Friday, March 22, 2019

Tales of Woe (mine!)

I have tales of woe to relate. I'm telling them here as much for my own information and record, in weeks and months to come, as for the interest or otherwise of any passing readers.

Last spring, almost exactly a year ago, as any regular readers might recall, I had to undergo a lumpectomy for early stage breast cancer. There are relevant archived posts to which I can provide links, should anyone wish to read them. I've had three-monthly checks of various kinds since then. During the most recent check - at around the one year point - it was discovered, after mammogram, breast MRI and ultra-sound, that another cancer has arisen - still small, and not a recurrence of the old one. I'm now needing a left breast mastectomy, which might be done during the coming week - or maybe not.

There's a second issue. It is not related to cancer, thankfully, but needs to be dealt with. So - chapter two of tales of woe.

Since end of February I've experienced persistent diarrhea. After about a week I saw my GP who checked my blood and declared the cause to be not infectious. After a few more days with no improvement, I sent a stool sample to the hospital. All possible issues came back negative. My surgeon then suggested a colonoscopy, which he did on Tuesday this week. Surgeon took several biopsies of colon tissue. The colonoscopy itself was good - no cancer, no issues to be seen. However a pathologist told surgeon that he had detected evidence of lymphocytic colitis from one of the biopsy samples. Surgeon prescibed meds to manage this problem. There's no actual cure, or so it says online, but how management proceeds will differ for each individual. I guess much depends on the cause, which can range from bacteria, virus, allergic reaction, or taking too many NSAIDs (Ibuprofen and suchlike).

Tales of woe chapter three. After mucho paperwork my Medicare supplementary insurance denied me any help to pay for the 6 week course of meds prescribed - these are very expensive. For 6 weeks' worth of tablets I have paid around $1,400. This cannot turn into a regular thing! In the intervening time, after my surgery, I must find a way around this ridiculous price. The drug's name is budesonide 9mg. But that's a story for another day. I have in mind buying from Canada if and when needed in future (if my GP will provide a written prescription) - still expensive there, but much cheaper than in the USA.

All is at present unresolved. I'm pencilled in for mastectomy on Tuesday, but that won't be confirmed until Monday. If the new meds have not taken effect I suspect I'll be dosed with Immodium for the duration of the surgery and overnight stay.

The next chapter will appear in due course.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Grammar, Language & Socioeconomic Class by Ian Lang

Here's a recent answer by Ian Lang at Quora. Mr Lang has kindly given me blanket permission to use any of his answers I wish to use, on my blog.

The ticklish question was:


How much does grammar and proper language impact a person’s social and professional image? Is this a mark of socioeconomic class?

Answer by "Ian Lang, Former Oik (still quite oiky from time to time)"

Putting forward the same(ish) answer four ways then:

Ay-up, me duck, not half. You get them snobby gets what won’t even look at owt we’ve wrote down up here in t’ north cos it i’nt wrote like what they speak down in t’ leafy bits of Surrey.

It does, yes, some people look at a piece of prose and if they spot a gramatical error then they dismiss it. Typos are allowed as long as it’s clear it’s a typo (look at the word grammatical previously again).

All communications should be worded and punctuated correctly in order to portray a clear and professional image of the organisation. Please comply with the attached guidelines and templates.

Within the precepts of certain types of individuals who, having had made accesible to them the zeniths, apogees, and pinnacles of the academic world, and who pride themselves on the fact, knowing exactly where to put apostrophes, semi-colons, and all the other apparatus of substantive prose, and understanding the rules of adjectives, adverbs and the sundry paraphernalia of the craft of the wordsmith, will look down upon those who have not had such extensive groundings and will instantly rebut even the most reasoned piece if the i is not correctly dotted in the approved manner.

The first is my northern mode. I do this when I want to put forward a sarcastic rebuttal to anybody who thinks we here are a bunch of illiterate oiks.

The second is my plain English mode. I do this to explain things that may be quite complicated in terms that are clear to somebody who doesn’t know it terribly well.

