A Cluster Curse?

We rarely write about football here on our synchronicity blog. That’s probably because first downs, field goals, and touchdowns don’t usually involve meaningful coincidence. A football game is all pretty much cause and effect plays, one after another,  even when a miraculous play is pulled off. For example, if  a team wins in the last seconds of play because of an 80-yard passing play, skill and timing were probably the major factors, not coincidence.

But now comes Peter King of NBC sports who has compiled a list of oddly related events that we typically would refer to as a cluster synchronicity. However, in this case, it’s probably best to refer to them as a cluster curse. It’s an NFL nightmare that involves the coaches of the hapless Cleveland Brown, widely considered the worst team in football over the past decade.

It seems that every time the Browns play the Steelers and lose by more than 10 points, the coach is fired within 24 hours. The synchronicity involves the entanglement of the Steelers in this series of firings, since the Steelers should have no more effect on the future of the Browns coaching staff than any other team the Browns play. After all,  the Browns have lost by more than 10 points to numerous opponents since 2008. But it’s only after playing the Steelers that the coach gets canned. Interestingly, the firings were made by two different owners.

Writer King describes the unlikely nature of this cluster synchronicity  this way: “That sounds preposterous, which it is. Impossible, which it almost is. But I’ll prove it to you. One decade, six really bad post-Steeler hangovers.”

• Dec. 29, 2008: Pittsburgh 31, Cleveland 0. The next day, owner Randy Lerner fired Romeo Crennel after four playoff-less seasons and a 24-40 record. “I would like to think we’re a more compelling organization to be a part of now,” Lerner said (whatever that means) in making the announcement.
• Jan. 2, 2011: Pittsburgh 41, Cleveland 9. The next day, owner Randy Lerner fired Eric Mangini after two playoff-less seasons and a 10-22 record. Mangini said: “Our goal was to build a team for long-term success. The core characteristics we were dedicated to, I believe, will help achieve that goal.”
• Dec. 30, 2012: Pittsburgh 24, Cleveland 10. The next day, owner Jimmy Haslam fired Pat Shurmur after two playoff-less seasons and a 9-23 record. Shurmur said: “This group of players will achieve success soon, and part of me will feel very good when that happens.”
• Dec. 29, 2013: Pittsburgh 20, Cleveland 7. That night, after word of a coaching change leaked via text messages and solid rumors on the Browns’ bus back from Pittsburgh, owner Jimmy Haslam fired coach Rob Chudzinski after one playoff-less season and a 4-12 record. “One year? One year? C’mon. You don’t fire a coach after one year,” linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said.
• Jan. 3, 2016: Pittsburgh 29, Cleveland 12. That night, owner Jimmy Haslam fired Mike Pettine after two playoff-less seasons and a 10-22 record. A team statement said: “We don’t believe our team was positioned well for the future.”
• Oct. 28, 2018: Pittsburgh 33, Cleveland 18. The next day, owner Jimmy Haslam fired Hue Jackson after 2.5 playoff-less years and a 3-36-1 record. Jackson told Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Cleveland is currently the Mount Everest of the NFL.”

I guess that last comment means that getting the team to win games is a seriously difficult climb for any coach. As of this writing, Nov. 5, the Browns had lost 25 consecutive games on the road, including the last one to the Steelers. That’s a long ride.

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William Goldman, RIP

During the evening on November 16, I saw a tweet from Stephen King that author William Goldman, who wrote the script for Misery,  had died. What a loss of a great talent – a novelist and screenwriter who won two Oscars.

Every writer has favorite writers, those authors who books captivated you, taught you something about writing, plotting characters, the art of storytelling. Goldman was one of those authors for me. I first came across him through his novel Control, one of the eeriest, most tightly plotted  paranormal stories I’ve ever read. I looked on Amazon to see if it was still in print (no, but it will probably be brought back into print now) and was surprised that it only has 10 reviews and 3.5 stars. In the years since 1983, when I first read it, I’ve read the book two more times and each reading deepened my appreciation for Goldman’s command of language, suspense, subtlety, plotting, and characters.

Some of his other books are in our library, too. Heat, The Color of Light, Marathon Man, The Princess Bride. I also loved many of the movies for which he wrote the screenplays – Misery, of course, Marathon Man, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and All the President’s Men.

The Hollywood Reporter wrote an interesting retrospective piece on Goldman. If you haven’t read any of his novels, start with Control. The opening line is brilliant: “If there was one place in this world Edith never expected trouble, it was Bloomingdale’s.”

