Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A tower, a titter, a tyre, and more....

We spent last weekend in Bartlesville, in northern Oklahoma. Main attraction in the town, for us, is the Price Tower, mini skyscraper designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. There's more about it, and him, in a 2009 post HERE. After gazing at the gem once again, we spent most of our time in nearby tiny towns of Dewey and Collinsville, where antique/junk outlets fill most of the old stores in their main streets.

Click on any photo to see a larger image.

 The Price Tower

A bit of light creative humour goin' on here:

In Dewey their claim to fame is a connection to vintage cowboy movie star Tom Mix. He wasn't born in Dewey, but did work in the area, and his second wife came from the tiny town. See HERE. There's a Tom Mix Museum in town, and the well pictured below.

The signs on the window shown below aren't too clear (better if you click on image). I'll explain: On the left a sign declaring "We support Our Troops". On the right a sign: "Rick's Custom Slaughtering & Processing". Hmmm.
I'm reflecting on that!

And we reflected some more with a glass of iced coffee -

In one of the antique stores, in a corner at the back was a DeLorean motor car! I think it's a DMC12 (See HERE). You don't often see one of these in an antique store - especially not driven by giant teddy bears!

Oh look - we Aquarians have a drum set named in our honour!

On Sunday morning we were about to set off for home when husband discovered a flat tyre. AAA and Walmart's auto repair department to the rescue, and a couple of hours later we were good to go.

On Monday afternoon our air conditioning broke down - refused to work at all. It had been working on Sunday evening. Sigh - more frustration and discomfort as temperature Monday afternoon was nearing 100 degrees here.

UPDATE: 7:30 this morning husband's son (heat & air specialist) was here, he had been out of town yesterday, and discovered problem: faulty breaker. Fixed, for now. All's well that ends well...once again.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Music Monday ~ Cancerian Carl Orff's O Fortuna! & matters related

Everyone must have heard O Fortuna! at least once during their lifetime. It pops up regularly in movies and TV commercials. I first heard it many Moons ago as background music to a TV ad for Old Spice aftershave - in the days when aftershave as a male accessory was in its infancy.

Years later I discovered that Carmina Burana, a cantata by German composer Carl Orff (whose natal Sun is in Cancer) from which O Fortuna! is taken, was derived from a set of mediaeval poems. These poems were discovered in a monastery in Bavaria in 1803. They are not all on sacred subjects, as one might expect from writings found in a monastery, but include poems and songs in Latin, French and German about love, lust, gambling and the trials and tribulations of life on Earth. Carl Orff chose 24 from the much larger collection of poems, and set them to music.

O Fortuna! sits at the beginning and end of the cantata he composed in the mid 1930s. There is a connection between O Fortuna! and the tarot card from the major arcana: Wheel of Fortune. It's a convoluted journey from an aftershave advert to the tarot deck! Card illustrated is from the 15th century Vinconti-Sforza deck.
The Wheel of Fortune turns I go down, demeaned; another is raised up; far too proud sits the king at the summit -- let him fear ruin! for under the axis we read about Queen Hecuba.

Carl Orff was born on 10 July 1895 in Munich, Germany at 3:15AM. Sun conjunct Jupiter, and Mercury all in Cancer, with Cancer rising. His natal chart can be viewed here, at Astrodatbank. Zodiac sign Cancer is ruled by the Moon. Carl Orff's Carmina Burana begins with a direct reference to his ruling luminary. Translation:
O Fortuna O how Fortune, inopportune, apes the moon's inconstancy: waxing, waning, losing, gaining, life treats us detestably: first oppressing then caressing shifts us like pawns in her play: destitution, restitution, mixes and melts them away. Fate, as vicious as capricious, whirling your merry-go-round: evil doings, worthless wooings, crumble away to the ground: darkly stealing, unrevealing, working against me you go: for your measure of foul pleasure I bare my back to your blow. Noble actions, true transactions, no longer fall to my lot: powers to make me then to break me all play their part in your plot: now seize your time - waste no more time, pluck these poor strings and let go: since the strongest fall the longest let the world share in my woe.
Orff has, over the years, had some justifiably bad press, related to his acquiescence during the Nazi regime, and betrayal of his close friend Kurt Huber. Huber was a founder of the resistance movement, White Rose. Perhaps Orff was a weak and selfish man who, while not being a member of the Nazi party, had achieved acceptance of his music by the ruling regime. He was not courageous enough to forego this in order to offer aid when his friend was arrested, tortured and executed. Is this a reflection of a typically Cancerian trait: withdrawal from danger and unpleasantness, I wonder. It's best not to judge the guy too harshly. None of us knows what we'd do in his position, in those circumstances. We might think we know -but we really do not.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Arty Farty Friday ~ Cliff McReynolds' Visionary Art

I discovered this artist from an album cover among husband's collection of LPs - this one:

"Nothing Will Be As It Was...Tomorrow"

From notes on the cover's reverse I discovered the artist's name: Cliff McReynolds. Research ensued, along with discovery of some of his other work.

