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Peters Sellers, Death, and the Eternal “Who am I?”

13 Apr

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I recently brought a Muppet Show DVD home to introduce our son to the likes of Peter Sellers, John Cleese and Dudley Moore in an age appropriate way. Out of the three episodes, it was Sellers who stood out.

I’ve always been fascinated with Peter Sellers and was convinced that this comic genius and master impersonator was sort of fruit loop, truth be told. But in 1964 he was riddled with several successive heart attacks which permanently damaged his heart. He later told Shirley MacLaine on the set of Being There (for which he received his second Academy Award nomination) that he had an out of body experience during one of his “deaths.” This profoundly changed the actor who many deemed excessively difficult, childlike and self-centered. He began a spiritual journey which brought him to past life exploration, yoga, religion and a slow and steady retreat from the personality he once knew. He crept more and more into the characters he created often speaking like them and revealing less and less about himself.

He said of his death experience: “I wanted to go to that white light more than anything. I’ve never wanted anything more. I know there was love, real love, on the other side of the light which was attracting me so much. It was kind and loving and I remember thinking ‘That’s God'”. (MacLaine, Out on a Limb)

Sellers’ official biographer Alexendar Walker wrote, “The experience of resurrection intensified Sellers’ spiritual concern and friends discerned the start of a new introspectiveness, a sense of his not ‘being there’ in spirit, though present in body.”

The near-death experience also solidified Sellers’ belief that he was a reincarnated soul whose ability to perfectly imitate and create characters and accents was a direct result of having lived many past lives. But in this incarnation he did not know who he was and why he was alive. He told Shirley MacLaine:

“I know I have lived many times before … that experience confirmed it to me, because in this lifetime I felt what it was for my soul to actually be out of my body. But ever since I came back, I don’t know why I don’t know what it is I’m supposed to do, or what I came back for.” (MacLaine,174)

He died of a heart attack in 1980. 

Sellers appeared on The Muppet Show television series in 1977. Typically, the guest host is interviewed for about a minute by head muppet, Kermit the Frog. Sellers refused to be interviewed and chose not to appear as himself at any point in the show, which was a first for writers and producers. Sellers instead appeared in a variety of costumes and accents, from a gyspy to a surgeon and more.

When Kermit told Sellers he could relax and be “himself,” Sellers (while wearing a Viking helmet, a girdle and one boxing glove, claiming to have attempted to dress as Queen Victoria), replied, “But that, my dear Kermit, would be altogether impossible… I could never be myself. You see, there is no me. I do not exist. There used to be a me, but I had it surgically removed.”

Christmastime is here…

9 Dec

charlie-brown-christmas

Stuff that needs to happen before the 25th:

1) Trail of Lights and Zilker Christmas Tree Lighting
2) Elf
3) Make homemade pasta sauce and cookies for presents
4) Christmas portrait with family
5) Ben’s birthday party
6) Order and mail Christmas cards
7) Charlie Brown Christmas
8) Wrap presents
9) Trick out Santa’s gift for Ben
10) Christmas mix CD
11) Drop off toys to Children’s Shelter
12) It’s a Wonderful Life
13) Forgive family for various crap
14) Forgive myself
15) Grinch

Stuff Kids Like: Thomas the Tank Engine

22 Jul

A scene from our kitchen on Saturday night (as told by my husband, Fritz)

Me: “Sweetie, there are some things about “Thomas and Friends” that are kind of bugging me. There really is a lot of bad behavior there.”

Fritz: “Yeah, there is. Hubris is usually the big one. Whenever an engine gets too full of himself, something bad happens. Plus there’s a lot of conflict and infighting between them.”

Me: “And I’m not crazy about the whole management-worker dynamic. Sir Topham Hatt keeps them in a dark shed under a tarp until he suddenly comes in one day and pulls it off. He says, ‘If you work hard, I’ll let you out’. Then he orders them around like slaves.”

Fritz: “Oh, I don’t know, honey. An engine’s fondest wish is to be Really Useful. I think Sir Topham Hatt has a kindly way with the engines. He mediates their disputes fairly and picks them up when they get down on themselves. He only really chews them out when they do something dumb like blasting through someone’s dining room wall at breakfast.”

Me: “Yeah, I guess so. And what’s with all these people building their houses and setting up barber shops five feet away from a sharp turn in the rails? How do they get insurance, anyway?”

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