now ain't that a helluva coincidence?

I START THE DAY with my usual mug of cof­fee and while there's usu­ally too much on my mind, to­day it's sim­ple: I can't get the song "Aus­tralia" from the Kinks' al­bum ARTHUR out of my mind. My head bobs up and down and my body sways to the rhythm and melody and the de­light­ful if goofy lyrics as the song goes 'round my head.

"Op­por­tu­ni­ties are avail­able in all walks of life in Aus­tralia!"

I hop into the car to run some er­rands, turn on the ra­dio and fid­dle with the dial. Amaz­ingly, I find a sta­tion play­ing a pro­gram of '60s rock and keep the sta­tion tuned in. And, lo and be­hold, the sec­ond song they play is Vic­to­ria, also from the Kink's ARTHUR al­bum. 1

And I think to my­self, "Now ain't that a co­in­ci­dence?"

And ain't that a phrase we've all heard be­fore?

And of­ten it ain't even a ques­tion, but a state­ment or an ex­cla­ma­tion.

And it's of­ten used in­cor­rectly: many peo­ple say co­in­ci­dence when they mean serendip­i­tous.

 

For my money, ARTHUR is the Kinks' mas­ter­piece and ar­guably the best al­bum of 1969, a year chock­ablock full of great al­bums!

A remarkable concurrence

Merriam-Webster de­fines co­in­ci­dence as an "oc­cur­rence of events that hap­pen at the same time by ac­ci­dent but seem to have some con­nec­tion." Wikipedia, of course, gives a length­ier ex­pla­na­tion:

"A co­in­ci­dence is a re­mark­able con­cur­rence [or si­mul­ta­ne­ous oc­cur­rence] of events or cir­cum­stances that have no ap­par­ent causal con­nec­tion with one an­other. The per­cep­tion of re­mark­able co­in­ci­dences may lead to su­per­nat­ural, oc­cult, or para­nor­mal claims.

Or it may lead to be­lief in fa­tal­ism, which is a doc­trine that events will hap­pen in the ex­act man­ner of a pre­de­ter­mined plan. From a sta­tis­ti­cal per­spec­tive, co­in­ci­dences are in­evitable and of­ten less re­mark­able than they may ap­pear in­tu­itively."

As Wiki points out, many co­in­ci­dences are far more sta­tis­ti­cally prob­a­ble then the events in­volved would seem, es­pe­cially to those un­fa­mil­iar with prob­a­bil­ity. Con­se­quently, "mere" co­in­ci­dences — and each day is filled with them if one takes the time to no­tice — are of­ten at­trib­uted to causes out­side the realm of the ex­plain­able or even be­liev­able — that is, to su­per­nat­ural or para­nor­mal sources.

 

The two fin­gers be­hind Natalie's back in­di­cates that this is the sec­ond in a line movie in the new Charlie's An­gels fran­chise, the third due in 2019.

Serendipitous occurrences

Merriam-Webster de­fines serendip­ity as "the fac­ulty or phe­nom­e­non of find­ing valu­able or agree­able things not sought for." Sim­i­larly, Wikipedia calls it "an un­planned, for­tu­itous dis­cov­ery."

The word has a de­light­ful ori­gin: ap­par­ently Ho­race Wal­pole coined it in 1754 to ex­plain his un­ex­pect­edly find­ing some­thing:

"I once read a silly fairy tale, called The Three Princes of Serendip: as their High­nesses trav­eled, they were al­ways mak­ing dis­cov­er­ies, by ac­ci­dents and sagac­ity, of things which they were not in quest of."

Re­fer­ring to serendip­i­tous events, Isaac Asi­mov ob­served that "The most ex­cit­ing phrase to hear in sci­ence — the one that her­alds new dis­cov­er­ies — is not Eu­reka! but That's funny."

A serendip­i­tous oc­cur­rence is not the same as a co­in­ci­dence.

 

One of these dudes is a bodhisattva-wannabe surfer who thinks he's hot stuff, one is a rookie FBI agent who thinks he's hot stuff, and three are bank-robbers who think they're hot stuff. Guess who's who!

There ain't no coincidences

In an ar­ti­cle ti­tled "There Are No Co­in­ci­dences" on the Psy­chol­ogy To­day site, Dr. Bernard D. Beit­man points to sev­eral be­lief systems/patterns and how they in­ter­pret co­in­ci­dences:

"Many be­lieve that Fate or Mys­tery, or the Uni­verse or God causes co­in­ci­dences. Their faith in some­thing Greater pro­vides them with a cause. Since God causes them, the cause is known. There­fore, there are no co­in­ci­dences.

