How’s this for a really weird dream?

During the 2008 Presidential campaigns, before either candidate has picked a running mate, aliens land in Washington D.C. and I’m one of the only people on the planet that can understand what they’re saying. They look like nothing more than a bad Doctor Who special effect in that they are bright globes of white light, but they start handing out Ancient Wisdom like how to cure the common cold and how to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in a just and fair manner that actually works and everyone is happy with. Because I’m the only American out of the three people who can understand what the aliens are saying I’m drafted by the government to be an official liaison for the United States. After some initial suspicion the aliens are quickly accepted as being almost Oracle-like because of the usefulness of the Ancient Wisdom they are handing out and it’s not long before every pronouncement they make, which is once or twice every other week or so, is a major news event.

The one thing that isn’t clear is what they want from us and it’s a question I’m repeatedly asked to raise. Then one day they finally get around to stating what they’d like to receive in exchange for all these useful bits of knowledge they’ve been handing out. It turns out they’ve been reading my blog for awhile and they want me to be Vice President of the United States. They don’t say why they want me to be Vice President as opposed to President nor do they say why they think I’d be good in the role. It’s not entirely clear that they’re not making the request for the humor potential alone, but Barack Obama quickly decides to announce that he’d be happy to have me as his running mate. This is a pretty bold move on Obama’s part considering I’m openly atheist and have written a lot of stuff on my blog which would, under normal circumstances, pretty much make me unelectable. The Republicans wouldn’t even entertain the idea given my liberal/atheist/heathenism and this doesn’t improve their prospects among any of the populace outside of the paranoid faction that thinks the aliens are planning to cook us all for dinner any day now in spite of the fact that they don’t have any discernible mouths or need to eat.

So in addition to my job as U.S. Liaison to the Glowing Blobs of Light I end up also running for Vice President alongside Barack Obama and, despite my unelectability, we win. The aliens take this as a sign of excellent reasoning on the part of Americans and decide to stick around dispensing more Ancient Wisdom because they get a kick out of watching Whoopi on The View. The only other request the aliens make is for a 105” LCD HDTV and free cable TV. And that’s when I wake up.

I’ve decided I need to become rich.

Not so much for the stuff I could buy with all the money, though that is a benefit, so much as for all the time it would free up to do shit I wanna do instead of shit I have to do. There are so many places I’d like to visit and so many projects I’d like more time to work on that all this time spent earning a living is seriously getting in the way. Not to mention not having any money to go anywhere or do the things I’d like to do. If I had the means I’d quit my job and spend my time doing all the cool stuff I’ve wanted to do such as traveling.

The funny part is I wouldn’t make a very good rich person. Allow me to explain: I’ve been reading The Book of Vice: Very Naughty Things (and How to Do Them) by Peter Sagal and one of the chapters is all about Consumption, as in “conspicuous consumption.” It talks about how quite a bit of what rich people spend their money on is less about the item itself as it is about being able to afford the item in question. There’s no real practical need, for example, for a $15,000 15K solid gold bathroom sink, but it’s something a lot of rich people buy because they can.

Should I ever be fortunate enough to become rich there is quite simply no amount of money I could possibly have that would result in me saying, “Hey, let’s buy a $15,000 solid gold bathroom sink just for the hell of it.” I could be richer than Bill Gates and it would still never cross my mind to ever consider such a purchase. I probably wouldn’t even buy particularly expensive cars, though I’d love to be able to walk into a dealership and just buy one outright. I could see possibly buying a big house for the tax breaks, but even then there’d be limits. I would spend a good chunk of change traveling because I’d probably find the comforts of first class worth the extra money, but I wouldn’t buy my own jet or anything silly like that.

My charitable contributions would go way up as well. There’s more occasions that I’m happy with where I’d like to donate to a cause and just couldn’t afford to do so. Plenty of family members and friends who have run into rough patches where a spare $100 would help out and we didn’t have the cash. We do what we can when we can, but I’d like to do more and being rich would certainly make that possible.

I definitely wouldn’t be one of those rich people who becomes obscenely rich and then keeps on working to become even more obscenely rich. Had I written the first Harry Potter book instead of J.K. Rowling it’s likely there’d never have been any sequels because she made a bazillion dollars off the first book alone. Well, maybe one or two sequels just to cement the fact that I’d never need to work again, but that’s probably it.

So I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to find a way to become rich. Not obscenely rich, but rich enough that I can afford to do what I’d like to do instead of working. I was working on a book myself for awhile, but it hasn’t been a smooth process and I’ve not worked on it in awhile. I doubt I’ll get rich through writing something. What I need is a good idea that starts off small and then explodes in such a way that I can sell it to some big company and retire. The modern day examples are web services like Google or Yahoo!, but I doubt I can think of anything that revolutionary. The classic example is the guy who came up with Pet Rocks. Here is where I start to suffer from a lack of imagination and my own skepticism. There’s stuff out there that’s made people wildly rich that I never in a thousand years would have considered as being something anyone would buy.

