Monday, November 24, 2014

Coming (Quite) Soon

We had intended seeing Interstellar before now. Maybe this we'll eventually make it to the cinema before the film disappears from the schedule. Until we get to see that movie, a couple of tidbits relating two others, for the future, which could be worth a look.

British director Paul Greengrass, best known for The Bourne Ultimatum, is to bring George Orwell's 1984 to the big screen (again). Orwell's dystopian novel will be produced by Scott Rudin, whose hits include The Social Network and Iris. No casting details for 1984 have yet been announced. John Hurt played the novel's lead character Winston Smith, in an actual 1984 adaptation of Orwell's 1984 by Michael Radford, best known for Il Postino.

I wonder who'll play Winston Smith this time? Someone a prospective audience will recognise and, more importantly, accept in such a role might be Brian Cranston of Breaking Bad; or Damien Lewis of Homeland and Band of Brothers. Either would have me impatiently waiting for the movie's release! Please don't let it be Brad Pitt or Tom Hanks!

See here: News/Entertainment
Also, clicking on "1984" in the Label Cloud in my sidebar will lead to several other relevant posts.

Director Josh Boone is planning a set of four films based on Stephen King’s 1978 long-winded novel The Stand. There has already been a TV adaptation of The Stand, as a mini-series. I think we've seen it, but cannot be certain. Having read a brief synopsis of the theme, oddly it doesn't ring many bells.

The Stand is yet another dystopian tale - they are proving popular, guarantee lots of bums on seats. If film-makers keep over-egging the dystopian pudding with many stale oeufs, though, the audience might soon be turned off. There's always the argument that younger film-goers almost certainly will not have read the novels, and likely haven't seen earlier adaptations, so the do-overs will seem new to them.

These two do-overs don't irritate me as much as some other re-makes have done. 1984 could benefit from a 21st century perspective (knowing what we know now); and The Stand, as long as the director doesn't go into full-on horror/smash-bang mode, but makes a thought-provoking set of movies, could bring the story to an entirely new audience, as well as to some who have read the 800+ page novel, and/or seen the earlier adaptation, but would appreciate a refresher.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Flotsam from the Week That Was

Photo:  Sean Gallup/Getty
Has President Obama at last sensed a cold blast heading his way from what he likes to call "his base", where once only balmy (not to mention barmy) breezes blew? It reminds me of some of Bob Dylan's lyrics in To Make You Feel My Love (recently brought up to date by Adele)-
The storms are raging on the rolling sea
And on the highway of regret
The winds of change are blowing wild and free
You ain't seen nothing like me yet...
The President has been talking a good talk on at least four topics since the midterm elections early this month: climate change agreement (in principle) with China; immigration reform (announced on Thursday evening that he will use his executive powers to prevent deportation of certain classes of undocumented immigrants); Keystone XL Pipeline (the Senate voted against it on Tuesday, relieving President of any further action - for now); and net neutrality - pending.

Will President Obama reveal, at this late date, what some die-hard Democrat fans, and a mixed bunch of Republican right wing and Tea Party nut cases still like to believe or hope, is "the real Obama"...a closet leftist with Marxist roots, ready to stand up and fight for what in his heart of hearts he knows to be right or or rather left? I wish I could believe that.

A good piece by John Grant at "This Can't be Happening", also at Counterpunch relates.
Is Lame Duck Obama Ready to fight?

A British actor with a multi-syllabic name, Benedict Cumberbatch (on right in photograph), has been doing the publicity rounds promoting the movie The Imitation Game, in which he plays the lead part of Alan Turing (left in photograph). Turing helped to shorten World War II by cracking the "unbreakable" German Enigma Code. After the war, he was arrested for homosexual activities.
Turing's natal chart with a nutshell size explanation is at astrologer Bob Marks' website HERE.

