All the dirt, news, culture and commentary for Oklahoma's second century.

"I saw so much, I broke my mind ..."

CBS All Access
A "flaming arrow" heads straight for Jack Parsons' "third eye" after testing his first rocket booster in "Strange Angel."
Fertile Ground Compost Service
Help support Red Dirt Report

OKLAHOMA CITY – Within hours of posting “Keep looking up! (Skylights),” here at Dust Devil Dreams, I found myself watching an utterly random episode of The Big Bang Theory, partially inspired by my mention of the curious character of Sheldon Cooper, “coincidentally” played by an actor named Jim Parsons.

Again, the current CBS All Access series Strange Angel, which takes place in Pasadena, California and revolves around the character of Jack Parsons, the occult rocket scientist, works his way into Caltech in the late 1930’s, obsessed with the notion of rocketry in a scientific world that was not ready to accept such fantastical notions.

The storyline, of course (based on George Pendle’s fascinating book of the same name), focuses on Parsons’ early exposure to “magick,” via his father, and how this transferred to his arrow-like, hyper-focused nature when it comes to building rockets that will result in humans exploring the cosmos.

And with Strange Angel Parts I & II (Part III airs Thursday), this remarkable Ridley Scott series further examines the “forces” in Parsons’ life, all of which are pulling and tugging him toward his destiny.

Or is that “density,” as Back to the Future’s blundering sci-fi-writer-to-be, George McFly, tells Lorraine Baines at the malt shop as he reads his notes, asking her to the Enchantment Under the Sea dance?

That was supposed to be “destiny,” McFly! Hello! Anybody in there? Here in Trumpsidedown, that is when Biff shows up, ruining everybody’s fun and harshing our collective mellow.

-SCREECHHHH!!!- Wait a minute … where was I?

Oh, yes. So, this utterly random episode of The Big Bang Theory is playing out as I sit there and think about Back to the Future II & III and how the third installment sneaks into the decade of the 1990’s, meaning Back to the Future technically is not just a 1980’s trilogy, some of it squeaked into the 90’s.

As I’m thinking that thought, the opener to this 2013 episode called “The Hofstadter Insufficiency” begins with Sheldon (wearing a double helix T-shirt) calling Leonard to check on him and tell him that he had switched the Back to the Future II & III DVD’s around, putting them in the wrong cases.

Wait, what? As Leonard holds on for dear life on the deck of the research ship, Sheldon says he heard a horrible sound in the background, unbeknownst to Leonard. Sheldon said it sounds like a Kraken, a horrible sea beast with tentacles, feared by sailors around the world.

And sure enough, a tentacle snatches Leonard off the deck and Sheldon wakes up from his dream. Or, should I say, nightmare.

I seriously could not believe it!

So … the Back to the Future syncs continue (this, shortly after I saw my neighbor, Steve, who was the lighting director on the original Back to the Future, out walking his dogs! – and also shortly after I saw an ad for a music festival called “Strange Eighties” and on the poster a DeLorean was featured, like the one Doc Brown uses as a time machine).

SIDE NOTE: I should mention that with a Full Moon (in conjunction with Saturn!) in Sagittarius today, it is suggested that this is a good time to reflect on our “view of things” and how we “cultivate the qualities of inspiration and adventurousness” in order to “manifest our highest ideals.”

Very good. A lot of energy moving at the moment. I certainly feel it.

REFLECTIONS

So, on my TV screen, as I cued up the second episode of Strange Angel, I notice in my cue how the promo image of Strange Angel features Jack Reynor wearing protective sunglasses and in the the reflection of the lenses a rocket is lifting off.

Next to it was The Big Lebowski, a go-to film for me that always puts me in a good mood. The image promoting it features Jeff Bridges’ Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski wearing his trademark sunglasses but in the reflection is the Oriental-styled rug patterns that could double as the sights and colors one would see during a trip on LSD, or, as The Dude would say: “The occasional acid flashback.”

This really struck me. Much has been said and written about The Big Lebowski and what the Coen Brothers were trying to say, beyond the fact that they wanted to do a kooky, Raymond Chandler-esque mystery/comedy set in 1991 Los Angeles with the noir, Philip Marlow detective character played by Humphrey Bogart in 1946’s The Big Sleep, another one of my all-time favorite films, played by a graying, former Sixties radical-turned-bowler nicknamed The Dude.

