Baba Varga and her prophecies

As a young girl, she was caught in a tornado, ripped from the ground and hurled through the air. While in the grips of the storm, her eyes were covered with sharp stinging sand. She was missing for several days, and when she was found, she couldn’t open her eyes without great pain. It was soon determined that Vangeliya was blind, but she was already beginning to see in a different way.

Her married name was Vangelia Gushterova, but she would become known as Baba Varga, a mystic, clairvoyant and herbalist. When someone stood in front of her for a reading, she said she could literally see their entire lives. She could see events before they happened, both in the near and distant future. Included among them are two for 2018.

Baba Vanga, which means Grandmother Vanga in Bulgarian, died in 1996 at the age of 85, but not before she had predicted events all the way to the end of the world. Known as the Nostradamus of the Balkans, many of her prophecies are scary. Like Nostradamus, her predictions are often symbolic and need interpretation.

For instance, her prediction of 9-11 read this way:“Horror, horror! The American brethren will fall after being attacked by the steel birds.The wolves will be howling in a bush and innocent blood will gush.” The steel birds, of course, could represent the airplanes that struck the World Trade Center buildings. The wolves could be the terrorists and the bush could be George W Bush, who of course was president during the event.

Baba Vanga accurately predicted that the 44th president of the U.S. would be an African-American man. However, she also said he would be the last president. Now we have Trump, who some contend is not a legitimate president, because he lost the popular vote and often acts non-presidential. But in spite of his behavior, he is the president and that seems to nullify that particular prediction.

Among other predictions were the 2004 tsunami, global warming and  the rise of ISIS. Her followers put Baba Vanga’s success rate at 85%. What qualifies as accurate is sometimes difficult to determine. For example, she predicted that Europe would cease to exist by 2016. That seems clearly wrong. However, some of her followers point out that was the same year that the vote on Brexit resulted in Great Britain departing from the European financial alliance. That changed Europe, but didn’t cause it to cease to exist.

For 2018, Baba Vanga predicted that China will become the new super power, by-passing the United States. Indeed, China’s economy is growing and could pass the U.S. economy, if not in 2018, then in coming years. The second prediction for this year: Humans will travel to Venus in search of new energy sources. They might even set up a colony there. It seems our eyes are more set on Mars than Venus. But there is a spacecraft—the Parker Solar Probe—that is scheduled to by-pass Venus and gain energy from the planet as it heads toward the sun.

Baba Varga also predicted that the year of 3797 would be the year when the party ends and everything on Earth will cease to exist. However, humans will be advanced enough to move to a new star system, she predicted. Let’s hope so.

 

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Psychics from the past

Most people who have an interest—even a minor one—in the paranormal and psychic abilities have heard of Edgar Cayce, the so-called Sleeping Prophet. Much has been written about him and he is probably the best known psychic of the 20th century.

But what about Polish psychic Wolf Messing or the blind Bulgarian psychic Baba Vanga? In spite of a lifetime of interest in all that is beyond strange in the realm of the sixth sense, until recently I didn’t know about either one. Messing’s name seemed vaguely familiar to both Trish and me, but that was it. Yet, both were quite well known in their day, if not in the U.S., in other parts of the world.

I guess what drew my attention to Messing were pictures of him, including the one above that made me think that he looked like one of the famed Marx Brothers. But Messing was no doubt entangled with a different Marx, who philosophy dominated the Soviet Union during much of the past century. Pictures of Messing came up when I looked up Baba Vanga after learning about her on a recent episode of Ancient Aliens. Yes, that show is still on the History Channel, now in its 12th season. I didn’t know that either until I received a call from a producer for the show, who wanted to talk about time travel and Beyond the Bermuda Triangle, which I co-authored with Bruce Gernon.

So who are these two mysterious characters from the past?

