Stephen King

At some point in the 1970s, I was teaching English at a private school in Vero Beach. The pay was terrible, but I lived within a block of the beach and I liked most of the kids I taught.

One day, a student in my eighth grade English class, Brian, cornered me during lunch and handed me a book. “Ms. Trish, you gotta read this. It’s the best book I’ve ever read and since you’re a writer, too, I think you’re going to love this.”

At that point in my life, my writing consisted mostly of depressing poetry. The book was The Shining by Stephen King. I read it over a weekend and on the following Monday, brought it to school and returned it to Brian. “Fantastic. This afternoon, I’m heading over to Vero Beach Bookstore to buy whatever else this guy has written.”

Carrie and Salem’s ‘Lot,” Brian said.

And that’s how my love of Stephen King books began. With an eighth grader. In the years since, as King has continued to write and write and write, I’ve bought and read, bought and read. And bought and read and written my own books. People who dislike King’s “horror,” love his other books, like The Green Mile, Firestarter, The Running Man… Thing is, King was never a genre writer, never just a horror writer. He’s a storyteller.

 In Your Creative Stars, an astrology book I wrote on creativity, I used King’s chart for Virgo. His gift for detail, for engaging all our senses, our emotions: that’s Virgo. His moon in Sagittarius in the fifth house of creativity is why we are treated to other worlds – his Dark Towers series, for instance. That moon is also why he always gives us the larger emotional picture of his characters. The moon rules our emotions, Sagittarius rules the big picture, foreign travel – and publishing. His Cancer rising, with Mars closely conjunct, suggests a nurturing quality as a human being. Both of his sons- Joe Hill and Owen King – are writers.

At some point in the 1990s, Megan and I drove to one of the Miami Book fairs. We got lost, had trouble finding parking, but when we finally got out of the car – there was Stephen King, about 300 yards away, talking to someone. He’d just gotten out of a car – limo? – still parked at the curb.

“Oh my God, Mom,” Megan burst out. “It’s him. Go over there, tell him how much you love his books.”

Yeah, sure, Megan. This is the guy who wrote Misery, about an overzealous fan. We just stood there, staring, and later went to his talk. Megan is now an avid consumer of anything King and is writing her own novel. That’s the thing with King. For anyone with aspirations or talent for writing, start with King. He’s how I learned to write. He taught me about back stories, the inner worlds of characters, and that it’s okay to tackle the weird and the strange if your characters are emotionally real.

When The Dark Tower movie came out and got such awful reviews, Megan and I saw it and loved it. We left the theater marveling at the whole thing. We figured the negatives had come from avid fans of the books who wanted, well, the depth that writing provides.

I follow him on Twitter and get a kick out of his comments about trump. When trump blocked him, I was nearly hysterical with glee. When JK Rowling told King not to worry, that trump hadn’t blocked her yet and she had King’s back, I texted Megan, who had already seen it.

Recently, our friend Dwane Elmore was flying back from Oklahoma and had a layover in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was sitting at the bar and realized that the man standing next to him, talking to the bartender about terrible trump, was none other than Stephen King.

Dwane sat there quietly, sipping his martini, listening. After King left, Dwane asked the waitress if she knew who that man was. “Some Hollywood celebrity,” the bartender replied.

Uh, lady, that was Stephen King.

Cultural and literary icon.

I’m so envious of Dwane. I would love to spend hours talking to King, but would settle for a minute or two or politics, books, writing.

Thank you, again, Stephen King, for hours and hours of pleasurable reading!

 

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The Joel Osteen Trickster

When Michael Klimkowski heard that Houston megachurch pastor Joel Osteen was going to preach at the Los Angeles Forum October 28, he knew he couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Klimkowski is a comedian and part of the Dan Dabs Sketch Group. He also happens to look a lot like Osteen and he longed for a chance to emulate the folksy charmer with the ageless plasticine features and $50 million bankroll.

Klimkowski and his film crew arrived  for “Night of Hope” without tickets, but the security people at the gate waved them through when they were greeted by the fake Osteen, who asked if he had to pay to park at his own event.

