Thursday, January 26, 2012

Nutty Okie Senator ~ & ~ Heading Out

From ghoulies and ghosties and long leggety beasties and things that go bump in the night....and loopy Oklahoma senators, Good Lord, deliver us!

Before we hightail it out of this crackpot state for a few days, this from Huffington Post yesterday:

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A Republican state senator from Oklahoma City introduced a bill Tuesday that would ban the use of aborted human fetuses in food, despite conceding that he's unaware of any company using such a practice.

Freshman Sen. Ralph Shortey said his own Internet research led him to believe such a ban is necessary and prompted him to offer the bill aimed at raising "public awareness" and giving an "ultimatum to companies" that might consider such a policy.
Shortey said he discovered suggestions online that some companies use embryonic stem cells to develop artificial flavors, but added that he is unaware of any Oklahoma companies doing such research.

In an e-mail to The Associated Press, U.S. Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman Pat El-Hinnawy said: "FDA is not aware of this particular concern
Best comment: by commenter Thaag Tidestalker:

I agree! We also need to work diligently on ensuring that:

1. Horses are permanentl­y banned from driving motorcycle­s
2. Rain is mandated to fall toward the ground, and not any other direction
3. Mongol Hordes respect the borders of the United States and do not plunder here

If we don't make sure all these become law, there could be UTTER CHAOS!!! (hail Eris)

We'll be heading out today....on the road to somewhere. It'll definitely be southward, probably veering west to catch more reliable weather. We considered going east into Louisiana and cajun country, but weather forecast is decidedly damp for that area. Next we considered southwest to Big Bend National Park, skirting the Rio Grande along the Mexico border in Texas -some great scenery there. But daylight is short and motels within 100 miles of the park are few, husband's dislike of night driving caused us to shelve that one for now. So...maybe somewhere in southern New Mexico. There's Spaceport America, in the region, if we manage to hit a convenient time for one of the preview tours; Las Cruces and Silver City are still to explore anyway........ Back in a few.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Image of Aquarius ?

The photograph below is among my husband's collection of vintage and antique photographs. (See Lost Gallery). I liked it at once - it's unintentionally (?) arty as well as being an unintentional representation of the two sides of zodiac sign Aquarius. Note that I say zodiac sign Aquarius - not "an Aquarian".

Aquarius has two planetary rulers: Saturn traditionally, and Uranus in modern astrology. A more different set of characteristics associated with two planets and one zodiac sign would be hard to find in astrology.

The young man at the foot of the steps represents Saturn's input. He's standing in front of rigidly structured lines, conservatively dressed, quietly studying his book. The fellow at top of the steps represents Uranus - a bit wild and woolly, standing with the open sky as background, clothes rumpled, devil-may-care expression...unpredictable - what'll he do next?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Aquarius, Astrologers, Uranus, Urania.

Sun's in Aquarius again, I'll soon need to add another year to my age! I've written more than enough posts about zodiac sign Aquarius over the years - they are easily available via the Label Cloud in the sidebar - click on "Aquarius". I have a special interest in the sign, and its modern ruler Uranus, being a Sun Aquarian-type myself.

Occasionally I ask myself what's the source of my longtime interest in astrology. My parents had no knowledge of the subject, nor did any close relative that I know of. Is Aquarius the source? None of my contemporaries, even among those born within a few days of me, and in the same town as myself, has ever shown the slightest interest in the planets.

There's a list of astrologers at Wikipedia, with handy click-through links to further detail. Many of the names come from eras long gone, many are foreign to me. I found only three astrologers whose names are familiar, with natal Sun in Aquarius. I'll concentrate on two of them initially because of interesting similarities. ~~

The pair: Evangeline Adams (8 February 1868) and Russell Grant (5 February 1951), one from each side of the pond, as it happens. Their natal charts are available at Astrodatabank, and linked to their names above. It was fascinating to compare them. Look at the similarities!

Evangeline Adams had Sun at 19 Aquarius, Mars at 10 Aquarius; Mercury Venus and Jupiter in Pisces; and Uranus (ruler of Aquarius) at 9 Cancer.

Russell Grant has Sun at 16 Aquarius, Moon at 10 Aquarius; Venus, Mars and Jupiter in Pisces; Uranus (ruler of Aquarius) at 5.58 Cancer.

That's pretty amazing! Because they were born 83 years apart, Uranus ruler of their Aquarius Sun had almost completed its 84-year cycle, and was back in the same sign, sensitive, intuitive Cancer - and within a few degrees for Russell Grant as it had been for Evangeline Adams. Both astrologers have two planets in Aquarius (both have one on the 10 degree spot); both have three personal planets in instinctual, ephemeral Pisces, with Venus and Jupiter common to both.

Airy, mentally-oriented Aquarius may not be particularly astrology-oriented without support from Watery signs (Pisces, Cancer, Scorpio).

The third Aquarius-type astrologer I found in Wiki's list: Charles Carter - often referred to as C.E.O. Carter - one of my favourites. Chart available at Astrodatabank. He had three personal planets in Aquarius (Sun, Mercury, Venus) and three in Water signs (Mars, Saturn and Jupiter).

My own natal chart isn't closely comparable with those of Adams, Grant or Carter. I have only Sun in Aquarius, with Watery input from Jupiter in Pisces, Mars in Scorpio and Cancer rising - so I guess it could be said that I have a less intense amount of the same "flavours" they did/do. My natal Uranus is in Earthy Taurus though, and conjoins south node of Moon.