Let’s start with Wolf Messing. He was born in 1899 in a village southeast of Warsaw when Poland was part of the Soviet Union. He lived until 1974 and was known for his ability not only to read minds, but to affect minds. That caught the interest of the Soviet leaders who exploited psychics, such as Messing, for their own purposes. Messing was  a talented remote viewer, capable of psychically spying on people and places, and because of his ability to alter thoughts, he became an instructor in these matters for the notorious KGB—the Soviet’s spy agency.

In an interview with a Soviet magazine in 1961, Messing said: … It’s not mind-reading, it’s, like the “reading of muscles” “… When human thinks hard about something, the brain cells transmit impulses to all muscles of the body. Their movements, invisible to the eye, I can easily feel. … Often I’m performing mental tasks without direct contact with the inductor. The pointer to me here is the breathing frequency of inductor, the beating of his heart, voice timbre, his walking nature etc.”

In the ‘20s and ‘30s, Messing was the most famous psychic in Europe. He became well known while living in Germany where Einstein invited him to his home for an interview with him and Freud. In the encounter, Freud sent Messing a telepathic message. After focusing a few moments, Messing excused himself, went to the bathroom and returned with a tweezers and plugged a hair from Einstein’s mustache. Freud laughed and said that was exactly what he had mentally asked him to do.

Messing also predicted that Russia would invade Germany, even though at the time Stalin had a non-aggression treaty with the Nazis. He also predicted the end of the war to the month. Hitler saw Messing as a dangerous wild card and put a bounty on his head. That’s when Messing fled to Russia, where Stalin became interested in using him for military purposes. Interestingly, up to that time, Stalin had outlawed and imprisoned psychic practitioners.

Stalin tested Messing, first asking him to psychically rob a bank. Messing went to a bank and handed the teller a blank piece of paper and requested 100,000 rubles. The teller, believing he was looking at a certified request, did as he was told. A KGB agent planted in the bank watched the entire scenario unfold. Stalin’s next test was to see if Messing could get past the guards and enter his secured bunker. Again, Messing succeeded at the task, walking past guards inside and outside the compound, and even Stalin’s servants who were all KGB agents. When he walked into Stalin’s room without attracting any resistance, Stalin asked how he’d done it. Messing responded that he sent one thought to every guard telling them that he was the head of Stalin’s secret police.

It’s unknown if Stalin sent Messing on any psychic missions. Many documents from the Stalin years remain classified in Russia. Near the end of his life, Messing wrote an autobiography. But shortly after he announced its pending publication, the manuscript vanished and was never found.

In the next post, we’ll explore the life of Vangelia Gushterova, better known as Baba Vanga, and it was a fascinating one.

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Alchemy in Cassadaga

We’re written before about Cassadaga, the Spiritualist community in central Florida where nearly everyone talks to the dead.   Recently, though, a series of synchronicities took place involving the town.

On January 7, I taught an astrology workshop at the Cassadaga Bookstore. The next day, I received an email from Whitley Strieber saying he was going to be in Cassadaga sometime in January and wondered if we lived close enough to join him. I thought he was headed there in connection with his recent book, Afterlife Revolution, that he wrote with his wife, Anne, who passed away on August 11, 2015. It turns out that Anne “called” Whitley there.

So on January 23, we drove up to Cassadaga with our daughter, Megan, and her roommate Tony, later joined us. We  met Whitley and our friend, Peter Levenda at the hotel. Peter is also an author  whose fascinating writing focuses primarily on the occult. His most recent book, Sekret Machines: volume 1 of Gods Man and War is co-authored with Tom Delonge. The book “transcends speculation and is based on unprecedented access to officials at the highest levels of government, military and industrial agencies who have provided insights and assistance never before experienced by any researchers in this controversial field.” (from Amazon)

What better place for writers about the paranormal to meet up than in a town of Spiritualists?

Over dinner – and lunch the next day- the conversation was all over the place.Whitley talked about how he and his wife, Anne, have been in contact since her death and how they wrote Afterlife Revolution together.

Peter, an expert on occult forces – in Nazi Germany, in alchemy, in the world! – talked about famous alchemists Thomas and Rebecca Vaughn, whom he wrote about in his book Tantric Alchemist.

