Familiar Strangers In My Head

March 31, 2010

For a good thirty years, I didn’t dream.

Well, that’s not actually true because we all dream, but, for thirty years, I rarely remembered my dreams.

I dreamed plenty up until I was five or six, so I was familiar with the concept, but I wasn’t aware of my participation.

One friend expressed concern that this quirk in my nocturnal wiring might indicate that I was a sociopath.

I thought it was the insomnia.

These days, I sleep better and, on occasion, I will have a dream that lives on past its use date. This morning, I woke from a dream in which I was wandering a ridiculously crowded shopping mall with Pizza, one of our cats, perched on my shoulders.

Paloma was shopping for a sweater and I was navigating the crowd, searching for a soft pretzel place.

I would rather not be in a mall and – knowing Pizza as I do – I suspect she wouldn’t be very happy, either.

On the other hand, both of us would enjoy a soft pretzel, so, you know, that part was a keeper.

But, as I wandered through that mall, skittish pet on my shoulders, there were faces that looked familiar but not as people I know (as far as I know) from this side of sleep.

There was a woman who almost ran us down outside the Orange Julius. She had a fur coat, large sunglasses, and channeled Anne Bancroft.

I think that she appeared in a dream months ago as a Waffle House waitress.

There was a nervous fellow standing outside a drug store. He was dressed like he worked in Mission Control Center for NASA in the early ’70s and sported a moustache that would have made Rollie Fingers weep.

I think he might have been a fellow patron in the Waffle House dream.

I now suspect that my subconscious has a stable of character actors and is using them as extras in my dreams.

Here is a quartet of stranger songs (mostly because nothing else seemed to fit)…

Heather Nova – Talking To Strangers
from Live From The Milky Way

I first stumbled across Heather Nova in the ’93 with her live EP Blow and was captivated by the ethereal vocals of the singer which soar and swoop.

If you’d asked me at the time, I would have predicted big things for the singer who spent a good deal of her childhood living on a sailboat in the Carribean with her family. It didn’t happen -maybe she just got lost in the Lilith Fair shuffle – but Talking To Strangers is a wonderful introduction to Nova.

The Kinks – Strangers
from Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround, Part One

When searching for songs for this post, this track by The Kinks popped up and I couldn’t place it. Listening to it, it sounded so familiar but not. I think it must have lodged into my head from the numerous times a friend played Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround, Part One years ago.

But, I’m certainly glad that I reaquainted myself with Strangers. It’s a lovely song, written and sung by Dave Davies, and apparently about Davies’ feelings about the state of the band and his relationship with brother Ray.

Rick Springfield – Don’t Talk To Strangers
from Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet

I had no problem placing Rick Springfield’s Don’t Talk To Strangers. Radio became an integrel part of my life right around the time that the television heartthrob from Australia was everywhere with Jessie’s Girl and I’ve Done Everything For You.

The paranoid and poppy Don’t Talk To Strangers continued Springfield’s success and it was inescapable during the summer of ’82. Sure it was almost Pavlovian to dismiss the songs as lightweight and I’ve never been more than a casual, occasional fan, but I rarely skip Springfield’s songs when they pop up on shuffle.

Eurythmics – Love Is A Stranger
from Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

On the other hand, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart were immediately and obviously cool on arrival.

Sweet Dreams might have been bigger, but I’ve always liked the chilly Love Is A Stranger more (partly, I’d guess, because it didn’t get played into the ground at the time).

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"It’s not every day that you get to see a monster piñata killing teens on a paradise island."

October 26, 2008

Oh how true that statement is and due to a fortuitous bout of insomnia that had me channel surfing in the early-morning hours, I can now rebuff anyone that uses that line as a selling point. Of course, the fellow who reviewed the film for Slasherpool might be the only human in the history of humans to state the titular quote.

If you’re a piñata aficionado or simply have an interest in really bad movies, well Piñata: Survival Island might just be for you. I cannot recommend it as a “so bad it’s good” feature as I only caught the last ten minutes and that brief glimpse led me to believe that it’s so bad, it’s just bad. It’s the kind of movie where you mumble to yourself, “Someone actually believed this needed to be written down?”

It was entrapment that I watched what I did. As I said, I was channel-surfing when I was confronted with…well…I really don’t know how to describe it. Remember the little tiki idol that caused so much mayhem when the Brady Bunch went to Hawaii? Well, imagine that tiki idol roughly eight-feet tall, breathing fire, and rampaging through a jungle wielding a battle axe. Understandably, my hand froze on the remote as I watched, boggle-eyed.

Apparently, the angry tiki thing burst forth from a piñata. Man, I already have a feeling that someone out there, either suffering from insomnia or bad taste in viewing choices, caught this flick and will be touting it as a solution to the illegal immigration debate.

Piñata: Survival Island is not without star power, though. One of the survivors of the piñata run amok is Jaime Pressly from My Name Is Earl. In fact, she dispatches with the evil spirit by quickly assembling a Molotov cocktail and handcuffing it to the creature’s ceremonial headdress (or maybe it was just its misshapen cranium). It also stars Aeryk Egan who seemingly put more thought into making his stage name a bastardization of Eric than in choosing his roles (or maybe he had parents with too much time on their hands).

The fact that the film was showing on AMC, which allegedly stands for American Movie Classics, is another kettle of fish altogether. However, I suppose that I should feel enriched and enlightened for the experience. It’s not often that I will have the opportunity to write about piñatas and, for that, I am grateful.

And, if any of you are now filled with a sense of urgency to get to your local movie rental outlet, be sure to check under Demon Island if they don’t have Piñata: Survival Island. Apparently a cinematic endeavor of such magnitude could not be constrained to merely having one title.

Sadly, my music collection is sorely lacking in piñata songs.

Sting – Island Of Souls
Perhaps like many young music fans who came of age during the mania surrounding The Police and their album Synchronicity, Sting was the paragon of cool (of course, there were a lot of folks who also consider(ed) him to be an insufferable, pretentious twat.

Island Of Souls came from Sting’s third solo album, The Soul Cages, and, even though I own several of his albums released since, it was really the last one which I awaited eagerly and listened to devotedly.

Blondie – Island Of Lost Souls
Ah, Island Of Lost Souls – nothing more than a wholly transparent attempt by Blondie to duplicate the success of The Tide Is High from their previous album, Autoamerican. There are a handful of good songs on The Hunter (see/hear the dreamy English Boys), the group’s wreck of a follow-up, but I wouldn’t consider this to be one of them.

However, it does have one of my favorite cringe-inducing lyrics from a band that definitely had a few such moments (that would be, “Hey buccaneer, can you help me put my trunk in gear?”) and, personally, even bad Blondie is something for which I have a weakness.

Heather Nova – Island
Nova made some of the most atmospheric and ethereal music of the mid- to late-’90s, but she seemed to, unfortunately, get lost in the glut of post-Lilith Fair artists who worked the same territory.

She was attractive, talented, and had a cool back story (raised on a houseboat in the Bahamas, as I recall). When she was picked up by Sony following a couple independent releases, I told a friend at the label that, if they couldn’t break her, they should give up.

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – Coney Island Whitefish
When I posted some Joan Jett awhile back, there was much love as the tracks proved to be some of the most popular of anything I have ever posted. And why not?

A little research revealed the title of this song to be slang for a used condom washed ashore on Coney Island. A listen reveals that – not surprisingly – Joan is one woman not be trifled with.