Friday, January 31, 2014

Arty Farty Friday ~ Gerald McDermott

American illustrator, film maker and author of children's books, Gerald McDermott was born on this day, 31 January, in 1941. He died in December 2012 at age 71. I knew nothing about Gerald McDermott, or his work, but in searching around the net have discovered he was an interesting personality, and good subject for this Arty Farty Friday, anniversary of his birth.

Writers paying tribute to him after his death have described him as "dream weaver, tale spinner, portrayer of visions, interpreter of the human spirit"; "had an unusual talent for reaching both kids and adults".

In another tribute article by a friend of McDermott's, Doug Cushman, after recounting some happy times together in Paris....
"But most of all he was a storyteller. He was one of the few artists living that continued the venerable tradition of passing on the old stories from generation to generation. He captured the heart and soul of each myth he illustrated. His writing process was jotting down a few lines of the myth and then walking around the room reciting them over and over again, changing the words slightly here and there and listening to them until they was distilled down to only a few, grasping the heart of the myth in its simplest form. Then he’d create the art, borrowing symbols and images from the myth’s culture. But there would always be some part of Gerald in there, some wink or nod that said, “This is serious stuff, but not too serious. Let’s have some fun.”
Gerald McDermott was born in Detroit, Michigan. His gravitation to art came early. At age 4 his parents, surprised by his blossoming artistic ability enrolled him in classes for children at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The rest of his education and career is outlined in a Profile piece by Priscilla Moulton.

He married fellow artist, Beverly Brodsky, in 1969; shortly after after they moved to the South of France for some years. McDermott was avidly interested in world mythologies. He created animated short films based on folklore, became a friend and colleague of mythologist and writer Joseph Campbell, eventually he became the first fellow of the Joseph Campbell Foundation.

Books written by Gerald McDermott include: Anansi the Spider: A Tale from Ashanti; Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest; Arrow to the Sun: A Tale from the Pueblo; and Daughter of Earth. All include McDermott’s super illustrations, typically dominated by bright, stylized forms, and inspired by indigenous art. One obituary tells that, “his grasp of the cultural heritage behind his stories was impeccable, yet his books were never weighed down by his depth of knowledge. Every story is distilled to its essence; each one has a vein of humor that makes it accessible to even the youngest readers. And his artwork! Always stunning.”

A quick look at a 12 noon version of his natal chart. No birth time is available so Moon and ascendant will not be as shown.

A Grand Trine links the generational trine between Uranus and Neptune with Venus, planet of the arts, all in Earth signs. This manifests in his creativity, the blend of Neptune and Uranus (new ways of looking at old stories) linked to his talent for painting. Saturn and Jupiter conjoined in Taurus (ruled by Venus) reflect his work(Saturn) in the publication of many books(Jupiter). His gravitation to illustrate myths of other nations might be represented by Mars in Sagittarius (the foreign travel sign)in helpful sextile to his natal Sun.

A few examples of his art from his book covers. At YouTube there are several examples of his short animated films based on the book illustrations.

When Pluto wrongly takes Proserpina to be his bride in the Underworld, Ceres, mother of Proserpina and goddess of the Earth, withdraws into a cave to mourn and refuses to permit crops to grow.
Sources include:

Thursday, January 30, 2014


We watched the HBO documentary Herblock: The Black and the White a couple of nights ago. It's about Herbert Block. I'd never heard of this American political cartoonist, who spent 55 years at the Washington Post, from 1946 to 2001, and won three Pulitzer prizes. I came away from the film with huge admiration for him. He died in October 2001, just before his 92nd birthday, left $50 million with instructions to create a foundation to support charitable and educational programs that help promote and sustain the causes he championed during his 72 years of cartooning. There's a good piece on the film, by David Von Drehle, at Time magazine website:
The Man Who Made Presidents Cringe: HBO’s Herblock ---Herbert L. Block's political cartoons made razor-sharp thrusts into the heart of Washington
...He was also stunningly well-compensated. His tenure at The Post went back to the days when the paper was a near-bankrupt concern, and at least once he was presented with the dodgy opportunity to trade some paychecks for company stock. The paper’s rise to national prominence was inseparable from Herblock’s widely syndicated work. When publisher Philip L. Graham made the cover of TIME in 1956, the background to his portrait was a collage of the cartoonist’s instantly recognizable images. By the time Herblock died in 2001, his original Post shares had split 240-to-1 and each resulting share was trading above $500. The ink-stained wretch left an estate valued at $90 million.

But somehow Herblock’s fame a dozen years later doesn’t quite measure up to those outsize standards. He lacked the self-promotional or social-climbing energy of many other Washington legends, and the star-making power of radio and television eluded this balding fellow with the huge nose and the voice borrowed from Disney’s Goofy.

Herblock lacked the glamor of Edward R. Murrow—although he beat Murrow to the job of unmasking the demagogue Joe McCarthy by a good four years. He lacked the Hollywood pizzazz of his younger Post colleagues Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein—although his Watergate cartoons pointed the finger at Nixon long before the scrappy reporters connected the dots. He lacked the reverential cult of New York Times columnist James “Scotty” Reston—even though Herblock was immune to the head-spinning half-truths of high-powered dinner companions who sometimes managed to snow the sage. Herblock preferred dinner in front of the TV, which he tuned to The Yogi Bear Show and Rocky & Bullwinkle.

I'm wary of showing images of his cartoons for fear of copyright police, but I'll risk three which appealed particularly to me - others can be seen HERE and via Google Image.

I was interested to see Mr Block's natal chart - set for 12 noon, as no birth time is known for him.

Four personal planets in Libra! Underlining Libra's craving for fairness and balance, it leaps from some of his cartoons. (Moon would have been in Libra whatever his time of birth.)
What I notice as particularly significant is a Grand Cross linking Uranus, Sun/Mercury, Neptune and Saturn.

