Monday, October 31, 2016

Scary Music Monday

“Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.”

― William Shakespeare

If y'all would rather read a traditional Hallowe'en blog post, this from 2009 might fit the bill - otherwise, for 2016 on a Music Monday... it's gotta be scary!

Finishing off off with:

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Saturday & Sundries

At Free Will Astrology this week Rob Brezsny told Aquarian types that:
In 1938, a chef named Ruth Wakefield dreamed up a brilliant invention: chocolate chip cookies. She sold her recipe to the Nestlé company in return for one dollar and a lifetime supply of chocolate. Maybe she was happy with that arrangement, but I think she cheated herself........(etc.)

Ms Wakefield did the world a favour! In my opinion, though, choc chip cookies do not beat wonderful British Chocolate Digestives by McVitie. From the Wikipedia page on Digestive Biscuits in general - sc roll down:
Chocolate digestive biscuits also are available, coated on one side with milk, dark or white chocolate. Originally produced by McVitie's in 1925 in the UK as the Chocolate Homewheat Digestive....American travel writer Bill Bryson described the chocolate digestive as "a British masterpiece". The McVitie's chocolate digestive is the most popular biscuit in the UK to dunk into tea.

The Sartorialist website one day this week (a daily stop for me) inadvertently introduced me to another artist I'd not heard of: Ai Weiwei, when The Sartorialist's photographer and the artist decided to take photographs of one another at the same time.

Ai Weiwei, I discovered, once created a set of bronze sculptures representing the Chinese Zodiac
See Zodiac Heads
and The Meaning of Ai Weiwei's 12 Zodiac Heads

An interesting topic upon which to exercise imagination:

The Amazing Cloud Cities we Could Build on Venus by Adam Becker
Space scientists are pouring much time and effort into colonising Mars. But could we also live in the atmosphere of Venus? BBC Future investigates.

It’s hot enough to melt lead, the acid rain will scorch the flesh from your bones – and it’s the perfect place to raise a family. Venus, not Mars, might be the off-world destination of choice for future space colonists..........

So how could we ever possibly hope to live there? The key is to avoid the surface. “The problem with Venus is that the surface is too far below the one-Earth-atmosphere [of air pressure] level,” says Geoffrey Landis, the Nasa scientist and science fiction writer who was among the first to propose the idea. “The atmosphere of Venus is the most Earth-like environment in the Solar System (other than the Earth).” Some 50 kilometres (30 miles) above the surface, Venus is surprisingly hospitable........

To live on Venus, then, just fill a balloon with nitrogen and oxygen, and live inside the balloon. A big enough balloon will have enough lifting power to support you and your supplies – and a really big balloon could do even more. “A one-kilometre diameter spherical [balloon] will lift 700,000 tons – two Empire State Buildings. A two-kilometre diameter [balloon] would lift six million tons,” says Landis. “The result would be an environment as spacious as a typical city.”.........

All of which brought to mind this ditty:

Hat-tip to Avedon's Sideshow (link in sidebar) for this -

Watching This Rare Color Film Of London In 1927 Makes You Feel Like You're There, by Emily Davis.
This wonderful short film was shot by early film pioneer Claude Friese-Greene in 1927, and is some of the first-ever color film footage of London.

Which, in turn, brought to mind that we've been watching a new TV series on NBC "Timeless" (mainly because it follows "The Voice", so we're already on TV rather than partaking of Netflix offerings).

We've seen 4 weekly episodes so far. The series is not awful, but it isn't great time travel fare either. The episodes need to be longer, dialogue needs more depth. To date the time travellers have tried: to stop a rogue time traveller from preventing the Hindenberg disaster; from preventing the assassination of Abe Lincoln, from something we hadn't quite worked out, and this week from preventing the Nazis using an atomic weapon on Belgium, and preventing Werner Von Braun from going to work in the USA. What the plot's characters are doing isn't travelling back to change stuff themselves, but to prevent a rogue traveller from changing stuff, and in the process causing numerous potentially catastrophic "butterfly effects".

As we told one another on Monday evening, "This theme, done this way, could get old quite quickly now!"

