Lucid Dreaming with Awful Beer

A few nights ago I had a dream. It unfolded in the typical way of dreams, disjointed events unfolding without conscious direction. At one point I was given a beer. I looked down at the bottle and saw it was a Miller Lite, at which point I rejected the narrative of the dream and went hunting for a better beer.

Now, I don’t think of myself as a beer snob. Sure, I know a good bit about beer. I’ve been a bartender. I’ve been a drinker. In case you’re wondering, my current favorite is Gotta Get Up to Get Down, a coffee milk stout from Wiseacre Brewing in Memphis, Tennessee.

I tend toward dark beers, and I’ve downed my share (or more than) of pints of Guinness, Newcastle, and Smithwicks. There’s this excellent South American beer, Xingu, that a friend of mine swears tastes like Coca-Cola (it doesn’t.)

I don’t always drink dark beers. The bartenders at Madam’s Organ in DC used to keep a twelve pack of Dos Equis just for me. I am at this very moment drinking a bottle of Miller High Life, with a pinch of salt dropped in.

But, and I mean this from the bottom of my stomach, if you hand me a Miller Lite you can fuck right off.

It’s a matter of taste, and I speak only for my own taste and imply no judgement on anyone else’s, but Miller Lite is the single worst beer on the market. It is the reason people who don’t drink beer don’t drink beer.

Miller Lite is so bad that, when confronted with one in a nightmare I literally hijacked my unconscious and took (momentary) control of my dream.

I’ve never been able to lucid dream.

Let me break that down a bit. Lucid dreaming, technically, is simply being aware that you are in a dream while it is happening. That happens all the time (for me, anyway), though usually right at the end of the dream. But when people say “lucid dreaming,” they’re just about always referring to the next step: controlling your dream.

I always end up thinking about Vanilla Sky when that comes up. And if I let my mind wander, I’ll end up thinking about Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks (in which certain cultures have developed VR Heavens and Hells, their governments deciding to which any particular deceased may be uploaded).

But, yeah, Vanilla Sky. Poor Tom Cruise is stuck in a lucid dream in which he has lost control. That’s what my lucid dreams are like. Not that they’re psychosexual nightmares involving Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz. (Usually) I mean only that, aware of the dream or not, I lack control. I lack agency. I am reduced to the status of NPC in my own unconscious.

I’ve always wanted to be able to direct my own dreams. Who wouldn’t?

As it turns out, the key – for me, at least – was the worst beer in the Universe.

On Trigger Warnings and Censorship

I’m going to talk a bit about trigger warnings and such, so if you’re in the camp that rails against such things as libtard censorship and thought policing, you may want to either skip this one or dust off your A material.

See what I did there, by the way?

Continue reading “On Trigger Warnings and Censorship”

Some Things I’m Reading Lately – 4-19-17

I read constantly. If I go 24 hours without sitting in my recliner with a paperback, my Kindle, or at least a magazine – real or tablet edition – I become cranky. It’s better to just leave me be and let me read, honestly.

From time to time, I like to share some of the things I’ve been reading lately… Here goes.

Beyond Human is the cover story in this month’s issue of National Geographic. It discusses the history of human evolution and it’s potential future, getting into all sorts of things like body-hacking, gene therapy, and embryonic gene-editing. D.T. Max, of the New Yorker, hooks you with the first line: “When I met the cyborg Neil Harbisson, in Barcelona, he looked like any local hipster, except for the black antenna…”

Vanishing Point: Rise of the Invisible Computer offers an interesting write-up on the impending obsolescence of “Moore’s Law,” and briefly explores a few possibilities for the further development of computers in a post-Moore’s-Law environment.

I’m also working my way through Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds – I’ll post something about that when I’m finished, but I had to take a break from it today to tear through something else:

Saga is terrific, and it seems to keep getting better. In Volume Seven, collecting the most recent six-issue arc, the comic really hits you in the feels. It also has a full-page splash of alien zombies moaning “TAAAAINTS” instead of brains…

I stopped reading and clutched my chest – yes, literally – more than once. If you’re not familiar with this wild space opera fantasy exploration of parenthood and family, you really should pick it up. If you’re already a fan but didn’t realize the Volume Seven trade was released already, it is! Go get it!

New Phone and an Old Anecdote

My Home Screen

Got a new phone this week, the Moto G4 from Motorola.

Let me provide some context here. I was an Android early adopter. I couldn’t wait for the Future – as long as the Future wasn’t built by Apple, mind you.

But the first five or six years of smartphones were a consistent disappointment to me. They felt like a technology rushed to the market before it was ready. Batteries ran down in a handful of hours (or less), apps glitched or crashed your phone, every provider loaded you down with gigs of bloatware you would never, ever use for anything but which ate half your device’s storage, and here came Facebook to bog everything down to the point where my last smartphone – a Samsung – took over a full minute to do anything.

So I chucked it in the sea and went back to a flip phone. My flip phone and I were very happy together for a number of years. But then it broke.

I’ll tell you what I think of the new phone in a bit, but first I realize this is an utterly boring post and I want to make it up to you. So here is an old post about an even older story, reprinted for your amusement:

Continue reading “New Phone and an Old Anecdote”

Some Things I’m Reading Lately – 4-9-17

I read constantly. If I go 24 hours without sitting in my recliner with a paperback, my Kindle, or at least a magazine – real or tablet edition – I become cranky. It’s better to just leave me be and let me read, honestly.

From time to time, I like to share some of the things I’ve been reading lately… Here goes.

Love in the Time of Cryptography contains one of the most beautiful metaphors I have ever seen. Right from the opening line, journalist Quinn Norton sets a haunting tone that is both nostalgic and cynical, paranoid and blissfully optimistic. It’s really something.

I don’t really agree with everything Lincoln Michel says in Against Worldbuilding – I think he may be spending far too much time around English majors for good mental health. However, the essay makes some essential points and its central premise is something any writer – or even the discerning, critical reader – should pay heed.

As far as fiction goes, I recently finished Look to Windwardone of the Culture novels by Iain M. Banks that I had somehow missed before. I was delighted in the used bookstore when I realized here was one of the Culture books I hadn’t read yet, and I remained delighted throughout. If you’ve never read about the Culture, you really, really should.

I also raced through The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold, continuing my intermittent and reverse-order enjoyment of the Vorkosigan Saga. These books – space opera yarns that range from military adventure to spy thrillers to political thrillers and feature some of the best characters ever created – are always fun.

Cover Woes

I’m not exactly a starving artist, but… Well, being a struggling writer has its woes. Unless and until sales start properly taking off (rather than the listless trickle to which I am accustomed) I can’t really afford to pay cover artists.

The Catch-22 being that a really swell cover is said to do wonders for sales. Take note, all you cover-judgers.

Anyway, for the time being I’m left to make do on the cheap. If you ever notice the covers of my books being replaced by new versions with terrific artwork, you’ll know I’ve made it. In the meantime, I’m soliciting opinions. Which of the following covers would be most likely to pique your interest? Which one screams “hey! hey you. yeah, you. BUY ME!”?











Any suggestions, drop a comment.