Monday, October 31, 2011

Music Monday ~ Josh Krajcik of The X-Factor USA

We've slogged our way, groaning and complaining (mostly about Simon Cowell) through audition and bootcamp phases of The X Factor USA.

As I've written before on this blog, TV musical talent shows are my/our "guilty pleasures"; such shows are routinely put down as "fodder for the sheeple" by critics. But I love, and get a kick from the idea, that ordinary people of the 99%: car washers, burrito slingers, hairdressers, students, butchers, bakers and what-have-you, if they possess some musical talent, can achieve a few minutes, few weeks, months and maybe years in the limelight, able to do for an audience what most of them feel they were "born to do".

We always find at least one stand-out performer who appeals to us particularly. This time its Josh Krajcik, a 30 year old burrito slinger from Columbus Ohio. He lives with his girlfriend of 8 years, and has a 13-year old daughter. (Thanks to commenter Keena for the information). That's as much as I have so far found out about him. His birth date, unfortunately, isn't anywhere to be found on line. If looks are anything to go by I'd say he has either Taurus or Sagittarius prominent (Sun, Moon and/or ascendant). First time we heard his voice, in the earliest show, we both immediately said "Joe Cocker!!"

Josh is in the "Over 30" category. He will need to remain consistently outstanding to beat some of the youngsters who judges Simon Cowell and L A Reid appear to be pushing forward rather aggressively. I have confidence that, if any of the "Over 30" group can do it, Josh can. It doesn't matter whether he wins or not though - he'll not be slinging burritos again!

This video is from his first performance, when he sang At Last

Here at "bootcamp" at the home of the Over-30s group judge Nicole Scherzinger, with guest judge Enrico Iglesias. He sings The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Well....he curls MY toes!!! He'll perform again this week, on the first show on which the TV audience gets an opportunity to vote.

Anyone know his date of birth?

Finally, as it's Hallowe'en tonight, something to help create the atmosphere:

Video of Night on Bald Mountain from Disney's wonderful Fantasia...
..... all very Scorpio, in tune with astrological position of the Sun
on 31 October.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

OCCUPY OKLAHOMA CITY (no astrology today)

We spent a couple of days in Oklahoma City, 90 miles north of our hometown, this week. Timing, as it happened, was a bit off - or rather a lot off!

During Wednesday night, after we'd arrived, the temperature dropped around 20 degrees, it started to rain and storm - heavy constant rain - and it didn't stop until well into Thursday afternoon, even then starting again after a brief respite. It remained bitterly cold - unusually so for OKC in October.

I wanted to donate something to the Occupy Oklahoma City group and had, stashed in the closet, an unworn warm padded coat I'd brought from England and never had need of in south-western Oklahoma. I decided it would be useful for someone camping out or protest marching during the coming cold weather, if not in OKC, then it could be passed on to more Northern cousins; I felt certain there'd be some co-ordinating activity going on.

First problem on Thursday, early afternoon, was finding a place to park the car reasonably near to Kerr Park in the heart of the city, where the Occupiers are camped. We spied the encampment from the road, saw a guy with a tripod and camera heading that way, but no other warm bodies were to be seen. It took around 20 minutes to find a place to park, and another ten to walk back to the encampment. Fortunately we'd hit a space between heavy showers. The guy with the tripod had gone on his way by the time we arrived, and two young guys were boiling some water, they generously offered us coffee, which we declined having only recently drunk some. I handed the coat, covered in a big plastic bag, to one of the guys with an explanation. He was obviously unused to hearing English-type-English, for he looked completely blankly at me as though I were speaking Swahili. The other young guy stepped in, took the bag from me with profuse thanks and put it in one of the tents, which appeared to hold supplies.

We chatted for a short time about how wet and cold it had been during the night and all morning. They agreed it had not been fun. Nobody else showed up, other Occupiers were either inside the twenty or so tents, or had repaired to warmer, drier places. A young woman passed by and was asked "Are you joining us today?" She shook her head, "Not today, sorry!".

My husband took a few shots of the tents, and any signs not obliterated by the rain. Young guy number two posed in the opening of the supply/donation tent, raised his arm in the clenched fist salute, so I joined him. There was little time left on our parking meter so we had to rush off, and as we walked back it began to rain - again.

So, due to such awkward circumstances our visit wasn't a resounding success. It was very bad timing and bad luck that after months and months of heat and drought in the region, the one time we needed a bit of dry weather it decided to pour down with very cold rain!

A young journalist, Zac Smith, whose timing had been better than ours, visited Kerr Park earlier in the week. He posted a report online SEE HERE.
Snips ~~~
Occupy Oklahoma City, the largest Occupy Wall Street solidarity group in the state, has staged an around-the-clock occupation for the past 15 days in Kerr Park.

About 40 demonstrators are occupying Kerr Park on a continuous basis, sleeping in portable tents. Their numbers are supplemented to varying degrees during the day.
Since the commencement of the occupation, protesters have staged marches through the streets surrounding Kerr Park at least twice a day or more. Local media coverage of these activities has been shallow and police surveillance casual to nonexistent.

In the words of union organizer Nicholas Klein, “First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you.”

While the New York occupation currently exists somewhere between the second and third phases of this process, Occupy Oklahoma City is stuck firmly in the first.
Despite this, the mood among protesters is buoyant. Given Oklahoma’s enormous political conservatism, simply gathering to acknowledge there is a fundamental problem with the American economic and political system is a great stride forward...........Though conversation and debate at Kerr Park is generally congenial and relaxed, some protesters seem increasingly conscious of the existence of conflicting political philosophies within the movement.

Thus far, Occupy Wall Street has sought to be entirely inclusive, often treating fundamental political disagreements as superficial and irrelevant..............