My natal Moon in Aries seems unhelpful in this regard, but Asteroid Urania lies very close to it. This celestial body was named for the Muse of Astronomy, and by association astrology. Astrologically, this may mean nothing at all - but it pleases me!

"In Greek mythology, Urania (Ουρανία), which means "heavenly", was the muse of astronomy and astrology. She is usually depicted as having a globe in her left hand and a peg in the right, and her foot on a turtle, symbol of silence. She is able to foretell the future by the position of the stars. She is often associated with Universal Love and the Holy Spirit. She is dressed in a cloak embroidered with stars and keeps her eyes and attention focused on the Heavens. Those who are most concerned with philosophy and the heavens are dearest to her." (See here)
Illustration from HERE

Last year we found a wee town named after her on our travels in Louisiana:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Movie Monday ~ The Ides of March ~ Ryan Gosling ~ US Politics

I'd been waiting to see The Ides of March since first reading of it months ago. The movie never did reach our local cinema, so we awaited the DVD release, rented it during its first week out. Main reason for being so keen to see the movie: Paul Giamatti is in it. Bored, disgusted and disillusioned as I'm feeling about the whole US political circus, The Ides of March's fictional political scenario wasn't enough to put me off seeing a performance by Giamatti.

Sad to report, though, I was disappointed in the movie, apart from Giamatti's performance. He never disappoints; Philip Seymour Hoffman likewise.

Maybe I was expecting too much. Maybe the travesty that is real-life US politics has by now completely deadened my appetite for more. I've enjoyed every past political movie - seen all the big ones, and a few lesser known. This is the first where my reaction was definitely: "Meh!".

The film is an adaptation of an original stage play, Farragut North, by Beau Willimon who assisted George Clooney and Grant Heslov in writing the screenplay. Strange title - Farragut North; it is, I discovered, a Metro station in Washington DC in the business district. I suspect the story's transition from stage to screen may be where something went wrong. I understand that in the original stage version the candidate character (George Clooney in the movie) never appears, is only referenced. Dialogue is between campaign managers and other "interested parties". I can kind of see how that would have worked. The presentation would have been a more oblique and subtle look at the backroom workings of political power. Simplifying it all, filling in the blanks, joining the dots for a movie audience might have brought the whole thing down a notch or several, caused it to become...I don't know....shallow, facile, comic-bookish?

Cast of the movie at the Venice Film Festival. Photo from HERE.

Clooney isn't the "star" of the film, but plays a key character: one of two Democratic primary candidates duking it out for the nomination. Ryan Gosling is meant to have the star-billing. He plays an up and coming press secretary in Clooney's campaign workforce. It's the first time I've seen him in a movie. He has earned the reputation of being a real hot shot actor, yet I didn't "get" him or believe this characterisation at all. He mumbled much of his dialogue, it was a real effort for me to understand at times, and such a relief when superb actors, Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman delivered their lines. There's also something about Ryan Gosling's face that just doesn't appeal. Eyes too close together?

George Clooney plays George Clooney, pretty much, until the last scenes. Some of his campaign speeches were music to my ears - or would have been if I hadn't lived through our current president's campaign speeches - and what has followed.

The two main female characters, a hard-bitten reporter, Marisa Tomei and a supposedly naive intern played by Evan Rachel Wood, both gave decent performances with the rather clichéd material available. In the case of Wood's character there were several plot loopholes, not her fault, of course.

The movie's title, from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, is the best thing about it. There were "Et tu, Brute?" moments for each of the main characters at some point in the movie. (The biggest real life "E tu, Brute?" nowadays is the 99% shouting it out to all politicians, everywhere.)

Bearing in mind what we all know, now, about a succession of political characters in real life, a medley, mosaic or montage of the sum total of it all might satisfy some viewers. I couldn't find it satisfying, not without seeing a few just deserts being dished out. Real life politics may not dish out just deserts very often these days, but it is within the power of movie makers to depict what is missing.

A peek at Ryan Gosling's natal chart. Maybe I can identify something to account for my apathetic reaction to him and his performance which many critics have praised highly.

Born 12 November 1980 in London Ontario. Chart is set for 12 noon - no time of birth known. Moon would be in Capricorn, but degree uncertain. Rising sign unknown.

All his planets lie in the segment of the zodiac between Libra and Capricorn. Not a lot to dislike there. In spite of the clustered formation there's "a bit of everything" : Air, Water, Fire and Earth; Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable involved. The emphasis on just four of the twelve signs indicates a certain strength of focus in his nature, something which, no doubt, will have energised his zoom to success.

Creative Neptune conjunct dynamic Mars in mutable Sagittarius is an excellent combination for an actor.

Without Gosling's time of birth it's not possible to know which of the planets and signs lie in strong positions, i.e. near chart angles (ascendant, mid-heaven and opposite points). That information would throw a brighter light on his real-life personality.

I don't see any astrological reason why I didn't warm to him. To parody another quote from the same source as the movie's title: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in the movie".

A quote, again from the same source, Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and apt in view of the movie's plot and events of the US political scene in 2012:
How many ages hence
Shall this our lofty scene be acted o'er,
In states unborn, and accents yet unknown

Saturday, January 21, 2012

As Time Goes By~ Time Slips #4 ~ Britain

The original post has been heavily edited of extracts and links due to a complaint to Blogger, from an as yet unknown source, that something in my original infringed someone's copright. As I was not accorded the courtesy of knowing exactly which part of my post infinged copyright I have removed every possible factor - and would add that what it originally contained was, I had thought, used in compliance with the Fair Use guidelines.
A final brief note of some reported time slips from the UK - none concerning France at all this time!

