Monday, March 27, 2017

Movie Monday ~ Z for Zachariah

There's nothing like a post-apocalyptic, movie to cheer one in these troubled political times. If nothing else, these offerings show us how much worse things could be - will likely be in fact, some future day in the absence of major change  - soon. We watched one such movie a few nights ago (Netflix):
Z for Zachariah. It's a loose (extremely loose , I think) adaptation of the 1974 novel by Robert C. O'Brien.

In a nutshell the story goes like this: nuclear war or accidental nuclear tragedy have left the world - well, maybe the world, but at least the USA, mainly unpopulated due to widespread radiation, and perhaps other ecological calamities.

Some little time has passed since the apocalyptic events. We meet a single survivor in a closely sheltered valley somewhere in eastern USA. We learn that this small valley area has missed the devastation of the rest of the world - or USA, due to a quirk of nature and its unusually sheltered location. There's a clean water supply. Suspension of disbelief is essential here because - what about when it rained ? The hard/ contaminated rain would have fallen there as well as everywhere else.

That aside, we meet a young woman, probably in her twenties, sturdily managing to survive working the small farm of her lost parents. She has enough food from crops, chickens and a cow, a little hunting and fishing to nourish her, clean water from a source not affected by outside radiation, and a faithful dog for company. Winter, though had been hard - without electricity after her generator ran out of fuel, she almost froze to death.

We meet her (Ann) in warmer times, as she is out hunting rabbits, and stumbles into another survivor (John), a black guy mabe a decade or so her senior, bumbling around in a huge hazmat suit with a laden trolley. She watches as he goes to bathe in a pool whose source she knows for sure is contaminated. She manages to alert him, but is too late, then tries to help him survive. Turns out he's a scientist, a quiet type, not easy to understand, but kindly and helpful to Ann.

That's a sketchy idea of the first part of the film, later on a third survivor arrives (Caleb) another male, this a more local fellow, one who turns out to be quite different in nature from John - a little sneaky, generally untrustworthy but not without some native charm.

We know, without benefit of synopsis, that this menage a trois will pose a problem, even in these terrible "end of days" circumstances, human nature remains human nature!

Z for Zachariah can be watched, as we did, head on (as it were), but after I'd read a little on line the next day from past viewers, it turns out there's a whole other way of seeing it: as an analogy. I had suspected there was an underlying Adam & Eve thing going on, but it goes deeper than that. There are biblical references, analogies, hidden hints, and important matters left unfinished, unexplained. One reviewer describes the movie as being a kind of Rorschach test. I agree, after having read through several lengthy threads of commentary about the film. There's mild exploration, if one looks for it, of issues connected to race, gender, class, religion, but in the kind of circumstances we all hope never to encounter.

I enjoyed the movie, but it's a definite slow-burn, needs patience, and maybe even a second viewing to appreciate all possible meanings. Just three characters support it (and a dog) - not a movie to attract those who enjoy lots of fast action, glamour and wall to wall noise. The acting is good to excellent, with Margot Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Chris Pine it would be wouldn't it? With a trio of lesser actors this film could have been as disastrous as the times it depicted.

As for the original novel of the same title (which is a nod to a children's book: "A for Adam"), Wikipedia's synopsis tells me that the film adaptation uses nothing but the barest bones of the original story. The novel's tale sounds even harsher, goes where the film declined to go. Ann was much younger in the novel, teenage. Book version John had a rather nasty, controlling nature, wasn't black; and the novel introduced no third party to the scene. The film then has to be regarded simply as a stand-alone piece using a situation and location based loosely on the novel.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Aries Considered

In his book, Astrology published 1964, Louis MacNeice, not an astrologer, but a poet and scholar, gathered together much of interest from a variety of sources, ancient and modern. On zodiac sign Aries, through which the Sun now travels, he wrote the paragraphs below, quoting from some professional astrologers whose works may now be less known by the average astrology fan. Some related links identifying those astrologers are added at the end of this post. The excerpt has been copy-typed by my own fair fingers, rather than copy-pasted from elsewhere on the internet. Illustrations here were added by me.