This line then leads into the kind of trouble Edith encountered and when you surface for air again, you’re at the end of the book.

My hope is that William Goldman in the afterlife is already busy coaching aspiring writers to write the best stories they can.

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Mercury Retro Alert

 

Okay, folks, buckle up! On Friday, November 16, at 8:33 p.m. ET, the trickster planet, Mercury, turns retrograde at 13 degrees Sagittarius. The good news is that it’s the last Mercury retro of 2018 and ends before the Christmas holidays – December 6. The bad news is that it’ll be in place during the busiest travel season – Thanksgiving- and when many of us start our holiday shopping.

Since Mercury rules travel, there probably will be snafus and delays at airports, on highways, with trains. The best way to deal with it to be flexible and go with the flow. That’s tough to do when you‘re eager to get somewhere for the holidays, but try to look at it in as positive a light as possible.

Mercury also rules communication, electronics, anything with moving parts. So if you’re planning on buying a computer, iPad, iPhone, any electronic gizmo – or a car – wait until several days after December 6. Otherwise, you may be in the return line on December 26. Since Mercury also rules contracts, it’s wise not to sign one during this period.

If you know the time you were born, take a look at your chart here and see where 13 degrees Sagittarius falls. That’s the area where you’ll feel the impact of the  retro the most.

Another interesting bit about the 16th. Venus, which has been retro since October 5, will turn direct at  5:51 a.m. in Libra. So you can expect your love life and finances to straighten out now.

If the Florida recount isn’t completed by today, the 15th, then there may be more snafus surrounding the senate and governor races – Scott/Nelson and DeSantis/Gillum. Hopefully, it won’t be a deja vu of the 2000 election, when the recount went to the supreme court.

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Narrative Magick

Narrative Magick. Ever heard that phrase? I hadn’t, until Sheila Joshi, a clinical psychologist and blogging friend, told us about it. And yet, it’s something we’ve written about a number of times. It’s the practice of trying to conjure something by writing out what you want. Or, in its more bizarre form, it’s when you write out a story and it comes to pass without your having intended it. Perhaps in that form, it’s a type of precognition.

My personal experiences with this narrative magick has happened with writing about hurricanes. On August 14, 1992, I mailed off a novel, Storm Surge, to my new editor at Hyperion. It revolved around a category five hurricane named Alphonso that slams into South Florida and flattens entire  neighborhoods.  On that same day, a tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa, one of many that roll away from that  continent during hurricane season. It had completely escaped my notice.

But 10 days later, that wave had grown into one of the most powerful hurricanes on record. At one point, its winds were estimated to be in excess of 200 mph.Hurricane Andrew walloped Homestead, Florida, wiped it off the map, and obliterated entire neighborhoods.

The synchronicity is striking in several regards. In fiction and real life, both hurricanes were the first named storms of the season and began with an ‘A.’ They were category fives, and were tightly compacted storms that targeted only a small area. Again, an example where creativity provided a venue for a premonition, an aspect of synchronicity. And narrative magick!

This experience kind of freaked me out, so I swore off writing about hurricanes. But in 2004, another hurricane idea knocked at my door. What if a sociopath breaks his girlfriend out of the county jail on the fictional island of Tango Key as a category 5 hurricane approaches the island? What if he and his girlfriend and another woman who also escapes take refuge in the home of the protagonist during the storm?

The series features Mira Morales, a psychic and bookstore owner; her daughter Annie; her fey grandmother Nadine; and her lover, FBI agent Wayne Sheppard. Tango Key was the perfect setting for this kind of story—an island 12 miles (19 km) west of Key West, floating like a green pearl in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic. But I remembered what had happened the last time I’d written about a hurricane and was hesitant about opening this door.

Then I reasoned that kind of precognition couldn’t happen twice, could it? Of course not. Besides, Tango Key was a fictional place. It existed only in my imagination. I hurled open the door and off the idea and I went. I wrote Category 5 and e-mailed it to my editor, Kate Duffy. It was scheduled for publication in October 2005.

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans as a category 3 hurricane with winds of up to 125 miles (201 km) per hour. At its peak not long before landfall, it was a category 5 storm with winds of up to 175 miles (282 km) per hour. Its central pressure at landfall was 920 millibars, which ranked third lowest at the time for a landfall hurricane in the United States. Only Hurricane Camille of 1969—900 millibars—and the Labor Day hurricane of 1935—892 millibars—beat it. However, in October of the same year, Hurricane Wilma—another category 5 storm—became the strongest hurricane ever recorded, with a central pressure of 882 millibars—but not when she struck the United States.