Unfortunately I have no means of looking at astrological indications in these cases as no exact dates are quoted for the time slips. I found these examples of possible time slip experiences to have a rather more authentic feel than those featured in posts from Tuesday to Thursday this week. Lack of fine detail, duration of the events, and the fact there is no contact with people on t'other side of the time slip, renders these more acceptable - to me at least.

In Liverpool's Bold Street an off-duty police officer, in the summer of 1996 experienced what seemed to be a time slip when walking into what he knew to be a book shop. The store had mysteriously turned into "Cripps" a Liverpool clothing store of the 1950s or before. An old-fashioned van, certainly not of 1990s vintage, passed by him in the street, as did people wearing what appeared to be styles popular in the 1940s. The police officer was not alone in this odd experience. A young woman, also puzzled by the sudden appearance of a previously unknown women's fashion store remarked to him, as she entered, that she was going to look around as she'd thought this was a clothing store....but the bookstore and normal 1990's scene had returned.

This is not the only strange experience involving Liverpool's Bold Street. There is a church at one end of the street - it was bombed during the World War 2 city blitz, and left, an empty broken shell, as a memorial. Bold Street may possibly, therefore, stand in an area "ripe" for time slip "imprint".

More can be found by typing "Liverpool, Bold Street, time slip" into the Google search box.

The Battle of Hopton Heath in 1643, a key event of the English Civil War, may also have left an imprint in Shropshire countryside. On a winter night in 1974 a driver, after feeling unwell, pulled over to the side of the road and was startled to see the night sky lighten to daytime brightness, the road ahead become a mass of fields, trees and bushes, with soldiers in civil war uniform fighting a savage battle. Surrounded by this scene as he was, it seemed the soldiers remained unaware of his presence. Seconds later the weird scene vanished.

More on this event can be found by typing "Battle of Hopton Heath time slip" into the Google search box.

Three Royal Navy cadets on a map-reading exercise one Sunday morning in October, 1957 in Suffolk, England may have wandered into a time slip in Kersey, a picturesque village dating from before the 13th century. A full description of their experience can be read at the Smithsonian website - type "Smithsonian, Kersey time slip" into the Google search box.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Arty Farty Friday ~ Gustave Courbet: Enfant Terrible

Opening paragraph of an excellent piece from The Smithsonian, Larger than Life by Avis Berman on French 19th century painter Gustave Courbet:
Painter, provocateur, risk taker and revolutionary, Gustave Courbet might well have said, "I offend, therefore I am." Arguably modern art's original enfant terrible, he had a lust for controversy that makes the careers of more recent shockmeisters like Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Robert Mapplethorpe seem almost conventional. As a rebellious teenager from a small town in eastern France, Courbet disregarded his parents' desire for him to study law and vowed, he wrote, "to lead the life of a savage" and free himself from governments. He did not mellow with age, disdaining royal honors, turning out confrontational, even salacious canvases and attacking established social values when others of his generation were settling into lives cushioned with awards and pensions.

Courbet is reported to have said or written:
"I am fifty years old and I have always lived in freedom; let me end my life free; when I am dead let this be said of me: 'He belonged to no school, to no church, to no institution, to no academy, least of all to any régime except the régime of liberty."

Courbet was a realist painter - and realist in every sense of the word. He painted the reality he saw around him, not only the reality of the bourgeoisie, but the reality of ordinary people - those we have recently labelled "the 99%".

Gustave Courbet's era offered ample outlet for his revolutionary nature. He was involved in the 1848 revolution in France, the Paris commune in 1871 and was one of the founders of an artistic movement many of his contemporaries found shocking.

Investigating events of 1848 swiftly brings to mind a somewhat milder yet comparable set of events nearer to our own time. Europe was then in the throes of several vatieties of revolution. In Britain the Chartist movement (a working class labour movement) was thriving. Marx and Engels had published the Communist Manifesto. In France protesters forced the abdication of King Louis-Philippe. However, an attempt at setting up a Constituent Assembly to represent France's poor failed amidst counter-revolution and the slaughter of thousands at the barricades. Eventually Napoleon III, after being elected president of the French Republic, proclaimed himself Emperor after a coup in 1851.

Gustave Courbet, a man whose temperament was well-suited for his times. He was born in Ornans on 10 June 1819. Time of birth given by Astrodatabank is 3:00 AM.

I was half expecting to see rebellious Uranus conjoined to a personal planet - it isn't, but Uranus is conjunct Neptune, planet of creativity and opposing his communicative Gemini Sun. We needn't look very much further to seek the source of his revolutionary spirit. But there is more... Jupiter in Aquarius (rulership sign of Uranus) is in close harmonious trine to Sun in Gemini - another link to rebellion and the avant garde.

Moon in commonsense, business-like Earthy Capricorn harmoniously trines Venus, planet of the arts in its home sign of Taurus. In spite of his revolutionary traits, for most of his life Courbet managed to surf disapproval and maintain a reasonable lifestyle, reflection, perhaps, of this balancing Earthy input from Moon and Venus.

It wasn't until he, as head of the Arts Commission, was amongst those who destroyed the Vendôme Column, that his rebellious nature overcame commonsense and led him astray. The Column was a monument to Napoleon I, a symbol of the French revolution of 1789, later seen more as a symbol of French militarism and imperialism. After the defeat of the Paris Commune and the massacre of thousands of those who had taken part in it, Courbet was arrested and sentenced to six months imprisonment. Later the government fined him 300,000 francs to pay for the rebuilding of the Column. As he could not afford this vindictive fine he fled to Switzerland where he lived out the rest of his life, painting (and drinking heavily) until his death in 1877. In 1919 his remains were returned to Ornans where he was interred in the local cemetery. (See HERE).....And HERE re Franco-Prussian War).