Whitley offered our daughter, Megan, advice on writing (she’s working on her first novel) and her friend, Tony, who spent three years in LA trying to break in as a screenwriter, shared some of his experiences.

One of the most fascinating points in the discussion involved Whitley’s implant, which he has written about in his books. He explained how it affects the vision in his left eye. It’s as if a slit opens in his vision and words scroll across it. He has to adjust where he looks to be able to decipher it. The implant was inserted – by humans, not aliens – behind his left ear when he and Anne were living in their cabin in upstate New York, where his abduction experiences took place. On his website, he writes about what happened when he had surgery to remove the implant.Teaser: the surgery didn’t work. The implant moved.

Over dinner, we talked about  writing, UFOs, disclosure, climate change, spirit contact, alchemy, the publishing industry, Hollywood, Hitler and Nazi Germany and the uncanny parallels to Trump and his administration.

The climate change part of the conversation was unsettling, particularly with climate change deniers in the white house and as head of the EPA. Rob, Peter, and I live in South Florida, and are all intending to move. Whitley, who wrote the Coming Global Superstorm with Art Bell, on which the movie The Day After Tomorrow was based, believes that the water from the rapid melt of ice in the Arctic is pushing down on the ocean floor, compressing it. At some point, it will rebound and the explosion of rising water will be devastating.It will sink parts of the US coast just as fast as Atlantis sank.

At the core of this conversation lay questions about the nature of reality, how paranormal experiences – and contact with aliens (or whatever they are) and spirits – alter how you see the world and yourself within it. For most of the evening and the next day, I felt like I was in the presence of ancient alchemists. It was exhilarating.

The next morning, Whitley had a reading with psychometrist Kathy Adams and described it as “profound.” Kathy reads objects and picked up on something related to a novel Whitley is writing that no one else knows about.

I took the photo in the Cassadaga dining room, where these decorative lights that festooned the walls came out looking like orbs, a fitting backdrop!

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Synchronicity & the Other Side

Finally available again, with a great cover from David Dodd at Crossroad Press.

$3.99 at Amazon

You see your grandmother’s favorite bird outside your window not long after her death.
You inexplicably feel drawn to vacation at a remote location you’ve never been to, only to discover that your ancestors lived there hundreds of years ago.
Everywhere you look, you notice the numbers 1111–on clocks, license plates, odometers.

Signs from the afterlife are everywhere–if you only know how to look. In this groundbreaking book, you’ll discover how meaningful coincidence–synchronicity–is key to your connecting with loved ones who have passed on.

Such contact can come to you through dreams and meditation, mediums and signs, and more. From the unexpected appearance of familiar animals, images, and sounds to clusters of numbers and objects, you’ll learn how to recognize when and how people from the other side are trying to connect with you.

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The Phoenix

In college, I was a political junkie. Then again, it was the 60s and nearly everyone I knew was a political junkie because we were the ones who were pushing for change. We were the Baby Boomers, many of us rebels and rogues who were against Vietnam and the lottery system for the draft and all the atrocities that were occurring worldwide as a result of our interventions in other countries. Drugs, sex, and rock ‘n roll: that was the litany. We did have great music that galvanized this movement – Beatles, Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Leonard Cohen, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Cher, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix…oh, and Woodstock.

But then many of us got married or started careers or families and cruised through the 70s and 80s and the Reagan years with a kind of ho-hum, it’s all the same story, what’s the point? Some of us became Republicans. Or Independents. Or Democrats. Or stopped participating altogether.

But then the 2000 election got hung up in Palm Beach County and ended up in the Supreme Court and W Bush stole an election. 9-11 happened. We invaded Iraq and Afghanistan and the financial meltdown of 2007-2008 came around. All of these events coalesced into the election of a brilliant senator from Illinois and our first African-American president, who turned around and appointed his opponent, Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State.

Suddenly, politics started looking as crazy as it was in the 60s, but with some significant differences: the Internet, social media, news 24/7 on the cable channels. We had immediate access to so much information that not very much remained hidden for very long.

