Monday, March 30, 2015

Memorable Con-Trick Movies

Last Sunday, while in Alamogordo NM, we went to the flicks, saw Focus, starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie. It's an entertaining story about confidence tricksters. Nice change from the current trends for mega-slam-bangers and Young-Adult-style dystopias.

Con games have long been a popular theme for movies, and books - in fact con games have been part of life too - though far less entertaining when they're for real! There's a little more about confidence tricksters in general partway down an archived post HERE.

My most memorable movies (or TV fare) with con-trick themes:

First memory surfacing is from the wonderful 1970s TV mini-series based on James Michener's long novel, Centennial. In part of the story, in late 19th century Colorado, Mervin Wendell (Anthony Zerbe), his wife Maude (Lois Nettleton), and young son Philip (Doug McKeon) arrive in Centennial. They appear to be itinerant actors but turn out to be charlatans and con-artists working their way across the new railroad towns a step ahead of the law. Their favorite con is called the "badger game".

An earlier movie (1966), not seen by me until later on has remained clearly in memory: Big Hand for the Little Lady - it stars Henry Fonda, Joanne Woodward, Jason Robards. The con involved here is part of another popular film theme - the card game.

Another -

The Skin Game (1971) with James Garner and Louis Gossett features a con game involving the slave trade. This sounds like a very unpleasant idea, yet in the hands of James Garner and Louis Gossett the film turned out to be one of my favourites of this genre.

Later on -

Primal Fear (1996) with Richard Gere and Edward Norton stayed in memory, mostly due to its ending - and Ed Norton's great acting. It's not a typical con trickster story, but comes within that broad does

The Producers
(1967) - an old Mel Brooks film seen very recently on Netflix. Not typically con-trickster fare but involves a memorable con-trick.

There are lots more, but those are the ones wedged securely in my own memory banks. Are any wedged in yours - including films, books and confidence tricks in general?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Da-di-da of Uranus

Without as much time as usual to research and prepare an Arty Farty Friday post for yesterday, I posted something else. I've since dug out this post from 2007, it was really about art, but there's brief mention of Uranus transits in Aquarius, Pisces and Aries. At that point in 2007 our current Uranus in Aries transit was still to come. I had to grin as I read my 2007 words "...Rebellion needs a hard edge - Uranus in Aries could well bring it forth in future years." I experienced that hard edge myself recently - see Thursday's post! My Saturn and Moon in Aries were not doing me any favours this week, courtesy of my Sun's ruler Uranus!

Here's the archived 2007 post:

A recent short article by comedian Richard Belzer, "I Want My Dada" led me to Google-search Dada, and wonder about Uranus in Aquarius transits.

I'd heard about Dadaism before, but had never fully understood its significance. The Dada movement was short-lived. It survived roughly from around 1915 to 1920, founded by a group of European artists, writers and creative thinkers with the basic intention of protest against the World War then raging, the establishment and current bourgeois attitudes and values. ArtLex defines Dada thus -

"An early twentieth century art movement which ridiculed contemporary culture and traditional art forms. The movement was formed to prove the bankruptcy of existing style of artistic expression rather than to promote a particular style itself. It was born as a consequence of the collapse during World War I of social and moral values which had developed to that time." ("Republican Automatons" by George Grosz, right)

From Belzer's article:
"All (so-called) modern thought was called into question. It was reasoned that at that point in history we had become so barbarous that precious human life was chillingly expendable for the most ill-conceived and deceptive purposes."

Astrologically I think it's very significant that during those years Uranus was transiting the sign of its own modern ruler, Aquarius. This is the planet of rebellion, invention and revolution, much strengthened in its home sign. That Uranus transit through Aquarius coincided almost exactly with the time-span of Dadaism, also, of course, with the first World War (1914-1918).

I'm not sure that Richard Belzer's call ("I implore, I compel, and I all but beg those in the creative community to once again question and challenge") to follow in the footsteps of Dada is going to get very far. Uranus is now (2007) transiting the more philosophical, softer hearted sign of Pisces. I doubt that a new and improved Dada movement can be expected anytime soon. Rebellion needs a hard edge - Uranus in Aries could well bring it forth in future years.

The more recent Uranus in Aquarius transit which occurred between April 1995 and March 2003 included the fateful September 11 2001, and events which reverberate still. As far as I know, there was no movement comparable with Dadaism during that transit. There were protest marches against the proposed invasion of Afghanistan, and later, Iraq but no definable movement which could be labelled as an "ism". We are still too close to that period to see it properly in focus, and importantly, in context with what is to come next. Historians of the future may detect things in that period which are invisible to us now.

More examples of Dada art can be viewed via Google Image.