Once out of the vehicle, fake Osteen made his way toward the huge arena waving and calling out, “God bless you,” over and over. He stopped several times to pose for selfies with fan as his own crew filmed it all. Being a comedian, Klimkowski couldn’t help throwing in a zinger here and there. He asked where he could get a beer and said he didn’t want a soda. Then the fake multi-millionaire asked where he could buy a Loteria ticket.
Once inside, he made his way down toward the stage as more fans approached. He even accommodated one woman by holding her camera. “I’ve long arms. I’m six-three. Jesus was five-five.”

If anyone was concerned that Osteen’s megachurch had not initially opened its doors to Hurricane Harvey flood victims in Houston, no one mentioned it to the fake Osteen, even though the hurricane had hit just weeks earlier.

As he neared the stage, more fans left their seats and approached him. His crew urged him to take the stage, but Klimkowski didn’t think that was a good idea.That was when Osteen’s security chief moved in and ejected Klimkowski, who kept asking, “What did I do? Can you tell me what I did?” The security chief is heard turning vulgar as he tells Klimkowski he’s going to be arrested.

Even as he was being detained in the parking lot and the police arrived, more fans approached still thinking that they were seeing Osteen up close. The police thought it was funny and no arrests were made.

You can find the original video here, and an edited version here from a Houston TV station, which includes an interview with Klimkowski.

Klimkowski had hoped he would hear from Osteen after the You Tube video appeared and that the pastor would tell him that he thought it was hilarious. Maybe he would even invite the fake Osteen on stage with him at the beginning of one of his sermons for a few light-hearted minutes. Apparently, that was a fantasy that was not going to come true. It seems that the feel-good prosperity gospel Osteen preaches doesn’t have room for a second trickster on stage.

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The Trickster and Kevin Spacey

We’ve been working on a book called American Tricksters: From Madoff to Trump, the Rise of the Archetypal Con Artist in the 21st Century. The challenge here is that the story changes daily, sometimes hourly.

Let’s take actor Kevin Spacey, whose acting role the past six years has been as President Underwood in Netflix’s original series House of Cards. We’ve watched the series and I’ve fluctuated between not caring because Spacey reminds me so much of Trump, and being fascinated by how corrupt Underwood is as a politician, a husband, and by the behind the scenes deals that are made.

The Spacey sexual allegation story broke shortly after the Weinstein fiasco, when  actor Anthony Rapp (Star Trek: Discovery) accused Spacey of trying to have sex with him when he attended a party at Spacey’s New York apartment in 1986. At the time, Rapp was 14. Spacey was 26.

The story initially broke on BuzzFeed and several hours after it broke, Spacey tweeted: I’m beyond horrified to hear his story… This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life. I now choose to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behavior.”

 He was scorched in the media and by fellow actors for not apologizing to Raff and using the accusation as an opportunity to comes out as gay.

Raff’s accusation quickly was followed by others. Eight current and former employees of House of Cards told CNN that Spacey “had engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment, making the show’s set a ‘toxic’ work environment. Then a former production assistant accused Spacey of sexually assaulting him.

As the LA Times noted, “When House of Cards debuted in 2013, it catapulted Netflix into a whole new level of Hollywood recognition and acclaim. The dark political series about an unscrupulous Washington power couple became Netflix’s first breakout hit, planting a flag for the streaming service in the competitive world of original TV programming.”

The series is estimated to cost several million dollars per episode, according to the Times, with each season made up of 13 episodes. Spacey is listed as one of the executive producers.

Now here’s where the trickster initially comes in. Last season, Underwood fell from power in the series and the last scene was of Underwood alone in a hotel room. Now, the series itself has collapsed – just as the title suggests. After all, when we talk about the phrase “house of cards” we usually think that it’s not too sturdy and a breeze may blow it over.