Friday, October 28, 2016

Arty Farty Friday ~ Sun Scorpio painter Francis Bacon

[Re-airing a post from 2009; I think all links within it do remain "live".]
The first sentence of an on-line biography gives a clue to this artist's likely Sun sign:
" ..... Francis Bacon was one of the most powerful and original figure painters in the twentieth century. He was particularly noted for the obsessive intensity of his work." And again the headline of a Guardian UK article describing the way Bacon is remembered by his friends: "The power and the passion" - two words often used in connection with......
Scorpio! Francis Bacon was born 28 October 1909, in Dublin, Ireland to English parents. He was a distant descendant of "the" Sir Francis Bacon, he of 16th century fame, he who said: "In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present." Sir Francis's recent relative relied very heavily on that darkness in his paintings.

A few examples of Bacon's paintings are shown at the end of this post. Offering insight, an extract from Anne Marie D. Lee's review of a Francis Bacon exhibition in New York: "A Painter for Our Times, Francis Bacon Arrives at the Met."

Perhaps in more peaceful times, the impact of Bacon's blurred, pummeled faces and wide-mouth screams of man and beast could be received on a purely philosophical level, as acutely vivid allegories of existential angst. But in the context of today’s times, the juxtaposition of man and meat is all-too revolting, and the sight of nude biomorphic figures weirdly perched on pedestal or table all-too disturbing and real. It is art that speaks to, or more so howls at, the conditions of our own fear-ridden world, where violence and brutality have so savagely dehumanized the experience of life.

In one of a series of paintings called the Man in Blue, a businessman stares watchfully from the canvas--his face, a grotesque pallor of sickly phosphorescence, caged in vertical shadows and equipped with biting teeth. How easy it is to see in this sordid portrait study, and others like it, reflections of the unremorseful greed of bankers and CEOs, those for whom the heart is just another piece of meat.
In a previous room, Francis Bacon is quoted in a wall text as having once said, “I remember looking at dog shit on the pavement and I suddenly realized, there it is—this is what life is like.” Indeed the artist's work seethes with the anger of a damaged man, imprisoned within a world filled with physical pain and mental anguish. A world of shit, in other words. And remarkably like our own.

Bacon spent much of his life in England, with interludes in European cities including Berlin and Paris. A self-taught painter, inspired by Picasso, his works are, at best, disturbing. Sometimes in his work there's a similar feel to that found in the paintings of Frida Kahlo, though the style is quite different.

Described by those who knew him well as "conflicted yet charming". Wikipedia's page on Bacon
"He could light up the day with his wit and generosity; he could equally well plunge it into gloom; and part of the excitement of being with him lay in not knowing for long which way it would go. It was fascinating to watch such sudden changes and contradictions within one person...Bacon could not be pinned down. The closer you got to him, the more likely he was to turn nasty or simply disappear -- to go through a wall into a life where you could not follow."
Bacon ultimately believed "that life was ridiculous," saying "Even as a child, I knew [life] was impossible, a kind of charade." He was an outspoken atheist; homosexual, he moved in a social circle of louche bon vivants and heavy drinkers in London's Soho. Later in life, after the death of his longtime partner he withdrew from former friends to a quieter lifestyle.
He died in 1992.

A brief look at Francis Bacon's natal chart. Born 28 October 1909 in Dublin. His time of birth isn't known, so a 12 noon chart must suffice. Rising sign and degree of Moon, as shown, will not be accurate.

Oh my! There are two Grand Crosses here! One (as shown) is tighter than the other, and links Mercury, Neptune, Saturn and Uranus via square (90*) aspects, and throwing up two oppositions. The second, looser Grand Cross links Venus, Mars, Pluto and Jupiter. Such formations, made up of square and opposition aspects , reflect a life of constant challenge and/or inner conflict. Bacon had a double dose of this - no wonder his paintings are so dark and filled with angst! He seems to have been a seriously disturbed individual.

There are some more helpful trine(120*)aspects in this well-spread out natal chart. Venus, planet of the arts trines Saturn, planet of work and discipline, both in go-getting Fire signs. Mars, the drive planet trines Neptune, planet of imagination and creativity, both in emotional Water signs. So, in spite of his inner angst, he had sufficient positivity within him to use his conflict as inspiration to produce works of art which have, eventually, become world famous and command high prices.

