The Sleep of Reason

The Sleep of Reason Produces Marshmallows

Three Dream Transcripts

by Laika Pupkino
  
 
#1 FRENCH CARTOON DREAM WITH STEVE ALLEN
(From 2006):
 
 
 
I got the impression that this dream was taking place sometime in the past. 1963 seems about right...
 
It wasn’t a television studio but looked like a high school auditorium that they had brought cameras and microphones into and were doing the show from there. Talk show host Steve Allen was on the stage, standing in front of a roll-down movie screen. He said that the three cartoons he was showing us were from a series that was all the rage in France these days, and he hoped we would find them as charming as he did. He ran one and then talked a while and then ran the next one. 
 
Someone over there had decided that European “new wave” cinema---with its adult themes and sense of style---called for something that they could run before the main feature that would be a bit more sophisticated than Donald Duck or Baby Huey. The first MAURICE & MIMI cartoon was produced on a shoestring in late 1955 and was an immediate hit. The cartoon couple now had a popular half hour show that aired during prime time in France, Italy, Germany and Spain. 
 
Maybe I’m just an uncouth American clod, or maybe it's my 21st Century perspective (this sort of thing no longer seeming so terribly groundbreaking...) but I wasn’t nearly as bowled over by MAURICE & MIMI as "TV's Renaissance Man" was. 
 
Which is not to say they were totally without merit; I’ll admit they had something, but not nearly enough of it. They elicited a few chuckles from me here and there, a smile at some visual pun on a famous painting, but I reflected that the average Warner Bros. animated short (with that Yankee genius for combining highbrow gags with groaningly lowbrow ones) was every bit as sophisticated as these were, while also managing to be really funny. 
 
What I was a good deal more impressed with was being in the company of one of the wittiest men on television. Steve-O kept us all in stitches with his goofy answers and weird non-sequiters, as a sound man dragged a mike on a thick cord out into the audience so people could ask our host questions.
 
These MAURICE & MIMI cartoons were about a Parisian couple, madly in love, who drank martinis from triangular glasses (the style of everything was highly geometric and there was little attempt to convey depth-of-field) and danced a lot in their apartment. They danced the waltz, an exaggerated tango where their joined hands shot out impossibly far in front of them, and in moments of triumph they’d break into the “frug” or something---some frantic flailing dance---demonstrating that they were both classically cultured and 1960’s hip. 
 
They lived their lives naked, except for his necktie and her pearls and red high heels, but they were so stylized that Mr. Allen must’ve decided these cartoons could be shown here without his getting in trouble, even with Maurice’s little pee-pee jutting out like a bullet.
 
Maurice was seriously cone shaped, with huge shoulders and tiny legs and feet. Mimi was all curves, with jaunty little Matisse tits and hair that flipped up on each side like the THAT GIRL logo.
 
Maurice worked in what was obviously an advertising firm, pop-artish posters on the walls proclaiming “PIFF!” and “WOW!”. All the other admen were half his size, identical drones without a good idea between them. His iconoclastic proposals were greeted with skepticism by the crochety old boss (who was 90% nose), then eventually with wild enthusiasm. At which point the others all chimed in approvingly, but you could tell they hated Maurice.  
 
His co-workers' dialogue---like that of most of the characters---was conveyed by squonking trumpets, wa-wahing trombones and blatting kazoos, abetted by gestures and facial expressions. Only Mimi and Maurice and their feline arch-enemy spoke in actual voices, which Steve Allen paraphrased for us, talking loudly over the soundtrack.
 
Maurice made his commute each day in an impossibly tiny roadster, his pipe sticking out nearly to the end of the hood. Zutting through roundabouts with bizarre fountains in the middle of them (a winged pig, a toilet, a giant prick). And one very stupid gag, repeated in all three cartoons, where he has to stop for a crossing guard who leads a string of ducklings with hats like Madeleine through the crosswalk. A chorus of babyish quacking while he waits + waits.
 