I've noticed in the past that a Grand Square sometimes crops up in the chart of someone of a professionally politically confrontational nature. From memory, Keith Olbermann and Bill Maher both have Grand Squares - though linking different planets/signs. Herblock's Grand Square is formed in the Cardinal signs and has Saturn and Uranus (establishment and avant garde) squaring off, then Saturn and Neptune (establishment and fixed ideas squaring off against creativity and/or delusions), Neptune squaring off against Sun/Mercury (or vice versa! - Self versus illusion, delusion), and final square Sun/Mercury squaring Uranus (Libra Sun and Mercury's need for balance against Uranus's unexpected chaotic tendencies). The two oppositions forming the "cross" = Uranus opposing Neptune (a generational aspect) and Sun/Mercury opposing Saturn which well describes Herblock's own (Sun/Mercury = self and mode of communication) opposition to officaldom's or government's (Saturn) misdeeds or misjudgments.

Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Solving the Puzzle

A snippet from Pools of Lodging for the Moon by David K. Reynolds, PhD.(1989), sub-title: "Strategy for a positive lifestyle." If a passing reader can interpret the brief and puzzling section, Vacuum Packed differently from my own attempt, please feel free - I'd be interested to read alternative ideas.

Heddy reads old TV Guide magazines. She watches reruns of televison quiz shows, sometimes shouting out the answers even before the questions are asked. She keeps videotapes of commercials for products she can no longer buy.

Sally was buried with an extra pair of her favourite shoes in the coffin.

Jerry types page after page of random-letter gibberish at the VA Neuropsychiatric Hospital Typing clinic. He calls the ten thousand pages of single-spaced nonsense his "manuscript".

Franklyn pushes the floor button of the elevator exactly twice, then he pushes the close-door button exactly three times, then he presses against the bottom of the button panel with the palm of his right hand and waits expectantly for the door to close.

In the crossword puzzle of life the meanings may not be easily found. They are there, nevertheless.

Hmm. First thought was, "whatever floats yer boats guys!" Less flippantly though, life can be seen as a crossword puzzle, true enough. We each find ways of filling in the blanks to suit our own situation, experience and talents. Some even choose to fill in the blanks with the help of a little astrology, guided by the inner nature reflected through a natal chart.
Sometimes we fill in our blanks impetuously, but in error, find that our choice didn't fit with other essential factors, resulting in a need to erase the initial idea, re-group and start anew.

Erno Rubik (of cube fame)said
"The problems of puzzles are very near the problems of life."
In life, though, unless one is convinced that "fate" is in charge of events, there is no pre-determined or correct solution, we have to craft our own. We cut our clothes according to our cloth, plan some, but at times find ourselves "doing what seems like a good idea at the time", and hoping for the best.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Thoughts on Saturnian-Uranian Aqua-Caps

Saturn traditionally ruled both Capricorn and Aquarius, signs which are, unlike any other signs with co-rulers, adjacent in the zodiac. Modern astrology has placed Uranus as ruler of Aquarius, but Saturn's echo remains. The same could be said of other zodiac signs with a modern ruler and second, traditional, co-ruler. Jupiter once ruled Sagittarius and Pisces, but the signs are not adjacent, they are two signs away from one another. Mars used to rule both Aries and Scorpio, signs which are four signs apart. While Pisces retains echoes of Jupiter, and Scorpio retains echoes of Mars, and it's not impossible for personal planets to emphasise those echoes, Mercury will never be found in the co-ruled sign, as often happens in the case of Capricorn and Aquarius. This seems particularly significant.

Astrologer Carl Payne Tobey in his book Astrology Primer for the Millions wrote of similarities and differences between pairs of zodiac signs traditionally ruled by the same planet. Mr. Tobey considered that, in the case of Capricorn and Aquarius, the two signs have similar interests and drives, but approach them from opposite viewpoints. Capricorn is conservative by nature, Aquarius has distinctly progressive inclinations, one would wish to uphold the law, the other to change it.

Attributes of these two zodiac signs are well known among astrology fans, but just a mention here of one or two points from Carl Payne Tobey's assessment:
Capricorn will tolerate frustrations, is very practical in outlook, insecure about material things, will not take unnecessary chances and will put up with a great deal for the sake of material security. Doesn't like change - makes them feel insecure. A true Capricorn wouldn't be likely to go into politics except perhaps locally, usually those who do enter this arena are mixed Capricorn/Aquarian types.

Aquarius sees into the future because the future and not the past is of interest. Divorce is more common in Aquarians than Capricorns - Capricorn is more likely "stick it out", for economic or other reasons. Aquarius has great curiosity, and inventive ability. Likes change and progress, doesn't fear the future in the way Capricorn does. Assumes and hopes that the future will be a surprise and when it is, Aquarius reacts automatically and knows what to do about it, while Capricorn must first get over the shock. Aquarius is open minded and something of a hobo by nature. A true Capricorn man would find it difficult to keep up with a true Aquarian wife - she likes freedom, isn't keen on routine.

I've pondered on an idea that some natives of these two adjacent signs with a common traditional ruler can turn out as a curious type of hybrid personality. Individuals with Sun in either Capricorn or Aquarius frequently have planet(s) in the other sign. I have Sun in Aquarius, Mercury in Capricorn, for instance. Whilst I would never describe myself as in any way conservative, I do appreciate tradition as well as visions of a fairer future for all. Even so, I'm not what I'd call a true Saturn hybrid.

Distinct hybrid Aqua/Cap and Cap/Aqua personalities could partly account for the reason Sun in Aquarius types have mixed reputations. I've heard people comment that "there are two kinds of Aquarians". Previously I had put this down mainly to generational traits. We're all astro-hybrids of one sort or another, but due to the zodiacal juxtaposition of Capricorn and Aquarius, Saturn hybrids are of particular interest in view of their common ruler.