The third is my corporate drone mode. I almost never do this because frankly it creates prose that grinds my gears. If you’ve ever read Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four you’ll remember Newspeak. They pride themselves that the vocabulary is shrinking every year. I feel the same about corporate drone prose as Winston did about Newspeak.

The fourth is my over-educated-arse mode. I do this when somebody’s grinding my corn and trying to prove that they’re clever-clever and vocabularious. Don’t start with me sunshine, because if you do, I’m going sesquipedalian on your arse. If you carry on, I might even go dodecasyllabic, and then you’ll be sorry.

Everything thereafter (including this bit) is my normal mode. You’ll notice that I use a lot of contractions (you’ll, I’m, don’t) and inject a dollop of patois every now and then, and then slip into a bit of bathos. This is because I can’t bear any prose where the author has clearly taken pains to make his/her grammar, structure, and syntax as clever-looking as possible. It just comes out stilted and reads like the report of a village parish council meeting. Going the other way you get stream of consciousness writing, which is just a posh way to say “bloody mess”.

Now then. Imagine the above were all written by different people. What would you conclude about their standards of education, social class, and means of earning a living?

Oh yes. Grammar, spelling and punctuation can tell you much. But not when it’s in the hands of a wordsmith (which is the written equivalent of a gobshite), it can’t.







Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Vernal Equinox 2019



Arty Farty content comes early this week with a handful of paintings honouring the coming of spring..




"Spring"  (one of a 4-Seasons set ) by Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593) 



 "Spring" by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, 1622-35.






 "Winter yet lingers on the footsteps of spring". By Stephen Reid (British, 1873 - 1948)



 "Vesna" (Artist unknown) Vesna,  the old Slavic goddess of spring.  Her name means messenger. She was a protector of Her people, especially the women. She returns from the Underworld at the Vernal Equinox

Monday, March 18, 2019

Music Monday ~ Emotional Response


Which musical instrument evokes the greatest emotional response?

That is a question posed several years ago at Quora. Over the years the wording has been slightly adjusted (e.g. 'greatest' replaced 'deepest'), through merging of similar questions - the basic question did not change. When I stumbled across the thread the other day, I immediately decided my answer would have been "the saxophone!" There are answers nominating drums, guitar, piano, human voice and so on. When I came to a couple of answers pointing out that really, it isn't the instrument - is isn't any instrument - it is the player, the musician, the artist, who has the ability to evoke emotional response, I realised that this has to be answer. Here are two examples.

Longer form - from Rex Spaulding, High school All-State Honor Band 3 out of 4 years, guitar hobbyist.
Contributed 29 Nov 2016.


I wanted to answer classical guitar.

But then I thought of a homeless guy with nothing to his name but his old cello, and man… he made that sing.

Then I thought of the guy who played tenor sax on the street (made me decide to start with saxophone when I was a kid).

And next I thought of numerous concert pianists who can make a piano sound like something more than just a piano.

Then I got to thinking about a jazz trombonist who made his trombone sound like both a French horn and a trumpet, at the same time, while retaining his trombone tonality.

Then I began to recall the violin solo that choked me up.

Finally, I remember a harp - a simple harp, but it sounded like dancing fairies (or something crazy like that).

There is no simple answer - the instrument wasn’t the source of my emotions… it was the musician, every time.

It’s easy enough for any old Joe to pick up a saxophone and make it squawk like a dying bird. Or drag a bow across a violin and make it sound like nails on a chalkboard. Or just sit a (non-gifted, untalented) kid in front of any instrument…



Short form - from Angel Vera, Professional Musician, Stubborn Intellectial, Philosopher. Contributed in Oct. 2015.


None. The person is delivering the message of emotion through the instrument.



Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn
. Charlie Parker.

Joy, sorrow, tears, lamentation, laughter – to all these music gives voice, but in such a way that we are transported from the world of unrest to a world of peace, and see reality in a new way, as if we were sitting by a mountain lake and contemplating hills and woods and clouds in the tranquil and fathomless water.

Albert Schweitzer.

