Tuesday, January 31, 2017

WORDS....newly normalis(z)ed

We humans surely have a copycat gene among the many strands of our DNA. Perhaps, as that word indicates, a strand of our DNA does have feline origins. Kittens can be seen watching their mother, learning by copying from her actions. Our human copycat tendencies show through frequently, for instance in fashion ("ooooh -must have some of those tight trousers like so-and-so was wearing!") They show also in our choices of words. Words, like clothing styles, go through cycles of being "in" and being "out".

Lately I've been noticing more use of the word normalise (normalize in USA spelling). What has brought the word normalise out of the closet this time around is Donald Trump's ascent to the US presidency.

Pearl clutching (another descriptive brought out of the closet lately) Clintonites and a few others are, they love to tell us, horrified whenever it appears that Trump's presidency is being normalised - for in their eyes he's not a normal president; this is not a normal situation; and what he may, or may not do in coming years ought really to be seen as totally abnormal.

Another newly popular term, arising from similar background, but mainly used by those of rather different political persuasion: virtue signalling. When the pearl clutchers clutch their pearls, they are signalling the high morals to which they aspire - so much higher than...well... yours, whoever you may be!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Music Monday ~ Saudade

In Brazil today, 30 January, the day of Saudade is officially celebrated.
Wikipedia tells that
Saudade is a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never return. A stronger form of saudade might be felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown, such as a lost lover, or a family member who has gone missing, moved away, separated, or died.

Saudade was once described as "the love that remains" after someone is gone. Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places, or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again. It can be described as an emptiness, like someone (e.g., one's children, parents, sibling, grandparents, friends, pets) or something (e.g., places, things one used to do in childhood, or other activities performed in the past) that should be there in a particular moment is missing, and the individual feels this absence. It brings sad and happy feelings altogether, sadness for missing and happiness for having experienced the feeling...........
Despite being hard to translate, saudade has equivalent words in other cultures, and is often related to music styles expressing this feeling such as the blues for African-Americans, dor in Romania, Tizita in Ethiopia, or Assouf for the Tuareg people. In Slovak, the word is clivota or cnenie, and Sehnsucht in German.
The Welsh have a word for it too - hiraeth - as I'm sure have the Scots and Irish in their own tongues - they're of ultra sentimental nature, nationally; lots of them emigrated from their homelands giving rise to many feelings of nostalgia for things past.

For Brazil:
After Mariana’s father unexpectedly passed away, she told us that she looked for ways to find joy in sadness, an idea based on the Portuguese word “saudade.” Her journey inspired this song and music video. Share so others can be inspired by Mariana too!

Representing Wales and hiraeth, I like this original song written and sung by Jock Jenkins

For me, this nostalgic song always brings a lump to my throat. I'm not from Tyneside, but was born in another port some way south of there. Song is written and sung by Jimmy Nail with Mark Knopfler on guitar.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Aquarius Considered

 Aquarius by Erté

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 Aquarius, through which the Sun now travels, he wrote the paragraphs below, quoting from some professional astrologers whose works may now be less known by the average astrology fan. Some related links identifying those astrologers are added at the end of this post. The excerpt has been copy-typed by my own fair fingers, rather than copy-pasted from elsewhere on the internet. Illustrations here were added by me.

Aquarius the Water-Carrier
January 21 to February 19

A fixed, airy sign. Aquarius's ruler is traditionally Saturn, though some astrologers (such as Varley) prefer to promote Uranus or at least make him co-ruler. This sign provides some of the most graceful illustrations to medieval textbooks and has long been thought of as a particularly human sign; Gleadow calls it "the only completely human sign in the Zodiac." But there seems to be a divergence of opinions to whether he represents the ordinary man or an especially gifted man. On the former premise he is linked with democracy, on the latter with science and the capacity for abstract thought. This was the Sun-sign of Galileo, Francis Bacon, and Darwin.

Some years ago the French amateur astrologer Paul Choisnard investigated the horoscopes of 119 outstanding intellectuals and claimed to have found that under only three signs was the incidence more than average - Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. these, of course, are the three airy signs and the symbolism of air here is obvious. Traditionally Aquarius rules the circulation of the blood, and this has been correlated with the circulation of ideas. If Uranus is brought in, one would expect to find Aquarians showing the characteristics of that planet (like mechanical inventiveness) and also what Ingrid Lind calls the "Uranian urge to disrupt." Miss Lind, on the assumption of co-rulership, would like to distinguish Saturnian Aquarians from Uranian Aquarians. Rupert Gleadow, writing of the so-called "Aquarian Age" (see below), foresees the spread in the immediate future not only of such Uranian effects as machinery and inventions, but of "world-wide organizations...international collaboration, and the Brotherhood of Man."