Paul Newman, Neil Diamond, Tom Selleck - are all Sun Aquarians with more Capricorn than Aquarius in their astrological makeup. Saturn hybrids?

Astrotheme states: (rounded up/down)
Newman - 43% Cap, 6% Aqua, 16%Scorpio.

- 30%Cap, 10%Aqua, & 22% Taurus.

- 30% Cap. 13% Aqua & 19% Leo.

Capricorn content outweighs Aquarius in all three cases. There are lots of other, similar examples, Aqua/Cap and Cap/Aqua, but this post would become even more tiresomely long quoting them all.

Another well-known Aquarius Sun person, Dick Cheney, is not a Saturn hybrid. He = 30% Taurus, 22%Aquarius. His dominant planet is Uranus, which I find a little surprising.

As for astrologers with Sun in Aquarius, the late Maya del Mar was a Saturn hybrid: 23% Capricorn, 17% Aquarius. C.E.O.Carter was not a Saturn hybrid: 31% Aquarius but no Capricorn at all, Saturn comes in 4th in dominance among his planets. Evangeline Adams wasn't a Saturn hybrid either. She had Sun in Aquarius, but her dominant sign by a wide margin was Pisces @ 46%, with Aquarius 17%.
(Details of sign and planet percentages obtained from lists at Astrotheme.)

All of which underlines that those who have Sun in Aquarius or Sun in Capricorn could sometimes surprise us by displaying either a muddied mix of the two signs' traits, or an unexpectedly heavy dose of the traits of the adjacent Saturn-ruled sign.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Birthday with Hot lips

It's my birthday on this particular Music Monday. Among musicians with a birthday today, most famous is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart(1756-1791). I'm not much into Mozart's style though. So, who else? There's "Hot Lips" Page - he sounds interesting and, as it happens, today while we're out and about I could possibly find myself not very far from his city of birth.

Oran Thaddeus Page (January 27, 1908 – November 5, 1954) was an American jazz trumpeter, singer, and bandleader born in Dallas, Texas, United States. He was better known as Hot Lips Page by the public, and Lips Page by his fellow musicians. He was known as a scorching soloist and powerful vocalist. (From Wikipedia)
His life was cut short, aged 46 by heart attack, followed by pneumonia.

A brief bio by Scott Yanow
One of the great swing trumpeters in addition to being a talented blues vocalist, Hot Lips Page's premature passing left a large hole in the jazz world; virtually all musicians (no matter their style) loved him. Page gained early experience in the 1920s performing in Texas, playing in Ma Rainey's backup band. He was with Walter Page's Blue Devils during 1928-1931, and then joined Bennie Moten's band in Kansas City in time to take part in a brilliant 1932 recording session. Page freelanced in Kansas City and in 1936 was one of the stars in Count Basie's orchestra but, shortly before Basie was discovered, Joe Glaser signed Hot Lips as a solo artist. Although Page's big band did alright in the late '30s (recording for Victor), if he had come east with Basie he would have become much more famous. Page was one of the top sidemen with Artie Shaw's orchestra during 1941-1942 and then mainly freelanced throughout the remainder of his career, recording with many all-star groups and always being a welcome fixture at jam sessions.

St James' Infirmary is a favourite blues number of mine, so a version with vocal by "Hot Lips" with Artie Shaw's orchestra:

And with Pearl Bailey ~ Baby It's cold Outside

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Embarrassed a Pulitzer Prize Winner too!

I remember, not long ago, on 8 January actually, writing: "Any time our home state, Oklahoma, gets itself into the news it's always for something either horrific, or vaguely embarrassing!" Here we go again! This time it's relating to something both horrific and embarrassing.

In the February issue of Vanity Fair Buzz Bissinger, a Pulitzer prize-winning author has written an article about our home town in Oklahoma, and the dreadful murder which happened here last summer. (See my post here). It's puzzling that Vanity Fair should suddenly bring the topic to the fore once more. Perhaps it's because the three young men accused of the murder will be in court again soon.

Mr Bissinger's article didn't impress me one little bit, Pulitzer prize or not. I felt the article wasn't well-written, and was grossly unfair. He concentrates too much on the town rather than on the crime - as though the town itself were to blame. He trots out the old saw about there being "2 sides of the track" in Duncan. In every town I've lived in, in England, (many, and in all regions) there were equivalent areas to the 2-sides of the track metaphor. In our town it just so happens that much of the poorer area is actually located on one side of the rail tracks.

I get the feeling that Buzz Bissinger, from Pennsylvania - Wikipedia states: "He divides his time between homes in Philadelphia and the Pacific Northwest," obviously suffers from the "fly-over" syndrome, and has little knowledge, and a low opinion of, anything in between. Wiki also says: "In a column published in GQ, Bissinger states he is a shopaholic with an obsession for expensive designer clothes, spending $638,412.97 between 2010 and 2012. " Hmm.

Disclaimer. I have no great love for this town myself. When I'd been here for a month or two I came to the conclusion I'd stepped back in time to the 1950s, wrote to friends in that vein telling them that here, "there's a church on every corner instead of a pub!" The town's (and state's) politics are a complete anathema to me, as would be Buzz Bissinger's. Wikipedia states that he endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012. The town itself, though, is no worse than dozens of others in Oklahoma, and other states. In some ways it is better than many. There is certainly a lot of poor, run-down housing here which does contrast sharply with some huge mansion-type houses in a treed-in area on the north side of town. There's old oil money here, obviously. Haliburton used to be based here. None of that has any bearing on the horrendous random cold-blooded murder of a visiting student out on a quiet road, running, one day last summer.