I play until my fingers are blue and stiff from the cold, and then I keep on playing. Until I’m lost in the music. Until I am the music – notes and chords, the melody and harmony. It hurts, but it’s okay because when I’m the music, I’m not me. Not sad. Not afraid. Not desperate. Not guilty.
Jennifer Donnelly.




Saturday, March 16, 2019

Saturday and Sundry Thoughts: Another 2020 Candidate: Beto O'Rourke.



Beto O’Rourke Is Running For President

Another candidate to add to my growing list of hopefuls, for brief investigation into astrological chances of success in 2020.

All I'm doing in these posts, astrologically, (others in this series are linked at the end of last weekend's post) is searching for any astrological indication of major change in the lives of candidates, change which could indicate ascent to the presidency, or to a more important position in government. Transits of the outer planets, Jupiter to Pluto are those to watch, in comparison to the candidate's own natal planets.

Significant transits between now and November 2020
Uranus will traverse the last few degrees of Aries and up to 8 degrees of Taurus
Neptune: between 14 and 20 degrees of Pisces
Pluto: between 20 and 24 degrees of Capricorn
Saturn: between 11 and 27 Capricorn
Jupiter: between 11 Sagittarius and 22 Capricorn

Born on September 26, 1972 in El Paso, Texas. Time of birth is unknown, chart below is set for noon, so Moon position not exactly as shown and ascendant not as shown.




My eye is drawn first to North Node of the Moon - currently Pluto is transiting the area of Capricorn close to that degree. This indicates, for the chart-holder, a time of feeling passionately or compulsively driven towards a path that feels right for him. What could be more appropriate for a guy who has just announced his candidacy for the presidency of the USA? More interesting still, a Yod (Finger of Fate) formation with its apex at North Node, from two planets linked in sextile: Venus and Saturn. Venus, his natal Libra Sun's ruler and Saturn planet of legal matters and public status, drawing down upon life path choices.

None of that indicates success in 2020...but there's more. In early November 2020 Jupiter will transit O'Rourke's North Node - Jupiter "the lucky planet". While that still is not sufficient to indicate success, without other indications elsewhere in the chart (which I don't see right now), it does signify that whatever the result, and whether O'Rourke was the Democrat's nominee or not, he will have made a good impression on the public, and on his peers. His name will not easily be forgotten. Vice Presidential material? I wonder!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Arty Farty Friday ~ First there was "surround sound", now there's "surround Van Gogh"

 Self portrait
At a new Van Gogh exhibit in Paris, you won’t just be able to see Van Gogh's most famous works — you’ll also be able to step inside them.
An immersive show called Van Gogh, la nuit étoilée, just debuted at digital art center L’Atelier des Lumièrest and it’s an exquisite treat for the eyes. The exhibit features several of the Dutch artist’s most well-known paintings, from "Starry Night" and "Sunflowers" to "Potato Eaters" and "The Bedroom," by projecting them all over the walls and floors. These larger-than-life works highlight Van Gogh’s exaggerated brushstrokes and bold color choices, and are paired with musical selections from pianist and composer Luca Longobardi.

See HERE.

More on the exhibition HERE, with photographs.


My post from 2007 about Vincent and his astrology is in the archives HERE.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Midweek Miscellany


We frequently see or hear quips about the older generation's fumble-fingered efforts with new (to them) technology - here's a chance for those of us of "a certain age" to have a little snigger at the younger generation:

"Are we supposed to pick up the phone and then do it?' Fun footage shows two teenagers completely baffled by a rotary telephone when given four minutes to make one call:










Teacher wears same dress for 100 days to teach students a lesson
By Hannah Frishberg

Teacher Julia Mooney dressed to impress her earthy beliefs on middle school students.

To prove that you are not what you wear, Mooney, 34, donned the same gray, button-down dress for 100 days in a row, washing it only “as needed.”

She didn’t tell her young charges what she was up to in the beginning — but slowly they caught on that she was rocking the roughly $50 frock “through ceramics projects, blizzards, whatever.”