Natal Moon, if Bacon's birth time was after 3pm would have been in Taurus, an earlier birth would put Moon in Aries. I won't hazard a guess which is more likely; I can see arguments for both.

Bacon deliberately subverted artistic conventions by using the triptych format of Renaissance altarpieces to show the evils of man, rather than the virtues of Christ. In Pope Innocent X he reworked a famous portrait by Velazquez into a screaming mask of angst."

There are interesting pieces about Francis Bacon at the New Humanist , and The Guardian UK

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Black Cat Day

Wikipedia has today, 27 October, pegged as "Black Cat Appreciation Day" on their general daily page. Following the link there, we're led to Wiki's Black Cat page, upon scrolling down, it is reported that:
October 27 has been designated ‘Black Cat Day’ by Cats Protection in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, to celebrate the virtues of black cats and to encourage people to adopt an unwanted black cat. Cats Protection’s own figures suggest that black cats are more difficult for them to find a new home for than other colours. In 2014, the RSPCA reported that 70% of the abandoned cats in its care were black, suggesting a possible reason was that people considered black cats "un-photogenic".
Alrighty honour of our black feline friends, a couple of husband's photographs from his Flickr pages. We often meet cats of all hues on our wanders, in antique or vintage stores and elsewhere, he seldom misses an opportunity for a pic. Truly black cat photos, as it happens, were not as plentiful as snaps of cats of different colours. Captions are husband's, from Flickr.

What is your purpose in visiting our store?

What is your purpose in visiting our store?
In fact, if you are not going to scratch my chin, what is your purpose?

Who let you in here?

Who let you in here?

Watch it.

Watch it.
Keep your distance, this bird feeder is my territory.

(This one, dated May 2004, was taken in England, a few months before we left, for emigration (me), or to return home (he).

Stray Cat

Stray Cat
(Found in the Children's area of the Salina [Kansas]Art Center.)

It's appropriate that Black Cat Day lies within zodiac sign Scorpio, and close to Hallowe'en. Black cats have traditional connection to witches, witches have traditional connection to Hallowe'en, and Hallowe'en, with its ghoulies and ghosties and all manner of nasties is nicely (or nastily) compatible with Scorpio's alleged darker side.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Scorpio Considered

 Scorpio by David Palladini
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 Scorpio, through which the Sun now travels, he wrote the paragraphs below, quoting from some professional astrologers. This extract was not copied and pasted from elsewhere, but copy-typed by my own fair fingers; illustrations added by me.

NOTE: Mr MacNeice's seeming separation of male and female Scorpio-types, in the last paragraph, could be seen as unnecessary these days. what applies to the male applies also to the female!

Scorpio the Scorpion

October 24 - November 22.
A fixed, watery sign, ruled by Mars. Traditionally, people were frightened of Scorpio, since it is the eighth of the signs, and was thus often related to the eighth house, the house of death. Varley gives it rather alarming characteristics: "Scorpio has been occasionally found to afford to one class of human form when it is rising, a near approach to serpents, in the expression of the countenance, especially in the eyes and mouth; and when doing or saying cruel and bitter things, they are apt to be assimilated to the nature of snakes, scorpions, etc." This animal symbolism has been made much of by most astrologers, it is surprising to find a scorpion, usually encountered in hot, dry countries, established as a watery sign. (All the same, we are told that some modern Scorpio types excel at skin diving.)
The watery significance of Scorpio has been explained in different ways. Ingrid Lind says it is "the tidal wave of the thundering weight of Niagara." On the other hand Barbault contrasts it with the water of Cancer (the source) and the water of Pisces (the ocean) and makes it essentially stagnant, the kind of water that is found in marshes. This does not seem to fit with the energy and passion attributed to Scorpio characters, but Barbault no doubt is basing this diagnosis on the fact that Scorpio is a FIXED sign; after all, Cancer is cardinal and Pisces is mutable.

Stagnant or tidal, Scorpio is very peculiar. Barbault points out that the scorpion is the only animal that can kill itself (whether deliberately or not) by stinging itself with its tail. And he describes the sign as "the cemetery of the Zodiac." But readers who think themselves Scorpio types need not be alarmed: Scorpio has enormous stamina and can make a comeback like a phoenix. Having Mars as its ruler, it shows two main Martial qualities: aggressiveness and eroticism. Barbault writes that "the most murderous sign is also the most fecund." and to explain the apparent contradictions in Scorpio he once again, as with the preceding sign Virgo, calls in the anal complex. The Scorpio infant gets its first taste of pwer on the pot - and it will never look back.