Courbet's paintings include landscapes, nudes (some erotic), portraits, self portraits, and many scenes of ordinary people doing what ordinary people did.

Below: Considered to be one of Courbet's masterpieces, from 1850: Burial at Ornans. French critics were not impressed. It was, they claimed "too big and the figures were too ugly". It measures 21 feet by 10 feet -huge! It was customary for paintings of this size to be of religious or mythological subjects, and certainly not a peasant funeral in rural France.....the very idea!!

Sleeping Spinner

The Stone Breakers


The Source

The Draughts Players

The Guitarrero, Young Man in a Landscape

Les Demoiselles des bords de la Seine
Two young women resting at the edge of River Seine. Not women of the elegant bourgeoisie, but two very ordinary gals, one of whom has removed her dress and relaxes in her petticoat.

Courbet painted himself - lot! A collection of his self portraits can be seen at the blog Fifty Two Pieces

Three examples, top to bottom
: A Desperate Man; Man with Leather Belt; Man with Pipe.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Last Time I Saw Paris? Time Slip #3

Another time slip-related post (see also Tuesday's and Wednesday's posts for others) ....

This comes from an article by Amelia Crater at Mysterious Universe :

"For most of us, timeslips happen randomly, perhaps due to finding ourselves in a setting where dramatic incidents from the past have imprinted deeply on the landscape or when our own state of consciousness is altered by unusual stress, exhaustion, or novelty, suddenly pitching us head first back in time."
She includes an account from Colin Wilson’s book Beyond the Occult, recounting a timeslip experience of biologist Ivan Sanderson from his More Things, a book mainly about zoological oddities.

After stating that he has never been interested in the occult, Sanderson tells how he and his wife were living in Haiti, engaged on a biological survey. One day, on a drive to lake Azuey, they made the mistake of taking a short cut that landed them up to their axles in mud and had to spend the night walking back. He and his wife were walking together, their assistant Frederick G. Allsop walking ahead, when:

"…suddenly, on looking up from the dusty ground I perceived absolutely clearly in the now brilliant moonlight, and casting shadows appropriate to their positions, three-storied houses of various shapes and sizes lining both sides of the road. These house hung out over the road which suddenly appeared to be muddy with patches of large cobblestones. The house were of (I would say) about the Elizabethan period of England, but for some reason I knew they were in Paris! They had pent roofs with some dormer windows, gables, timbered porticos and small windows with tiny leaded panes. There and there were dull reddish lights burning behind them, as if from candles. There were iron-frame lanterns hanging from timbers jutting from some houses and they were all swaying together as if in a wind, but there was not the faintest movement of air about us….

I was marveling at this, and looking about me, when my wife came to a dead stop and gave a gasp. I ran smack into her. Then she went speechless for a time while I begged to know what was wrong. Finally she took my hand and, pointing, described to me exactly what I was seeing. At which point I became speechless. Finally pulling myself together, I blurted out something like, ‘What do you think’s happened?’ but my wife’s reply startled me even more. I remember it only too well; she said, ‘How did we get to Paris five hundred years ago?”

We stood marveling at what we apparently both now saw, picking out individual items and pointing, questioning each other as to details, and so forth. Curiously, we found ourselves swaying back and forth and began to feel very weak, so I called out to Fred, whose white shirt was fast disappearing ahead. I don’t quite remember what happened then but we tried to run towards him and, feeling dizzy, sat down on what we were convinced was a tall, rough curbstone. Fred came running back asking what was wrong but at first we did not know what to say. He was the ‘keeper’ of the cigarettes, of which we had about half a dozen left, and he sat down beside us and gave us each one. By the time the flame from his lighter had cleared from my eyes, so had fifteenth-century Paris, and there was nothing before me but the endless and damned thorn bushes and cactus and bare earth. My wife also ‘came back’ after looking into the flame. Fred had seen nothing…”

I don't have any date for the Sandersons' experience, but I do have Ivan's birth data, and have discovered more about him. (Photo below from e-bay).

Ivan T. Sanderson, born in Edinburgh, Scotland on 30 January 1911 emigrated to the USA and became a US citizen.

His natal chart (set for 12 noon as time of birth isn't known) shows that he was a "triple Aquarian". Sun, Moon and Venus all in the sign of mental acuity and invention. Moon would have been somewhere between 4 and 17 degrees of Aquarius depending on time of birth. It's no great surprise that the man had a brilliant brain then...(this from Wikipedia:)

....attended Eton College, and, at 17 years old, began a yearlong trip around the world, focusing mostly on Asia. Sanderson earned a B.A. in zoology, with honors, from Cambridge University, where he later earned M.A. degrees in botany and geology. On a New York area radio talk show on WFMU in 1965, he said he had "three PhD's"...

During World War II, Sanderson worked for British Naval Intelligence, in charge of counter-espionage against the Germans in the Caribbean, then for British Security Coordination, finally finishing out the war as a press agent in New York City. Afterwards, Sanderson made New York his home and became a naturalized U.S. citizen. In the 1960s Sanderson made his home in rural northwestern New Jersey, where he owned approximately 8 acres. He later lived in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen until his death in 1973.

Sanderson's specialty was cryptozoology, the study of creatures whose existence has not been proven or of those considered extinct. He also had interest in UFO theories and the paranormal in general, but not the occult, he was always careful to point out.