“I was a little bit fed up with the cultural expectation to go shopping and spend all this money for other people to approve of me,” Mooney told “Good Morning America” back in November, when she launched her minimalist mission. “There is no rule that says I cannot wear the same thing every day if I choose to, so I thought, why not.

Fast-forward to February: By buying into the buzzy “fast fashion” trend, Mooney says we are cultivating what she describes as a “culture of excess” that hurts the environment — and young people.

"This is something they deal with every day as 12- and 13-year-olds,” she tells TreeHugger. “As they try to define themselves, they are often identifying with brands or superficial things like their social media presence. Many seemed excited to have a reason to talk about how silly all of that really is.................“Let’s use our energy to do good instead of looking good,” Mooney advises on her @oneoutfit100days Instagram account, where she posts about the importance of sustainability and the evils of fast fashion.

Do read the full piece (linked at the title) where there's a photograph of Ms Mooney, and the dress.









Cartoon by Mad John Peck (1971) - the idea never gets old!





A movie "coming soon"- actually at the end of June 2019, is said to offer a new slant on Beatlemania, with a spoonful of sci-fi added.

A failing musician finds himself the only person in the world who remembers, after a weird world-wide sci-fi type event, the Beatles and their music. Guess what a failing musician might do next in such circumstances!

If the movie hadn't been written by Richard Curtis (from a story by Jack Barth) I'd probably be very wary of its potential, but Curtis has written such delights as Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Notting Hill (1999), Bridget Jones's Diary (2001), Love Actually (2003)... Yesterday is directed by Danny Boyle.

This coming movie has to be worth a look (keeping disbelief suspended!)

Official trailer:







Monday, March 11, 2019

Music Monday ~ Unsettling

What is the most unsettling song that you've ever listened to? A question posed some time ago at Quora. I didn't answer it, but pondered on it for a post today, came up with three songs I've always found to be unsettling.


Strange Fruit sung by Billie Holiday.






Wikipedia
Written by teacher Abel Meeropol as a poem and published in 1937, it protested American racism, particularly the lynching of African Americans. Such lynchings had reached a peak in the South at the turn of the century, but continued there and in other regions of the United States. According to the Tuskegee Institute, 1,953 Americans were murdered by lynching, about three quarters of them black. The lyrics are an extended metaphor linking a tree’s fruit with lynching victims. Meeropol set it to music and, with his wife and the singer Laura Duncan, performed it as a protest song in New York City venues in the late 1930s, including Madison Square Garden.

Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees

Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop








Farmer in the City written and sung by Scott Walker.




The first song of Scott Walker’s seminal album, Tilt. With a mixture of haunting vocals and orchestral music, Walker chilling envisions Pier Paolo Pasolini’s death. ... "Farmer in the City"
"Farmer in the City", is subtitled "Remembering Pasolini". A few of the lyrics are appropriated from Norman Macafee's English translation of Pier Paolo Pasolini's poem, "Uno dei Tanti Epiloghi" ("One of the Many Epilogs"), which was written in 1969 for Pasolini's friend and protégé, the scruffy young nonprofessional actor, Ninetto Davoli. Throughout the song, Walker's chant of "Do I hear 21, 21, 21...? I'll give you 21, 21, 21...", may be a reference to Davoli's age when he was drafted into (and subsequently deserted from) the Italian army. (Wikipedia)
Lyrics are here:

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/scottwalker/farmerinthecity.html








Pumped up Kicks - Foster the People



The song was written and recorded by fron-tman Mark Foster while he was working as a commercial jingle writer. Contrasting with the upbeat musical composition, the lyrics describe the homicidal thoughts of a troubled youth.
The lyrics to "Pumped Up Kicks" are written from the perspective of a troubled and delusional youth with homicidal thoughts. The lines in the chorus warn potential victims to "outrun my gun" and that they "better run, better run, faster than my bullet."

