Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thank You Very Much!

The Scaffold were a comedy, poetry and music trio from Liverpool, England, consisting of Mike McGear (real name Peter Michael McCartney, the brother of Paul McCartney), Roger McGough and John Gorman.

If any passing reader has listened to the above song and wonders, "what's the Aintree Iron?" Nobody knows for sure. Numerous possibilities have been provided by commenters HERE, there's even a comment from Mike McGear/McCartney bimself; but by the end of the thread one is no nearer to knowing the truth. As Aintree is the part of Liverpool where the famous horse race course is located, I suspect Aintree Iron relates, in some way or other, to that.

Anyway, my own "thank you very much" goes today to all who read and/or comment here - y'all are much appreciated!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


We've at last seen Interstellar! I enjoyed it, for husband, "jury still out". The film's two and three-quarter hours...3 hours in our seats, including ads and previews, didn't seem over-long.

My only complaint was that some of the softly spoken dialogue was all but inaudible. My hearing is usually fine, no problems. As it's the third week of showing this movie at our 6-screen cinema, perhaps management has relegated Interstellar to the least well-equipped screening room. I have to suspect there's some local cause because I haven't come across any such complaint about sound in any review I've read since seeing the film. Whether we lost anything crucial through lack of some dialogue, I can't say. We'll probably rent the DVD in due course and find out.

I'd have benefited from more research before seeing the movie, but didn't want to know any plot details in advance, so desisted. I wish, in particular, that I'd seen this piece about the movie's spaceships before seeing the film. Even after reading it though, I'm still puzzled about one aspect.

Without giving too much away and spoiling this film for any who might still wish to see it, I'll just say that what puzzles me most wasn't involved in some of the high-fallutin' quantum physics, timey-wimey space wot-nots involved, those had to be understood by me in my own peculiar way, rightly or wrongly, but the question I still cannot answer had to do with the circular space ship Endurance, and its minor craft as described in the linked piece above. When the crew entered the wormhole discovered near Saturn, they used the smaller Ranger vehicle, while the Endurance "wheel" remained somewhere outside the wormhole's entrance. When Ranger arrives through the wormhole, into a new galaxy, Endurance is there, ready for them. Now, I might have not followed what was being said or done, or maybe I missed something (not hard to do in this movie filled with "somethings"), but in spite of spending time searching for an answer online I still haven't resolved this.

For anyone who hasn't seen the film and who doesn't intend seeing it - or for any who have seen it and would appreciate explanations, there's a very good article and commentary at
Screen Rant Interstellar Ending and Space Travel Explained
With commentary at Interstellar Spoilers Discussion.

All that said, in a nutshell Interstellar is the tale of how, when Earth becomes uninhabitable in the future, due to changes in climate, inability for crops to survive, attendant lack of food, a large proportion of Earth's population already dead, a remaining branch of NASA and one visionary professor (played by Michael Caine) struggle to devise a plan for humans to save their race. This, the professor hopes will be possible by travelling outside of our Milky Way galaxy, via a wormhole discovered near planet Saturn. The hope is that there will be planets in the new galaxy capable of supporting human life. To this end NASA had already sent out a set of explorers to some possibly suitable planets. From three of those planets "pings" have been received from beacons set by three different astronauts, indicating that there might be possibilities for humans to begin colonies on those planets.

The movie's hero, ex-astronaut turned struggling farmer and widower, Cooper ("Coop"), played by Matthew McConaughey, is persuaded to head a small team to be sent to investigate the three "pinging" planets in the new galaxy to assess their viability. There's lots of other stuff going on around this point which I shall not mention. Enough to say that Cooper takes on the mission, much to the angst of his young daughter Murphy.

Matthew McConaughey, for me, made this movie enjoyable. I should also mention that director Christopher Nolan had hand a hand in it too! I said to husband on our way across the car park that had the lead part been played by someone like Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, George Clooney, I'd have been turned right off. McConaughey is an actor to whom I'd not paid much attention until we rented Dallas Buyers Club some months ago. His dedication in that movie, his willingness to lose so much weight (some others in the cast did too) endeared him to me, as does his Texas accent which makes me feel "at home" with him. In Interstellar he gives another excellent performance as a
father whose love for his family, and dedication (that word again) to his race (the human race), become a division of loyalties almost impossible for him to bear. He's not an over-the-top or method actor, he's a natural. He understands, I believe, from his own depths, what it is he's portraying, and how to do it best. Perhaps I should mention here that his birthday is 4 November - Sun in Scorpio.