8 years of W Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, and the rest of his cabal brought us 8 years of Obama and the class act of the Obama family. He wasn’t perfect, but he came close to moving this country in the direction of a true democracy. And he brought out all the closet racists. But it was the Democratic Party that failed in 2016, with Debbie Wasserman Schultz rigging the party for Clinton rather than granting Bernie Sanders equal prime time for debates. So many dems wanted a woman as president and Clinton seemed to be entitled…

And now here we are in trumpland, the worst and possibly the darkest and most dangerous period in our democracy.  My hope, which is rather fragile and small right now, is that trump’s attempts at immersing the U.S. in Fascism and a thinly disguised dictatorship will result in a well-deserved impeachment and force the pendulum in the opposite direction: a 2020 ticket of women like Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Men have ruled this country since 1776. It’s time now for women to have a shot at it all. Forget the old reptilian guys like Mitch McConnell and Jeff Sessions or the younger Ayn Rand dudes like Paul Ryan, who go all weak in the knees when trump snaps at them. Forget the hypocrites like Corker, Flake, Collins, Markowski, even McCain the so-called maverick. These people are the old paradigm. This country is crying out for politicians and political ideals that support Democracy rather than trying to tear it apart by criticizing the very institutions of check and balances that prove we are a nation of laws and that no one is above the law. Not even the president.

My hope lies with the millennials, who have the most to lose and the most to gain if they play their collective cards the right way. Many of them are saddled with enormous college and grad school debt. They are delaying marriage, families and dreams because of that debt and because many of them work multiple jobs, can’t afford health care, and, if the new tax bill passes, will be royally screwed.   Many of these millennials were born with Saturn in Capricorn, the ones who – like the mythological phoenix – rebuild from the ashes.

In 2018, may we triumph as the best of who we are!

 

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The Shutdown Synchro

At midnight Friday, the U.S. government shut down. Saturday, January 20, began with no government. Again.

Synchronicity. January 20 also marked the one-year anniversary of the Trump presidency. On January 20, 2017 Donald Trump was sworn-in as president. Now exactly a year later, the government shuts down. At least for a few days. It’s also the first time when the party in control of the White House, the Senate and the House was unable to close the deal on a new budget.

Nevertheless, as expected, Trump called out the Democrats as the source of the problem.  It’s an immigration issue. They wouldn’t go along with his border wall, and they wanted the issue resolved with the Dreamers – those who arrived illegally as children and only know this country as their home. Actually, Trump could also blame the Mexicans. They refused to pay for the wall, as Trump said they would. Did he really ever believe that? It’s hard to say what he believes; it changes so often. So here we are with the government shutdown for the first time since 2013.

Meanwhile, Trump plans to fly to Mar del Lago, his winter residence where – unless he cancels – he will host a gala event this evening for his wealthy supporters who will pay $100,000 a couple for dinner. Many of the attendees no doubt could pay for the dinner with their new tax cuts.

With that, we’ll keep this mercifully short, as we hope the shutdown will be.

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1 to 5 stars

Our daughter is a huge fan of the Netflix original series Black Mirror. The weekend we visited her, we set up a projector outside in the chilly January air and watched several episodes around a bonfire, with the image projected onto a sheet that covered a storage shed. It worked surprisingly well.

Black Mirror is a weird series, no question. Each story has to do with some aspect of technology. The society is sometimes futuristic or it’s like where we live now, but enhanced by some aspect of technology. Different characters for each episode, but there’s usually some underlying connection among them.

One of my favorites is from season 3, an episode called Nosedive. From Wikipedia’s summary: In a society where one’s social rating with others greatly influences one’s life, a woman tries to improve her own rating to afford an ideal apartment by giving an appealing speech at her best friend’s wedding. This summary really doesn’t do the episode justice.

The social rating is done through your smart phone and special contacts you wear. Any interaction you have with someone else – a waiter in a restaurant, some random person you bump into on the street, a co-worker, lover, boss – is rated from 1 to 5. Thanks to your contacts, you can see another person’s name and rating when you look at him or her.