Though Aries is the first sign of the zodiac, it is the last of this monthly series; for some reason I began, last year, with Taurus. The whole set of 12 posts can most easily be accessed by clicking on "Louis MacNeice" in the Label Cloud in the sidebar.

Aries the Ram
March 21 to April 20

The hieroglyph for Aries looks like a ram's horns (though Morrish says it might just as well represent a fountain). A cardinal fiery sign, ruled by Mars: cardinal in that it serves as the ignition key for the year, fiery in that it symbolizes the explosive suns of spring. This is the sign of the vernal equinox when the ecliptic crosses the equator and day and night are of equal length. To the ancients it seemed natural to begin the astrological year on March 21 with the first degree of Aries (0 Aries), though the people in the southern hemisphere were not consulted about this. That Aries is a "priority" sign in almost every respect is shown by the instructions given in some of the early Hermetic writings as to the use of " Zodiacal plants" for magical purposes: Whatever the plant and whatever other sign is concerned, it should be picked and its juice extracted when the Sun is in Aries.

 Aries by David Palladini
Aries is in general the adventurous pioneer sign and, like all the other signs, has the vices of its virtues. It had been assigned to Mars and its basic character stablized by the time of Ptolemy, and the association of Britain with Aries goes back to that time. The traditional qualities of the Aries man were briefly and clearly outlined by Raphael in he early 19th century: "Aries, the house of Mars and exaltation of the a vernal, dry, fiery, masculine, cardinal, equinoctial, diurnal, moveable, commanding, eastern, choleric, violent and quadrupedian sign." It will be remembered that, apart from the sign that a planet "rules", there is usually another sign in which he feels particularly at home; this is the sign in which he is said to have his "exaltation." So Aries fiery furnaces are kept doubly stoked, by Mars who rules it and by the Sun who is exalted in it.

On the other hand, a planet who is not at ease in Aries is Venus. André Barbault stresses that the fire of Aries, in contrast with that of the other two fiery signs, Leo and Sagittarius, in the PRIMAL fire that both creates and destroys. So the Aries type of person tends to be an impetuous juvenile type taking no thought for the morrow. And not only juvenile but primitive: Ingrid Lind says there is something of the cave man about him.

There is general agreement about the character of the Aries man: He is an enthusiast, tough, rather reckless, impetuous always and irritable sometimes, and he falls in love like a thunderbolt. Aries moves much too fast for the Taurus type and is exasperated by the fussiness and exactitude of Virgo. From early times astrologers have also described his physical characteristics, making him strong, with powerful shoulders, and so on. After a warning about Zodiacal morphology, Barbault suggests that the Aries type does tend to look like a ram (Gleadow writes that "his nose, even when small, has an energetic arch") and notes that he walks rapidly and has a strong, quick hand-grip. He is something of a menace as a driver, and does not like wearing a hat. As for Aries women, in dress they don't wish to follow the fashion but to lead it; on the other hand they are almost aggressive in their non-use of make-up.

 Aries by Erté,
As examples of Aries types, Barbault gives Louis Armstrong (who invented "hot" jazz), Marlon Brando, George Sand ("the first feminist"), Savonalrola, and St. Teresa of Avila. To prove the point that two Aries types can be thoroughly Aries and yet, owing to the positions of the planets, in many ways very different, he contrasts two French writers, Baudelaire and Zola. Each of them had a notable conglomeration of planets in Aries but whereas Zola had the Sun, Moon, Mars and Pluto, and at that in trine (a good relationship) with Saturn, Baudelaire had the Sun, Venus (bad, as just mentioned, in this sign) Jupiter and Saturn - and at that in eighth house, the house of death.

