While doing an occasional “full stroll” of the Elsewhere Public Works website, I ran across a new form being offered, something that would allow us to patent our dreams.

Patent ... a dream? I haven’t remembered many of my dreams lately. But there is one dream that I’ve had over and over again. Not really a dream, more like visiting a place. The instructions included with the form indicated that it had to be stamped by an EPWA agent. Were we supposed to have had the forms with us when the action took place? A little while later, everyone received an email that put that question to rest.

  : :: :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: 
  Denizens of Elsewhere may have noticed the patent registration form
  recently made available at the Civic Realm Complex, as well as on our 
  website.  This form is for the official registration & patenting of 
  DREAMS, VISIONS, and PROPHECIES.  The process is an important step 
  on the path toward Divine Nonchalance, as it allows for the archival 
  documentation of our collective imaginations and mind-sight.
  :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: 
  : :: :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: 
  We have received a number of inquiries as to when & where a fellow 
  Nonchalant may have their form properly notarized.  It’s a difficult 
  procedure, to be sure, mainly because the EPWA Signatory and 
  Commissioner of Oaths, Murray D. Waltheanstough, is constantly 
  traveling, fluctuating, and toggling between appointments, bureaus, 
  salt mines, and the like.
  :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: 
  : :: :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: 
  However, we have just received word that he will definitely be in 
  the San Francisco Bay Area to perform his services during the early 
  evening of June 26th.  The process of notarization takes roughly 
  3600 seconds.  Because of the limited number of patents available at 
  any given point in time, we can only accept a select number of 
  appointments (more than 12 less than 43).  Approval of applicants will 
  be based on the inherent vitality of the DREAM, VISION, or PROPHECY.  
  If you wish to have your DREAM, VISION, or PROPHECY registered at this 
  time and date, please: download the form (command: “&_patent” at 
  www.elsewherepublicworks.com) then send a brief preview or encapsulation 
  of the DREAM, VISION, or PROPHECY concept to [email address].  It will 
  then be reviewed by a local EPWA clerk for assessment and approval.  
  A certain number of applicants will be accepted (more than 13 less than 
  42), and those approved will be given specific details of the appointment 
  time & location.  This and then will be the only manner of notarization 
  probable for the foreseeable number of fortnights. 
  :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: 
  : :: :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: 
  : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :
  : : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : 

I sent in my dream encapsulation and because I was feeling optimistic, I called up a friend who had a stockpile of typewriters. Two visits later, I had a Francis Dec-like filled-out form complete with fakeroo coffee stain (I gave myself a B- for it; the width was too uniform, but I did this last so no do-overs). I miss typewriters, so this was a fufilling mission. One typewriter I got to use was over 100 years old!

A later email gave us the time, and a photo of street signs at an intersection: North Point and Baker.

  6:09 pm on the dot : : early worms will be eaten by the bird
  = | = |= | = |= | = |= | = |= | = |=
  dress : : down/casually/informally/incognito/’normal’
  = | = |= | = |= | = |= | = |= | = |=
  bring : : completed forms + any supplementary materials necessary 
  for your unique patent application
  = | = |= | = |= | = |= | = |= | = |=
  = | = |= | = |= | = |= | = |= | = |=

I stole a car, picked up Crumbly Donut and parked a few blocks from the intersection. We started to make our way to the park astride North Point and Baker, but then I noticed Crumbly Donut was wearing his rabbit-eared tinfoil hat. “Hey ... hey hey!” He hadn’t seen the “dress down” bit of the last email. Hat: ditched.

After we walked a bit in the park toward the rendezvous, we sat down next to Urban Phoenix and another guy. Urban had a large transparent tube with a poster inside. I’m not the sharpest spork in the drawer but I was pretty sure that that was his dream application. A Whole Bohemian was sitting at the edge of the next pair of benches to our left. Was she an in-game character? Unknown. I was 100% sure that Urban was Urban, but you know ... I’ve been sure about a lot of things. “California/Arizona? God, I’d never move there, all those earthquakes/too hot.”

“Are you guys waiting for 6:09?”
“Indeed we are.”