In this society, the happier you are – even if it’s phony happiness – will usually win you a bunch of good stars from others. If you’ve got 4.5 stars and above, you’re entitled to special perks – discounts on car rentals, the best seats on airlines, stellar credit that enables you to get into the best apartments and jobs.

Without that 4.5 rating, you’re less than perfect, those perks are denied you, and you’re always striving to increase your rating and, thus, improve your life. In some ways, it’s a lot like Instagram – post the pasta dish you had for dinner, a cute picture of your dog, and people out there in rating land people give you between 1 to 5 stars and your social standing either rises or plummets. Get engaged to a 4.8 and wow, the 5 stars pour in.

Yeah, it sounds ridiculous and the hilarious story line really underscores that absurdity. But the bigger picture is unsettling. Take a look at the Amazon review process for books. Love the book? Give it a 5 star. Hate it? 1 star. Somewhere in between? Then it gets a 2, 3, or 4.

Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, for instance, has over 1500 reviews in the first 5 days since it was published and a star rating of 4.6 Impressive. In the Nosedive world, he would be getting all the perks. (Wolff’s book, as of Jan 17, is the bestselling book worldwide in any genre, has been bought for 7 figures for a TV movie, and has sold to 32 countries. Definitely 5 stars in my book!)

IMDB is the same way. Take a look at Rotten Tomato ratings for movies.

When you buy a product online, you later receive an email asking you to rate your experience. Sometimes, the rating system runs from 1-10, sometimes from 1 to 5, just like the world in Nosedive.

In this world, the social rating system also bears eerie similarities to Instagram. How many likes can you get on your most recent post? How many followers do you have? Or, take Twitter. Obama has 97.4 million followers. Trump has 43.8 million (but don’t tell him Obama has more!) Oprah has 41,091,818. Here’s the top list.

 By the end of this episode, the woman’s rating has plunged from a 4.2 to a lousy 1.something, her life is in tatters, and she ends up in jail, where she is suddenly free to express herself emotionally. She’s not happy and neither is the guy in the cell across from her. The episode ends with the two of them shouting insults at each other.

In many ways, we seem to be living in this absurdity now, addicted to our cell phones, those mini-computers we carry around in our pockets and handbags, rating our experiences with books, movies, purchases. Will we soon be rating each other?

 

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Another Springsteen Synchro

Bruce – reading from his autobiography

Trish and I heard a good synchronicity today that involves Bruce Springsteen. Those of you have read our blog over the years might remember our posts on Springsteen about encountering the world’s most famous Bruce in our gym. He lives here in Wellington in the winter. He actually  owned two houses here right next to each other. He can afford it!

So a friend, Neil, today told us of his encounter with Springsteen, and we immediately recognized it as a good synchro. He had mentioned that there would be a Springsteen Tribute band playing tonight at our local amphitheater. Trish said it would be really cool if Springsteen himself showed up…and hopefully took to the stage.

Neil grinned and said  that a couple of winters ago he was driving along with the top of is car down,  a Springsteen song blasting from  the radio. He stopped at a light, looked over and there was Bruce, smiling. He lowered his window, leaned out, and called to Neil:  “You like that music?”

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You’re Fired – and what the trickster says about trump

 

I never watched The Apprentice. But like most people, I know that it was the show where trump ruled like a king and found enormous satisfaction in telling people, “You’re fired.”

Some days when I can actually bring myself to look at him on the news, it’s apparent he has brought that Apprentice persona with him. Or maybe it’s just who he actually is, the boss man/president/ dictator who has fired a number of people in his administration since he took office.

But as our friend Evan Cooke pointed out, it took the House Judiciary Committee more than 9 months later to charge Nixon with obstruction of justice. Less than 2 weeks after that, on August 8, 1974, Nixon resigned.

But perhaps trump should read up on the trickster. Joseph Campbell considered the trickster one of the most significant figures in Native American folklore. It “represents this power of the dynamic of the total psyche to overthrow programs… the trickster is an upsetting factor,” Campbell wrote, “…he breaks through….”