Morrish's evolutionary theory has already been mentioned. According to this scheme - in which the whole Zodiac symbolizes the universal "Wheel of Life and Death" - Aries, the first sign, represents ignorance (at whatever level) in contrast with the last sign, Pisces, which represents universality (at whatever level). Focusing in, Morris makes the first three signs stand for "unit germination." Aries here stands for the male creative impulse (to be quickly followed by the traditionally feminine sign, Taurus, which represents matrix or matter).
Morrish, like many artists, believes in the fertilizing effects of conflict, and stresses the importance of Zodiacal opposites; for example, "in a physical analogy Libra (air) is required to enable Aries (fire) to 'burst into flame' ." As well as making Aries play the male to the female matrix of Taurus, Morrish makes him stand for motion in contrast with the Taurine inertia. This evolutionary scheme of Morrish's, which involves the concept of yoga, is a peculiarly modern outcrop to which we shall return later. But, on the traditional premises, he has not miscast either Aries or Taurus.

Astrologers mentioned:
Morrish (L. Furze-Morrish?)
André Barbault
Ingrid Lind
Rupert Gleadow

Friday, March 24, 2017

Original Arty Farty

Friday's Arty Farty regime here began in 2007. Originally it had a slightly different aim from the way it eventually developed, over the years. My first intentions were simply to display some artworks I'd acquired for display in our home. Flicking back through the first Arty Friday posts I see that several were deleted (by me), having been videos I'd made, and used copyrighted music as backing, or due to fears about other copyright issues. I recall there was a copyright scare going on a few years after 2007.

For a change, this week I've fished out from 2007 what was Arty Farty Friday #6: a look at a couple of our arty acquisitions. The first still hangs in our living room, the second in our bedroom. These have remained favourites of ours.

Clicking on the second image should enlarge it.

I bought the collage, by Anne M. Morris of Moline, Illinois, at an art and music festival in Salina, Kansas, 2005 - The Smoky Hill River Festival.

Composed of small pieces of natural stone, mirror, beads, and wood on a painted background, the collage appeals to me because the shapes can be seen as almost astrological. There are circles, triangles, squares, and rectangles. The mirrored fragments around the outer rim catch the light and appear shaded in a variety of ways at different times, as do true astrological effects.

My husband particularly likes this one for another reason. Square shapes attract him. He looks on the number 4 as lucky for him, too. There's a link somewhere! He was born on 22nd (2+2=4), he has 4 offspring, one of whom was also born on 22nd, as was the offspring's son. He lived for much of his adult life at house number 1313, which adds up to 2x4. He's not in the least superstitious or interested in anything even vaguely "weird" (except, perhaps the author of this drivel), so his attachment to squares and number 4 is rather uncharacteristic.

Here's another of our square acquisitions, titled Harmony, by Lynn Woodmansee. It's a small collage of ceramic fragments. We bought it from a funny little gallery called "Tin Moon" (see last photo, below) in Abiquiu - seemed like the middle of nowhere, in New Mexico. There was no way we (I) could pass a place called Tin Moon without stopping to investigate. There used to be an associated website for Tin Moon, but it is gone now (2017) and I do seem to recall the last time we drove by there we remarked that the Tin Moon looked closed, deserted, defunct - an ex-gallery!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Pair of Poems by John Ciardi + A Birthday

I've stumbled across another poet not known to me before: John Ciardi. Some of his poems remind me of Ogden Nash's, others have a tinge of Shel Silverstein. I was not surprised, either , when I noticed that some of his books of poems, especially his children's poems, were illustrated by Edward Gorey, about whom I wrote a post a few years ago see HERE.

Here are a couple of poems by John Ciardi as tasters:

Philosophical Poem

The disease of civilization is not tools, citizen.
Ignorance might be closer to it.
Politics closer. But only Money
Will hit the brass tacks everyone wants to get down to
Squarely on the head.

Above all, I have no case against human nature.
Whatever that is, I like it.
I like mechanics with wrenches,
Taxi drivers' photos on licenses,
Drunks lighting cigarettes.
What the hell else is there to like
After you've kissed your wife and gone to sleep?

I like everything but important people being important.
And academic people being academic.
What I like least is bookkeepers
Spending their human eyes on accounts receivable,
Interest receivable, payment due, balance on hand.
And columns of soldiers marching.

Why Nobody Pets The Lion At The Zoo

The morning that the world began
The Lion growled a growl at Man.

And I suspect the Lion might
(If he'd been closer) have tried a bite.