Cliff McReynolds, born on 1 January 1933, is an American visionary painter from California. In the 1960s and 70s, he was part of a loosely associated group of California visionary painters. McReynolds' works are often on canvas measuring several square feet. Some of his paintings, including The Arrival or those from his La Jolla Pentych, are composed of complicated interlocking scenes with dozens of distinct elements. (Information from HERE.)

Natal chart is set for noon and San Diego, California - which, though likely not his time and place of birth, can still give some idea of where his choice of art style is reflected: for instance, Capricorn Sun is in exact harmonious trine to Neptune, planet of visions and imagination; while Venus (planet of the arts) and Mercury (communication) in Sagittarius trine Uranus (the unusual) in Aries. Planetary emphasis in Virgo signifies his detail-oriented nature - his artwork, from what little we can glean from images online, appears to be finely, painstakingly detailed.

The Artist's Statement (in full HERE), is a good read.
Originality was the key to a style of painting recognizably one's own and a personal style was like a prize which would only be awarded to the most sensitive, tenacious, and industrious among us. I think it was Marcel Duchamp who said, "I force myself to contradict myself so that I can avoid conforming to my own taste" For some of us, this idea became a part of the process of creating an abstract expressionist painting. In practice it worked this way: the artist would stand before his work in progress wondering what to do next (and what to do next was the everlasting dilemma). When he finally decided to act, then that would become the thing that he would not do. Imagine patting your head and rubbing your stomach while driving your car blindfolded and you will have the idea.

Like most schizophrenics, criminals or artists, I'm out of step. First century reverence makes more sense to me than twentieth century sophistication. I see imagination as a better source of art than experience. Originality seems a natural byproduct of an artist's progress toward his potential, rather than a goal.

Since my goal is art locked into the real universe, I believe that conforming to universal creative principles offers a better chance for success than ignoring or opposing them. I'm not interested in "self-expression" or "personal truth" but in truth itself, particularly in its aesthetic and spiritual dimensions. In fact I define art as the creative expression of truth.

Examples of his work:

 The Arrival

 The Arrival (detail)

 The Creation. (With Natural Phenomena)

 Life (central piece of the La Jolla Pentych)

Snow Geese with Peacock -  note-card design for Pomegranate

 Landscape with Bird and Boy

 Landscape with Grenade (has also been used as an album cover)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Good, The Bad & The Undecided.

The good news
Bernie Sanders' campaign is gaining strength daily.

The bad news
Pelosi Stands Down On TAA, Clearing Way For Obama's Trade Agenda to pass.

The undecided news
SCOTUS will decide on the ACA/Obamacare subsidies question, and on Gay Marriage any day now.

Other news/open thread.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Boxing the Crab

Natal charts of three famous boxers are shown below, all three were born when the Sun was in zodiac sign Cancer. The first two charts are set for 12 noon as no reliable times of birth are available, the third chart is set for a rectified time given at astro.com ('C' rating only).

How, one might wonder, do the commonly attributed Cancer keywords (for example: gentle, maternal, sensitive, nurturing, defensive, contemplative), manage to fit three guys who made their names professionally by trying to knock the living daylights out of an opponent?
Defensive - there's that! My late partner was as keen on boxing as husband Anyjazz is on jazz, and had had some involvement in the sport. He would always declare that boxing should properly be a sport of defence, not aggression. If that is so, then Cancer's symbol, the crab, is no slouch in defensive action, sporting a hard shell of protection, pincers that could hurt, scuttling away, albeit with peculiar gait, when trouble is sensed. But really, what I see as crystal clear from the experiment below is that Sun signs are always much-modified by the rest of the chart's components.

Jack Dempsey born in Manassa, Colorado on 24 June 1895.

Leon Spinks born in St. Louis, Missouri on 11 July 1953.

