high strangeness

I have written about weird things before but for the purpose of this project I am going to repost and rework those posts under the “all weird things” tag. This is the first of those posts:

We’ve all probably had a number of things in our lives that made us go “huh.” I know I have. I embraced the weird some time back, and even though I always try to find logical explanations before accepting anything para-weird, there is always going to be stuff that skirts the edge of rational and . . . other.

One such incident happened when I was about thirteen at our old house in Venice, the one I grew up in, which was in itself a strange place full of odd corners and unusual atmospherics. We lived on a huge lot with a big house on the front of the property occupied by our landlady. Our house was a little ramshackle place with four front doors because its basic structure consisted of four beach cabins strung together to make a house. (Beach cabins: those things from the early 20th century set up on the sand where people would go to change out of their street clothes and into swimwear so they didn’t have to immodestly walk from their vehicles to the shore in “scanty” clothing.)

A prodigious backyard sat behind our little house in which my father grew a legendary vegetable garden every year. A large but very old and dilapidated shack sat at the very back of the southwest corner of the lot where my father kept tools and such. It hadn’t seen paint in centuries, it seemed, the wood chipped and splintered and that wonderful grey barnwood patina people pay big money to acquire these days. Between the back of the shack and the next property over (a dairy processing plant) was a passageway about five feet wide. My father put trellis up on the shed back there and grew banana squash, letting them crawl up the trellis rather than spread across the ground. I liked to sit back there in the summertime because it was always cool, even on the hottest days, and smelled loamy and of growing green things. It was one of many small, urbanized sacred combes I had on that property—but not a perfect spot.

We had the dairy processing plant to contend with, for one. Just across from the growing banana squash was a two-foot high concrete boundary marker topped by an enormous chain link fence—at least twenty feet high—that ran the entire length of the back end of our property. The fence was loose enough at the bottom that I could push it inward and sit on that concrete ledge to stare at and smell the growing things, wiggle my toes in the loamy earth, and think my solitary thoughts. Just the other side of the fence on the dairy property was a massive ice freezer and ice crusher machine. Again, it was at least 15-20 feet high, but seemed larger because the boundary marker was part of an elevation of the land between our property and the dairy. It towered, to say the least. Another fence sat behind the southern end of the thing, as well. A very narrow passageway ran the length of this monster, maybe three feet wide at most. A grown person would have had to walk sideways to go back there. There was a long freezer compartment (maybe 30 feet?) which held big blocks of ice, and on the front end a platform and some ice crushing machines. The dairymen hauled out these blocks of ice, crushed them (usually at about 3 a.m.), and loaded it into bags so they could pack their trucks (parked along the northern length of our property) and keep their dairy products cool while they made their early morning deliveries.

(The ice crusher was also part of a harassment campaign because the dairy wanted to force our neighbors and our landlady to sell the property cheap so they could gobble up the entire block—but that’s a separate story. Suffice it to say, it didn’t work because we were all extremely stubborn and adaptable poor people.)

Anyway, I was in the backyard proper one day, lying on the grass the other side of the garden, reading (though I don’t remember the book) but also feeling restless. That kind of restlessness that’s an itch just beneath the skin. A disease common in early adolescence, I believe. I put the book down wondering what I could do with that restlessness when I became aware of—how to put this?—another consciousness inside my brain. Yeah, I know. I’ve only experienced such a thing a few times in my life, mostly in connection with premonitions, but it’s a very distinct feeling. A restless itch of the mind, if you will. It was telling me to get up and go behind the shed to my sacred spot and if I did, something would happen. There would be a gift there for me. It scared me, frankly. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to be kidnapped by aliens or other things, but the consciousness was reassuring and insistent. So I got up, walked through the garden, and behind the shed.

I stood there a minute thinking, “Okay, I’m here, now what?” I walked down to the end of the passage where our property ended and the low fence of our southern neighbor started. I turned around and looked back the way I’d come but . . . nothing. Then I glanced to my left. Lying on the ground, just the other side of the chain link fence, was a black, leather-bound notebook, maybe 6×4 inches. It looked brand new so I reached under the loose links at the bottom of the fence and pulled it through. It was a spiralbound notebook and full of crisp, new ruled paper—and completely blank. No writing inside, nothing to identify an owner. Like I said, an adult would have had to walk sideways along the passage beside the ice crusher, and this notebook was deposited at the very end of the freezer compartment about a foot from the other fence that ran behind the monster. It wasn’t something someone could have dropped from the platform. They would have had to purposefully sidle down that passage for it to be there. It’s entirely possible that someone could have slithered down there to take a secret whizz (although why go so far?) or maybe someone came back there to spy on our and our neighbor’s property (given the underhanded nature of the dairy owners) but . . .?