Within 48 hours of Spacey’s tweet after Rapp had accused him, Netflix and Media Rights Capital, the company that produces House of Cards, announced that the sixth season of the series would be the last, suspended production on it indefinitely, and canceled season 7. Netflix also announced it won’t release the movie Gore, starring Spacey, which is now in post production. Then the trickster went even farther: the agency that represented Spacey – Creative Artists Agency – and his publicist, Staci Wolfe, have dropped him. Spacey had been slated to receive the International Emmy Award on November 20, 2017 and they’ve announced he won’t receive the award now.

The trickster usually has a legend, fairy tale, folklore, or myth associated with it. The one that fits the trickster in this scenario is that of the pink dolphin of the Amazon, a fresh water dolphin. According to Amazonian tribes, the pink dolphin is actually a shape shifter, deceiver, liar, and seducer. It’s smaller than its ocean brothers, is the color of bubble gum and such a splendid sight against the green curtain of jungle it seems impossible that such a legend about it exists.

On nights of the full moon, the pink dolphin assumes human form as a man, dresses in a white suit with a white straw hat that covers his blowhole, and looks like quite the dapper outsider. He goes into the nearest villages and dances with the most beautiful women. Because he’s sly and cunning, he lures one of them into the jungle, down to the banks of the river. Part of his seduction routine is convincing the woman to visit his secret underground cavern. Here, he impregnates the woman. At dawn, she returns to her village and when she later discovers she’s pregnant, the story is that the dolphin did it!

This shape-shifting element fits Spacey. We TV viewers were engaged by his public persona as an actor and discovered it was the perfect cover for his darker side, con artist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Four

I devoured this book. Galloway has a wonderful style. He’s funny, insightful, and he provides the sort of statistics that leave you gasping, stuttering, “OMG, WTF, really?”

You won’t ever look at the big 4 in the same way again – amazon, apple, facebook, google. In fact, the next time you walk into an apple store, type a query into google, post a cute photo of your dog on facebook, or order something from amazon, you’ll remember this book. You may hesitate, you may wrestle with your conscience, but in the end you’ll do what you were going to do , and Galloway explains why.

I would love to take a course from this guy at NYU, where he teaches business. But since I live in Florida, I’m delighted to have found his book.

There are a few negative reviews of this book that don’t make sense to me. It’s easy to write a negative review of anything. But with these reviews, I really feel compelled to grab these people by their collective collars and demand, “Hey, can you write something better? Do you have anything more to say than your negative review?”

The thing about Amazon, which Galloway notes, is that user reviews equalize the playing field. I agree, unless you have reviewers with a personal or professional grudge about whatever it is they’re reviewing. This happened a few years ago to Rob, when he offered a free book to readers in exchange for a review on Amazon for a particular book he’d written. One of the women who reviewed the book had a personal grudge against us and wrote an awful review of the book. Amazon doesn’t have a mathematical algorithm for that.

Galloway is clever, informed, and has a solid grasp on his topics. And honestly, even though I’m an Apple fan, I won’t be rushing to pay more than a thousands bucks for an iPhoneX. What I want to know is what happened to the iPhone9? Was it murdered in some dark alley in the Apple empire? And if so, why? Was it a clever marketing ploy? And these geniuses at the Apple store – are they really geniuses?

And then there’s Google with their mantra of Do No Harm, who has subsumed all of the competition – Yahoo, Microsoft, you name it and it’s gone. Google is the information king who probably knows more about us than our families do. Creepy.

So here we are, folks, with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as Galloway refers to them. Amazon now owns Whole Foods. Google owns the world. Facebook owns your heart. And Apple owns how you communicate and stay in touch with the larger world.

So, are we screwed?

 

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A Tsunami for Democrats

art by Megan MacGregor

The big wave in Virginia! In the year since Trump was voted into office, a year ago tonight when I had a total meltdown, the Democrats have enjoyed a massive triumph.

Democrat Ralph Northam defeated Repub Ed Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, in Virginia’s gubernatorial election tonight and did so by a comfortable margin – 54 to 45 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting. Gillespie ran on Trumpism and that tactic failed.

