Thursday, June 30, 2016

Two Films

We watched Spotlight via Netflix this week. "The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core." It's an engrossing, well-done, well-acted dramatisation of investigations conducted by a team of 4 journalists in 2001, in and around Boston. Highly recommended!

We've also watched recently a DVD of Joy, another fact-based story, this one biographical. The movie's subject is Joy Mangano, a self-made millionaire who created her own business empire. From a humble and chaotic dysfunctional family background her rise to success and wealth began with her initial invention of a self-wringing floor mop! A decent movie. I'd have preferred a little less detail of her early struggles, and more on her eventual rise in business, which was rushed into the closing minutes of the film. Other than that, an entertaining couple of hours or so.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Zodiac Sign Cancer Considered

In his book, Astrology published 1964, Louis MacNeice, not an astrologer, but a poet and scholar, gathered together much of interest from a variety of sources, ancient and modern. On zodiac sign Cancer, through which the Sun now travels, he wrote the paragraphs below, quoting from a variety of professional astrologers. This extract was not copied and pasted from elsewhere, but copy-typed by my own fair fingers, by the way, with illustrations added.
 Cancer by Erté
In spite of its name, Cancer is a homey, motherly sign, but also perhaps the most vulnerable. It is the sign of the summer solstice, from which it will be nine months before Aries comes around again; it can therefore be regarded as a symbol of fecundation and conception. As with the other signs, Barbault makes much of its position in the year, forgetting that many other countries have their spring and summer at different times from his. But on the symbolism of this sign and the psychology of Cancer people, he is at his most eloquent and suggestive. Because it is a cardinal sign and the first of the watery signs, he treats it as symbolizing the primal water - les eaux-mères - in the same way that Aries symbolizes the primal fire. It therefore stands for our ancestral origins, all organic life being assumed to have begun in the waters. It also stands, like the sea, for both intuition and introversion. It is the one and only sign ruled by the Moon, so Cancerian qualities are very much the same as the lunar qualities. The Moon, it will be remembered, is Our Lady of the Waters.

 From illustration by Ronald Searle
In accordance with this watery character, Barbault says that the Cancer type tends to be un végétatif. [Huh?] And the Cancer man (it is easier to be a Cancer woman and work it out in motherhood and the home) is often unduly feminine; as Pearce puts it, "effeminate in constitution and disposition". Cancer people can easily become "drowned in their own insecurity": They are over-emotional and sub-active. But there is another side to the picture. In its earlier pictorial representations Cancer was drawn as a crayfish, a creature that can give one a terrible nip. And even crabs, however soft inside, have a very hard shell and are difficult to dislodge from their chosen crannies. So throughout the centuries this sign has stood for tenacity. Not only of purpose but also for tenacity of memory - especially memory of childhood. Which brings us around to the home again. "Cherchez la mère", writes Barbault "et vous trouverez le Cancer!"

This sign, however, stands for not only motherly people but mother-fixated people. Being extremely sensitive, it is in fact a sign of many colors and moods. Many astrologers consider that it makes excellent teachers (or actresses) and in it Barbault distinguishes what appear on the surface to be two quite different types: the stay-at-home, sufficient-unto-the-day type and the explorative, castles-in-the-air type. (Actually, he would not claim that these are more than subtypes.)

Earlier astrologers laid less stress on the profundities and sensitivities of this sign and more on its crab nature. According to Varley, Cancer tends to give "a crabbed, short-nosed class of persons, greatly resembling a crab in features, when viewed in front; these people resemble crabs, also, in the energy and tenacity with which they attack any object." And in spite of his shy and retiring nature a Cancer friend can be a social asset. Gleadow advises anyone about to give a dinner party: "If you want to know about food or wine ask Cancer." (He adds unkindly: "And if you want someone who will not object to whatever you do choose Pisces.")
Morrish, in his Ladder of Being (or more strictly speaking, of Becoming), makes Cancer the first of three rungs representing gestation and birth. (He suggests that the heiroglyph could stand not only for crab-claws but for breasts.) The Zodiacal opposite to Cancer is of course Capricorn, an earthy no-nonsense sign that does not suffer from hypersensitivity. The signs that Cancer gets on with are Pisces and Taurus; but in mundane astrology Cancer and Capricorn are bracketed together, not only because they are both solstitial signs (one summer, one winter) but because they are the traditional fields for world-wide disasters. A third-century B.C. astrological missionary from ancient Babylon to Greece named Berosus taught that, when all the planets are in conjunction in Cancer, there will be a universal conflagration (a summery type of disaster); when they get together in Capricorn, there will be a universal deluge.

