Saturday, June 22, 2013

Oh Paula

md...   signed.  a collectible just for you. :)

Monday, June 17, 2013


Just recently I wrote an entry on the passing of Jean Stapleton. I told the story (publicly for the first time) about the coincidences that have happened that pretty much make me feel some kind of connection with my mom. It has been about 35 years since she died. There have been a lot of those connecting coincidences over all those years, but I was just sharing a few. My father died a few years after my mother did. Having parents that both died when I was at such a relatively young age affected my life a lot. But the question you may ask and I have often asked myself is why I felt it important to discuss my mother's influence on my life and have excluded my father.

I think it started because my father and I were often at odds and I clung to my mother as a reason, and later, as she sickened, although my function had changed, she was still my reason of being. I have grown enough now to know that the flaws of my parents exist among the flaws of the pretty much everyone I have ever known in the world, especially myself (who I have quite a lot of experience with.) Some people see this transition from the idolization of their parents to a realization of their flawed humanity over a longer period of time, some do not. While politics was not the only thing my dad and I fought about, as I grew older the political views of my dad, the notorious conservative, actually converged in many ways with my own (now a liberal viewpoint as the party of the conservatives became unrecognizable.)

I was watching a show entitled Touch. It is a show that deals with coincidences in a unique way. Kiefer Sutherland plays the father of an autistic child that is in reality a savant who understands the inner workings of the world through numbers. The idea is that there is a mathematically available pattern behind the entire world and there are those who can see this mathematical pattern. This boy is one...but he has never said a word to his father or anyone. He communicates with his father through numbers to guide him to heal the problem spots in the world, the places where the mathematical sequence is not in accord with the ideal pattern. I have called it a cross between Highway to Heaven and Quantum Leap. It is one of those shows I have held at arm's length because the idea is just so good and the potential so great that I don't want it to fail in front of my eyes. It doesn't.

The episode I watched today on Netflix was called "Zone of Exclusion" and the mathematical theme was one of connecting the points of triangles. The story-line revolves around the connection of two points through a third point. As autistic Jake narrates (narration is the only place the viewer hears his voice or thoughts), the shortest path between two points is a line and life naturally follows this course. But when water encounters an obstruction, it moves around the obstruction and so rivers zigzag in odd paths as the water tries to flow a straight line between the highest point to the lowest. It flows through a third point to connect, over and over again. It is a Taoist philosophy that one's path in life is like water.

As you can see, I really have come to love the show. But the episode I watched today truly touched me in a way that was startling. As Keifer's character explains. There are coincidences and there is truth.

As I recounted in that earlier entry about Jean Stapleton, I have come to connect found pennies with my mother. I am sure there are other movies or television shows that had lucky pennies as linchpins in the plot, but I cannot remember any. I remember having a nice experience watching the movie "Pennies from Heaven,"  which, as you could guess from the title, I would. But the weirdly coincidental thing about this episode of Touch was that I happened to watch it on Father's Day. My father was a taxi driver when I knew him, after his retirement from the Air Force. In this episode the taxi driver is the third point in a triangle, and the dispatcher is the third point in another triangle. There is the lady who must find her lucky penny (that Keifer Sutherland character drops) and so... I was in tears as the episode connected that third point of the triangle of the nuclear family I knew as I grew mother, me, AND my father. Happy Father's Day, Daddy.

"If two points are destined to touch, the universe will always find a way to make a connection. Even when all hope seems lost, certain ties cannot be broken. They define who we are, and who we can become. Across space, across time, along paths we cannot predict, nature always finds a way."

Summary: Touch : S1 E8

* The other coincidence here is the ham radio. My father always talked about that but basically only owned a scanner. This gave him the third point of a triangle when taking instructions from his dispatcher. He could hear the dispatcher and he could talk to the dispatcher but could not hear other drivers as the taxi radios were designed. Hearing the responses and locations of the other drivers was what he wanted to do in secret through his scanner. He explained that he did this to find out if the dispatcher played favorites with the drivers. But I know it was really....surveillance. :)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Paul and George

Paul from a 1972 concert.