A few words more to add, now, about Dada art in general:


Dada and Surrealism were two movements that developed as a reaction to the confusion following World War I. Dada started in the neutral city of Zurich in Switzerland immediately following the end of the War. Dada, however, was not intended to be a new art movement. According to Tristan Tzara, one of the founders of the movement, “The beginnings of Dada were not the beginnings of art, but of disgust.” People were confused and angry after the Great War, and their rage fueled their artistic creativity. They sought to break down conventions in the arts in order to bring forth a new, improved culture. Even the name “dada” mocked the time period because the name for the movement was decided upon by randomly choosing a word from the dictionary. The Dada movement made thorough use of obscenities, satire, humor, puns, and everyday objects (usually with a little tweaking) to evoke feelings of rage or shock. It was whimsical and original, which is perhaps why the public enjoyed the movement while it lasted. One of the most famous artists of the Dada movement was Max Ernst. One of his most famous pieces was called “Celebes,” painted in 1921 (see below). The painting is of a creature that somewhat resembles an elephant. It shows darkness (via the colors) and mockery (disfigurement of the creature), which are key aspects of Dada art. The Dada movement subsided around 1923, which gave way for a similar movement to prosper in its place: surrealism.

It seems the idea for this painting originally evolved from a smutty German short poem about an elephant- read the poem HERE.


[Dada] Participants claimed various, often humorous definitions of “Dada” — “Dada is irony,” “Dada is anti-art,” “Dada will kick you in the behind” — though the word itself is a nonsense utterance. As the story goes, the name Dada was either chosen at random by stabbing a knife into a dictionary, or consciously selected for a variety of connotations in different languages — French for “hobbyhorse” or Russian for “yes, yes.” (HERE)

 Da-da (New York Dada Group) by Richard Boix (1921). Ink on paper.

Friday, March 27, 2015


Flamin' Nora (as we used to say in Yorkshire), not again! The Ophiuchus issue. What brought forth a re-play of this - it has whiskers on it? Slow news day ? That's hard to believe.

Seemingly something in a newspaper in the UK, or maybe the BBC - not certain, but something recently annoyed my favourite Sun sign astrologer sufficiently for him to get his Mars on and tell 'em what's what and what isn't.

Are you Ophi-curious? See Jonathan Cainer's piece HERE.

Unlike Fox News I shall attempt to really be fair and balanced and provide a slightly alternative view from UK astrology blog Astrotabletalk, HERE.

What I think, as if anybody cares, is that nobody, even the most erudite of astrologers, of any stripe, knows what astrology really is. How it's possible to feel certain about that, and all it entails, has to rest with what each individual finds most persuasive, relying on their own life experiences, and those of others. While this will not tell the hows and whys of it, it will give confidence that there is, for whatever mysterious reason, some validity in the most basic parts of astrology's claims.

As mentioned several times in these posts, my own interpretation/theory of astrology is that it's all about the cycles. Cycles of time in space. The planets and the 12 zodiac signs act as markers in time and space, separating possible "atmospheres" of different sorts, differences which affect us on earth, as we come into earth's atmosphere from the womb, continuing to affect us and our body/mind chemistry all through our lives, as we experience, to varying degrees, other atmospheres and mixes of atmospheres as they cycle along, mixing, colliding easily or with difficulty. Something like that, anyway.

The standard 12 sign zodiac, and its astrological elements (Earth/Air/Fire/Water) and modes (Cardinal/Fixed/Mutable) has worked for me, in my life and experiences - not always, and not always exactly, but pretty nearly so, enough that I retain belief that "something is going on". Therefore, I'd support the astrologers who do not wish to incorporate a 13th sign.

Barry Goddard's point, at Astrotabletalk, about using Ophiuchus in a divinatory sense, if that's what strikes an astrologer as being important, can hardly be argued against. Not being of a divinatory persuasion myself, I'm not qualified to say more.

I don't see any great objection to treating that part of the 12 sign zodiac which covers Ophi's realm as another questionable area such as, say, the Via Combusta (if an astrologer or astrology fan sincerely cannot bear to ignore Ophiuchus altogether).

PS - I scribbled a bit about this old issue in January 2011 when it had surfaced (again) - see
Sun signs, Ophiuchus and all that jazz

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Being Pegasus ?

We got home late yesterday afternoon, a couple of days earlier than expected, one of us a little the worse for wear.

Long story short:
Our plan "A" (I-40/Route66) as far as Flagstaff AZ, with side trips to Grand Canyon and Sedona) was scrapped when we reached Albuquerque NM. I-40 and the city were just so congested and chaotic traffic-wise, I couldn't stand to think of another day and a half of the busy-busy-busy on I-40 with risk-taking drivers more in evidence than in either OK or TX. So, instead of an overnight in Albuquerque we headed further south, stayed a night in Socorro, then on to Alamogordo NM. There was a tentative plan for side-trips to Las Cruces, and White Sands, for a second look with less heat to contend with than last time; and a trip to the National Solar Observatory in the mountains around 30 miles from Alamogordo.