“It’s actually beautiful that you can have two people from opposite ends of the spectrum agreeing on something, but we’re agreeing on what’s bad; we’re not necessarily agreeing on how to fix it.”

Friday, October 28, 2011

Arty Farty Friday ~ Two Artists, Two Eras, Two Nations - One focus

Spotlight, this week, on two artists from eras and nations far apart in time and location, but connected by their attempt, using their creativity and talents, to illustrate wrongs of their time, or to offer support to those would would try to improve matters.

Walter Crane from Britain 1845 - 1915
Norm Magnusson from the USA 1960 -

Walter Crane produced some of his most powerful work as stimulus to the emerging Labour movement in Britain. His gorgeous illustrative art (samples at Google Image) showed just one facet of Crane's talent. Art and politics blended in his life from the 1880s until he died. He was an activist in the fullest sense of the word. He put his considerable talents to work in support of the vision outlined by leftwing agitators such as William Morris, who happens to be another hero of mine; and H. M. Hyndman.
More at Working Class Movement library: HERE

"Bernard Shaw neatly summarised the man and his achievement in his own paradoxical way, in his tribute to Crane: '[He] was stamped as a harmless, kindly, beneficial, delightful artist. All his efforts to impress himself on the British mind as a revolutionary socialist at war with society were as vain as the attempts of his friends to make the public aware that he was a born master of design. Only when his figures were the materials and incidents of a decorative design did they become great.... He never knew his limitations because he could do as well as most people outside them and therefore he was never stopped by an incompetence which was only relative to his consummate mastery of ornamental design'. That points to the essential Crane. A revolutionary socialist - 'Crane had a demon of energy. Few other artists except Morris worked so incessantly, and this apparently without strain or ill health. This energy enabled him to translate his socialist sympathies into the works which he gave so freely to the cause'."

3 Examples:

Born 15 August 1845 in Liverpool, UK (12 noon chart shown as no time of birth available)

Briefly: The stellium (cluster of planets) in Aquarius (politically aware), with traditional Saturn adding emphasis, Neptune (creativity) and Mars (energy) opposite his Leo Sun is a good part of the story of his political activism.

There's also this Yod (Finger of Fate) configuration (2 planets in helpful sextile linked by two 150* aspects to the same planet at apex): here Uranus and Saturn, traditional and modern rulers of Aquarius are linked to Venus at apex of the Yod. astrologically this would be translated as the traits of the avant garde and the status quo are blended through art. That does fit, Crane uses very traditional images in his work to illustrate rather avant garde (for his time) concepts.

From our own time and, as it happens, living through another cycle of 99% against 1%, as was Walter Crane, is New York-based artist and political activist Norm Magnusson. In the photograph he's shown with some of his paintings at Spike Gallery.

In the early 1990s his paintings depicted animals, with allegorical significance as social commentary. Some of those can be seen via Google Image. Later he delved deeper into politics and the potential of political art to enlighten and persuade. His later work includes short video presentations, viral e-mails and, I think best of all, a series of roadside markers. These markers, The I-75 Project, are his current focus. One marker is placed (or will be) in each of the 50 rest areas up and down the length of Interstate 75 ( Michigan through Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia to Hialeah, Florida.)
The I-75 Project
by Norm Magnusson.
For the past few years, I've been creating what I call "art of social conscience:" tv spots, viral emails, paintings and posters, but none of it has engaged viewers as much as this series of "historical" markers, each one a small story containing a discrete point of view.

The types of people who stop to read them are collectively defined more by their curiosity about the world around them than they are by any shared ideological leanings, which makes them a perfect audience for a carefully crafted message. And unlike most artworks on social or political themes, these markers don’t merely speak to the small group of viewers that seek out such work in galleries and museums; instead, they gently insert themselves into the public realm.
"Are they real?" is a question viewers frequently ask, meaning "are they state-sponsored?" I love this confusion and hope to slip a message in while people are mulling it over.

These markers are just the kind of public art I really enjoy: gently assertive and non-confrontational, firmly thought-provoking and pretty to look at and just a little bit subversive.
More on the I-75 Project can be found here and
on YouTube

3 examples of his markers:

Exact detail of Norm Magnusson's birthplace is elusive. He originally came from (was born in?) Ohio, so I've used a speculative city, Columbus, Ohio in order to calculate a chart for 20 March 1960, his date of birth. This, set for 12 noon will give places of personal planets (apart from Moon) correctly.

Here, again, we have Mars in Aquarius, as in Walter Crane's chart - I see that as a clear marker for political activism of one kind or another.

Magnusson's Sun is at 00 Aries, known to astrologers as "The Aries Point" - thought to be a particularly strong degree of the sign. Aries is, in any case, known for intitative, strong, enthusiastic and impulsive traits.

Again, there's a Yod. This time linking Mercury and Saturn by sextile, with Uranus at the apex. Translated as communication and traditional features blending, to be used as a focus on newer, more rebellious attitudes....that fits.

Interesting, too that in both Walter Crane's chart and in Norm Magnusson's, a Yod has both Uranus and Saturn linked, one way or another, to either the closely personal planets Mercury or Venus (communication or art).

UPDATE (22 July 2012)

Norm Magnusson himself has very kindly given more accurate birth data via a comment (below). Here are two charts set for his actual birth place and for the two different possible times of birth he has given.

6:00AM and 6:00PM - - the difference is quite important here because at 6:00 AM Sun was still in the last degree of Pisces, but by 6:00 PM it had moved into the first degree of Aries.

Other key differences: The morning birth time if exact at 6:00 AM gives rising sign as 00 Aries (which is the same as the Sun's degree if birth time were 6:00 PM.)
If born at 6:00 PM rising sign would be the opposte of above = 00 Libra.