Left off of  Sgt. Pepper.. this is a bare bones version of the song.  Song was later given to Yellow Submarine project.  This is a song about itself. Contracts were such that Northern Songs gave very little satisfaction in the writing. :)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Jean Stapleton's Passing

I owe a great deal of my political activism to TV shows by Norman Lear. All in the Family WAS my family. My mother was the perfect wife and mother with great moral values while political views were only occasionally voiced. My father and I constantly fought over political issues just like Mike (my namesake) and Archie. I always thought my mother was so much like Jean Stapleton's character, not really as extreme but in her heart and soul. Many years later, after my mom had died, I went to see a movie with my sister. The name of the movie: "Michael." In the movie Jean Stapleton's character dies but later comes back as an angel.

There is a list of coincidences here, but before I go on, I must relate one thing. My mother used to tell me that finding a penny was lucky. After she died, I "told" my mother, that if she could hear me and if she wanted to say hello just leave a penny on the ground for me. I have followed this tradition of saying hello back to my mother each time I find a penny. My wife does it now, as well.

On the way into the movie "Michael" I found a penny on the ground, then another, then another. (I  even found a penny upon leaving the theater later.) As my sister and I were walking down the corridor towards the movie, "Michael," it was playing in the very last theater. The movie in the theater just before that one in the corridor was "Mother." So when I looked down the hallway I saw Mother... then Michael...and there in the movie was Jean Stapleton, who dies, who becomes an angel.

There is one other star that my family thought was like my mother, not because of her characters or acting or beatific voice, but solely because of her looks. That star was, oddly enough, Lena Horne. She was not the correct race, of course, but yes, yes, there is something in Lena Horne's manner, and facial expression, her cheek bones and eyes that mirrors my mother.

The day my mother died was on Christmas Day. Yes, it was tragic, but my Christmas is a normal one, now 35 years later thanks to my wonderful wife. Anyway, the day my mother died was awful. There was a Christmas tree right there beside me that Christmas morning in the hospital, where I signed my mom's death certificate. The day wore on with family members coming over bringing food....yes...Christmas food.

By the end of this day, I was so tired. I was so sick of, honestly, seeing people, of Christmas presents laying around unopened, and so many things. I just had to get out. I told my Dad and Sister that I was just going to go to a movie (movies became my refuge on Christmas Day for many years after that.) I looked through the paper and no movie was appropriate but I decided on "The Wiz," a remake of the "Wizard of Oz" starring...."Michael" Jackson. It was a segregated world in those days in Montgomery Alabama and I found myself in a theater of people that were of slightly different ethnicity than my own. Those were odd days as I was the only white boy in the audience... which suited me fine that night. I was outspoken about racial equality in 1978, but really I was too young to fully understand the issue. I had been surprised that I was the only white guy that wanted to see Michael Jackson...but... looking back, I later realized the telling nature of this.

So I am in this movie theater watching "The Wiz" and Leana Horne appears. She is the good witch of the north... dressed all in white, sitting on a cloud, a vision (as far as I was concerned) of an angel in heaven. Tears were rolling down my face and that is where I had the first good cry about my mother's passing. I imagine I must have been quite the sight in that theater.

These are some of the main coincidence stories (and there are others) about my mother....until today. I started to write this story on Facebook... a quick nod to the wonderful Jean Stapleton...until I remembered and put together what had happened today. It has been a long dry spell for found pennies, but today, as I got out of my car to buy some vegetables at Vegies-to-Go I found a penny... then another. I said hello to my mom and went in to order my meal to go. As I was standing... waiting, I noticed a man standing and waiting looking at a flat screen TV in the corner. This restaurant had never had a TV. The Hispanic guy who takes my order is ALWAYS there, 6 days a week. I turned to him and said... "Oh, a TV!  I bet that makes your life better!" He laughed and said that indeed it did. I turned and watched the TV and what the man was watching was an obit of Jean Stapleton on CNN. Goodbye, Jean Stapleton. You will be missed.

I only remembered the pennies as I started to write this account. Another "coincidence" to add to my evidence that they are not coincidences.

Hello Mom...