So there is Cancer, the only sign ruled by the Moon. Water, water. everywhere - but also tenacity and patience, maternal love, understanding of others, extreme sensitivity, and introversion. And next door to it, with the usual dramatic juxtaposition, what should we find but the only sign ruled by the Sun?
Astrologers mentioned:
André Barbault
A.J. Pearce
John Varley
Morrish (L. Furze-Morrish?)
Rupert Gleadow

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Easier to Blame the Faceless

A moving piece at The Guardian yesterday by Mike Carter bought tears to my eyes:
I walked from Liverpool to London. Brexit was no surprise.
Maybe the Brexit vote from the people living in areas Carter describes was inevitable - they needed to blame someone and to, at last, make themselves heard. I understand their pain and frustration, I do! Yet they were not aiming their wrath in the right direction.

Among the 2000+ comments under Mike Carter's article I saw one with which I 100% agreed, posted by another Annie: "Annie M"

As the fallout continues, this is another truth emerging: that it's much easier to blame "abroad" in the guise of the EU/faceless bureaucrats and those darn immigrants than it is to blame the home team. Consecutive governments on all sides from Thatcher on down to today, with their failure to serve the people who elected them, is the real reason for this disastrous Brexit vote. I've long been predicting that the working class will rise again, possibly through some new configuration of organised labour, but perhaps this referendum has been their single best weapon to stick it to the ruling class however devastating the outcome. (Annie M)

I'm both very sad, and very angry at the situation in which my old homeland finds itself now, with no strong leadership to steer it through the tangle ahead. Perhaps this is the fever stage, it'll continue for a short time, then break and a slow healing will begin, though it will be leaving the country weaker, for many years, than need ever have been the case. Will those people on Mike Carter's route be any better off though?

I voted in many General Elections during my 60+ years in England, I always voted Labour - always! Labour used to be the party of the working classes. Labour changed though, just as the Democratic party in the US has changed over the years. Both parties abandoned their roots long ago - and that is where the true rot is seated, both here in the USA and there in Britain - and where all the blame should rightly be aimed.

The EU isn't perfect, far from it, but it's being made the scapegoat for decades of what's now called neoliberalism in national governments - abandonment of the working classes by all political parties. Conservatives and Republicans never pretended to represent the working classes - how so many years under their rule have happened I shall never understand, but at least they never pretended to be something they were not. The poisoning of the Labour Party and the Democratic Party are crimes which will need to be accounted for at some point - perhaps not quite yet, it seems, but soon.

I let my keyboard cool down after typing the above, and moved on to read the day's offerings at The Smirking Chimp. I was happily surprised to find a piece by one of my favourite writers, absent for many months. Prof. David Michael Green's piece is an excellent commentary on the overall, worldwide situation which has directly brought about the results on which I've scribbled above. Prof DMG's article is titled:
How The West Was Lost and Other Joys of Greedy Sociopathy - do give it a read!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Movie Music Monday ~ Bernard Herrmann

Bernard Hermann, American composer and conductor best known for his work in composing for motion pictures was born this week, on 29 June in 1911.

A look at his natal chart, to discover whether it was a good fit. On first glance, the presence of Neptune (film) in the same sign as his natal Cancer Sun though not close enough to be considered conjunct, is a good signature. Pluto lay just over the Gemini cusp at 27 degrees of that sign, on the other side of natal Sun, and conjunct Mercury at 1 Cancer. This was less expected, until I'd read more about the man. There's a T-square Neptune/Uranus/Mars and an almost Grand Cross (too loose at one point) formed by squares and oppositions between: Mars, Neptune, Jupiter and Uranus, both formations indicate some difficulties, some innate scratchiness or hard edges.

Jupiter in Pluto-ruled Scorpio in harmonious trine to the Mercury (communication)/Pluto (occasionally explosive) conjunction reflects, perhaps the extreme (Jupiter) explosive temper he sometimes displayed according to reports (below). Pluto's link to a personal planet might also feed into the composer's frequent "Gothic and gaslight" music style, also mentioned below.

Natal Moon was likely have been somewhere in spotlight-loving Leo, along with natal Venus (the arts) making a nice connection to the showbiz vibe of the film industry.

Chart set for 12 noon (time of birth unknown) on 29 June 1911, New York City.

Some gleanings from reading further about the man and his personality as well as his career detail. The snips from linked articles uncover some of the personality traits reflected in Herrmann's natal chart, as well as giving brief detail of his best-known work. Highlights in both cases are my own.

Regarding his work -from a mini bio by Michael Brooke at IMDB:
The man behind the low woodwinds that open Citizen Kane (1941), the shrieking violins of Psycho (1960), and the plaintive saxophone of Taxi Driver (1976) was one of the most original and distinctive composers ever to work in film. He started early, winning a composition prize at the age of 13 and founding his own orchestra at the age of 20. After writing scores for Orson Welles's radio shows in the 1930s (including the notorious 1938 "The War of the Worlds" broadcast), he was the obvious choice to score Welles's film debut, Citizen Kane (1941), and, subsequently, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), although he removed his name from the latter after additional music was added without his (or Welles's) consent when the film was mutilated by a panic-stricken studio. Herrmann was a prolific film composer, producing some of his most memorable work for Alfred Hitchcock, for whom he wrote nine scores. A notorious perfectionist and demanding (he once said that most directors didn't have a clue about music, and he blithely ignored their instructions--like Hitchcock's suggestion that Psycho (1960) have a jazz score and no music in the shower scene).....