Foster said in a statement to CNN.com, "I wrote 'Pumped Up Kicks' when I began to read about the growing trend in teenage mental illness. I wanted to understand the psychology behind it because it was foreign to me. It was terrifying how mental illness among youth had skyrocketed in the last decade. I was scared to see where the pattern was headed if we didn't start changing the way we were bringing up the next generation." In writing the song, Foster wanted to "get inside the head of an isolated, psychotic kid" and "bring awareness" to the issue of gun violence among youth, which he feels is an epidemic perpetuated by "lack of family, lack of love, and isolation " The song's title refers to shoes that the narrator's peers wear as a status symbol.
The issue of youth violence is a matter close to the group. Foster was bullied in high school, while bassist Cubbie Fink has a cousin who survived the Columbine High School massacre in 1999.

The issue of youth violence is a matter close to the group. Foster was bullied in high school, while bassist Cubbie Fink has a cousin who survived the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. (Wikipedia)

Robert's got a quick hand
He'll look around the room, he won't tell you his plan
He's got a rolled cigarette, hanging out his mouth he's a cowboy kid
Yeah found a six shooter gun
In his dad's closet hidden oh in a box of fun things, I don't even know what
But he's coming for you, yeah he's coming for you

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet

Daddy works a long day
He be coming home late, he's coming home late
And he's bringing me a surprise
'Cause dinner's in the kitchen and it's packed in ice
I've waited for a long time
Yeah the slight of my hand is now a quick pull trigger
I reason with my cigarette
And say your hair's on fire, you must have lost your wits, yeah

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet


Songwriter: Mark Foster.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Saturday and Sundry Thoughts on 2 More Would-be Presidents : Jay Inslee, John Hickenlooper.



Two more hats flew into the ring recently: those of Jay Inslee and John Hickenlooper. I'm not sure whether either is a well-known name outside of their own communities.

Jay Inslee politician, author, and attorney serving as the 23rd Governor of Washington State, and a member of the Democratic Party. Before being elected governor, Inslee served in the United States House of Representatives and the Washington House of Representatives. His priority: dealing with global warming. (Do I hear an "About time!" from any stray reader?)
(Wikipedia)


From The Atlantic

If there is a new Democratic president come 2021, he or she will get pulled in all sorts of policy directions. Inslee says he has one priority: global warming. It’s not theoretical, or a cause just for tree huggers anymore. Putting off dealing with it for a year or two or kicking it to some new bipartisan commission won’t work, he says. He plans to focus on the threat that climate change poses to the environment and national security—the mega-storms and fires causing millions in damages, the weather changes that will cause mass migrations, the droughts that will devastate farmers in America and around the world.

Even more so, he wants to talk about the risk to American opportunity. “We have two existential threats right now: one is to our natural systems, and one is to our economic systems,” he said.


Born on February 9, 1951 in Seattle, Washington. Chart is set for noon as tome of birth is unknown. Moon and ascendat positions will not be as shown.


All I'm doing in these posts (others in this series are linked at the end of this post) is searching for any astrological indication of major change in the lives of candidates, change which could indicate ascent to the presidency, or to a more important position in government. Transits of the outer planets, Jupiter to Pluto are those to watch, in comparison to the candidate's own natal planets.


Significant transits between now and November 2020
Uranus will traverse the last few degrees of Aries and up to 8 degrees of Taurus
Neptune: between 14 and 20 degrees of Pisces
Pluto: between 20 and 24 degrees of Capricorn
Saturn: between 11 and 27 Capricorn
Jupiter: between 11 Sagittarius and 22 Capricorn


Governor Inslee does have Neptune transiting his Pisces stellium of Venus/Jupiter/Mars currently, by 2020 Neptune will have moved on past those planets, but still within range of being significant. I'm not sure that Neptune is quite as powerful in indicating major change of this type as Uranus, Saturn or Pluto. The conjunction to his Pisces stellium could relate to his decision to become a candidate. Saturn will reach his Aquarius Sun by 2022 - maybe indicating a second run for the 2024 election - and a more successful one?





John Hickenlooper politician and businessman who served as the 42nd Governor of Colorado from 2011 to 2019. He is a member of the Democratic Party.

