Our CEO Shelly Williams is probably the most predictable human I have ever met. She’s also so detail-oriented that she can find an episode of The Andy Griffith Show, Everybody Loves Raymond, or The Big Bang Theory in any time zone on any day without searching the menu. Those are here “go-to” mindfulness and decompression shows.
Heading down to run this morning I passed by Shelly and joked that it was “already 04:30, where did the day go?” when I noted that she had Andy, Barn, and Opie on for background noise.
In the 21 December 1964 Season 5 Episode 14 of The Andy Griffith Show; 3 wishes for Opie, Deputy Barney Fife buys a fortune-telling game and lets Opie try it out. During the episode, Barney tells open to ‘roll with it’ when the spirit of the fictional Count Istvan Teleky seems to be granting Opie’s wishes.
That got me thinking.
The first time that the term “roll with the punches” seems to appear in print is in The Boston Daily Globe in 1903 in an article about a boxing event.
The article uses the term to describe a move where one boxer rolls his body away from the punch thrown by the other boxer in order to lessen the severity of the impact. From 1903;
“He repeated the blow a few seconds later and also clubbed Johnson on the cheek. Johnson allowed his head to roll with the punches and was not hurt.”
I walked around the rest of the morning singing to myself and out loud, “When life is too much, roll with it, baby…” from Steve Winwood’s 1988 hit Roll with it.
Will Jennings and Steve Winwood wrote the music and lyrics to Roll with it, which got them into a jam legally and with fans of Junior Walker. Junior Walker was known to folks in Detroit first as Autry Mixon Jr. As he went by ‘Junior’ most of his life, his professional name Junior Walker seemed an easy choice.
Autry (Junior) had a couple of kids and a number of albums including ‘Road Runner’ eponymously named for the hit song on that album “Roadrunner”, which ultimately caused the legal stir. If anyone out there reading this knows the song, you’ve already immediately made the connection in your head.
The tunes are virtually identical, while the words are obviously not. Roadrunner was ‘built’ by Holland-Dozier-Holland who had dozens of Motown hits under their belts, ‘Where did our love go?’ ‘Baby, I need your loving’, ‘Heat wave’, and ‘Stop in the name of love’ just to name a few. So, when they and Junior came out after Winwood and Jennings, the sparks flew but lawyers for HDH failed to compel a Judge to take action against Steve Winwood.
Winwood is still around. Junior Walker was last seen performing live with the band Foreigner in the late 1980s. You see, Junior (Autry) was accomplished with a number of musical instruments.
Stephen Lawrence Winwood aka Little Stevie Winwood wasn’t just a singer and songwriter. Winwood, was born in England but he had a lot in common with Junior Walker. Both men played a wide variety of musical instruments. Winwood has on many occasions done all of the instrumentation on his songs and some albums.
While many Americans associate the moniker “Little Stevie” for Motown great Stevie Wonder (Stevland Hardaway Morris, likely the most successful singer, songwriter and musician-performer in the history of the music industry), the term “Little Stevie” was first widely used around the musical world to describe Steve Winwood.
Way back in time, I was a huge fan of The Spencer Davis Group. During that period, I fell in love with Winwood’s influence and style. I have yet to meet him in person. I knew Winwood through a personal and professional acquaintance of mine, Ginger Baker, who played with Winwood in the group Blind Faith. I also tried to get to Steve Winwood through Joe Cocker who I met in Hotchkiss, Colorado.
Joe’s relation to Winwood through the song “Feelin’ alright” is prescient. Cocker took the song in an entirely different direction. You may have witnessed the late John Belushi channeling Cocker doing “Feelin’ alright” on Saturday Night Live. No such rendition of the Traffic song exists. I mentioned this to Joe Cocker whose answer to me on this topic was, “Hmm. Cool.”
Steve Winwood has been honored many times for his contributions to music over the years including being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 as a member of the band Traffic.
In 1978, REO Speedwagon released, ‘You Can Tune a Piano, but You Can’t Tuna Fish’ which included the hit, “Roll with the changes”. Here, the ‘rolling’ perhaps coming from the same root “roll with the punches” theme.