For more about his personality The Trouble with Benny, by Matt Williams is enlightening:
To assess Herrmann’s success in the film world it is first necessary to understand the composer himself. Herrmann was a complex man whose perceived weaknesses — his explosive temper and intolerance of sub-standard musicianship, to name but two — often worked for rather than against him. Here was an outspoken, highly literate and intelligent man whose intense interest in film and the dramatic medium allowed him to write music rich in musical colour; and which, when carefully placed under a dialogue track, increased the import of the spoken word, lending dialogue a greater significance than it might otherwise have had.

Herrmann came from an era of ‘serious’ composers. He was still a young man when the Depression hit hard in America in the 30s; the rise of Nazism can’t failed to have affected the way he perceived people and their motives being himself of Jewish parentage. Consequently his film music has a distinctive weight and intensity often lacking in today’s scores.

Like the man himself, many of Herrmann’s most memorable scores are brooding and portentous in nature. Even the purportedly romantic music for films like Jane Eyre and The Ghost and Mrs Muir has an edginess and a sense of nostalgia and sadness which perfectly complement the films in question. As one critic observed, his was the music of ‘Gothic and gas light’.

Much has been written about Herrmann’s irascibility, his seemingly unprovoked rages and outrageous and opinionated views of others. Both his father and his grandfather shared his temperament, which at its worst led to a reddening of the face, a tensing of the facial muscles and a string of curses and insults — all apparently unprovoked. Herrmann was distrustful and intolerant of the musical opinions of others. To one unfortunate recipient he retorted: ‘Your views are as narrow as your tie’.

A 5 minute video-skip through some of Herrmann's best-known themes:

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Saturday & Sundries

 My caption:"Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose"? -  In this case there's plenty!

American electoral politics have become more than slightly unhinged this year. From this brief overview of Prada male fashion for coming seasons, it appears the fashion world may not be far behind.
"Some people are merely boringly insane. Others are precociously loopy as a lariat. And then, most dangerous of all, are those who are crazy as a soup sandwich."
(Harlan Ellison when working as Creative Consultant on the CBS-TV reboot of The Twilight Zone, 1983.

Diego Goldberg's The Arrow of Time celebrates 40 years this year - it's now updated with current facial portraits of the family.

While looking around online for new eyeglass frames I've wondered from whence the terms "panto" and P3 originated in respect of my current favourite style. Google tells me that panto is short for pantoscopic = wide view. P3 another term describing the same style of eyeglass frame originated in the U.S. military during World War II. The “P” stands for pantoscopic, the “3” referred to a 3mm difference in width and length of lens.

Have the extra-terrestrials landed? No it's just my husband's elder son AJ and his granddaughter Serenity. As husband posted at Flickr:
How to be a Grandpa.Give your granddaughter a pad of post-it tabs and hold still.
No training necessary. Grand-daughters supply all the imagination.

How to be a Grandpa.

"Politics is the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable."
John Galbraith.

Lastly...something completely different:

These words came from the writings of the late Jonathan Cainer, from the section "Introducing the Moon" in The Psychic Explorer which rests in my bookshelf. It's described as "A down-to-earth guide to six magical arts: astrology, auras, the Tarot, dowsing, palmistry, ESP", by Jonathan Cainer & Carl Rider. First published in 1986. Astrological input from Mr. Cainer; Mr. Rider is a writer and philosopher who specialises in psychic and paranormal research.
Our modern world is very solar. Despite recent advances in the feminist cause, we still live in a society dominated by male energy - and perhaps that is one reason why masculine sun signs have become so popular! There is a strong tendency for most of us to accept glib, generalized information and simplified scientific truisms. The sun rules "simplicity", and it also speaks of "material growth and self-interest", two very characteristic 20th-century ideals. The lunar principles of compassion, sympathy and understanding do exist in our world, but most of us would agree that they normally play a muted second fiddle in the process of human motivation.

.......It is crucial to recognize that people of either sex have two sides to their personality. Inside every macho man is a soft, poetic, sensitive individual trying to get out. Inside every soft woman is a strong, capable and ambitious person waiting for an opportunity to express herself. However, most women, at least on a superficial level, find it easier to identify with the lunar side of their character, while most men have more affinity with solar energy. In other words, women are often more in touch with their moon signs and men with their sun signs.

If you can accept the notion that each individual is not just a one-dimensional personality with a cardboard cut-out facade but a complicated, sensitive mixture of differing (and sometimes opposing) inclinations, you are ready to enter the world of real astrology......

Friday, June 24, 2016

Arty Farty Friday ~ Minor White

A photographer this week, rather than a painter: Minor White - kind of appropriate name for a photographer who specialised in black and white photographs!