While a few random characters were portrayed as animals, the Paris of these cartoons was mostly populated by humans. Although sometimes extremely abstract ones- like the squiggly blocks on centipede legs topped by clusters of blank circular heads that represented the throngs rushing down the city’s busy sidewalks, or the cubist mess of Picasso’s Three Musicians wailing on the bandstand at HOT CLUB AU GO GO.
 
Though Maurice seems to enjoy his job well enough, while he is at work Mimi leads a life of pure indulgence. She goes shopping, or meets her girlfriends at a quaint sidewalk cafe, their cigarettes bobbing dizzyingly in their lips as they yack. Back at home she paints, circling the canvas with the intensity of a matador, a whole series of expressions crossing her face before she attacks it in a sudden frenzy and- Voila! Instant masterpiece! While listening to Stan Getzy bossa nova music, she practices a form of yoga that most people (or even most cartoon characters) could never hope to perform- her whole body morphing bonelessly, eyes clenched and smiling in sheer erotic bliss!
 
The feud Maurice and Mimi have going with their across-the-hall neighbor, a cat who dresses nattily in a suit and bowler, is this American audience’s favorite plotline in these cartoons. For here the humor becomes broader, less precious. I guess it would be more accurate to say that he feuds with them, while they are basically oblivious to him. Their music is often loud, and there are frequent explosions at their place (Mimi REALLY can’t cook! Every dish she tries turns into nitroglycerin somehow. But it’s okay, they really wanted go out to eat anyway), but it seems like what really ticks him off---and what he is really complaining to the landlady about with such bitterness---is that his neighbors are so in love and always having such a glorious time. Feeding each other while they eat ............ The steady stream of cutesy endearments he hears them showering each other with .............. Fencing with crazed abandon with their foils out on the balcony...      
 
It is too much for this lonely bourgeois banker of a cat! He glares at them, his slitted eyes and enormous handlebar moustache see-sawing in irritation.
 
His plans to get them into trouble always backfire in the worst ways, getting him punched out by some great muscle-bound galoot, or purse-slapped by an old Catholic biddie in a hair net and dragged off by the cops as a Peeping Tom, while his mortal enemies hardly notice. “Did you hear something, ma cherie?”
 
And in the awful instant that Monsieur Chat realizes he is screwed once again, his big fancy moustache comes undone- sproinging violently back into regular cat whiskers! It’s the ultimate indignity for this pompous would-be human...  
 
Toward the end he is seen on his analyst’s couch, whining to the serious, bespectacled billy-goat in what is clearly going to be a marathon kvetchfest. And finally, in a surprisingly complex bit of animation the camera pulls back ................. taking us out through the window ...............  panning rapidly across the jumble of rooftops and in through another window, to where MAURICE & MIMI dance on into the night.
 

  
 
  
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#.2) ---THE GUY WITH THE FACE
 
& DANCING CONDUCTOR LIMITED
 
 
 
I was taking a train up to Washington State for a vacation,
 
and decided I could get away with leaving my car (in reality I don’t drive) in the parking garage of this shopping mall. I left it up on the top level and was walking down a stairwell in the corner. I could see the railroad tracks, the little platform where the trains stopped, what served as a depot here. I’m not sure where this was. Some anonymous Southwestern place, probably California, dry hills and new-looking industrial parks.
 
Levels #5 and #4 were normal, nearly empty, but when I get to #3 there is this yard sale set up. Two tables with not much of anything. A handful of books, a few ties, some rolled socks and two 8-track tapes. Just as well. I’ve got my big camping backpack on---full of clothes, my walkman, sketchpads---and I don’t need to start loading down with souveniers before I even get out of town.
 
On one table I find a weird back scratcher. Wooden, in the shape of a hand. On the end of each finger is another hand, tiny and intricately carved. I have to have this! A 50-ish Mexican-American man with a bushy moustache is here and I ask him how much. I don’t know, he says, I’m just looking myself. It’s his  sale...
 
