Dreams = Books = Movies – WIF Entertainment

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Books and Movies

Inspired by Dreams

Dreams are a combination of pictures and stories that develop in our minds while we sleep. Dreams can be about literally anything from something funny, to romantic, or even terrifying. While 95% of dreams are not usually remembered, it is believed that people dream anywhere from three to six times per night with each one lasting between five and twenty minutes.

While most dreams are never remembered, some people do recall specific details about them. And on a few rare occasions, people have been inspired by what they dreamed of. As a matter of fact, some great creations were developed from actual dreams. For example, the melody for the Beatles’ song “Yesterday“ was inspired by a dream. Paul McCartney woke up one morning with a tune stuck in his head that he didn’t recognize, so he composed the chords for it on the piano and it became the music for one of their most famous songs.

Another example is that of Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry. It has been said that many of his poems and short stories were inspired by the many nightmares he suffered from throughout his life.

There are also several famous books and movies that were inspired by actual dreams, 10 of which we’ll detail below…

10. E.B. White’s Stuart Little

The beloved children’s story of a mouse named Stuart Little was inspired by a dream that E.B. White had in the 1920s. The anything-but-ordinary mouse was born into a family of humans in New York City and lived with his parents, his older brother George, and a cat named Snowbell. While White had the dream in the ’20s, it was only put into a novel in 1945.

While he was sleeping on a train, White dreamt of a little boy who looked and acted a lot like a mouse. He wrote a few episodes about the boy/mouse and put them away with the intent of sharing the stories one day with his nieces and nephews. But around twenty years later his story became a best-seller and even inspired the 1999 hit movie Stuart Little, which starred Michael J. Fox as the voice of the mouse.

9. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron

In the mid-1970s, William Styron was struggling to come up with ideas to write another book. That’s when he experienced a dream that would inspire him to write Sophie’s Choice. He described the dream as “a merging from the dream to a conscious vision and a memory of this girl named Sophie. And it was powerful because I lay there in bed with the abrupt knowledge that I was going to deal with this work of fiction.” His vision of Sophie was that of her “entering the hallway of this humble boarding house in Flatbush with a book under her arm, looking very beautiful in the middle of summer with a soft of summer dress on and her arm bared and the tattoo visible.”

He felt like he had to write the Holocaust-themed story and in 1982 an acclaimed movie was made starring Meryl Streep as Sophie.

8. Christopher Nolan’s Inception

The 2010 psychological thriller Inception, a movie that is itself about dreams, was inspired by actual dreams. Director Christopher Nolan took the idea from his own lucid dreams for his seventh feature film. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a talented thief who is very skilled at stealing secrets from people while they are dreaming. This new job, however, requires him to plant an idea inside the mind of a man instead of stealing it.

Nolan claims that Inception was an elusive dream. He said “I wanted to do this for a very long time; it’s something I’ve thought about off and on since I was about 16.” He also mentioned that ever since he was a kid, he was fascinated by how he would wake up and then fall back into a lighter sleep but still know that he was dreaming, and even manage to examine the location of his dreams.

7. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a novel written in the 1800s by Robert Louis Stevenson (pictured above) and is about a man who has a split personality – the good Dr. Jekyll, and the terrible Mr. Hyde.

It is said that Stevenson was fascinated with split personality disorder but was unable to figure out how to put it into writing. However, one night he dreamt about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: “In the small hours of one morning… I was awakened by cries of horror from Louis,” his wife Fanny explained. “Thinking he had a nightmare, I awakened him. He said angrily ‘Why did you wake me? I was dreaming a fine bogey tale.’”

Stevenson was apparently sick with tuberculosis and under doctor’s order to rest when he wrote the novel. He produced the first draft of 30,000 words in between three to six days, followed by a second rewritten copy in just three more days. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde sold 40,000 copies in just six months, followed by over 250,000 copies in North America. His novel has also inspired several movies over the years.

6. Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher

In 1999, Stephen King was hit by a minivan when he was walking down a road in Maine. During the time that he was recovering from a shattered leg and a collapsed lung, he started to have vivid dreams, which inspired him to write his horror novel Dreamcatcher.