Some modern astrologers prefer to think that it is the newcomer Pluto, rather than Mars, who is ruler of the sign, Pluto being the lord of the underworld. To look on the bright side of the sign, we are told that though the Scorpio man doesn't set out to please and doesn't like taking advice, he can be very good company just because he enjoys things so much. We are also informed that he often excels as a physician or a practical engineer and that Scorpio women make excellent cooks - and tend to have sexy voices like Edith Piaf. Born with Scorpio rising (which, according to some, endows a man with Spartan qualities) were Nelson, Kemal Ataturk, Goering, Mussolini, Franco, Nietzsche, Goethe, Victor Hugo and Edgar Allan Poe. Goethe's great hero Faust has been taken as a Scorpio type. Dostoevsky, Goebbels and Madame Curie had it as their Sun-sign.

Scorpio, being simultaneously fixed and watery, is like the two preceding signs, Libra and Virgo - complex if not self-contradictory. The next sign, Sagittarius, being mutable and fiery (which seems to make more obvious sense), is comparatively straightforward.

Astrologers mentioned:
André Barbault
John Varley
Ingrid Lind

Several earlier posts relating to Scorpio can be easily accessed via the Label Cloud in the sidebar.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

An "utterly memorable" Day

In trying to keep my thoughts away from that coming pesky election I noted that today is St Crispin's Day.
St Crispin is known as patron saint of shoemakers, leather-workers and suchlike.

Crispin and his (twin?) brother Crispinian were shoemakers as well as Christian martyrs, beheaded during the reign of Diocletian; the date of their execution is given as 25 October 285 or 286.

St Crispin's Day has become embedded in most minds, in Englnd at least, mainly through William Shakespeare's play, Henry V, in which the (as "1066 & All That" puts it) "utterly memorable Battle of Agincourt" took place, and Henry (via Will Shakespeare) made his oft remembered speech.

In unvarnished, unpoetic real life it's highly unlikely Ol'Henry Five ever said anything of the sort!

Information following was gleaned from (I wish we'd had access to this kind of help when presented with Henry V to study, as we were back in High School in England in the 1950s!)

The play was written around 1599, but it portrays events that occurred immediately before and after the Battle of Agincourt (October 25, 1415), which just so happened to occur on St. Crispin's Day, the feast day of the martyred twins, Saints Crispin and Crispinian. Like we've said elsewhere, the events in the play speak to some contemporary (Elizabethan) issues. As Shakespeare's original audiences watched Henry wage a war with France, they would have been reminded of their own long-standing problems with Spain and a recent uprising in Ireland, the Earl of Tyrone's Rebellion (1594-1603).

Henry V is a war play..... What's the play's attitude toward war? Specifically, what's the play's attitude toward Henry's decision to invade France? The answers aren't cut and dried because the tone shifts between patriotic fervor for Henry's campaign against the French and it's recognition of the horrors of warfare. On the one hand, the play celebrates Henry's triumph over the France, which seems miraculous given that the English troops were exhausted, sick, and seriously outnumbered at Agincourt. The play is also chock-full of patriotic speeches that suggest warfare is patriotic and ennobling. (The clearest example of this is Henry's famous St. Crispin's Day speech, where he insists that the men who fight alongside him will become his "band of brothers.") On the other hand, Shakespeare goes out of his way to show us the horrors of warfare, which involve brutal hand to hand combat, raping, pillaging, and endless suffering. As Exeter points out, neither side can escape "the widows' tears, the orphans' cries, / The dead men's blood, the pining maidens' groans, / For husbands, fathers, and betrothèd lovers."