Only Mr Magnusson can decide which is more fitting, but if he has felt at all in tune with the Pisces horoscopes he's read, then the morning birth time seems most likely to be the accurate one, putting Sun in last degree of Pisces right on or close to the ascendant (a very strong position). Sun remained in late Pisces until around 9:00 AM too.

If born at 6:00 PM Mercury and Venus would still be in Pisces, which could account for any affinity to the sign; and Libra would have been rising - Libra is ruled by Venus planet of the arts.

Either way both Aries and Pisces are strongly featured. Moon would have been in Capricorn whichever birth time is correct, and this gives yet another thread of characteristics - including common sense, reliability, business sense, among others.
The Yod mentioned in my original posting remains intact either way, too, as do most other planetary positions.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

End Of.....Something?

In case a passing reader hasn't yet stumbled on the fact, not every researcher of the ancient Mayan culture agrees on the date 21 December 2012 as an end-of-calendar date of significance. A light Googling of the name Carl Calleman will bring up something of interest - or fascination.

I try to feature other Blogger blogspot-type bloggers when I can, and found Roadside Mystic has a couple or more posts covering Calleman's calculation: that tomorrow,
28 October 2011 is a far more significant date than 21 December 2012.

These posts at the above blog offer further information:
Mayan Time Ends in 7 Days

More from Carl Calleman on Mayan End Date 28 Oct.2011
I remain undecided about the whole enchilada. Important stumbling block for me is the question of a start-date from which any point on the Mayan, or any other ancient calendar, was calculated. In one of the linked posts Roadside Mystic does a good job of taking us back through time, stage by stage to the Mayan calendar starting point. I still need to know why or how they knew to use THAT date, because it is the key to everything - all the cycles, waves etc. etc.

It's all a source of fascination though, something to keep at the back of one's mind. Maybe the dates are not exact or anywhere near, but most of us would have to admit that round about now "something is happening - but we don't know what it is......"
It's best to stay as open-minded as our individual natal charts will allow.

(Image, above, is titled "Conjuring the Serpent". According to an ancient Maya seer, it is not prohibited to know the future it is just reserved to be revealed in small pieces to those that ask.
“The future was ordained to be by the gods. The people can know this future, it is not prohibited; it is just reserved to be revealed in small pieces to those that ask. For to reveal the future in its entirety all at once would surely put the fate of even the gods themselves in jeopardy”, so goes the sayings of Tizimin a Maya seer who looked into the future as described in the Katun 5 Ahau of the ancient Maya.
To understand the words of the gods, it is necessary to request the aid of someone with a direct link between the spirit kingdom of the gods and the physical world of men. For the ancient Maya such a link was the Vision Serpent.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

SCORPIO (and sign rulerships)

The Sun moved into Scorpio on 24th October, and will remain in the sign until 22 November (dates vary by a day, either way, year by year). Once again I'm quoting 20th century British astrologer Ingrid Lind, from her long out of print little book Astrology and Commonsense. Her take on the zodiac signs is so interesting. She makes it easy to understand how the traits for each sign have been arrived at, via the quality, element, sign ruler and whether the sign is negative/positive. It would be a pity for her words to be lost in the mists of time.


Quality: Fixed.
Element: Water.
Ruler: Mars.

It is small wonder that those with this sign strong are deep and unfathomable personalities with much to cope with in their own nature, for what could be more incompatible than the assortment of ingredients above? Fixity combined with water is hard to think of, and when we add the fiery ruler Mars, most active and masculine of planets, and call the result negative it is a puzzle, even to the astrologer with a clear picture of each separate ingredient, to envisage the whole.

The difficulty may diminish if we work backwards, from what are known as Scorpio traits to the warring components.

Intensity of feeling and emotion is a typical Scorpio trait. Emotion comes from the
Water element and gains added passion from Mars and tenacity from the quality of fixity. As to the negativity, this is true enough of the sign. Scorpio has none of the pioneering dash of Aries, the other Mars ruled sign, and we see that Scorpio force is indeed not the quick, decisive flash of Fire but the more terrifying weight of Water, a sweeping, inexorable tide. If Cancer was a gentle moonlit stream (the Water sign ruled by the Moon) Scorpio is the tidal wave or thundering weight of Niagara.

Martian passion and desire is never easy to control.In Aries, where all is simple, primitive masculinity, the sex force is quickly roused, expressed and forgotten. In Scorpio it is harnessed to emotion and fixity and runs deeper and with far more probability of complications and sorrow.

But if he can sink to the depths, the Scorpion can rise to corresponding heights of pleasure, ecstasy or spirituality. It is illuminating to find that the second symbol for this Sign is the Eagle.

Men and women with Scorpio strong are capable of making a powerful emotional impact on those around them. The very strength of their feelings makes them selfish, for they really appear to suffer more keenly than the average person and are only comforted by demonstrations of love or sympathy. They make wonderful lovers but are not the type to choose for a passing love affair. If an affair is to end it must be of THEIR choosing. They can be ruthless, the flood of their desire sweeping away all obstacles; and they can outlast anyone in feats of physical endurance. It is not that they are so strong, but their intensity combined with fixity of purpose makes them oblivious to everything but the aims of the moment.

The best type of Scorpio makes a most charming companion, for the enjoyment he feels is infectious. He enjoys life to the full from carnal pleasures to highest poetical or mystical adventures.

Unhappy Scorpio can be the most miserable and degenerate of men (I'll add "or women"). Dangerous too, for passion running riot with flood force is not readily controlled.