Interpreting Mona Lisa - by a group of youngsters in a local art class. Husband noticed these on display in the lobby at our local concert hall and snapped 'em. He now wishes he'd stopped to take closer shots of each.

It's not hard, even in this small size (click on it to see a slightly bigger version) to identify seminal rebels among this group of young artists.

Mona Lisa

Tweet from "God" this week:
It's funny how nearly all the people who believe global warming is a myth also believe I'm not.

 From 9GAG.COM 

We watched the 1960 film version of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine on Turner Classic Movie channel, Thursday evening. I'd seen it more than once before, and read the book long ago, in my youth. I count the tale as one of the best of its genre, especially as it was first published in 1895.

A refreshers from Wikipedia

Social class was a theme in Wells's The Time Machine in which the Time Traveller speaks of the future world, with its two races, as having evolved from the gradual widening of the present (19th century) merely temporary and social difference between the Capitalist and the Labourer ... Even now, does not an East-end (of London) worker live in such artificial conditions as practically to be cut off from the natural surface of the earth? Again, the exclusive tendency of richer people ... is already leading to the closing, in their interest, of considerable portions of the surface of the land. About London, for instance, perhaps half the prettier country is shut in against intrusion.

Wells has this very same Time Traveller, reflecting his own socialist leanings, refer in a tongue-in-cheek manner to an imagined world of stark class division as "perfect" and with no social problem unsolved. His Time Traveller thus highlights how strict class division leads to the eventual downfall of the human race:

"Once, life and property must have reached almost absolute safety. The rich had been assured of his wealth and comfort, the toiler assured of his life and work. No doubt in that perfect world there had been no unemployed problem, no social question left unsolved."

More from another page of Wikipedia on the two ways H.G. Wells imagined humans had evolved in the far distant future:

By the year 802,701 CE, humanity has evolved into two separate species: the Eloi and the Morlocks. The Eloi are the child-like, frail group, living a banal life of ease on the surface of the earth, while the Morlocks live underground, tending machinery and providing food, clothing and infrastructure for the Eloi. Each class evolved and degenerated from humans. The novel suggests that the separation of species may have been the result of a widening split between different social classes, a theme that reflects Wells' sociopolitical opinions.

The main difference from their earlier ruler-worker state is that, while the Morlocks continue to support the world's infrastructure and serve the Eloi, the Eloi have undergone significant physical and mental deterioration. Having solved all problems that required strength, intelligence, or virtue, they have slowly become dissolute and naive. They are described as being smaller than modern humans, having shoulder-length curly hair, chins that ran to a point, large eyes, small ears, and small mouths with bright red thin lips. They are of sub-human intelligence, though apparently intelligent enough to speak, and they have a primitive language.

While one initially has the impression that the Eloi people live a life of play and toil-less abundance, it is revealed that the Morlocks are attending to the Eloi's needs for the same reason a farmer tends cattle; the Morlocks use the Eloi for food.

More on H.G. Wells and his natal chart at an archived post HERE.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Scorpio's Tail End ~ Magritte, Hetty Green, Coleman Hawkins.

The time around November 21 contains the tail-end, and what some say are the most potent, degrees of Sun in Scorpio. 21 November, in particlular, has brought forth some memorable figures from the past. Arty Farty Friday subject for today was going to be one of them: René Magritte, born 21 November 1898 (see his natal chart at After carefully preparing a draft on Word Pad, I inadvertently deleted it. I refused, on principle of my own stupidity, to re-do it. I'm afraid, this time, the video showing some of the Belgian surrealist painter's work must suffice.

  René Magritte at work
Magritte was part of the generation 1898-1904 labelled by E. Alan Meece as "The Flaming Wits". They had Uranus in Sagittarius opposite Pluto in Gemini. Uranus in Sagittarius does, indeed, describe the very meaning of surreal - something over and above the real, the extra- ordinary. Sagittarius = excess, more than; Uranus = the unexpected, eccentricity.