Returning to St Crispin's Day, 2016: as shoemakers, in the traditional sense, are now few and very far between, their patron saints' workload in that department will have been considerably reduced, though not entirely eliminated. Western "cowboy" boots, belts, saddles especially come to mind in the USA; Spain, and maybe Mexico, still retain their leather-working traditions. St Crispin and St Crispinian have not been made totally redundant yet.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Music Monday ~ Georges Bizet & Carmen

Tomorrow will be the anniversary of the birth of Georges Bizet, French composer of Carmen.
Bizet died suddenly after the 33rd performance, unaware that the work would achieve international acclaim within the following ten years. Carmen has since become one of the most popular and frequently performed operas in the classical canon; the "Habanera" from act 1 and the "Toreador Song" from act 2 are among the best known of all operatic arias.

Set in southern Spain and tells the story of the downfall of Don José, a naïve soldier who is seduced by the wiles of the fiery gypsy Carmen. José abandons his childhood sweetheart and deserts from his military duties, yet loses Carmen's love to the glamorous toreador Escamillo, after which José kills her in a jealous rage. The depictions of proletarian life, immorality, and lawlessness, and the tragic death of the main character on stage, broke new ground in French opera and were highly controversial.

Clips from brief biography by Rovi Staff at All Music website

Bizet was born in Paris on October 25, 1838, and grew up in a happy, musical family that encouraged his talents. He learned to read music at the same time he learned to read letters, and equally well. Entering the Paris Conservatory before he was ten, he earned first prize in solfège within six months, a first prize in piano in 1852, and eventually, the coveted Prix de Rome in 1857 for his cantata Clovis et Clotilde. .....The two years spent in Rome after winning his prize, would be the only extensive time, and a greatly impressionable one, that Bizet would spend outside of Paris in his brief life. When he returned to Paris, he lost confidence in his natural talents and began to substitute dry Germanic or academic writing for his own developing idiom. ......
In 1863 Bizet's father bought land outside Paris where he built two bungalows, one of which Bizet frequently used as a compositional retreat. He began a friendship (apparently not a physical one) with a neighbor-woman named Céleste Mogador, a former actress, author, courtesan, circus rider, and dance-hall girl. She is said to have been the model for his masterpiece's title role of Carmen. ......
Bizet's corpus of unfinished works is large, and testifies to his unsettled existence and his difficulty in finding a place in France's notoriously hierarchical and conservative musical world. In 1869 Bizet married Geneviève Halévy, daughter of his teacher. The marriage did not turn out to be a happy one, primarily due to her family's history of mental illness. .......
At last confident of his creative vision, Bizet was able to steer his final masterpiece [Carmen] through various obstacles, including the objections of singers and theater directors who were shocked by Carmen's subject matter. When the opera had its premiere on March 3, 1875, it was received barely well enough to hang on for future productions. Although it took audiences only a few weeks to catch on, Bizet died [on June 3, 1875 in Bougival, France] convinced it was a failure.

Astrodatabank has a birth time of 10p.m. for Bizet, but ranked as "DD" (dirty data). I'm ignoring that - if it's dirty, why muddy the waters with inaccurate assumption? Using 12 noon chart will give sufficient broad information for this blog post.

Natal Sun in early Scorpio (erotic) in trine aspect to Uranus (ahead of its time) in Pisces reflects Bizet's daringly erotic (for its day) subject matter of Carmen - the work that eventually brought him the success he craved, albeit posthumously. Neptune (imagination, creativity) in Aquarius trine Jupiter in Libra (the arts) is echo of the same. His Venus in Libra, one of three natal planets in the sign ruled by Venus, speaks to his innate musical sense, becoming obvious from a very early age.

Saturn in Scorpio square Mars in Leo; and Pluto from Aries opposing Venus and Mercury are reflections of the difficulties and challenges Bizet experienced in his professional and personal life.

Without a reliable time of birth Moon's position isn't known, but almost certainly it would have been somewhere in Capricorn, providing the only Earthy, practical grounding in his chart, to balance an Air/Water (mentally/emotionally oriented) nature, unless such was also coming from his unknown ascendant.

Finishing off the post, a very brief clip from a recent British production of Bizet's other well-known opera,
The Pearl Fishers

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Keys to Unlock Astrology

Keywords used in interpretation of zodiac signs and astrological houses are a handy tool, especially helpful to beginners who wish to learn more about the ancient art. There are several websites online offering lists of keywords - for example HERE, under "Introduction to Astrology."
Among astrology-related books lining my shelves is "Astrological Keywords" by Manly P. Hall. The author is described here as:
"One of the metaphysical giants of the Twentieth Century, Manly P. Hall spent decades researching eastern philosophy, occult studies, astrology, and a wide variety of related topics at a time when such subjects were still unknown territory in the western world. It is in no small measure due to his extensive writings and teachings that these subjects are so widely known today.