Taking a photograph these days, using the ubiquitous multi-functional cellphone, is almost too easy. The true art of photography is almost always absent, the effort photographers such as Minor White, Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange and others put into their photographic art was something else entirely.

A nutshell biography from International Photography Hall of Fame

Minor White (9 July 1908- 24 June 1976) was an American photographer, educator, editor and critic. Recognized for his intense commitment of photography and the boldness of his vision, he devoted himself to achieving broad recognition of photography as an art form.

White was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and studied botany at the University of Minnesota. He worked for several years at odd jobs before concentrating on photography. He was largely self-taught and exhibited a direct, documentary approach in his early work. He worked as a photographer for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in Oregon from 1938 to 1939 and served as an infantryman in the Philippines from 1942 through 1945 during World War II, receiving the Bronze Star.

After the war, White’s photographs began to reflect spiritual issues and the influence of his studies of Roman Catholicism, Zen Buddhism, and mysticism. White believed that taking and viewing a photograph are spiritual, intellectual acts. A photograph is capable of expressing intangibles, and what it creates for the viewer is an important as what the artist had in mind.

White moved to New York City after the war and studied at Columbia University. In 1946 he joined the faculty of the California School of Fine Arts where he worked under Ansel Adams. White founded Aperture magazine with Adams, Dorothea Lange, and Beaumont and Nancy Newhall, among others. He succeeded Adams as Director of the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) in 1947 and served as professor of photography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1965 to 1976.

In a piece by Susan Stamberg at the NPR website, she writes that White was an outsider with a quirky sense of humor, White had different ideas, Martineau says. He was brave in what he chose to photograph, at a time when some subjects were dangerous.

"His struggle with his homosexuality was a key factor in his work," Martineau explains. "Throughout his entire career he remained closeted. He had to. He was teaching in various university art programs, and if someone had found out he could've lost his source of livelihood, so it was very serious."

Look HERE for more than a dozen good-sized images of White's photographs.

Google Image page has a good selection of his photographs too.

Three I especially like - it's difficult to present these at their best in a Blogger blog, clicking on them might improve the images.

 Frosted Window, Rochester, New York (1952).

 Road with Poplar Trees

 Sandstone Lobos, "Returning Wave". 1950.


Born on 9 July 1908 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Time of birth not known, chart set for 12 noon.

 Self portrait, 1965.
Sun conjunct Neptune and Venus is a classic astrological signature for an arty photographer, and when these planets are in Cancer intense sensitivity is going to be a prominent ingredient in the mix. It's as though he's imprinting this "signature" into his photographs.

Saturn in Aries squaring the above "signature" brings in some difficulties reflecting, possibly, White's closeted sexual preference. Moon's position can't be known without a time of birth, but at noon it was in Scorpio, making it quite likely to have been in the same sign at his birth. A Scorpio Moon, which might be in trine to his sensitive Cancer Sun, could also play in to a need for secrecy as to his sexuality.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

X-ing It

Britain, today, will be in the grip of referendum fever. The people must decide whether to place their "X" in the "Remain" box or or "Leave" box. This problematic referendum has been referred to generally as "Brexit" : to stay a member of the European Union or exit it?

I have some purely selfish interest in the result, because of the vagaries of currency exchange, to which my two pensions from the UK are subject. If the vote is to leave the EU there'll be a severe fall in sterling's value, leading to a drop in the amount of money arriving in my bank account each month. That aside, which though important to me means nothing to those living in the UK, I've come to the conclusion that it was a very, very risky business leaving it up to the population to decide on such a complex issue, upon which might ride the future fortunes of the nation for decades to come. Ordinary people simply do not understand the big print, let alone the small print in something so complex .

As I understand it, the referendum will not be not totally binding, especially if the vote were to be very close. A close vote could leave the final outcome up to parliament. Last I read, parliament favours "remain". Or there could be a further referendum later.

From reports, not even experts can predict confidently how things would proceed in the case of a "leave" vote. In the case of a "remain" vote, things would continue much as they have been, though perhaps with some stronger pushes from Britain's EU representatives for better terms from the EU.

I'm not equipped to blog about the pros and cons of a vote either way, not having lived in the UK since 2004 . I could have voted in the referendum, possibly should have voted, but decided not to do so. It's for those who have to live under, or outside, the EU, day to day, to make the important decision; they having been given this opportunity, which I do sincerely believe is way beyond their (and my) "pay grade".

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


Memory by Thomas Bailey Aldrich

MY mind lets go a thousand things,
Like dates of wars and deaths of kings,
And yet recalls the very hour--
'Twas noon by yonder village tower,
And on the last blue noon in May--
The wind came briskly up this way,
Crisping the brook beside the road;
Then, pausing here, set down its load
Of pine-scents, and shook listlessly
Two petals from that wild-rose tree.