Another of his interests was in "patterning mysteries"....this from The Planetary Grid - A New Synthesis by William Becker and Beth Hagens. Illustrations are available at the website.

... Returning to the maps of Piri Reis, Buache, and the ancient sea kings, what kind of planning models would an ancient mariner need to construct such maps? Ivan Sanderson, researcher into the unexplained, asked such questions in the 1960s and 70s — and with several associates, he set out to "pattern the mysteries" by taking full advantage of modern communication technology and statistical data analysis. His success was startling.

His 1972 article in Saga magazine, "The Twelve Devil's Graveyards Around the World," plotted ship and plane disappearances worldwide, focusing attention on 12areas, equally spaced over the globe, in which magnetic anomalies and other energy aberrations were linked to a full spectrum of strange physical phenomena.
Sanderson had identified what he called Vile Vortices or electromagnetic energy disturbances located equidistant over the surface of the globe, best-known being the Bermuda Triangle and the Devil's Sea off Japan..

(There's much more about Ivan Sanderson in a long and detailed Tribute written by Richard Grigonis.)

So....bearing in mind Dr. Sanderson's background, I'm not 100% confident that I should take that experience of his in Haiti exactly as read. Certainly the mental and physical exhaustion he and his wife were experiencing might have brought on a common hallucinatory experience of sorts. The fact that we're told that both he and his wife experienced the same vision is curious though. And yet, due to his main areas of interest one might have expected any hallucination to have included extinct animals, monsters, or UFOs, rather than medieval France....hmmmm. Here's that pesky France AGAIN! What is it about France that it has impinged upon these time slips? Did that bloody Revolution of theirs make such an indelible impression upon the waves of space and time ?

Perhaps I'm being unfair, but when I saw some of his books at Google Image, I began to wonder if, as well as having a brilliant but overactive brain, whether Sanderson also had an overactive, and lucrative, imagination.

One more time slip post is still to come - on Saturday.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"Funny How Time Slips Away"?~Time Slip # 2

Following yesterday's theme, another oft-repeated time slip story, this from 1979. It was also featured in a British TV series Strange But True. Highlighted words are my own thoughts. Astro chart for the date and time the occurence began is at the end of this account. The exact location of these happenings in France isn't known, so I've used Bourges, a mid-country location, to discover where the planets would have been on that date at that time of the evening.

Coincidentally this is yet another event which is said to have taken place in France, as did yesterday's time slip feature... as well as the fictional events in the movie Midnight in Paris.

In October 1979, two couples in Dover on the south coast of England, set off on a vacation together, intending to travel through France and Spain.

Geoff and Pauline Simpson and their friends Len and Cynthia Gisby travelled by boat across the English Channel to the coast of France. They then rented a car and proceeded to drive north. (I don't understand why they'd drive north if heading for Spain - or anywhere in France really!) Around 9:30 that evening, October 3, they began to tire and looked for a place to stay. They pulled off the autoroute to a decent-looking hotel.

Len went inside and in the lobby encountered a man dressed in an odd plum-colored uniform. The man said they were fully booked, but there was a small hotel south along the road. Len thanked him and he and his companions went on. (Some versions of the story indicate that this first hotel was a known, named, establishment the party had picked as a stop-over place. The version used here indicates "something not quite right" about it, and doesn't mention it as having been a pre-planned stop.

They were struck by the oddness of the cobbled, narrow road and the buildings they passed. They also saw posters advertising a circus. "It was a very old-fashioned circus," Pauline would remember. "That's why we took so much interest."

A long, low building with a row of brightly lit windows came into view. Some men were standing in front of it and when Cynthia spoke with them, they told her the place was an inn, not a hotel. (How much French did the visitors speak ? - I had understood that it was minimal) They drove further down the road until they saw two buildings: one a police station, the other an old-fashioned two-story building bearing a sign marked "Hotel." Inside, everything was made of heavy wood. There were no tablecloths on the tables, nor was there any evidence of such modern conveniences as telephones or elevators.

The bedrooms were also strange. No glass in the windows - just wooden shutters. Beds had heavy calico-like sheets, no pillows. No locks, only wooden catches on the doors. The bathroom the couples had to share had old-fashioned plumbing. (No direct mention of the loo (lavatory). I find this strange. Was it an earth closet, in an out-house? This would have been a very very strong clue that something was seriously wrong. It'd be highly unlikely for a water closet to be available in rural France, if time had slipped back to early 1900s as later indicated, yet no mention seems to have been made of this.)

After they'd eaten, they returned to their rooms and fell asleep. Next morning they returned to the dining room and ate a simple breakfast with "black and horrible" coffee, Geoff recalled. (Some versions of the story state that they were served steak, egg and fried potato) As they were sitting there, a woman wearing a silk evening gown and carrying a dog under her arm sat opposite them. "It was strange," Pauline said. "It looked like she had just come in from a ball but it was seven in the morning. I couldn't take my eyes off her."

At that point, two gendarmes entered the room. "They were nothing like the gendarmes we saw anywhere else in France," according to Geoff. "Their uniforms seemed to be very old." The uniforms were deep blue and the officers were wearing capes over their shoulders. Their hats were large and peaked.

Despite the oddities, the couples enjoyed themselves and, when they returned to their rooms, the two husbands separately took pictures of their wives standing by the shuttered windows.

On their way out, Len and Geoff talked with the gendarmes about the best way to take the autoroute to Avignon and the Spanish border. The officers didn't seem to understand the word "autoroute," and the travellers assumed they hadn't pronounced the French word properly. The directions they were given were poor; they led to an old road some miles out of the way. They decided to use the map instead and take a more direct route along the highway.