On Monday morning we set off from Alamogordo for the Solar Observatory -
a wonderfully scenic drive through the Lincoln Forest,
with steep very winding mountain roads, mostly all to ourselves. As we got close to the site, blue road signs appeared at varying distances, beginning with "Neptune", "Uranus" , on and on to "Mercury". (I snapped the signs from the car window.) Observatory is at about 9,600 feet from sea level. Reached the site, looked around the museum there and set off to do the round of the three actual observatory buildings, a short distance apart. On the way from the first to the second building - a tall white structure up at which I was gazing, unknown to me there was a slight indent or bump (not sure which) in the walkway. I went flying - not to the Sun like Pegasus but to Mother Earth camera in hand. I tried to stop myself, just didn't make it, but luckily - or not - the camera, while saving my face/jaw/nose/teeth from damage, was in such a position for me to land on a curved side edge of it, throat-first.

First aid at the museum/visitor's centre provided some antiseptic wipes for the multiple grazes and scrapes on both my hands and an arm. The assistant there called for first aiders from another site. They arrived and provided Band Aids, and a cold pack to help stop swelling. My voice had just about disappeared - little more than a croak, and throat very painful where it had hit my camera. They offered to call for an ambulance, but other than the throat thing, and minor scrapes I felt alright, so we opted to go back to Alamogordo right away and visit the Emergency department of the hospital there to have someone look at my throat.

The general doctor in Emergency suspected I'd bruised my trachea and advised to speak as little as possible. I was given a CT scan with IV ("for contrast")- I thought this was all a bit over the top - but whatever! After a long wait a specialist arrived with the results. She said there were a couple of things to be concerned about, possibly unrelated to the accident. She was going to send me to an ENT specialist. Croakingly I reminded her that we were not from the local area, and it would be better for us to get home to see my local doctor. One of the concerning things she had mentioned is something I and my GP are already aware of, has been tested and is nothing to worry about. I didn't go into long explanations to her, my voice was practically non-existent at that time. The other thing she mentioned, a "mass" on the epiglottis sounded more worrying. Anyway, they provided a print out and disc of the CT scan to take to my doctor. We left, and after a while, when coughing in the car, I spat out a glob of blood/mucus - possibly the "mass" they had seen. Throat bled some whenever I coughed, but after a few hours stopped bleeding. Throat remains very sore on left side, voice nowhere near normal yet, but slightly better. It'll take a few days more.

So...that's my tale of woe!

Edge of White Sands in the distance

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Exits left....

Last post for a few days. It'll be the birthday of anyjazz on 22nd, in celebration of that we'll be heading out tomorrow morning in a westerly, Route 66-ish direction. We're not certain for how long, maybe just a couple of days, or maybe a week, depending on how enthusiastic we feel once "on the road again".
If you ever plan to motor west, Travel my way, take the highway that is best.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six............
You see Amarillo, Gallup, New Mexico, Flagstaff, Arizona....
Enthusiasm might even last until that latter point, from which a couple of side trips would be a possibility, north to Grand Canyon, South to Sedona with its great scenery, New Agey touristy attractions, and its four alleged vortices which, in Sedona I think are called vortexes. But I shall not be at all surprised to find that we end up somewhere quite different, in a place we've never heard of, let alone thought of visiting.

Anyway, in other words there'll be a bloggy eclipse here, as well as the solar eclipse, tomorrow.

On the topic of travel, yesterday I found this lovely set of great photographs and comment - well worth a look: 50 Reasons to #Love the World

Also - one of my American heroes, Dr Cornel West appeared on Letterman's Late Show the other night - Dr West is always, always worth hearing:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Astrology is all about the cycles, in the short and medium term, epochs in the long term. Simple cycles of each planet's orbit around the Sun, more complex cycles of aspects made and re-made between planets as they travel. Some cycles are easy to recognise, once the basics of astrology are understood. Saturn's 28-ish year cycle, punctuated by 4 x 7-year markers, is possibly the most frequently talked-about with regard to natal astrology. Uranus takes roughly 84 years to cycle the zodiac, these days that's near to matching a human life cycle. Longer astrological cycles can identify themselves in corresponence with mundane and historical events and themes.

For an expert's words see
this chapter on Astrological Cycles from Dane Rudhyar's book ASTROLOGICAL TIMING, The Transition to the New Age.

Some older posts of my own relate to cycles - some are definitely astrological, others could well be:

100 year cycle

75-year cycle

60-year cycle

560-year cycle

248-year cycle


“There are only patterns, patterns on top of patterns, patterns that affect other patterns. Patterns hidden by patterns. Patterns within patterns. If you watch close, history does nothing but repeat itself. What we call chaos is just patterns we haven't recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can't decipher. What we can't understand we call nonsense. What we can't read we call gibberish. There is no free will. There are no variables.”
~ Chuck Palahniuk, "Survivor".