From New York Times
He jumped into the race on Monday as a long shot with limited name recognition. But he has a biography and a résumé that warrant attention. He didn’t enter politics until his early 50s, after a hugely successful career in beer — in brew pubs, to be exact. And he talks, persuasively, about what a customer-service business like that taught him about courting people rather than confronting them, about pacifying instead of inflaming.

As the mayor of Denver from 2003 to 2011 and then the governor of Colorado from 2011 until the start of this year, when he left office because of term limits, he was known for swearing off negative political ads, for gravitating away from divisive issues and toward whatever common ground he could find, and for a style with substantial measures of goofiness and geekiness but barely a pinch of truculence. That said, he marshaled toughness and persistence........... to build a light rail system in Denver, expand Medicaid in Colorado, enact gun control and tug the state from recession to boom times that were the envy of other governors.

Born on 7 February 1952 in Narbeth,PA. Chart set for 12 noon as time of birth unknown. Moon position and ascendant will not be as shown.



Saturn will be visiting John Hickenlooper's natal Sun - but not until early 2022 - so in similar vein to Jay Inslee, he could be more likely to make a stronger, or more successful impression as a candidate in the election in 2024, after getting himself more widely known during the current run.



I like these two candidates, possibly more than any others I've investigated, so far - other than Bernie Sanders of course! I suspect what their charts are telling me is also a fairly rational outcome too. Neither candidate is currently a household name, but they both will become much better known during this run, up to 2020, and likely to be more successful in the 2024 election.


Other posts in this 2020 series:

http://twilightstarsong.blogspot.com/2019/01/saturday-sundry-thoughts-would-be.html
http://twilightstarsong.blogspot.com/2019/02/saturday-sundry-observations-another.html
http://twilightstarsong.blogspot.com/2019/02/two-more-would-be-presidents-of-usa.html
http://twilightstarsong.blogspot.com/2019/02/saturday-and-sundry-thoughts-bernie.html

Friday, March 08, 2019

Arty Farty Friday ~ Sir Anish Kapoor & Cloud Gate






[Sir]Anish Kapoor is a leading contemporary British-Indian artist working in large-scale abstract public sculpture. Among his best-known works is the popular Cloud Gate (2006), otherwise known as “the Bean,” featured in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Throughout his career, Kapoor has worked on a variety of scales and with diverse materials—mirrors, stone, wax, and PVC—exploring both biomorphic and geometric forms with a particular interest in negative space. “That's what I am interested in: the void, the moment when it isn't a hole,” he explained. “It is a space full of what isn't there.” (Wikipedia)



FROM:http://www.artnet.com/artists/anish-kapoor/

Born on March 12, 1954 in Bombay, India, Kapoor moved to London in the late 1970s, studying at both the Hornsey College of Art and Chelsea College of Arts. He first gained critical recognition for his work in the 1980s, with his metaphysical site-specific works in which he manipulates form and the perception of space. Kapoor was awarded the Turner Prize in 1991, and named a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2003, and Knighthood in 2013 for services to the visual arts. The artist currently lives in London, United Kingdom. Kapoor’s works are held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Tate Gallery in London, among others.

Sir Anish Kapoor's natal chart is at Astrotheme, here. His Sun and Mercury in Pisces somehow feel rather appropriate to his Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago (above), as does the harmonious trine between Pisces' ancient and modern rulers, Jupiter and Neptune. It's as though Pisces has gathered the reflections of the rest of the zodiac -all that has gone before - and reflects them back to us, in a wide gateway to the future.

Photographs of more of this sculptor's work can be seen via Google Image, here.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Mid-week Movie ~ The Pumpkin Eater

Returning to the weekend's topic of TV/movie drama: a few nights ago we watched (via Amazon Prime) a British 1964 film, The Pumpkin Eater. I'd heard of it, but hadn't ever seen it, nor had my husband. I was persuaded to watch by the cast list : Ann Bancroft, Peter Finch, James Mason, Maggie Smith....what could possibly go wrong?

I'm still not sure exactly what went wrong, for me . It could've been Harold Pinter's screenplay (though this was much lauded by others). I'm not good at appreciating the arty-farty in film, so that could have been my basic problem.