The novel is about four friends who reunite in the woods each year for their annual hunting trip. But one year a stranger ends up at their camp, all confused and muttering about lights in the sky. The friends are then faced with a terrifying creature from another world and need to figure out how to survive.

He was quoted telling the San Francisco Chronicle, “The first really strong idea that occurred to me after the accident was four guys in a cabin in the woods. Then you introduce this one guy who staggers into the camp saying, ‘I don’t feel well,’ and he brings this awful hitchhiker with him. I dreamed a lot about that cabin and those guys in it.”

The novel was turned into a movie in 2003, which featured a who’s who of both on and off-camera talent, including Morgan Freeman and Lawrence Kasdan.

5. Stephen King’s Misery

Not surprisingly, Stephen King came up with the idea for his horror novel Misery from a nightmare. It is about a famous author who is rescued from a car crash by his number one fan. However, he soon realizes that the crazy fan has other ideas in store for him that include abuse and captivity.

King was quoted saying “Like the ideas for some of my other novels, that came to me in a dream. In fact, it happened when I was on Concord, flying over here, to Brown’s (hotel in England). I fell asleep on the plane and dreamt about a woman who held a writer prisoner and killed him, skinned him, fed the remains to her pig and bound his novel in human skin. I said to myself, ‘I have to write this story.’” And that’s exactly what he did. He wrote the first forty or fifty pages on the landing between the ground level and first floor of the hotel.

While his book was published in 1987, the movie Misery was released in 1990, starring James Caan and Kathy Bates.

4. Jason Mott’s The Returned

The Returned is a novel written by Jason Mott about an elderly couple who have a government agent show up at their home with their son. The only thing is, their son drowned fifty years ago on his eighth birthday. The boy looks and acts the same, but there’s no possible way that it could be their deceased son. Or could it?

In an interview with CNN, Mott described how the idea for the book came to him in a dream about his deceased mother. “In the summer of 2010, I had this dream that I came home from work one day and found my mother sitting at the kitchen table waiting for me.” He went on to say, “I came in and sat down with her, and we just talked about everything that had happened since her death.” He explained, “It was one of these really vivid dreams where you wake up and question whether it was real or not.”

He wrote a short story about a couple whose son returns from the dead and received a great response to it, so he continued writing it and a year later he had finished his manuscript which turned out to be a best-seller. It was later turned into a television series.

3. James Cameron’s Terminator

The 1984 hit movie The Terminator starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as a futuristic cyborg sent back in time to assassinate a woman whose unborn son will lead humans in a war against machines.

Director/writer James Cameron was staying at a hotel in Rome while working on Piranha II: The Spawning when a horrible flu and high fever hit him, causing him to have nightmares. In fact, he dreamt of a chrome torso appearing from an explosion and dragging itself with kitchen knives across the floor right at him.

He recalled when he came up with the idea for Terminator, “I was sick at the time. I had a high fever. I was just lying on the bed thinking and came up with all this bizarre imagery… I think also had the idea that because I was in a foreign city by myself and I felt very dissociated from humanity in general, it was very easy to project myself into these two characters from the future who were out of sync, out of time, out of place.”

2. Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight

Twilight is the story of a modern day love triangle between a vampire, a werewolf, and a human. The idea for the book came to author Stephenie Meyer in a dream. She explained her dream by saying “It was two people in kind of a little circular meadow with a really bright sunlight, and one of them was a beautiful, sparkly boy and one was just a girl who was human and normal, and they were having this conversation. The boy was a vampire, which is so bizarre that I’d be dreaming about vampires, and he was trying to explain to her how much he cared about her and yet at the same time how much he wanted to kill her.”

Prior to being a best-selling author, Meyer was a stay-at-home mother who was an avid reader but was never a writer. At first, she documented the dream so that she would remember it with no expectation of making it into a novel. But after nine rejections, her dream became a reality and her story is now known throughout the world by her Twilight books and movies.

1. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

In 1816, Mary Godwin and her fiancé, Percy Shelley, visited Lord Byron’s residence in Switzerland. During stormy nights, Lord Byron, who was a poet, would get his guests to read ghost stories to each other. One night, he asked his guests to write down their own horror stories.

After the request, this is what Mary claimed happened to her: “When I place my head upon my pillow, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think… I saw – with shut eyes, but acute mental vision – I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some power engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion.” She described in great detail the dream that frightened her that night – the dream that inspired her famous novel, Frankenstein.

