Monday, March 31, 2014

Songs in the Key of Yuck

I'm going to to whinge about a couple of pop songs featured on American Idol recently, songs with catchy choruses but questionable lyrics, one especially questionable when sung by a fresh-faced youth aged 17. That song was We Are Young made a hit in 2012 by the band Fun, written by band members, Nate Ruess, Jack Antonoff, Andrew Dost and Jeffrey Bhasker. By the way, Jack Antonoff, one of the co-writers, has a birthday today, 31 March.

Snip from lyric analysis at
“Give me a second, I need to get my story straight,” Fun singer Nate Ruess proclaims in the first line of “We Are Young.” It’s a line that basically summarizes the entire song—a disjointed, semi-coherent tale of an eventful night out with friends at the bar that scampers through its scattered verses to get to its drunk sing-along of the chorus. Musically, the song begins manically, with a drum pounding a pulse-racing beat as Ruess sets the scene—his friends in the bathroom “getting higher than the Empire State,” while his lover waits for him “just across the bar.” The beat picks up even more frenetically as Ruess sings about his lover’s scar, admitting that “I know I gave it to you months ago / I know you’re trying to forget.”

The first verse isn’t even over, and we already have lies, drinking, drugging and domestic abuse—heady stuff for any song, and Ruess races through the verse as if he’s hoping you won’t actually pick up on the words he’s saying. It’s not a bad strategy, since you could hear the song 100 times before picking up on exactly what Ruess is talking about, largely because you’re just waiting for him to get to the chorus. Indeed, the chorus of “We Are Young” is so momentous that the song winds down at the end of the first verse, the drums disappearing, the piano slowing, and the singing getting more dramatic for that fantastic pre-chorus: “So if by the time the bar closes / And you feel like falling down / I’ll carry you home…” Suddenly, all the chaos of the first verse vanishes in favor of straightforward romance, as everyone gears up for the big sing-along.

We Are Young at Youtube with lyrics.

Each older generation complains about the music of the generation(s) who come after. Didn't parents of the early rock and rollers call rock and roll "devil's music"?
Let's see how it lives up to that:
Shake Rattle & Roll:
Now get out in that kitchen and rattle those pots and pans
Now get out in that kitchen and rattle those pots and pans
Roll my breakfast cause I'm a hungry man...........

Yeah - a bit of bossy man-stuff goin' on there I guess, but hardly abusive. The proper response could be "Get out there an' rattle 'em yourself mate!"

Or how about this one - an earlier, and much less dark version of the ideas contained in We Are Young:
Rip it up

Well, it's Saturday night and I just got paid,
Fool about my money, don't try to save,
My heart says go go, have a time,
Saturday night and I'm feelin' fine,
I'm gonna rock it up, I'm gonna rip it up,
I'm gonna shake it up, gonna ball it up,
I'm gonna rock it up, and ball tonight.
Got me a date and I won't be late,
Picked her up in my 88..........

Good and (fairly) clean fun without harming anyone.

Pumped Up Kicks (2011) source of my second complaint, is a song about a bully about to shoot school kids. Both this and We Are Young have catchy choruses, that's what made both songs such huge hits. It could be that the lyrics weren't heard properly nor fully understood by eager audiences...or maybe they were but audiences simply didn't care?

Pumped Up Kicks at YouTube with lyrics

From an article by Steve Johnson in the Chicago Tribune
Dark meaning of bubble-gum Pumped Up Kicks is tough to chew

It is a perky pop ditty with just enough low-fi murkiness to make it hip. And its bright carousel of a chorus gets in your head and spins merrily around.

"Pumped Up Kicks" is also a song about a kid preparing to shoot his classmates at school.

"All the other kids with the pumped up kicks," says the chorus, "you'd better run, better run, outrun my gun … You'd bettter run, better run, faster than my bullet.

Maybe we're desensitized by the almost absurdly violent first-person-shooter video games so many kids spend their afternoons playing. Maybe naming the song after fancy sneakers instead of the weaponry creates enough emotional distance.

Or maybe we figure — as I initially did — that it's just pop music, and its ear-candy qualities trump whatever the point of view might be.

But after looking closely at the song's lyrics and listening to it many extra times, I have come to agree that this song is more deserving of a push away than the warm embrace it has mostly received.

There have always been popular songs with less than salubrious lyrics, some bad or naughty enough to have been banned from public broadcast. Look at the long list of songs HERE Auntie Beeb (BBC) wouldn't countenance; and HERE from elsewhere - all songs banned at one time or another. It's hard to see why in most cases. These two songs weren't banned though. Ooooh no! That'd be messing with our freedoms wouldn't it? It would, but it would also be attempting to inject some good taste into the world of pop music, and in the process giving thought to those who have been sexually or physically abused, or grieving parents who have lost their child as a result of a school shooting incident.

Pop music has never been known for its good taste, but I'd expect the producers of American Idol to have some say, and some show of compassion to audiences, about what a 17-year old sings on their show. The judges did comment on the matter of both songs' dark lyrics, but in my opinion it shouldn't have been left to the judges' comments - these songs ought never to have been featured on the show.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Lost Plane.....still

Three weeks+ on and still no certain news about the disappearance of flight MH370, other than it has, indeed, disappeared. There are "pings" and expert analyses of same, and sightings of debris in several different areas of sea and ocean. Most, if not all such debris would have no connection to the lost plane, only to our profligate carelessness. So, we're left with "pings" which, we are told, direct the search southward rather than northward, apt quotes about not finding the needle until we've located the haystack, and multiple theories, varying from plausible to absolute silliness, as to the how, the why and the where.

A comment by "Ornis" on the PPRuNe forum yesterday appealed to me:
Facts. We have science and technology because Man didn't wait for facts. He guessed and he imagined and he tried and he demonstrated.

It's perfectly obvious that the chances this was not a carefully planned act of vengeance is somewhat less than my winning Lotto. Of course someone does win Lotto, so it's not impossible it was the wrong kind of fire at the wrong place at the wrong time.