There's an archived post of mine, Surrealism, Abstract Art and Astrology mentioning Magritte. I'm also pretty sure I originally did a full post on Magritte early on in my blogging days, but must have deleted it as part of a "purge" some time later, due to copyright fears.

For a good read about Magritte's life and work I highly recommend the biography at Matteson Art website: René Magritte: This is Not A Biography.

A woman, Hetty Green, born on 21 November 1834, some 64 years earlier than Magritte, became known as "The Witch of Wall Street". She was the first woman to create her own huge stash of wealth. In today's terms it amounted to something in the region of $3.8 billion! She was said to be a legend in her miserliness. (See piece at mentalfloss)

"There was an old woman often seen plodding up and down Wall Street at the turn of the 20th century. She walked alone. Her black, faded dress was dirty and ragged at the seams. She carried a case with her with a pitiful lunch tossed inside, usually graham crackers or dry oatmeal. She was such a familiar sight, with her grim face and strange dress, everyone called her “The Witch of Wall Street..................”

In 1834 Uranus was in Aquarius at around 22 degrees, Neptune in Capricorn around 29 degrees... two generational planets both in signs traditionally ruled by Saturn - if there's a miser among the planets, Saturn is it! Hetty's natal chart is available at Astrotheme HERE.

 Coleman Hawkins & Miles Davis
Last of my chosen 21 November trio is a favourite of my husband: Coleman Hawkins, born 21 November 1904, which makes him another of the "Flaming Wit" group, with Magritte. Coleman Hawkins' wit came via drawing new qualities of sound from the tenor saxophone. Along with jazz luminaries such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington (two more of the "Flaming Wit" generation), Hawkins was one of the pioneer shapers of Jazz. His natal chart is at at Astrotheme.

More on Coleman Hawkins from two of my own archived posts:
Arty Farty Friday #5 from 2007
and Greatest Sax Voices in Jazz from 2011.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fixed Starstuff

“In a world turned upside-down, where everything was wrong, bizarre, you could at least look up at the sky and see normality. Stars that shone regardless of who won a civil war, or who should or should not be a president. Their light was billions of years old. They didn't have a care...”
― Alex Scarrow, The Eternal War

I don't, in general, take much notice of Fixed Stars, other than, maybe, noting whether Algol appears linked to a personal planet in a natal chart. Using Rob Tillett's article at Astrology on the Web, I once spent a while with a copy of my natal chart checking whether any planet or sensitive point coincided with the position of a Fixed Star. I then compared traditional interpretations with my own reality.

Some interesting results emerged. If passing readers haven't yet investigated in this way, I'd recommend taking a look at the linked article, especially if there's something you've always felt was missing from your chart, or something slightly out of tune in standard interpretations of it.

Examples of my own findings:

I've often chewed on the fact that hardly anyone in my age group is interested in astrology, even other Sun Aquarians. Now I find that Fixed Star Toliman (also called Bungula) at 29.36 Scorpio is conjunct my natal Mars at 28.54 Scorpio ("Occult & philosphical learning, self analysis, honours, stubborn, cruel") I guess one takes the good with the bad, stubborn I may be but cruel I'm not, even though I say it myself!

My natal Jupiter at 6.03 Pisces lay conjunct Deneb Adige and Sadalachbia 5.16 and 6.43 Pisces (includes "astrology, writing, the public, other goodies, and The Star of Hidden Things")

After moving to Oklahoma, USA from Britain my re-located ascendant became 22.32 Aquarius very close to Sadalsuud at 23.46 Aquarius ("Astrology").

Although astrology has always seemed like a part of me, it only "came out" in public when I moved to Oklahoma, putting Sadalsuud on the ascendant, which is said to be the "lens" through which a person sees and is seen.

I'm curious (as always) to know how and why the Fixed Stars were credited with representing the traits attributed to them. Perhaps ancient astrologers kept records of their clients' life stories and did some rudimentary research on the subject. Or perhaps the information was culled from some unknown source, handed down from an even more ancient set of astrologers. We'll never know.