It was the storm surge, not the hurricane, which proved to be the nemesis for New Orleans. Its levees were breached, 80 percent of the city flooded, and more than 3 million people were left without electricity. In short, Hurricane Katrina hurled New Orleans back into the Dark Ages. What followed, of course, were the tragic images of people stranded on rooftops, in the Superdome, survivors being rescued by choppers, and entire neighborhoods underwater.

On Tango Key, Hurricane Danielle struck with a central pressure of 919 millibars—below Andrew’s—and its 20-foot (6 m) storm surge destroyed the entire southern portion of the island. The 12-mile (19 km) bridge that connects the island to Key West fell apart halfway across, stranding all the inhabitants. Tango’s electrical infrastructure was obliterated and for the next two months the residents, without electrical power or running water, struggled to rebuild their lives within the context of this new normal.

As the media images of Katrina’s devastation began rolling in, I felt a kind of elemental horror about my novel and how it seemed to attract synchronicities similar to what I’d experienced with Storm Surge and Hurricane Andrew. On Wednesday, August 31, my daughter’s 16th birthday, I got a call from the publisher’s publicist. The media, the publicist said, was hungry for information about Katrina and hurricanes in general. Since Category Five was about the kind of devastation New Orleans was experiencing, would I be willing to do radio shows as a hurricane expert?

In the next several days, I was on so many radio shows that it began to feel like a part-time job. Some of the hosts were hostile about my theories that the frenzied construction along the US coastlines and the eradication of mangroves, nature’s natural buffers against hurricanes, had contributed to the massive destruction along the Gulf Coast. Other hosts laughed when I mentioned climate change and derided me for saying that humanity was even partially to blame. And some agreed with me.

At the end of that frenzied period, I told Rob I would never again use hurricanes in a novel because the parallels in these two novels to real-life hurricanes freaked me out.  Even though ideas that include hurricanes have knocked around in my  head in the years since Category Five, I’ve kept my distance. For writers and artists and other creatively driven individuals, future violent events seem to be easier to tune into than, say, your uncle’s wedding to his future wife.

Thanks to Sheila, I now have a name for those experiences.

An aside: Here’s our latest interview, with Robert Sharpe, a wonderful host!  Lots of talk about synchronicity and spirit contact – and not a single mention of hurricanes!

 

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Fire

On November 8, Jupiter entered fire sign Sagittarius, the sign it rules and where it functions well. Jupiter represents expansion, luck, synchronicity, excess. It also rules the higher mind, our spiritual beliefs, higher education, publishing, long distance travel, foreign people and cultures. Whenever the slower moving planets change signs, stuff happens.

On March 11, 2011, Uranus – the planet of disruption, sudden, unforeseen events – entered Aries. Uranus rules, among other things, earthquakes, and Aries is the god of war that rules our physicality, sexuality, capacity for aggression. And on that day, a 9.0 quake shook the Pacific, triggering a tsunami that ultimately resulted in the meltdown of Fukushima.

On October 10, 2017, When Jupiter entered Scorpio (sexuality, what’s hidden, the bottom line), the Weinstein scandal erupted and shortly afterward, the MeToo movement was born.

Now, on November 8, when Jupiter entered Sadge, we have fires raging in California. The town of Paradise is gone, incinerated. As that fire – Camp Fire, it’s called – moved on, I received a frantic text message from my sister, Mary, that her middle son Avery, who lives in Chica, 15 miles from Paradise, wasn’t going to evacuate until he was ordered to. He has been working and living in Chico for the last several years for a dog food company. He’s the guy who tests the food. The animal control shelter in Paradise was asking nearby residents to take animals from their shelter and get them to safety, so Avery took Ozzie, a big dog who looks like he could protect you against anything.

For more than 12 hours, Mary heard nothing from Avery and was frantic. During tines like this, your imagination slams into overdrive. You see your child trapped in a burning car. A burning building. Or abandoning the car altogether and racing away from the fire on foot. Then, on the morning of the 9th, Mary heard that Avery had escaped with Ozzie, the big dog, and they were camping out at Fort Bragg northwest of San Francisco. I think Ozzie is now Avery’s dog!

In the meantime, fires have broken out in Thousand Oaks, site of a horrific shooting the night before, and in Malibu. Camp Fire in northern California has obliterated more than 100,000 acres. The Woolsey fire in southern California caused 200,000 people to evacuate the city of Malibu, where fire has scorched more than 70,000 acres.