The other feller turned out to be Duckstabd. He had a largish poster with him as well, but he indicated it wasn’t related. Urban Phoenix said that he was told via email to bring Wonder Bread. “That’s odd.” We all tried to gin up reasons for bringing bread (there was a reference to this by Kendal Laz on the radio broadcast [“’Cause it was a wonderful thing”]; this was the very brand of bread Eva fed the pigeons for her referee prank). I described a “How To Give Instructions” lesson I had just seen that involved a group of people instructing someone how to create a peanut butter and jelly sammich. At first the group was coordinated with one person giving instructions, but they all slowly ended up instructing the person individually in a contradictory manner. This chaos was the crux of the lesson: order take-out instead. Wonder® Bread Classic White bread: “Soft. Delicious. Nutritious.” INGREDIENTS: WHEAT FLOUR, WATER, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP OR SUGAR, YEAST. CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: FERROUS SULFATE (IRON), “B” VITAMINS (NIACIN, THIAMINE MONONITRATE (B1), RIBOFLAVIN (B2), FOLIC ACID), BARLEY MALT, CALCIUM SULFATE*, SOYBEAN OIL, WHEAT GLUTEN, SALT, DOUGH CONDITIONERS (SODIUM STEAROYL LACTYLATE, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE, CALCIUM DIOXIDE, SORBIC ACID AND/OR AZODICARBONAMIDE), VINEGAR, TRICALCIUM PHOSPHATE*, YEAST NUTRIENTS (AMMONIUM SULFATE, CALCIUM CARBONATE AND/OR AMMONIUM CHLORIDE), CORNSTARCH, WHEAT STARCH, SOY FLOUR, WHEY, CALCIUM PROPIONATE (TO RETAIN FRESHNESS), SOY LECITHIN. *INGREDIENTS IN EXCESS OF AMOUNT PRESENT IN REGULAR ENRICHED WHITE BREAD. CONTAINS WHEAT, MILK AND SOYBEANS. Mmmmm. Just like grammie used to manufacture.

We engaged in light liquefaction snark while walking toward the the rest of the group. We had your number, Marina district residents. Introductions went around and huzzah! BriareosH was present and not in-game at all. Some of the group indicated they saw Drybones and another person surrepticiously biking by. Cycling? Bicycling. “Bicycling by.” [FX: involuntarily flinches]

Triclyops handed out chalk. “Oooh, chalk.” Colorful chunky chalk, not that wussy white blackboard stuff. I think it was Jason who said, “Hey, maybe we should go over to where the street signs are.” We wandered over to where the street signs were. We loitered for awhile. Hangin’ around. Chattering. Then I noticed a blue-chalked bunny TV icon accompanying the word “BENCH” written right next to the pole. We’re quick that way.

I think maybe everyone had the same expectation I did: that we were to wait for something or someone, because that’s what you do when given a time and a place. Silly us.

“We’re all going to the bench!”

We all went to another pair of benches back across the street. I sat on the bench. “This is a nice bench.” The now-clearly not in-game Whole Bohemian eyed me warily from the other bench. Crumbly Donut, obviously Oprah’s #1 fan1, glanced under the bench and found an envelope pinned to the bottom of it. “A-ha!” The envelope indicated that we were to wait another ten minutes or so to open it, and to feed the birds. HEYS WE GOT BREAD! The crux of the lesson: sometimes the bread is totally not about you.

We moved to the edge of the pond and began casting the loaves upon the water. Several birds took advantage of the miracle of free bread. TANSTAAFLUYAB. Seagulls, mostly. Finally a duck showed up. “A duck!” I like ducks. Then a swan. Swans love azodicarbonamide. Builds stronger feather bones ten different ways. After the loaves were chucked, our group checked the time on various silver rectangles over and over again.

“I got 6:23.”
“Me too.”

Crumbly Donut opened the envelope; inside was a smaller envelope repeatedly stamped “6 23.” Inside that, a folded-up piece of paper, the “NOTARY APPOINTMENT LOCATOR.”

STEP 1. ROLL CALL. After completing this and sloughing off hangers-on, we discovered that three people were missing. Calls were made.

STEP 2. CHECK UNDER YOUR DOME PIECE. Dome piece? Dome piece. Like hair piece? Hey, there’s this giant dome across the river. The Palace of Fine Arts was originally built in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition2 and was meant to resemble a Roman ruin; it was designed by architect Bernard R. Maybeck to represent “the mortality of grandeur and the vanity of human wishes.” Didn’t we already get a similar lesson from Shelley/Ozymandias? You know, I have no problem with grandeur in this bland styrofoamic Brutalist boxed-up blighted scenescape. The Palace of Fine Arts now serves as the location of the Exploratorium, a world-renowned “hands on” science museum.