The fact is, the Universe is based on probabilities, and so is our knowledge of it; how we make sense of it.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Running with Logan

We watched a DVD of the 1976 movie Logan's Run a few nights ago. I doubt that I'd ever watched the film from beginning to end before, only the earliest scenes rang a memory bell for me; husband felt much the same. Half an hour in I was all for ditching the DVD and watching some, probably equally bad, programme on TV. After pouring drinks we decided to soldier on, most things feel better with a drink in hand!

38 years ago science fiction wasn't what it is today, in film anyway; in novel format it has always been good. H.G.Wells knew how to do it well as long ago as the 19th century. Technical restraints, a certain naivety of vision in the '70s led to campiness personified, coming across in 21st century as simply comical. I was never a Star Trek fan for that very reason. I hopped on the sci-fi movie bandwagon at Stargate (the original film); a little campiness did persist there, but I decided the theme was capable of overcoming it.

Since watching Logan's Run I've wondered why the movie, based on a novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson, hasn't fallen prey to the re-makers consortium. They love to do-over movies that really don't need doing over, whereas this one could really use some 21st century technology and insight.

Nutshell synopsis of Logan's Run, the film. Set in a USA of the far future (we discover), is a domed city where a version of utopia reins, apparently lorded over by a female-voiced computer. Inhabitants live what was once known as "the life of Riley" : no work, no worries, all pleasure - and pleasures of all kinds. The only snag: inhabitants' lives are strictly timed and come to an enforced end after 30 years, an end heavily disguised as "renewal", naively accepted by most inmates. A few, more enlightened, inhabitants, when nearing their 30th year, would try to escape their fate by becoming "runners". They attempted escape hoping to find a legendary place outside known as "Sanctuary", only to be pursued and killed by specially trained and armed police known as "sandmen".

Logan is a sandman who eventually becomes a runner, running with a female companion who has cottoned on to the "renewal" facade. Lots of "exciting" problems and revelations occur as they run, including a discovery of what actually happens to their colleagues after "renewal" (TV dinner anyone?) Eventually the pair emerge into a world they didn't know had existed outside the dome. They meet an eccentric old man (old being an unknown concept to them). He lives with numerous triple-named cats in the ruins of none other than the Senate floor, Washington DC. This is a revelation akin to that superb scene in Planet of the Apes when Charlton Heston finds remains of the Statue of Liberty half buried on a beach. In Logan's Run, though, nobody declares "You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!" Nobody in this scenario understands, including the old man.

From what I've read online the film used only part of the novel's exact theme, which probably accounts for the fact that so much was left unexplained in the 1976 movie. I understand that there was a later TV series which expanded on the film somewhat, but the series wasn't well-received. Coincidentally, too, we watched a DVD of The Island this week and one or two scenes in that could have been lifted straight from Logan's Run, especially the last scene of all.

A good film version of the novel's complete theme might go down well now, especially with some subtle and not so subtle messages highlighted. Over-population leading to desecration of environment ought to be front and centre. Rather than culling the population at age 21 (book) or age 30 (film), a reduction of population growth at source, as is the case in China now, seems to me to be a more humane and sensible approach. Who'd want to live in a world where nobody gets to live out the lessons they'd learned in youth?

Back to a possible re-make. I discovered that ideas for such a do-over have been in the air for at least a decade, but have stumbled at various points for a variety of reasons. It appears now that the re-make is once again in the works, this time with screenplay to be written by video game developer Ken Levine. That, to my mind, doesn't bode well - but I'd better not pre-judge.

What would be a better plan than a straight re-make, I think, would be to encapsulate a distilled and vastly improved version of the 1976 film within a brief outline of how the domed city came about (if the idea of a domed city is to be retained - it's not in the novel), explaining who is, or was originally, in charge of it all. Then later in the film exploring more of the world outside the dome, or outside the immediate environment of the old film; in other words including a prequel and wide-ranging sequel to the content of original movie.

Michael York and Jenny Agutter played the leads in the 1976 film, with the lovely Peter Ustinov as the old man. Performances were more than a tad wooden from the leads, quite unconvincing - and how come the British accents in what turned out to be the environs of Washington DC?
Peter Ustinov could do no wrong, he brought a blast of fresh air into the stale proceedings!

The only name I've seen attached to any re-make, in the leading role, is Ryan Gosling, that from a couple of years ago, but he backed out. Who'd be appropriate as male lead from the current crop of young male actors? Joseph Gordon-Levitt? He could be a bit too old by the time they get around to it though. Shia LaBeouf perhaps? There are lots of young females appropriate to co-star, names escape me. For the Ustinov part? Lots of choice: Sam Elliott, David Strathairn, Jack Nicholson, Tommy Lee Jones, Jeff Bridges....and more.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Arty Farty Friday ~ Alex Grey's spiritual, visionary and psychedelic art.

Alex Grey is an American artist whose speciality is described as spiritual, visionary or psychedelic art. He was born November 29, 1953 in Columbus, Ohio. His work includes performance art, installation art, sculpture and painting. Grey is a Vajrayana practitioner (complex and multifaceted system of Buddhist thought and practice). He and his wife Allyson Grey are the co-founders of the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, a non-profit church supporting Visionary Culture in Wappingers Falls, New York.

Grey’s paintings can be described as a blend of sacred, visionary art and postmodern art. He is best known for his paintings of glowing anatomical human bodies, images that “x-ray” the multiple layers of reality. His art is a complex integration of body, mind, and spirit. The Sacred Mirrors, a life-sized series of 21 paintings, took 10 years to complete, and examines in detail the physical and metaphysical anatomy of the individual. “The inner body is meticulously rendered – not just anatomically precise but crystalline in its clarity”. Many of his paintings include detailed representations of the skeleton, nervous system, cardiovascular system, and lymphatic system. Grey applies this multidimensional perspective to paint the universal human experience. His figures are shown in positions such as praying, meditating, kissing, copulating, pregnancy, birth and death. His work incorporates many religious symbols, including auras, chakras, and icons with geometric shapes and tessellations in natural, industrial, and multicultural situations. Grey’s paintings are permeated with an intense and subtle light that is rare in art history. “It is the light that is sublime in Grey’s oeuvre – which is the most important innovation in religious light since the Baroque – and that makes the mundane beings in them seem sublime, in every realistic detail of their exquisite being.