On human memory, astrologer C.E.O. Carter wrote in his Encyclopedia of Psychological Astrology :

"Memory depends chiefly upon Mercury. If this planet is strong, especially in fixed signs, the memory will be good. The Moon and Cancer should also be considered; they often bestow a very retentive memory if strong; and attention should be directed to the third house........Mercury afflicted by malefics in cadent houses or mutable signs generally impairs the memory and a strong Pisces element in the nativity often has the same effect."

I've read elsewhere that Cancer can bestow a retentive memory, I'm lucky enough to have one, so perhaps I should thank my Cancer ascendant for it. I'm not convinced that the ascendant sign is mainly involved in "how others see you and how you see the world", I've come to the conclusion, from experience and observation, that the rising sign simply becomes part of the personality mix, colouring, augmenting and modifying other factors. My natal Mercury's position, strong near the descendant angle, and in organised Capricorn, is likely to be helpful to memory also.

Husband has Mercury in Pisces, conjunct Saturn, and he can be pretty absent minded and forgetful. C.E.O. Carter nailed that one! I have to say though, when it comes to remembering anything connected with jazz husband is amazing. He might not know what day it is, or even what month, or what he had for breakfast, but he knows who's playing trumpet and who's on piano, etc. the minute he hears a piece of jazz !

Perhaps on some far future day, humans will be able to go to the store (or hospital), for a memory upgrade, to augment what Mother Nature bestowed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

"...a funny ol' world that's a-comin' along".

by Robert Parry begins:
Over the past several decades, the U.S. State Department has deteriorated from a reasonably professional home for diplomacy and realism into a den of armchair warriors possessed of imperial delusions, a dangerous phenomenon underscored by the recent mass “dissent” in favor of blowing up more people in Syria.
And ends with:
Yet, the neocons and liberal hawks who control the State Department – and are eagerly looking forward to a Hillary Clinton presidency – will never stop coming up with these crazy notions until a concerted effort is made to assess accountability for all the failures that that they have inflicted on U.S. foreign policy.

As long as there is no accountability – as long as the U.S. president won’t rein in these warmongers – the madness will continue and only grow more dangerous.
The piece led me to re-post something from my first 12 months of blogging, it was posted originally in May 2007.
I was moved by an article written by one of my favourite journalists, Christopher Cooper, for The Wiscasset Newspaper [Sorry, link now defunct]. The piece was titled "As Some Warn Victory, Some Downfall" - a line from Bob Dylan's song "It's Alright Ma (I'm only bleeding)".

A short extract:
"Anybody who likes this [Me: or any] war should sign on to it. Send his or her son and daughter. Send the Pentagon a generous check toward the cost. Support the troops? Go die in the desert so they don’t have to. Yellow ribbons tied to a power pole or a string of made in China toy flags along a bridge rail don’t do the job five long years into the butchery.

I wish I thought electing Democrats these days made much difference. I wish I thought the anguish ninety or a hundred families feel every month when they see a brace of officers coming up their front walks bearing that unspeakably terrible salutation could somehow seep into each of our hearts and make us turn off the ball game or the car race or walk out of the Spiderman sequel and demand that somebody, anybody, either party, do the right thing. Right now."

Christopher Cooper's article led me, via its title, to read again some Bob Dylan lyrics of the 1960s. Many remain relevant today, they were written when Uranus conjoined, or lay very close to, Pluto.

In a 2002 review of Mike Marqusee's book, "Chimes of Freedom: The Politics of Bob Dylan's Art", Stefan Schindler of La Salle University wrote:

"What is especially fresh about Marqusee's book is its astonishing relevance. It's a journey into the smoldering fissures that still inform our collective psyche: globalized, militarized, terror-edged, led by lunatics. Marqusee makes exactly the right point when he suggests that "the sixties might someday come to seem merely an early skirmish in a conflict whose real dimensions we have yet to grasp." As William Faulkner said: "The past is not dead. It's not even past."
Bob Dylan's lyrics are in stark contrast to the mawkish sentimentality of some country music offerings. Dylan's own politics have been the subject of argument among his fans. It may well be that he is not quite as "lefty", nor totally anti-war, as these lyrics suggest. It doesn't matter. We each see in them what we want to see. Good poetry and lyrics can be chameleon-like, capable of appreciation in many ways, on different levels.

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

From IT'S ALRIGHT MA (I'm only bleeding)
As some warn victory, some downfall
Private reasons great or small
Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
To make all that should be killed to crawl
While others say don't hate nothing at all
Except hatred.

Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Made everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It's easy to see without looking too far
That not much
Is really sacred.

While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the president of the United States
Sometimes must have
To stand naked.

I'm out here a thousand miles from my home,
Walkin' a road other men have gone down.
I'm seein' your world of people and things,
Your paupers and peasants and princes and kings.

Hey, hey Woody Guthrie, I wrote you a song
'Bout a funny ol' world that's a-comin' along.
Seems sick an' it's hungry, it's tired an' it's torn,
It looks like it's a-dyin' an' it's hardly been born.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Music Monday~ Into Summer....Loudly sing, "Cuckoo!"