After the car was packed, Len went to pay his bill and was astonished when the manager asked only for 19 francs. Assuming there was some misunderstanding, Len explained that there were four of them and they had eaten a meal. The manager only nodded. Len showed the bill to the gendarmes, who smilingly indicated there was nothing amiss. He paid in cash and left before they could change their minds.

On their way back from two weeks in Spain, the two couples decided to stop at the hotel again. They had had a pleasant, interesting time there and the prices certainly couldn't be beat. The night was rainy and cold and visibility poor, but they found the turnoff and noticed the circus signs they had seen before, and decided this was the same road they'd travelled before. It was, but there was no hotel alongside it. Thinking that somehow they had missed it, they went back to the first hotel where, on their earlier journey a man in a plum-colored suit had given them directions. That hotel was there, but there was no man in the unusual suit and the clerk denied such an individual working there.

The couples drove three times up and down the road looking for that old hotel, but began to realize it really was was no longer there. They drove north and spent the night in a hotel in Lyons. Room with modern facilities, breakfast and dinner cost them 247 francs.

Back in Dover, Geoff and Len had their rolls of film processed. The photos of the hotel (one by Geoff, two by Len) were in the middle of the rolls. When they got the prints back, those taken inside the hotel were missing, even though each film had its full quota of negatives, and prints, none spoiled. It was as if the pictures had never been taken, except for one detail that a reporter for Yorkshire Television noticed much later: "There was evidence that the camera had tried to wind on in the middle of the film. Sprocket holes on the negatives showed damage."

The couples didn't mention their strange experience to many others for three years, telling it only to friends and family. One friend found a book in which it was revealed that gendarmes wore the uniforms described prior to 1905. Eventually, a reporter for the Dover newspaper heard about it and published an account. Later, a TV dramatization of the experience was produced by a local station.

In 1985, Manchester psychiatrist Albert Keller hypnotized Geoff Simpson to see if he could recall any more of the peculiar event. Under hypnosis he added nothing new to what he had remembered.

Jenny Randles, a British writer who investigated this bizarre episode, wonders, "What really happened to the four travellers in rural France? Was this a timeslip? If so, one wonders why the hotel manager was apparently not surprised by their futuristic vehicle and clothing, and why he accepted their 1979 currency, which certainly would have appeared odd to anybody living that far back in the past."

The two couples have no explanation. "We only know what happened," says Geoff.

Information from "World of Strange Phenomena" by Charles Berlitz, published 1988 by Wynwood Press (VIA:


The matter of the hotel keeper accepting modern money without question is curious, but a case could be made that these were foreign tourists in rural France - the hotel keeper might have thought that the notes were some newly designed currency not yet seen in his isolated part of the country. Regarding the modern car driven by the visitors: likewise, I guess - though less believable.

The gendarmes' uniform: from photos and illustrations I've seen online it'd seem that the headgear (the képi), hasn't changed a great deal since the early 1900s, and whether a cape is worn probably depends on weather conditions. Uniforms are still dark navy blue. I can imagine uniforms the tourists saw looking slightly different from those seen elsewhere, because this, again, could be due to the rural location where the guys, in 1979, had not quite caught up with the other areas of France. Photo below showing present-day gendarme uniforms, from a 2011 blog Kathy in Paris

Here's an astrological chart for the date and time this strange "event" began, set for a location in mid-France, at 9:30 PM.

Neptune (illusion, dreams, delusion, creativity imagination)was on the descending angle - one of the strongest positions in a chart. The astro "atmosphere" was ripe for illusion, then.

I find the travellers' tale more than a wee bit suspect to be honest. I can easily see how these tourists might have stayed overnight in a rather old-fashioned run-down roadside hotel in the middle of nowhere, then conjured up a tall tale to tell their friends back home. Once the story leaked out they'd have needed to further embellish it...and stick to it, especially after press and TV got wind of it!

A straight time slip, for a few moments or even lasting an hour or so, I could accept as a mysterious but not impossible experience. Contact between parties on either side of the time-slippage is the sticking point for me. For me believe stories of this kind of experience, it'd have to be described as a "viewing only" kind of event. But a happening such as these travellers described, stretching overnight, with plenty of contact between parties on each side of the time slip? Very hard to believe, much as I'd love to do so. Sorry!

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"A place where there's no space or time"? Time Slip#1

Yesterday's post described the movie Midnight in Paris - a plot which centres on a time warp or, I find now, the more commonly used term is time slip. Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris isn't the first movie to latch onto this fascinating premise of course. Portrait of Jenny & Somewhere in Time are two others we've seen fairly recently on DVD or on Turner Classic Movie channel. Several novelists have used time slippage as anchor for their storylines. Wikipedia has a list of examples: see the section "Time slips in popular culture", towards the end of the page.

While searching for something else online I happened upon an article touching on time slips. Then, having spent a couple of hours just reading many websites and blogs where real life experiences of time slips are described, I became intrigued. I'm going to describe one of these here and others in future posts. Anything appearing to be enhancement, frills or suspect moss gathered in multiple re-tellings of the stories will be questioned! I'll look at any relevant astrological factors where dates and times are available.

First up, the story which is repeated most often on blogs and websites featuring time slips. This happened so long ago that reading about it now seems almost like a double-dip time slip!