What trump has “broken through” is the decorum of civilized society, the way people talk to each other, treat each other, the empathy of being human. All of that has been shattered under trump. Bottom line: Putin and other dictators are my idols. I will get richer as prez. All you fools who voted for me, well, sorry, my promises were just reality TV.

The  trickster  enjoys bringing stuff full circle. So the “you’re fired” dude may himself face “you’re fired” if he crosses that line called firing Mueller. Then again, the trickster may have other more nefarious plans for trump. We’ll just have to wait and see.

 

 

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Sue Grafton

On December 29, 2017, I received an email from our blogging friend Lauren Raine, an artist in Tucson, Arizona.

“I read this story in Facebook today and thought it might be of interest to you.

“Sue Grafton was  a facebook friend, I didn’t know her,  but I enjoyed her posts.  Apparently she was also a successful author….perhaps you know of her?

“On the 19th of December she posted about a trunk that someone in North Carolina had sent to her, a stranger who found her out because the truck had things from 100 years ago that apparently belonged to her grandmother, and grandfather.  Sue took photos of all of it and describes the story in her post of the 19th.

“Then today I saw a post from her daughter that she had passed away yesterday suddenly.  Reading the story of the trunk, I just couldn’t help but feel there was spirit contact there……just 10 days before her death she was gifted with beautiful art and handmade quilts that belonged to her grandparents!   And so of course I thought of you folks!

“So here is the link to Sue’s post. If you can’t access it let me know and I”ll copy it for you.

“Wishing you and yours a wonderful New Year!”

++

The news about Grafton’s death was a surprise – and sad. Back in the mid to late 1980s, sometime after my first novel, In Shadow had been published by Ballantine, I received a letter from Sue. This was in the days before the Internet, so it was an actual letter. She told me how much she’d enjoyed the book, then said a rather odd thing about my use of the words “safety deposit box.” She thought the term should be “safe deposit box.”

I thought it was an odd observation and now, thanks to Google, I find that both usages are true. But back then, I figured my usage was probably true for Florida and not necessarily true for the rest of the world.

Several years later, I met Sue in person at a writers conference – maybe Bouchercon, I’m not sure – and she apologized for her criticism. Right there and then, I liked her, a Taurus who had conceived of a sassy, female private eye and made it work for her in a major way, as only a persevering Taurus can do.

She nearly made it to the end of the alphabet. As her daughter put it in a Facebook post:

Hello Dear Readers. This is Sue’s daughter, Jamie. I am sorry to tell you all that Sue passed away last night after a two year battle with cancer. She was surrounded by family, including her devoted and adoring husband Steve. Although we knew this was coming, it was unexpected and fast. She had been fine up until just a few days ago, and then things moved quickly. Sue always said that she would continue writing as long as she had the juice. Many of you also know that she was adamant that her books would never be turned into movies or TV shows, and in that same vein, she would never allow a ghost writer to write in her name. Because of all of those things, and out of the deep abiding love and respect for our dear sweet Sue, as far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends at Y.

 I do think Lauren may be right about the spirit contact aspect here.

RIP, Sue. Now hurry up and get back here to stir up the status quo again! And thank you for the beautiful fan letter!

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A Synchro Weekend

Frances McDormand…Three Billboards

Whenever Trish and I travel and get out of our usual routines, it seems the synchronicities bubble to the surface. That was definitely the case on the first weekend of January when we visited our daughter in Orlando, and Trish held an astrology workshop in the spiritualist community of Cassadaga, located 35 miles northeast of the city. Trish only knew that two or three people had signed up for the workshop, so she was surprised when 14 people showed up.

After returning to Orlando from the workshop, we decided to go to a movie with our daughter and that’s when the synchronicities began. Megan initially wanted to see The Greatest Showman, but Trish and I aren’t into musicals so we decided to go to an arts theater and see The Shape of Water. But the timing was wrong and the distance too far, so we settled on seeing Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri at a theater in nearby Winter Park. Megan had already seen it and assured us it was a really good movie—in spite of the title.