Even the photograph accompanying Bissinger's piece is misleading. It's supposed to be Main Street, it is, but right at the end of quite a thriving true Main Street, with many non-chain businesses. The street, in reality is far from the description he gives:
"The city had just glossed up its Web site, using as its backdrop a picture of downtown Main Street glittering in the twilight. The image looked warm and inviting, something plucked from a stage set. But in reality downtown had died as a center of commerce long ago."
In every town in Oklahoma and in every other state we've visited, there is an older downtown area, equivalent to Main Street. These were once the hubs of commerce and retail, back in the 1940s, 50s, 60s. Now, in some towns these areas are completely derelict. In some other towns, like Duncan, they have been refurbished; private businesss owners have brought the area back to life. The now inevitable corporate chain businesses continue to grow up elsewhere in every town, almost like a secondary town in some cases.

That dreadful murder of last summer wasn't brought about by location, in my view. It was brought about by many things: ease of access to guns, constant de-sensitisation through depictions of violence in movies, TV, video games; maybe drugs, plus one sociopathic ringleader. Racism? No more here than anywhere else - less if anything, I'd say.

Buzz Bissinger was quite the wrong guy to send on a mission here. He might write a decent novel, but he doesn't seem to understand what I've come to realise. This is "the real USA".....this!. I see it, even though a foreigner here, as well as a US citizen and, shock horror, a socialist!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Arty Farty Friday's Dog Talk (with a dash of astrology).

I intended to prepare a post on dogs in art, but having found it has been done many times already, I desisted. Something else deterred me too, it seems that artists who are also dog lovers (or maybe not) come over all twee when painting a dog. Many feel obliged to portray the dog doing decidedly undoggy things, or wearing non-doggy clothes. In many older, more serious paintings, often hunting scenes, dogs feature prominently, these have no appeal to me. Other vintage pieces depict dogs with children, a combination which tends to bring on the twee. If I'm going in a twee direction at all, I want James Thurber's dogs. Otherwise a straight portrait - like this gorgeous one by Pippa Thew.

Some of James Thurber's

We don't have a dog, mainly because we like to be free to take off at the drop of a hat. I do love dogs, even though I still have a small scar on my wrist where a fluffy little darlin' bit me when I tried to stroke him. I was only 5 or 6. He was standing with a co-dog owned by the same family, a Great Dane. I'd have been much safer petting the big dog!

In my youth we had a naughty little mongrel at home, Rex, the "runt" of a litter. He loved to run away and roll in cow dung in nearby fields, then come home stinking. Later my parents bought a pedigree Cairn Terrier, Kim. Spoiled rotten he was, became my mother's one-woman dog. Kim hated me, bit me more than once, just jealous I guess. After he died my parents, deeply affected by his loss, decided not to have another dog.

Over the years I've come to prefer the idea of big dogs, bigger the better. They do seem, on the whole, to have sweeter natures than the smaller breeds. I once, long ago, worked in a hotel where the proprietors kept a Doberman - Dobie, he was a darling. When the owners went away, leaving me in charge of dog and hotel, Dobie would let me know when he was hungry by gently putting his mouth around my wrist and physically pulling me to the room where his food was stored - this was a regular occurrence. He loved people, or to be accurate, he loved all people except the postman!

Different breeds definitely have their own characteristics, no doubt about it. It follows then that certain breeds of dog would suit certain astrological "breeds" of human better than others. The list below came from MSN Astrology back in 2008, the link, however, is now defunct.

The American Staffordshire Terrier (Amstaff for short) is a confident dog that makes a very loyal and devoted companion for the Ram. They have a rep for being slightly aggressive - something you can relate to! - but your dedication to training them correctly will make all the difference in their demeanor. Amstaffs are very trusting and amiable but can be stubborn at times; however, if you assert yourself like a true Aries can, they'll be your compliant companions.

Your ideal dog companion is the German Shepherd. This loyal and very intelligent breed is obedient and learns quickly, making them extremely easy to train; they also have a regal air about them that you admire. Some German Shepherds can be quite aloof and serious, like a lot of Taureans, but they are also known for being highly effective watchdogs, which helps put your security-conscious mind at ease.

The quick and agile Border Collie fits your personality perfectly. Highly intelligent and trainable, the Border Collie has lots of stamina and determination. They're also eager to please and very quick to learn, which makes them easily trainable and adaptable to your ever-changing world. Border Collies need a high level of mental and physical stimulation, just like you do, which is why they make a great companion for on-the-go Gemini.


The Labrador Retriever is your ideal dog, not only for its sweet-natured, loving, and loyal ways but also because they are wonderful family pets. Labs are extremely friendly and sociable with a mild manner and laid-back attitude, and because they love to join in a wide range of activities and have lots of love and affection to shower upon their family, they're the perfect companion to the family-centric Crab.

Grand in stature, the loyal and honorable Bullmastiff is your type of dog. This dog is huge, so you are sure to turn heads wherever you go, giving you both the attention you crave. But beyond their superficial appeal, they also have a great amount of loyalty and devotion and are cheerful, confident, and attentive pets - all characteristics that would make any Leo dog owner swell with pride.

The noble-looking Weimaraner (See THIS post) is perfect for the Virgo with discerning taste. Weimaraners are very strong-minded and independent dogs, and because they have boundless energy, they can really benefit from the punctual walks that most Virgo natives are willing to give them. Sticking to a precise schedule also helps keep these dogs away from destructive behaviors they are sometimes prone to; once they know that they can depend on you, you will be able to depend on them to reach their full potential.

Affectionate, gentle, and sweet, the Whippet is a charming dog with a peaceful demeanor. Whippets do like to run around and play, but they are also happy enjoying the creature comforts of home; this adaptability makes them more comfortable with your indecisiveness than other breeds may be. These dogs love the attention of their owners, enjoy interactive play, and will be sure to appreciate your creativity when it comes to finding activities you can enjoy together.

Perhaps, as a strong and powerful Scorpio, you don't picture yourself with any of the toy breeds, especially a Chihuahua, but you may be surprised to find that they are quite a good fit with the Scorpio personality. These little dogs are curious, full of confidence for their size, and they are very loyal to their families, demonstrating quite a jealous streak if another pet or person is getting more attention than they are. Sound familiar?