So it looks like I’ll be stuck doing what I’m doing for awhile longer until I can find some source of inspiration. Still, it never hurts to keep those ideas percolating in the back of my head. Perhaps I’ll stumble across something absurd enough that everyone will want it and I’ll realize my dream. Until then I’ll buy a lotto ticket every so often to see if I can get lucky.

I had the weirdest dream last night.

In the dream I’m in bed and I wake up. While sitting up and stretching I happen to look down at the night stand (that I don’t have) next to the bed and see a fairly large sized package sitting next to it as though someone had delivered it to my bedside during the night. For some reason this doesn’t strike me as being in any way odd and I just assume that I must have picked it up the day before and put it there before going to bed. Looking at the label it seems that it has something to do with the death of my biological father. The impression (because so much in dreams tend to be impressions) is that it’s his death report, but the box is way too big for just a bunch of papers.

I slide down onto the floor dressed only in my boxers and proceed to open the package and it does contain some paperwork about my father’s death, but it also includes a large container filled with preservation liquid of some sort and what appears to be the partially dissected head and shoulders of my dead father. Part of one side of his skull has been removed revealing the right hemisphere of his brain and a strip of flesh from the left side of his face has been cut away revealing musculature and the bottom of his left eye socket. Additionally the entire corpse has been carefully cut straight down the middle so it can be folded open to reveal a cross section of everything down to just before his lungs would start. Considering the man has been dead for over 36 years the corpse is in surprisingly good shape and while I’m a bit surprised at finding it in the package I’m more fascinated at seeing a man who’s face I can barely remember and being able to peer inside his head. I do think it odd that I received his head and shoulders when he died of cancer of the colon, but I’m also relieved that I didn’t get the part of his anatomy that killed him.

For reasons that only make sense in a dream, I proceed to open the container and lift up the corpse so I can fold it open to get a better look at the internals because I’m strangely fascinated by them and can’t resist my curiosity. It’s at this point that my wife stirs in the bed next to me and I suddenly realize that I’m examining the corpse of my dead father on the bedroom floor in my boxers and the utter absurdity of it all hits home. In a panic I try, and fail, to put the corpse back in the container without splashing preservation fluid all over the carpet and as I do so the corpse starts to fall apart in my hands. The left side of its brain falls out in the container splashing fluid all over the place, then the right eye falls into my hand, and the tongue is getting in the way of folding the body closed again. Plus it all won’t fit back into the container properly because there was barely enough room in it to hold the body in the first place and with all the random parts falling out and taking up room the bulk of it doesn’t want to go back in, but my wife is waking up and I desperately want to close the thing up and get it out of her sight so as not to upset her. I end up smooshing everything back into the container and getting it closed with quite a bit of fluid spillage and the body looking even more grotesque than it did when I first opened the package. It’s about that time that Anne wakes up, rolls over to the edge of the bed and asks me what I’m doing. She’s just starting to register on her face what’s on the floor in front of me when I literally wake up.

What the fuck was that all about?

“This is what Heaven looks like.” Man builds his own 80’s arcade.

Ever have one of those moments when you realize that someone else is living out one of your childhood dreams? I had one of those moments when I read about Peter Hirschberg and his private 80’s arcade:

Finally, after a couple of years, a pile of money, and a struggle or two with contractors and local building regulations, Luna City Arcade is complete.

Missile Command, Space Invaders, Defender, Asteroids, Q*bert—all the old pizza parlor favorites are here, chirping away with the same old sounds and waiting for a quarter. Luna City, as he calls it, is Hirschberg’s personal time capsule: The walls of the 60- by 40-foot building are lined with posters for “Star Wars,” “Tron” and “Battlestar Galactica” (the original series, not the recent remake). The collection is up to 65 games at the moment, and another three are on the way.

“This is what heaven looks like,” said Hirschberg, as he welcomed a small group of my friends and me to his recent unofficial grand opening, where about 50 of his friends and co-workers, and their kids, showed up to play.

Yes, this is what I dreamed of doing back in my teens hanging out with friends at the local Aladdin’s Castle or the arcade known as Area Code 313. I swore that someday I’d have my own personal arcade stocked with the hottest games and reserved for me and my buddies to hang out in. To date I own exactly one full-size arcade machine, the venerable Crazy Climber, and that sits in the basement of my parent’s house because I don’t have a house of my own yet to put it in. It still works just fine, though, and I still suck at it.

Truth is I’d probably not bother with building a whole arcade for myself these days. These days I’m more inclined to wire up my basement to hold LAN parties in,  once I get a basement that is, as that would actually take a lot less money and still result in quite a bit of the same camaraderie and wasted afternoons. Still I can remember when this was my dream so I’ll take comfort in the idea that someone out there has realized it.