Mike Tyson born in Catskill, New York on 30 June 1966, time of birth rectified to 9.40 AM ('C' rated at astro.com).

Most Cancerian traits do seem quite unsuited to "the noble art" - how boxing earned that title is explained nicely in a blog called The Way of the Warrior HERE. In the three charts above I first noted the mix of Cancer with Leo and Gemini - and came closer to seeing rhyme and reason. Successful boxers need to have mental acuity (here supplied by Gemini) as well as as physical strength, and for a professional boxer some Leo flavour will propel him to enjoy the spotlight - if he's sufficiently skilled.

Dempsey's Cancer planets were flanked by a generational Pluto/Neptune conjunction in Gemini which linked via helpful sextile to natal Mars and Venus in Leo, assisting the blend. Uranus in harmonious trine to Jupiter, contributes elements of surprise - delivering the unexpectedly punch is essential for a successful boxer. Saturn trines his natal Sun, putting a sturdier "backbone" into Cancer's potential softness.

Spinks' Sun, Uranus and Mars in conjunction has to be a classic astrological signature for a boxer. Cancer's urge to protect itself, Uranus' unexpected punches, and Mars dynamic strength and energy. His Cancer planets are flanked by personal planets in Gemini and Leo...there's that blend again!

Tyson has a similar blend with personal planets in Cancer, Leo, Gemini. His generation has a Pluto/Uranus conjunction in Virgo - it links to his Cancer Sun/Jupiter conjunction by sextile, adding power and an element of surprise to aid the Cancerian urge to protect itself. Tyson's opponents usually felt that additional power in action, very early on!

These three boxers were able to call the full orchestra of their natal charts into harmony when at work in that square ring.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Netflix Synchronicities - or Coincidences

I doubt I could link these Netflix coincidences in any meaningful way, but it was kind of spooky at the time. Some shows we watched, more or less consecutively over a few nights, all had themes of identity change, and they were in no way intentional choices for that reason.

Beginning with a movie, The Cobbler: a fantasy tale with threads of a mild thriller or mystery threaded through it. This film was directed by the same guy, Tom McCarthy, who directed The Station Agent (mentioned in this post).

When his modern stitching machine breaks down, a shoe repairer in New York finds it necessary to use an old pedal-operated stitching machine he found stored in his cellar. He discovers, after repairing a pair of fancy crocodile shoes using the old machine, then trying on the shoes - which happen to be his own size - then catching sight of himself in a mirror, he is, to put it mildly, amazed to find that he has transformed in appearance to the shoes' owner, a snazzily dressed gang hoodlum. The cobbler experiments with other shoes of his size, repaired using the old machine, and finds that he can change appearance in many ways, as long as both borrowed shoes are on his feet. Adventures of various kinds ensue - and a mystery.

It was all a bit Quantum-Leap-ish, not to mention that old saying, "walk a mile in his/her shoes!

The next night we set about watching a 2-part X-Files segment, titled Dreamland in which we were surprised to find that Agent Mulder, after being in line of a wave of time-space warp, had swapped appearance with another individual standing nearby at the time, a man of quite different temperament and aims from Mulder's. Scully isn't aware what has happened... dangerous muddles occur, at length!

Third coincidence, next night - or was it even the same night - don't recall, we decided to watch the pilot episode of a one season series titled Awake. Guess what? No...not exactly changing appearance this time, but a guy (played by Jason Isaacs) involved in a car accident which we are told had killed either his wife or his son (or both?) appears to be living in two different existences, one where his wife is alive but son dead, the other with his son alive and his wife dead. This guy is a police detective (a stumbling block for me), he has a different psychiatrist in each "reality", deals with different cases in each, and has different detective partners in each - but some strand of linkage is always present in the cases involved. The show is shot in two different "hues" too, reddish tinged when wife is alive, greenish when son is alive. The detective wears a red wristband or green one to help both himself (?) and the audience keep track of what's going on.

We can't decide whether this was meant to be heavily disguised sci-fi , or a story that will be rationally explained eventually. It's definitely a series where one's attention must not be allowed to wander! The show didn't receive sufficient interest, so NBC cancelled it after one season. We shall wander through through the 13 available episodes to see how it was all tied up, or if it was. My own pet theory is that the guy remains in a coma and is dreaming it all - highly complex dream though! I shall resist looking for spoiler information online.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Music Monday ~ Kris Kristofferson

Happy Birthday Kris Kristofferson! I wrote a blog post featuring him back in 2009, but vagaries of Blogger changes and YouTube deletions have affected it, so I'll use the surviving bits again, and add to them here.