You sometimes don’t know which way the dice will roll on your life. As they say in Vegas, you have to play the hand you are dealt. I think that even if you are given a crappy stake, with some work, you can turn it around and “roll with it”. Take the example of Stan Yale.
If you have watched The Terminator (1984) as often as I have, you know Stan.
When actor Michael Biehn as character Kyle Reese is transported back in time, he lands in Los Angeles without clothes. He sees a “derelict in alley” (as per Stan’s IMDb Internet Movie Database role credits state) played by Stan Yale and Biehn steals Yale’s clothes. Stan Yale’s line, “That son of a bitch took my pants” is legendary.
So, let’s say you want to cast Stan Yale in an upcoming film. Stan’s agent will tell you that he is often cast as a homeless person or street person due to his physical appearance. In fact, if you check his filmography, you’ll see he was the homeless man in My Name is Earl, the bum in Moonlighting, the first homeless man in LA Law and a bum again in PI Private Investigations. He did however take on the challenging role as ‘wino’ in Terminal Exposure.
Here’s a guy born Stanley Yale Boruck in Queens, New York that turns a physical appearance likened to a homeless person into a career that spans 30 years and includes some incredible television appearances and roles in films.
He rolled with it.
The Terminator film helps me prove yet another point. What you finally see on the screen isn’t necessarily the representation of a book author or director’s vision. After editing a film can take on a life of its own. Much of what was left behind or on the cutting room floor has long since been forgotten.
For example; most folks don’t know that actor, former NFL great and convicted felon O.J. Simpson was considered for the role of the Terminator cyborg in the film, the role that ultimately went to Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Ironically, James Cameron (Avatar fame) and his former spouse Gale Ann Hurd (of The Walking Dead fame) thought O.J. was ‘too nice’ to play an emotionless killer. Dark Horse Comics actually printed an issue of The Terminator graphic novel using O.J.’s likeness.
Cameron and Hurd both ‘rolled with it’ and went on to incredible careers. O.J. didn’t allow this setback to slow his acting career or his search for future roles as a cold-blooded killer.
The reason for many instances of déjà vu is simple, the incident you think you are reliving has in fact happened before.
Even the plot of The Terminator had been done and redone by the time James Cameron ‘invented’ it.
Harlan Ellison (Sci-fi author) sued Cameron because the plot was largely taken from two Outer Limits TV show scripts that Ellison had written, namely, Demon with a glass hand (1964) and Soldier (also from 1964). In fact, Ellison’s short story ‘I have no mouth and I must scream’ establishes the concept of Skynet used in Cameron’s film.
Ellison was successful in a lawsuit and now his name appears on the film’s credits.
Ellison should have considered suing the 1978 production of Halloween starring the sociopathic killer ‘Michael Myers’. In fact, historically any maniacal killer without remorse of a conscious is close enough to Schwarzenegger’s role and Cameron’s vision to be suspect.
For example, the killer in the Chuck Norris 1982 film Silent Rage. Brian Libby plays spree killer John Kirby who subsequently returns as a secret medical process turns Kirby into an unstoppable killing machine. If I changed a few facts in the script and adjusted a characterization I could be describing the Great White Shark in 1975’s Jaws film.
My basic points are; patterns matter and you too can learn to Roll with the punches.
Once someone comes up with a popular theme, many others will jump on the bandwagon to mimic (create a prototypical match) for that original pattern (a template match).
Think back to Yul Brynner’s gunslinger character in the original Westworld film (1973). Brenner was literally and figuratively an out of control killer robot. The same type of character portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger 11 years later in The Terminator. In fact, Arnold stated that he had been so moved by Brynner’s performance of a robot that he (Schwarzenegger) channeled Brynner’s interpretation when he portrayed The Terminator.
Brynner almost turned down the robot bit in Westworld, Schwarzenegger the role in The Terminator, both were happy that they rolled with the punches. These roles defined their careers.
Another example of pattern mimicry in films can be found in the 1995 film Rob Roy. Liam Neeson’s character Robert Roy MacGregor has been captured by the evil Archibald Cunningham and is about to be presented as a prisoner (tied with heavy ropes) to General Montrose.