You need a dog that will roll with the waves, one who is as happy at home as they are on a road trip with you, and that dog is a Golden Retriever. This breed is popular for many reasons, among them being their social personalities and real passion for life. If you're up for doing it, so are they! Just make sure to enroll them in doggie daycare or get them a human or canine companion if you are gone a lot and can't take them with you as these pups do not like to be left alone.

The Pug is tenacious and devoted but also has a cheerful way about him, much like the typical Capricorn. These dogs do not need a lot of grooming or maintenance and can get along fairly well without a big yard in which to frolic, which allows you to be a responsible dog owner and still keep your hectic work schedule. Although Pugs can be quite willful at times, they will respond well to your methodical training methods.

OK, so you aren't the most likely of all the Sun Signs to own a dog, but those of you who crave a dog to call your own will want to consider the gracious Rhodesian Ridgeback. This is a breed of intelligence, which you can appreciate, and is also very independent and willing to follow the road less traveled with you. Just keep in mind that they have very intense sight and sound triggers, so they will wander off if something stirs their curiosity.

Faithful, affectionate, and maybe just a little lazy, the Saint Bernard is a huge dog with a huge heart - in other words, your perfect pooch. Saint Bernards are typically very calm, quiet, patient, docile, and loyal, traits with which Fish can identify. These dogs do need the companionship of their owners and are not suited to people with hectic, busy schedules, but compassionate Pisces is more willing than any other sign to accommodate the Saint Bernard's needs.

Regarding suggestions in this list, #1 I'd swap the Taurus dog with the Leo dog.

#2 I'd give Gemini a Jack Russell instead of a Border Collie. Jack Russells are live wires, sociable and highly intelligent, my husband's elder son has one, Casey (in the photo on the right), we keep her company sometimes when son and family are away from home. I suspect that Border Collies would be a little too biddable for Airy Gemini!

#3 Oh, but Scorpio with a Chihuahua? No! Scorpio needs a big black dog, any breed as long as it's big, black and looks a little fierce.

My favourite breed, the Irish Wolfhound - a big, big gangling, hairy monster would suit Sagittarius - excess on legs, they make you smile just to look at them and, by all accounts, they can be such sweeties.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Glassy Eyed

A Tuesday 21 January post at Cannonfire was about a guy hauled out of a movie theatre in Columbus, Ohio, wearing the new Google Glass. He was questioned for 3 hours by men who he later discovered were not FBI as he'd assumed, but Department of Homeland Security officers. Members of this "inquisition" suspected (wrongly) the guy was making a video of the film for some pirate movie outfit.

I can't decide whether to be more shocked, if the story is 100% true, that the DHS was spending time and manpower investigating Google Glass wearers and movie piracy, or whether to be astonished that anyone in their right minds would want to wear Google Glass in everyday life, especially when going to the flicks - or, come to that, at all

Google Glass. I'd had some vague idea that this mini-computer attached to a spectacle-like device was now available. It can, apparently, be incorporated into sunglasses or prescription spectacles, or worn alone. I do acknowledge that there are speciality uses for which it will prove to be invaluable - for surgeons transmitting pictures of "how to do a liver transplant" live to students for instance. In everyday life though, I see Google Glass as an undesirable, though inevitable, development. Not only do we have the NSA recording our every communication, our neighbours or passers-by in the street, if wearing this device, would be free to video or photograph any of our activities without our knowledge.

Drivers wearing Google Glass could become a danger to other motorists and pedestrians. A counter-argument, that watching a navigation/GPS system via Google Glass would be less dangerous than glancing down at a dashboard screen while driving could be persuasive. Yet over-riding that, I believe the average mind cannot be in two places at once....on the road and on a screen whether on dashboard or a secondary eye-level screen. Dang! In the USA the average mind can't even manage to be in one place at once a lot of the time!

This post makes me seem like a consummate Luddite - I never have been, but maybe that is what I've become. Maybe my Aquarius/Uranus bits have stopped working. Maybe I'm right to think that life, as she is lived, is changing at too rapid a pace from how she has been lived up to now. Life is in process of turning into something so very different, that within it I doubt I shall fit with any degree of comfort.

On the other hand maybe, just maybe, Google Glass, after an initial spurt of popularity, and having made a million or two for its manufacturers, will go the way numerous other fancy gadgets have gone in the past: to be stored at the back of a drawer, forgotten.

For more information on Google Glass, I'd recommend an excellent review by Tim Stevens.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


The reason I chose to rent a DVD of the 2013 movie Lovelace was curiosity - and because a 2009 post I wrote about Linda Lovelace and her natal chart continues to gather many hits daily. Total hits, according to Blogger stats today = 70,202. A continued surge of interest has no doubt been aided by the movie and DVD, but even before the film was released the post had continued to receive a much higher than average number of hits. Porn upstages astrology and politics - that's for sure!

Link to the post: LINDA LOVELACE ~ A Star is Porn
Comments there are worth a look too.

The real Linda Lovelace
The film Lovelace wasn't bad, but it was lacking in...I dunno...depth. I didn't learn anything from it, didn't acquire any insight into what made Linda tick. Amanda Seyfried was too pretty-pretty for the starring part, but she turned in a creditable performance. The film was clearly sympathetic to her plight, quite rightly so too. There could could have been more focus on what came after Linda's pornography days though. This part of the story was rushed through at a far faster pace than all the audience-titillating scenes. Perhaps the producers were trying to limit the film to a 90-minute run-time; an extra 20 or 30 minutes wouldn't have gone amiss, and could have resulted in a much classier movie. As it is, the film seemed like just another excuse to offer titillation to the masses.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Inequality's Repeating Pattern

