Shave the World

The Story MachineTM was working overtime last night.

This one was about a billionaire genius philanthropist utopianist who was also a bit of a goofball. Let’s call him George because in the dream he was played by George Clooney. Okay, it was a dream.

George invented things, cellphone-sized 3D TV (JCoaPS! this is real now!) for instance. He made a lot of money. He gave himself superpowers. He built a utopian city and he ran his companies like a benevolent dictator.

This was all very visual, colorful and intense and told from the viewpoint of the sister of a young boy who was also a genius inventor and idolized George. Call the boy Tony and the young woman Bree.

Tony invents something that attracts George’s attention and George showers the kid with money and gifts and even power, giving him his own company to run. George even hires other children and has a whole company devoted to employing disabled children because Tony said something about his best friend, who’s in a wheelchair, having even better ideas.

George also seems to fall in love with Bree and she with him. Bree thinks he’s funny, handsome, charming and way too much of a control freak. He scares her and her feelings for him scare her even more.

In one scene, she complains that her sweater has picked up lint while walking through one of his offices and why does anyone need to wear a sweater when the office is so warm. George has everyone in the office take off their sweaters. They all do, making joke complaints about it but humoring the boss.

One of them observes that George is so PC that he never mentions anyone’s gender and that he’s so smart he can do this without sounding stilted or phony. But when he’s talking about Bree, his speech is filled with she and her. The office workers and some of the disabled children laugh about George’s foibles and go back to whatever they do in their high-tech individualized cubicles that would never be called cubicles by George.

George and Bree have a fight about his micromanagement and controlling attitude and Bree takes Tony away on a visit to their parents.

George gets drunk. He decides that he doesn’t have enough empathy to understand women. In the last scene in the dream before I woke up, he’s disguised himself as a woman and is using his superpowers to sweep and clean up the set of a movie one of his companies is making. He moves in superspeed blurs from one little job to another.

“Bree thinksh I’m crazy,” he says to himself. “She thinks I’m trying to shave the world. It can’t be done, it’s just too damn hairy.” He stops and glares at the dirty floor where someone drove a muddy vehicle across the set. “How do women put up with high heelsh and shmiling all the time? I don’t know what hurtsh more, my feet or my mouth.”

Then he stares off into the distance, genius inspiration has obviously struck. “Shay, you know, you probably could shave the world if your razor had enough blades.”

This is why I wake up laughing so often.

The Ugly Truth

I had a dream last night and I remember much of it this morning. Like a lot of my dreams, it had a title and seemed to have been constructed by the Writing MachineTM I keep in my head. This one was called, The Ugly Truth.

It was both a movie and a card game, a la Steve Jackson’s Munchkin; dreams can be like that. And like Munchkin, there were several different versions. The Ugly Truth about Life, The Ugly Truth about Marriage, The Ugly Truth about High School, The Ugly Truth about Cats and Dogs, The Ugly Truth about Politics and The Super Ugly Truth which was an expansion set that could be added to one of the others.

So this dream was The Super Ugly Truth about High School. We all know that one.

It was a game and a story at the same time. In the story, a group of friends and acquaintances in high school battle with the usual zits, proms, swots and finks while also dealing with super powers and the occasional monster. And also in the story, the kids were playing the card game. Very meta.

The deck is shuffled in a hand of The Ugly Truth and each player is dealt a number of cards, five or six, I think. There are personality cards in the deck and there’s a list of precedence for them, whoever has got the highest precedent personality card in their hand goes first, playing the card and becoming that personality for the hand until replaced. That player draws a replacement card and play begins.

On your turn, if you have any Ugly cards in your hand, you play those first and they take effect. For instance the Massive Zit on your Forehead card prevents you from scoring until it is replaced. You have to have a Beauty or Brawn card to replace an Ugly one, Brains cards can’t do it but Brains cards let you play Ugly cards in front of someone else. Details of how this worked were not clear in the dream.

The Super Ugly Truth added superpowers to this. One Super Ugly card was Bulk Out – you go on a super-eating binge and devour the snack bar, lose two turns.

Oh, the art on the cards was by Brad Guigar of Evil, Inc.

I wonder if this is an actual commercial idea. I know there would probably be a novelty market for the Super Ugly Truth about Politics every four years, what with cards for RepUglycans and DeMonstercrats, but could it ever become a perennial like Munchkin?

Probably not because the Ugly Truth about the game is that nobody wins.

Konk!

The odd shell looked as if it might have washed ashore on some alien ocean. At first, Jodie Millbrae thought it might be a conch shell, but it was larger than any conch he had ever seen and differently colored, a tawny yellow with blue-black rosettes outside that faded to ivory pink inside with moss green spots.

The whole shell, more than a foot long with a sharply pointed spire, weighed several pounds Jodie realized after picking it up. It occurred to him that it might have an inhabitant and he cautiously peered into the creamy opening.

“Take me to your leader,” said the cartoonish-looking head that peered back at him from the shadowy inside.

“You mean my dad?” asked Jodie.

“Is your father Dr. Jonas Millbrae, the renowned cosmologist?” asked the head in the conch, coming out just a bit farther where Jodie could see it better. It looked like Jiminy Cricket wearing glasses and sounded like Woody Allen, complete to New York accent.

Jodie nodded. “Yes, he is. He’s really smart.”