In addition to the natural disasters, we have election recounts going on in Florida’s senatorial and gubernatorial races. It’s a deja vu from the election in 2000, which resulted in Bush V Gore and went to the Supreme Court, where the election ultimately was decided.
So here we are. Then, tonight, our friend Sharlie Boulic, one of the planetary empaths we’ve written about before, emails this:

Just got an image of huge tectonic plates moving, causing massive
disaster. Don’t know if it’s one of the poles but a catastrophe is in the making.
Painful to see…
Sharlie

I pay attention to Sharlie’s visions. They’ve proven accurate before.

Here’s the firefighters response to Trump’s belligerence and unwillingness to show any sympathy for those who have lost everything in the fires.

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Jupiter into Sagittarius

Jupiter, the big dude in the universe, is the giver of gifts in astrology. It symbolizes luck, synchronicity, expansion, excess, higher education, our philosophical and spiritual beliefs, foreign countries and people. On November 8, it enters Sagittarius, the sign it rules, and will be there for 13 months, until December 2, 2019.

During Jupiter’s journey through Scorpio, we saw the rise of the MeToo movement, which began shortly after the revelations about Harvey Weinstein. A host of other sex scandals unfolded involving prominent men. This is right in keeping with Scorpio – the sign that rules sexuality, secrets, what’s hidden. Jupiter took those secrets, exposed them, and the world watched them expand. The crown jewel for this transit and sex scandals was the hearing for now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, accused of sexually abusing Christine Blasey Ford.

In the world of politics, the excess part of the Jupiter equation surfaced. Take the lavish spending habits of people within trump’s administration. Scott Pruitt, EPA chief until he was fired, spent $4.6 million of taxpayer dollars on personal security items. Ben Carson spent $31,000 on a dining room set and another $165,000 on “lounge furniture.”
Other cabinet members are also under scrutiny for their spending.

As Jupiter heads into Sagittarius, what can we expect?

Jupiter represents government and government officials, the law, courts, lawyers, the outcome of lawsuits, judges. We may see more subpoenas and indictments in the Mueller investigation. More scandals of various kinds will emerge, but with the bigger picture provided. Our collective belief in the experiment called democracy will be tested.While I would like to see the worst of the Republican politicians ousted – Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham, Trey Gowdy – we probably won’t lose all the corrupt idiots in this election. Some aren’t up for re-election and those who are, like Cruz, had a lot of $ behind them.

On a personal level, you fire signs – Aries Leo, Sadge – are in for a treat. Your lives are going to expand and prosper. Your beliefs will change, become broader, more inclusive. You’ll take risks that will benefit you.

Air signs – Gemini, Libra, Aquarius – will also benefit. For Libra and Aquarius, Jupiter in Sagittarius creates a beautiful flow of energy. Look back to 2006 for clues about how this may unfold for you. For Gemini, Jupiter will be opposed to your sun sign, creating an excess of work, but one way or another you’ll find the balance you need.

Earth and water signs will experience various degrees of feeling overwhelmed – yet fortunate; insightful but OMG what’s happening. Take a look at your natal charts, free right here.

If you don’t know your time of birth, use noon so that you can at least see where Jupiter falls in relation to your sun sign.

The interesting aspect of Jupiter in any sign is that while the broad strokes may apply, the devil – as they say – lies in the details. Even so, one of the manifestations of this transit could be an easier and more fluid communication with spirit.

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Election Day and a New Moon

So here we are, the night before election day in the midterm elections. 470 seats in Congress – 35 in the Senate, all 435 in the House – are up for election. The Republicans currently hold 51 seats in the Senate, the Dems hold 47 seats, and 2 seats are held by independents who caucus with the Dems. Then we’ve got governor races in 36 states. 26 of these are held by Repubs, 9 are held by Dems, one is held by an Independent. Incumbent governors are running for re-election in 20 states – 6 Democratic, 13 Republican, one independent.

Given that we’re two years into the trump administration and a congress controlled by Republicans – and all the chaos and divisiveness that has ensued- this midterm election may be one of the most important in years.

Will there by a blue wave or a red tide? Will the Dems win back the Senate? The House? Will we have another two years of an incompetent, lying, and divisive administration? I could go on and on here about the travesty of trump, but anyone who reads or watches even 5 minutes of news already knows the particulars.