I think that's as it ought to be
And not as it was taught to me.

I think the Lion has a right
To growl a growl and bite a bite.

And if the Lion bothered Adam,
He should have growled right back at 'im.

The way to treat a Lion right
Is growl for growl and bite for bite.

True, the Lion is better fit
For biting than for being bit.

But if you look him in the eye
You'll find the Lion's rather shy.

He really wants someone to pet him.
The trouble is: his teeth won't let him.

He has a heart of gold beneath
But the Lion just can't trust his teeth.

For any passing reader interested in astrology, Astrotheme has John Ciardi's 12 noon natal chart. He was born on 24 June 1916 in Boston MA.

I found it rather odd to see that he had Sun conjunct Pluto, and Venus conjunct Saturn - all in Cancer. That doesn't seem to fit the atmosphere of his poetry at all. Uranus was at 19 Aquarius in harmonious trine to Mercury in Gemini - there's his quirk!

PS Wishing A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY today, to my husband Anyjazz!

Speaking of Lions, as the poet was, husband happens to have Leo Moon and Leo rising to go with his Aries Sun - hot stuff!? I should keep in mind these lines from Mr Ciardi, I guess:
"The way to treat a Lion right
Is growl for growl and bite for bite."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


World Puppetry Day, comes every March 21.

The idea came from the puppet theater Artist Javad Zolfaghari from Iran. In 2000 at the XVIII Congress of the Union Internationale de la Marionnette, (UNIMA) in Magdeburg, he made the proposal for discussion. Two years later, at a meeting of the International Council of UNIMA in June 2002 in Atlanta, the date of the celebration was identified. The first celebration was in 2003.

Well then, all those media puppets whose strings are being pulled by corporations, banks, plutocrats et al, in this part of the world, should feel quite at home today.

What first came to mind when I noticed that it is World Puppetry Day ? This painting by Michael Cheval:

Clicking on the image should bring forth a slightly larger version.

There are other puppet-related paintings by this artist, including a different version of this one. I like this one because, looking closely, we see that even the puppeteers are subject to their own strings being pulled, from even higher up the "food chain".

Monday, March 20, 2017


“Spring has many American faces. There are cities where it will come and go in a day and counties where it hangs around and never quite gets there. Summer is drawn blinds in Louisiana, long winds in Wyoming, shade of elms and maples in New England.”
Archibald MacLeish

A few more thoughts, from far better writers than I will ever be, on the matter of springtime's hide and seek games:

In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.
Mark Twain

Spring is the time of year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade.
Charles Dickens

Winter lingered so long in the lap of Spring that it occasioned a great deal of talk.
Bill Nye

The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.
Henry Van Dyke

Lifeless in appearance, sluggish dazed spring approaches They enter the new world naked, cold, uncertain of all save that they enter.
William Carlos Williams

And...on Spring and the Vernal Equinox in general:

It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what.
John Galsworthy

Oh, what a catastrophe for man when he cut himself off from the rhythm of the year, from his unison with the sun and the earth. Oh, what a catastrophe, what a maiming of love when it was a personal, merely personal feeling, taken away from the rising and the setting of the sun, and cut off from the magic connection of the solstice and the equinox!
D. H. Lawrence

Easter occurs on different dates each year because, like the Jewish Passover, it is based upon the vernal equinox, that dramatic moment when the hours of the day-light and the hours of darkness at last draw parallel and then the light finally and triumphantly wins out. Thus Easter is always fixed as the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. It's a cosmic, solar, and lunar event as deeply rooted in religious traditions originating from sun-god worship as one could conceivably imagine.
Tom Harpur

I've always assumed that every time a child is born, the Divine reenters the world. Okay? That's the meaning of the Christmas story. And every time that child's purity is corrupted by society, that's the meaning of the Crucifixion story. Your man Jesus stands for that child, that pure spirit, and as its surrogate, he's being born and put to death again and again, over and over, every time we inhale and exhale, not just at the vernal equinox and on the 25th of December.
Tom Robbins

For Vernal Music Monday: George Harrison and "the other" Paul (Simon) with
Here Comes the Sun