Thursday, January 20, 2005


What with nothin' going on but the rent garments (and wrung hands and gnashed teeth and...) in my waking life, I am now forced to dredge my subconscious to provide what fleeting interest this online diary of a maddening man may have. Hence, for all you somnulence fans out there, a synopsis of last night's dream:

I find myself in the middle of a large crowd in the lobby of a movie theater (all pristine Kubrickian white walls, gleaming surfaces and what appears to be fiber-optic popcorn), gathered to catch the five-minute teaser for the long-awaited comic-book epic, The Yowling Fantods and the Prickly Clams of Xylocaine B. After no small amount of jostling among the capacity crowd (with one poor soul somewhere in the middle crying, "Get off me! I'm here to see Tangled Up in Jute!"), we eventually make it into the cavernous auditorium and seat ourselves raucously. The house lights dim and a roar comes up as the giant convex screen before us is filled with a rapid-fire, quick-cut montage of our favorite comic-mag heroes made flesh at last - Octoplatypus, Professor Sterno, Philip S. MacCandress, Esq., Billy Ray Cyrus as a Girl, That Green Fellow - a montage that lasts all of fifteen seconds before the screen goes black and the bombastic score falls dead, replaced after a few, uncomfortable seconds by the image of the film's director, slumped against a wall with a troubled look in his eye. He's not identified on-screen, but I recognize him immediately from his trademark black suit, graying tuft of hair, gaunt, slightly pinched features and the cigarette he's holding with a peculiar sort of Euro-Canuck affectation. Surprised, I cry out: "Holy shit! That's Ken Finkleman!"

Hundreds of glares turn in my direction, all bearing that mixture of contempt and bewilderment I've come to know so well. Outburst aside, it's obvious that no one has the slightest idea who I'm talking about (nor, probably, should you, unless you're Canadian, a bad-eighties-movie aficionado nonpareil, a PBS junkie or someone who's read the two previous abortive attempts at Finklemania on this very blog - briefly, Finkleman is a Canadian writer/performer who made quite a lucrative living in Hollywood by writing the screenplays for some of the most cynically commerce-driven drivel of the 1980s {Airplane II: The Sequel, Grease 2, Who's That Girl?} before retreating to Toronto and becoming a national hero in the mid-nineties via his hilariously dark-humored satire of network politics, The Newsroom, the success of which evidently went to his head in a major way, pent-up auteurist dreams he'd been holding on to since at least
Head Office exploding into things like the 8 1/2 homage that dominated the last three episodes of The Newsroom's original run, followed by further short-run series {More Tears, Foolish Heart, Foreign Objects} that utilized pretensions and hilarity in increasingly unbalanced proportions, sending his TV alter ego, George Findlay, deeper and deeper into some rarified trough of idealized self-loathing that suggests something deeply imbalanced in his character [and his character], finally coming full circle [well, okay, not quite full circle, as he's not responsible for giving Maxwell Caulfield work again or anything] with another season of The Newsroom this past year, which I haven't seen yet but I'm led to understand that somebody dies in each episode. Did I say "briefly"? At least I got this far without resorting to footnotes this time...). Finkleman clears his throat, a Sensurroundish rumble in the triskaidekaphonic theatre that snaps everyone back to wary attention. "Uh... that's all I came up with," he mumbles, his gaze unable to meet ours. "I don't know exactly what happened. I fought hard to get this job, only once I did... Put it this way; in Hollywood, the deal is the sex. Making the movie is like trying to get the girl out of your apartment afterwards.* So, at least I can explain what I was hoping to do. I, um, I wanted to, well, deconstruct the genre, turn it into something more submersible (did he mean "subversive"? No one seemed to know, notice, nor care), something with a touch of Borges, a little Satyricon, maybe, or maybe if Mordecai Richler and Atom Egoyan had collaborated on an episode of Mr. Dressup..."

He starts to tremble slightly and a tremor creeps into his voice as he continues, suddenly unable to complete sentences. "And I'd... Ontario existentialism... Nights of Cabiria... Italo Calvino... Al Waxman... parchment beef... Parthenon Huxley... Miniver Cheevy... John Haslett-Cuff... magical realism... Williams-Sonoma... Satie... poutine... Brecht..." That last word comes out as a brief choking hack and he falls silent, slouching even further against the wall, staring balefully at an indistinct point somewhere to the right of the camera, blowing misshapen smoke rings in its direction with an enigmatic half-smile on his face (the left half) until the five minutes runs out. Instead of the usual bombastic-fanfare-accompanied "COMING SOON" at the end, the words "Do Not Use" appear, backed only by the thin, lonely buzz of a reel running out.

The lights come up and I realize that the entire audience has cleared out; all, that is, but the young hipster couple asleep a few seats down. I nudge them as I walk past and they jerk awake, starled. "Oh! I can't believe we fell asleep before it even started!", one says (I'm not sure which one because they're both moving their mouths and neither is in sync with what's being said). "We've been waiting for this for years! So - what'd you think?"

I look at them for a long minute, then break into a smile. "It's gonna be great," I say.

*An actual quote. My dreams are nothing if not meticulously researched.**

** Ah, shit.