A prime example of the visionary Balsamic Moon type, Hall had Sun in Pisces, Moon in Aquarius. He earned an honorary Ph.D. in literature, was a 33rd Degree Mason, was a Rosicrucian initiate, and wrote over 200 books."
Another post on Manly P. Hall, among the archives, can be read HERE.

Astrological Keywords has been re-printed many times from 1958 onward, my copy is the 1978 version. It contains a treasure trove of astrological information. I'm borrowing, here, from the last chapter headed: "Snap Judgment".

Mr. Hall tells us that
"While a detailed analysis of character depends upon a profound knowledge of the science of astrology, the possession of certain fundamental keywords enables the student to arrive at remarkable conclusions, which, while not complete, will adequately demonstrate the accuracy of astrology."
For me, this pencil sketch style can often be far more convincing than pages and pages of scholarly interpretation.

Mr. Hall provides 8 examples to illustrate his point. I'll borrow his snap judgments about three of the best known personalities he features.
"Abraham Lincoln -
Aries rising - courageous, ambitious, idealistic. Sun in Aquarius - humanitarian, religious, progressive, tolerant. Neptune, Saturn and Antares (fixed star) conjoined in 8th house: a tragic and violent death. Mars and Uranus in 7th house: unhappy marriage. Capricorn in mid-heaven: high honor and great sense of public duty and responsibility. Venus opposing ascendant in Aries - features irregular but conveying an impression of beauty, sweetness or kindliness. A glance reveals these elements in the horoscope of America's martyred president, Abraham Lincoln.

Sir Francis Bacon
Aquarius rising with Sun opposite ascendant "spiritual and scientific progressivisim and diplomacy. Sun in 12th house: disgrace or imprisonment. Mercury conjunct Sun in 12th: the brilliance of his mind left unrewarded and obscured by the enmity of his contemporaries. Sagittarius on mid-heaven: high philosophical and religious attainments. Uranus in 10th house: erratic fortune and public place. Mars in Scorpio in 9th house: religious and political intrigue. This is an astrological sketch of the personality of Sir Francis Bacon, Chancellor of the British Empire and father of modern science.

Thomas Edison
Scorpio rising, a scientist. Leo on 10th house, a leader. Sun in Aquarius, a mind turned to Aquarian concerns - an inventor. Mercury in Aquarius, electricity. Neptune in Aquarius an inventor and investigator. Thus we may sum up the outstanding characteristics of Thomas Edison." (Inventor of the light bulb, among other things).
I didn't realise, until I'd finished typing these, that the subjects are all Sun Aquarians. I looked quickly through the other 5 examples in the chapter and oddly there's another Sun Aquarian, an Aquarius rising, a Pisces rising, a Sun Pisces, and a Leo Sun with Uranus in Aquarius. The author, Manly P. Hall, had Sun in Pisces, Moon in Aquarius (as stated in his memorial above). I wonder whether there was a little astrological nepotism going on here? Or are Aquarius and Pisces, for some reason, best able to demonstrate the efficacy of snap judgments? Curious.

[This is a lightly edited post from my earliest astrology blogging days.]

Friday, October 21, 2016

Arty Farty Friday ~ Going Ape

On our recent wanders around antique and vintage stores in Kansas I found another piece of sculpture by Austin Productions. In an antique mall in Emporia KS, this one came as a surprise. I picked it up for a closer look mainly because I liked the idea it represents; turned it around and was very surprised to see "Austin Productions" carved into the base at the back, dated 1962 - quite an early piece for them. We already have four other Austin Productions pieces (see here, here, here, and here).
I bought the piece at a very reasonable price, much lower than is being asked for similar pieces on E-bay and elsewhere.