I dunno. All I know was that I was delighted with the notebook. Although I had known I wanted to be a writer since the second grade, I was flailing around about it at that stage of my life and getting a lot a flak from my mother about how impractical my expressed career goal was and what a foolish dream and etc. That notebook seemed like an important piece of encouragement to me at the time. I wrote a lot after that, despite discouragement. I’ve never really stopped, although I have had a couple of bouts of prolonged writers’ block wherein that restless itch beneath the skin became agonizing. Writing has always been the cure for that.

And remembering this incident also reminded me of something I encountered recently in my reread of Patrick Harpur’s Daimonic Reality:

I have long thought of my art (any art, all art) as an act of worship—or if that’s too strong a word, an act of gratitude and devotion. To whom? The Universe for giving me this means of scratching that itch? Maybe. It doesn’t even matter if it’s good art or bad, whether or not you’re acknowledged publicly in galleries or publishing houses and the like, the act of doing of art shows the Universe that you have the passion and the practice of that devotion. The doing is the important part. That’s why I’m an emotional wreck when I’m not doing that work and why I’m always supremely grateful when it comes back to me.

That notebook long ago was something of a talisman. I may still have it buried somewhere around here, though I haven’t seen it in years. But like any talisman it was good for the time in which it came to me and lasted as long as I needed to look on it and be encouraged. It was indeed a gift, whether from the Universe, some mysterious being, or from some random dude taking a whizz out behind the ice crusher.


In 2019 I started keeping a coincidence diary—writing down odd linkages as well as the occasional synchronicity. Some of the stuff in this diary is very odd indeed, although much of it is quite mundane. Sometimes, however, patterns emerge even with the mundane coincidences. For instance, they tend to come in clusters. I’ll have a number of them for a month, then nothing for months, then another cluster. And when I reread them as a whole (as I do now and then) even the mundane ones are like a short walk through an uncanny valley. Some in the paranormal field also believe that the more you write them down, the more you will have—but that could just be a matter of perceptive, or paying attention.

I was rereading my diary this morning because I’ve had a string of coincidences in the last week and a half centering around this old post from 2016 about the firewolf in (allegedly) Native American Indian traditions. About a week and a half ago, some random stranger left a comment on that post on my website, telling me about a dream of a fiery wolf he’d had and how my post was just what he needed to read. Which was nice, but I didn’t think much more about it than that. I wondered how he’d found me, so I googled “firewolf” and got a bunch of stuff on a firewolf gaming system, so I tried “firewolf dream” and my post was third on the page. Which was also interesting and nice. A few days after that I was searching my Dreamwidth blog tags on a completely different subject and that post came up in the search. Which was interesting, but not that unusual. Then a few days ago, I read a tweet from an English artist I follow. She had done and posted an illustration of a firewolf. When I asked her where she had heard the story of the firewolf, she referred me to a traditional Jewish storyteller. Apparently, it’s one of their fairytales, a tale of redemption.

So, none of those incidents taken individually are all that odd, but strung together in a short period of time, they take on a different meaning and make me wonder what the Big U is trying to tell me. Skeptics would say that the only meaning is the human capacity to notice coincidence, but that’s no damned fun. I prefer other explanations, as illustrated by another entry in my diary, one that starts out quite mundane then takes a slight turn:

9/9/20: Last night I was watching the 1975 film version of Three Men In A Boat on YouTube and the character played by Tim Curry mentions “housemaid’s knee,” a term I’d never heard before. Today while listening to a Weird Studies podcast on the subject of synchronicity they mentioned housemaid’s knee. At the end of the podcast they said that even mundane coincidences are a way of letting you know that you’re hearing the music of the universe.

Yes, that’s better.

Here’s another, somewhat odder, and another in a string of PJ seeing things (or not seeing things) that makes me wonder about the Big U’s sense of humor. My BFF and I had been watching episodes of Hellier S2 in tandem, she at her house, me at mine. Mothman has become a sort of running joke between us ever since we watched Hellier S1 and I sent her a copy of John Keel’s The Mothman Chronicles to read. (The bracket text is me interjecting.)

2/17/20: I was watching the local news around 5 p.m. Sometimes they use live remotes as a background for the anchors. This time they had a shot of downtown L.A. with two large skyscraper office buildings in the middle distance, shot from the upper floors. As I watched, something dark with flapping wings flew out from behind one of the buildings headed towards the other. Just before it got to the other building it flipped in midair and flapped back the way it had come—but it suddenly disappeared about midway. I jokingly texted my BFF “I think I just saw Mothman,” and told her what I’d seen. I didn’t hear back from her until 7:04 p.m. At just about the time I’d texted her, she’d been walking with her husband [and not reading texts, just walking] and taken a really nasty fall and had to go to urgent care. Fortunately, nothing broken but she got pretty banged up and had a black eye. We were joking that Mothman had been warning of her personal mini-disaster [since some people believe he’s a harbinger of disaster]. I’m willing to believe what I saw was a trompe l’oeil or floating eye smuts or some sort of camera distortion, but the timing was still weird.

