Waking Finnegan

“We are such stuff as dreams are made of, and our whole life is rounded with a sleep” ~ Shakespeare

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Location: zurich, Switzerland

Sunday, July 10, 2005

General Phonograph Dream


At a tool-strewn boot-maker's bench trying to stretch a hairy cowhide over the shoe last---but can't. My boot making instructor is an old craft-genius relic who knows ancient guild secrets. He kindly suggests to do work "more suitable to your talents" and now wants me to repaint the window sign. I'm straddling the dusty shoe displays in order to freshen the sign, which from the inside reads: "EGDELWONK GNITSAL". The faded and crackled beauty of the original paint has me entranced and I suggest that it only needs some shellac---let the patina show your customers you know about subtlety. He nods a knowing grin and says in an old world way: "Goot tinking".

Later the boot shop becomes General Phonograph on Melrose Ave. (where I worked for the yoda-eyed George Illes). He's lining the phono shelves with coin-op dispensers filled with plastic-encapsuled black nugget "toys". He turns around to ask me if I can't glue some "before and after" samples on the glass "for dee customers". I twist open a capsule and tap out a vulcanized black pellet onto the table and try to pry it apart. George tells me "Dunk it. You need to vett it; drop it in dee coffee." So I'm now struggling to fish it out with my finger while George looks on. He motions for me to stand aside so he can swish his hairy index around. He pauses briefly, begins slowly hoisting a slug of throbbing matter looking like soft wet licorice and then quickly shaking it onto a stack of wrapping paper. He prods it a bit until it flips over, revealing its eyes. A polliwog? Before I have a chance to examine it, he takes my thumb and presses over the lump, smearing it into an approximate shoe shape. He says "Now vatch carefully!" After the dark shape melts through the tissue layers, and he lifts the pulpy mass like a printing felt---revealing a dark sparkling slipper coated with an animated prismatic surface. "Now look, it's just like a computer slipper". Up close I can see nano-animated images of Great Wall vistas, Panda mourners under groves of towering bamboo in the background, Mao and Stalin posing stiffly like tourists in front of Forbidden City---Kublai Khan with big wet Manga eyes. I'm beside myself with astonishment and ask George "Where?! How?!" He's my heroic boss now, and I can see that his mournful days are behind him. "We will sell many!"

31 Comments:

Blogger Perfect Virgo said...

You had me spell-bound here. My great-grandfather was a cobbler in Cripplegate London as were his ancestors.

Every street should have a shop selling capsules containing the needs and desires of the purchaser. I noticed the continuity editor insisted the reincarnated shop should have some vestige of shoemongery about it.

Lasting Knowledge.

11:42 AM  
Blogger transience said...

sparkling slippers with animated prismatic surfaces? those would sell like hotcakes here. and i would not tire of looking at mao and stalin together.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...

Another tale, high on the 'wow' factor.

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

his mournful days are certainly over, they will sell and sell - such pretty slippers.
there is something so very sad about those pandas...they have exactly the sad eyes.

gulnaz

4:00 PM  
Blogger . : A : . said...

Reminds me of the song 'Telegraph Road'.

4:20 PM  
Blogger floots said...

I'm still smiling at Lasting Knowledge. It set me off on the usual awl/sole/boot etc puns but I'll spare you!
I just hope no-one swishes their hairy index anywhere near mr tonight.
Good one. Thanks.

11:37 PM  
Anonymous anil said...

fascinating...the picture is very intriguing...looks like chinese characters...do you know what they mean?

liked the way your dream became progressively surreal as it reached the end...

11:00 AM  
Blogger finnegan said...

Perfect Virgo, As to your great -grandfather and ancestors having been cobblers, I'd have to say this is pretty coincidental...or is it?

I agree about the personalised encapsulations. Where was it ever written that we couldn't simply buy what was necessary; simply adding water?

Funnily enough, that's not too far from what nanotechnology theoretically proposes.

Either "thank goodness" or "heaven help us" will be our future mantra.

transcience, You like the TV slippers? I'd love watching one of those History Channel specials on shoemaking with Imelda as commentator?

Christopher, Have you named your kitty yet? I like the name I've suggested. Sounds about right.

Gulnaz, There has never been another man I've ever met with more tragic eyes than George. His whole family were wiped out by the Nazis and the Soviets. I would have never withstood it. His eyes should have been placed in a museum of sadness.

.:a:. Telegraph Road? I've got to look it up and see what you're referring to.

Floots, Lastly, I'd love to hear those puns shoe puns you've been hiding. It would leave a lasting impression I'm sure.

Anil, The characters are a nano description of terraforming. Not sure the exact translation of the Chinese however.

Most of my dreams are like traps, often appearing pedestrian or sometimes even seductive; later flushing me right down the bowl of ignominy.

This one ended wonderfully. I was rather bummed when I awoke.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...

On the kitty issue, he hasn't returned. Bastard thing.

2:37 PM  
Blogger gulnaz said...

that is terrible!!

2:48 PM  
Blogger luz de la luna said...

Hi Finnegan, thanks for the comment you left on my site the other day... much appreciated and you are more than welcome to stop by and converse with the intelligent fruit and veg!