Scorpio Qualities
Staying power
High libido
Ability for poetical or satirical expression
Strong will and dignity
Ability for detection, research or secret-service

Scorpio Faults
Sarcasm and mental cruelty
Tendency to enslave others

For some of my own archived sribblings on Scorpio, simply click on Scorpio at the Label Cloud in the sidebar.

I'll just add, here, that Mars is Scorpio's traditional ruler. When Pluto was discovered in 1930 astrologers allocated it as modern ruler of Scorpio. I'm in two minds about the modern rulerships in general: Pluto/Scorpio, Uranus/Aquarius, Neptune/Pisces. I often wish astrologers had left things as they were before discovery of the outer planets. Traditionally the two "lights": Sun and Moon each ruled one Sign, while the other planets each ruled two, allocated in the order of speed of movement ~~ Sun ruler of Leo; Moon ruler of Cancer. Then: Mercury ruler of the signs on either side of these two: Gemini and Virgo. Venus ruler of the next pair: Taurus and Libra. Mars ruler of Aries and Scorpio. Jupiter ruler of Pisces and Sagittarius. Saturn ruler of Aquarius and Capricorn.

More and more I'm realising that Aquarius has more in common with Saturn, unless Uranus is tightly linked to personal planets. Uranian traits of rebellion, unexpectedness etc. can apply to any other zodiac sign equally, where Uranus is linked to personal planets. Same idea applies to Neptune, and Pluto. That's just my own view though - I guess astrologers with decades of experience knew best. There's a good piece on rulerships at Skyscript: The Philosophy of Sign Rulership ; and another on The Modern Planets and Traditional Astrology, at Ambrosia Academy of Astrology website - illustration is copied from there too.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Astrology Skeptics & Preaching to the Choir in General

I sometimes turn "chicken" and shrink from using "Twilight" hyper-linked to this blog, when leaving comments outside of the astro-community, or on sites of my known non-astro blog-buddies. Among those with no interest in, or indeed a definite hatred of, astrology, such an interest tends to mark one as something of a nitwit, or at best as being totally irrational. My comment as "Twilight" might automatically become suspect. In most cases, though, I do use "Twilight", in the hope that someone, somewhere will sometime follow the link to my blog and find something of interest.

Following those thoughts somehow led me to land on a Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science website, and a blog there, from January 2011, written by Darin Hayton. The title interested me: What Exactly is Accomplished by Asserting "Astrology is Rubbish?" It's a good piece, well worth reading in full.

The piece closes with this thought:
But maybe despite its guise of rationality and argumentation, the anti-astrology polemic isn’t intended to persuade an opponent any more than any other polemic. Maybe it’s merely a secular form of “preaching to the choir.”
"Preaching to the choir".....always the easiest thing to do, isn't it? In all kinds of "churches" - church of politics, church of beliefs, church of preferences. It'd be an improvement if we all felt more able to "preach to non-choir members" in every "church", and know that we'd not be ridiculed or denigrated. I'm trying to work on it!

A few snips from the article follow, containing what I see as particularly significant points:
All the standard pieces are here: no mechanism, the damning example of precession, the invocation and rejection of “birth signs” as meaningful, the new planets, and the dismissal of astrologers and their audience as uneducated, irrational, and, implicitly, mentally deficient..........

Whatever else might be the case, astronomers seem singularly unable to avoid denouncing astrology and equally incapable of persuading proponents of astrology to relinquish their conviction (or even to dissuade the astrology-curious). Maybe astronomers’ lack of success is related to the cavalier approach they adopt when attacking astrology. They certainly have not engaged with the body of knowledge they hope to refute. Instead, they attack caricatures and straw men. They argue from authority rather than logic. And they seem to ignore astrology’s technical details—such as anything approaching an understanding of positional astronomy—and ignorant of astrology’s history. To be fair, they have occasionally asked questions about possible mechanisms for astral influence, but then dismiss the very possibility of such a mechanism. No doubt they realize that their invectives do not constitute logically compelling arguments. So what then is the point of their denunciations? And whom are they trying to convince?............

And what really is at stake in this enduring battle between science and astrology? Are astronomers 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...............

The author of the piece does add a disclaimer:
*To be clear, this is not meant as a defense of astrology or astrologers but rather an analysis of the typical form as well as the common tropes found in the anti-astrology polemics. Nor is this an effort to assert once again that astrology was an important intellectual activity in the past that provided the motivation for much of the science that we would now call astronomy.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Music Monday ~~ Greatest Sax Voices in Jazz

Jazz was a closed book to me, until I met Himself (my husband). It's still a book open only at Chapter One. The jazz I enjoy most is the kind one might hear in a dark cellar bar, late at night, drink at hand - not too strident, not a cacophony of sound, but creative interpretation - making a familiar tune different, yet the same, exploring it and embellishing it.

Now and again Music Monday will feature a trio of jazz icons, instrument by instrument, with brief astro detail along with an occasional link to archived posts or other sources.

Kicking off with my own favourite instrument: the saxophone. Saxes come in 2 main sax "voices": tenor and alto (there are 3rd and 4th fourth, less common, types too: baritone and soprano).
If you like an instrument that sings, play the saxophone. At its best it’s like the human voice. – Stan Getz

Because we're considering jazz, and jazz is arguably the most inventive of all musical genres, astrologically I'd expect to see Neptune (creativity) and/or Uranus (invention, innovation) linked somehow to personal planets - Mercury (communication) and/or Venus (music), or natal Sun or Moon. I guess we should bear in mind that Neptune also connects to addictive tendencies - something that troubled many of the greatest jazz talents.

I have no birth times for these artists, so 12 noon charts are shown below, so the rising sign/degree will not be accurate; position of the Moon will not be exactly as shown.


