Monday, December 18, 2017

Music Monday ~ Veni, Veni....

There's a particular piece of beautiful music that brings back memories of High School assemblies, long ago in England. On icy December mornings, we out-of-town students hurried from the railway station to our school, in double-file - a 10 minute brisk walk - we were not allowed to run, even if the train had been late. The train was often late during winter weather. We didn't have the luxury of "snow days" leave of absence, a common occurrence in the USA, or of being driven to school - we were a hardy generation!

On these early December mornings, at last arriving in school, hanging up our warm coats and changing winter boots for indoor shoes, we'd shuffle into our rather elegant assembly hall. Morning business had, quite often, already begun, and the choir, up in the organ gallery, would be singing..."O come, O come Emmannuel...." - my favourite Advent hymn.

These days I'm not into religion; it wasn't always the case, so distant whispers do remain. In a strange way, I now view New Testament Christmas, and other stories in similar light to another interest of mine - astrology. In both cases there was/is "something going on", though probably not exactly what we were/are told, and not exactly what some people would hope and like to believe, or would like others to believe, but, nevertheless... "something".

Anyway, less waffle, more music. Here are two gorgeous versions of O come, O come....(Veni, Veni...) . This wonderful music is centuries old, some surmise it came from 12th century manuscripts, though it wasn't associated with the words of the Advent hymn until mid-19th century.





Saturday, December 16, 2017

Saturday & Sundry Limericks etc.

From a selection found in a 1975 book of wit and whimsy: ~




The limerick packs laughs anatomical
Into space that is quite economical.
But the good ones I've seen
So seldom are clean
And the clean ones so seldom are comical.



There was a young lady names Bright
Who travelled much faster than light.
She started one day
In the relative way
And returned on the previous night.


There's a wonderful family called Stein,
There's Gert and there's Epp and their's Ein;
Gert's poems are bunk,
Epp's statues are junk,
And no one can understand Ein.


A tutor who tooted the flute
Tried to tutor two tooters to toot,
Said the two to the tutor,
"Is it harder to toot, or
To tutor two tooters to toot?"

A maiden at college, Miss Breeze,
Weighed down by B.A.'s and Lit.D's
Collapsed from the strain,
Said her doctor, "It's plain
You are killing yourself by degrees."



PLUS a couple of groan-worthy riddles :

What's the difference between a bird with one wing and a bird with two wings?
A difference of a pinion.

What is the difference between a king's son, a monkey's mother, a bald head, and an orphan?
A king's son is an heir apparent, a monkey's mother is a hairy pareant, a bald head has no hair apparent, and an orphan has nary a parent.



And a trio of wise(ish)cracks:

In politics the paths of glory lead but to the gravy.

Immigration is the sincerest form of flattery.

Lend your neighbour a garden rake and he'll come back for mower.


And a bit of wise advice:

Never break your bread or roll in your soup.


Friday, December 15, 2017

Arty Farty Friday ~ the Anomaly that was Thomas Kinkade

When I think of paintings reflecting the traditional flavour of Christmas, other than Nativity paintings that is, the first painter's name springing to mind is Thomas Kinkade. When I first wrote a blog post on Mr Kinkade, in December of 2009, Thomas Kinkade was still with us; he died, however on April 6, 2012, in Monte Sereno, California. Here's my post, edited slightly to reflect the artist's demise.


As we're closing in on the annual beanfeast known as Christmas, a look at an artist whose paintings, many of which depict winter and Christmas landscapes, are well-known in the USA, and elsewhere. They appear on Christmas cards, calendars, and death knell of a "proper" artist, chocolate boxes. Thomas Kinkade, self-styled Painter of Light is this week's seasonal arty-farty subject.
(Photo by John Storey/Corbis)

I cannot put hand on heart and say I like Kinkade's paintings, but they are very recognisable, and that has to be a plus for artists of any stripe. He was way too twee for yours truly. Yet having carried out a spot of light research, it appears in real life Mr. Kinkade was anything but twee. Ruthless business man, prone to "inappropriate" behaviour, yet said to be a devout Christian

The Los Angeles Times reported that some of Kinkade's former colleagues, employees, and even collectors of his work said that he has a long history of cursing and heckling other artists and performers. The Times further reported that he openly groped a woman's breasts at a South Bend, Indiana sales event, and mentioned his proclivity for ritual territory marking through urination, once relieving himself on a Winnie the Pooh figure at a Disney site while saying "This one’s for you, Walt." Kinkade denied some of the allegations, and accepted and apologized for others.