Kris was born 22 June 1936 in Brownsville, Texas. Astrotheme gives his time of birth as 3.30pm.

I used to think Kris had Sun in Gemini. I was mistaken - but only just. Sun at 1 degree of Cancer, linked by conjunction to Mars and Venus in Gemini a degree or so behind. Mercury is also in Gemini - it's own sign. No need to ask the source of his writing talent then - it's all there! Classic line-up for a writer, in this case a songwriter, with Cancer Sun adding warmth and sensitivity to what might otherwise have emerged as a cooler, less emotional individual. Sun is conjunct South Node of the Moon - a sensitive point in the natal chart, further emphasising the Cancer/Gemini cluster.

Fixed Star Aldebaran, one of the Royal Stars lay within a degree of Mercury as Kris was born - an additional boost to his mental processes. He was a brilliant student and Rhodes Scholar in his youth. He rejected a military or teaching career in favor of following his dream to be a songwriter.

If the time of birth used is near correct, Scorpio rising is reflected in Kris's early and enduring erotic pull for the ladies. Moon in Leo close to midheaven links to his career on stage both singing and acting. He's one of the few singer/songwriters who have also made a good impression as a movie actor - Gemini versatility. A strong Jupiter in Sagittarius, its own sign, forms a harmonious trine to Moon in Leo, helpful for publication (of his songs and acting endeavors)

The other well-known facet of Kris's personality is a strongly left-wing political leaning. I'm pinpointing avant garde, rebellious Uranus in a very strong position on the descendant angle to represent this.

There are challenging aspects in Kris's chart too, of course. Hardly anybody gets away without some of these. There's a Grand Cross here, linking Neptune, Mercury/Chiron, Saturn and Jupiter by squares, consequently throwing up two oppositions: Saturn/Jupiter and Neptune/Mercury.

I haven't been able to find out much about Kris's personal life, other than that he has had three marriages, 8 children and 2 grandchildren, and is still on friendly terms with both ex-wives. He has probably dealt with alcohol and drug problems - he wouldn't fit the template of his times and profession if not! I suspect the Grand Cross relates to that, but also to his political opinions. He was brought up in a strongly conservative family in staunchly Republican Texas - he must have had many challenges before moving to a more liberal environment.

Kris's songs are thought of by many as country music. I consider them to be without category, or at the most crossover folk/country/popular. I recall hearing on one of his recordings an audience member calling out to him something along the lines of "Is that country music?" or "That ain't country, Kris", and he answers in his signature lazy drawl, "If it sounds country, man, that's what it is!"

Below are some of my own favourite songs written and sung by Kris Kristofferson (nobody sings 'em better, don't care what anyone says!) He's joined by Rita Coolidge on the second and third songs.

This one is pure poetry - you can feel that you're there with him, one Sunday morning!

This one, has that wonderful line : "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose"

Cannot forget this one:

Oh yes...and something completely different:, "Don't Let The Bastards Get you Down" - good advice which never goes out of date. "It's gettin' hard to listen to their lies" (ain't that the truth?)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Solstice, Fathers, Cattle, Poetry...

Sunday will find us once again at Summer Solstice - the longest day . For anyone who enjoys the summer - do take my share of the heat as well as your own. I heartily dislike this time of year in south western Oklahoma - too darned hot for this northerner, one born in the midst of winter too. Not to appear too churlish though, I should include Solstice Greetings to all. Enjoy it, wherever and however you can!

This year in the USA it's also Father's Day on Sunday. So, best wishes too, to any passing reader who is one of those: a father.

Unrelated to either Solstice or fathers, just to be obtuse ~~~

I enjoyed this video.

It reminded me of an old poem my mother used to recite (her name was Mary).

The poem, by Charles Kingsley:

"O Mary, go and call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home
Across the sands of Dee";
The western wind was wild and dank with foam,
And all alone went she.

The western tide crept up along the sand,
And o'er and o'er the sand,
And round and round the sand,
As far as eye could see.
The rolling mist came down and hid the land:
And never home came she.

"Oh! is it weed, or fish, or floating hair--
A tress of golden hair,
A drownèd maiden's hair
Above the nets at sea?
Was never salmon yet that shone so fair
Among the stakes on Dee."