From CNN: “Democrats also made significant down-ballot gains in Virginia. Justin Fairfax won the lieutenant governor’s against Republican Jill Holtzman Vogel, a state senator known for her sponsorship of a 2012 bill that would have required women seeking abortions to undergo vaginal ultrasounds. Social issues were prominent in another statewide race, where Democratic attorney general Mark Herring defeated Republican challenger John Adams, who has hit Herring for his refusal to defend Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban in court. And Chris Hurst, whose girlfriend Alison Parker was the Virginia TV reporter killed on live television in 2015, won a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.”

Even more stunning, though, is the win of the first transgender woman, Danica Roem, to a seat in the Virginia state legislature. She defeated Republican Bob Marshall, one of the state’s longest serving lawmakers, the man who sponsored a bill that would have restricted which bathrooms Roem could use.

Perhaps, after nearly a year of Trump tweets, gaffes, insults, scandals, and special investigations, people are waking up and resisting in a way that counts: at the voting booth.

In short, as one tweeter put it: a trans woman beat the guy who introduced the bathroom bill. A gun victims’ boyfriend beat a delegate with an “A” rating from the NRA.  A civil rights lawyer who sued the police department just became the top prosecutor in philadelphia. Somethng’s happening here, folks.

I hate to think we’ll have to wait until the midterm elections in 2018 to see this terrible period in American history mitigated by Democratic wins in the house and maybe in the senate, too. My hope is that Mueller will end this nightmare administration by issuing indictments for people within trump’s inner circle – his son, Donald Jr., and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and then hey, an indictment for orange man himself.

But in the meantime, the democrats need to get their act together. Now that the repugs have revealed themselves as indentured servants to corporations and the 1 percent, democrats need to redefine who they are as a party. What do they stand for? If they expect to remain relevant, their platform should move toward the progressive vision of Bernie Sanders rather than some amorphous middle ground. The political paradigm must change.

 

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How Puppies Grow!

There’s no synchro here. But there is endless cuteness! The above pic was taken shortly after Nigel joined the family and Noah and Nigel seem to be communicating here.

Noah: Dude, you’re really little.

Nigel: Not for long. Look how big my paws are.

Noah: I’ve been here more than 7 years, so that means I’m top dog.

Nigel: No problem. I just want to live with a family who loves me.

Noah: Then you’ve come to the right place.

Nigel was about 10 and a half weeks here.

Here’s a photo of Nigel during his first hurricane – Irma.

Nigel, thinking to self: Uh, something bad happened here.  We’re all okay, but the yard is a real mess.

Nigel, first trip to vet’s office: Uh, why’s the door shut? Where’s Noah?

Now here he is, loving his first night with cool weather, hauling around a toy panda almost as large as he is. Nearly 15 weeks old now.

And here with Noah.

Nigel: See that big red dog? He’s my mentor.

 

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“Lock her up” backfires …

 


On July 16, 2016, the Trump campaign embraced a new and quite starting campaign theme: “Lock her up!” Never before in the U.S. had a presidential nominee endorsed the idea of putting his opponent in jail. Or at least sloganeering to do so.

Initially, “Lock her up” wasn’t an official talking point of the campaign. But rabble rousers on the right, such as Roger Stone and Michael Flynn (both who might soon find themselves locked up) urged Trump followers to shout it out at every chance. Of course, t-shirts and paraphernalia followed. Get your ‘Lock her up’ cap and coffee mug! (Who knew that the money raised by the campaign within a year would be used to pay for the president’s legal defense – Trump’s, not Hillary’s.) The trickster at play, no doubt.

Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort seemed fine with that rhetoric getting airtime at the convention when asked about it during a morning news conference that day, saying that it illustrates voters’ frustration that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee hasn’t been held accountable for her actions.

“I think that was a refrain that Gov. Christie was calling for in the speech,” the Washington Examiner wrote, quoting Manafort. “It probably reflects the attitude of a lot of people in America — over 70 percent think she’s guilty and don’t understand why justice wasn’t done,” Manafort continued. “Frankly, that plays right into the narrative of why things need to change in Washington, because there’s special justice for some and it’s not equal justice.”

