Speaking of strange, surreal experiences...last night around midnight, as I was blissfully in the throes of sleep, I heard a very odd noise outside our partially-open bedroom window. It sounded like an aluminum ladder being open and dragged across the ground, exactly where I couldn't tell.
I think I was starting to have a weird dream where I was in the military with a group of Native Americans, and I had to drive some heavy machinery. A bulldozer, I think. It was one of those back-in-high-school time-shift dreams that seem perfectly normal until you wake up, astounded and bemused by the nonsense that your brain conjures at night. I heard something rattle in the dream. Squeak rattle squeak. Have you seen the X-Files episode called "Badlaa"? It's about a short-statured, vengeful Hindu ascetic who gets around on a small squeaky platform, controls people's visual perceptions and travels around the world in a most gruesome manner. The squeak rattle squeak sounded exactly like that, and believe me, that's not an image you want to conjure up in the middle of the night.
Not being fully conscious, I didn't pay too much attention. Then, a few minutes later, the sound returned, and it was getting closer. What was it? As I started to wake up nervously, it occurred to me it might be someone outside the apartment window trying to get in with a ladder - not the most comforting of thoughts on an otherwise quiet urban midnight.
My better half, who tends to wake more easily than me (then again, probably most of the world wakes up more easily than I do) also heard the rattle rattle squeak and popped up out of bed, put on her glasses an went to window to have a look. As the blinds lifted, the room glowed bluish-orange from the streetlights.
"Oh, my god - do you know what that is?"
"Mmmmh. What is it?" I reply, half-asleep, half-curious.
"It's a dead body!"
I didn't even want to speculate how a dead body could be making that weird sound; the possibilities were just too horrible.
"They're carrying it across the ground!"
"A dead body?" I say, incrementally more awake but somehow not entirely surprised.
"Two guys are out there, and they're taking away a body and putting it in a hearse. It's kind of a big body, and it's covered in a brown blanket."
The squeaky metallic sound were the wheels on the gurney the men were using to wheel away the deceased. We're still not sure if the body came from our apartment complex, and because of the leisurely speed and lack of alarm displayed by the hearsemen of the Apocalypse, we speculated that it might have been one of our neighbors - a large older man who has cancer, and who has looked very poorly in recent days. What a way to end up - being wheeled down the sidewalk on a squeaky gurney in the middle of the night. I suppose there are worse ways to go, at midnight in the city.
I never got up out of bed to have a look at the scene outside my window: the descriptions and my imagination were quite sufficient, thank you. It also reminded me of a truly creepy scene in the 1976 movie Burnt Offerings, where Oliver Reed is tormented by nightmares of a skeleton-thin, pale hearse driver in shades who bangs and drags a coffin up the stairs to his bedroom.
Now, if we see "Bob" walking around tomorrow, we'll know he hasn't given up the ghost; and we'll probably never know whose body was under the brown blanket on the squeaky gurney.
Now, here's a sad story - it seems that a local child therapist, one who's been entrusted by families in distress, youth at risk, and society, may have been using his position as confidant and advocate, as a vehicle to sexually molest the very children he's supposed to be helping.
I'm not sure why this story is having the profound effect that it is having on me, I think it perhaps has to do with the fact that I have 2 daughters and a niece that are of that age, and I (perhaps naively) believed that they were safe in our neighborhood... "not in the North Country!"
Or, thinking about it farther, it may be that if these allegations do turn out to be true - that if these children (who are in therapy because of other issues) have been sexually molested, by this "professional" within this particular field... one who's "there to help"... well, that there's a real chance that these children may ruined for life... and will probably never trust again, and have at the very have least lost their childhood.
I guess I can say "thank god it didn't happen to my kids" - but, you know... when you get right down to it, that's a pretty awful statement to make, because it's absolutely devoid of empathy and sympathy for those damaged children, and besides, now I realize that it could happen to my children, right here in the North Country.
I think I'll say a prayer for those kids tonight... can't hurt, right???
...And hope that the truth, and justice for the guilty (if guilty) can heal.
"We've been banging our heads against the wall trying to figure out what numbers they used or, rather, how they misused their numbers," said Mike Hardiman, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service's El Paso office. Old Spice said El Paso had an average relative humidity of more than 70 percent from June to August last year. The real average, according to the National Weather Service, was half that.
Old Spice said the numbers came from the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration's database. The company, which is, after all, primarily in the consumer goods business, went with the most readily available numbers, said Tim Long, a Proctor & Gamble researcher and "sweat expert."
"If it wasn't accurate, we apologize," he said....Following El Paso in the rankings were Greenville, S.C.; Phoenix.; Corpus Christi; and New Orleans. Texas remained among the sweatiest states in the third annual rankings, with seven cities in the top 20.
Officials at the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau could stay dry knowing the Alamo City did not top the list. The city is still hurting from having been named one of the fattest cities in the country. "Yeah, I guess this is one case where we don't want to be No. 1," said Robert Salluce, a spokesman for the bureau. "It is not an accolade we are seeking."
San Antonio may not want the honor, but New Orleans does. Brent Miller, an Old Spice spokesman, said residents of the Big Easy "always go to town" on the ranking. "They are so mad they are not No. 1," Miller said. "They should not want it. It is not an honor."
What? Cities are fighting for the right to be fat and smelly?
Denis Baupin, a leading Green party councilor who tabled the resolution, says the designer jeeps are "not suited to towns" and he could not understand why people drove the fashionable "off-roaders."