When I saw the other guy I forgot all about the back scratcher. Blandly dressed in slacks and a plaid shirt, with a long skinny face. And another face on the side of his head, covering where his left ear and cheek should be. Very similar to his other face except it is slack, lifeless- the eyes shut. The mouth on his regular face is set in sort of a wry half-grin, so he looks like a pair of commedia masks. 
 
I realize that I’ve been staring for a long time, so I decide that the best thing to do is to just come out and say something about it. To show him I’m not weird or uncomfortable about such matters. I say: “Is this your twin?”
 
Sometimes when there are twins from the same egg, one will absorb the other in the early months of development. And it’s extremely rare, but sometimes the absorbtion is only partial- resulting in an ugly little half-alive siamese twin thing hanging off you. Or that hairy fetal nodule with fingernails and teeth they found living in the center of a man’s brain ....... a creepy 1970’s news item that Stephen King must have read too since it turned up later in one of his novels.
 
I assume something of this sort happened to this man, and I figure he would know about this phenomonon, having had it explained to him by doctors or by his folks as he was growing up, so he would know what I meant by the word twin. He shrugs, “Sometimes I feel like I’m the twin and he’s the one in charge...”
 
I take this as irony, how this condition has affected his life, not that he meant it literally ....... because it isn’t a conjoined twin or a homunculus or even a complete head, and neither has a brain of its own nor appears to be connected to “his” brain in any way that matters. More like some bizarre growth. Despite my phony nonchalance the face creeps me out, and so pretending that I am checking out his wares I step around to his other side, off to the right of him, from where he looks almost normal. Except I see now that his primary face is really narrow...
 
The oddest thing about the dream is the long conversation we have. How normal and dull and un-dreamlike it is, having nothing to do with either his extra face or why he is having his garage sale in a parking garage. He says he works at a camera shop, and as he tells it not hidden back in the lab or somewhere but right at the counter. I imagine he gets young obnoxious Diane-Arbus-wannabe art students asking if they can photograph him.
 
The word wife is mentioned in passing. So he’s married ......... I imagine she must be quite homely or even deformed in some way herself. I realize it would bother me if it turned out she was normal, make me feel like an even bigger misfit- that this physical monster has the domestic life I never had. Then I tell myself such petty covetousness is unworthy of me.
 
The subject of the face comes up again when I notice the tea he’s drinking. A coffee mug with hot water and a tea bag, a colorful tag on the end of the string---elves cavorting in a rose garden---that shows it to be one of these vaguely new-age marketed herbal teas. I ask: “Do you like that tea?”
 
“Not really, but I had to give up coffee. It makes it twitch and start to .......... almost like it’s mumbling. It does it once in a while even when I don’t have coffee. And sometimes I can make it, uh, let me see if I can here-”
 
He rubs it, like you’d rub your cheek. Soft, spongy, and without the proper bone structure underneath, the slack features go up and down under his hand. He pats it gently---wake up! wake up!---then twangs the lips with his finger. They part slightly.
 
“Pfuhhh ......... pfuhhhhh...” it says, but doesn’t seem any more aware than before. I’m really glad it didn’t wake up and start screaming or something- its tiny blood-red eyes mad and horrible as they lock onto mine!
 
Though I have been here a while there is no sensation that I might be late for my train (I guess even in dreams I tend to show up ridiculously early for things). We talk about vacations---he doesn’t get paid vacations either---and what a pisser it is that when you do  get the time off to go someplace you usually can’t afford it, having lost that much income. I don’t remember the rest of the conversation, but I sense that it was fairly unremarkable.
 
 
 
And then I am down at the train stop. Like for a commuter line,
 
just a concrete dock with a roof and a few benches.
 