In checking for significant Fixed Stars in a natal chart it's essential to know natal planets' signs and degrees. It's easy to find these by inputting birth data at The natal chart is produced free of charge. If time of birth isn't known, it doesn't matter too much for this exercise. Position of personal planets will be accurate, apart from the Moon's position and the ascendant, so inserting 12 noon as time of birth will suffice.

Now - there is a problem with ancient interpretations - those of the Fixed Stars almost always are based on ancient texts. The words have to be watered down somewhat to fit the 21st century. We should take everything written about these stars with a large pinch of salt, because, as far as I know there has been no modern research to verify any of the ancient interpretations.

I suspect that ancient astrologers noted, and recorded, some of the most evident "effects" of these stars in the charts of a few individual, and possibly rich and powerful, clients, many centuries ago when life was very different. We cannot translate them exactly to fit 21st century life, but they could give us just a fleeting whisper or a very general flavour of a meaning.

The so-called "unfortunate" stars, for most of us, are no more unfortunate than the so-called "unfortunate" or malefic planets (Saturn, Mars) they, too, have their benefits.

As for Algol, I've written in archived posts that the star will appear prominently in millions of charts, but only a handful of people from those millions experience anything vaguely linked to its scary reputation.

I have read (in the linked article?) that aspects to other planets from Fixed Stars are usually not significant, very close conjunctions between Fixed Stars and a personal planet may be of interest in natal astrology. In mundane astrology, I'm not sure whether the same applies.

"All men have the stars, but they do not mean the same things for different people. For some they are guides, for others, no more than little lights in the sky. But all these are silent. You--you alone have the stars as no one else has them."
~ Antoine De Saint-Exupery

(More posts on fixed stars or on individual fixed stars are available by clicking on "fixed stars" in the Label Cloud in the sidebar.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Prompted to imagine......

An old Plinky Prompt inspired this bit of nonsense yesterday. Maybe it'll inspire some passing reader to contribute their own response to the prompt.

Plinky Prompt
Fiction writers: You’re stuck in an elevator with an intriguing stranger. Write this scene. Non-fiction writers: You’re stuck in an elevator with a person from your past. Write this scene.

I chose non-fiction, with a hint of fiction thrown in.

As I waited for the elevator to descend, standing alone in the glass "cage" a late-comer hurried in. An elderly man, thinning white hair neatly styled, designer spectacles, conservatively dressed, but with a touch of flair - a camel-coloured coat thrown casually about his shoulders over a dark suit. He looked faintly familiar, but I couldn't quite pinpoint why. He glanced in my direction, took in my casual jacket and dark jeans, my own greying hair and spectacles, looked away, then glanced across again.

"Did we meet before?" He had the trace of an accent, and a hint of breathlessness when he spoke.

The lift was refusing to respond to the "Down" button. I'd pressed it again and again. A few seconds, minute, or what seemed like five, passed.

"I don't think so, but...I wonder if maybe you remind me (and I you) of someone we knew decades ago, in England?"

An unwelcome thought and painful memories had obviously visited us both.

Another quick glance at one another, as both inwardly willed the elevator to move, so that this uncomfortable situation could end quickly.

"Did you, long, long ago, as a young man ever work in the English Lake District?", I asked.

He felt for the wall of the elevator, leaned back, somewhat shaken.

"I did".

"So did I, I believe we met there. The rest is some rather unpleasant history involving a brief marriage and long-winded divorce."



Possibly the only harmony we had ever, and would ever, achieve came in that one chorus of realisation: "Yes!"

"What are you doing in the USA?", I ventured.

"Looking for my daughter."

" And you?"

"I live here now, married to an American".

The elevator, mercifully, began to move rather jerkily downward. Expressions of relief settled on both faces.