Grey's father, a graphic designer, first taught Alex to draw. He later attended Columbus College of Art and Design for two years, dropped out, painted billboards for a year, then attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In his childhood he would collect insects and dead animals and bury them in the back yard. Death and the spirit are constant themes in his art. He spent five years at Harvard Medical School, working in the Anatomy department, studying the human body, preparing dead bodies, for dissection; from this experience he gathered detailed understanding of the inner human body. Also influential upon Alex Grey's style were his experiences with LSD.

There's a report of Jonathan Talat Phillips' interview with Alex Grey at Reality Sandwich website HERE
First question:

When did you start making visionary art?

Alex Grey: My art has always been in response to visions. Rather than confine my subject to representations of the outer worlds, I include portrayals of the multi-dimensional imaginal realms that pull us toward consciousness evolution. That is the nature of all sacred art. The arts are the perfect medium for transmissions from inner domains. My entheogenic visionary experiences felt universal so I looked for a way of portraying these directly. My X-ray figures reinforce a sense of human unity and the mystical experiences they undergo hold a sacred mirror to the psyche.
The best place to see Alex Grey's artwork in good resolution, large format is at his own website HERE. I'll include just a few images, as examples.


 "Wonder - Zena Gazing at the Moon"  1996

Natal chart using data from Astrodatabank - a birth time said to have been provided by the artist, but without detail of whether am or pm - caution is advised. I'll use the am version here. The chart for 9.45pm would give Leo rising (10*) Moon in Virgo (26*).

In the chart of an artist specialising in spiritual, visionary, and/or physically exact content I'd expect to see prominent Sagittarius - that box is ticked: Sun in Sagittarius. While the spiritual/visionary side wouldn't call for Virgo, artwork depicting detailed inner workings of the human body would, I think - another box ticked: Moon in Virgo, whether birth time were am or pm.

Additionally, Venus and Mercury conjoined in Scorpio are in harmonious Watery trine to Uranus in Cancer, an easy blend of the arts/communication with new ideas, somewhat eccentric-seeming to some viewers, though more easily accessible to others.
Also Jupiter in Gemini in Airy trine to Neptune in Libra echoes a similar blend of communication/publication and creative vision.

Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Rising Tide Lifts all Clichés

Well-worn phrases known as clichés are abhorred by the literary elite (and my husband). The word cliché came from the French language. In printing, a cliché was a printing plate cast from movable type, also called a stereotype. When letters were set one at a time, it made sense to cast a phrase used repeatedly, as a single slug of metal. "Cliché" came to mean such a ready-made phrase. Many authorities say that the French word "cliché" comes from the sound made when the molten stereotyping metal is poured onto the matrix to make a printing plate, including the statement that it is a variant of cliquer, "to click", though some authorities express doubt. (Wikipedia)

My own view on clichés is similar to that of British author Evelyn Waugh: "I think to be oversensitive about clichés is like being oversensitive about table manners". Occasional use of the wrong spoon or fork, or an accidental slurp of the soup can be forgiven, the offender might even be baiting the table manners police or cliché police!

Altitude is determined by attitude, I've no axe to grind, so I'll get off on the right foot, try to make an astrological killing, cliché-wise. Our zodiac signs are ripe for the picking. Let's get to it... hot to trot? Alrighty then!

Aries~ gunning for a fight - quick off the mark - eat my dust - skating on thin ice - when the going gets tough the tough get going - don't jump to conclusions

Taurus~ you can never be too rich, too blonde or too thin - what's cookin' good lookin'? - it's not over 'til the fat lady sings - strong as an ox

Gemini~ shootin' the breeze - put your money where your mouth is - talk the hind leg off a donkey - the writing's on the wall

Cancer~ the hand that rocks the cradle - home is where the heart is -
mi casa, su casa.

Leo~ the world's a stage - the show must go on - all dressed up and nowhere to go - glowing like a good deed in a naughty world - too many chiefs and not enough Indians

Virgo~ pure as the driven snow - leaving no stone unturned - mind your p's and q's - getting your ducks in a row

Libra~ smooth operator - give a little, take a little - on equal footing - but on the other hand

Scorpio~ scream bloody murder - no guts no glory - glass half-empty - keep your eyes peeled for trouble - always darkest before the storm

Sagittarius ~ the more the merrier - bitten off more than he can chew - hit the road - glass half-full

Capricorn~ lay down the law - time to pay the piper - oldie but goodie - a penny saved is a penny earned

Aquarius~ free as a bird - comparing apples to oranges - get down to the nitty-gritty - out where the buses don't run - born before his time

Pisces~ miracles will never cease! - out of the blue - there's something fishy about that - third time's a charm - he's sleeping it off.

Now, let me be clear about this - I know it was a half-baked idea, but it's right up my alley and I felt like rolling with the flow.

And, by the by - don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.....

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mr Google, Mr Blogger....

We should wish our host, Larry Page, god of Google, overlord of all Blogger blogs, a happy birthday. He was born 26 March 1973.

Pyra Labs originally created the Blogger service in 1999. It was acquired by Google in 2003. Pyra was co-founded by Evan Williams( born March 31, 1972, also Aries Sun like Page) and Meg Hourihan (d.o.b. unknown).

Let's have a gander at Mr. Page's natal chart, it'll be set for 12 noon as no time of birth is available:

Without time of birth Moon's position can't be plotted exactly. If Page were born before around 7.00am Moon would have been in Sagittarius, any time after that, in early Capricorn. Capricorn fits his obvious business sense -
Wiki: As of 2014, Page's personal wealth is estimated to be US$32.3 billion, ranking him #17 on the Forbes list of billionaires.
Sagittarius Moon would reflect Google's world-wide application as well as Page's wider ranging interests beyond Google (Tesla Motors, hybrid vehicles,alternative energy investment, philanthropic ventures, etc.)