"Sumer Is Icumen In" is a traditional English medieval round, and possibly the oldest such example of counterpoint in existence. The title might be translated as "Summer has come in" or "Summer has arrived".
The round is sometimes known as the Reading rota because the manuscript comes from Reading Abbey though it may not have been written there. It is the oldest piece of six-part polyphonic music (Albright, 1994). Its composer is anonymous, possibly W. de Wycombe, and it is estimated to date from around 1260. The manuscript is now at the British Library. The language is Middle English, more exactly Wessex dialect.

(From the YouTube video site.)
Summer has arrived,
Loudly sing, Cuckoo!
The seed grows and the meadow
And the wood springs anew..

A few, more modern, celebrations of the season:


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Land and Sea

Aristotle recognized that the earth’s surface features are not permanent: lakes dry up, deserts become wet, and islands may form as the result of volcanic eruptions. Areas that were once sea may become land, and vice versa.

Aristotle wrote that most changes on the earth’s surface are not grasped by people, because they happen on timescales very much longer than a human life.
Before their very eyes!

When This Boat Crew Realized What They Were Seeing, It Was Almost Too Late To Escape.


Ethiopia's Danakil Depression has one of the most extreme climates found on Earth – yet even here, life has found a way
One day millions of years into the future, the plates will have moved apart so much that the salty waters of the Red Sea will spill over, creating a new ocean and drowning this strange landscape forever. Then, the Danakil Depression will be the birthplace of a new ocean.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Arty Farty Friday ~ James Montgomery Flagg

James Montgomery Flagg, (born June 18, 1877, Pelham Manor, New York — died May 27, 1960, New York.) American illustrator, poster artist, and portrait painter known particularly for his World War I recruiting poster of a pointing Uncle Sam. The poster was almost certainly inspired by Alfred Leete's British poster featuring Lord Kitchener (See HERE). Flagg's poster was reissued during World War II. Flagg wrote for magazines as well, also wrote an autobiography, Roses and Buckshot and wrote and acted in some silent films.

Mr Flagg himself appears in this 2 minute video:

There's a fair amount of information around the internet about Flagg's career history, and some snippets about his personality. For a compact rundown, this 1937 piece, by William Birchman, seems to capture him:

[Flagg] began his drawing career at the age of two and his first published drawing appeared in St. Nicholas ten years later. At fourteen, he was a staff artist on Life and Judge. He was born sixty years ago in Pelham Manor, Westchester County, New York. He studied at the Art Students League, at Herkomer School in England, and under Victor Marec in Paris. He wears tortoise-shell glasses when he works and twirls his big black eyebrows as he talks. His mind has the speed of a roulette wheel and his tastes are fastidious. He is openly hostile to ignorant people. His command of the King's English is better than most writers. His frank letters to art aspirants have avoided a flood of mediocre artists. He says the difference between the artist and illustrator is that the latter knows how to draw, eats three square meals a day, and can pay for them. He works incredibly fast, in any medium, turning out about 250 pictures a year less three months' vacation. He is an author of note, has written a series of motion pictures and satirical comedies, and has appeared on stage and screen. He is no Caspar Milquetoast. His caricatures, like his illustrations, are second to none. He can cook a mess of fish balls that would please any gourmet. He goes around the house in his pajamas wearing a monocle. He likes models well curved, feminine, and poised. Vivacious gals irritate his nerves, boyish gals are a crick in the thyroid, and he says, "real men are much better than imitations in brassieres." He has been married twice and has a daughter. His father is so youthful looking at eighty-two that he is constantly mistaken for his illustrious son. Like father, like son. O. O. McIntyre once wrote, "James Montgomery Flagg continues the Ponce de Leon among artists. Somewhere he seems to have tapped youth's eternal fountain. At an age when many limners have put away their drawing boards, he is doing more work than ever before, and with a zip." At this rate Mr. Flagg will not be applying for the Old-Age Pension!

Willis Birchman
Faces and Facts about 26 Contemporary Artists
Google Image page features lots of Flagg's illustrations; and HERE.

This website has some good-sized versions of Flagg's magazine covers and illustrations.

A couple of his posters, and these remain appropriate in 2016:


Born 18 June 1877, Pelham Manor, New York. Chart set for 12 noon, time of birth unknown.

From the quote above can be gleaned that Flagg was fast - physically and mentally, youthful even in senior years, fastidious, versatile, didn't suffer fools, gladly or at all, and he enjoyed the opposite sex.

Much of that could be attributed to Gemini Sun and Mercury; the fastidious observation might give a hint as to position of Flagg's natal Moon, which could easily have been in fastidious Virgo.

Gemini Sun opposite Jupiter in Sagittarius - hmmm - a hint of inflated ego and over-confidence, or maybe this simply reflects his extreme work output. Jupiter trines Uranus and Uranus sextiles Sun - which kind of softens the hard-edged feel of Sun opposed by Jupiter, and adds a touch of Bohemian to the mix via Uranus.