Ben Webster (nickname: The Brute/Frog)
Born 27 March 1909 in Kansas City Missouri.
Sun Aries, Moon Gemini if born before 10pm, Cancer if later.

Note the very tight harmonious trine between Neptune (creativity - the soul of jazz) and Mercury(communication)- an important base aspect. Venus, the musical planet lies in Pisces, ruled by Neptune, not far from Mercury. Although Venus/Neptune are not in trine, because Pisces ruler, Neptune is involved, perhaps Venus could be considered an honorary inclusion.

Mutual reception= two planets placed in each other's ruling signs: here Mars lies in Capricorn, rulership of Saturn, Saturn lies in Aries, rulership of Mars. The two planets, aggressive Mars and serious Saturn combine forces in Webster's personality, and have relevance to his violent streak, and his nickname "Brute", more especially as Mars lies conjunct rebellious and unruly Uranus, in square (conflicting) aspect to Saturn.

Webster leaves a legacy as being known as one of 'Big Three' tenor players of the swing era along with Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young and is remembered as arguably the greatest of the Jazz saxophonists when it comes to playing a ballad. Ben Webster's sound has influenced future generations of saxophone players....

He was a large and occasionally violent man of unusual affections and bizarre impulses. He slept deeply, and had a curious habit of punching anyone who woke him, even his grandmother. In the 1950s, he lived in Los Angeles with his mother and grandmother, the two people in the world closest to him. Jim Hall, the guitarist, once described the routine of picking him up to go to a job. If Webster were asleep, his mother or grandmother would lean over him and say, "Ben, Mr. Hall is here and it's time to go to work." Then they would jump back about two feet to get out of the way. On the other hand, when the name of a dead musician he had loved came up (Tatum, say, or Fats Waller), Webster could be moved to tears. More at archived post:

Coleman Hawkins (nickname: The Hawk / The Bean)
Born 21 November 1904 in St.Joseph, Missouri.
Sun in Scorpio, Moon somewhere in Taurus.
Hawkins had Venus, the musical planet at 3* Capricorn, with Uranus, planet of innovation at 28 Sagittarius, forming what is known as an "out of sign conjunction", they are very close, but lie in different zodiac signs. It seems appropriate, then, that he should have been the musician(Venus) who brought a new(Uranus) element into the jazz scene, added to this, Saturn lies in one of its traditional rulersips- Aquarius, the innovative sign.

Although Adolphe Sax actually invented the saxophone, in the jazz world the title "Father of the Tenor Saxophone" became justly associated with Coleman Hawkins (1904 - 1969), not only an inventive jazz giant but also the founder of a whole dynasty of saxophone players. Before Hawkins, the saxophone (itself "born" in 1846) was mainly a favorite in marching bands and something of a novelty instrument in circus acts and vaudeville shows.

The liner notes for one of his albums begin:
"Coleman Hawkins? Man, he invented the tenor sax!" It is hard to disagree: Hawkins was the first man to solo on tenor, the first to record in the bop style, and the first to record unaccompanied on the instrument, with "Picasso" in 1948. More at archived post:

Lester Young (nickname: Pres/Prez)
Born 27 August 1909 in Woodville Mississippi. Sun Virgo, Moon somewhere in Capricorn. He had Mercury conjunct Jupiter in Virgo in trine to Neptune in Cancer, with Uranus in trine to the Mercury/Jupiter conjunction. Here we have Neptune, Mercury and Uranus linked - again.

(He)was a quirky and likable character who held an influential position in the evolution of jazz. With his tenor sax – usually held at an extremely odd angle, up in the air and horizontally splayed out to the side – he literally played the instrument like no one had ever done before and was irritatingly impossible to copy. He also dressed the part of an eccentric and distinguished himself by wearing long overcoats and a pork pie hat …

Part of Lester’s genius was an uncanny ability to achieve a tone that was as weightless as meringue – he almost alluded to the notes in a chord rather than simply playing them.

Young's sax playing is the horn equivalent to (Billie) Holiday's voice; melancholy, melodic, and understated. Prez could dance solos around Holiday as well as he could support her when she delivered her own musical soliloquy. They seemed to anticipate the others movements just before they happened.More at archived posts:


Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster: It Never Entered My Mind

Lester Young with Teddy Wilson on piano - All of Me

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Frodnonag on OWS & Sorely Needed Change

What follows is another part of Frodnonag's comment, posted with his permission. For the first part, spotlighting "The American Dream" see yesterday's post. Here the writer looks at the current state of affairs in the USA, and the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Comment was dated Oct 19 2011 - 9:22pm at

"I want to be as positive as possible, and I do wish the (Occupy Wall Street) movement success, but also know that Wall Street and the NYC authorities are counting on the weather to put a stop to the demonstration, and it probably will. The people now on the street will be able to find warm shelter when winter comes; most likely, every single one of them. When things get so bad economically that people are forced to live out in the cold, that is when people will stay out in the cold, and not before.

The big players of banks and of Wall Street, and the government authorities, are being indulgent with the protesters, for the most part, because that is the easist path for them to take, and costs them nothing. It is not a concession, nor charity, nor brotherly understanding, but just more self-interest.

Same with the chimera that we want to believe is the media finally starting seeing things the 99% way. Nope. Maybe a little. But it's shallow, not deep, and its sincerity is questionable.

The method being used on us as American citizens these days is insulting and degrading, but sadly, it is also pretty effective; it is not too different from the methods used to calm a child before bedtime. "Take your medicine, say your prayers, have your warm milk, and enjoy your bedtime story time...."