Ascendant can't be calculated without birth-time.

Sun and Venus in Aries, sign of the enthusiastic initiator is very appropriate, especially with Jupiter at 6 Aquarius sextile Sun/Venus, adding Aquarian innovation and Jupitarian expansive reach to the mix.

One would confidently expect to see some prominent reflection relating to information communication in this chart. Yes, it's here! Saturn in Gemini in harmonious trine to Uranus in Libra, an Airy harmony producing a nice blend of career-based mentally oriented communication and innovation. Saturn in Gemini also opposes Neptune in Sagittarius: possibly balancing any flighty or too-fanciful notions with a cool Saturnian business-oriented eye? That is also echoed in Mercury the communications planet in Neptune-ruled Pisces, squared by Saturn in Gemini (sign ruled by Mercury).

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lady Day, Hilaria, SCOTUS .....and stuff

Today, March 25th is Lady Day. The name is a reminder that March 25th was honored as the date and festival of The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary - the date of conception of Jesus Christ, 9 months from the supposed date of His birth, 25 December. It's now widely accepted that 25 December was not Christ's birthday, so Christian festival dates are treated as symbolic.

25 March in ancient Rome also had connection to things female, a celebration called Hilaria. As a general term, Hilaria covered several types of anniversary or joyous personal occasions. There was also a more general Hilaria celebrated on 25 March "the eighth day before the Kalends of April, in honor of Cybele, the mother of the gods. The day of its celebration was the first after the vernal equinox, or the first day of the year which was longer than the night. The winter with its gloom had died, and the first day of a better season was spent in rejoicings."

Coincidentally, this year, 25 March is the date when the Supreme Court of the United States will be hearing argument on a case relating to female matters: (see here)
Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, two highly anticipated cases that deal with the Affordable Care Act, religious freedom and women's access to contraception. The case won't be decided Tuesday, but we could get a clear indication of which way the justices are leaning.
My own thoughts on the Hobby Lobby case are in a 2012 post, HERE.

Back to Lady Day...
Lady Day was adopted in Britain and Ireland as one of four Quarter Days. These were days when servants were hired, and rents and rates were due. They fell on four religious festivals roughly three months apart and close to the two solstices and two equinoxes.
Lady Day (25 March); Midsummer Day (24 June); Michaelmas (29 September); Christmas (25 December). In the UK, the tax year still begins around Lady Day (actually 6 April to 5 April) a relic of the traditional Quarter Days.

Lady Day, 25 March, was also New Year's Day in England until 1752 when a crossover from the Julian to Gregorian calendar took place, moving New Year's Day to first of January. When I worked with a County Archivist long ago, I had to carefully remember, when dealing with documents from before 1752, which were dated January, February or March(up to 25), to catalogue them as, for example, 16 March 1714/5.

(See here - for further detail on the history of calendars).
"Calendar is a word that comes from Latin calendarium, or account book, and is derived from calendae or the calends, the first day of all of the old Roman months. This was the day on which accounts were due and on which the priests of Rome called the people together to proclaim (calare) that the new moon had been sighted.

Calendars generally have been based on some combination of celestial observation and observance of the pattern of human activities and rituals. Despite all of the astronomical dilemmas (lunar, solar, seasonal, etc.), we have arrived at our present Gregorian calendar because of the astronomical and political skills of many generations."
Also, it has to be said that religion has always played a major part in defining calendars throughout the world.

Sidelight: "Lady Day" was also the nickname of legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday, who, though not born on this day, was born with Sun in Aries (7 April 1915.....chart and biography at Astrodatabank's Wiki, here. )

Monday, March 24, 2014

Music Monday's Escapees

Today would have been the birthday of Steve McQueen (24 March 1930). I loved all of his movies. I'd never looked at his natal chart before, now I see why he appealed to me (at least in the roles he played): Sun in Aries, Moon in Aquarius - reverse of my own!
See his natal chart at

If I had to choose a favourite film of Steve McQueen's, it'd be The Great Escape. It had had a memorable theme tune.

Watching that short video, I wondered whether I could fit those "jobs" of the would-be escapees to zodiac reason, idly wondering. So...

Steve McQueen-Capt.Virgil Hilts, the "Cooler King"......ARIES
James Garner-Flt.Lt.Robert Hendley, the "Scrounger"....GEMINI
Richard Attenborough- Sqn.Ldr.Roger Bartlett, "Big X".......LEO
Charles Bronson-Flt.Lt.Danny Velinski, "Tunnel King"....SCORPIO
Donald Pleasence-Flt.Lt.Colin Blythe, the "Forger"........PISCES
James Coburn-Fg.Off.Louis Sedgwick the "Manufacturer"....CAPRICORN
David McCallum-Lt.Cmdr.Eric Ashley-Pitt,"Dispersal".....SAGITTARIUS
Gordon Jackson-Flt.Lt.MacDonald,"Intelligence".........AQUARIUS
Angus Lennie-Fg.Off.Archibald Ives, the "Mole".....?
Nigel Stock-Flt.Lt.Dennis Cavendish, the "Surveyor"....VIRGO

How's that?

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Among the many thousands of comments I read this week relating to lost Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777, Flight MH370, I came across one observing that events and explanations thereof were starting to remind him (and any readers "of a certain age") of the old phrase
"Send Three and Fourpence. We’re Going to a Dance."
Being of a "certain age", I searched memory for this phrase without success, then used the Google.

Quote Investigator helped. Several explanations, based on the Chinese Whispers phenomenon (aka "Telephone" in the USA) date from both World Wars and beyond.

Example of an initial military order and how it became mangled:
Send reinforcements. We are going to advance.
Became, the story goes:
Send three and fourpence. We are going to a dance.