Arts planet Venus sextiles Neptune (creativity) and trines Mars (energy, speed) reflecting again some of the observations about this artist and his work style, by those who knew him.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Will she, won't she, will he won't he....?

Bernie Sanders is to address his supporters by video streaming this evening. I guess Bernie is going to explain his plan for coming months, having met Hillary Clinton this week to discuss how they might find areas of agreement...will they, won't they, will they, won't they? I received an invitation to the streaming for RSVP, but when I tried to respond I was asked for my cellphone number. I don't have one. My husband has our single, very basic cellphone, which I've almost never had the need to use, and in any case dishing out its number to who knows where didn't appeal to me. I must rely on others to report what Bernie has to say tonight, as to whether he and Hillary will dance together, or continue stepping on one another's toes.

Ted Rall had a good piece up at Smirking Chimp yesterday :
What Hillary Must Do to Win Over Bernie Voters


What do Bernie Sanders supporters want? As Trump says, everything is negotiable. So let’s negotiate!

“Add back the public option to the Affordable Care Act,” Howard Dean suggests to Hillary in the New York Times. “Let Americans vote with their feet about whether they want to be in a single payer or the current system.”

The problem with that is, big insurance companies bribed her with $13 million in campaign contributions to get her to say that single payer “will never, ever come to pass.”

Dean wants Clinton to back Sanders’ “massive overhaul of the criminal justice system, starting with emptying for-profit prisons and juvenile detention centers.”

Nice idea, except that here too, she’s owned: she collected as many big donations from lobbyists for the for-profit prison industry as Marco Rubio.

He also wants her to embrace Bernie’s push for reforming Wall Street – but how likely is it that someone who made over $100 million giving speeches to scumbags in the financial services industry will turn against her backers?

“She should release the transcripts of her speeches and explain any of the objectionable things she said in them,” says Stephanie Rioux. If Clinton were going to show us her speeches, it would already have happened.

It may not feel like it now, but Hillary Clinton is in a pickle.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Astrological Drive-by ~ James Comey, Director of FBI

A recent article by Roger Aronoff set me wondering: Has FBI Director Comey Waited Too Long on Clinton Scandals?
I wasn't wondering that, I was wondering what kind of guy is James Comey, Director of the FBI.

A couple of snips from a couple of articles including the one linked above:

From The Independent
As a federal prosecutor, his politics had been vague, but it was generally assumed he was a standard law-and-order Bush loyalist. Now he was a Republican dissident, an anti-Cheney who dared to say no to his masters in the nobler cause of defending the integrity of the Justice Department, indeed of the constitution itself.

Even so, most Republicans too still liked him. Comey’s height, 6ft 8in, might have made him an intimidating figure, but who could dislike for long so gregarious a man, with a terrific sense of humour? And no one begrudged him when he left Washington to return to the private sector, as chief counsel first for Lockheed-Martin, then for the Bridgewater hedge fund. After all, when you’ve five children to put through college, a government salary doesn’t go very far.
From Roger Aronoff's piece linked in paragraph one, above:
They say: “The integrity of Comey is pretty much unmatched with the exception of Director Mueller.” Tim Murphy, former deputy director of the FBI.

[Regarding Hillary Clinton's e-mail management and related problems, and following the President's endorsement of Clinton]
They include the mishandling of classified materials, obstruction of justice, the public corruption scandal in which she used the State Department as leverage for benefitting the Clinton Foundation as well as her family, and Benghazi.

Contrary to President Obama’s assertion that he is allowing a non-partisan and full investigation, by endorsing Mrs. Clinton he has placed his hand on the scale of justice and made his wishes more than clear to federal investigators. The question is, will Director Comey and the FBI follow the President’s direction?

The evidence against Mrs. Clinton is clear. If Director Comey finds no evidence of criminal activity by Mrs. Clinton, he will lose his reputation as a straight shooter. Either way, at this point, it will be viewed as a political act. If the Attorney General and President Obama stymie an investigation through political interference, Director Comey could, and should, go public. There might even be a revolt within the FBI. Whether or not that happens, Hillary Clinton’s fate is now quite clearly in Director Comey’s hands.

Is there anything in James Comey's natal chart to support what's been said of him above - gregarious, terrific sense of humour, and most important of all...his integrity?

James Comey, born on 14 December 1960 in Yonkers, New York. time of birth isn't available, chart set for 12 noon.

Without a time of birth the important rising sign can't be known, nor can exact position of natal Moon - so we can only grasp at whatever straws remain.

Sun and Mercury in Sagittarius do often reflect a sunny, ebullient nature, for which, from the above observations, he is known. Jupiter, Sagittarius' ruler is in semi-sextile to Mercury on one side from Capricorn, and Jupiter is conjunct Saturn in its own sign of rulership. This connection draws law into the picture via both Saturn and Jupiter. Neptune, also in semi-sextile to Mercury from Scorpio could be drawing in some fogginess, which is not quite as inspiring. However, North Node of Moon in meticulous Virgo sextiles Neptune and trines Jupiter/Saturn. I see Virgo as reflecting well on the question of integrity, though how much Moon's N. Node influences personality, I'm not certain. Moon's Node is conjunct Pluto too - and Pluto is in its sign of rulership, Scorpio. There's a definite feel of strength here.