As the elevator landed in the hotel foyer, he nodded, turned and hurried off. I called after him,

"I hope you find her".

And that was that.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Royal Beloveds in the Times of Scorpio

Shaking out and re-airing an archived post which still continues to attract a hit or two.

Sun in Scorpio days of mid-November have often had significance for Britain's royals - not always positive significance. The outcome of a fairly recent mid-November date of royal significance seems to have been a happy one: the announcement of the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2010. They have since married and produced one son with another child on the way.

On 20 November, in 1947 the then Princess Elizabeth married Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten in Westminster Abbey. They first met when the Princess was just 13, and the story goes that it was "love at first sight". According to news gossip, through following decades, the marriage has not always been trouble-free, but it has lasted - probably more due to royal protocol and the Queen's determination than anything else, or so I'd guess.

On 20 November, in 1992 a fire broke out in Windsor Castle, one of the three principal official residences of the British monarch. The fire badly damaged the castle causing over £50 million worth of damage.

On 22 November, in 1914,
the man who was to become what many people considered to be the love of Princess Margaret's life was born: Group Captain Peter Townsend. (Not to be confused with Pete Townsend of The Who!)

Townsend was equerry (personal attendant) to King George VI, father of Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.

For astrology buffs there's Australian astrologer Douglas Parker's interpretation of the natal charts of Princess Margaret and Group Captain Townsend, with the charts available at a linked pdf file.

Princess Margaret's love affair with Townsend was superseded by other stories and scandals in later years, so may have been forgotten or perhaps never known by any stray younger readers. Here are the bare bones of it taken from a website HERE
Townsend was a war hero, sixteen years the Princess's senior and married, although he was soon to be divorced. In her grief over her father’s death, Margaret turned more and more to Townsend for consolation. He too had suffered a loss when the King died.

The relationship had apparently started long before the King’s death and would probably have stayed under the radar, if Princess Margaret hadn’t been caught out brushing a piece of fluff off Townsend’s lapel during the coronation.

Princess Margaret desperately wanted to marry Townsend, but there were several obstacles, the most pressing being that he was divorced. Despite the fact that he was the injured part, divorce in aristocratic and royal circles was still a big taboo in the fifties. As the Queen was the Defender of the Faith and the Head of the Church of England, having her sister marry a divorced man was unthinkable.

Margaret was told, erroneously it turns out, that not only would she have to renounce her place in the succession, but that she would be stripped of her royal title, her civil list allowance and forced to live abroad in exile for the rest of her life like her Uncle. In 2004, it was revealed that Margaret and the Queen were deliberately given misinformation by the government. While Margaret would undoubtedly have had to renounce her place in the succession, she could have kept her royal title and the money. The reason for the subterfuge was that even though the abdication was almost twenty years prior, the wounds were still open. As the Queen had just ascended the throne, it wouldn’t do for her younger sister to be seen marrying a divorcé, no matter how well-connected.

After a two year separation, Townsend had been posted abroad to Belgium as an air attaché and only sporadic meetings, Princess Margaret agreed to give up any thought of marrying him. Despite their love for each other, Margaret had no concept of what it would be like to be anything but a member of the Royal family. The idea of living in exile, on his salary, was too much to be borne. Margaret simply wasn’t the type to have to do her own washing up, and cooking. It was one thing to play at it, knowing that you could also call the servants if something went wrong, another to have that be your way of life.

On 6 May 1960 Margaret married photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, later given the title Lord Snowdon. She reportedly accepted his proposal a day after learning from Peter Townsend that he intended to marry a young Belgian woman, Marie-Luce Jamagne, who was half his age and bore a striking resemblance to Margaret.

Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon were divorced in 1978. Ironic? Prevented from marrying her first, and possibly best love because of his divorce. I wonder how the Princess's life would have unrolled had she been allowed to marry Group Captain Townsend?

Townsend died in 1995, Princess Margaret in 2002.