If there’s a blue wave, we can expect a number of investigations into this administration, more charges from the Mueller probe, and impeachment proceedings against trump. If there’s a red tide, it’ll be bedlam as usual, with more of our rights being tossed out, with democracy becoming so frail that a constitutional crisis of some sort may collapse it altogether.

Shortly before the 2016 elections, I had a new astrology book out and one radio host asked who I thought would win the presidency. I had studied the respective charts and transits for Clinton and Trump and really didn’t like what I saw. Trump, like Obama in 2008, was about to enter his Jupiter return, a 12-year cycle that is usually lucky, prosperous, with expansive change. Right then, I felt that trump would win. But I didn’t trust myself to make these kinds of astrological predictions, so I went with the astrological consensus – the election belonged to Clinton.

People later called me on it. And hey, mea culpa. I failed to trust myself. Figuring out if there will be a blue wave or a red tide is a lot trickier. So I cast a chart for the day after the election, to see what the general mood might be. Interestingly, November 7 features a new moon in Scorpio (new beginnings, a new chapter, a new congress) and it occurs at 11:01 a.m. ET (or, according to some new moon sources, at 11:02 a.m.)

The moon represents, among other things, the collective. Since it’s a new moon, there’s a sense of optimism. Thanks to a beneficial angle from Neptune to this new moon, our collective idealism is highlighted. Jupiter, symbolic of luck, expansion, and synchronicity, is in the final degrees of Scorpio, getting ready to enter Sagittarius, the sign it rules, on November 9-10. It forms a powerful angle to the North Node in Cancer and to Chiron, the wounded healer, in Pisces. One possible interpretation of this grand trine is that wounds are healed in this election.

Uranus, symbolic of disruptions, abrupt and unforeseen events, has retrograded back into Aries and forms an exact 150 degree angle to Jupiter – a quincunx, which calls for adjustment. Uranus rules elections, electors, and electorates. It’s possible we won’t know  all the outcomes by the end of tonight, the 6th.

Capricorn, which rules government, sits on the Ascendant – the doorway of this chart, with the part of fortune exactly conjunct and Saturn, its ruler, also in Capricorn, just 5 degrees away. Mars, symbolic of action, forms a challenging angle to Jupiter and the North Node, and a beneficial angle to Uranus. I love the angle to Uranus, but the Mars angle to Jupiter and the North Node bother me. Jupiter: luck, expansion, synchronicity. North Node: the direction we would move toward in this life to evolve at every level.

While Uranus stirs up trouble during this election – disenfranchised voters, shenanigans behind the scenes, trump accusations of fake news and rigged elections – there’s hope here for a blue wave. Pluto, symbolic of profound transformation, forms a beneficial angle to this new moon. Saturn, which rules the Democratic party, is conjunct the ascendant in Capricorn, the sign that rules democracies and democratic government. Neptune, which also rules democracies, forms a beneficial angle to Pluto.

Since I’m hoping for a blue wave, I’m cautious about being biased in my interpretation. But the chart indicates profound change and a new chapter. And a shift in the power structure of Congress certainly would qualify as both.

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Enter the seed sounds…

I’m in the midst of a 6-part meditation workshop at our local yoga studio, and one of the meditations I led during the third session focused on chakras. It was a bit complex because it involved not only visualizing a geometric shape and color at the chakra in question, but also chanting a bija or seed-sound and placing your hands together in a particular manner to form the related mudra or hand gesture. We did the lower four chakras: the root, sacral, solar plexus, and heart.

Bijas are one-syllable sounds that have no meaning, but the sound resonates with the related chakra and is said to activate healing energy. The bijas for the four lower chakras are LAM, VAM, RAM, and YAM. They sound very much alike and that’show I got literally tongue-tied.  When I reached the fourth chakra or heart chakra, I mis-spoke and instead of YAM it came out VAM. If any of the students noticed that we’d repeated one of the seed sounds, no one mentioned it after class. But I explained what happened to everyone in an e-mail note the next day. I added that the sounds are close and they all did fine following the somewhat complicated directions and contortions with their hands.

But the incident reminded me of a meditation joke or parable that I’d included in my book, JEWEL IN THE LOTUS: Meditation for Busy Minds. Here it is:

A scholar studied Sanskrit and meditation practices for years. He became an expert. He practiced meditation daily. He chanted for hours. He read every book available on the subject and memorized passages from ancient texts. He was highly regarded, and thought he knew almost everything there was to know about the subject.