She was right. We thought the story was startling, dramatic and humorous with a very unHollywood-like ending. The acting by Francis McDormand, Sam Rockwell, and Kerry Condon was superb and Woody Harrelson was his usual intriguing self. Before we left for the movie, Megan had wanted to record the Golden Globe awards, but had problems with her DVR and was able to do it.

So on the way home from dinner and the movie, she Googled the awards and we were amazed (yet not surprised) to find out that the script of Three Billboards won the Best Screenplay Award. The award was actually given while we were watching the movie. By the time we got home, we’d found out that Frances McDormand won the Best Actress Award and Sam Rockwell won Best Supporting Actor, and to top it off, the movie won the Best Drama Motion Picture Award. So, yeah, we picked the right movie to see that night.

Maybe that synchronicity cued us up for the startling one that would follow the next morning. As we were getting ready for the return trip, Trish received an e-mail from author Whitley Strieber. Incredibly, he asked her if we’d ever heard of the spiritualist town of Cassadaga, Florida. He said he would be visiting there within the coming two weeks to meet with someone who had some sort of mysterious project in mind. He asked if we wanted to get together with him for a lunch, if we lived somewhere within striking distance.

Of course, Trish replied that we not only knew of the place, but were there the day before. We warned Whitley that the Cassadaga Hotel is haunted and the beds are hard, and suggested that he might want to stay at a nearby b&b. But he wrote back that in spite of the hard beds, he felt that the spooky hotel was where he should stay. Trish told him that we’d been scared out of our wits years ago while staying in a room at the top of the stairs to the left. He responded awhile later that he was booked in Room 38, which is at the top of the stairs to the left!

We’ve known Whitley for years, mainly through our numerous appearances on his Unknown Country podcast and e-mail exchanges. But this will be the first time that we’ll meet him in person. So already we’re looking forward to a return trip to Cassadaga sooner rather than later.

An hour or so later, we headed back to South Florida, getting onto the always hectic I-4. We’d barely gone a couple of miles when we noticed an oval-shaped object on the horizon in the distance, several miles away. We quickly recognized it as a blimp. We continued on, existed I-4 after several miles and entered the Florida Turnpike. That’s when we saw the blimp again. Now closer. As we drove on, we seemed to be heading toward the blimp and the blimp seemed to be heading toward us. We could read, GOODYEAR, clearly on the side of the blimp and it came so close we thought we could see people in the windows of the carriage at the bottom.

Amazingly, as the blimp reached the turnpike, it was heading in the same direction we were moving and passed right overhead. For a couple of minutes, we lost site of it, because it was above us. Then the road turned and the blimp came back into view on the opposite side of the turnpike. We took it as another sign—a Good Year ahead!

As if to top it off, Trish bought a lotto ticket while in Orlando and won $100. A great weekend of interesting synchros!

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Cluster Synchronicities in Filming of IT

IT is one of the longest of Stephen King’s novel and one of the strangest. We watched the 2017 movie version when our daughter, Megan, was home over the holidays. During the movie, we frequently referenced The Stephen King Illustrated Companion, a Christmas gift Megan gave me, and discovered that the seed for this story was planted when King was working on The Stand.

He and his family were living in Boulder, Colorado then and their car, an AMC Matador, needed to be picked up at the garage where it was being repaired. Rather than calling a cab, King decided to walk the three miles to the dealership. He eventually ended up on a narrow, unlit road at twilight.

“I was aware of how alone I was. About a quarter of a mile along this road was a wooden bridge, humped and oddly quaint, spanning a stream,” he wrote in a Book-of-the-Month Clun News in 1986. I walked across it. I was wearing cowboy boots with rundown heels, and I was very aware of the sound they made on the boards; they sounded like a hollow click.”

