Dream Factory: ‘Seven Days In May’ With A Dash of Synchronicity

 

Years ago I was a UCLA Daily Bruin film writer with a column titled Dream Factory, and these days I’m a full time manny to my 2-year-old niece. I’m also a podcaster times two, lifelong press junketeer, horrible fantasy football player, and, most of all, a dude who loves his family.
Family has a strong way of putting things into perspective, but Clare is gradually giving me a deeper sense of purpose and, most recently, focus. This synchronicity story started on a  Thursday morning, and I had Rod Serling on my mind

 

The Shelf of Cinema knows a thing or two about a thing or two!!

I wake up at 3 in the morning and start my day working on Hollywood Outbreak, but this day I had a bit of time to kill having shelved those pieces the night before. The past several days at my local Starbucks led to some quick, yet memorable, convos about The Twilight Zone, and I told the barista that Serling actually served in WWII.

That Thursday morning, I read Serling’s Wikipedia page to check the facts (he did serve), and then stumbled upon another intriguing factoid that I knew years before but had since forgotten; he penned the screenplay for Seven Days In May, a classic political thriller directed by John Frankenheimer and headlined by a trio of A-list stars (Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Ava Gardner).

During my twenties I was fixated on John Frankenheimer films, and for a spell he was one of my favorite filmmakers (I interviewed him years back for Reindeer Games). I’ll cover Frankenheimer somewhere down the road, but let’s get back to the Carl Jung-ian thing of it all.

The Seven Days In May and Serling connection threw me for a loop, and I was also embarrassed at having forgotten this piece of movie trivia. I made a note to eventually rewatch Seven Days In May, as Serling has definitely been on my mind thanks to the impending CBS series from Jordan Peele.

My twenty minutes of downtime turns into a quick run at Starbucks and my day with Clare. Later that afternoon she’s in Lolo’s bedroom (aka my late father’s bedroom, where I now sleep), looking through the family collection of DVDs. The DVD stand served as an important learning tool for Clare, as she can now name Tyrone Power (The Black Swan), Marilyn Monroe (The Marilyn Monroe Collection), Humphrey Bogart (High Sierra, In a Lonely Place), and Shirley Temple (The Shirley Temple Collection) on sight.



But having a movie buff infusing his smidgen of knowledge to his oh so smart niece isn’t the point of the story. Hopefully she’ll grow up to love movies just as much (if not more) than I do, but on this Thursday afternoon, minutes before she would finally hit the hay. She ambled to the DVD/Blu-ray shelf and knocked one single DVD off the top rack. And it was this:

Words can’t express my utter shock, exhilaration, confusion, and sense of nostalgia at this several second shot of synchronicity. Clare eventually opened the Seven Days In May DVD, grabbed the disc, and eventually let it drop on the carpet floor. She immediately knocked down the adjacent DVD The Gypsy Moths, a Frankenheimer film I still haven’t seen (my mom’s lukewarm review has kept me from checking it out). Although this moment pales in comparison to Jung’s foundation creating beetle experience, it still threw me for a loop!

Being a lifelong fan of The Twilight Zone and a Catholic, the notion of fate, faith, supernatural occurrences, and even doubt (especially the self-inflicted kind) have swirled about ginormous head since my youth.

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I have, along with millions of others, experienced moments of synchronicity that may seem to have a profound effect, but thanks to the vagaries of time and memory, disappear into thin air. During my early days, I analyzed these instances to the point of nauseum and, when I couldn’t connect the proverbial dots, I simply gave up.

During a one-on-one interview with Robert Downey Jr., I remember asking him about synchronicity (this was during the promotion of The Last Party documentary) and, during that time period, I really felt connected to that (sorry for the Star Wars term) “force.” That essence was missing in my life for most of the past two decades, but at 47, maybe I’ll be putting a few of those puzzles together.

Two years plus of taking care of Clare has made me a relative shut-in, as she, writing stories on Hollywood Outbreak, and taking care of my family the best that I can (fyi I should be doing much better at that task) have been my major priorities. I’ve lost touch with friends, gained weight that I may never lose and, though Clare has been the single best thing to happen in my life, I’ve used her as an excuse to simply live for her and my family.

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This may seem like another way of over analyzing the Seven Days In May event, but if actually living in the world (as opposed to keeping my family close and everyone else apart) is one of the lessons to be gleaned from this coincidence, maybe that’s a good thing.

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If you’re one of the few folks, who have spent a little time reading this column, thank you. I’m not here to offer up any answers or dole out advice I probably don’t follow. I’m here to share a few stories, and most importantly it’s time I start connecting a little bit more with this here world. While writing this, the DeVotchka track “How It Ends” played while I gulped down my cup of all too expensive Joe, and though the Grim Reaper comes for all of us, existentially waiting for that day to come, instead of actually living, has been one of my all too many problems.

But those complaints can wait. It’s the weekend. A Seven Days In May rewatch is in order, as well as few episodes of The Twilight Zone. Did you know Serling also produced a short-lived Western called The Loner? Looks like something up my alley (I’ve never purchased anything on Amazon – so this should be a first!). I’m still tripping out that Clare played a big part in this synchronistic tale, and I can’t wait to tell her this weird little story that’s currently the headline in my oh so humdrum life.

If you have any stories on synchronicity, I’d love to it. Please comment below or shoot me an email!!

 

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