Then one day he heard about a hermit who live in a cave on an island. He was supposedly a highly advanced meditator, knowledgeable and wise. So the scholar journeyed to the lake and hired a boatman to ferry him to the island for a day trip. When he arrived, he hiked along a trail through the jungle until he found the hermit’s cave.

The hermit was meditating in the candlelit cave when the scholar interrupted him. To his relief, the hermit seemed pleased to have a visitor and invited the scholar to join him in chanting a sacred mantra. The scholar knew this mantra very well and was happy to chant with the hermit.

However, after less than a minute of chanting, the scholar stopped and waved his hands. Horrified, he explained to the hermit that he had wasted all of his years on the island. He was mispronouncing the Sanskrit so his chants were meaningless and without power.

The hermit listened closely to the proper way to pronounce the words and thanked the scholar for correcting him. The scholar left, disappointed, and as the boatman rowed away from the island, the scholar told him how sorry he felt for the poor hermit. Suddenly the boatman pointed and gasped.

The hermit was running across the surface of the water toward the boat. As he reached the craft, he again thanked the scholar and asked if he would repeat the proper pronunciation again. The astonished scholar was dumbfounded. “If you can do that, then are doing fine.”

“Oh, but I want to improve myself. Please say the chant again.” The baffled scholar did so, and the hermit raced back to the island, reciting the chant, his feet barely dipping into the water.

The meaning, of course, behind the story is that proper pronunciation of Sanskrit mantras is not essential. In fact, no matter how hard you try, you probably won’t get it right. Except for a mere 14,000 people who consider Sanskrit their native tongue, it’s a classical language—a dead language, like Ancient Greek—that mainly exists in the realm of devoted scholars, yogis and meditators.

We ended that class with another chant: OM MANI PADME HUM. It’s one of the best known Sanskrit chants in the Eastern world. It actually translates to “A Jewel in a Lotus,” which doesn’t seem to say much to Western minds, but it’s actually a chant about self-development and transformation to a higher state of being, ie. ‘enlightenment.’ OM is the sound of the universe at creation…and HUM is the sound of triumph when all beings become enlightened.

Waiting for that day!

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Scriptwriting

Several years ago, Hilary Hemingway suggested we co-write a script for Ghost Key, the second book in my Hungry Ghosts series. I leaped at the opportunity. I’d never written a script and scriptwriting was where she and her husband, Jeff Lindsay, (Dexter) got their start years ago in L.A.

We’d known each other for at least 20 years, when she invited Rob and me to speak at an Ernest Hemingway festival on Sanibel Island, on Florida’s west coast. I spent a weekend at her home, where we broke down the story into possible scenes. We arranged our schedules so she could then spend a week at my place to write a rough draft.

I bought Final Draft, the screenwriting software, and during that week she was here, we spent 10 to 12 hours a day hammering out a 120-page rough draft. For me, it was a crash course in screenwriting. Over the next several months, we got feedback from Jeff , Hilary’s husband, and Rob and revised the script 8 times. We sent it to her agent, who wasn’t nuts about it, and to several other people. We entered it in a Final Draft contest where it got through the first round. After that, it went on that infamous back burner with which most writers are familiar.

I kept getting emails from Final Draft and in 2017, received one that interested me. One of Final Draft’s industry partners was InkTip, an outfit that essentially eliminates the middle men. Scripts go directly to producers, directors, industry pros. InkTip works with 2,500 people in the industry  that include some of the biggies like HBO, who have free access to log lines, synopses, treatments, and scripts. For about $60, a writer can have their script(s) included in the InkTips database under several genres, for 4 months. You’re asked to include information about male and female leads, possible locations, the details.

Along with the script, you include a log line, synopsis, and a resume. The log line is a brief pitch , challenging for a novelist accustomed to writing a 100,000 word novel. The synopsis is longer, about 450-500 words. Here’s the log line: “A single mother discovers that the quarantine of the island where she lives is due to ancient ghosts – “brujos” – that are seizing and inhabiting the bodies of residents and she must find a way to defeat them before she and her son are also seized.”

InkTip touches base regularly with leads about companies looking for particular types of scripts. They keep a summary sheet of viewings for the writer and specify what the producer, director, or whoever looks at. The log line is invariably first, followed by synopsis, script/resume. I uploaded our script on July 16. By the end of 2 weeks, the log line had been viewed dozens of times. InkTip requires that the pros who use the site have at least one credit to their name and I Google it and do a little research.

