Last night, She Who Must Be Obeyed, the Mistress of Sarcasm, and I were hunkered down in our hotel room to digest our dinner, watch a little teevee, and catch a few winks before resuming our homeward journey.
We had left Foat Wuth, Texas Christmas morning, hoping to avoid the vile traffic that would surely await us were we to begin our drive on Sunday... and to get a head start on what was shaping up to be an icy weekend in Alabama and Georgia. As the sun dipped below the horizon, we considered the two options: Stop, or drive straight through? The latter would involve driving through falling snow after dark, on roads with Southern drivers who do not have Clue One as to how to drive in slippery, icy conditions... and so we stopped for the night.
As we were checking into the nearly-empty hotel, I bantered with the desk clerk. “Glad we were able to make a reservation on short notice. It wouldn’t do to find out that there was no room at the inn...” Heh.
Our supper was unimpressive, but it was supper, for all that. Dining options on Christmas are necessarily limited, and we faced a choice between Waffle House and the hotel dining room. Not wanting to indulge in any unnecessary travel on a cold, windy night, we plumped for the Local Option, feasting on fried pickle chips, vegetabobble soup, baked potatoes, and amazingly dry hamburgers.
Maybe a waffle would have been a better choice.
Afterward, up in our room, the Mistress turned on the teevee and was horrified to learn that we had managed to completely miss the annual 24-hour marathon showing of A Christmas Story. She consoled herself by turning on another hoary old classic, The Wizard of Oz, while I put on my Bluetooth stereo headphones and watched Inception on my iPhone.
The Wizard of Oz, one of the most beloved American films, admittedly takes a few liberties with the source material. In L. Frank Baum’s novel, Oz is a real place to which Dorothy makes a real voyage; in the movie, it is a dream, a figment of Dorothy’s delirious imagination populated by analogues of people in her real life (several of whom do not appear in the book). It’s a storytelling device as old as the Bible (“And Pharaoh awoke, and behold! It was a dream...”) and as hokey as Season Eight of “Dallas” - but nonetheless effective.
I watched The Wizard of Oz with one eye, Inception with the other... and then I realized that both films shared common elements. Both involved dreams; that was obvious. Inception involved several people sharing the same dream, in some cases a dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream. In Oz, the dream was one person’s dream, but real-life people appeared in that dream in bizarrely altered forms. The only question is, what was Dorothy’s totem? What object did she possess - one known only to herself - that would serve as a reminder that she was dreaming her own dream and not trapped in someone else’s nocturnal fantasyland?
Philip K. Dick famously (and titularly) asked whether androids dream of electric sheep. Do scarecrows dream of crows, or being scary? Or simply of endless fields of corn? Would a Cowardly Lion dream, Walter Mitty-like, of performing feats of courage and derring-do?
Discuss amongst yourselves, Esteemed Readers. In what ways do The Wizard of Oz and Inception resemble one another? How do they differ? And is Leonardo diCaprio mas macho que Bert Lahr?