What else? Well, there's lots of timey-wimey, spacy-wacey stuff for cinema-goers to get their heads wrapped around, which I'll not detail for two reasons - a) unwilling to spoil it for others; b) still contemplating it all myself!

Some reviewers align Interstellar with one of my all-time favourite movies 2001 A Space Odyssey. I don't see it quite in that category. Interstellar, though complex, is less mystical, more spelled out, more obviously (potentially) understandable once you get "your eye in".

There's a Dylan Thomas quotation used more than once during the movie to good effect, it's this:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Lyrics from a lovely song Starlight by Muse, an English band, floated into my mind later. I think some see the ship in the song as a ship sailing the ocean, but the song works even better about a ship sailing through space and time:
"Our hopes and expectations
Black holes and revelations
Our hopes and expectations
Black holes and revelations........

Far away
This ship is taking me far away
Far away from the memories
Of the people who care if I live or die

Here it is sung not by Muse but by Adam Lambert:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Matters Astrological

In most essays and articles there's usually a paragraph or two, sometimes it's just a sentence, which remain etched in our memory after the rest of the article has morphed into a general impression of its subject matter. Here are two examples of this, from my own experience. I've returned to these two articles again and again; always the points made in these extracts "hit the spot" for me. It has not escaped my notice that both articles are around 15+ years old. I often find that articles from that time seem to correspond more with my own feelings about astrology. Maybe it's because Uranus was in Aquarius at the time they were written, and my Aquarius Sun finds itself in tune with them.

This from William D. Tallman's article Another Approach to Astrology

There is an astrological "mechanism", a function, if you will, by which celestial configurations are linked to terrestrial phenomena. Although it would be easy to assume that this function is of a cause-effect nature, it seems prudent to avoid doing so. The reason we know that the function exists is because it is necessary to use an ephemeris to practice astrology, which means that a knowledge of the celestial configurations is primary to the process. If this were not true, then a random sort placement of the planets, etc. would serve dependably, and if the tradition of astrology has any validity at all, this is not the case.

That we are a part of the astrological mechanism, in that the phenomenon functionally includes us, is a matter of apparency; I think we can accept that as a basic assumption. If this is true, then I would suggest that it is reasonable to expect that some people are directly aware of that function, as they are a part of it. It could well be that a close study of that awareness might yield some insights, and so I would recommend it as one avenue of investigation. We are not dealing with astrology here, we are dealing with a sensibility of the function of the mechanism itself; it is fortuitous that some of those who are sensible also possess the ability to use the astrological construct.

If we think about sensibility of the phenomenon itself as a function susceptible to internal experience, then we can easily imagine a range of sensitivity, bounded on one end by a virtual lack of any sensitivity and on the other to some degree of complete and detailed consciousness.

One thought from an article titled The Stars We Are by Richard Smoley, from the Winter 1996 issue of Gnosis magazine (no longer published, I understand).

......the elusiveness of proof for astrology suggests that planetary influences play themselves out in different ways for different people; some astrological influences may not even make themselves felt at all in your life. By pursuing your own inquiries, you'll know what effect the planets have on you.

What has remaied with me from these two extracts is something I've always felt conscious of naturally, something perhaps wired in to my own psyche - that astrology IS part of some kind of mechanism, and that there is an "astrological sensitivity" which some people have and some don't. It must be something akin to the ability to carry a tune, or an exact colour, or being ultra sensitive to light or sound. William D. Tallman does go on to say that it's possible that those died in the wool skeptics about astrology could possibly have high sensitivity to it, but due to other parts of their personality the sensitivity is turned against the subject. I'm not sure that I agree. but it's something to consider.

The sentence from Richard Smoley's piece is a simple statement about a point that is often forgotten, and underlines the fact that nobody knows us as well as we know ourselves.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Coming (Quite) Soon

We had intended seeing Interstellar before now. Maybe 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.