Yeah, right. Meanwhile, Manafort’s questionable past in his dealings with Putin’s allies who paid him millions and his continued dealing with Russians was totally overlooked by the campaign. After all, he was the campaign chairman.

But now it all comes to roost. Trump is still chanting various versions of ‘lock her up’ in his tweets, but now it’s just a pathetic attempt to distract from the real game – taking down his people, and maybe POTUS himself – by the special prosecutor, who happens to be Republican. Or at least he was when he started this investigation!

Meanwhile, no one has to chant lock him up when it comes to Manafort. Justice is underway in his case. Even though it’s unclear from the infamous slogan whether Manafort, Trump and his allies thought they should bother giving Hillary a trial, Manafort will get his day in court. The trickster is laughing.

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Climate Change and Life in the Domes

In the late 1980s, Rob and I had the good fortune of knowing several Fort Lauderdale psychics – all of them deceased now. One evening, we were at Tony Grosso’s home in nearby Pembroke Pines. Tony was a real eccentric, a powerful empath, a gay man who didn’t want anyone to know he was gay. Artist and psychic Renie Wiley was also there.

Tony had a unique system for his readings that involved color and he and Rob eventually co-authored a book on color divination, The Rainbow Oracle. Renie had worked as a psychic consultant with local cops and we wrote a piece on her for Fate Magazine called Psychic Detective. But on that particular evening, we were just four people intrigued by what the future might hold for us – as individuals, as a human collective. Renie suggested that she progress us into the future to see if we could pick up anything on what life would be like.

Renie was a Sagittarian, a physically tall and imposing woman who also happened to be my astrology mentor, the woman who taught me stuff you don’t find in books or on websites these days. For her, astrology was an art, ancient and sacred. She read our daughter’s chart when Megan was just three days old and I have to say that much of what she said has transpired. But that’s for another post.

Whenever the four of us got together, weird stuff evolved, things none of us had anticipated. That evening, I remember, we were talking about what the world might be like in 20 or 30 years or even beyond. Renie said, “Well, guys, let me progress you into an undetermined future and let’s see what you pick up.”

So that’s what she did. She had a beautiful voice, soft, hypnotic, and as she spoke, I suddenly saw myself as a very tall woman – bald – living in a dome because the external world was so toxic. Life in the dome wasn’t exactly a panacea – bureaucracy abounds in every time frame, it seems – and there were outliers who lived in caverns outside the dome whose lives had evolved quite differently.

The dome scenario was confirmed a couple years after that progression when I ran across a book by Chet Snow and Helen Wambach, Mass Dreams of the Future. Wambach, a psychologist, had progressed 2,500 individuals in Europe to 2100 and asked them to describe what their lives were like. In the three scenarios that emerged, the population of the planet was greatly reduced. In one scenario, survivors lived in huge domes that protected them from the air outside.

 This progression has always stuck with me. And this summer of hurricanes – Harvey, Irma, Maria, all either cat 4s or 5s- and the quakes in Mexico and Japan and elsewhere – suggests that we’re in the beginning throes of climate change. The kind of climate change that drives people inland in droves because it’s no longer safe to live on the coasts.

As Irma approached Florida as a cat 5, with the early forecasts taking her up Florida’s east coast, we decided we should evacuate to Atlanta, where my sister lives. But gas was scarce and the idea of getting stranded on the interstate scared me. So we opted for a friend’s place north of Orlando. We had enough gas to get there. I removed everything from our walls, wrapped stuff in garbage bags, found high spots for Megan’s paintings. In the end, we decided to stay.

Friends who evacuated said it took eight hours to get to Orlando (a drive that usually takes about 2.5 hours), and 18 hours to reach southern Georgia. Cars ran out of gas on the turnpike and were abandoned.   At one point, when Irma’s winds reached 185 mph – and stayed there for 36 hours, breaking all kinds of records – we figured we’d made a big mistake by not evacuating.

The largest evacuation in U.S. history was underway.

