As a kid, I would often have dreams inspired by the video games I was obsessing over at the time. Whether it be “River Raid” or Bionic Commando”, I’d dream that I was in the game. I still have flashbacks of my “Tetris” dreams, a mess of four blocked shapes running through my head begging to be organized logically. This past weekend, my video game dreams stepped beyond the realm of the Xbox 360 to a level that was down right creepy.
For the past few months I’ve gotten into the habit of playing one game each night of “NBA 2k10” before going to bed. The monotonous act of playing a pixellated basketball game provides me with a strange source of therapy after a long day. It’s almost like meditation: all thoughts of work and stress wash away, and for that moment, I’m in the zone. To be more specific, I play games via the “My Player” mode where you create a player and slowly build them up by earning points based on your performance each game. My alter-ego started his career playing for the Bismarck Wizards (North Dakota has a pro basketball team?), got picked up by the Chicago Bulls, and then decided to take advantage of free agency by joining Kevin Durant on the Oklahoma City Thunder.
This past weekend, after a late night drink session with co-workers, I came home with a bag of chicken strips from Whattaburger and played my nightly game. Even when highly inebriated, I pulled off a career high 53 point game, including six steals, three blocks, four assists, and eight rebounds (that’s a fantasy basketball wet dream). I then stumbled into my room and passed out upon impact with my mattress. When I awoke the next morning, I sat up in shock at the content of my drunken reverie.
In the dream, I was the video game form of myself walking amidst the real world. It seemed that the Thunder had just won an NBA title because my video game self and the rest of the Thunder were up on an outdoor stage in front of a gigantic crowd, waving our hands and reaching out to hi-five the real life people in the audience. Video game Android then stepped to the microphone and announced that The Flaming Lips were going to play a few songs, to which the crowd went wild (I’m guessing that the band choice in dreamland was due to the fact that the Lips are from OKC). The band took the stage, shooting confetti into the air and breaking into the “Yeah Yeah Yeah Song”.
As the attendees celebrated, James Harden jumped off the stage and began crowd surfing while Russell Westbrook stood backstage, making out with a chick in a Santa outfit. Wayne Coyne, lead singer of the Lips, then turned and asked if I’d like to sing a song with them. The video game form of myself was pretty excited, stepping up to the mic as the OKC faithful went wild. The band broke into “She Don’t Use Jelly”, a high school favorite, and soon, the pixellated Android began wailing away in true “Guitar Hero” form.
After the song, Wayne walked up to me and shook my hand. He leaned over and shouted to me, over the fans, “Wow! That was amazing. Would you be interested in recording an album with me?”
“Of course!” I replied. It was that easy. Wayne Coyne and I would be recording an album, together. We turned back to the adoring fans and I said into the microphone, “This is one of our new songs.” I don’t know how Coyne and I already had songs in our repertoire, but we did. It was possibly the greatest song I’ve ever heard, although I can’t recall what it sounded like at all. Video game me and Wayne were hamming it up, going back to back Van Halen style. As expected, the crowd went ape-shit (think Beatles on Ed Sullivan).
When we finished the song, something strange happened. I’m guessing it was a result of my brain getting bored with the adoration, but suddenly the audience consisted of excited journalists asking the two of us about our new music project. After answering several softball questions, the dreaded ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith stood up and commenced attacking our music project. “How can you be a musician? You are a basketball player! Remember when Shaq was a rapper?”
The crowd began laughing, and suddenly video game Android felt insecure. I turned to find that Wayne had disappeared. Stephen A’s onslaught continued. “If you are really recording an album together, what label will you be on?”
I stood there, sweating pixellated sweat drops, wishing I could be somewhere else. Where had my NBA/Rock Star dream gone wrong? Were the lemons in my Paulaner Hefeweizen kicking in, giving me a bad trip through dreamland? Or maybe that raccoon that lives in my ceiling was beginning to get rowdy again? It felt like one of those naked in public dreams, but I still stood in my jersey, headband, and long black arm sleeves, looking like a complete douche.
And then my knight in shining armor appeared. David Yow, lead singer of the influential hardcore band The Jesus Lizard, walked out onto the stage and approached the podium. “I’m here to announce that Touch & Go Records will be re-launched thanks to the kind donations of our NBA friend here.” He reached over and patted me on the back. “And our first Touch & Go Record release will be an album consisting of Wayne Coyne, Android, and myself… so shut your mouth Stephen A.”
Suddenly, Wayne Coyne rolled out from behind a curtain inside one of the giant clear hamster-style balls that have become a staple of Flaming Lips shows. As Yow and I raised our hands in prized fighter fashion, Wayne rolled towards Stephen A. Smith. Soon, Smith was running away from the hamster ball as the two of them ran in circles at fast forward speed, a la Benny Hill. The rest of us, David Yow, James Harden, and myself, stood laughing at the hijinks like it was the end of a Scooby Doo episode.
And then I woke up. It might have been the greatest dream ever, or the worst simply because it left me wishing it were all true. It trumped all my childhood dreams of being able to fly or being a contestant on Nickelodeon’s “Guts”. An NBA All-Star AND playing alongside indie rock Gods? It could have only been better if Neil Young stepped in and beat the shit out of Stephen A. Smith while J. Mascis tea-bagged him. It didn’t help that I’d just seen the most recent episode of “LOST” (spoiler alert) where Desmond has flashes of an alternate life he never knew. I laid in bed wondering if, like the show, some insecure doctor had altered my life, destroying all chances I had of living my dreams. Damn you Jack Shephard!