I haven’t even mentioned some of the weirdest coincidences in my diary. Maybe someday. And coincidence, of course, is in the l’oeil of the beholder sometimes, but the contemplation of them certainly makes the universe a more interesting place.

I’m not sure this is a genuine case of high strangeness. It’s easy to dismiss—and, in fact, I dismissed it almost as soon as it happened. But it is strange.

When my mother was still alive, I had to get up early every Saturday morning to take her to dialysis. It was a chore to get up early on Saturday, but at least I got to sleep in until 6:45 instead of 5:15 as I did on weekday mornings for work. And it meant I had 3 hours of precious me time when I didn’t have to worry about caregiving. I loved my mother, didn’t begrudge the giving of care, but during the week the only time I got alone was driving to and from work (and, I’m sorry, but that doesn’t really count as me time).

On this particular Saturday, I had just left my mother off at dialysis and was feeling good anticipating the free time. The quickest way between our house in Westchester (a suburb of L.A. near LAX) and Inglewood where her clinic was located, was the 105 Freeway. On that section of it’s run the 105 is built high up in the air, towering above all but the skyscrapers and gives you a panoramic view of the L.A. Basin. As well as LAX, since the freeway was built to be something of an expressway from various parts of L.A. to the airport. (On a sidenote, I remember taking my mother to dialysis one morning and watching the space shuttle in the distance wending its slow way through city streets.)

It was a bright, clear Chamber of Commerce day, blue skies all around and views to forever. The sun was behind me as I traveled west at high speed in the direction of the airport, and I had a clear view to the horizon from a long way out. From the 105, you see the backend of LAX, the south side behind the terminals and runways where they park planes and maintenance/emergency vehicles and the like, and where the outbuildings reside. I don’t know what made me look that way but I became suddenly aware of some odd thing floating low over this part of the airport. It couldn’t have been more than a couple of hundred feet off the ground. It didn’t look like a balloon or a drone or any kind of aircraft. It was oblong and odd shaped and brownish. “It looks like a donut,” I thought. (I’d already had breakfast so I wasn’t especially hungry.) That was odd enough, but stranger still was that it was absolutely motionless. It didn’t seem to move a particle for many long minutes, then began to glide with painful slowness to the northwest, towards the terminals and the runways, gaining a little in altitude but not much. The sun glinted off it a bit then, but not much. I kept flicking my eyes back and forth between the road and the sky. Fortunately, early on a Saturday morning, the traffic was fairly light. As I approached the Sepulveda Blvd. off ramp (where I usually exited the freeway), I flicked my eyes towards the exit, then back to the thing—and it had completely disappeared.

One thing most people may not know about Los Angeles County is that it has one of the highest rates of UFO spottings of anyplace in the country. This may have to do with the large amount of air traffic in the area or the vastness of the skies on a sunny day or military bases or…other factors. I can’t say.

I usually prefer logical explanations before jumping on the high strangeness bandwagon (something those who have read this blog for a while may not credit, but I do). So I thought perhaps whatever it was had landed (although in four or five seconds, that would have been more like a crash). I could still see the ground underneath where it had been and there was nothing like it on the ground. Maybe it was an odd-looking balloon and the wind picked up and started to move it—but why did it hover motionless for at least five minutes if that was the case? It could have been a drone, but I’ve never seen a drone that looked like that, and they were much less common back then. I suppose because I was traveling at a high rate of speed towards the object, I could have had the illusion that a very slow-moving object was standing still and as I got closer it appeared to move. Or some other form of real life trompe l’oeil. These are the things I told myself as I finished that drive home—even wasted some of my precious me time on it—and what I’ve thought about in the time since it happened.

But it was strange. And it did share the one characteristic with other more clearly delineated incidents of high strangeness I’ve experienced: I’ve never forgotten it, and it periodically hawks itself back up again in my memory to be examined and wondered over before I put it away on the shelf.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Unless, of course, it’s a cruller.

*It didn’t really look like a cruller—more of a buttermilk Long John, oblong and irregular—but cruller just sounded better.

Some ignoramus has posted a video on YouTube showing Frank Sinatra with Nat King Cole actually singing the song, “L.O.V.E.” This is the wonderful and classy Nat King Cole:


Two hours without WiFi and I was hyperventilating. Fortunately, it was a simple fix, but I may have an addiction problem.