They rowed her in across the rolling foam,
The cruel crawling foam,
The cruel hungry foam,
To her grave beside the sea:
But still the boatmen hear her call the cattle home
Across the sands of Dee.

From here
The Dee Estuary is currently one of the UK’s premier birdwatching locations for wetland and shore birds. With views of the Welsh hills beyond, the estuary is a hugely significant landscape in Cheshire and of international importance in ecological terms. ...........
The Estuary’s status as a place of mystery and legend was assured by Charles Kingsley’s poem The Sands of Dee which tells the tale of Mary and her death on the estuary. It captures the melancholy of the treacherous deserted flats and shifting sands. Rumour is that she can still be heard calling the cattle home to this day. It is a warning to treat the estuary with respect. Whether in summer or winter the estuary has a feeling of mystery with many stories to tell.

 The Dee Estuary (h/t here)

Oh... alright then, it's Father's Day, Sunday, so... a poem oft recited by my father, in remembrance of Dad, who died in 1992. He once gave me a framed version of this poem, it hung in my bedroom for many long years, until eaten by our Great Fire of 1996.

by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Here we were, Mum, Dad and yours truly, ready for the rain, on vacation in Brighton - around 1947/8 I think.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Arty Farty Friday ~ My Bargain by Bart Forbes

During a short trip to north Texas in late April I bought a signed limited edition print (97/780) of a watercolour painting by Bart Forbes, the picture measures around 25" x 30" in its frame. It was being sold 50% off (original price was only $25). A bargain, I thought, even though the painting's backing was damaged and the framing needed some strengthening, it had once been well-framed, and with expensive non-reflective glass. It was the subject matter of the painting that had first caught my eye though.

Painting's title, written in the artist's own hand is "Venezuela". I hadn't deciphered that until I got a closer look. I did appreciate, or suspect, that the painting was a kind of potted history of the oil industry. Yeah - I know, it's in bad books these days due to environmental destruction and contribution to climate change. However, in a similar way to coal, for use of which our predecessors were eternally thankful I feel sure, oil was another natural resource which catapulted civilisation forward at an amazing rate - possibly too fast - but that's another story.

In the painting, starting top left, is a representation of the forest where basics of oil were laid down aeons ago, to the right of that is a basic oil derrick. At bottom left oil has become the means of easy travel in the 1920s and 30s. The inset illustration shows a couple of oil men standing before a fully fledged oil field. At far bottom right - hmmm - was that patch foggy darkness a depiction of oil itself - or a prophecy, I wonder ?

The picture hasn't translated to computer screen too well, the frame is not black, it's a mid-brown wooden frame. The painting's colours are more subtle yet more distinct, a little sharper than shown. It does have a generally faded look but I don't think it has faded, I think it's in an intended washy water colour style, in shades of aquamarine and grey, with just one splash of a pinkish shade. Click on image for a slightly bigger version.

Husband has now replaced and strengthened the picture's two layers of backing and fixed remaining frame problems - good as new! It now hangs to the right of my compuer desk.

Bart Forbes, I have now discovered was born on 3 July 1939 in Altus, Oklahoma, now lives in Dallas Texas. Wikipedia has a short piece on the artist; there's a 2 minute video featuring Mr Forbes:

More images of his paintings, including lots of sports subjects, can be seen via Google Image.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Battles and Loops

 Hat-tip here
Today is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, fought on Sunday, 18 June 1815, near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the Netherlands.

From this piece in The Independent - a British newspaper -
The Battle of Waterloo will be celebrated with a national memorial service at St Paul's Cathedral to mark its bicentenary on Thursday (today) – and while descendants of those who fought there will be among the VIP guests, they have been warned that it will not be "triumphalist". Nonetheless, it has to be said, the Duke of Wellington's victory over Napoleon and the Bonapartists at a little ridge near the hamlet of Mont St Jean, 11 miles south of Brussels, was so complete that "Waterloo" has become synonymous with a crushing defeat.