“We know,” agreed the head. “We’ve come all the way from the Spiral Galaxy Next Door to consult with him.”

“You’re Andromedans?” shrieked Jodie in delight.

“You could say that,” agreed the head of the alien delegation.

Jodie tucked the ungainly object under his arm like the world’s ugliest football and ran to find his father.

Dr. Millbrae had dozed off on the sand and been buried under an enormous sand castle by his daughter, Miranda. The castle had eleven turrets, seven portcullises and a moat that Miranda had filled with seawater and as many unwary beach denizens that she could indenture, inveigle, and as last resort, indemnify into taking up residence.

Miranda had named the castle, calling it, “The Structure of Western Thought, Solid but Ephemeral,” and thought it entirely appropriate that she had used her father for its foundation.

Coming up from the rocky part of the shore, Jodie could not see his father’s head and neck protruding across the drawbridge on the back side of Miranda’s recondite, rococo, re-creation.

With the alien-inhabited conch still under his arm Jodie asked his sister, “Have you seen Dad?”

“Not for a while,” said Miranda, telling the truth in her own deceptive way.

Jodie danced from one foot to the other. “Somebody wants to talk to him about something important.”

“Uh huh,” said Miranda in that voice she used when Jodie said he wanted to watch Sponge Bob Squarepants and she had already changed the channel. “Well, they can just wait. He’s busy doing something important already.”

“I’m back here,” said Dr. Millbrae waking up. “What is it, Jodie?”

Jodie ran around the wing of the castle that represented the interesting failures and fallacies of natural theology. He held out the conch at the end of his pudgy arms and announced, “The Andromedans want to ask you something.”

“Hello, Pocillovy,” Dr. Millbrae’s head protruding across the sandy drawbridge over the moat greeted the cartoon insect head. “You’ve come a long way. What’s your question?”

An immature elasmobranch in the briny ditch perked up; it wasn’t often a baby dogshark got the chance to listen in on such a momentous conversation.

“Dr. Millbrae,” said the crickety head in its New York voice. “We’ve calculated the sum of all the radiation released in the universe since the big bang and it appears to be concentrated in a particular part of the spectrum visible to humans as blue-green light. This surprises us and we thought to ask you for confirmation of our findings.”

Dr. Millbrae’s head looked thoughtful. “You want to know if the universe is really turquoise?”

“Exactly,” said the Andromedan.

“It’s not any shade of aqua or cyan,” said Dr. Millbrae. “It’s beige.” And he closed his eyes and went back to sleep, still serving as the foundation for his daughter’s representation of “The Structure of Western Thought, Solid and Ephemeral.”

Ebony Jewels

Was sitting here and just remembered the very odd dream I was having this morning before I woke up.

It was about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, two of Fritz Leiber’s fantasy characters from a series of books back in the 40s, 50s and 60s.

They had gotten quite old and had retired from adventuring. The Mouser was in his mid-eighties, still spry but having mental problems. A few years younger than his old partner, Fafhrd was very worried about him. Fafhrd was still mentally sharp but had grown fragile. After breaking his hip when an elevator had stopped suddenly, Fafhrd was getting around in a wheelchair which meant that he couldn’t visit the Mouser in his home which was a third floor walk-up in the East Village. So he called me to go check on Mouse.

“Just be sure the little guy is okay,” he begged me. He was being pushed around his Park Avenue apartment by a black, amazonian beauty half his age.

I took a bus over and met the Mouser’s current thirty-something girlfriend in a Starbucks in SoHo. Leisha told me that Mouse was fine, just a little confused sometimes. The part that made her worry was that when he got anxious he would disappear into the building’s conduits and inner spaces, sometimes not coming out for days. “Sheelba is the only one who can talk him out before he’s ready,” Leisha confessed.

Sheelba I remembered was Mouse’s patron and a class-A manipulator. Whitney Houston was singing “How Will I Know If I Really Love You” on the Starbucks music system and that seemed somehow significant.

Mouse himself showed up about then claiming to have found the Ebony Jewels of Nevernight – a bag of espresso beans. The alarm went off and I woke up wondering what a cup of coffee brewed from the Ebony Jewels of Nevernight would taste like.

 

Field of Dreams

I had a dream about a new CMS. These are the notes I made after waking up:

  • whole new way of building content types¬†and creating content
  • you created subtypes just like creating content
  • and you chose the visibility to different classes of user at the time of creation or later
  • and you could do it individually or as a batch thing
  • and you could make a subtype of a type, then sever it, so that it was now a type instead of a subtype
  • also you could make fields that were inheritable across types, so if you changed the field it changed it in all instances of the type
  • then you could take two types or subtypes and combine them in either a union or a conjunction to create another new type
  • it was wild and it was all done in a simple columnar table interface
  • and there were things called branches that described the relations between fields in different types
  • so if one type was a user, and another type was a taxonomy, and a third type was a content type then you could have a field branch that described the relationship of user as author of content and as a tag for searching
  • i’m too old to tackle such a project but it’s tempting
  • everything was a node, content, users, messages, comments, taxonomy, even fields were nodes
  • a field had attributes, like label, title, description/instructions, type, content, position and visibility and you could add attributes you needed
  • when manipulating anything, a window showed you what CSS would be used to address the appearance of what you were working on
  • and you had the choice when building types to give that type its own table in the database and which fields would be indexes

It was a dream of fields.