After a while, I sort of forgot about InkTip and decided to try a script for my novel, Black Water, a personal favorite. It’s the second book in the Mira Morales series. It takes place on the fictional island of Tango Key and involves the abduction of Mira’s 13-year old daughter and time travel. Now that I knew about the existence of InkTip, I decided I could upload the script for Black Water around the same time I renewed my 4-month subscription to InkTip.

Now the script is finished, Rob is reviewing it, and I’m learning about loglines and the synopsis. As InkTip says on their website, the logline sells the synopsis which sells the script. I bought a book on loglines that is also important for writing a novel. What’s your core idea?

I finally wrote a logline I like for Black Water:  A mother will do anything to find her abducted daughter, even follow the kidnapper 50 years back in time.

Meanwhile, Ghost Key’s info has been viewed more than 80 times, the synopsis has been viewed several times, and the whole thing – log line, synopsis, resume, and script – has been viewed once by a company called UFO Technologies. The name intrigued me. Google told me the name was the first thing the company owner had seen when renting an apartment in Brooklyn. When someone requests your script, they give their full name and address.

I did a street view of this man’s address. I felt like a stalker. But there was
something enormously liberating about this. Thanks to technology, I could discover some info about this company. Nothing has happened yet in terms of the script, but I love the idea of direct, uncensored contact between writers and industry professionals. And I love this new way of telling a story.

Now, on to Black Water.

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Synchronicity and Death

With any emotional event, there are synchronicities and when that event involves death, they tend to be powerful and in your face.

Anyone who has pets knows that that animals have their own agendas. They can be teachers, creative inspiration, spiritual messengers, companions who love us unconditionally, or all of the above. They can be of any species, can drop into – or out of – our lives at any time. Their agenda usually isn’t something we can divine. That’s how it was with our daughter, Megan, and her cat, Piper.

One June afternoon two years ago, Megan’s friend Denise brought over the cutest gray puff of a kitten with these wise eyes and an energy you could feel in your heart. She was the runt of a litter Denise had rescued. Megan had been thinking she would love to have a cat and here she was. You might say it was love at first sight.

Piper’s first friend was Nika, Megan’s dog.

They preened each other, played, chased each other around the house. When Megan visited us on weekends, with both Piper and Nika, Piper won over Noah and Nigel, both of them large Golden Retrievers. The dogs preened her, loved on her, and she ate it up. When Megan began watching dogs in her home, Piper accommodated them. She stood up to the bullies and stared down the little yappers until they skulked away, probably ashamed of themselves. When she spent time here with us, she explored our backyard, chased lizards, climbed trees, did all those cat things but with a certain grace and finesse.

She enjoyed humans. She slept with Megan – and us when she visited – curled up under the covers, purring, content. She often sat on my desk at night watching the frogs that suddenly glommed to my office window to catch insects. She sometimes just sat on my desk watching me. She really wanted to be friends with our older male cat, Simba. He’s a cranky old guy who sometimes tolerated her and sometimes didn’t, but seemed to enjoy her visits nonetheless.

On October 28, Megan returned home from a movie with Denise and they found Piper dead on the living room floor. Megan, hysterical, thought one of the dogs she was watching had killed her. But a veterinarian who arrived shortly afterward to pick up her dog, saw that Megan was distraught and examined Piper. She said there were no bite marks, that it was likely Piper died of a heart attack, that her heart was congenitally weak in some way.

Now here’re the strange synchros. Denise, who had given Piper to Megan, was with her when she got back from the movie. Denise actually spotted Piper’s body first and stayed with Megan for a long time in the aftermath. The next day, October 29, National Cat Day, Megan buries Piper and Denise called her, hysterical because she’d found the cat she’d rescued dead on her porch. The cat had been hit by a driver who had left her a note of apology and placed her cat on the porch. Megan went over to Denise’s to comfort and console her and to bury her cat. While she was doing that, she found out that another friend had to put down his cat. On National Cat Day.

“She’s teaching me that death isn’t the end,” says Megan.

And sure enough, she saw Piper the night she passed, a fleeting movement in her peripheral vision.

After Megan buried Piper in her backyard, Nika  came to say her good-byes.

Animals mourn, just as we do. But they have an advantage, I think, in that they sense their buddies are still with them.

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The Odd Beam of Light

I was in Pennsylvania during the last weekend in October, visiting our friends Carol and Steve Bowman. I snapped a photo of their yard, where Steve had been gardening much of the day, and snapped this photo from about 15 feet away. The beam wasn’t visible to the naked eye. It only showed up in the photo.