Dreams = Books = Movies

WIF Entertainment

World Wide Words Issue 887 – WIF Style

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World Wide Words

Issue 887: Saturday 19 July 2014


Feedback, Notes and Comments

Formatted emails  The majority of comments on the new format came from readers who favoured continuing with it, some preferring it even over the older version that came in an attachment. The general view was “whatever works for you”.

However, it’s clear that matters are less simple than I thought. A minority of subscribers object to any use of HTML in email. Some told me they were happy to read formatted text in blogs and online but not in email. A few use email programs that aren’t easily able to handle formatted mail. As plain-text email isn’t as dead as I thought it was, I have returned to sending out newsletters in both formats, but with a different system.

Some readers reported that long lines made the text unreadable. The line length in the current formatted version isn’t set by me but is determined by the width of the frame in which the message is displayed. To make the lines the length you want, reduce the width of the viewing area and the text should reflow accordingly.

File  Robert Rosenberg wrote, “You mention an office spike. In the States that was called a spindle, as in IBM’s famous admonition regarding their punchcards: ‘Do not fold, spindle, or mutilate’.”


Getting ahead of yourself  Many of us are procrastinators, putting off inescapable tasks as long as possible. At Pennsylvania State University, David Rosenbaum and  colleagues Lanyun Gong and Cory Adam Potts have carried out experiments they have written up in the July issue of Psychological Science.

These suggest that we often work the other way round, doing jobs earlier than needed in order to get them out of the way, even if this means additional effort. The researchers have called it by the invented term precrastination. This might seem desirable, but it can be a disguised form of procrastination, by which we tire ourselves out doing trivial and non-urgent tasks that we think of as clearing the decks before getting down to the really important stuff.

Down these mean streets 


American lexicographer Erin McKean sent me a word she spotted in the New York Times recently: noirchaeologist, a blend of noir and archaeologist that’s easier to say than it looks. It was created by, and is almost the personal property of, the San Francisco reporter Eddie Muller. Among his other interests he’s a film historian fascinated by film noir, the dark Hollywood genre of the 1940s and 1950s. He founded the Film Noir Foundation, which is dedicated to finding and restoring vintage examples of film noir and making them publicly available once again.

How’s that again?  Dr Alexander Baratta of the school of education at Manchester University recently discussed his research into why people change their natural accent and how it makes them feel. Many modify it to counter prejudice but this can lead to them feeling like fakes and that they’ve somehow sold out. They can lose a sense of where they belong, which Dr Baratta calls linguistic homelessness, a term first used by the Russian scholar Mikhail Bakhtin. Dr Baratta used accentism to describe discrimination on the grounds of accent, which he argues needs to be fought as much as racism or sexism. It’s is known to academic linguists — it can be traced back at least to the middle 1980s — but it’s rarely found outside the field, so press comment has suggested wrongly that it’s new and some have disparaged it as a fake -ism.

Bounding main

Q. From Kathleen Watness: In the phrase over the bounding main, what is a main and where does it come from? And why bounding? I came across an exchange about a song lyric and what the words actually meant. It got to be a heated discussion.
A.  The song that was being discussed was presumably this, a children’s song written under a pseudonym by the British organist and composer James Frederick Swift:
Sailing, sailing over the bounding main
Where many a stormy wind shall blow
’Ere Jack comes home again.
Sailing, Sailing, by Godfrey Marks, 1880.

It’s clear enough from this and other examples that it means the open ocean. But as you say, it’s odd: why should main be the sea and why should it bound? That’s enough to arouse disputation, though it might not be worth fisticuffs. The puzzle isn’t easy to resolve because no reference book that I have consulted explains it. Perhaps their editors think it’s self-evident?

Main first. One sense, known from the 1550s, was of “mainland”, as in a famous passage by John Donne:

No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less.

Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, 1624.

From about the same time people were also using main as a short form of main sea, the open sea, the part outside territorial waters.

They dare not venture into the main, but hovering by the shore, timorously sail from one place to another.

Travellers Breviat, by Giovanni Botero, translated by Richard Johnson, 1603. I’ve slightly modernised the spelling.