Tommy. His eyes were actually a soulful gray, not blue. He was in his forties and had done his soldiering during World War I. He became a special police officer during World War II so the younger men could go and fight.


I found an old keepsake box buried amongst a lot of, well, junk. Some genuine keepsakes inside the box, but also some very old story rejection letters from some of the top magazines, stuff I sent out when I was probably barely out of high school. All form letters, of course. I decided my nostalgia did not stretch to holding on to those any longer. I Kondo’d their a*ses.

That feeling when something seemingly minor turns dark and deep and symbolic…


I WILL NOT JOIN FACEBERG, no matter how many paranormal and Outlander live events they host. I WILL NOT become part of the evil empire! I WILL NOT! (Although I did succumb a little bit and joined Instagram. Mostly as a lurker.)

What to do with all these calendars that people gave me because they didn’t know what else to give me? I only need one and that’s the one with kitties that I bought myself.

Sometimes I look at my house and pity the person who, when I die, will have to clean out and dispose of ALL THESE BOOKS. But mostly I pity the books.

Zero results from the Iowa Caucus are just about right if you consider Iowa’s relative importance to reflecting the diversity of the United States. They give such outsized importance to Iowa and New Hampshire. Nothing against either of those states but they’re hardly representative of the rest of the country. Yet because somebody gets defeated in either Iowa or New Hampshire often they’re eliminated from the race.

I get nonsense phrases stuck in my head sometimes. When I was doing research for the WIP on Nazi occult matters recently, the nonsense phrase in my cranial echo chamber was, “Otto Rahn on the Autobahn.” Research earworms. I have a weird brain. Fortunately, “Otto Rahn on the Autobahn” made me laugh.

Ray Bradbury famously said about writing, “Jump off a cliff and build your wings on the way down.” I’m at that stage of my current WIP where I’m wondering if I’ve jumped off the wrong goddamned cliff.

I’ve been reading Last Mountain Dancer by Chuck Kinder on and off for about a month. It’s both an interesting and irritating book so I’m not sure I’d wholeheartedly recommend it. I keep reading because it’s about West Virginia where Kinder was born and raised and when he talks about that place, the book sings. Then he goes off into the woods talking about his extramarital affairs and his bad boy ways and it gets boring. (I am so done with middle-aged male angst.)

But yeah, when he talks about what a remarkable and strange place West Virginia is on so many levels it’s worth the read. He goes into many legends, those arising from the tragedies of Matewan and the coal mine bosses, as well as Mothman and other less well-known oddities. It turns out his mother was born and raised in Point Pleasant, WV, home of Mothman, and that her maiden name was Parsons—which will have some meaning to those who follow Hellier.

I was watching a show on Hadrian’s Wall and Vindolanda where they’ve discovered lots of messages to and from soldiers. In one of them the soldier refers to the tribes they were trying to keep north of the wall as “Britunculi”: “nasty little Britains.” My people!

Hellier has made me way too map conscious. Every time I see something weird about a place I always have to find out where it is in relation to Point Pleasant or Somerset or Hellier or whatever. And it’s kind of amazing how much weirdness connects up.

I say this knowing full well how much the human mind longs for linkages and synchronicities.

Lewis Black: “Trump is good for comedy the way a stroke is good for a nap.”

Patrick Stewart was on Colbert the other week talking about when he was younger he and Ben Kingsley were here in LA doing Shakespeare, along with some other actors of the RSC. He said he and Ben went to Hollywood because they were excited to see the hand- and footprints at the Chinese theater (Sir Pat recently joined the famous hand- and footprints there). But the whole time he’s talking I was remembering being a young undergraduate at UCLA where Sir Pat and Sir Ben were doing those Shakespeare performances. During the day when they were not rehearsing or going to Hollywood all of the actors from the RSC would come to classrooms where Shakespeare and theater were being taught, talk to the students, and give impromptu performances. I was lucky enough to be in two such classes. One was Shakespeare, the other on Modern Theatre. I snuck into a third class taught in the theater department and held in an auditorium, but the other two were small English department classrooms. I was lucky enough to sit no more than 6-10 feet away from Sir Pat and Sir Ben while they answered questions and did impromptu performances. Utterly thrilling, even though neither of them was famous at that time. They were just masterful actors doing amazing performances up close and personal. Sir Ben still had his hair back then. Sir Pat did not. But his voice was that rich dark chocolate even back then. PRESENCE, both of them, and I never forgot.

There’s hope, I think, even thought the GOP did not have the guts to do the right thing. During the impeachment trial I called my doctor’s office and the answering service picked up. As she took my message I heard the impeachment trial playing in the background. America is listening. We won’t forget. I hope they still remember next November.