From The Guardian yesterday:
Oxfam: 85 richest people as wealthy as poorest half of the world.
The extent to which so much global wealth has become corralled by a virtual handful of the so-called 'global elite' is exposed in a new report from Oxfam.
The world's wealthiest people aren't known for travelling by bus, but if they fancied a change of scene then the richest 85 people on the globe – who between them control as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population put together – could squeeze onto a single double-decker(bus).
3 comments from the many beneath the article - these I particularly noted:
This is the world devised by neoliberalism. Everything in this Oxfam report is evidence of the devastation that global neoliberalism has been causing for the last 34 years. And unless something is done about it, it will continue towards its final goal, which is to extend markets into every sphere of life, from state institutions to the biological makeup of human beings. Its ultimate aim is the privatization of everything including life itself.
According to neoliberalism, the planet and all life must be owned by private interests and used solely for profit. It recognizes no morality outside of the market: the questions of right and wrong are eliminated in favour of cost-benefit calculations.
Neoliberalism is the antithesis of democracy: it's against political rights, civil rights, social rights, individual rights, human rights (i.e. right to education, right to water, etc.)- according to neoliberalism, they all have to become goods on the market for people who can buy them. (Josh Bern)

Their crimes are overshadowed by our acquiescence of those crimes.
(Ted Reading Reading)


In order for any democracy to be faithful to its concepts it requires an engaged and well educated population that participates in the political process and is part of governmental decision making. It requires an independent media that is apolitical, a fearless seeker of truth that is dedicated to holding all governing powers to account and informing the public so they can in turn make wise decisions. Democracy requires a fully independent judiciary dedicated to the principles of human justice.

The elites hijacked our democracies a long time ago, for nearly a half century now. They buy politicians with trinkets and beads, a seat on the board of some corporation, a book deal or an advisory position in a large company on retirement. Book deals are sometimes give when they are still in power, a nice little earner.

An oligarchy carefully controls our medias peddling all sorts of BS as 'truth'.

Even the subversion of the aforementioned is not enough for these monsters, as this article states, they subvert the law for their own benefit whilst throwing the rest of humanity on a scrap heap. There is no equality under the law.

If it is not a democracy than it is a dictatorship. A media that only serves its masters is a propaganda outlet. Laws that extinguish the liberties of the many to serve the few can not be just.

When liberty, fraternity and equality are put asunder and the law no longer serves justice and morality then the people are no longer under any obligation to obey the government or the law. (LegranderoidelasPrusse)
The pattern is an old, old pattern. It repeats and repeats, cast members change, scenery changes, props change, effects are the same.

From one of the last Sections, Section 104, of the book-length poem by Carl Sandburg, published in 1936: The People, Yes.

When was it long ago the murmurings began
and the joined murmurings
became a moving wall
moving with the authority of a great sea,
whose Yes and No
stood in an awful script
in a new unheard-of handwriting?
"No longer", began the murmurings............................

"What about the munitions and money kings,
the war lords and international bankers?
the transportation and credit kings?
the coal, the oil and the mining kings?
the price-fixing monopoly and control kings?
Why are they so far from us?
why do they hold their counsels
without men from the people given a word?
Shall we keep these kings and let their sons
in time become the same manner of kings?
Are their results equal to their authority?
Why are these interests too sacred for discussion?
What documents now call for holy daylight?
what costs, prices, values, are we forbidden to ask?
Are we slowly coming to understand
the distinction between a demagogue squawking
and the presentation of tragic plainspoken fact?
Shall a robber be named a robber when he is one
even though bespoken and anointed he is?
Shall a shame and a crime be mentioned
when it is so plainly there,
when day by day it draws toil, blood, and hunger,
enough of slow death and personal tragedy to certify
the kings who sit today as entrenched kings
are far too far from their people?"

What does justice say?
or if justice is become an abstraction or a harlot
what does her harder sister, necessity, say?
Their ears are so far from us,
so far from our wants and small belongings
we must trim these kings of our time
into something less than kings.
Of these too it will be written:
these kings shrank.

What is it now
the people are beginning
to say - is it this?
and if so
whither away and
where do we go from here?

If it's a repeating pattern, there has to be some subsiding of the worst, most intense parts of the pattern, in order for them to repeat - otherwise it'd be a constant. It's hard to say exactly where we're at currently in the pattern's formation. At a guess I'd say we, or at least we in the USA and Europe, are approaching, but not yet quite at the crescendo, when things will be at their worst, from the point of view of ordinary people. Other parts of the world have endured a constant "worst point" for decades or even centuries; the pattern must repeat at different rates.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Music Monday ~ Lost in the '60s - again.... with a tambourine

Why have I gone back into that 1960s time slip I found myself in some days ago? Well, I noticed in a list of events for 20 January through the years that on this day in 1965 The Byrds recorded the master take of Bob Dylan's "Mr Tambourine Man"....after hearing the first few bars of the song, once again I slipped back. Dylan's own version of the song, and that of The Byrds are posted at the end of this ramble.
Wikipedia: snips.
The master take of "Mr. Tambourine Man" was recorded on January 20, 1965, at Columbia Studios in Hollywood, prior to the release of Dylan's own version. The song's jangling, melodic guitar playing (performed by McGuinn on a 12-string Rickenbacker guitar) was immediately influential and has remained so to the present day.................
The single reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and number 1 on the UK Singles Chart, making it the first recording of a Dylan song to reach number 1 on any pop music chart.

Dylan began writing and composing "Mr. Tambourine Man" in February 1964, after attending Mardi Gras in New Orleans during a cross-country road trip with several friends, and completed it sometime between the middle of March and late April of that year after he had returned to New York. Nigel Williamson has suggested in The Rough Guide to Bob Dylan that the influence of Mardi Gras can be heard in the swirling and fanciful imagery of the song's lyrics

The song has a bright, expansive melody and has become famous in particular for its surrealistic imagery, influenced by artists as diverse as French poet Arthur Rimbaud and Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini.... Interpretations of the lyrics have included a paean to drugs such as LSD, a call to the singer's muse, a reflection of the audience's demands on the singer, and religious interpretations. Dylan sings the song in four verses, of which The Byrds used only the second for their recording.