During the week I rented a 4-disc DVD set of an old, and doomed, TV series, Caprica. It was cancelled very early on due to bad ratings, and was meant as a prequel to the better-known Battlestar Galactica series of which we were vaguely familiar. Caprica tells how humanity first created robotic Cylons who would later, in the Battlestar Galactica series, plot to destroy humans in retaliation for their enslavement.

Caprica was the name of a planet home of humans, one of a colony of 12 planets in the outer solar system. Half way through the pilot episode I suddenly realised, having heard mention of Tauron, another planet of the 12 colonies, that there must be some relationship to the zodiac: Capricorn, Taurus. I was further amused to hear a character from Tauron stating, "We Taurons are nothing if not stubborn!" Writers consult astrology text books then!

Having looked into this further at Wikipedia, I found that, indeed:
The names of the tribes and the planets they lived on were borrowed from the Zodiac:
Caprica - capital, pseudo-United States

Tauron - one of the wealthy colonies, and a troublesome member of the federal government. Caprica's great rival, Tauron is described as a repressive pseudo-Soviet Union to Caprica's United States.

Sagittaron - exploited, oppressed colony that is discriminated against

Gemenon - religiously fundamentalist

Aerilon - poor agrarian breadbasket world

The Caprica prequel series set the goal of trying to round out and further develop the culture of all Twelve Colonies.

In Battlestar Galactica: The Plan establishes that Leonis has plains, Scorpia has jungles, Virgon is forested, Libran is dedicated to the Colonial judiciary, Tauron has pastures, both Picon and Aquaria are largely covered in water, and Canceron is known for its beaches. No mention is given of Sagittaron, with the television version mentioning temples on Gemenon, reinforcing the strong religious fabric on the planet.

Husband found this vintage snapshot among some he had purchased recently. His research turned up information about a government and society in the USA that, he observed - and I agree - seems, well ... is impossible today, more's the pity!

From Wikipedia
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families, ages 18–25 as part of Roosevelt's New Deal. Robert Fechner was the head of the agency. It was a major part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal that provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments. The CCC was designed to provide jobs for young men, to relieve families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression in the United States while at the same time implementing a general natural resource conservation program in every state and territory. Maximum enrollment at any one time was 300,000; in nine years 3 million young men participated in the CCC, which provided them with shelter, clothing, and food, together with a small wage of $30 a month ($25 of which had to be sent home to their families).

The American public made the CCC the most popular of all the New Deal programs. Principal benefits of an individual's enrollment in the CCC included improved physical condition, heightened morale, and increased employability. Implicitly, the CCC also led to a greater public awareness and appreciation of the outdoors and the nation's natural resources; and the continued need for a carefully planned, comprehensive national program for the protection and development of natural resources.

During the time of the CCC, volunteers planted nearly 3 billion trees to help reforest America, constructed more than 800 parks nationwide and upgraded most state parks, updated forest fire fighting methods, and built a network of service buildings and public roadways in remote areas.

The CCC operated separate programs for veterans and Native Americans and African Americans. Though camps were separate, the accommodations and pay were equal.

Responding to favorable public opinion to alleviate unemployment, Congress approved the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935, on 8 April 1935, which included continued funding for the CCC program through 31 March 1937. The age limit was also expanded to 18-28 to include more men. From 1 April 1935 to 31 March 1936 was the period of greatest activity and work accomplished by the CCC program. Enrollment had peaked at 505,782 in about 2,900 camps by 31 August 1935, followed by a reduction to 350,000 enrollees in 2,019 camps by 30 June 1936. During this period the public response to the CCC program was overwhelmingly popular. A Gallup poll of 18 April 1936 asked "Are you in favor of the CCC camps?"; 82% of respondents said yes, including 92% of Democrats and 67% of Republicans.

Despite its popular support, the CCC was never a permanent agency. It depended on emergency and temporary Congressional legislation for its existence. By 1942, with World War II and the draft in operation, need for work relief declined and Congress voted to close the program.

The following snip indicates exactly where Camp NP7C, signed in the photograph, was located: Excerpt from “The Archeology of the Civilian Conservation Corps in Rocky Mountain National Park” by William B. Butler, Park Archeologist.:
Five camps were built in the park, along with one outside the park that also did some work in the park. The camps on the east side of the park were NP-1-C in Little Horseshoe Park, and camps NP-4-C and NP-11-C that were located beside each other along Mill Creek in Hollowell Park. Camps across the Continental Divide to the west were NP-3-C and NP-7-C in the same area on Beaver Creek in the Kawuneeche Valley. Camp NP-12-C was also constructed on the west side, but south of the park and the Town of Grand Lake.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Arty Farty Friday ~ Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema welcomes Spring

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema: he wasn't born at Spring Equinox, but he did seem to enjoy painting in springtime mode. To welcome our 2014 spring, a few of his paintings, then a look at his natal chart.

Flora: Spring in the Gardens of the Villa Borghese

 Promise of Spring

 Return of the Flowers

 The Year's at the Spring. All's Right with the World


 Detail from Spring (above)

 Spring Flowers

Lawrence Alma-Tadema was born in the Netherlands on 8 January 1836, but spent much of his adult life in Britain, became a naturalised British subject in 1873. He was knighted in 1899.

A glance through images of dozens of his works at Google Image will indicate that his favourite subject was the female of the species. He painted women nude, barely covered or beautifully clothed in draperies and gowns of the distant past, most are languidly posed against classical backdrops of white marble, often making stark contrast with the blue Mediterranean behind. He was on the same artistic wavelength as the major Pre-Raphaelites. His style was influenced greatly by what he'd seen during a visit to Italy in 1863; there a fascination with Greek and Roman antiquity and Egyptian archaeology was awakened. He'd mix this fascination with a sense of escapism and romance. For some years his paintings captivated the 19th century public. Wealth and fame followed, but soon styles and tastes were to change. His work steadily lost favour. Later on his work found a new appreciation in the USA. Hollywood's visions of life in ancient Rome and Greece might have been inspired by some of his paintings.