The conductor comes up the tracks without the train. Sliding somehow, doing the splits with a foot on each rail, and clambersup onto the platform. Dressed like your typical wizened old 1930’s central-casting train conductor but much younger- gaunt and sweaty looking, his greasy dark hair hanging raggedly down over his collar. He seems to be on some powerful illegal stimulant. I hate him immediately; a fierce, face-getting-hot, I-might-do-anything-here sort of rage that I seldom experience in waking life. And he soon proves himself deserving of some pretty intense anger.
 
He won’t give us a straight answer about anything. What happened, why there is no train, or if we’re supposed to travel like he did somehow...   
 
He is crazy, manicand arrogant, mocking us in a sort of feeble-minded chant: “The trains all went south for the Winter. Back to their pods in the bay. They’re back in their boxes---big, big boxes!!---in mothballs and butterfly stitches. Packed in heavy syrup.”
 
Babbling, bragging: I’m so in your face I’m out of sight!
 
I think he called himself the Go-Go Conductor. I don’t recall all of it, but I remember this last line clearly:“I have a genetic predisposition ......... for TWISTIN’!!!
 
And then he is dancing. Sort-of dancing. Very clumsy, stupid dancing. More like the twist than any other dance, but without the slightest hint of  rhythm or consistancy of motion. Jerking around like he has several large and frisky gerbils up his ass...
 
Dream from 7/29/2001. Rewrite 10/01/2008

 

 
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#3.) FLICKER
 
 
I AM RIDING ON A BUS down Atlantic Blvd. in North Long Beach at twilight. As we pass an old movie house that had been boarded up for so many years I'd never seen the inside of it, I see that it has been cleaned up and opened again, its neon blazing. Though I had been going somewhere else I hop off the bus, pay and go in. My intention is to check out the lobby but somehow I slip past it without really seeing it, and then I am inside the darkened auditorium. I try to never do this, walk in on a film that is already underway, but here I am. I don't even know the name of the feature.
 
After my eyes adjust to the dark somewhat I find a seat next to the aisle right where I like sit, close but not too close, one seat over from an artsy-looking young couple. They're really involved in this picture and don't even notice my arrival. The flick "feels" about 1/3 over; if it's not a total waste I'll stay for the beginning of the next show...
 
 
SEAN CONNERY is in the film, he appears to be about 50 years old. He and a woman about twenty years younger are in a small but elegantly appointed dining room, having a meal that he's prepared. He is bringing out courses, watching her reactions, out to impress .......... and she is not too enthused so far.
 
He's sporting a long rectangular beard and a moustache- but no, both are cheap fakes, and his little scholarly wire-rimmed glasses are likewise a disguise. What's going on here?
 
It appears to be their first date, and he seems to be running some sort of scam on her, pretending to be old fashioned, milquetoastish, a throwback to the early 20th Century. And he's no doubt playing up to her conservatism- she's standoffish and very poised in an ugly chiffon blouse that's buttoned up to the neck. Influential rich man's daughter. The film's music---an ironic foxtrot---lends a subtle zaniness to the scene.
 
Or maybe not so subtle, as his spectacles fall off and into the soup- kerplunk!
 
He fishes them out, picks something off one lense with exaggerated dignity, and sets them back on his nose. This klutzy nervousness is a real departure from the actor's usual vulpine self-confidence, and he does it quite well. Carving the small bird (pheasant?) it gets away from him somehow, scooting across the table and off, but his date is too self-contained to do anything about it but seethe as he retrieves it from her lap...
 
Now his beard is off, hanging down his neck by one earstrap. He replaces it very, very casually- as if by doing so she won't notice. She gawks. He brings out the dessert, a pretentious crepe something or other with strips of banana and furrowed ribbons of whipped cream on top. She digs a tiny fork into it and lifts, and it stretches like a mass of rubber, not quite letting her get the fork to her mouth.
 
