Clothing Time



Suddenly, a parcel arrives, and I'm excited - I see by the packaging that it's from Tom Waits. Well, it's Tom Waits merchandise, from Anti, the label he's signed to. A hoody, from a new line of clothing. I'm plenty excited.

How excited?

I'm reaching for my phone, to take a photo of it before I've opened it.

I know I'm gonna blog about this.

Already, I'm formulating the title:

'Tom Waits for No One'?

Nah. I'd have to have used that before, surely.

I know.

'Clothing Time', after the title of his debut album.


And then - I kid you not - I wake up.

That's right.

I purchase merchandise related to the artists I love, over the internet. While I sleep. And then devise stupid puns for blogposts, ensuring - to the best of my ability - that I'm not repeating a stupid pun I devised earlier. While I sleep.

Yay me.


** Addendum **

 My buddy Annemarie sent me a link to a Tom Waits hoody on Etsy almost before she'd finished reading this post - turns out dreams can come true!





The man of your dreams?


“Ever dream this man?” asks website It is not uncommon for someone resembling this gentleman to appear in people’s dreams, apparently. Story goes, a psychiatric patient drew the face of a man who kept appearing in her dreams, giving her advice. It was someone she claimed not to recognise or to have ever met.

Another patient happened to see the drawing of the man on the desk of the psychiatrist treating the woman. This patient recognised the man as someone who often visited him in dreams – again, someone whom the patient had never met in everyday life.

So the psychiatrist decided to pass the drawing on to some colleagues. Turns out some of them had patients who saw the man in their dreams, too. In fact, since 2006, some 2000-odd people – from places like Los Angeles, Berlin, Sao Paulo, Tehran, Beijing, Rome, Barcelona, Stockholm, Paris, New Dehli and Moscow – claim to have seen the man in their dreams.

There are a few theories, of course, according to the website. Strap yourself in:

• He could be an ‘archetype’: an image that lives within everyone’s unconscious that rises to the surface during times of hardship.

• He could be a modern manifestation of God.

• He could be a real person who enters people's dreams – possibly as part of a mental conditioning plan developed by a major corporation.

• Perhaps the phenomenon is a result of people being exposed to the theory. (Well, it is only 2000-odd, in so many big cities of the world!)

Of course, I know exactly where the image comes from and why it appears in so many peoples’ psyche – it is actually the grown-up version of a similarly widespread archetype. If his hair hadn’t thinned out, if he’d smile to show you his missing tooth, if he hadn’t lost his freckles – as some people do – with age, you’d see all too well he is the grown-up version of the archetype adopted as mascot by Mad magazine and christened ‘Alfred E. Neuman’. (Neuman pre-existed Mad and turns up in a lot of cultures – often as an inbred idiot!)

And of course the man in everyone’s dream offers everyone advice during time of hardship. What was his catchphrase as an immature lad? It was, “What, me worry?”


Spied a spider

Spider Web_04

I suppose I’d better offer some background. My dad worked in the construction industry. He had a tractor equipped with a back hoe and a front-end loader, which he drove around on the back of a big International tip truck. He’d often be hired to clear land, dig footings, pools and driveways when a house was being built, or to cart the rubble away when it was demolished. As a result, there was loud earthmoving equipment around our house that would make noise from the early hours, before work, and late into the night after work when repairs were required, or teeth or buckets had to be replaced on the back hoe.

Thus, despite a garden full of fruit trees, we never had cicadas around our house in summer – all scared away by the vibrations and noise. (Flies and mosquitos still thrived, rest assured.) Once the old man retired and sold the equipment, the bugs teemed. A follow-on effect was a multitude of spiders. Sure, there was always a redback in the proverbial woodpile, the odd funnel web surfacing to make a more obvious nest if something big was left on the front lawn, and heaps of ‘garden spiders’ that thrive in the summer. Now, however, we have a cicada breeding ground.

cicada 01


And during the spring and summer, every day presents a different, elaborate spider web. Or one arachnid empire that contiues to grow!

spider web empire

I usually grab the digital camera and take a quick snap of the web, knowing full well that even were I to manage to keep the right things in focus, it’s still not going to look anything as impressive in the photograph as it did in real life. So when I recently transferred about a year’s worth of random spider and spiderweb photos to my computer, only a handful came close to looking good.

Spider Web_03

Spider Web_02 Spider Web_01

The post script to all of this is that, after processing these images late into the night, I of course was plagued by dreams, bordering on nightmares, of encounters with spiders, the one I awoke from involving an extensive network of webs in and around my computer and desk, heaving under the weight of nasty looking spiders. Which, metaphorically at least, is now exactly the case.