While crossing a bridge and within the last few feet to Montrose, Rob Roy takes advantage of the element of surprise, throws a loop from his bindings around Cunningham’s neck and then jumps from the bridge to escape. Soon after, scores of red-clad troops are running parallel along the river’s edge shooting at the absconding Rob Roy.
Fast forward to 1997’s The Postman. Kevin Costner’s eponymously named character is walking across a river on a high wooden bridge. He uses a damaged section of the bridge and the element of surprise to drop into the river below in order to escape from General Bethlehem’s troops. Soon after, scores of red-clad troops are shooting at Costner while running along the river parallel to him. Same scene, virtually a shot for shot remake of the scene in Rob Roy.
You only need to look at television from the 1950s through the 1960s to understand mimicry relating to prototypical matching. There were more than 100 westerns on television. If you were a kid, you could tune in to Go-Go Gophers, or watch the donkey Bab-Looey help Quickdraw McGraw get out of western-themed animated dangers each weekend.
I’ve given examples from the music industry, films, and now television (both acted and animated). The central theme is that when a pattern forms and that pattern is successful, both nature and humans mimic the success format rather than branching out with a new technique or a novel storyline.
Let’s discuss plagiarism. Plagiarism could be defined as the intentional misrepresentation of the work of another as being your own. Its wrong, its illegal and especially if it is intentional.
I posit that sometimes plagiarism is unintentional and accidental.
For example, in my first example with Junior Walker and Steve Winwood. Winwood has authored hundreds of songs and written countless lyrics. When he came up with the “roll with it” tune, his brain likely sent him happy comfort chemicals.
Winwood, no stranger to brain chemistry liked the tune he was building and collaborated to put words to that music likely never considering that he was ripping off a riff from Junior.
I’m not attempting to defend accidental, unintentional or intentional plagiarism, just to give you examples of how your brain chooses to find prototypical patterns in your everyday environment and create “memories” of these instances that are as strong and as real as your own personal memory file folders. The myelination that occurs when you use and re-use these ‘borrowed’ or ‘stolen’ memories will seem as real to you as your own.
Déjà vu is often described as a nagging feeling that you are re-encountering a past experience even though you have come upon a novel experience. People sometimes interpret this as some sort of paranormal activity or a prophecy.
It’s none of the above. Déjà vu decreases as you get older and have a wider base of experiences. People who travel more and have read more books and watched more films experience Déjà vu more than others. Each of these facts are strong arguments that Déjà vu is non-pathological and more attuned to Recognition Memory than precognition.
I joke that I often have Déjà von’t; the absolutely overwhelming feeling that I have never experienced the situation I am facing now at any time in my past. That’s much more believable than you receiving paranormal messages from your environment!
Déjà vu merely means you have higher than normal memory functions and that you are able to tap into the prototypical nature of the incident you are now experiencing and you are comparing this new event against your database of experiences.
This new situation has triggered a ‘recognition memory’ and is cognitively close enough to form a pattern that is so close, you feel like you have experienced the event before.
It should be no surprise to you that people who read and travel more and watch more films are also better on Jeopardy!
Learning to “roll with it” can allow you to be more resilient in a number of new and novel experiences. Learning to pattern recognize can de-mystify much of the world around you.
Each of you has grown up with the ability to perform the ‘Human Behavior Pattern Recognition’ part of what I teach. In fact, you are preconditioned to follow patterns to save precious time, energy, and calories. It’s actually a primitive survival trait.
What we don’t do well is the “& Analysis” part. The ‘& A’ of our title is literally the most important facet.
The analysis gives users the ability to forecast the future, compare knowns against unknowns, and use context to determine the relevance of an experience or vice versa. Analysis gives us the ability to judge the Most Dangerous Course of Action against the Most Likely Course of Action and determine whether danger is nigh or we’ve just dodged a bullet.
Training gives you a cognitive advantage over current challenges or future opponents or adverse situations.
Training allows you to Roll with it.
Training changes behavior.