But, it must also be added, that is not how it looked in the spring of 1815. Radical MPs such as Sam Whitbread, son of the brewer, were appalled at the prospect of Britain being dragged into another costly war against Napoleon. The Commons were just as divided as during the debates before the Iraq war in 2003. Whitbread and other Radical MPs accused Wellington of going to war for regime change – just as the anti-war MPs accused Tony Blair over Saddam Hussein.
Reading on, about the upshot of the Battle, and circumstances in Britain when soldiers returned home, the story of Waterloo bleeds into an uprising in northern England, I've blogged about this before:
The Peterloo Massacre in Manchester. In the present article circumstance leading to it is mentioned thus:
.....the bloated Prince Regent, who was as much reviled as the newly-restored Bourbon monarchy in France. In the same year as Waterloo, "Prinny" commissioned John Nash to turn his beach house in Brighton into a fantasy Moghul palace – the Royal Pavilion – and refurbish Carlton House at vast expense. The Government was so alarmed that Lord Liverpool, Lord Castlereagh and the Chancellor Nicholas Vansittart wrote to the spendthrift prince, warning him to rein in his spending as the only means of "weathering the impending storm"

The storm they feared broke in Manchester on 16 August 1819 when an estimated 60,000 men, women and children crowded onto St Peter's Field (now the site of the Radisson Hotel) to hear a powerful public speaker Henry "Orator" Hunt – the Tony Benn of his day – call for representation in Parliament for the burgeoning industrialised towns of the Midlands and the North, who had no MPs in the Commons to speak up for their people. And among the crowd was one Waterloo Man – John Lees – whose story can stand for many... (the story, of subsequent bloodshed, continues).
See also British Museum website for this illustration of the Peterloo Massacre:
The Manchester Yeomanry ride down women, children, and men, making for a platform (right) in the background, where Hunt stands with three supporters. The foremost points his sabre at a fainting woman with children round her, who is supported by a man; he says "None but the brave deserve the Fair." A little boy, holding his mother's kerchief, exclaims: "Oh pray Sir, doan't Kill Mammy, she only came to see Mr Hunt." Another man rides up furiously, saying, "Cut him [the boy] down, Cut him down." On the left the yeomanry ride forward in close formation. Above them the head of the Regent (poorly characterized) emerges from clouds, supporting the beam of a pair of scales. The heavier scale is inscribed 'Peculators' [Ministers and placemen], the other 'Reformers'. He says: "Cut them down, doan't be afraid, they are not Armed, courage my boys, and you shall have a vote of thanks, & he that Kills most shall be made a Knight errant [cf. No. 12811, &c.] and your exploits shall live for ever, in a Song, or second Chivey Chace." Hunt, hat in hand, exclaims: "Shame, Shame, Murder, Murder, Massacree [sic]." Two others echo "Shame." They have banners, one surmounted by a cap of Liberty.
Septemeber 1819. Hand-coloured etching
As has been said before in posts here, and in comments, it seems we are trapped in a loop - do you detect it? It's always us and them: us = ordinary people; them = the wealthy ruling elite and/or corporations. Like east and west, ne'er the twain shall meet, except in bloodshed and violence.

Oh...this is depressing...let's end with the song: Waterloo, the song with which ABBA won the Eurovision Song contest in 1974.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


"We boil at different degrees".
(Ralph Waldo Emerson).
Are you prone to temper tantrums, sulky silences, violent outbursts quickly subdued, cool sardonic comebacks, or sweet as sunshine all the time?

From An Encyclopaedia of Psychological Astrology by C.E.O. Carter, first published 1924, Fourth Edition 1954. My copy reprinted 1963:

Temper must be judged from the rising sign, Mercury, and the general appearance of the horoscope.
The usual characteristics of the signs when rising are:

Aries - Easily angered and then often go to great lengths.

Taurus - Not readily moved, but when aroused become furious.

Gemini - Not bad tempered, but can be "waspish" and malicious.

Cancer - Not easily angered, but soon hurt. Timid.

Leo - Often hot-tempered, though affectionate.

Virgo - Temper is usually controlled and seldom violent. Often uses "the retort courteous". Tends to shun conditions that are liable to upset it.

Libra - Seldom the first to quarrel. Easily appeased.

Scorpio - Hot-tempered, especially when its affections are touched. Implacable and rarely forgets.

Sagittarius - Good-tempered.

Capricorn - The temper is generally cold, and the tongue controlled.

Aquarius - Courteous.

Pisces - Good-tempered.

In cardinal signs the temper is usually sharp; in mutable nagging, and in fixed sudden and violent. The above remarks apply, of course, to ordinary, everyday persons, Mercury, and to a somewhat less extent the Lights or ascendant, afflicted by malefics usually corrupts the temper. Fiery signs are usually the most explosive. Mars afflicted by Uranus in Fire generally causes a bad temper, and Mars and Saturn are also often evil. On the other hand, Venus conjunct Mercury, the Lights or ascendant will usually cause the moods to be harmonious and equable. Jupiter, in similar circumstances, inclines to good spirits and bodily health.