"Hush now, child, and listen.....close your eyes. Once upon a time, there was a very handsome and wealthy king. But he was also a very sad King......" And then comes "the nod": drifting off- (while wishing we could help that poor sad wealthy king, for some reason)- one more time, like every time, "We the People" slip off to that ephemeral and unclutchable "American Dream"-land one more time; and everyone feels sort of proud of themselves for no good reason, and basks in it, but the net result is that it's all just warm air: nothing worth doing really gets done for the 99%.

We are people who are sometimes trusting to a fault and other times paranoid of those who would benefit us all. We are a people, it seems to me, inclined to thank someone who stabs us with a 12" knife, and then claims salvage rights on our bodies and selves after pulling the blade out 6". If We the People were high school chicks, and the government was the football team guys, I have no doubt we would be called easy. (or much worse). Sad but true.

It's good to trust. Unforunately, being trusting has its drawbacks when untrustworthy people are around. And without a doubt, Americans have been trusting the wrong people for far too long.

So it seems to me that the strategy from the "powers that be" is one of humoring the protest, and convincing the the protesters that their positions are being taken somewhat seriously, all without any real, meaningful, actual concessions from the 1%.

We live in a bread and circuses society as surely as the ancient Romans did, and of course govenment calculates to a fine point the tolerance of the people, and generally judges it quite well, and controls it via the modern-day versions of tried-and-true bread and circus methods.

As long as Americans have television, gasoline, alcohol, access to guns and ammo, fast food, and professional and college sports, and texting, (not necessarily in that order ) there will be no revolution but a very slow one.

Maybe that is, in the long run, the best way, compared to a revolution of more brisance, such as the French or American or Russian revolutions, all of which were extremely violent.

Maybe slow evolution, with infinitesimal concessions and changes made so slowly they seem to be in geologic time, is best overall. Or maybe not. I don't know. The down side is that the famous "fierce urgency of now"- which someone spoke about some time or other - gets lost in such slow social changes.

It seems that the hard truth about this country is that "the fierce urgency of now" only applies to war-making, or assassination, or executing some poor convict, or facilitating emergency bailouts and automatic forgiveness of crimes, within a morally bankrupt "old boy" buddy system.

And in the U.S. anymore, more and more it seems that you are either in the In Crowd, or you are not. Migration from poverty to relative wealth becomes more difficult with each passing year as the classes become more rigidly stratified. This is something which we are accustomed to think of as very "anti-American", strangely enough, but it isn't a new phenomenon.It may seem "anti-American" - this stratification, that is. You could just as well say that it's as American as apple pie, and that would be just as true. However, my "feeling" about it is that it seems to be happening at an accelerating rate.

Evolution, not revolution, may be best, and probably is - I really can't say I know a thing about it, to be honest. But with snail-slow evolutionary change of economic or political systems, in the interim before effective changes that really help people are actually enacted, many, many people suffer or die - unnecessarily, it seems - because of long delays, caused only by politics and prejudice, in accomplishing any improvements towards more equitable distribution of resources among the people, or other beneficial social change.

So while the nation dithers and argues and fumes impotently and works against itself, more harm is done. A more ideal situation would be that things are changed "as needed", if not before, with the kind of fervor and dispatch the U.S. showed when on the march to war.

When things don't change, it is sometimes because they can't be changed. But the issues of the Wall Street protest movement are all issues that could be changed, and with alacrity, too, if the will to do so was present among the people who have the capability to make the changes - that is, people in high corporate, financial, and government perches.

The will to do so is almost entirely lacking - partly because there have been few, if any, consequences upon the 1% for their excesses, crimes, deceits, thefts, etc.; they have bought and bullied and worked hard to make themselves almost above the law, and those who might prosecute them are of the same level of social/financial class. And so, it is a "you scratch my back and I will scratch yours" situation, or an example of a kind of brotherhood, of intrafraternal love, and, My Dear 99%, this brotherhood is much stronger than any charitable feelings towards any of us out here in the land of the Great Unwashed. We who with our pennies here, and our taxes there, and our penalties here, and our interest payments there, have financed their very rise to wealth, are really not appreciated by them at all, except insofar as we continue to enrich them.

Because the wealth was built upon our backs - we the people who actually work and produce, I mean - it seems to me that without enough low-level backs to hold up the rich people's pyramid, it would start to crumble and collapse.

One key is to start to control our own consumer desires, because all corporations play us for suckers and know just how to make things that people will sell their first-born AND their beloved Grandma to possess.

We are a gadget-happy bunch of trade rats, and shiny things that blink are our undoing these days. As a people we have become a cyber-herd of remote-controlled minds, controlled by mass media input from outlets which are highly selective about their choices of information to give to us.

And of what is given to us, a large proportion is literally calculated to produce an effect, often an emotional effect, followed by action - usually spending, but not always - because when it comes down to it, Americans are not all that different from Pavlov's rats, and will salivate on cue, and so forth, and this has all been worked out quite extensively by the advertising industry as well as by government agencies, I think.

When I think of the Wall Street protest movement I can't help but think of the Bonus Army of World War 1 veterans, and how they were an even more peaceful and respectful bunch than we have in the New York gathering today.

But eventually, when they would not decamp, MacArthur and soldies were sent into the camps to clear them out by force if necessary, and that is when it got a bit rough. The result was refusal of the promised, legally obligatatory bonus the veterans were demanding (until some time later) and also expulsion by force.

Had there been more resistance there would have been more violence. The federal government is not in the habit of backing down to citizen protests - it takes a lot of pressure for a long time, and even then, citizen protests are not so effective if there is no real effect upon the people being protested against.

I know that things always need to change for the better, and that most if not all of us feel that changes are slower than they should be or need to be, and that it is mainly just stubbornness and greed and so forth that prevents effective change. I also know that when there is a national will to do something, Americans can get stuff done in a way my old friend Doreice calls "going at it like killin' snakes".
So the problem is maybe largely: 1. the lack of will among the rich combined with 2. the lack of real desperation, yet, among most of the 99%.