Statistically-oriented peo­ple be­lieve that . . . in large pop­u­la­tions any weird event is likely to hap­pen. This is a long way of say­ing that co­in­ci­dences are mostly ran­dom. Be­cause sta­tis­ti­cians know that ran­dom­ness ex­plains them, co­in­ci­dences are noth­ing but strange yet ex­pectable events that we re­mem­ber be­cause they are sur­pris­ing to us.


"No one hes­i­tates with life or beats around the bush in Aus­tralia."


Those who be­lieve in Mys­tery are more likely to be­lieve that co­in­ci­dences con­tain mes­sages for them per­son­ally. . . . Some of those in the ran­dom camp can find some co­in­ci­dences per­son­ally com­pelling and use­ful.

Co­in­ci­dences ex­ist.

Co­in­ci­dences are real.

Say­ing that there are no co­in­ci­dences stops in­quiry."

To which I say Bravo!

There were many ar­ti­cles I could have se­lected to use as an au­thor­i­ta­tive source here, but I chose the good doc­tor be­cause he in­cludes in his ob­ser­va­tions:

"Mys­tery plays a role be­cause our minds can­not grasp the mul­ti­ple stir­rings hid­den be­hind the veil of our ig­no­rance. Here lies some of the beauty in the study of co­in­ci­dences. They make us won­der."

To which I say Amen.

 

Mr. Zogs went all out with the double-entendre: "Quick Humps," "Ex­tra Soft," "Cold To Cool," and "Best For Your Stick" make the prod­uct sound like some­thing every home-porn pro­ducer should have on hand.

Sex wax and ex-presidents

Two nights ago, we watched a cou­ple of movies back-to-back, start­ing with Point Break (1991) that stars Keanu Reeves as a fledg­ing FBI agent as­signed to an older agent (Gary Busey) to in­ves­ti­gate a se­ries of bank rob­beries by the Ex-Presidents, a quar­tet wear­ing rub­ber masks of Jon­son, Nixon, Carter, and Rea­gan. I'd pulled it from the li­brary at someone's rec­om­men­da­tion. 2

The two FBI agents de­ter­mine that the bank rob­bers are surfers and Reeves goes un­der­cover as a novice surfer, where he finds the bad guys, led by Patrick Swayze.

And how did the agents come up with the the­ory of surfers as rob­bers? Be­cause a small amount of Mr. Zog's Sex Wax ("the best for your stick") was found at the scene of the last heist.


"We'll surf like they do in the USA. We'll fly down to Syd­ney for our hol­i­day, on sunny Christ­mas Day."


I tried surf­ing once, back in 1973. The dude who let me on his board used Sex Wax then, when it was still new. I don't think I'd heard the term used since. 3

Since I'd picked the first movie, Berni chose the sec­ond: Charlie's An­gels – Full Throt­tle (2003) stars Cameron Diaz, Drew Bar­ry­more, and Lucy Liu as the cur­rent in­car­na­tion of the plucky three­some, with Demi Moore as a for­mer an­gel. They too have a crime to solve, a mur­der, and they too de­cide the bad guy is a surfer.

How? The per­pe­tra­tor left be­hind a credit card that was used to break into the victim's home. On the card was a taste of pineap­ple Sex Wax!

Whoa! I hadn't heard of Sex Wax in years and here I was hear­ing it twice, in one night, in back-to-back movies.

And, like one of Dr. Beitman's statistically-oriented peo­ple, I thought, "Ain't that a co­in­ci­dence!"

 

The de­sign of this poster makes it look like the movie should be some sort of pseudo-psychedelic pseudo-documentary from the '70s.

Dodson and Dodson

Last night, we had two more movies to watch: the first one was Kill The Mes­sen­ger (2104). Star­ring Gary Ren­ner and Rose­marie De­Witt, it's the story of jour­nal­ist Gary Webb's in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the source of the ex­plo­sion crack co­caine in the black neigh­bor­hoods of Los An­ge­les. His re­search leads him to be­lieve the CIA was aware if not ac­tive in trans­port­ing the coke from Cen­tral Amer­ica into the States.

"So if you're young and if you're healthy why not get a boat and come to Aus­tralia?"

One of Webb's first ob­sta­cles to over­come is fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor Rus­sell Dod­son, who ap­pears to be in the know on the CIA's in­volve­ment and do­ing his best to keep oth­ers in the dark.

Good movie but we may never know ex­actly what the CIA knew: merely ob­servers, merely com­plicit, or di­rect­ing the whole thing, in­clud­ing Webb's death.

That movie was my se­lec­tion for the evening. Berni fol­lowed with one of her faves, Con­stan­tine (2005), this time with Keanu Reeves play­ing a cyn­i­cal wiseacre who bat­tles half-breed demons from Hell try­ing to es­tab­lish a beach­head on Earth. I had tried to watch this movie be­fore, but al­ways had a dif­fi­cult time with its over-the-top, comic-book plot and feel and with Reeves, an ac­tor who I have long sus­pected of lack­ing much tal­ent. 4

Then Rachel Weisz showed up as a cop — De­tec­tive An­gela Dod­son.

Un­holy moly!

Two Dod­sons in two movies in one night af­ter two Sex Waxes in two movies the night be­fore.

And like one of those ex­am­ples of Dr. Beitman's non-statistically-oriented who be­lieve in mys­tery and that co­in­ci­dences con­tain mes­sages, I thought, "Does this mean some­thing? Is the Uni­verse try­ing to tell me some­thing?"

And then I re­verted to type and thought, "Ain't that a co­in­ci­dence!"

 

I se­lected this Ger­man poster be­cause it was graph­i­cally much more in­ter­est­ing than the Amer­i­can poster.

I'm a not always a believer

If you en­gaged me in con­ver­sa­tion or ar­gu­ment, you might hear me say, "I don't be­lieve in co­in­ci­dences," but that's when one such con­trivance is used as the ba­sis for an ar­gu­ment for some­thing that oth­er­wise ap­pears to be rather im­prob­a­ble with­out the con­trivance.

But let's leave that for an­other time.

I don't be­lieve in co­in­ci­dences when used for an ar­gu­ment that ap­pears im­prob­a­ble. Click To Tweet

FEATURED IMAGE: A rather self-consciously 'look-who-tough-we-look' photo to pro­mote the Charlie's An­gels movies, with Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz, and Drew Bar­ry­more. In their en­try on this movie, Wikipedia dubs them a "cap­ti­vat­ing crime-fighting trio,"apparently with­out irony. Eas­ily dis­missed as so much fluff — es­pe­cially if you grew up with the orig­i­nal and dis­missed it as so much fluff — the two re­cent movies so far are cheek­ily en­joy­able, well, fluff.

Fi­nally, and I hope ob­vi­ously, all the quotes in large, grey type­face are lyrics from the song Aus­tralia, writ­ten by Ray­mond Dou­glas Davies. All the songs for the al­bum ARTHUR—whose par­en­thetic sub-title is "The De­cline And Fall Of The British Em­pire" — were writ­ten as the sound­track to a 1969 British tele­vi­sion spe­cial that was never pro­duced.

 


FOOTNOTES:

1   Vic­to­ria spent eight weeks on the Cash Box Top 100, peak­ing at #54 (poop­ing out at #62 on the Bill­board Hot 100). While this would have been a hor­ren­dous plac­ing for the group dur­ing the two years of the British In­va­sion (1964−1965), it was, in fact, the first side they had placed on Billboard's sur­vey in more than three years!

2   In a com­pletely un­re­lated con­ver­sa­tion this past Sat­ur­day, Mr Reeves's name came up: my cof­fee­mate Jon pro­nounced it 'kee-noo' and I said, "Hm, I al­ways say 'kee-an-noo'," with the sec­ond syl­la­ble be­ing hard. So we looked it up and it's 'kee-ah-noo,' with the sec­ond syl­la­ble be­ing soft

3   It was at the Jer­sey shore. I was just hang­ing out, watch­ing. A guy I'd never met tried to teach me. I kept falling off. For­tu­nately, my in­struc­tor made sure that I kept hit­ting wa­ter when I landed.

4   If it mat­ters, de­spite his con­tin­ued pres­ence in films and pop­u­lar­ity with many film-goers, I wasn't con­vinced that Mr Reeves was more than just an­other pretty face un­til he popped up com­pletely out of char­ac­ter as a charm­ing — and very en­light­ened — doc­tor in Something's Gotta Give. As I watched him hold his own in the pres­ence of Jack Nichol­son, Di­ane Keaton, and Frances Mc­Dor­mand, I thought, "Who'd a thunk . . ."

 

I used to close a lot of my posts here with a photo of an at­trac­tive woman for no rea­son other than I like see­ing at­trac­tive women. So why not close this piece with an­other photo of the three at­trac­tive women who star in one of the movies men­tioned in this ar­ti­cle?