There's some information on his personality at Wikipedia
For all the quiet charm and erudition of his paintings, Alma-Tadema himself preserved a youthful sense of mischief. He was childlike in his practical jokes and in his sudden bursts of bad temper, which could as suddenly subside into an engaging smile.

In his personal life, Alma-Tadema was an extrovert and had a remarkably warm personality. He had most of the characteristics of a child, coupled with the admirable traits of a consummate professional. A perfectionist, he remained in all respects a diligent, if somewhat obsessive and pedantic worker. He was an excellent businessman, and one of the wealthiest artists of the nineteenth century. Alma-Tadema was as firm in money matters as he was with the quality of his work.

As a man, Lawrence Alma-Tadema was a robust, fun loving and rather portly gentleman. There was not a hint of the delicate artist about him; he was a cheerful lover of wine, women and parties.

Alma-Tadema's wife Laura was a talented artist in her own right, as was their daughter Anna.
He died in June of 1912.

Lawrence Alma-Tadema's natal chart with reliable AA rated data from Astrodatabank.

Well now - I'd say he looked more like his Taurus ascendant than his Capricorn Sun or Virgo Moon. As mentioned above "robust... portly... not a hint of the delicate artist...." But Taurus is ruled by Venus planet of the arts.

His warm, extrovert, child-like mischief and practical jokes, as described in the quote above, don't easily fit with Capricorn or Virgo (his main signature signs), they do sound more akin to Leo but none of his planets reside there. His three planets in Aquarius, including its ruler, Uranus, along with Venus and Neptune the two creative planets, were seemingly folding some extra quirk into his innate Earthiness, the mix emerged as above.

"Sudden bursts of bad temper"...Sun conjunct Mars?

"A cheerful lover of wine, women and parties"... his Jupiter in Cancer?

Hang on though - here comes the true Capricorn in his nature: "He was an excellent businessman, and one of the wealthiest artists of the nineteenth century. Alma-Tadema was as firm in money matters as he was with the quality of his work." And Virgo: "A perfectionist, he remained in all respects a diligent, if somewhat obsessive and pedantic worker."

It almost felt as though whoever in Wikipedia wrote the paragraphs pertaining to his personality knew all about astrology!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

FORTEAN....the original

As we wait for further news on the lost plane MH370, I'm staying with mysterious happenings and strange phenomena in general, and have pulled up a 2010 blog of mine on Charles Fort - here's an edited version:

"[Wise men] have tried to understand our state of being, by grasping at its stars, or its arts, or its economics. But, if there is an underlying oneness of all things, it does not matter where we begin, whether with stars, or laws of supply and demand, or frogs, or Napoleon Bonaparte. One measures a circle, beginning anywhere."
— Charles Fort (LO!)

Charles Fort wasn't the first ever researcher into the mysterious and unexplained, but his name has remained in plain sight as an adjective: fortean: of or pertaining to anomalous phenomena.

Inquiring into, recording and attempting to explain life's unexplained mysteries, was Fort's life's work and obsession. His best known books are The Book of the Damned, New Lands, Lo! and Wild Talents , published between 1919 and 1932.
All concern the bizarre phenomena unexplained by traditional science. The author spent the better part of three decades documenting flying saucers, telekinesis, sudden showers of fish from the sky, stigmata, poltergeists, and spontaneous combustion and much else.

Charles Fort was born in Albany, New York on 6 August 1874. His parents, Dutch immigrants, ran a successful wholesale grocery business. His father is reported to have been a domineering and physically brutal man.

The following extract came from an article by Bob Rickard at the Charles Fort Institute website, which now (2014) seems to have either disappeared from the net, or moved. I haven't located it yet, but will add a link if and when I do so.
Beatings by his tyrannical father helped set him against authority and dogma, as he declares in the remaining fragments of his autobiography Many Parts. Escaping home at the age of 18, he worked as a reporter in New York City before hitch-hiking through Europe "to put some capital into the bank of experience." In 1896, aged 22, he contracted malaria in South Africa and returned to New York where he married Anna Filan (or Filing), an English servant girl in his father's house. Fort and Anna settled down to a life of dire poverty ...... He took odd jobs between infrequent sales of his stories (most of which are now lost) to newspapers and magazines. At times things were so bad the Forts had to use their furniture for firewood..... He virtually lived as a hermit, chasing references at the library until it closed and writing up his notes at home, pottering over them into the night...... His concentration was quickly soured by doubt, which was rare but drastic when it occurred, plunging him into a depression. Twice, he burned his collection of tens of thousands of notes because "They were not what I wanted." Undaunted, he would begin his exhaustive reading and note-taking all over again, but in a new direction.

In 1921, the Forts set sail for London, where he and Anna lived close to the British Museum (at 39A, Marchmont Street). For eight years, he undertook his 'grand tour' of the Museum's holdings several more times, at each pass widening his horizons to new subjects and new correlations. He began to think that space travel was inevitable, sending letters to the New York Times on the subject and even speaking on it at Hyde Park Corner.

We have very few descriptions of Fort. He was a complex and private man, dedicated to his work. His autobiographical fragments, Many Parts,reveal a turbulent childhood through which he stumbled and brawled, resisting parental authority and any other imposition he thought unjust or foolish. Yet the key elements of his later brilliance are all in place: his powers of observation, his creative imagination, his facility with words and descriptions, and even his compassion for people who did not have his own inner strength.

Fort's biographer, Damon Knight, says Fort was "an utterly peaceable and sedentary man [who] lived quietly with his wife." By all accounts, Fort and Anna were an odd couple, but they were devoted to each other.

No time of birth is known, chart set for noon.

Charles Fort's difficulties with his brutal father are astrologically represented by Saturn opposing his Leo cluster of Sun/Uranus/Mars from Aquarius. Saturn is said to represent the father figure in astrology. I'm not convinced this is always the case, but in Fort's chart, even if Saturn does not represent the father, it does represent the status quo and all that is "set in stone", which Charles Fort continually challenged. Saturn was in Aquarius, sign of its traditional rulership - so this opposition seems to balance in some way (or echo?) Sun conjunct Uranus, Uranus being modern ruler of Aquarius.