The group started walking around the perimeter of the pond. One guy explained to me that he was given his nickname by the EPWA. I didn’t understand that so I just made agreeable noises like “uh-huh” and “yeah.”

STEP 3. IN HONOR OF B.F. MOGLIN BUILDER OF THE RECONSTRUCTION 1964-____. Reconstruction? The Palace of Fine Arts was originally built in the same manner as the structures at the Chicago World’s Fair – with staff, a mixture of burlap-type fiber and plaster not known for its longevity. In 1964, the mangy remains of the place were completely scraped and re-built with stronger materials. This step was funny because I hadn’t caught up yet when the other agents found this clue, a plaque to celebrate the reconstruction. It was a fake ruin that eventually looked too real-ruined so it was re-built to look like the original unruined ruin (see also The Artificial Kingdom: On the Kitsch Experience by Celeste Olalquiaga (review)).

Wait, it gets funnier. When the Panama-Pacific International Exposition was being planned, a lot of fill material was needed for the marshy grounds. Hey, we’ve got this rubble from the quake, we could use that! All of it. All the rubble from the massive 1906 earthquake/fire was used. So the Palace of Fine Arts is a re-built ruined Roman ruin replica built on ruins.

Yes of course there is a copy of The Palace of Fine Arts in Disney’s California Adventure. It is a replica of a re-construction of a formerly ruined replica of a Roman ruin that rests on ruins [FX: spins finger around perimeter of ear, makes whistling noise]. They’ve got a Golden Gate Bridge Jr. there as well. Pay to see fake inferior versions of real things you can see for free. Turn your friends green with envy.

It’s kind of sickly poetic, in that the fill material from the 1906 disaster caused so much damage in the 1989 quake and is probably going to cause even more trouble when the next big one hits. San Francisco: your complete recycling headquarters.

The group hoovered up the reconstruction plaque date and moved on, I didn’t find out about it until the next day when photos started showing up.

STEP 4. TAKE A HEAD COUNT OF YOUR GUARDIAN ANGELS. There were eight large figural sculptures set directly underneath the dome. The dome piece.



Again, everyone got a bit ahead of me, this time because I was wienering around taking pseudo-arty photos of chalkwork. They found the correct be-chalked door and clustered around it trying to tease out some information or open it, but the information for STEP 6 was on a column a bit to the right and behind everyone. A half-turn, a slapping of the collective forehead, and STEP 6 was completed.


The information the group acquired on our little journey was filled into the passcode blanks and we trundled off to the Exploratorium. It was closed to the public for the day; Jason summoned The Door Guy. The Door Guy let us in and indicated that some of the exhibits were active, but they were for another party and not to touch them. Everyone shuffled in and headed to the back of the building. I was slowly bringing up the rear guard. I was so far behind I called Crumbly Donut to tell him they were going to pick us off one by one like in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but he wasn’t answering the phone ... because he was playing with the “Soap Bubbles Tray” exhibit along with a kid. “YOU STOLE FIZZY LIFTING DRINKS! YOU BUMPED INTO THE CEILING WHICH NOW HAS TO BE WASHED AND STERILIZED, SO YOU GET NOTHING! YOU LOSE! GOODDAY SIR!” That Crumbly, he gets into everything.

We were greeted at the entrance to the “Tactile Dome” by Elsewhere Public Works Agency Signatory and Commissioner of Oaths, Murray D. Waltheanstough. Bedecked in aviator goggles, beads, and a very hairy shirt, Murray D. Waltheanstough ran through what was clearly the standard list of Tactile Dome rules/do’s-and-don’ts. No shoes, secure belongings, no glasses, pitch black inside. Murray D. Waltheanstough had one addition: we were supposed to carry our dream forms on our person during our journey.

There was a list of things that we might encounter in the Dome, but I didn’t read it because I guessed it would be more fun to guess. People were coming out of the interactive area of the Dome with gleeful smiles and indications that they had physically exerted themselves. For some reason I was still holding on to a discordant mind image of the unknown inside; I was convinced it would just be walking around in the dark, bumping into things. I spent most of the down time trying to get good shots of the braille message on the walls. 2009 marked Louis Braille’s 200th birthday. Man that’s old, he’s probably like a husk now. I decoded the wall later on because it could have been a CLUE!

“Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.”
– Carl Jung

Which reminds me of a braille mystery that I’d like to put to bed right now: Can you spell anything in braille with Tetris pieces?

The answer: no. GRT.