Bob Dylan's lyrics:

Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to
Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.
Though I know that evenin's empire has returned into sand
Vanished from my hand
Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping
My weariness amazes me, I'm branded on my feet
I have no one to meet
And the ancient empty street's too dead for dreaming.

Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to
Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin' ship
My senses have been stripped, my hands can't feel to grip
My toes too numb to step, wait only for my boot heels
To be wanderin'
I'm ready to go anywhere, I'm ready for to fade
Into my own parade, cast your dancing spell my way
I promise to go under it.

Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I'm not sleepy .....etc.

Though you might hear laughin', spinnin' swingin' madly across the sun
It's not aimed at anyone, it's just escapin' on the run
And but for the sky there are no fences facin'
And if you hear vague traces of skippin' reels of rhyme
To your tambourine in time, it's just a ragged clown behind
I wouldn't pay it any mind, it's just a shadow you're
Seein' that he's chasing.

Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I'm not sleepy....etc.

Then take me disappearin' through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to
Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

Listeners decide for themselves meanings of any song lyrics - in the same way someone gazing at a painting in an art gallery decides what meaning, if any, there is for them in the piece of art under perusal. With this song, I'm quite happy just to float along in the haze of lovely imagery without attributing much meaning at all.

I found a long and interesting comment (dated 2006) on a website where an old discussion had been ongoing about the meaning of these lyrics - I though it worth hauling out, at least in part because the website was unstable, jumping around and hard to control - on my computer anyway. Let's give a clip from the comment some fresh air:

Part of long comment from "bluemeawayy" in 2006

First off, all of Dylan's songs are ambiguous. Ambiguity it what makes something art. For example, to say you're less pretty now that you are older is literal, however, to say "Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May" is art. It is artful in its ambiguity. And do to this ambiguity there can certainly be many personal interpretations. But I assure you it is not simply a metaphor for drugs.

Dylan rarely commented on the meaning behind his lyrics in order to keep the ambiguity and ability for personal interpretation alive. However, he always insisted that this song was not about drugs and often was very offended by that assumption. In his most recent autobiography he states that this song was inspired by his experience at Mardi Gras.

For anyone that knows anything about Mardi Gras; it is the celebration that leads up to Ash Wednesday and Christian Holy day that marks the beginning of Lent. The party was historically intended to be one last blow out before basically giving up our bad habits for the forty days of Lent.

For anyone who has been to Mardi Gras, it is quite a strange scene come Tuesday night at midnight. At midnight, when Wednesday and lent technically begin the streets clear out. The bars however will remain open as long as there are customers. So for basically a week there is none stop parties in the street until all hours of the night/morning (basically they dont stop). On Tuesday, however, you can walk into a bar at 10:00 pm with Bourbon Street buzzing like crazy and walk out anytime after midnight and the street, once packed and crazy for an entire week, is empty, completely desolate. Rosary beads appear over all the grave stones in the cemeteries, everyone goes home for the beginning of the religious observance of Lent.

If you are not expecting this, this can come as quite a shock. And the scene is quite eerie. This is what happened to Dylan he walked into a pub with the street packed and walked out, surprised to find it completely empty, except for a costume (french quarter of New Orleans/Mardi Gras...the clown with the tambourine is actually literal) wearing musician with a tambourine........Tambourine (let alone anything) in such an eerie empty place.

As for the rest...

But as Dylan himself put it "I'm not going to write a fantasy song. Even a song like 'Mr. Tambourine Man' really isn't a fantasy. There's substance to the dream."

"Well, songs are just thoughts. For the moment they stop time. Songs are supposed to be heroic enough to give the illusion of stopping time. With just that thought. To hear a song is to hear someone's thought, no matter what they're describing. If you see something and you think it's important enough to describe, then that's your thought. You only think one thought at a time, so what you come up with is really what you're given. When you sit around and *imagine* things to do and to write and to think - that's fantasy. I've never been much into that."

So in a sense the rest of the song is merely his thoughts at the very moment that he experienced that very eerie scene.

"Mr. Tambourine Man," like the other material Dylan was developing in early 1964, was emblematic of his escape from the shackles of topical songwriting into more abstract imagery, often suggesting a search for liberation from both external and internal prisons.

"And for the sky there are no fences facing" -- he's longing for freedom and a break from the restraints imposed by the lull that popular music had fallen into. Artistic expression should have no fences around it.

That quest was quite apparent in another of the songs he worked on during his journey, "Chimes of Freedom," its call for the abolition of repression not tethered to any specific political or social movement. "Mr. Tambourine Man" went yet further, evoking not just escape from bondage but an altered state of perception, with its plea for transportation through mystical ships and corridors of time to a land of diamond-studded skies. A use for music not previously conceived of. Remember this is before the psychedelic movement really. None of the music of the time could really transport you to an altered reality to escape the despondence of the one you currently were living in.

Inspired by the faint happy jingle jangles of a ragged clown playing a tambourine in the middle of a deserted Bourbon Street, while feeling nearly sick with exhaustion Dylan thought about escaping, past the frozen leaves and crazy sorrow to a place with diamond skies, a place where you could dance with one arm waving free, where all your memories and the unfortunate fate of your life was out of sight.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Men (and women) Who Stare at Natal Charts

Quote attributed to Isaac Asimov:
"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but...... "That's funny."
Will there ever be a "Hmm....that's funny" moment for scientists with regard to astrology? I used to consider that would be a good thing, but do recall others expressing an opposite view with which I am now more inclined to agree. Would it be in the world's best interest for governments to put to some nefarious use any elements of astrological doctrine - or any other element of "New Age" beliefs - found to be 100% valid? That thought came to me again as we watched a DVD of the 2009 movie The Men Who Stare at Goats recently.