Glad you did stop by because you have lead me here... What a great site and wonderful writing. I love your stories and prose. I shall CERTAINLY be stopping by here.

I have read 3 of your stories now. Tell me, have you ever heard of an author called Jonathan Lethem? If not then I suggest you read his novel "Amnesia Moon" I think you will like it :-D If you check it out, please let me know what you think of it.

This comment is long so I will stop now. Look forward to reading more from you.

Best Wishes
- Martin

6:26 PM  
Blogger Geetanjali said...

Oddly enough this made me think of Chocolat and the whole process the lead character went through setting up her shop...even I don't see the connection so don't ask me what it is!

On another note, those shoes would sell like hot cakes!

7:45 PM  
Blogger finnegan said...

christopher, Kitty Kat where he at? He didn't like your name I imagine.

Gulnaz, You should get on the next flight and give him a piece of your Gulnaz mind---or some Sheeba at least.

Luz de la Luna, I've never heard of Lethem. I'm certainly going to look him up---especially "Amnesia Moon". Thanks a jillion for commenting so thoughtfully.

Geetanjali, Hot cakes. That's what we'll name the shoes, what?

10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell me now, what brings you to such a mental ruckus in your dreams? I couldn't for my life remember half of what you do, even though I realize a whole lot more is going on than I can decipher! Is it something you eat?

My cousin has a similar capacity for dream recall, and it seems only that one needs to focus on the fact of dreaming to make it more memorable.

What are your techniques for getting this to happen?

10:33 PM  
Blogger Perfect Virgo said...

My great-grandfather (I never knew him by the way) cobbled in Marylebone, West London in 1890. He emigrated to USA but returned in circa 1895 to marry his childhood sweetheart. His speciality was surgical boots.

I share all this for no obvious reason, except perhaps your dream is increasingly reminding me of him (or at least my impression of him based on my genealogical research.)

I absolutely love your way of stringing together words like 'old craft-genius relic.' Grammatically doubtful yet dreamily deadly accurate. I can see him crystal-clear, caught in the cross-hairs of your imagination.

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the last thing he would want is a piece of anyone's mind.
maybe a hug.
[piece of sheeba?]
gulnaz

12:09 AM  
Blogger RuKsaK said...

Another verbal carnival from you there - you have the most phonologically dazzling prose I know. And, I wants me one of those mysterious capsules.

1:09 AM  
Blogger stan laurel said...

He sounds like my German grandfather. Very traditional and always correct (i.e.: reichtig).

I like your site. I hope you continue to visit mine.

You're invited:

http://undiscoveredpoems.blogspot.com

2:49 AM  
Blogger Jennynyc said...

This sounds like a positive dream with it's magnificent ending. You started out not being fit for the job but it seemed you were ultimately mentored and part of this successful "product."

3:53 AM  
Blogger finnegan said...

anonymous, about dream recall, you can simply click on the link directly under "stuff". there are numerous ways of going about it.

i guess it's time i do what my friend patti mentioned; post a page explaining my methods. you might want to check out "365 Dreams", which is above "stuff".

virgo, Now here's a set of thoughts that dovetails with our posts.

First of all, since your grandfather worked in Cripplegate (cripple-gait) he must surely have been riveted (ouch, sorry about that) by the Whitechapel slayings; Perhaps he was gleaning the details whilst staining the newsprint with coffee rings.

But what really made all the hairs on my neck stand at attention was learning that his specialty was surgical boots. Was Jack perhaps wearing a sturdy pair---either surgical or street---of what your grandfather had cobbled?

Are all these dead "so(u)les" still screaming? How did I come to a dream that reminded you of him, and at the same time have your post of Jack, which has brought me to these other connections. This not only gives me the willies, but has my mind boggled!

And yes, I do dice the grammar with abandon. I take liberties in order to splash in the phono-pool that RuKsaK mentions.

I've been sketching my next blog project, which will take this phonological "bop" to another juke-joint. I'd better lace up my hobnails; the tongues are hanging out.


gulnaz, "sheeba" is gourmet cat food. the "piece of your mind" was me joking of course.

if anything, i'm too soft. the kitty who owns me takes advantage every chance she gets. she once whispered to me that she is descended from abyssinian royalty; that in her dreams she often relives those glorious days (which must be whenever she's jerk-kicking me upside the head. she also questions why i don't buy her lamb more often---preferably "sheeba" thank you very much.

rUkSak, That you've picked up on the floppy rhythmic scent---or stink ;-)---of my pieces makes me smile, since a big part of these dream oddities comes by way of out-loud pre-coffee recall.

And the capsules are free. Take the one that has "Electric Ladyland" etched on its surface.

8:32 AM  
Blogger Perfect Virgo said...

Love it Finnegan! Yes I have pondered that my ancestors trod the same streets as the Ripper. Was Jack the guy who pushed the door and made the bell ring? Did he leave a special order, one heel built up? Leather laces to double as a strop?

Great grandfather may have held a key to this mystery. "Yes officer, you need to look for a man with a limp who doesn't look you straight in the eye."