Instead of thinking about the character from The Stand in whose life he was wrapped up at the time, he thought of the story of Billy Goats Gruff, the troll who says, “Whose that trip-trapping on my bridge?” From that point, the entire story “just bounced into my mind on a pogo-stick.” And it wasn’t just the characters that he got, but the “split time frame, the accelerated bounces that would end in a complete breakdown, which might result in a feeling of ‘no time,’ all the monsters that were one monster…the troll under the bridge, of course.”

In an interview with Douglas E Winter in The Art of Darkness, (NAL, 1984), King said, “The book is the summation of everything I have done and learned in my whole life to this point. Every monster that ever lived is in this book.”

King was 37 years old.

In the story, the number 27 appears frequently. So here are some synchros: This film was released 27 years after the original 1990 television mini-series. In the book, it is mentioned that “It” returns to Derry approximately every 27 years. Jonathan Brandis, who played young Bill in the original IT film, died at the age of 27. The movie was released a month after the 27th birthday of Bill Skarsgård, who played Pennywise the clown. The official US release date was 9/8/2017. 9+8+2+0+1+7 = 27.

As a writer, I’m intrigued by King’s use of multiple viewpoints in the novel – 7 altogether, and we see these viewpoints when the characters are kids, and when they’re adults. But in this version of IT the movie, everything is told from the kids’ point of view. In the planned sequel, the story will be told by their adult selves 27 years later.

 

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Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House

Journalist Michael Wolff has written a stunner in Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. I first heard about it when people on CNN and MSNBC started reading excerpts from it a couple of days ago. They’d gotten early copies. Then the news reported that trump’s attorneys had sent cease and desist letters to Wolff and his publisher, Henry Holt, to stop publication of the book.

And I thought, Huh? Really? The president of the U.S. is trying to stop the publication of a book? To trample the first amendment? It felt like Fahrenheit 451, like Nazi Germany’s legendary book burnings. It felt WRONG. BAD. Like Fascism.

The publisher ignored the cease and desist and brought the book out four days early – on January 5 instead of January 9. I ordered my ebook on the evening of January 4, but Amazon apparently couldn’t keep up with the fluctuations and it was scheduled to get to my Kindle app on January 9. I cancelled the order. Then this morning, I checked Amazon again and the book was available for download.

When I downloaded the book, it had 13 reviews. Tonight, there are over 400 reviews. Wow.

What’s fascinating about the book is that after trump won, Wolff basically parked himself on a couch in the West Wing and interviewed staffers and people who moved through the area. The white house was so chaotic that no one told him to move on or that he couldn’t be there. trump himself gave a sort of carte blanche to Wolff because, after all, trump apparently doesn’t read and so what if this guy wanted to write a book?

What Wolff depicts is what sane people have observed 24/7 in the last year – an administration in total chaos,  a narcissistic president more concerned about his public image – his brand – than in governing. A man so childish that he requires handlers who struggle to mitigate every tweet he makes. Wolff describes the relationship trump has with his daughter, his son-in-law Jared, his sons Eric and Donald, and all of it is just so bizarre that if you try to fully understand it, you may end up on a shrink’s couch. How’d we get here as a country?

 Then there’s trump’s relationship with Bannon, who seemed to have talked freely with Wolff at various points during his tenure in the West Wing. Perhaps sleazy Bannon had his eye on a 2020 run for the presidency. That possibility seems pretty remote now. trump fired back with tweets, of course, about the book and how  when Bannon lost his job, he also lost his mind. And then there’s Sarah Sanders, trump’s liar in chief in the media, who says that the prez of course supports the first amendment, but that Fire and Fury is fiction, fantasy.

Sure, Sarah. And there’s a special place in hell for people like you. Just ask your Daddy Huckabee.

One thing you can bank on with trump and his people. If they deny something, then you know it’s true. They live in the upside world of Stranger Things. It’s where reality is not what the rest of us think it is, but is defined through some skewed lens where the most powerful person in the world lounges around in bed eating cheeseburgers from McDonald’s, watching Fox News, and playing twitter chicken with North Korean’s nuclear-armed nut case.

Wolff captures all of this brilliantly. My hope is that the book helps to bring down trump’s presidency.

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