I wasn't, originally, aware that it is an "homage" piece, or rough copy, of a famous sculpture by 19th century German sculptor
Wolfgang Hugo Rheinhold
(26 March 1853 – 2 October 1900) who was arguably most famous for his
Affe mit Schädel (Ape with Skull), inspired by Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. There have been several variations, copies of, and tributes to Rheinhold's sculpture over the years. Austin Productions was one of the original US manufacturers. The Austin Productions piece differs from Rheinhold's original in fine detail, and in material used.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


I'm going to be really shallow here (you have been warned). I'm prodded by something written by Ted Rall yesterday in his piece published at Smirking Chimp and at Counterpunch.

From: The 4 things Hillary could do to close the deal against Trump:
........Then there’s her incredibly ugly, unbelievably hideous wardrobe: it’s hard to like someone who makes your eyes burn. But let’s face it. Hillary Clinton, probably like you and definitely like me, can’t do anything about her personality. At 68, that stuff is baked in. Still, there’s a lot she could do to close the deal against Donald Trump.....
(My highlight.)
Google Image offers up several pics of Ms Clinton in her many trouser suits - or as they call 'em on this side of the Pond "pant suits".

These are not some of the most recent creations we've seen during this election go-around, but do illustrate one of my main quibbles about her style - the other quibble was the buttoned up round-necked jackets she was sporting during the primaries. The jacket she wore during the last debate with Trump - the grey job with long, lighter coloured lapels - was a big improvement. However, it's those darn trousers that, for me, take away from any total good look. Most of her trouser legs are too narrow, and almost all are too short. To my eye women's trousers should cover the front of the foot or, if not, show off a nice soft boot top (and she could afford the very best light-weight boots that money can buy!) Those narrow-bottomed trousers are out of proportion; low-fronted "court shoes" are not a good look with trousers. The trousers of the turquoise suit, 4th from left in the first photo above, are about right, but she hardly ever wears them that way. The skinny leg look is fine for slender young things who can get away with just about anything - she ain't one of those. Narrow trouser bottoms with a bit of flesh/stocking showing, on a woman of Hillary's age and size, just look bad. I'm surprised that her advisers don't...well...advise better!

Now...I am no fashionista by any measure, as I've written before when doing a bit of ranting about clothes; do feel, though, that I can tell what looks good, right and proportional.

Oh my - how shallow was that!? What does it matter what this lady looks like and what she wears? It really shouldn't matter at all. If she'd just keep us out of World War 3, I'd be happy enough if she wore an old hempen sack clinched with duct tape, a muddy pair of green wellies on her feet.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Across the Great Divide ("It's where the rivers change direction")

I spent some time yesterday reading what I decided is an excellent and empathetic explanation of what really lies behind the US divide: city vs country, small town vs metropolis. Do take a look, and at the very good collection of comments - so long a thread that I didn't manage to read all.

The piece, by David Wong at, is headed: How Half Of America Lost Its F**king Mind.

Mr Wong explains why so many people are determined to vote for Trump as President of the USA: "Donald Trump is a brick chucked through the window of the elites. "Are you assholes listening now?"

It's the answer Bill Maher was seeking on Friday night. We caught his "Real Time" on the hotel room's TV. I'd not seen Maher's programme for months, we ditched HBO earlier this year. Maher posed the question, why do so many Americans still intend to support Trump in spite of the stuff now being revealed? The answer may lie in David Wong's excellent piece.

Some random lines from a variety of commentary from a 2000+ long thread:

It wears on you, being talked down to and treated like a lesser bc you are just some regular Joe trying to live paycheck to paycheck.

Finally, an article about Trump that isn't just idiotic "Trump is bad, mmmkay" clickbait. This is the analysis we should've had all along.

Wong's correct in the fact that regardless of the results of this election, they're going nowhere. As difficult and frustrating as it is, the liberal progressives need to tap into those bleeding hearts of theirs and show some empathy to the red (myself included) without expecting reciprocation and avoiding condescension. Their plight is real and their anger is certainly not baseless or derived solely from unfettered ignorance.

As someone in England watching everything unfold, I appreciate someone explaining why so many people are voting for him. Someone else mentioned in their comment that it's weird that rural folk like him since he's such an arrogant billionaire, but after reading your article I understand that to them, Trump is their only chance for change. Seeing him through rose tinted, desperate eyes.