I have ancestors even closer to the slayings. Spitalfields, Holborn and Whitechapel iteself! Maybe my beady eye should look harder at them. Freeze them with the gimlet stare and pierce their skulls?

Lead me to the juke-joint man. I'm slipping on m' glad rags!

9:22 AM  
Blogger gulnaz said...

:))
there is a kitty in the neighbourhood, that visits our kitchen daily. she has sort of adopted us. she is quite small, light brown fur mixed with white and such baby-eyes. she is finicky about what she eats. she will only have mutton, no carbs for her and then milk and that too full cream only will do for her, thank you. seems to me she is on atkins, she is not fat too and quite a scaredy creature as well. she has got my family tied around her lil paw, if she doesnt come, we get worried. this is our first experience with a cat...never had cats. she won't come too close though and she never litters inside, am constantly amazed at her antics.

2:24 PM  
Blogger gulnaz said...

:))
there is a kitty in the neighbourhood, that visits our kitchen daily. she has sort of adopted us. she is quite small, light brown fur mixed with white and such baby-eyes. she is finicky about what she eats. she will only have mutton, no carbs for her and then milk and that too full cream only will do for her, thank you. seems to me she is on atkins, she is not fat too and quite a scaredy creature as well. she has got my family tied around her lil paw, if she doesnt come, we get worried. this is our first experience with a cat...never had cats. she won't come too close though and she never litters inside, am constantly amazed at her antics.

2:25 PM  
Blogger arthur decko said...

i just got back from holiday, thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a note...

2:48 PM  
Blogger finnegan said...

stan laurel, I really enjoyed all your films with Ollie as well as your comment here. Come by any time for a cup of tea.

By the way, if your memory serves you,"The Music Box" was filmed right down the street from where I grew up in Silverlake. I used to spend time at the top of the Vendome steps and reflect on your antics.

JennyNYC, yes, lately my dreams have been rather non-threatening; more visually and psychologically dazzling and revelatory than terrifying.

Gulnaz, Since you've doubled up, I thought I'd amend your entry.
there are 2 kitties in both our neighbourhoods, who visit our double kitchen daily. they have sort of adopted all of us. they are quite small, extra-light brown fur mixed with white and many baby-eyes. they are finicky about what they eat. they will only have 2 muttons, 1/2 carbs for each other and then 1/2 and 1/2 milk and that too full cream only will do for her, thank you. seems to me they are on double-atkins, they are not fat 4 and doubly scaredy creatures as well. they have got my 2 families tied around their lil' paws, if they don' come, we all get worried. this is our first experience with 2 cats...never had cats. they won't come too close though and they never litter inside, am constantly amazed at their antics.

7:31 PM  
Blogger gulnaz said...

LOL, you are soo funny! :)

am sorry for posting twice, didnt realise it, blame it on my silly connection which fooled me into thinking that the comment had not gone through.

10:51 AM  
Blogger _Soulless_ said...

Can you usually read AND remember written stuff in your dreams? I've been told that most people can't. Hmm. I very rarely do. Oh, there's one time that someone wrote the word "Garfield" in front of me. Weird thing was that he wrote the word, using his right hand, in fluid and curvy handwriting... from right to left. Ehng? Haha.

p.s.
You've mentioned above:
I'd love watching one of those History Channel specials on shoemaking with Imelda as commentator?

Oh gawd, this had me laughing so hard I started coughing. Wahahahaha. I could easily imagine Imeldific in such a scenario. Teeheehee. ^_^

2:50 PM  
Blogger gulnaz said...

was wondering why you havent had any dreams lately

10:44 AM  
Blogger finnegan said...

gulnaz, yeah i thought it funny running into a double dose. glad you saw the double entendre.

As to not having dreams lately, I have to admit I'm not always up to dealing with my dreams in the morning. As a matter of habit I always spend the initial moments recalling and getting down what went on. However, the discipline of writing them out is often hampered by the day-to-day reality of making a living (sigh). At other times it's simply a case of not getting the writing "right", and so I just archive them in my file called "trash".

soulless, "Can you usually read AND remember written stuff in your dreams? I've been told that most people can't."


Haven't got a clue where you heard this. The fact that you've recalled the GARFIELD script which "he" wrote proves this false.

There have been numerous times I've been boggled by cryptic manuals or instructions; often sweating over encoded meaning. At other times (especially in Las Vegas or other marquee arenas) I've stood gawking at odd messages, often speaking to me or the situation at hand. Sometimes they are actual signposts for my travails, and at others are nothing more than neon fortune cookies, flashing the obvious: "Man who stick head high in sky get birdshit on face" or "Man who go to bed with itchy butt wake up with stinky finger". That sort of stuff.

Speaking of Imelda Marcos, what's she doing these days? I'd love to interview her. Maybe she's got a blog. "shit-kickers.com" ;-)

6:31 PM  
Blogger finnegan said...

gulnaz, meant to mention that i was in locarno and ascona as well. had a wild dream last night and will be working from my notes to post it in the next couple of days.

6:40 PM  
Blogger gulnaz said...

looking forward to reading about it. :)
locarno? did it have a film festival some time back?

12:15 PM  

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