A Really Horrible Dream

Taking the article ‘Hatchet Piece (101 Things I Hate)’ that appears in the book ‘Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters’ as read (which we should, because it was, by me, midway through an Arts degree when it was far more fun to read weird books on the lawn in front of the Main Quad at university than actually attend English, Psychology or Philosophy lectures), it turns out that I am not just one of the things John Waters hates, but in fact the one-hundred-and-first thing; the thing, he says, that he hates “more than anything in the world: a person who confides, ‘I had the weirdest dream last night…’” At the risk of angering the pontifex of perversity, I must tell you that this morning, shortly before I awoke, I had the most horrific dream I have had for some time.

When my dad died, I was plagued by dreams about him. Initially they were ultra-vivid visions: he’d be laying bright red bricks under a clear blue sky in the hot summer sun, and I’d be helping him. Upon waking up, I’d usually burst into tears – all those years of resenting having to play bricky’s labourer on weekends and school holidays when there was serious guitar playing, record shopping or flirting to be done, and now those days were the source of about the best memories my unconscious thought I had of the old man.

After the extra-sensory memory dreams came the stress dreams: often, the old man would have just discovered a terminal disease and we’d all panic and wonder how we’d cope if he didn’t pull through. I’d wake up relieved, knowing that it was just a dream, and then remember that he had been diagnosed with a terminal disease, that he hadn’t pulled through, and that this sort of dream was part of the coping mechanism. I had a lot of these dreams in Italy especially, having gone over with my mum to settle the old man’s estate. In the early hours I’d dream that he was lying in a death-like state, and panic would ensue until I realised I could hear him snoring. Then church bells would ring and all would be well. I’d wake up, still hearing the church bells pealing from both our village cathedral and the one nestled on the side of the mountain facing our village, and realise that it was actually my mum snoring in the next room.

Although the emotions appear to be inverted, ‘interpersonal relationship’ dreams seem to be of a similar kind to the ‘coping with the death of a loved one’ dreams. They begin as erotic dreams prior to and during the actual interpersonal relationship, but afterwards they’re just ‘all’s well in the relationship’ dreams that invariably come after you’ve been dumped. You awaken from a peaceful reverie to realise that, actually, all’s not well in your world. You suddenly realise that your stomach cavity is once again filled with lead, as it was when you woke up during the early hours of the previous morning. You wonder how on earth you’ll get through another day and fall asleep again that evening. And so it goes...

My freakiest stress dream usually finds me sitting the English paper of the Higher School Certificate (commonly known as “the HSC”, Australia’s ‘leaving certificate’ examination) again. I particularly recall having this recurring nightmare when facing extra difficult periods of employment, specificially at my last full-time job, as a Publications Co-ordinator at a school(!) Why the English paper? Possibly because it is the first examination in the HSC and so at the time was the most stressful; after getting through the first, the rest would have appeared less formidable. And yet, my less-frequently dreamt and scarier nightmare, in a similar vein, is of a mathematics exam. I don’t know why.

Actually, my freakiest stress dream involves a scenario worse still than being thrown headlong into the examination scenario once again. It hasn’t happened often, but occasionally I dream that I am on the stage, performing, but under-prepared. Originally, these dreams involved memories of actual performances I’d been in, and amazingly, I’d remember whole chunks of dialogue and song from school musicals. (“So, if it ain’t Prince Tiny and the ‘little league’!” – my first line, as Freddie the Fidler, in Tin Pan Alley, the St Augustine's College musical from 1987. I was in Year 10. It featured girls from the local Catholic girl’s school, Stella Maris College, amongst whose ranks was a young Kym Wilson. She was fifteen, gorgeous and very popular amongst us horny and repressed Catholic school boys, so although I don’t quite dream about her, I may have the occasional little ‘think’ about her before dropping off to sleep at night!)

Nowadays, these dreams still occasionally take place in the school auditorium. However, when they do not, school teachers’ faces accompany those of past employers throughout the audience. I am on stage alone. There is nothing prepared. I start to improvise. And it always goes well. Hats off to my Id! Why can’t real life be that good?

So anyway, this morning I awoke from a dream that was worse than any of the above examples. In fact, I reckon it worse than all of the above put together. Here’s my dream:

I return to the venue of a party – obviously a friend’s house in the dream, but one I don’t recognise from my normal waking life – to retrieve a bunch of CD singles I left at the party the night before. But I can’t find them. And I wonder why I possibly thought I could leave them to retrieve later. Amongst the missing items is the ultra-limited Costello/Nieve box set that was released nearly a decade ago now, as well as a pile of Radiohead CD singles, including the even older and rarer ‘Drill’ EP. Although I eventually find the Costello/Nieve box set (autographed, to boot! My copy ain’t autographed in real life) I cannot locate any of the Radiohead stuff, and I am most miffed about losing the ‘Drill’ EP. I'm really despondent, disheartened, angry.

Eventually, I drift into wakefulness and start to tell myself I never took Radiohead CD singles to anyone’s party. And then I realise I’ve never even seen a copy of the ‘Drill’ EP in real life, let alone owned one.

Do you think I should consider an alternative form of employment to working in a secondhand/collectibles music shop?