And while Marlowe drank Kentucky bourbon like Four Roses and Old Forester on the silver screen, our Dude prefers White Russians.

So, what’s my point here? Well, for me, it ties into Jack Parsons.

This may be a bit of a stretch, but hear me out.

Parsons – an actual person – and The Dude – a film character loosely based on an actual person known to the Coen Brothers – seem to intersect via time and space and yet all in the Greater Los Angeles area. Parsons in Pasadena and The Dude in Venice.

So … in The Big Lebowski, you have Sam Elliott’s “Stranger” character (who is a narrator, a cowboy and, apparently, a tumbleweed) introducing the audience to The Dude, a decidedly casual person, in appearance and style. He is at Ralph’s grocery store, buying some half-n-half for his White Russian addiction, apparently.

Says The Stranger: “Now this story I’m about to unfold took place back in the early 90’s, just about the time of our conflict with Saddam and the Iraqis. I only mention it, ‘cuz sometimes there’s a man – I won’t say hero, ‘cuz what’s a hero? – but sometimes there’s a man …

Continuing, The Stranger observes: “And I’m talkin’ about the Dude here – sometimes there’s a man who … he’s the man for his time and place, he fits right in there – and that’s the Dude, in Los Angeles …

The Dude walks to the register and writes out a check for 69 cents and dated September 11, 1991! This was exactly one year after President George H.W. Bush’s infamous “New World Order” speech and 10 years to the day before the world changed forever on September 11, 2001, with terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon (which was built under the watchful eye of Gen. Leslie Groves, who worked alongside Robert Oppenheimer to create the atomic bomb. Oh, and the Pentagon was officially opened on September 11, 1941, exactly 60 years before the 9/11 terrorist attacks and 50 years before this scene taking place in the opener of The Big Lebowski.

So what, right?

Well, as The Dude is writing out his check, a small TV at the register is featuring President Bush talking to reporters on the White House lawn, telling them that Iraq’s aggression against Kuwait “will not stand!”

It is all a little eerie, in light of President Bush’s son, George W. Bush, being president when 9/11 occurred. And perhaps, as certain voices have noted over the years, something far deeper … a working of sorts … was taking place all along, even going back to the late 1930’s when The Great Depression was on and fascism was rising and desperation led to great evil … and, ultimately, great good as well in the post-war years.

But those achievements seem to be being torn apart under the rapidly-growing dictatorship of the tulpa-in-chief – Donald J. Trump.

Rumors have abounded over the years that Aleister “Wickedest Man in the World” Crowley was actually the father of the recently-passed, former First Lady Barbara Bush. While not proven, and probably unlikely that “Bar” is the offspring of the Great Beast, Barbara Bush’s mother, Pauline Pierce, was acquainted with Crowley during the period in the 1920’s when he was involved heavily in sex magick rituals.

MOON MAN

As noted in the comment section of The Secret Sun post “Spies, Cylons and Sex Cults,” an anonymous commenter noted that he/she overheard some young people talking in a checkout line saying “Magick is our generation’s LSD.” Perhaps my seeing the sunglasses reflections off of Parsons (“magick”) and The Dude (“LSD”), well, there seems to be a correlation to the “time and place” of both men. The reflections are an inner reflection of the world they desire. Rocketry and humans in space for Parsons. And the simple request of getting a rug back for the Dude – a rug peed on by a man named “Woo” as played by actor Philip Moon, curiously enough.

While Parsons is utilizing his will, The Dude is not so much. Parsons sees a world that could be. The Dude is tired and just wants to go bowling with his buddies. He is not married and does not have children. At least until a “Scarlet Woman” appears in the form of feminist artist Maude Lebowski, who looks like a woman out of a 1930’s-era black-and-white film. She wants a child, right? Perhaps, a moonchild of the Aleister Crowley variety?