Sun (self) and Uranus (planet of the unexpected, and all things situated "out where the buses don't run"!)were conjoined: Sun 13 Leo Uranus 11 Leo. This is the key to his major interests! Moon would have been in mentally acute Gemini, unless Fort were born during the first hour of 6 August.

From the quote above... "his powers of observation, his creative imagination, his facility with words and descriptions, and even his compassion for people who did not have his own inner strength." Venus conjunct Jupiter in Virgo along with Moon probably in Gemini account for the first part of that, with Mercury in late Cancer in sextile to Venus/Jupiter adding compassion to the mix.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A bit of garbled elemental guff.....

I don't feel like delving into detailed astrology with regard to lost Malaysian airlines MH370. Other, more experienced, heads are onto it anyway, and my heart wouldn't be in it, not at the depth needed to reach any kind of sane conclusion.

Something loosely astrological keeps nagging at the back of my mind though. Every astrological element is involved in this current mystery.

Air, obviously - the plane flew through it. Water - the plane flew over it and might possibly have crashed into it. Fire - some experienced pilots have put forward the considered opinion that an electrical fire in the front instrument panel or below it might have been the beginnings of an ensuing tragedy. Earth - the plane, if not in the sea has to be somewhere on or in the earth, intact, hidden for whatever purpose, or destroyed in a crash.

I've occasionally pondered which of the astrological elements is the strongest (as in "rock-paper-scissors"). This will not help with the current mystery, but just for the hell of it.... Air feeds fire, fire dies without air. Fire can be extinguished by water and indeed by earth if enough of it is thrown onto a fire. So though fire is dramatic, strong and destructive it isn't the strongest of the elements. Air can affect earth : tornado, dust devils etc. but it re-arranges rather than destroys; what it destroys are constructions not earth itself. Air and water mix somewhat uncomfortably, neither needs the other to persist. Earth can and does exist under the oceans, water can and does exist in clouds in the air. Nothing destroys earth or water entirely. Air, as we know it, could be subject to change, which is its weakness, I guess.

Earth and water reign supreme then? Did I need to know this? Not really. Never mind.

Back to where is MH370?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Lost Plane (continued again)

Back to the lost plane issue. I'm finding it difficult to drag myself away from it.

A useful exchange of comments drawing together pros and cons of possible motives for disappearance of MH370, with current situation and known facts (not many). This comes from recent input at the pilots' forum where I've been lurking, and reading the now 5,000+ thread for several days.

By :"slats11"

1. Kidnap passengers as hostages? You would have to know that the pax (= passengers) were mostly Chinese and Malaysian. I can't imagine China would be keen to negotiate, nor to facilitate negotiations by the relatives. So this would seem a very poor choice of flight for this purpose.

2. Theft of cargo? For this to work, you would need accomplices and logistics at other end. This takes time to set up. How much notice would you have of an upcoming valuable shipment? Presumably not enough to get yourself onto that flight and organise the other end. Could it have been a spur of the moment opportunistic theft? Possibly. But the details we have suggest the reversal of course (and other things) was done very skilfully, and this suggests detailed planning. And you would still have to set up the other end. So theft seems unlikely.

3. Steal plane for some future terrorist plot? This is probably the most likely scenario for the "northern corridor." However, you would imagine the customer was most likely in the Middle East. You would also imagine the customer would like his plane stolen with the least chance of things going wrong. So why steal a plane heading east, and then have to reverse course and avoid radar of Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia etc? There are plenty of MAS flights from KL heading to Europe or Middle East. Why not steal one of these flights? You could even cross India (legally) and then disappear - which would give you much greater range (Pakistan or Iran). For ME terrorists, an added bonus of a Europe bound flight would be a greater number of westerners. Do we know if the crew flew other routes?

4. "Southern corridor" scenario. Hard to think of a reason other than suicide and disappear. If this happened, the guy didn't want anyone to know for sure - he could have left a note, or even come up on the radio and announced his intention. Nor did he want the plane found. Reverses course and possibly flies low to avoid primary radar - unlike the customer in option 3 who has nothing to gain by playing games with radar, it is possible the pilot here enjoys the challenge of defeating radar. He then heads NW up Straits of Malacca, before turning SW when he is sure he is out of primary radar coverage. Why turn NW first? Well he does not want to be found. If he is picked up by primary radar, heading NW he looks like lots of other traffic heading out of KL or Singapore. If he went immediately SW over Malaysia and then Sumatra, this would seem unusual if anyone did see him on primary radar.

From "OleOle"

Good assessment of possible motives. What's missing is
- something spontaneous
- something not going according to plan
- a change in plan.

My own thoughts: As things stand now, with my original Occam's Razor thoughts cancelled by what seems to be indisputable fact, i.e. that a radar signal from the (more or less) intact plane was received some 7 hours after last contact, now #3, above seems the most likely. #3 would not necessarily involve a customer from the Middle East, or if it did, then perhaps they were distracting, trying to avoid appearing obvious in not selecting an easier route?

This blog of pilot Mark L. Berry and radio broadcast by him is informative and fairly persuasive.



The best, if it can be so described, outcome from a rapidly darkening situation, would be for the families and loved ones to receive absolutely certain news, one way or the other. The terrible anguished "limbo" they are in at present has to be horrendously debilitating, causing harm to their own mental and physical health.

Music Monday Medley

It's St.Patrick's Day today, so first a tip of the hat to Ireland. Foster & Allen:


I love this video of a family's thoughts on their adventures in genealogy, set to the music of Queen's great song, Bohemian Rhapsody, original written by Freddie Mercury. What a talented family this is! (Sorry about the preceding advert!)


Jazz singer Kurt Elling's super cover of An American Tune, one of Paul Simon's best. He respects the wonderful lyrics, doesn't jazz it up much at all - one of my favourites.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lost Plane (continued)

In the early hours of the morning I watched streaming of the Malaysian Prime Minister's press conference, after which I decided not to post the non-relevant material I'd prepared for the weekend.