I mean, from my limited perspective, it seems that way. I realize it is much much bigger subject than any little essay I might write about it.

It may be we are still a long way from a critical mass of discontent. It would be nice to have good changes made because we all want to, rather than hang on like stubborn children until none of us has any choice left about changing because it becomes a life or death situation.

But knowing humans, I expect that is how it will go. We are not stupid, but fall for tricks very easily, and fall for the same flim-flams again and again, generation after generation.

I think the education system could do something about it, but it too is subject to the big national hypnosis and delusion within which the U.S.A. and so may of its people are lost.

Also, as a populace we have been kept from unifying by the divide and conquer effect from 9/11 and the wars, which have caused lots of internal strife that keeps us from effectively banding together as a people to confront the vastly outnumbered ones who we allow to oppress us by allowing them to manipulate our desires, and effectively hold us hostage because of our own individual wants and cravings and dependencies.

I know that good changes could be made more quickly, were there the national will to do so; and I believe that the problem to examine is right there.

That is, perhaps we need to seriously ask the question of what our national will is, why it is so fragmented and riven by internal conflict more than it really should be, why Americans seem to be either angry, half-asleep, in denial, or Pollyannas; what role the huge surge in psychiatric prescription drug use has had on the national will; and finally, the real long-term effect of 9/11, after the yee-haw go get 'em phase I mean - and the effect of the bogus official explanation of it, and of the evil wars it enabled, which have plagued us and the world since then."

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Insightful Views of Frodnonag on The American Dream

I often find myself in awe of the writing, perspicacity and insight of some commenters on the few news sites I frequent. The articles are usually good - and they ought to be, written as they are by professionals or academics. However, some comments can occasionally outshine the articles. Maybe these too are written by (retired or resting) journalists or academics, it's hard to say, being signed only by screen-name. Here's one such comment which impressed me - it's more of an essay really, written by one "Frodnonag". The very long comment is a two-parter, and appeared beneath the article linked below. I asked the commenter if he/she would allow me to use it on my blog...... He/she responded with:
Sure, glad to, it's a compliment.

Let me note that I'm not a historian- just a reader and observer of life in the U.S. for the past 60 years- and that everything I write is my opinion and that's all it is. Whether or not it carries any weight with facts or any other way is up to the reader, because I do not mean to say I have any real answers.
Part one interested me especially. I'm always keen to read views of "how we got here" by someone who has actually lived through a lot of the journey. This essay provides a personal view on the background of that mythical yet fascinating concept: "The American Dream". The second part of the comment/essay, relating to the Occupy Wall Street movement, and related issues, will follow, tomorrow:

COMMENT (Part 1)
Posted by Frodnonag
Oct 19 2011 - 10:43pm, at

Frodnonag commenting and expanding upon points arising from an article by Richard Gwyn: OWS ‘Angry Mob’ Suddenly Respectable

I see this American Dream in more than one way. On the coarsest level it is just a dream of an infinitely big pie divided up among into ever-enlarging slices for an ever-expanding number of never-satisfied individuals, a.k.a. consumers, or resource hogs. No one thinks that just because a pasture will support a cow it will automatically also support two or three or twenty cows, but here in the U.S. our "American Dream" tries to convince us of something very much like that. Clearly some of this originates from religious convictions during early settlement and the social meme of "manifest destiny" which I have always regarded as just a high-faluting and throughly dishonest variation on "I wants it... it's mine... I found it... nassty Hobbits want to take it from me. My Preciousss..." mentality of total entitlement and individualistic anti-social behavior over cooperative social behavior.

In fact, the frontier was first broached and settled by the outcasts, the weirdos, the rejects, the predators, the soldiers of fortune, and the slave masters, and less so by the saints and philosphers and educators- at first- since the demands of the New World made it mandatory that the early settlers have the ability to survive first of all, and if that worked out, as soon as possible there would be churches and then schools.

However, most early American pioneers must have had precious little time for the things most of us spend our days doing nowadays. Dawn to dark-thirty of hard work was the rule. And part of the American Dream, before it was even named, was the plan to work hard enough so that one day in the future one could sit back and watch other people work and rake in the wealth for you - that too is the American Dream: wealth through managing and/or exploiting unfairly the labor of others. It is a necessary system, I think, to have that; specialization, and division of labor and skills, that is - but has always been so prone to abuse by management/owners over workers.

Many years ago as a kid I had a recurring dream of some unknown but very real spot out in the West or western Midwest - for some reason I thought it was perhaps in Nebraska, for it was prairie/high plains/ big country without mountains, but not flat either, and someplace I had never been or seen, yet in these several dreams over the course of two or three yeares, I visited the place several times, and I always wondered if it existed.

Now I think that dream had something to do with the American Dream, which was a presence, almost palpable, to kids growing up in 1950's America, combined with a dream about the vanished, or vanishing, western frontier, the presence of which, especially throughout the first 300-400 years or so of North American settlement, up until the late 19th century, had a long and extremely profound psychological effect and is one of the main building blocks of anything we might call "American" about ourselves today.

The frontier, before the railroads in particular, and before telegraph and other forms of communication, was a place for seemingly infinite opportunities for fresh starts in life; or it was a refuge from the law or from enemies or from creditors, and until recent times remained in that role of refuge for many people, for all kinds of reasons.