In 2006 John Dandois, Media Arts Group executive, recounted a story that on one occasion ("about six years ago") Kinkade became drunk at a Siegfried and Roy magic show in Las Vegas and began shouting "Codpiece! Codpiece!" at the performers. Eventually he was calmed by his mother. Dandois also said of Kinkade, "Thom would be fine, he would be drinking, and then all of a sudden, you couldn't tell where the boundary was, and then he became very incoherent, and he would start cussing and doing a lot of weird stuff."
(At Wikipedia)


A devout Christian who called himself The Painter of Light, Kinkade traded heavily on his beliefs and said God has guided his brush - and his life - "for the last 20 years".
"When I got saved, God became my art agent," he said in a 2004 video biography, genteel in tone and rich in the themes of faith and family values that have helped win him legions of fans, albeit few among art critics. But some former Kinkade employees, gallery operators and others contend that the Painter of Light has a decidedly dark side.

In litigation and interviews with the Los Angeles Times, some former gallery owners depicted Kinkade as a ruthless businessman who drove them to financial ruin at the same time he was fattening his business associates' bank accounts and feathering his nest with tens of millions of dollars.

Kinkade - whose solely owned Thomas Kinkade Co. was based in Morgan Hill, Calif. - denied these allegations. Later, however, a three-member panel of the American Arbitration Assn. ordered his company to pay $860,000 for defrauding the former owners of two failed Virginia galleries. That decision marked the first major legal setback for Kinkade, who won three previous arbitration claims. Five more followed. (LA Times)

ASTROLOGY

So...what should be found in the natal chart of this artistic anomaly? Certainly some indication of his acute business sense, there's no denying that. Wikipedia tells us
He is self described as "Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light" (a trademarked phrase), and as "America's most-collected living artist". Media Arts, the publicly-traded company that licenses and sells Kinkade's products, claims that 1 in 20 homes in the U.S. feature some form of Thomas Kinkade’s art."

There should be some link to creativity and artistic skill - whatever one's taste, it has to be admitted that the man could paint a picture. There's going to be a hint of the obtuse, or unexpected too, I'd guess.

Born on 19 January 1958 in Sacramento, California. No time of birth available so 12 noon chart has to suffice. Rising sign and Moon 's degree will not be accurate as shown. If born after 4pm Moon would be in Aquarius, before that, in Capricorn.




Sun and Mercury in Capricorn - Capricorn, the sign of the businessman. That fits! Whether Moon was in Capricorn or Aquarius that would still be a good fit too. Venus is already in Aquarius, reputed sign of the oddballs of this world. In his case Venus, planet of the arts lies there. I wouldn't call his art oddball, or in any way Aquarian, but it is odd and unexpected (another Aquarian trait) given the kind of guy he's said to have been. Uranus, ruler of Aquarius lies in Leo in opposition to Venus - here's a second hint as to the unexpectedness of the type of art this painter produced, and the anomaly of his Christian beliefs with his reported actions.

Neptune, planet of creativity is conjunct Jupiter planet of excess in Scorpio, and is in helpful sextile to Mercury, communications and mental process planet. That link-up brings together mental process, creativity, and the wide marketing of his prolific output of artwork.

Saturn and Mars are conjoined in Sagittarius - sign known for its excesses, these two planets traditionally thought of as malefics, and are magnified in Sagittarius. Could this account for a streak of ruthlessness in Kinkade's nature?

Examples of his Christmas/Winter-related pieces. The Kinkade website is HERE.


 Christmas in New York


Christmas Glow

 Christmas, St Nicholas Circle

 Hometown Christmas Memories

 Christmas Homecoming

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Dorothy Parker - In the American Manner

I stumbled upon this poem by Dorothy Parker the other day:

Poem In The American Manner

I dunno yer highfalutin' words, but here's th' way it seems
When I'm peekin' out th' winder o' my little House o Dreams;
I've been lookin' 'roun' this big ol' world, as bizzy as a hive,
An' I want t' tell ye, neighbor mine, it's good t' be alive.
I've ben settin' here, a-thinkin' hard, an' say, it seems t' me
That this big ol' world is jest about as good as it kin be,
With its starvin' little babies, an' its battles, an' its strikes,
An' its profiteers, an' hold-up men—th' dawggone little tykes!
An' its hungry men that fought fer us, that nobody employs.
An' I think, 'Why, shucks, we're jest a lot o' grown-up little boys!'
An' I settle back, an' light my pipe, an' reach fer Mother's hand,
An' I wouldn't swap my peace o' mind fer nothin' in the land;
Fer this world uv ours, that jest was made fer folks like me an' you
Is a purty good ol' place t' live—say, neighbor, ain't it true?