As Irma closed in on Cuba, she stayed on its coast longer than expected and made that northward turn later than forecasts had predicted – and that saved Florida’s east coast. But it tore apart Florida’s west coast, then turned inland as a cat 1 and the eye went over Orlando.

When natural disasters happen back to back, as Harvey and Irma did and, later, Maria and the Mexican quake, the psychological and psychic toll it takes is considerable. Your body slams into survival mode. And for me, standing on the back porch during parts of Irma and listening to and seeing the wind and rain tear through our yard, I wondered about the dome in that progression so many years before. And I knew I had my next novel.

What is life like in these domes, centuries in the future?

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No Coincidence, says Trump

I don’t like to write about politics on the blog as much as Trish does, but when the president tweets the word ‘coincidence,’ well, I can’t help but take a closer look.

President Trump on Sunday, Oct. 29, suggested that it is no coincidence that news surrounding the special counsel’s investigation into Russian election interference has emerged at the same time that Republicans are pushing tax reform on Capitol Hill.
“All of this ‘Russia’ talk right when the Republicans are making their big push for historic Tax Cuts & Reform,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Is this coincidental? NOT!”

Actually, from our perspective, he is possibly both right and wrong. What he is saying is that somehow Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor – who happens to be a Republican – has colluded with the Dems to stop tax reform by indicting Paul Manafort and his ally Rick Gates now rather than later in the Russian investigation. That’s a stretch, but not for Trump. History shows he will say virtually anything to defend himself.

So he is wrong about it NOT being coincidence. It is a coincidence, but is it a synchronicity? Not in the traditional sense of similar inner and outer experiences coming together outside of cause and effect. Yet,Trump could be right about it not being a coincidence – a random collision of events. It was a synchronicity.

The message is that we should take a closer look at this tax plan, which supposedly will cut taxes for the middle class. If there are some criminal dealings with the Russian on one hand, there might be some disinformation being spewed about the tax plan. The two coming together at the same time might be seen as a wake up call for those who have eyes to see. In other words, blinders off or the rich might benefit from tax reform far, far more than the 99%.

PS, from Trish: I write about it more, but Rob is the avid consumer of TV news, morning, midday, evening. Ha!

And by the way, Happy Halloween!

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SIMPLE SYNCHROS

Once upon a time, I thought that I should write about only big synchronicities, the ones that are, you know, life-changing, totally weird, defying all odds.   And while I love those kinds of synchros, am awed and humbled by them, they aren’t that common unless you’re at a critical juncture in your life, facing major decisions and choices. The biggies do happen at other times – though not frequently – particularly when you need a quick answer to something that’s bugging you. I’ve had them, for example, when I’m stuck in my writing and am casting around for a direction in which to take my story.

Some years ago, when I was writing Black Water,  the second book in a series featuring bookstore owner and psychic Mira Morales, I got stuck in the plot. Mira’s daughter had been abducted in her presence by a man with a cast on his arm (echoes of Ted Bundy) who came to shore on a deserted island where Mira and her young daughter, Annie, had gone for a picnic. He claimed his boat had run out of gas. He knocked Mira out and took Annie.

But took her where? How? Who was this guy? That was my dilemma.

I struggled with these questions for several days, then left for a writers’ conference where Nancy Pickard and I were slated to talk about writing. During a break, she and I sat outside in the sunlight, talking about our respective books, characters, plots. That night, I dreamed that my character, Mira, wrote me a letter:

Dear Trish,

Don’t worry.  It’s going to work out. Take the story where you want it to go.

                                                                         Love,

                                                                       Mira

I’d never had a dream or any kind of experience like this, where my character spoke to me so directly. When I got home from the conference, I went back to work on the book and did what my instincts had told me all along to do. The abductor had taken Annie back through time, to the 1960s. He did this through an area in the water that had turned totally black – no fish, no seaweed, no sunlight, nothing lived there. This black water area actually had formed in the Florida keys in the 90s, a mystery to marine biologists, fishermen, and everyone else. At one point, it was nearly the size of Lake Okeechobee, the tenth largest fresh water lake in the U.S. A black hole in the Gulf of Mexico.