It must not be forgotten how often a bad temper is really the direct results of some functional disorder, such as liver trouble or nervous derangement.

Often the signs of good and bad temper are contradictory and in such cases a person's disposition will vary

That's pretty accurate for my Cancer rising, with some modification from Capricorn Mercury, but Aries Moon can boil me over at times. How about you?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

TPP and All That

I've been avoiding writing anything about current acronym infested Trans-Pacific Partnership issues (TPPA abbreviated to TPP; TPA; TAA; ISDS...) until now. I've had a rough idea what it's all about, and that it's not, in general, or in specifics, "A Good Thing".

The House of Representatives, last Friday, narrowly voted for the most controversial element of the package of trade deals, that part of the package which allows President Obama to submit deals like the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership to Congress for a vote without amendments. That initial success is somewhat negated by House procedural rules that said a separate bill that included Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) - help for workers who lose jobs due to trade shifts - also had to pass. TAA was voted down, 302-126. House Republican leaders called for re-votes by today. Twisting of arms ensued, no doubt!

Public Citizen website has a straightforward piece about TPP in general.

This video (less than 3 mins. long) runs through important factors quickly and easily:

We have to be careful about who we read on this topic. I trust Elizabeth Warren:

Eric Zuesse at The Smirking Chimp website has written a set of very detailed pieces on this topic over the past few days. Read 'em and weep! Sunday's piece ended thus:
The fact that these ‘trade’ deals are being pushed right now, means that the people who are in power have concluded that, already, ‘the free world’ is so dictatorial, that the chances that their plan can now be imposed globally are about as good as is likely ever to be the case again. The time is ripe for them to establish a global corporate dictatorship. The political money this year will be flowing like never before.
His Monday piece is very long - I haven't read it all myself yet, but it promises to be ve-eery interesting:
The Origin and Broader Context of Obama’s ‘Trade’ Deals.

Any thoughts?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Music Mon ~ Gemini Two-fer: Erroll Garner, Barry Manilow

As the Sun remains in Gemini I'm sticking with the two-fer style of last Monday, last Friday and the weekend. Two musical birthdays this week: one singer - still with us, the other musician left us in 1977:
Barry Manilow (17 June 1943) and Erroll Garner (15 June 1921). Most people know of the former, not so many, I suspect, the latter. The former, a singer and songwriter of sentimental romantic pop songs, the latter a jazz pianist, widely popular in his day, and still affectionately remembered by jazz enthusiasts. Both though have been, to some extent, the target of much mean-minded criticism. Why? Too many ordinary people enjoyed their talents. To find favour with some critics an artist, of whatever ilk, has to appeal only to a coterie of "hip" and "cool" would-be elites, should be virtually unintelligible to everyday folk who just enjoy a good tune and a sentimental ballad.

In Erroll Garner's case, though loved and respected by fellow-pianists, he was not regarded, in his time, as "one of the elite", probably due to his ability to bridge the gap between jazz and popular audiences. "We can't be having the Great Unwashed appreciating jazz", I'd bet his critics were declaring archly.

Garner's style was unique, self taught. He started playing aged 3, a complete natural, he never learned to read music, didn't need to, it was simply a part of him. As was written by Richard Cook & Brian Morton in The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, 6th Edition:
“Erroll Garner was one of a kind. He was as outré as the great beboppers, yet bop was alien to him, even though he recorded with Char­lie Parker. He swung mightily, yet he stood outside the swing tradition; he played orchestrally, and his style was swooningly romantic, yet he could be as merciless on a tune as Fats Waller. He never read music, but he could play a piece in any key, and delighted in deceiving his rhythm sections from night to night. His tumbling, percussive, humorous style was entirely his own.”
As for Berry Manilow, in an interview with Eric Spitznagel in Vanity Fair, while discussing critics the interviewer asked:
I read somewhere that when you met Bob Dylan, he hugged you and called you an inspiration. Are you sure he was being serious?

Manilow: I wish I knew, but that’s what I remember him doing. We were at a Seder at Burt Bacharach’s place, and he walked right up to me and hugged me and said, “Don't stop what you’re doing, man. We're all inspired by you.” It was very important for me at the time, because those were the days when the critics were just killing me. They would have annihilated me if they had the chance.

Interviewer: I’m sorry, I’m still trying to digest the idea of you and Bob Dylan and Burt Bacharach at a Seder.