On the flipside, I have gone through very well-to-do neighborhoods in my area and have seen a number of Trump signs. This leads me to believe that greed and pure selfishness are simple factors that stand the test of time. These people are cowards who think Trump would let them keep all of the things they think they're entitled to... But Trump can be bought with a pat on the back and an underage girl.

Regarding that last comment excerpt, in the wealthiest "millionaire row" area of our town, in a wooded enclave not too far from Chez Twilight & Anyjazz (our abode exists in a far less rarified atmosphere), we've spied a couple of Trump signs on that "millionaire row" and wondered: "WTF?"

This rural-life/city-life divide isn't peculiar to the USA of course. Same thing applies in Britain, and I feel sure in other nations too. I was born in an English city port known for its Labour credentials, but grew up in small-town rural England where the majority of residents always voted Conservative. Later on, I lived and worked in big cities where Labour held some strongholds. The political atmosphere in England wasn't, in my day at least, quite as highly charged as it is here in the USA. I suspect Brexit could be changing that.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Back to it...

The blog's been on hold for a couple of weeks - what's been goin' on? Nothing terribly inspiring on the political front, for sure!

There was the TV debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump - the one when Trump said Clinton would be in jail if he were to become president. That brought on a wan smile. Then there was the debate between would-be vice-presidents, Tim Kaine and Mike Pence. Well, that one had me yelling at the TV, "Kaine, can you not shut your flippin' mouth for two minutes together and let the other guy speak?!" I was not impressed with Tim Kaine, at all. Mike Pence's politics makes him a no-no for me, but can't argue with the fact that he did come over as far more presidential/vice-presidential than either Trump or Kaine. Clinton darn well ought to be coming over as presidential - she has been aiming for the job her whole life!

Then during last week ...oh dear! But really, was anyone surprised to read about Trump's past unpleasantnesses? Haven't we seen and heard enough over many, many months to realise that, if someone began digging through old records and videos, something nasty would emerge - it'd be more surprising if it hadn't. What has emerged, so far, is nasty, but par for the course from a guy like Donald Trump, I'd have thought. It won't change many minds, nor will anything worse that might be presented for our disgust during the next weeks. I wish all media would be silenced, blinds down, by presidential decree, until 8 November at 10p.m!

What else? During the first week of bloglessness we had a surprise and lightning fast visit from husband's younger daughter, who lives in Austin, Texas. We'd intended taking off for a few days before that, but one or other us us feeling one degree under resulted in our sitting tight for a while longer.

We left last Monday, heading for Kansas, ended up in Hutchinson for a night or two. We really wanted to visit the Cosmosphere there - a museum affiliated to the Smithsonian. We arrived there at around 9.30 one morning, to a car park full to the gills, and two school buses just arrived, also full to the gills. The foyer was heaving, very noisy, with several teachers trying to keep the excited chit-chat down to a dull roar. We thought it best to postpone our visit, and instead drove around a couple of nearby small towns discovering antique, vintage and junk stores. Looked again at the Cosmosphere later in the day, but the car park was still overflowing. Another time, perhaps.

We then moved on to Emporia a little further to the north and east, wandered around that area, taking in some very nice scenery, as far east as Ottawa, Kansas and Baldwin City - not at all the classic Kansas scenery of featureless flatness, more like wooded areas of Missouri. The trees up there have begun to turn orange and deep red - especially the Maples. One little town was preparing for their annual Maple Festival at the weekend.

We arrived home Sunday afternoon, via Ponca City in the northernmost reaches of Oklahoma.

We kept an eye open, during travel, for election lawn signs. There weren't many. It seemed to us that Trump-Pence ones were slightly more in evidence, but still were few and far between. OK and KS are both deeply red states, of course. A few Clinton-Kaine signs were around too. Most lawn signs, by far, were for local and state positions. Perhaps this indicates that nobody, of either persuasion, is feeling particularly presidentially inspired this time around. I know I'm not!

Weather? A whole year's worth in less than a week! We left with temps in the 80s, an overnight storm, then within 24 hours, in Kansas (maybe in Oklahoma too), temps dropped to mid 40s with a knife-sharp cold wind blowing all day. Two days like that, then a slow climb back to the high 80s by the time we reached home yesterday.

I almost forgot - it's Music Monday... and it's a mad world ain't it? Cue Adam Lambert: