now ain’t that a helluva coincidence?

Es­ti­mated reading time is 8 min­utes.

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.

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.


Kinks ARTHUR Rep C

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.


CharliesAngels FullThrottle poster 600

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.


PointBreak poster 600

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.

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.


Sexwax case purple 600

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.

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!”


KillTheMessenger poster 600

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.

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!”


Constantine poster Germany 600

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

CharliesAngels FullThrottle devil 1500

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.



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 . . .”


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