Manilow: Isn’t that great? Frank Sinatra also said a kind thing about me around that same time. Somebody asked him about me and he said, “He’s next.” That meant a lot. Despite what the critics were saying, I did what I could do and I made the most beautiful music I knew how to make.

Here they are then:

Erroll Garner with a famous piece he wrote himself - Misty; and one he didn't:

One Manilow wrote: I Made It Through the Rain (he did too!)

And one he didn't write, Weekend in New England was written by Randy Edelman (another Sun Gemini by the way - born 10 June 1947).

I was going to leave it at the music and refrain from delving into their astrology, but having prepared this post, a previous tag popped up for Barry Manilow, and I found that I'd already looked at his chart in this 2010 post. Erroll Garner's natal chart is available at astro.com, here.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Two of Each, Salt, Vinegar and Scraps.

"Two of each, salt, vinegar and scraps" was a common request at the local chippie (aka fish and chip shop) back in Yorkshire. The customer would be presented with two neatly packaged parcels each containing a portion of fish, fried quickly in tender batter, and a portion of chips, all properly seasoned (British chips are similar to the kind of fries in the US known as steak fries). Before I start dribbling on my keyboard.....

Two of each, on the blog today, refers to two videos that caught my interest this week, and two movies likewise.

Two Videos:

From Clay to Mosaics - amazing skills on show here - watching all the way to to the end is essential!

100 Years of Fashion in 2 Minutes. This is women's fashion, of course. Men's fashions have changed in subtle ways, but not nearly as dramatically as women's. Having watched the video I wondered whether any astrological links would be possible to coincide with changes - investigated Neptune transits 1915-2015, but decided that fashion has links to too many other factors to clearly relate to the old "as above so below" doctrine.

Two Movies:

Words and Pictures, new to Netflix this month, is another movie about teachers. This time it's not about a mythical magical change-your-life type teacher such as Robin Williams portrayed in Dead Poets Society back in 1989, but a "warts and all" depiction of a couple of teachers who specialise in English and Art and wage war over the question of whether words or pictures are more powerful. Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche star as the two brilliant but flawed teachers. I enjoyed what exploration there was about the comparative power of words and pictures - would have appreciated more of this, but that would have turned the story into a documentary I guess.

The film held our interest, though I found it hard to like any of its characters - maybe that's a sign of their good acting!

The Quiet American from 2002, also on Netflix. It's the second adaptation of a novel by Graham Greene. The first adaptation, in 1958, is said to have skewed the novel's core intent, must have been an attempt to save American face, and do a bit of flag-waving.

The tale is set in Vietnam in the early 1950s. Michael Caine plays Tom Fowler a middle-aged world-weary British journalist covering the war between French colonial forces and the communists. The quiet American, Alden Pyle, played by Brendan Fraser, arrives in Saigon, ostensibly part of a US Aid Mission. There's a layer of love story involving the two men and a lovely local girl, with an strong second layer involving political issues Vietnam, and the USA, were caught up in at that time.

We found it a sad but engaging and, for me, an enlightening movie. Michael Caine is "just right" in the part of Tom Fowler - I cannot think of anyone who could have played the part as well as he.

Graham Greene's novel has proved prophetic in many ways (see here.)
During the Vietnam War and its sequels, the novel became routinely labeled "prophetic." But what Greene was trying to tell us half a century [ago] now seems to border on sedition, as our government implements the President's declaration, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." Indeed, The Quiet American has become so subversive that Miramax tried to deep-six its movie after 9/11 (it was originally set for a 2001 release), until Michael Caine forced a two-week run in December 2002 and a wider opening in early 2003. So now Greene's exposé of the U.S. machinations for imperial war in Southeast Asia in the early 1950s reappears amid the machinations for imperial war in Southwest Asia and the Mideast.

That was the "two of each" then...here's the salt, vinegar and scraps:

Another film - an independent one, little known outside of Netflix I suspect - The Station Agent. While I didn't like any character in Words and Pictures, I liked all the characters of The Station Agent. Co-stars are Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson and Bobby Carnavale. I enjoyed their individual quirks, their non-mainstreamness, their silences, their minimalist chat, their quiet - and the actors' wonderful portrayal of living life on the fringes of what is common. That's all I'll say so as not to spoil it for anyone else who enjoys an out of the ordinary sojourn with out of the ordinary people in ordinary, yet so out of the ordinary, circumstances.