Recall during the cheesy, Jackie Treehorn porn film Gutterballs, which is featured as an elaborate dream sequence for The Dude, the one featuring Kenny Rogers & The First Edition’s “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),” shows a Saddam Hussein-like bowling alley employee with a  rack of bowling shoes doing as high as the Moon. In fact, the Moon is the eye or apex of the pyramid-shaped tower of bowling shoes.

After Saddam gives a wild-eyed Dude his golden bowling shoes, he does a routine down a Masonic-styled black-and-white checkered staircase – all as Kenny Rogers sings the line: “I pushed my soul, in a deep dark hole, and followed it in …” Bad trip?

We should note that Raymond Chandler, the writer admired by the Coens and inspiration for The Big Lebowski admired the work of T.S. Eliot (“The Waste Land”) along with Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and James Joyce’s Ulysses. Noting Stravinsky's ballet, the first episode of Strange Angel is titled “Augurs of Spring,” which is also a reference to the Rite of Spring! And the allusion to that ballet was made during the choreographed dance sequence with The Dude and Maude and the bowling motif.

Oh, and there is some of the legend of The Fisher King and the King Arthur and the Holy Grail quest. Speaking of which, the English actor Rupert Friend, who plays Parsons’ enigmatic, magick-minded neighbor Ernest Donovan, says in his online biography that after seeing 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – about the Holy Grail - he wanted to become an archaeologist. Curiously, in 1981, after Raiders of the Lost Ark came out, my good friend Jason and I had committed to “moving to Hawaii and becoming archaeologists.”

While that did not happen, Jason and I shared a synchromystic moment around that same time, in 1981, when the first space shuttle, Columbia, was launched. As I have noted here at Dust Devil Dreams in the past, when Jason asked what I thought would happen to Columbia – would it successfully land or not – I only responded by throwing a toy rocket in the air and watching it crash to the ground and break apart.

And 22 years later I would be on the scene, as a reporter, covering the catastrophic breakup of the Columbia over east Texas and western Louisiana – along the 94th meridian! – as I had predicted long before. And it was Jack Parsons’ unshakeable belief in the power of rocketry that made NASA and its rocket and space shuttle program possible! (Here is what I wrote in 2011 when the Space Shuttle era came to an end.)

That, and his role in founding the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and being involved in the Ordo Templi Orientis, which Crowley founded and which has a branch right here in Oklahoma City! A lot of Parsons’ occult rituals and tests took place at a seriously haunted and creepy location known as Devil’s Gate Dam.

Oh, and note that Strange Angel is put out by CBS, also known as the Columbia Broadcasting Service.

But back to The Dude …

In an engaging article called “Tarot Yes, Mr. Lebowski: The Big Lebowski, Kabbalah and Tarot” written by The Rev. Mark Bazgrzacki for the Lebowski fan site The Dudespaper, we learn just how seriously occult and synchromystic The Big Lebowski truly is. I mean, the research this person did will break your mind! It's flawless!

Writes Bazgrzacki: “The world of the tarot is explicitly referenced throughout The Big Lebowski through the use of visual and verbal puns and allusions, the themes and imagery of every one of the 78 cards of the Waite Smith Tarot deck being quoted often ironically and sometimes twice, as each card also has a reversed reading (a total of 156 episodes, Dude). Allusions to the components and structures of the tree of life with its alphabetised pathways also permeate the film, again done with tongue firmly in cheek. The use of kabbalistic allegory has a long tradition in Jewish and European literature [13], a tradition that the Coen brothers have regularly drawn on in their screenwriting and directorial method.”

Note the Coen’s A Serious Man, for instance, and the use of Kabbalah and Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody To Love.” (For a far more in-depth analysis of A Serious Man, go here).

Bazgrzacki “breaks my mind” with The Big Lebowski’s clear connection to the ten interconnected sefira, as he notes, and how the left hand pillar represents “mercy,” the right hand pillar represents “severity, power and strict justice;” while the central pillar represents harmony and the “ideal balance of mercy and justice.”

Sounds like it would certainly sync with our turbulent times.

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About the Author

Andrew W. Griffin

Editor & Owner.

Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

read more

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

Member of the Oklahoma Press Association
Member of Investigative Reporters & Editors
Member of Diversity Business Association
Member of Uptown 23rd

Rotary Club of Bricktown OKC
Keep it Local OK