I hung back while people went through the dome. I didn’t know how much I’d need my bum foot and didn’t want to keep people waiting. Murray D. Waltheanstough had a quick check-in with each person before they went in, and he’d occasionally make sure things were okay by flipping a dial that activated a microphone in each of the sections (“climb,” “slide,” “tight squeeze,” “roja,” “das boot,” etc). Soon enough it was my turn; I promised myself I’d keep the mewling to a minimum.

Murray D. Waltheanstough was concerned that my personal effects, including my un-notarized dream form, were not secure. Already one person had misplaced their dream form while exploring the Tactile Dome. A lost dream! I tried to reassure Murray D. Waltheanstough by demonstrating to him that my shirt pockets were securely fastened except that they weren’t; my pocket flap flipped open a little too easily. Murray D. Waltheanstough administered a slight frown but indicated I could enter.

I slipped into the dome proper and it was immediately pitch black. I almost ended up accidentally coming right back out while trying to progress inward through a hairy nest of hangin’ black vinyl strips.

It was work, moving about inside (“ooomph ... arrrgh”). I felt like I was buried deep within Mummenschanz. Constant probing, trying to move forward, finding hidden holes, clambering up with the aid of a rope, sliding, dropping, angling, twisting, wondering. Pressed in by side walls, billowy black fabric obscuring boundaries. Feeling around, suddenly encountering a strange shape, decoding it with touch. The door lock I found was especially nice; I was obsessed with locks and keys when I was a tiny approximation of myself ... that hasn’t changed. Three hours later, I stopped fiddling with the lock and continued flailing about in the dark.

One of my favorite parts of the experience was getting disoriented in the “roja” section, a small circular enclosure lit by a single red light (the only light in the entire contraption). I came out of a hole, felt my way around, looked down at the hole and then saw that there were two exit holes. I figured out which hole was which by remembering what the floor looked like when I had initially entered the area. I cheated with my cheating eyeballs.

Seeing other people’s flash photos inside the dome via a popular image-sharing website made me realize I missed stuff, like the Fisher Price Activity Center #1175 mounted on one of the walls, fabric swatches, just a whole mess of things. Next time: more wall touching.

I emerged from the darkness with a silly grin on my face. Murray D. Walthenstough had me sign the record book, and then indicated I was to put my thumbprint on the form. I tried to do my pinky for two reasons. First, it was the smallest finger I had (this is still true; perhaps this is also your situation); less ink = less mess. Second, I am allergic to ID-gathering and this of course reminded me of doing the same thing to get a California driver’s license (California: Land of Freedom). Murray D. Waltheanstough indicated that it was all about the thumb. Thumb: thumbed. Murray D. Waltheanstough then stamped the form. NOTARIZED!

After that, Urban unrolled his blown-up dream form on the floor. He had described his dream/prophecy/vision with the smallest-nibbed pen he could find, and filled out his “initial interpretation” in blacklight. Urban: “I’m a nerd.” A nerd ... with big dreams. Sorry, I won’t do that again.

Murray D. Waltheanstough stamped Urban Phoenix’s oversized dream form and indicated, via the powers vested in him by the Elsewhere Public Works Agency, that our patents were officially registered. We said our goodbyes to Murray D. Waltheanstough and exited out the back of the Exploratorium.

Most of the agents were able to re-convene at Mifune in Japantown. We ate so much soba/udon that we closed the place down, or it was the end of their normal business hours for the day ... your choice.

I seem to be remembering my dreams a lot more these days.

1I’ve always wanted to see the Oprah episode in which the secret mystery underseat prize was a small, tasteful batch of organic psychedelics ... Oprah apparently spent the entire hour walking through the audience, gently brushing their blissed-out faces with a pair of giant emu feathers. Does anyone remember that one? “YOU GET A SHROOM BAG!!! YOU GET A SHROOM BAG!!! YOU GET A SHROOM BAG!!! EVERYBODY GETS A SHROOM BAG!!!” Maybe it’s on Youtube.

2One of the many exhibits at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition was a giant working Underwood typewriter, on which the news was typed daily. From a commerative postcard:

1728 times larger than the Standard Underwood. Weight 14 tons – 28,000 lbs. Dimensions in action 21 feet wide by 15 feet high. An exact reproduction of the machine you will eventually buy.

An exact reproduction. Unfortunately there wasn’t a big demand for 14-ton typewriters in the consumer market so extant models are hard to find, though you will occasionally see one at a county fair re-purposed as a kiddie ride.

Say, why not continue on to Journal.