She was in full sardonic, sarcastic, satiric mode there, under cover of a bit of the good ol' folksy. Though her sentiments were rooted in her own century - the 20th - nothing changes!


Dorothy Parker has always been worth a second look, so here's something I blogged some years ago:

These days Dorothy Parker is remembered most for her witty and cynical poetry. She was not particularly proud of the poems, but they have survived in public memory long after her short stories and other writing has been forgotten. Some of her screenplays have survived. The screenplay of A Star is Born was her work, and nominated for an academy award. Three different versions of the story have been made, and have entertained three different generations. It's a bittersweet tale, the kind she knew well from experience.

Dorothy's poems are mainly reflections of her own disappointments and frustrations. She had a sad childhood, losing both parents at an early age. This shadow followed her throughout her life. Her lovers and spouses only seemed to add to her distress. Dorothy attempted suicide 3 times, eventually took to alcohol, and died alone in a New York hotel, aged 73. The New York Times printed one of its longest ever obituaries as a tribute. She left her estate to Martin Luther King Jnr, though she had never met him, and he had never heard of her! She supported many left-wing causes, civil rights campaigns and at one point joined the communist party, and found herself on the US government's blacklist.

DOROTHY PARKER Born 22 August 1893, West End, New Jersey, at 9.50 PM.



According to a couple of sources on-line Ms Parker's birth time was 9:50 PM, putting the ascendant angle in Taurus. It's said that the ascendant can give clues as to personal appearance. In this case it doesn't. Dorothy Parker is described as fragile looking, doll-like, almost elfin, quite the opposite of the sturdiness of Taurus. From what I've read about her personality, Taurus seems to have been well-eclipsed by Virgo and Gemini.

The Sun had just passed into Virgo, at 00 degree when Dorothy Parker was born. There are 2 other planets at 00 degree: Venus at 00 Libra, and Jupiter at 00 Gemini. Some astrologers consider that the first and last degrees of a sign carry more of the "pure essence" of it, which could be of some significance here, especially in the case of Virgo and Gemini. Dorothy's legendary sharp tongue, naturally critical and acidic attitudes are typically Virgoan. The two signs, Virgo and Gemini, both ruled by Mercury, provide her writer's "signature". It was as though the Sun and Jupiter had struggled to get into their proper places just in time for the birth - or she had waited to emerge until they were properly placed!

Sun is conjunct Mars - novelist Sinclair Lewis had Sun conjunct Mars too (he who said "When facism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross"): two writers of the same generation who were not averse to expressing controversial views. Writers with a fighting (Mars) spirit! Sun in Virgo, Mercury in Leo are in mutual reception in Dorothy's chart too (each lay in the sign of the other's rulership), which adds even more emphasis to the astrological picture, showing a born writer.

Moon in Capricorn and Sun/Mars in Virgo, both in Earth signs forming a wide harmonious trine. This I find somewhat surprising. She doesn't seem to have been the solid, stable Earthy personality it indicates. However, Moon is in challenging square aspect to Saturn in Airy Libra, and Sun is square to Jupiter in Airy Gemini. Two Airy challenges stirring up dust! Without these square aspects people might never have remembered the name and personality of Dorothy Parker.

One of her best-remembered darkly cynical poems:

Coda

There's little in taking or giving,
There's little in water or wine;
This living, this living, this living
Was never a project of mine.
Oh, hard is the struggle, and sparse is
The gain of the one at the top,
For art is a form of catharsis,
And love is a permanent flop,
And work is the province of cattle,
And rest's for a clam in a shell,
So I'm thinking of throwing the battle ---
Would you kindly direct me to hell?

Her self-chosen epitaph: "Excuse my dust."

Monday, December 11, 2017

GUEST POST ~ by "Anyjazz" on Music Monday

What follows comes from a post written by my husband on his blog "Thinks Happen" in 2008. I stumbled across it in searching for something else and decided the post ought not to be wasting away, hidden in the depths of defunct blogdom. In its original setting the piece can be accessed via the link at the foot of this post.
NEVER THROW AWAY A PICTURE. WE ARE ALL WE HAVE.


The camera tried hard to get a shot for me but the lighting and the inept operator gave only a marginal result. The shutter was open too long and Alison Young moved.

That’s okay. The memory of listening to her play live comes back just as well with this shot as with any other. As my wife and others will attest, when I hear a really talented musician or a really wonderful performance, I tend to weep. Yes, I know.

As I sat in the dark at an after-hours jam session during an Ottawa Jazz Festival, I was often a bit misty eyed. Talented musicians, relaxed before a small audience, played as they felt, often only for their own appreciation. Good stuff.

