Wake Me Up, Scotty
By Jamahl Epsicokhan
January 3, 2005
Nearly every year, I take a week off work between Christmas and New Year's, and last night, my vacation came to a rather strange end. Night owl that I am, I spent all of last week staying up late and getting up late. The latest, however, ended up being yesterday, my last day before returning to work. I couldn't drag my lazy ass out of bed until nearly 1 p.m., and when it came time to go to sleep last night so I could actually get up and go to work this morning, I knew I was going to be paying the price with insomnia.
I wasn't wrong. I finally turned in about 3:30 a.m., and tossed and turned for the next 30 or 45 minutes. Then came the dreaming, which must've been induced by a combination of insomnia and that nagging voice in the back of my head that reminded me how I'd been too busy over the holidays to write my Star Trek: Generations review by the end of December, as I'd misguidedly promised. Or perhaps it was related to the coma-like hypnosis resulting from the seven straight episodes of Seinfeld that I'd been watching on DVD.
If I'd been using drugs, I'd easily have attributed it to that.
I don't think I've ever had a Star Trek-related dream before, but last night I did, and it was downright bizarre — and slightly frightening. It's like I'd been teleported to another dimension. All the while, I found my mind firmly lodged in Mr. Critic Mode, analyzing what was on the screen, taking mental notes along the way — except, because it was a dream, I was the one on the screen. I'm not even sure who I was supposed to be. Myself? Someone else? Captain Kirk? How do I even know it was related to Star Trek? In specific terms, I can't even be 100 percent sure. Maybe it was the Atari 2600 graphics of a TOS-era Spock attacking me in the video game I was playing in the dream (or on the show). I'll be damned if I know. I just somehow know.
The best way I can explain this is that the dream had the texture of all forms of Star Trek TV productions all at once. Hey, there's a building from TOS — really cheap looking — and right next to it is a structure made from modern CGI effects. And here's a bunch of animated stuff. Suddenly I'm being attacked by a giant tribble from that animated episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series, a series which I've only seen perhaps one episode — involving giant tribbles, of course.
And there I was, in the middle of the action, in a fight sequence on TOS with fake rocks and low-tech stunts. There were even rock people, I think. All I know is that I was under siege by faceless aliens in unconvincing monster suits, like the ones that attacked the shuttlecraft in "The Galileo Seven," an episode I severely overrated, by the way. Like many dreams, I remember the feelings more than the specific images. The images were vivid at the time, but faded away into oblivion as today went on.
Somehow — I'm not sure how — the ending of the show/dream reminded me of the second TOS pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before." It was annoying in that it was a complete rip-off. Here I am sitting through a story I've already seen on Star Trek years ago. Or maybe it was "Encounter at Farpoint"? Or maybe "Caretaker"? Maybe all three at once.
It was like I was trapped in that movie Mulholland Drive, where I didn't know what the hell was happening, but it somehow made some sort of twisted and bizarre sense on a visceral level. Logic? I was too unconscious for logic. My mind was hurtling through remembered fiction and indecipherable nonsense and dread and panic. Stop with the Atari 2600 characters! I was clawing and punching my way through a sea of disturbing nonsense.
Here's the best part. Suddenly, I found myself half awake, realizing that I wasn't in danger but simply dreaming — or maybe watching my dream on TV. My half-asleep mind began writing a review of the episode, and I was annoyed that the ending was so derivative and uninspired. I looked at the clock next to my bed and, in a groggy haze before falling back asleep, I began formulating the first paragraph of a review: "This nonsensical episode was rambling, incoherent, and lacking any possible trace of a reasonable narrative. Also, the ending was painfully derivative..." Not to mention all the confusion about mixing cartoon animation, 1960s and 1990s production values, and Atari 2600 graphics. Or maybe ColecoVision. Rating: half a star. No, zero stars. What were they thinking? What was I thinking?
The weird part is that I can't go back to the tape and watch it again to check my facts. To be honest, I don't think I've described even half of the events accurately. Probably because there weren't any events, but simply scrambled memories recycled and reinvented in my mind.
I think it's my brain's way of telling me that vacation is officially over, and it's time to begin a new year, and turn over a new leaf and all that cliched jazz. Maybe I'll start with a visit to a shrink. Maybe this review thing has gotten way out of hand.