the paper, I would never have answered that ad...and well, who knows what direction I would have taken? A different but similar one maybe, but not *this* one, and not with the people in it...maybe some! but we'll never know.
How many other instances are like that in everyones life? It occurred to me that they happen every single day, in subtle ways...and not just by the things we ourselves do, but as circumstances of things other people do as we interact with them. Like the big-rig that overturned on the Bayshore Freeway, halting traffic for miles, because the driver had to swerve to avoid a guy on his cell phone who cut him off. The wreck blocked the main entrance to SFO, causing pilots and passengers to miss their flights. What were the consequenses of all those missed flights? How many people missed out on job interviews? How many business deals failed to get done? And the people who missed weddings, funerals, or a husband trying to fix his marriage...and the consequences of all those events on other people, all spiraling out in an endless array, like dropping a heavy stone on a still lake. All because someone decided to make a phone call at that exact moment in time.
Timing and circumstance, every single day. The beer I ordered today, I asked for a Sierra Nevada. After the waitress took the order she came back again and said, "oh did you want that in a 16 or 20 ounce draft?" 'oh 16 ounce please'... "okay, you got it.." And when she turned, she ran right in to a customer, knocking an empty bottle on her tray to the floor. "Whoa!" everyone yelled. Clearly embarrassed, both the customer and waitress apologized, and a busboy swept up the glass.
That's when it all occurred to me, if I had ordered a glass of wine instead, she would never have turned around to ask me what size, and the customer would have passed and no collision would have happened. Maybe that one collision was the last straw for that waitress, now she will quit her job and go back to school to become a nurse...probably not, but you never know...all because I ordered a beer instead of wine. All of these life-altering permutations. How many occurances like this, big or small, happen every single day, to everyone? And how big do we know they will be in the long run?