Connery raises his hands and shrugs an apology, and what's weird is how he starts rolling his eyes, and keeps it up for far longer than a film-maker's attempt at humor would dictate. After twenty seconds it is jarring and out of place, but then it's over. The girl releases the fork and it snaps back, landing dead center in the now raw and unwholesome looking mass of goo.
 
"I've had enough of this ...... fiasco," huffs the date. Picks her dessert up and sets it down in front of him with a glassy thunk. Turns and exits on echoing high heels.
 
Connery trips sadly around the room with an air of, "Well, I guess I blew it..."
  -and from his expression we see that it was not a confidence scheme he was running
but something else. He catches sight of his disguise in the mirror and lets out a cunning chuckle
that blossoms into wild laughter. And now his eyes are rolling again, rolling this way, that way,
their whites too white, so that it looks like cheap animation done over a still photo.
Which is just weird, it doesn't fit this movie, and the few in the audience
that are laughing are doing so uneasily...
 
 
HE LIVES IN AN APARTMENT, a smudgy old brick building with fire escapes---not the posh place we had seen earlier---and his income looks modest. He apparently doesn't have a job, and spends a lot of time down at a beach-front bar + grill. Big green-tinted front windows and lots of interesting nautical bric-a-brac like nets and old diver's hardhats and dusty stuffed blowfish. Candles stuck into chianti bottles are on the mismatched tables.
 
He hangs out with a 1950's-looking college crowd, the regulars. They greet him as "Professor", like he may have been one once, and he is well-liked, if patronized slightly as an eccentric and a flake. He is discussing his disasterous dinner date with one of his cleancut young chums, recounting the part about the crepe with a lot of laughter and manic gestures. But his confidant seems more concerned than amused, warning him, "Be careful with this experiment of yours..."
Like, don't take it to far, but what's he doing?
 
Several dull scenes follow. He's buying groceries, giving a money order to the landlady, washing his badly oxidized little Renault; and the whole while he is playing with a little round concave mirror on gimbles at the end of a machined steel rod like a dentist's tool. Right in the middle of talking to somebody he pushes his face up close to it, contemplating his distorted reflection with a huge grin. The store clerk and his landlady frown in perplexity...
 
 
A TERRIFYING SCENE: He is squatting rigidly in a galvanized steel tub lined with red leatherette cushions. He has on a starched lab coat, with his arms and drawn-in knees buttoned up inside as if he is just this huge conical torso. His balding forehead looks enormous. The light comes from an old gooseneck lamp on the floor, twisted to point upward, which makes the lines and structure of his face appear horribly wrong. And he is speaking, sort of, his mouth opening wide and snapping shut like a ventriloquist's dummy: "Um-BOP muh-SHOP. Nop Hip Bosh Mok-"
 
Speaking in tongues, possessed by something very unpleasant. There's an old reel-to-reel tape recorder running down next to the lamp, the rotating plastic spools throwing wobbly little highlights around down there. A microphone is taped to his larynx, "SHOP-SHIP-POP-PISH-SPAK."
 
I wonder if it's on his throat because he's trying to pick up the sub-vocal muscle activity as well, by which you could supposedly record thoughts not actually uttered. Overcome with curiosity, I as the couple next to me what they think he's doing.
 
"He is Confronting His Imagination," they both say, as if by rote, which means nothing to me. But whatever this is, he's in very deep. At risk of losing himself.
.
 
IN THE NEXT SCENE---it must be the following morning---he looks like hell. Sallow and greasy with a badly stubbled maw. He's at a little table next to his room's window, leaning over the little window, his back to us. The camera work is becoming relentlessly weird- our point of view swinging around and around him, as if he is huge, like one of those helicopter shots of the Statue of Liberty or whatever. Although he has pulled himself out of the hellish trance of that tape recorder scene, we sense that something even worse is about to happen.
 
It occurs to me: He as staring at the mirror, not into it, as if trying to muster the resolve to discontinue these mysterious experiments of his. And I know something is not going to like it if he does...
 