The idea worked. I realized it was my fear of the time travel elements that held me back.

But if I hadn’t been paying attention, this dream might have slipped right past me and the manuscript eventually might have ended up in a file called, Can’t finish. So although the synchro wasn’t life-altering for me, it was for Mira, who lived on for another three books.

On second thought, maybe this was life-altering in a creative sense. Black Water remains one of my personal favorites. So even the seemingly simple synchros may be more significant than we realize at the time.

 

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Yo Ching

 

The I Ching has been one of my favorite divination systems for decades. One day in college, I was browsing a bookstore and found the Richard Wilhelm edition of the I Ching, saw that Carl Jung had written the introduction, and bought it. That introduction, written in 1949, was where I learned about synchronicity. I’ve been using the Ching ever since.

The I Ching is a 5,000 year old oracle based on 64 hexagrams that are obtained by the tossing of 3 coins 6 times. Heads equal 3, tails are 2. If you get a 6, the broken line is changing to a solid line. If you get a 9, the solid line is changing to a broken line. When a hexagram has changing lines, it means you will end up with a second hexagram because the situation is in flux.

Over the years, I’ve tried various I Ching apps and have gotten to know other people who use the I Ching. One of them is artist and writer Adele Aldridge, who has undertaken a huge project – illustrating and interpreting every hexagram and every possible combination of changing lines.

Several days ago, I received an email from a man named Hugh Gallagher, who has produced an app and book called Yo Ching, Ancient Knowledge for Streets Today. The interpretation of the hexagrams comes from True Player, an expat from the Bronx who Gallagher met at The Cosmos, a bar in Bangkok that became famous during the Vietnam War as a watering hole for CIA agents. Over a period of time, he and True Player got around to talking about a myriad of subjects, including the I Ching. “I was intrigued,” Gallagher writes. “Player’s profound and casual take on the I Ching – which he called Yo Ching – was totally profane and utterly wise.”

Gallagher was impressed, so for the next two years, he and True Player met at The Cosmos (appropriate name) and True Player would talk and Gallagher transcribed. Gallagher eventually moved back to the U.S. and started putting his notes together. In some ways, his relationship with True Player reminds me of Carlos Castaneda’s relationship with Don Juan – at once mysterious, numinous, creative.

In 2015, the Yo Ching book was published and now there’s also a free app. Rob and I have been experimenting with the app and find it to be quite accurate. Keep in mind that the interpretations are written in “street language,” so they’re laced with profanities, but the wisdom reflects that of the I Ching.

The only thing the app lacks is changing lines. I asked Hugh about it and he said changing lines will be added at a later time. The book, however, gives interpretations for changing lines as well.

Check out Hugh’s site and give the app a try. It’s fun, a different take on an old divination system.

Hugh is quite an accomplished writer, an ex-pat who is now living and working in Thailand. Here’s a piece he wrote for Newsweek.

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Coincidences about Coincidence

If you go to Amazon.com and place the word coincidence in the search box, you’ll notice two books near the top of the page. They are the second and third entries. One is called, “The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles and Rare Events Happen Every Day,” by David Hand, a British statistician. Hand cites five laws that explain why the improbable happens, including the law of truly large numbers. “If something has a tiny chance of occurring but enough opportunity to occur, it will occur,” he says in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Yeah, but chances are you won’t be there to see it occur if the odds are equal to your chances of winning the lottery.  But for those of us who experience such coincidences regularly, how is it that we win the coincidence lottery so often, but not so much with the regular lottery? Explain that one, Dr. Hand!

The other book you’ll notice on Amazon is a novel called “Coincidence, by J.W. Ironmonger. In the novel, one of the characters is a London-based research, Thomas Post, who like Hand debunks coincidences. Or more accurately, debunks synchronicity, because Hand and Post – the fictive character, find nothing meaningful or mystical about coincidences.