Venus in Aquarius adds a quirk of the unexpected in his nature, and sextiles Mercury the communication planet. I like this placement - but it's conjunct my natal Sun, so I would, wouldn't I?

Mars opposes the law-related Jupiter/Saturn conjunction from Cancer - how to interpret that in this instance? As Mars trines Neptune, the rather iffy factor in this astro-tangle, I'd say here is a potential "fly in the ointment".

Any other ideas, bearing in mind the important ascendant and Moon sign/position are unknown?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Lastly, primarily...

Last primary of the season is being held today: Washington DC, the nation's capital - there's something about the first being last in the New Testament if I remember rightly - US primaries were not even a tiny speck in the far off distance when those words were uttered though. Bernie Sanders will compete, but sadly it'll be a lost cause for him, the game has been called - not exactly by the name I shall call the US election game.

What's to say about Washington DC? What have I written before - surely I've scribbled some words about the capital over almost 10 years of blogging?

There's this snippet from a mixed bag blog post, but the link therein is no longer live.

A fascinating piece and super photographs by Michael Simpson, describes how Freemasonry and astrology were involved in the building of Washington DC. Their input can be traced, easily. : Esoteric & Masonic Symbolism In Washington D.C.
On the same broad topic, there's a book on sale at Amazon, The Secret Architecture of Our Nation's Capital: The Masons and the Building of Washington, D.C, by by David Ovason
In the publicity blurb for the book:
Today, there are more than twenty complete zodiacs in Washington, D.C., each one pointing to an extraordinary mystery. David Ovason, who has studied these astrological devices for ten years, now reveals why they have been placed in such abundance in the center of our nation's capital and explains their interconnections. His richly illustrated text tells the story of how Washington, from its foundation in 1791, was linked with the zodiac, with the meaning of certain stars, and with a hidden cosmological symbolism that he uncovers here for the first time.

Fascinating and thoroughly researched, The Secret Architecture of Our Nation 's Capital is an engrossing book that raises provocative questions and otters complex insights into the meanings behind the mysterious symbols in Washington.
There's this website too, on the same topic, and others scattered around the net.

The same mixed-bag blog post mentioned above has this too, on ever mysterious Freemasonry:

From Thomas Paine's essay on The Origins of Free-Masonry published in New York, 1818:
Masonry (as I shall show from the customs, ceremonies, hieroglyphics, and chronology of Masonry) is derived and is the remains of the religion of the ancient Druids; who, like the Magi of Persia and the Priests of Heliopolis in Egypt, were Priests of the Sun. They paid worship to this great luminary, as the great visible agent of a great invisible first cause whom they styled " Time without limits."
.........In Masonry many of the ceremonies of the Druids are preserved in their original state, at least without any parody. With them the Sun is still the Sun; and his image, in the form of the sun is the great emblematical ornament of Masonic Lodges and Masonic dresses..............Free Masons Hall, in Great Queen-street, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, is a magnificent building, and cost upwards of 12,000 pounds sterling. Smith, in speaking of this building, says (page 152,) "The roof of this magnificent Hall is in all probability the highest piece of finished architecture in Europe. In the center of this roof, a most resplendent Sun is represented in burnished gold, surrounded with the twelve signs of the Zodiac, with their respective characters........................ The Masons, in order to protect themselves from the persecution of the Christian church, have always spoken in a mystical manner of the figure of the Sun in their Lodges, or, like the astronomer Lalande, who is a Mason, been silent upon the subject.

None of which relates to today's voting in DC. I hope Bernie comes away from the season's last primary with some additional delegates to add to his haul, to add weight to his declared intention of trying to effect changes in the Democrats' platform and general agenda at the Convention in July.

There's this, rather more relevant to today's voting, it's from a 2013 post:

Washington DC has been described as a city of dichotomies:
Washington was a city of dichotomies, contrasts, and striking inequalities. It was the capital of a major democracy that lacked local democracy. It was a citadel of power whose residents lacked power. It was a city with an excess of multimillion dollar office buildings and a shortage of housing. It was a city that was wealthier than most in which a sizable minority lives in great poverty. It had a 70 percent black population but the major decisions were still made by whites. It was a city in which the American dream and the American tragedy passed each other on the street and did not speak. It was, finally, a city that had suffered a form of deprivation known primarily to the poor and the imprisoned, a psychological deprivation born of the constant suppression and denial of one's identity, worth, or purpose by those in control. Washington to those in power was not a place but a hall to rent. The people of Washington were the custodian staff. And the renters were as likely to visit the world in which this staff lived as a parishioner is to inspect the boiler room of the church. The purpose of Washington's community was to serve not to be.