I kept remarking to husband along the lines of, "People do not, and did not in the 1960s, as I recall, converse like this! " Apparently, in Pinter's world, they did. I simply was unable to believe any character in this movie, in spite of the A-list actors involved. They, of course, could use only the story and material presented to them.

Leading female character was played by Ann Bancroft. This woman, from what we could perceive from the script, was neurotic and self-absorbed to the nth degree. Why then did she continue having children, yet seemingly taking little notice of them as their numbers grew: 3, 4, 5, 6, and I think more, but lost count. She eventually passed on responsibility to a nanny and/or to her 3rd husband (played by Peter Finch) in a then-failing marriage. She gave little thought to the lives she was forcing onto those kids in an at times ugly, emotionally-charged, if fairly wealthy background. I felt little sympathy. Her 3rd husband was unfaithful on the one hand, but seemed to love the kids who were not his, equally to any who were (I was never sure which were which). I had no sympathy for him either, except a grudging admiration for his continued devotion to the kids, in spite of having warned his wife of potential difficulties in that area, before they married. I think they were, then, 3 in number. The two eldest were shuffled off to boarding school quick sharp, before getting to know their parents at all.


I'm sorry, but I could not dredge up sympathy for a woman who had hardly ever worked a day in her life, but insisted on procreating when it became obvious she did not have the required stability in relationships to be responsibly doing so. My sympathy was reserved for the kids.


The best thing about the movie, for me, was the lush black and white format. "Lush" seems an odd adjective, but, on our screen the black and white (or rather 1000 shades of grey) of this movie did come over much better than black and white format in other movies of the same age. I enjoyed just looking at the pictures!

I realise that my view of this film is not once shared by many. I haven't read the book by Penelope Mortimer upon which the film was based. I've read several reviews of book and film; the movie and its actors received plaudits and awards for their performances. Perhaps I'm just not up to appreciating certain nuances - or perhaps, if the screenplay and dialogue had been written by a woman it would have felt more true to life. I wonder if, and how, any re-make in 2019 would be different. Perhaps things have changed so much in intervening decades that this movie belongs among historical dramas, almost as much as do Poldark and Lorna Doone! (See last weekend's post). Or, alternatively, as a reviewer at Time Out wrote: " ..... the world of the Hampstead soap opera now seems so far away as to almost rate as science fiction. "

Monday, March 04, 2019

Music Monday ~ Loosening Up!

It's good to see police officers "letting their hair down"- when they have any that is!


Here Are The 10 Best Police Officer Lip Sync Videos

Cops across America are challenging each other to sing and dance to pop songs.........


My own two favourites:




"Shake It Off"






"I Should've Been a Cowboy"



Saturday, March 02, 2019

Saturday and Sundry Drama Series

During the past few evenings we've been time travelling - in mind only - as we watched two drama series, set in 17th and 18th century England.

Amazon Prime enticed us to watch, first, three seasons of the 2015 version of Poldark currently on offer, which I supplemented with a DVD of season 4. Season 5 (said to be the last) is still in production.

Poldark is set in the late 1700s, after the end of the American War of Independence, from which our hero, Ross Poldark returns as the tale begins. Ross Poldark is played by Aidan Turner with just the right blend of swashbuckling sweetness and a touch of the enigmatic. The setting is beautiful Cornwall, near Truro, in the far south-west of England. The series' female lead, playing Demelza, in true "My Fair Lady" tradition, is Eleanor Tomlinson.

I've been so taken with the story that I've now started on Winston Graham's set of Poldark novels, upon which this TV series, as well as an earlier one in the mid-1970s, were based.

The series has romance, politics, everyday life in 18th century Cornwall and London, human foibles and enigmas, with intervals of action and adventure. There's a satisfyingly evil villain of the tale, wonderfully played by Jack Farthing as George Warleggan. Coincidentally, we'd just watched Jack Farthing in a really whacky comedy series, Blandings, in a role which could hardly have been more different from that of George Warleggan. For an excellent example of a truly versatile actor, just take a look at Jack's performances in an episode of both Blandings and Poldark!