Interestingly, according to the WSJ article, Ironmonger says he never heard of Hand when he wrote the book so any similarities would be…well, a coincidence. And yes there are. In fact, Hand is the one who noticed and marveled at the coincidences. He pointed out that he and Thomas Post have the same birthday. He also noted that Post teaches at the same British university where Hand’s wife teaches. Hmm, coincidences about coincidence!
Hand finds such coincidences interesting, but nevertheless simply a mathematical reality. In other words, bound to happen soon or later. Apparently, it was sooner for Hand. His book was published February 14, 2014 and Ironmonger’s book came out February 18, 2014. That, by the way, is a coincidence that Hand missed. We found it by comparing the two books.

So why does Hand think people see meaning in coincidences? He says it’s because we seek patterns and order. But, he goes on to say, there’s no great metaphysical force at work or significance in them.

We would say that debunkers and statisticians like Hand find order in the idea that there are no such patterns, no bigger picture of reality, only the everyday world with its cold but comforting numbers and statistics that explain away everything else.

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Hurricane Maria, a Trickster?

 

Hurricane Names for 2017
Atlantic Tropical (and Subtropical) Storm Names for 2017
Arlene Harvey Ophelia
Bret Irma Philippe
Cindy Jose Rina
Don Katia Sean
Emily Lee Tammy
Franklin Maria Vince
Gert Nate Whitney

 

The 2017 hurricane season held some major surprises that included two category 5 hurricanes – Irma and Maria. Irma reached wind speeds of 185 mph, and a pressure of 914 millibars. She tore through The Caribbean, British Virgin Islands
U.S. Virgin Islands, Cuba, and Florida. Maria’s winds reached 175 mph and a pressure of 908. She ripped through the Lesser Antilles, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and the Turks and Caicos Islands

By comparison, Hurricane Wilma 12 years earlier, in 2005, had top winds of 185 mph and a pressure of 882 millibars, the lowest on record. That pressure made Wilma the most powerful hurricane ever.

Violent weather and its aftermath are covered so extensively by the media that what’s sometimes revealed is a dark undercurrent in American life that becomes glaringly obvious. This revelation often involves trickster synchronicities, as with Hurricane Maria.

Out of the 21 names for hurricanes in 2017, only two were Hispanic names – Jose and Maria. Jose was the longest-lived Atlantic hurricane since Nadine in 2012. It affected the Leeward Islands, Bahamas, Bermuda, brought rain to the east coast of the U.S., and to Nova Scotia. Its damage was minimal.

Maria was a different monster altogether. She slammed into Puerto Rico, an American territory and Hispanic culture, the first layer of the synchronicity. It wasn’t, after all, Irma or Harvey that slammed into  Puerto Rico, but Maria, a Latino named storm. Her winds were just under a cat 5 – 155 mph , cat 5 officially begins with 156 mph winds – and caused catastrophic damage. The humanitarian crisis that has followed, however,  is the result of an inept president who may not have known that Puerto Rico was an American territory and whose racism against Hispanics and other people of color is well-known – and documented.

FEMA is in Puerto Rico, supplies wait on barges, and a floating hospital with 250 beds and full services is just offshore. But in the 2 weeks since the ship’s arrival, only 13 percent of its beds are occupied. Since this post was written several days ago, those percentages may have improved marginally. But maybe not. This story is fascinating.

The problem seems to be coordination among the various agencies on the ground and the attitude of a president whose initial response to the disaster was to attack the island for its poor infrastructure and debt. Every time the San Juan mayor is on American TV, talking about the government’s poor response in the aftermath, trump blames someone else. The democrats. Obama. The mayor. The island itself. His latest tweet about it was that FEMA and the military can’t remain in PR indefinitely. Yet, 12 years after Katrina devastated New Orleans, FEMA is still there.

It took a hurricane with an Hispanic name that hit an island with an Hispanic culture to fully reveal trump’s bias against people of color. It’s a trickster synchro that addresses the pathetic state of the current administration and this country.

PS. A friend just sent this link about  the tiny power company awarded a $300 million contract for Puerto Rico’s power grid reconstruction. It’s linked to a major Trump donor.

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