It was 10 August 1901 (in reality). Two English women in France visit Versailles: Annie Moberly (55), Principal of St. Hugh's College in Oxford and Dr. Eleanor Frances Jourdain (38) a teacher. A little on the ladies' backgrounds from here:

Annie Moberly 10th of 15 children, was the daughter of an Oxford don who became the Bishop of Salisbury in England. She was well educated, honorable, religious, imaginative. She became a teacher and was appointed the 1st principal of St. Hugh's College, a small school for girls, in Oxford.

Eleanor Jourdain was also the daughter of a parson and the 1st of 10 children. Although descended from a Huguenot family, she was thoroughly British. She was introspective and prim, yet fanciful and independent as well. She published 7 weighty textbooks, one on symbolism in Dante. She, too, set out to teach, held several positions, ran a school of her own, and after her adventure in France was to become vice-principal of St. Hugh's College under the older Annie Moberly.

In 1901, Eleanor Jourdain, eager to learn French, had moved to Paris temporarily, where she was sustaining herself by tutoring English children in that city. Annie Moberly, who at that time knew Miss Jourdain only slightly, came over to Paris to enjoy a short vacation and to offer Miss Jourdain the post of vice-principal at St. Hugh's. The 2 teachers became good friends and began taking trips outside Paris. Neither had ever been to Versailles, and they decided to go by train to visit its historic palace and beautiful grounds.

And so the adventure began:

They "did" the Palace of Versailles then decided to go find the Petit Trianon (right) - a "small" château located on the grounds of the Palace . Wikipedia tells that it was built by order of Louis XV for his long-term mistress, Madame de Pompadour, and was constructed between 1762 and 1768. Madame de Pompadour died four years before its completion, it was subsequently occupied by her successor, Madame du Barry. Upon his accession to the throne in 1774, the 20-year-old Louis XVI gave the château and its surrounding park to his 19-year-old Queen Marie Antoinette for her exclusive use and enjoyment. Marie longed to escape Louis and his court, and he gave her just the place.

The two ladies, having taken a wrong turning somewhere, were unable to find the Petit Trianon. With nothing available as a guide, they were lost. Both reported later that they began to experience a heavy mood, a dampening of their previously high spirits. They asked for directions from two men who passed by dressed in "long greyish-green coats with small three-cornered hats". They then passed an isolated cottage; a woman and an adolescent girl were in the doorway. The woman held a jug, the girl reached towards it. Dr. Jourdain wrote later, "She might have been just going to take the jug or have just given it up I remember that both seemed to pause for an instant, as in a motion picture."

Next the ladies came upon a pavilion. Again they noticed an unpleasantly depressing atmosphere. A man, face marked by smallpox, sat outside the pavilion, but did not acknowledge the presence of the two women in any way.

They then passed a small house, with terraces and shuttered windows. A fair-haired lady, unusually dressed, was seated on the grass in front of the house studying what appeared to be a drawing on a large piece of paper. There was a second house at the end of the terraces. As the two English women neared the houses a door opened then slammed shut. A young male, possibly a servant, appeared. Our two visitors, suspecting they may be trespassing, followed the young man towards the Petit Trianon. the next moment.... suddenly found themselves in the midst of a wedding party, dressed in the current style - 1901.

On their return home the two women pondered over their strange experience in Versailles. Had they seen the ghost of Marie Antoinette - or had they stumbled telepathically upon an abandoned memory of hers, or...was it a time slip? Miss Moberly, in the course of some research, found an illustration of
Marie Antoinette by the artist Wertmüller. To the ladies' amazement it showed the same woman, wearing the very clothes, they had seen near the Petit Trianon.
The outfit, as described (here) "a summer dress with a long bodice and a very full, apparently short skirt, which was extremely unusual. She had a pale green fichu or kerchief draped around her shoulders, and a large white hat covered her fair hair", doesn't match any portrait by Wertmüller I can find online. That shown right is the best known painting of Marie Antoinette by the artist. It's not imposssible that there are others illustrating old bound volumes of course.

Dr Jourdain went back to Versailles the next winter, but found it impossible to retrace their 1901 path, the grounds appeared strangely changed from the way she remembered.

Further research brought forth the information that on October 5, 1789 Marie Antoinette had been sitting at the Petit Trianon when she first learned that a mob from Paris was marching towards the palace gates. Dr Jourdain and Miss Moberly surmised that Marie Antoinette's memory of this terrifying moment could have lingered there through time, and the two ladies had inadvertently walked into its echo.

Possible explanations - and my own quibbles:

After drafting this post I found yet abother website with a long account of the two ladies' adventure in Versailles. See here under section: The Trianon Adventure. There several possible explanations are put forward, mainly based on the fact that it was known that certain people were in the habit of frequenting the area around Petit Trianon in the costume of the era of the French Revolution - for their own peculiar reasons. One woman was known to have dressed as Marie Anoinette. None of that is capable of disproving completely the ladies' story, but several spokes are put in the wheel (as it were).

Logically I can see no reason for these two ladies, in 1901, to have fabricated the story deliberately. What did two respected teachers stand to gain? Nowadays they might be able to publish a book or two on the back of their experience, and a lecture tour, maybe a few appearances on late-night chat shows - but in 1901....?

On the other hand....

Both women were of good education, with ready knowledge of historical events. It's not out of the question that, having become lost in the palace grounds, on a sultry August afternoon they fell into a kind of dreamy play-acting mode - decided the tale they came up with to pass the time while trying to find their way was too good a story to forget. It would have been repeated many times, no doubt expanded and embroidered with each telling. I notice, for instance, that the ladies said they were able to ask directions of the first two men (in strange garb) they encountered, yet other people they saw seemed to be unaware of their presence. Some renditions of the story vary slightly too, depending on where you read it.