The movie's tone is strangely light-hearted, in spite of its serious militaristic setting. It was nice to see Jeff Bridges as a high ranking US military man, hair in a long braid hanging down his back, teaching all kinds of New Age disciplines to the troops, including remote viewing which was, truly, under serious experimentation by the US military in the 1970s. The film's story has a factual basis - see HERE for more detail on that, and an old post of my own on Russell Targ and remote viewing is HERE.

Back to astrology, my original thought, and some other ideas I had seven years ago from a post when this blog was in its infancy ~~
A word which appears frequently in scientists' arguments about astrology is "artifacts". Artifacts, in the context of cognitive reasoning, are so-called fake effects (in this case astrological effects) which could have ordinary explanations. Whilst I can see how artifacts might account for some seemingly good results in pieces of astrological research, I fail to see how we can continue to be misled by them in astrology generally. Too many brilliant minds, and too many ordinary folk like me can see SOME of astrology working day by day. I check the status of my own beliefs regularly - there's a latent skeptical streak in my nature. Astrology would have been given the heave-ho by me long ago, had I sensed that there was nothing at all in it.

It seems to me that there's a parallel between what has happened regarding herbal medicine and what might happen in the future in relation to astrology. Herbs have been used as medicine, and for recreational purposes, as far back in history as it's possible to see, and almost certainly well beyond that. For example, cannabis is said to have been used in ancient middle-eastern countries, hemlock and belladonna were used as poisons in Greek and Roman times, and some believe that the holy drink of the ancient Aryans mentioned in the Vedas -- soma -- was a concoction involving ("magic"?) mushrooms. 

The Foxglove plant had been used in folk medicines for centuries, some say as far back as the time of the Druids, before more recent pharmacists discovered that it contains digitalis, proven to be effective in treating some heart diseases. Similarly, the plant Feverfew, used in folk medicines, has been found to contain chemicals which do have ingredients which can produce effects observed by our ancestors, namely reducing fever or dealing with some kinds of headaches.

Whether our early ancestors came by their knowledge of the medicinal value of these plants by accident or by careful sampling, or whether specific knowledge had come to them from an unknown source, isn't recorded. We now know that there was validity in some of the ways they were using the plants. We are now able to understand the reasons why these plants proved effective, reasons which our ancestors would have been incapable of understanding or discovering.

A similar line of thought could be applied to astrology, its origins and its future. Scientists might yet discover an element, so far unknown, or which we are as yet incapable of understanding, and this could validate at least some part of astrological doctrine.
I'm no longer as keen as I was in 2007 for that to happen.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Arty Farty Friday ~ Klee and Carroll - Odd Couple

Intending to write a line or two about Paul Klee, his art and his natal chart, I searched for information. Lewis Carroll kept coming to mind.

Thinking about Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky, for instance, or any part of the Alice stories, and looking at a Klee painting arouses in me similar sensations: curiosity mixed with puzzlement! There's a child-like feel with a strong indication that there's more to be found just under the surface.
Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch! ....
(From Jabberwocky)

“You used to be much more..."muchier." You've lost your muchness.”

“The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday-but never jam today
It must come sometime to jam today, Alice objected
No it can't said the Queen It's jam every other day. Today isn't any other day, you know”

“The time has come
The walrus said
To talk of many things:
Of shoes- and ships-
And sealing wax-
Of cabbages and kings-
And why the sea is boiling hot-
And whether pigs have wings.”

― From Alice in Wonderland

Etc. etc.

From Acquavella Galleries:
Klee is a difficult artist to categorize, for he incorporated into his generally small-scale paintings, drawings and watercolors, allusions to dreams, music and poetry with a complex language of symbols and signs of arrows, letters, words, commas, and musical signs in a form of writing. He especially valued the art of children, for he felt they revealed the mysteries of the creative process, relying on signs for things in the natural world............ Rather than describing an object, person or place in traditional pictorial forms, Klee gave us a personal sign system in works that are abstract and figurative at the same time.
(Personal sign system? - Sounds familiar!)

I discovered that Klee was heavily influenced by Transcendentalism, and by the art of children - strange combination. Paul Klee and Lewis Carroll both had "spiritual" connections, one with transcendentalism, the other with the church, for Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) was an Anglican clergyman, as well as an author and mathematician.

I've looked at natal charts for both these men using data from, not expecting to see any overall similarity in the two charts, but searching for something to account for the odd feeling I have about them.

If times of birth are accurate, the two men have reversed Sun/ascendant combinations. Klee Sagittarius Sun, Aquarius rising, Carroll Aquarius Sun, Sagittarius rising. I guess that factor alone might send out a sense of similarity?

Both men have Uranus inconjunct Saturn.
Klee - Uranus 9 Virgo, Saturn 9 Aries.
Carroll - Uranus 14 Aquarius, Saturn 14 Virgo.

Saturn inconjunct Uranus = rebellion competing with, yet not understanding, discipline. The new trying to find a way through old structures and restrictions which it fails to understand. The established order struggling to get to grips with new ideas. Avant garde meets status quo - and vice versa.

Lewis Carroll's Aquarius Sun underlined a rebellious, and somewhat eccentric streak in his naure. Klee's Sagittarius Sun inclined him to a more philosophical approach, while still trying to forge ahead into "the new". Both writer and artist were certainly treading new paths in their respective arts, and probably met resistance, criticism and, in Lewis Carroll's case gossip, along the way.

There are two other odd similarities in the charts. I'm not sure whether these are significant enough to mention...but Klee's Saturn is at 9.00 Aries, Carroll's Pluto is at 8.52 Aries. Klee's Sun at 26.14 Sagittarius, Carroll's Mars at 25.55 Sagittarius. Those degrees ARE within the same decan and duad of Aries and Sagittarius. In particular, Saturn or Pluto in the first decan of Aries in both charts might point to the influence of children in the work of both these men. First decan of the first zodiac sign indicating youth, springtime, new life ?