Now close ups: THE MIRROR... HIS FACE... THE MIRROR... HIS FACE...
The lighting modulates from benign morning sunshine to just-before-passing-out pale and unreal;
He bellows horribly and is levitated, feet kicking and dangling as he goes crashing through
the window and down-
 
My scream is drowned out by the soundtrack's anguished wail of horns as the dirt street rushes up toward us at a sickening free-fall rate, indistinct pedestrians and a horse drawn something-or-other scurrying out of the way as the screen continues to brighten, until just before we hit the ground it is a thrumming dirty whiteness. It holds like that for several seconds.
 
In the total silence a few people laugh, embarrassed that they had been so caught up in this weird movie that they had screamed like idiots. Like the character on the screen we are being pulled deeper and deeper into this film...
 
 
AND HE'S OKAY FOLKS. Or maybe his back is broken from the fall. He is lying rigidly---face up---on the truck scales along the San Diego Freeway in Carson, California. It's mid-morning, the Goodyear blimp is moored in the background. Several big semi trucks are backed up wanting to use the scales, a trio of burly drivers out of their rigs and fuming.
 
Connery stares calmly up at the old guy with the clipboard, who says irritably-
"You're gonna have to move it there, Mister."
 
Our hero, though obviously breathing with difficulty, states mildly, "But I can't, you see. It seems I am-" and he draws the last word out in a parodic British accent, "immeeeeeew-bile!"
 
   -and then begins to bounce, his whole body stiff as a board, down the right shoulder of the freeway in little stop-action jerks. We cut to him bouncing up the sidewalk to his scroungy apartment building, which---though it seems unlikely---has aquired an elaborately liveried doorman. He swings the glass door open and tips his hat as the rigidly supine Connery bounces past and disappears inside...
 
 
A GUY WALKS DOWN THE CENTER AISLE right up to the screen, and for an instant I imagine that someone has finally snapped and is trying to enter the picture; But instead he whips out a can of black spray paint and starts to spritz it all over the screen-
 
"HEY!" comes a muffled shout from the projection booth.
 
The young graffitist continues working methodically as the movie stops, the house lights come up and the manager comes running down to him, very pissed, "Jesus Christ! What the hell do you think you're doing?"
 
But the vandal not alone, and he is joined by two other crewcutted young toughs, armed with pool cues, one of whom announces, "SHOW'S OVER, FOLKS!"
 
Although this doesn't mean that any of us can leave. There's a pair of them at each exit. They are armed with cudgels like the two up front, and all have the same hard fascistic gleam in their eyes. Maybe the picture doesn't meet their fanatical religious or political standards, or maybe this is simply a robbery.
 
Nobody moves against them. There aren't really that many patrons here, that we outnumber them greatly. We might be able to rush and overpower these eleven, but a bunch of us would get the shit knocked out of us...
 
And I know I'm wishing that I wasn't sitting right next to the center aisle as a pair of them escort another two---who are hefting a conference table with a small movie projector on it---down past me to a spot about two rows back from the screen. I see now that the pattern the one has painted is designed to frame the smaller square image from the 8mm machine. The thing is plugged in and the film is threaded through the rollers in a tense silence...
 
 
One of them has dragged the manager back upstairs to dim the lights, and the rest of our captors are settling in for the show where they stand. Their show. Their faces in the strobing light showing pleasure, smug anticipation.
 
Stark numerals against a crosshair pattern count backward from 10
 
9
 
8 
 
7
 
6
 
5
 
4
.
.
.

 

 

What Dreams Are These?

I've had dreams like these, impossibly vivid and intricate in which I am more observer than participant.

This is a good one. I can hear Allen's dry commentary while he chuckled over something, perhaps pointing out sly jokes in the backgrounds of these cartoons.

Thanks for posting this. :)

I'll have to tell everyone about the Four Hundred Foot Hibiscus, the French Fried Hot Dog and the False Hotchkiss someday.

- Joyce

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