As they used to say, a man could wear out four or five farms and still be young enough to go tear up a new piece of land and wear it out too. The sense of infinite and perennial resources they had then is understandable to anyone with an idea of the forest, fish, animal, and bird life on his continent - it was truly a cornucopia, and a land of plenty, in ways most of us today don't know. (Read Farley Mowat's "Sea of Slaughter" for a fascinating discussion of what happened to maritime resources early on due to European involvement in the New England and Maritimes and Banks regions - it's quite a shocking story, and a cautionary tale - or at least it should be.)

So the old belief in an ever available frontier with infinite resources of all kinds and always the chance for a second start, a new home, a move down the road - and the power of a man to make these decisions "for himself" - entirely, or at least mostly, on his own initiative.

It was capital - F Freedom to a much greater extent than was allowed in the Old Country.

That's the American Dream too, isn't it? Homesteading, or founding your own little Boonesborough even if it is just a shack on the edge of town with room for a couple of tomato plants - that's where it's at.

And for most Americans I think for a long time, hard work was the ticket to much success, although for many others, from the first days, it was not freedom but bondage, as the sturdy yeoman farmer, out of a George Caleb Bingham painting in my mind's eye, was relplaced by the mill hand and the sooty child picking slate from moving belts of coal and gazing at us in the future with holocaust eyes, as if to say, someone do something about this, for the love of God, please.

And yet, in many ways, we denied that plea and all the ones like it, and yet, the country did thrive and prosper, and grow like crazy, under robber baron management and slavery, for a long time, and because slavery and industrialization were both, on the whole, apparently creating societal improvements much more than societal harm, and were lucrative systems of exploiting various natural resources from furs to water power to timber to meat to minerals and so much more. Because of these factors, the harm being done to workers, to public health, and to the environment, were put under the rug, so to speak, as they still mostly are today, because they are a lot of trouble to deal with in a modern and enlightened scientific fashion. Therefore the state of denial is psychologically essential because a man has trouble when he knows that the thing he likes so much because it is good is also something which is slowly killing him, or his children, or his neighbors.

Better not to think about such things - and in the past, one could always move on down the valley or across the mountain, for the longest time.

The loss of that frontier changed the thing we like to call our American "character". As it was lost, we clung more and more to the mythical creations of the frontier, from the characters of Fenimore Cooper down to the ones of the TV westerns.

Now most westerns are supplanted by endless cop shows, most of them urban.
TV shows us how even in the past fifty to a hundred years we have become like more and more rats in a single cage. The Balkanization of the U.S.A.

In the city closest to me, due not to lack of space but the economic system, the poor people are crowded up and are shooting each other to death at a steady rate of several shootings per week, usually at least one daily, so as a war of attrition - of the people upon themselves - it may be worse than some of the stuff in the middle east, but "they gotsome crazy litle women there" so people keep on living there... that's the place I mean.

And I'm like "Dang, this is America? What th..?!?'" Like something Flaky Foont might come up with that he wants to go ask Mr. Natural about.

Goodnight. Obviously I am losing my mind once I mention Foont, that weirdo.... if I don't stop now I'll be telling a Fat Freddy's Cat story and that is to much to ask of such fine comments readers as yourselves.

Thank you, Frodnonag!

NOTE: For others, like me, who didn't recognise Flaky Foont or Mr. Natural or That Cat: the first two were cartoon characters of Robert Crumb; Fat Freddy's Cat was a creation of Gilbert Shelton.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Arty Farty Friday ~ Illustrators & The Golden Age

I'm a fan of illustrative art, especially that with roots in The Golden Age of Illustration (roughly 1880s to 1920s). Astrologically, that Golden Age coincided with a period of time when the outer planets were at points in their slow cycles strangely appropriate to what was going on here below.

Development of technology capable of good and economical colour reproduction launched illustrative art into the mainstream. In 1880 Uranus (technology and invention)was in Virgo, ruled by Mercury(planet of communication). Pluto and Neptune were both in Taurus ruled by Venus(planet of art and beauty). It could be said that the seeds of a relatively new industry fell upon fertile ground.

By 1900 Pluto (transformation) and Neptune(imagination) had moved on into Gemini, ruled by Mercury(communication). The generation born then brought us some exceptional communicators, in both art and writing. Uranus was now in Sagittarius ruled by Jupiter (expansion and publishing). The pieces fit.

By 1920 Uranus was traversing its own sign of Aquarius(change and all that's new) maintaining an atmosphere in which people craved novelty. The work of this new breed of artists was in demand. Colourful prints to hang in the home, book and magazine illustrations, illustrated postcards and commercial advertisements were becoming a part of everyday life, both in Europe and America.

In Europe artists such as Alphonse Mucha and Toulouse Lautrec had led the way. In the USA Howard Pyle is credited with ushering in the Golden Age. His many pupils, and others inspired by them, helped it flourish - Maxfield Parrish, Norman Rockwell, and J.C. Leyendecker, among the best known.

The digital age has now changed the scene for illustrators, almost beyond recognition. We may never again see the talent and skills of Rockwell, Parrish and Leyendecker - that is all the more reason to appreciate them.

From the hundreds of examples available I've chosen a few to represent artists from the USA, Britain and Denmark. From the USA, Norman Rockwell, J.C. Leyendecker and Maxfield Parrish. From Denmark Kay Nielsen. From Britain Walter Crane.

Starting with Britain and Walter Crane, because the first illustration is very relevant to the present - OWS an' all. (Walter deserves a post all to himself - maybe next week.)


Proletarians ~~ Proletarier Aller Lander Vereinigt Euch!
[Workers of the World Unite!]
by Walter Crane

Neptune's Horses


NORMAN ROCKWELL(More + astrology in an archived post here.)

The Golden Rule

MAXFIELD PARRISH (More + astrology at archived post, here.)



J.C. LEYENDECKER (More + astrology in archived post here.)