The Prime Minister first summarised what had unfolded since flight MH370 disappeared from radar a week ago. He then revealed, or confirmed, that radar "pings" discovered by British satellite telecommunications company Inmarsat, while not able to pinpoint exact positions of the lost plane at various points in time, did indicate that it had continued to fly for many hours after its last "proper" radar communication, which had taken place just as it passed from Malaysian to Vietnamese air traffic control space. At that time, it appears the plane's transponder was manually switched off, which indicates to researchers that it was a deliberate action rather than, as many had thought, disabled by some electrical or electronic fault or a fire in the cockpit.

The last communication between the missing plane and satellites (and this was merely a kind of "handshake"), was at 8.11 am Malaysian time, nearly seven hours after disappearing from air traffic control screens.

The Prime Minister said that "Despite media reports the plane was hijacked, I wish to be very clear, we are still investigating all possibilities as to what caused MH370 to deviate." He said analysis of the plane's last communication with satellites placed it somewhere in one of two corridors: a northern corridor stretching from northern Thailand to the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, or a southern corridor stretching from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean. The plane did not necessarily follow the corridor, but was at some point along its path at the moment the signal was sent.

Authorities involved are sure to be in possession of more information than is being given to the public. Investigation of crew and passengers is ongoing, probably has intensified. It shouldn't be difficult to discover whether there was anyone present, other than the captain and his first officer, with anywhere near capablity of flying a Boeing 777. Failing that, it would seem that the captain or first officer had to have been involved, possibly under duress, or possibly on some errand of their own.

I guess there's still an outside chance that there was, indeed, an electrical fault or small fire on the plane around the time the transponder went quiet. If not brought under control quickly the fault or fire might have harmed further controls. Rather than putting the plane, by then perhaps fatally damaged and likely to crash over highly populated areas, the captain diverted to a route certain to be mainly over sea or small islands. Pressure loss could have killed all on board rapidly, but the plane could have carried on flying the route set until no further fuel was available. I have not seen anyone suggest this yet. Maybe it's out of the range of possibilities.

Hopes for better news, with even a shred of hope involved. Thoughts remain with crew's and passengers' families and loved ones.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Arty Farty Filmy Friday ~ Bertolucci & Verbinski

Instead of focusing on a painter today, a look at another facet of Pisces/Neptune creativity: film. Why, one might ask, does Neptune, Lord of the Oceans, have anything to do with film? From astrologer John Hayes:
Neptune has a delicate musical and artistic sense and an idealism and spirituality that recall Venus, whilst in other ways it is reminiscent of Jupiter, and its connection with drugs and poisons is distinctly Piscean. It has a clear connection with all marine matters, and indeed with many things related to liquidity. It is the planet of the creative imagination, ranging downwards from the inspiration of the great poets and artists to the terrible and diseased fancies of the criminal and mentally afflicted. It is the planet of pretence and deception, including self-deception; it has a general tendency to make things appear other than they are, whence its relation to the stage and film.

Two well-known film directors were born on 16 March: Bernardo Bertolucci in Italy in 1941 (per Astrodatabank, "birth certificate in hand", so sources giving 1940 are wrong); and Gore Verbinski in USA, 1964.

The Bertolucci film I can remember having seen is The Last Emperor (1987). We saw it not long ago on HBO or TCM - it's an excellent movie - won 9 Oscars! Bertolucci is known both for sweeping epics such as that film, as well for helping to bring eroticism into general release with his Last Tango in Paris. He is known to have strongly left-wing political views. Bernardo Bertolucci is considered one of the pre-eminent international directors of the latter half of the twentieth century. A biography is available at Rotten Tomatoes.

We've seen three of Verbinski's films: Rango, one of the Pirates of the Caribbean set (cannot recall which), and The Weatherman.
Gore Verbinski has become one of American cinema's most inventive directors. He was a punk-rock guitarist as a teenager and had to sell his guitar to buy his first camera, is now the director of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) which made the industry record for highest opening weekend of all time, and grossed over $1 billion dollars worldwide.

He was born Gregor Verbinski on March 16, 1964, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. His father was of Polish descent, worked as a nuclear physicist at the Oak Ridge Lab. In 1967 the Verbinski family moved to California.... His biggest influences as a kid were Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis and Black Sabbath's Master of Reality. He started his professional career as a guitarist for punk-rock bands, made his first films together with friends. After having developed a passion for film making, he sold his guitar to buy a Super-8mm camera, attended the prestigious UCLA Film School, from which he graduated in 1987 with his BFA in Film.
Information from a mini-bio by Steve Shelokhonov available in full HERE.

Two film directors, a generation apart, of very different background and styles, one Italian the other American but of Polish descent, one born during World War 2, the other in the dramatic 1960s. One with a feel for the erotic mixed with some fairly extreme left-wing political views, the other inventive, fun, whimsical, into a bit of quirk and not afraid of the dark.

How do their natal charts compare?

No time of birth is known for Verbinski, so Moon and ascendant degree will not be accurate as shown.

Sun in third decan of Pisces. Third decan of Pisces is said to have a secondary ruler, Scorpio, which in turn connects to Pluto/Mars. Bearing this in mind we might expect to find some draw towards the erotic or darker subject matter. Bertolucci is known for eroticism in his movies, his Moon in Scorpio is a second indication of the same. Verbinski has directed at least one horror film: The Ring.

Bertolucci had Neptune opposing his natal Sun, while Verbinski has Neptune in a wide trine to his Sun.

Both men have the extra emphasis on Neptune-ruled Pisces of three personal planets: Bertolucci Sun/Mercury/Venus; Verbinski: Sun/Mercury/Mars. Both have a planet close to the Aquarius/Pisces cusp (Bertolucci's Mercury and Verbinski's Saturn).

While Bertolucci's natal Venus (planet of the arts) is with his Sun in Pisces, Verbinski's is in Taurus, possibly with his natal Moon, reflecting, perhaps, his musical beginnings.