Both these senses are obsolete but most of us lighted upon main in childhood when reading about pirates, perhaps in sentences like this one:

His stories were what frightened people worst of all. Dreadful stories they were; about hanging, and walking the plank, and storms at sea, and the Dry Tortugas, and wild deeds and places on the Spanish Main.

Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1883.

By “places”, we can tell Stevenson is using Spanish Main for land. That was its first meaning, from the early 1700s, using main for “mainland”. The Spanish Main was the part of the coast of America nominally under Spanish control that stretched roughly from the isthmus of Panama to the mouth of the Orinoco.

However, some writers have meant by it a broad area that includes the mainland, the adjacent Caribbean islands and the waters around them. And confusion between the two senses of main has led to a belief that the Spanish Main is a seascape, part of the Caribbean Sea.

“Where did you break your Queen’s peace?”
“On the sea called the Spanish Main, though ’tis no more Spanish than my doublet,” says the elder.

Rewards and Fairies, by Rudyard Kipling, 1910.

The idea is supported by all those parts of ships so fondly described in seafaring fiction: main-mast and main-course, main-brace and main-deck. Surely main must be nautical?

We now only encounter the nautical sense of main in set expressions, of which another is rolling main. This is a little older than bounding main, turning up first in the early eighteenth century in translations of classical Roman authors such as Horace and Virgil and in Pope’s translation of Homer’s Iliad. It was more common than bounding main until about the middle of the nineteenth century.

Bounding might mean the marking of a boundary, or somebody leaping forward in great strides. It’s a poetic image and so may be allowed some looseness in interpretation. But the earliest case of bounding main I’ve so far uncovered suggests movement:

Fam’d Albion’s Sons, whose Rock encircling Coast,
Emblem of Virtues in your noble Race,
Repels each boisterous Billow of the Deep,
And stands triumphant o’er the bounding Main.

The Sentiments of Truth, by Mr P———y, reproduced in Volume 9 (September) of The Poetical Calendar, by Francis Fawkes and William Woty, 1763.

So the bounding main is the open ocean with its waves that surge, billow and break. A later poem makes the image still clearer:

Toss’d at the mercy of the bounding main,
Now mounting high upon the billowy steep,
Now plung’d in an unfathomable deep.

The History of the Incas Continued, by John Stagg, 1805.

The phrase is evocative and was borrowed by other poets, including Byron and Tennyson. Long ago it became a cliché to be mocked:

Add to this delay the deplorable fact that the bounding main bounded that night with more than its accustomed freedom and buoyancy, and I think I may leave the fertile imagination of the candid reader himself to suggest unaided the correct conclusion that we all enjoyed thirty-six hours of almost speechless misery on the heaving bosom of the blue Mediterranean.

Eclectic Magazine, July 1888.


Anthony Shaw tells us that an article in the Los Angeles Times on 13 July reported on the conflicting opinions of swimmers, surfers and fishermen about water use after a swimmer was bitten by a shark. The headline read: “Shark bite leaves beach users divided”.

On 13 July, the Belfast Telegraph’s website invited readers, of whom Michael Hocken was one, to “Watch Rory [McIlroy] hit his longest ever 430-yard drive.”

James Popple was listening to the PM programme on ABC radio on 11 July and heard an interviewee say, about proposals to compensate victims of poor financial advice: “There’s a lot of water to go under the bridge before this structure is set in concrete.”

A story on the Huffington Post site on 11 July presented Donald Eckhardt with this photo caption: “The Apamea ruins were built in Syria’s Orontes Valley under the direction of Alexander the Great.”


World Wide Words Issue 887 – WIF Style


Votes, Opinions, Preferences

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Isaac Asimov

“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’
― Isaac Asimov

Bette Davis

“When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch.”

― Bette Davis

Harlan Ellison

“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informedopinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”

― Harlan Ellison

Robert Louis Stevenson

“To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.”
― Robert Louis StevensonAn Inland Voyage

Elizabeth Gaskell

“Sometimes one likes foolish people for their folly, better than wise people for their wisdom.”

― Elizabeth GaskellWives and Daughters

Elizabeth I Tudor

“If I follow the inclination of my nature, it is this: beggar-woman and single, far rather than queen and married.”
― Elizabeth I TudorCollected Works