One such night, a young fellow played an alto sax solo backed with rhythm and piano. His technique was good, polished; his chorus was fresh and welcome. Then as he finished, he unhooked the alto from its neck strap and handed it to a red-haired girl standing just out of the spotlight. After a couple hearty solo piano choruses, 19 year old Alison Young stepped into the light and began to play that same alto sax. And tears came instantly to my eyes. Yes, I was impressed.

It was the same saxophone but nothing else was the same. Her tone and range set her apart. Her attack and enthusiasm made it fascinating. Most of all, her inventiveness kept the listener sitting up straight. I’ll never forget it. When she finished we all realized we had been holding our collective audience breath.

Every moment of our lives has that possibility to connect with someone. Each moment has that ability to be an important moment in someone’s life.

Perhaps as a race we are losing that capability to empathize with our fellow humans. We have become protectorates, isolationists in our own being. We fear or loath connection so much that we avoid sharing any of ourselves. We only perceive the surface of others, not the warmth within.

A child knows how. A child has the ability to freely observe moments from everything, collecting, mimicking and blending. But just like the fairy tales and goblins, this talent fades away as adulthood comes jack booting down the life path.

We can rail on about conservation and brotherly love. We can preach about faith and hope and charity. We can be reliable or lie and make work or leisure for ourselves. We can vote and debate and scoff and complain.

But in the final analysis: we are all we have.


http://jabberclarks.blogspot.com/2008/02/alison-young-and-moment.html

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Saturday and Sundry Rant-worthy Thoughts

So many issues currently in the news are eminently rant-worthy - shall I count the ways? Brexit; Trump; Republicans; Democrats; monopolies; men who harass; comedians who are unnecessarily gross, not to mention unfunny; creeping crapification of - just about everything; "smart" stuff encouraging us to speak to inanimate objects as a way of life. Sigh.


There's yet another, more personal, irritant: people who, at the mention of the word 'astrology' pounce eagerly, ready to question the mental capacity of anyone who is, in their estimation, "irrational" enough to give astrology even an inch of headroom. This happened to me a few days ago at a blog which shall remain nameless; it has happened many times during past years on the net, and is tiresome - putting it mildly!

On most occasions, when an urge to intervene with any mild reference to astrology arises, I turn "chicken", shrink from mentioning it, or my interest in, and study of the ancient art. Among those people with no interest in astrology, and in some cases with a definite abhorrence of it, such an interest marks one as a gullible nitwit and totally irrational.

Do rationality and astrology mix? I contend that they can, given the right approach and a mind open enough to see serious failings in both camps, but failings which completely negate neither.

For many people astrology has no relevance at all. I do get that. Football, baseball, basketball and other sports have no relevance to me, but I don't go around denigrating fans of those pastimes. So...why can't astrological skeptics simply ignore astrology and any mention of it? It's almost as though they feel threatened by it!

I remember reading some relevant observations years ago, written by Darin Hayton (link is now defunct). Mr Hayton asked:

"And what really is at stake in this enduring battle between science and astrology? Are astronomers [for instance] afraid that their funding will suddenly go to astrologers? Does the fate of the free world or the rational mind or science depend on refuting astrology? Given the characterization of astrologers and believers in astrology as simple-minded, uneducated, irrational dupes, what threat do these people pose to astronomers and scientists? Does belief in astrology stand for a purported, societal-wide irrationality that threatens the entire practice of science? That seems a bit apocalyptic, but maybe. And what is served by the denigrating rhetoric typically used to brand astrologers frauds and charlatans? Surely it would be more effective to adopt a more conversational approach rather than labeling astrologers and their customers irrational, superstitious dupes..."

Ten years ago, in my early days of blogging - when, even then I found astrology skeptics to be rant-worthy, a commenter "Velvet Blade" wrote:
I used to love those people who would come into an astrology shop and say, "Prove it to me". Why? Because I was once that person. Skeptics are GREAT, as long as they have an open mind. Otherwise, they are not skeptics at all, just stubborn folks who believe that everyone should think the way they think... Hmmm... Ringing any bells in politics???

True skeptics believe what they have found to be true for themselves. The don't close their minds and shut down, with no hope of opening.

True skeptics always make the BEST astrologers. They won't accept anything as true until they have seen it for themselves.
To allow my BP to return to what passes as normal, a quiet ponder upon a couple of quotes:

“The world,” he said, “grows hourly more and more sceptical of all that lies beyond its own narrow radius; and our men of science foster the fatal tendency.
~ Amelia B. Edwards, ("The Phantom Coach").

And, from Sir Terry Pratchett:
Sometimes, if you pay real close attention to the pebbles you find out about the ocean. ("Lords and Ladies").