 Jack Farthing as George Warleggan

 Jack Farthing as upper-class twit Freddie















I suppose Poldark could be seen as a very well-done, well-acted and well-presented historical soap opera but really, it's much more than that.

The older 1975 series sounds, from what I've read of it, to be a little different in tone and detail from this more recent version. Perhaps in some ways it was nearer to the novel, but perhaps in some other ways not as true to the novel's basic intent and flavour. I won't know this until I find a way to watch the older version, and have read several of the novels. I intend to do both.




After we finished Poldark, I spied a dramatised version, aired in 2000/2001, of Lorna Doone at Amazon Prime. There had been an earlier version of this story too, in the mid-1970s.

I'd had a vague, and mistaken, idea that the story is set in Scotland ("Ye banks and braes o' bonny Doon...."). It isn't, it's set in the Devonshire/Somerset area of south-west England, a little to the north and east of Poldark's Cornwall. It is an adaptation of a novel by Richard D. Blackmore, published in 1869. There is a link to Scotland but one that isn't explored in this short (3 episode) TV series. Any link to Scotland relates to a time before the Lorna Doone plot begins, when the once aristocratic Doone family, were stripped of their ancient Scottish lands and heritage. Reasons are left untold, but I'd like to know! The Doones moved to an area of Devonshire near Exmoor which became known as Doone Valley. The clan turned into outlaws, frightening, pillaging, burning and killing local farmers and villagers. Our hero and narrator, in Lorna Doone is John Ridd, a yeoman farmer, whose father was killed by the dreaded Doone gang. When both were children, John met Lorna without knowing her family background....Romeo, Juliet an' all that! But there's more, with a bit of 17th century British history thrown in!

Lorna Doone is a much shorter series, and therefore the tale is more rushed than Poldark's, more detailed and leisurely telling, but it's still a worthwhile watch. It could well serve as an introduction to a classic British novel. Lorna Doone was originally shown as a 3 hour TV film, now arranged into 3 episodes for Amazon Prime. Here's the starry cast list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorna_Doone_(2001_film)


I'd recommend both series as good ways to leave behind the cares of 2019, Trump, Brexit et al and do a bit of mental time travelling. It serves to remind us that though we do have problems in 2019, they are not nearly as severe as those many of our ancestors had to face.

Friday, March 01, 2019

Arty Farty Friday ~ Robert Grossman's Caustic Covers, Caricatures & Cartoons


Robert Grossman, best known as brilliant political cartoonist and magazine cover artist, was born this day,
1 March, in 1940. He died around a year ago, in March 2018, aged 78.

His politically satirical cover illustrations for iconic American publications such as The Nation, TIME, and Rolling Stone are classics. For numerous examples just Google search Robert Grossman covers and cartoons, then click on "images". This one, from 2004, with adjustment of facial likenesses, could apply to 2020!



A once famous LP cover for comedy group The Firesign Theater by Robert Grossman used a little astrology.

For the 1970 comedy recording Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers, Grossman painted a quartet of caricatures of The Firesign Theatre. The painting depicts the players as animal / human hybrids, with the animal portions signifying each member's Zodiacal sign (each was born under a Fire Sign).
(Wikipedia, link above).

Firesign Theatre material was conceived, written, and performed by its members Phil Austin, Peter Bergman, David Ossman, and Philip Proctor. The group's name stems from astrology, because all four were born under the three "fire signs": Aries (Austin), Leo (Proctor), and Sagittarius (Bergman and Ossman). Their popularity peaked in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and ebbed in the Reagan Era. They experienced a revival and second wave of popularity in the 1990s and continued to write, record and perform until Bergman's death in 2012.

Astrologically, Robert Grossman himself had Sun and Mercury in Pisces, but he also had three planets (Jupiter, Venus and Saturn) in Aries, Moon in Sagittarius and Pluto in Leo - so had Firesign credentials aplenty himself.

An obituary from UK's The Independent is worth a look. It features this cartoon strip by Grossman (must have been one of his much later pieces):



For more, see Robert Grossman's website HERE.