Out of curiosity I looked at a chart for 10 August 1901, Versailles. At noon Moon in the last degrees of Gemini was conjunct Neptune at 00 degree Cancer....I'm not sure whether this is relevant or not, but the "atmosphere" in early afternoon would have been ripe for imagination and creativity! Just sayin'!

PS: Title of post comes from the lyrics of Leon Russell's lovely "A Song For You"

Monday, January 16, 2012

MONDAY MOVIES ~ Midnight in Paris & Another Earth

A couple of reasonably up-to-date movies, rented as counterpoint to our usual out-of- date junk-store acquisitions.

Midnight in Paris (2011)

Woody Allen was writer and director, though this time with no starring part. This movie won him the Best Screenplay award at yesterday's Golden Globes shindig. At last - something we've actually seen got an award! The film was also nominated in two or three other categories from memory - Best Film, Best Male Actor in a Comedy or Musical (Owen Wilson) among them.

I like Woody Allen's work, wrote a post about his movie corroboration with Diane Keaton and their natal charts a while ago - that post is HERE.

Midnight in Paris is the most straightforwardly accessible of any Allen movie I've seen, yet it still has a quirky twist and, as always, good music.

Set in Paris, as the title hints, with all of the goodies of the movie happening at and after midnight. A group from the USA are on vacation in Paris. Gil, one of the group, played by Owen Wilson, is a Hollywood screenwriter whose dream is to write a good novel. He appears to be on a completely different wavelength from his fiancée played by Rachel McAdams, her parents and her friends. Gil wanders off alone, one midnight, and inadvertently enters....what....a time-warp? Suspension of disbelief and willingness to go where Woody Allen beckons is necessary.

On Gil's many midnight ventures he discovers that time has slipped back to the 1920s. He finds himself among and embraced by some of the luminaries of his favourite era: Cole Porter, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates!) Picasso, Dali, Man Ray, and others.

I'll not give away more of the plot, which isn't at all complex, easily predictable - the fun is in the predicting.

The whole premise reminded me of the style of some of Thorne Smith's books. Wonder if Woody Allen had been reading one when the idea came to him? I've always loved Thorne Smith's daffy novels - he was the subject of one of my first blog topics in 2006: See HERE.

Midnight in Paris is a thoroughly enjoyable bit of fun - well worth the rental fee! Highly recommended.

Another Earth (2011)

An indie movie, its premiere was at the Sundance Festival 2011. Sort of sci-fi, sort of allegory, sort of metaphor - I guess.

There are no "big names" in this film. The two leads, Brit Marling and William Mapother were unknown to me, but turn in excellent performances.

As the story begins a young woman celebrating acceptance into an Institute of Technology is driving without due care, looking at a "new" planet in the sky, kills a mother and child, and leaves the child's father in a coma. She is imprisoned for several years. On release, still filled with remorse, unwilling to carry on with the kind of career she had chosen before the accident, she takes a job as janitor, so as to work with her hands rather than her head.

To say much more would give away the plotline, which would be a pity. This is a fairly new DVD and a passing reader might wish to rent it.

The "other Earth" part of the story offers another incidence where suspension of disbelief comes in handy. The fact that writer/producer Mike Cahill doesn't address the science of the other Earth-like planet, sitting so close to our Earth , yet causing no disturbance, indicates that the story's premise is meant to be taken mainly as metaphorical/allegorical.

In Wikipedia's Production Notes (do not read Wiki's page if you wish to avoid plot details) we are told:
The idea behind Another Earth first developed out of director Mike Cahill and actress Brit Marling speculating as to what it would be like were one to encounter one's own self. In order to explore the possibility on a large scale, they devised the concept of a duplicate Earth. The visual representation of the duplicate planet was deliberately made to evoke the Moon, as Cahill was deeply inspired by the 1969 Apollo 11 lunar landing.
Another movie worth renting!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ho-hum Elections

The Republican primaries now show all the signs of collapsing into a deadly boring heap at the feet of Governor Romney; which means, in turn, that the General Election in November, barring surprises, will also be a boring affair. Boring is way better than scary, of course. I wouldn't wish for an Obama v. Gingrich, Obama v. Perry or Obama v. Santorum election, fun-filled as any one of them might have been for the media and comedians.

I cannot raise the slightest enthusiasm for politics at present. The poem which follows is a reasonable reflection of my feelings.

The Last Election, by a favourite poet of mine, John Haines, who died in March 2011. He was a former Poet Laureate of Alaska; more, and his natal chart at an archived Feb. 2010 post containing another of his poems.
There's also a lovely tribute post to the poet at The Quivering Pen blog:
My Alaska, Our John Haines.

The Last Election

Suppose there are no returns,
and the candidates, one
by one, drop off in the polls,
as the voters turn away,
each to his inner persuasion.

The frontrunners, the dark horses,
begin to look elsewhere,
and even the President admits
he has nothing new to say;
it is best to be silent now.

No more conventions, no donors,
no more hats in the ring;
no ghost-written speeches,
no promises we always knew
were never meant to be kept.

And something like the truth,
or what we knew by that name-
that for which no corporate
sponsor was ever offered-
takes hold in the public mind.

Each subdued and thoughtful
citizen closes his door, turns
off the news. He opens a book,
speaks quietly to his children,
begins to live once more.

More thoughts on elections:
Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right.
~H.L. Mencken

When one may pay out over two million dollars to presidential and Congressional campaigns, the U.S. government is virtually up for sale.
~John Gardner

If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal.
~Emma Goldman