"They're polluters, they're space-occupiers, they're dangerous for pedestrians and other road users. They're a caricature of a car. We have no interest in having SUVs in the city. They're dangerous to others and take up too much space, " he said on Europe 1 radio.
I suppose no bulldozers, either.
* I didn't say I hated the French, but those pushing "Freedom Fries" and "Freedom Toast" will have a field day with this, certainement.
This story from Granby, Colorado caught my eye yesterday: a disgruntled muffler-shop operator goes on a rampage in a homemade armored high-tech bulldozer, leveling city hall, the bank, the post office, and the homes of several town coucil members before his contraption mired in a corrugated steel building. Police were unable to blast their way into the armored vehicle for hours, and eventually the driver, 52-year old Marvin Heemeyer, was found dead inside of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Report say Heemeyer was seeking vengeance for losing a zoning decision the $2,000 fine he was levied. He paid, all right...inside the envelope was a note that read "Cowards." From the Rocky Mountain News (News 4 video of the rampage):
GRANBY — A 52-year-old welder nursing a grudge against the town fathers and driving a bulldozer converted into a war machine ripped the heart of this high-country ranching town from its foundations Friday.
Among the structures destroyed or heavily damaged in a relentless 90-minute rampage were Granby's town hall and library, a bank, the town's newspaper, an electric cooperative building, Gambles Store, an excavating business and a house owned by the town's former mayor, as well as a concrete plant adjacent to the business of the man believed responsible for the bizarre assault.
Police fired away during the frenzy of destruction, to no avail.
"He's put armored plates all around it and it's impenetrable," said business owner Terri Hertel, her voice trembling as gunfire rattled in the background. "Armor- piercing bullets won't go through it. He's destroying the town of Granby."
Heemeyer had discussed plans for his apocalyptic assault over beer and dinner with several acquaintances in Grand Lake late one afternoon in January. One of those at the table was Bonnie Brown, owner of a Grand Lake business. ... "He said, 'By God, I am going to bulldoze those businesses,' the businesses of all the people who'd done this to him," Brown recalled.
About 4 p.m. Friday, Brown found out Heemeyer's threats were not idle fantasies. "When someone came into my store and said, 'There's a madman with a bulldozer in Granby,' I said 'Oh God, that's Marv!' "
How quintessentially frontier justice. How trailer-park B-movie operatic. It's tragic, but somehow humorous in its macho hubris, as well. I Googled 'Marvin Heemeyer', and prior to this event (which ripped up enough of the town that Colorado governor Bill Owens traveled to Granby to see the destruction) he's only listed on a property assessment document: HEEMEYER, MARVIN JOHN PO BOX 824 GRAND LAKE, CO, 80447-0824.
I think we drove through Granby last summer on our trip through Colorado and the Southwest. When I was a little kid I saw a freaky ABC "movie of the week" on TV called "Killdozer" - which, coincidentally is one of the first movie memories cited by Ginger Snaps director John Fawcett - the 3B Bad Movies! site gives a little background on this obscure flick:
Killdozer was a made for TV film. It was based on a 1944 short story by Theodore Sturgeon. If memory serves, the author postulates that the Earth used to be inhabited by a race of super intelligent beings; whose machines become possessed by some "intelligent electrons" and turned on their masters.
They create a "neutronium shield" to combat the machines but it, too, was corrupted - and destroyed everything but itself. It sat dormant for centuries and was eventually discovered by the native islanders who worshipped it as a god.
Along came World War II and the island is targeted by the Allies as a perfect spot for a strategic airstrip. The engineers move in and demolish the temple where the idol was stored. It activates and takes control of Daisy Etta, the team’s bulldozer, and it runs amok breaking the driver’s back.
The Video that Never Was: Beatles' "Come Together"
This is a really cool use of computer technology: Melon sets the Beatles' "Come Together" to flashy-but-simple psychedelic perpetually-shifting animated images of John, Paul, George and Ringo [.swf animation, high-speed connection recommended]...somehow it seems just perfect for the song. Where else can you see the Fab Four spinning in giant teacups, swinging in unison and riding go-karts? [via kaliber 10k] Coincidentally, in today's Bleat Lileks mentions the first computer-animated video, Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing":
At the video store, Gnat wanted, and got, one of the horrid “Hello Kitty” DVDs. "This it?" the clerk asked.
"That's it. One action-packed, thrill-a-minute Hello Kitty DVD," I said.
"Oh it can't be that bad," he said.
"Oh it's worse. It's all weirdly dubbed, and the English language story lines are grafted onto completely different plots. And there's this animation that was made on a 486."
He grinned. "Hey, old school. Takes you back."
"Yeah. To the 'Money for Nothing' video." The kid gave me a blank look. Oh, right. "It was the first big computer-animated video. Dire Straits, 1985. Polygons and primary colors; we thought it was the coolest thing. Had these two guys, a fat one and a skinny one, moving appliances and talking about MTV. And there was a dog at the end and Sting at the start."
He gave me an apologetic smile. "Eighty five I was three."
"I'm going to be four on my birfday next July," Gnat piped up.
I am a staple in almost everyone's diet. Friends like me are a complement to any other friends I get on with almost everyone, remaining mostly in the background, but providing substance when it would otherwise be lacking.
By the way, some of the other flavour options are Lemon, Vanilla, Chocolate, Nuclear Waste, Almond, Coffee, Tea, Tomato, Alcohol, Death, Beef, Menthol, Curry, Gasoline, Smoke, Sugar, Pine, Marmite and Peanut Butter. The quiz said if I wasn't Bread, I'd be Tea; if someone tastes like Death, I think a good hot shower would be in order.