Carol and I laughed about it and figured it might be connected, somehow, to the UFO conference we were going to the next day.

Before I left their place on Sunday, I checked the spot where the beam was hitting. It’s here.

It turns out the stump is that of a 60-foot tree they had to remove during the summer because the trunk had been damaged during a storm. This also happens to be on the ley line that runs across their property.

More soon on that UFO convention!

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Giving his Former Party the Boot


I have to admit that my favorite cable news talkers are the conservatives who have abandoned the Republican Party because of Trump. Among my favorites are Nicole Wallace, who was communications director for George W. Bush, Steve Schmidt who was John McCain’s campaign manager, and former GOP congressman Joe Scarborough. Wallace and Scarborough both  have shows on MSNBC and some of their guests are other conservatives who have dropped out of the party.

So over the past weekend—before the bombs and synagogue shooting— a friend told us about a book she was reading by a conservative named Max Boot. He’s another never-Trumper who quit the party. She thought that progressives could learn from his perspective by combining some of his economic ideas with progressive social ideals. We’d never heard of him. So I looked him up, and found out he is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a columnist for the Washington Post, and a global affairs analyst for CNN.

The next morning I turned on CNN and there was Max Boot talking about the fear-mongering coverage by FOX News of the caravan of immigrants moving toward the U.S.border from Honduras. “It is demagoguery,” Boot explained, “It is also, I believe, racism and nativism really pandering to the fears of Trump supporters and Fox News viewers who tend to be older white males who are alarmed about the supposed invasion of dark-skinned newcomers coming to America.”

Boot went on to complain that the GOP under Trump has gone from being conservative with a white extremist fringe to one where white nationalism is at the heart of the party and the true conservatives have been pushed to the side — part of the reason why he left.

One thing I hear over and over from these conservative former Republicans is that it’s not enough any more to say of Trump that “I like his policies, but I hate his tweets.” That’s simply a way of ignoring what’s going on in the Republican Party and the White House as racism and demagoguery has become the norm. They also say that Trump’s overt admiration of dictators and his snubbing of our democratic allies overseas is pushing us in a dangerous direction.

So it was synchronicity when I turned on the TV and there was Boot, who I’d never heard of, before being informed about him the evening before. But now all the media attention is going to the crazies, the bomber Sayoc we now know wanted to “go back to the Hitler days,” he former boss said. He wanted follow and lead  the white supremacist. He wanted to lead the foot soldiers. Then that story gets overtaken by another Trump supporter who killed eleven in a Pittsburgh synagogue.

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An explosive synchro

Jim Carey’s new portrait of Donald Trump

Is it a synchronicity that 48 hours after Donald Trump announced that he is a nationalist that 10 bombs were sent to prominent Democrats, including two presidents and a vice president? Or, was it cause and effect? In other words, did the bomber or bombers hear that Trump called himself a nationalist—one of us, they might’ve thought—and went to the post office with their bombs. I would say that both are true. They no doubt had their bombs ready before Trump made the announcement, but  when they heard him declare that he was one of them, a white nationalist—that’s what they assumed—then that was the cue.

Trump, when questioned, said he never heard the word white was used in front of nationalism. Of course, that was a lie. He lies every day and it’s documented every day. Earlier in his campaign, he said he’d never heard of David Duke, the former Grand Banana (aka Wizard) of the KKK. That again was a lie…and has been documented. The Washington Post and New York Times note that Trump knows enough about Duke to have denounced him several times in past decades when he was a Democrat.

Now they are bedfellows. Duke tweeted that of course nationalists are white nationalists. Look at Trump’s rally. It was 99.9% white, he said. And the Daily Stormer, the American neo-Nazi, white supremacist, holocaust-denying web site cheered loudly after Trump’s announcement. “He is one of us!” They bellowed.

The White House responded that the definition of nationalism is “loyalty and devotion to a nation.” It sounds like patriotism, which is “love for or devotion to one’s country,” per Merriam Webster.

But the definition of nationalism also includes “exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups.” This exclusionary aspect is not shared by patriotism.

But let’s get beyond calling these people nationalists or white nationalists. Let’s call them what they are: neo-Nazis and white supremacist. Trump has identified himself with them, embraced them. Sure sounds like he is one of them.

Of course, if he thought that he would be better off distancing himself from the white nationalist crowd, he would do so. No problem. That’s because he is a free-range president, who only thinks about himself on every issue.

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