 Aquarius by David Palladini
The Aquarian, unlike his predecessor the Capricornian, is no respecter of tradition (otherwise he would not be so well equipped for scientific research). But he is, in the best sense of the phrase, a respecter of personas because, once again, he is human. He pours out the water freely: "Your need is greater than mine." He can be tactless, though, and other faults ascribed to him are obstinacy (after all this is a fixed sign), fanaticism, and (more surprisingly) inefficiency. Countess Wydenbruck describes him as "popular yet solitary, often abnormal."
It has been observed that Aquarius men often have beautiful profiles but tend to look unduly feminine. But this is not mentioned by that old traditionalist Pearce, who merely says that the Aquarian is "of prepossessing appearance and good disposition," and has a "long and fleshy face." Here we have a minor inconsistency, in another passage describing the influence of Aquarius as a Sun-sign, Pearce speaks of a "round full face," and again goes on to mention "good disposition, though tinctured with pride and ambition; artistic or scientific."

Apart from the scientific thinkers already mentioned, other people who had Aquarius for their Sun-sign were Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and James Dean. Edward VIII (Duke of Windsor) was born with Aquarius as his ascendant sign.

To return to the "Aquarian Age": Many astrologers block out history in periods of roughly 2000 years, each such period falling under the tutelage of a particular sign. This is dictated by the movement of the vernal equinoctial point (i.e. 0 degrees Aries), which goes very slowly backward through the signs (because of the "precession of the equinoxes", mentioned earlier). So in the last 2000 years B.C., 0 degrees Aries was in Aries the constellation. Then it moved into Pisces - very suitably, since the Piscean Age coincided with the Christian era, and the fish was an early symbol of Christ. As to whether the Aquarius Age has yet begun, astrologers disagree. Ingrid Lind thinks that it has, and ascribes to it much the same characteristics as Gleadow: "All the modern trend of thought and invention." For Morrish also, but in a different way (since what he is concerned with is subjective development)
Aquarius is "the awakener." For him it is the sign not of the scientist but of the yogi - "the development of spiritual consciousness through contemplation." This development will be completed in the next sign, which he takes as representing the "cosmic ocean".
A.J. Pearce
John Varley
Morrish (L. Furze-Morrish?)
Ingrid Lind
Rupert Gleadow
Paul Choisnard

For more posts on this sign - there are lots of 'em - please click on Aquarius in the Label Cloud in the sidebar.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Seasonally Astrological

Someone once told me that he'd noticed that all his children, and everyone he'd had close relationships with (not including other blood relatives) had birthdays in the first half of the year, as he did himself.

More than once I've tossed an idea around, in my head, that it would be possible to create a plausible secondary, and simpler, zodiac based on the broad concept of seasonal astrology, with some additional detail culled from standard tropical astrology. The seasonal zodiac would rely primarily on the four angles, ascendant/descendant & midheaven/nadir. Fewer zodiac signs created by fusion of two or more of the traditional signs might create the seasonal zodiac circle. But, then again, maybe this is just my own Aquarius Sun trying to cause chaos!

Positions and aspects between Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are thought by astrologers to have varying levels of reflection in our individual personality traits. The outer and slower-moving planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are thought to connect more to generations, unless closely linked to one of the faster-moving planets natally, or in transit.

Quite often at least six of the seven faster-moving bodies (Moon is excluded because of its even faster motion) lie within one half of the zodiac circle. Mercury and Venus, for example are never further from the Sun than the space of two signs, often less than that. When planetary emphasis is concentrated in roughly half of the zodiac signs, in theory personality traits of people born with Sun among the involved signs are likely to have more broad compatibility with each other than with people born in the other half of the zodiac. I say "broad", because other complications and considerations are involved - rising signs and Moon position among them. This idea might be relevant to the experience of the guy mentioned above, whose children and others with whom he'd had close relationships had birthdays in the first half of the year.

I took a look at my own natal chart, and, stripping away the outer planets and Chiron the faster planets and Moon all lie between Aries and 28 degrees Scorpio. So, though I usually say I have a "splash" chart, that is only due to the generational planets. I'm a Winter-to-Spring person.

All this relates only to the northern hemisphere. What about people born in the southern hemisphere? There'd be a different seasonal zodiac for them.

Terence Guardino in "The Seasons of Astrology" explained his own version.

From Amazon's page on the book
The Seasons of Astrology: How Your Biological Clock is the Link to Your Sun Sign Personality explains how the apparent rising and setting of the sun influences our personalities as well as the seasons. The amount of light versus darkness during the month one is born begins to imprint the personality of each sign. The amount of light versus darkness also begins to imprint each of our individual biological clocks during infancy.

The light relates to our personal ego needs as separate individuals needing to be expressed out into the world. The sun signs born with equal light and darkness are Aries and Libra but the signs with more light during the day than darkness are Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo and Virgo as they strive to be noticed. The dark relates to all the collective needs of the group rather than the individual. The dark represents society, government, laws, organized religion and community. The signs with more darkness than light when born focuses their attention more on community rather than the individual are Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces.

Capricorn begins at the Winter Solstice when the day has the shortest amount of light. Thus Capricorns are more inclined to pull inward to feel safe and be more serious. Aquarius begins to have a little more light and 'lightness' but still with long winter nights. Aries begins the Spring Equinox with an equal balance of daylight and darkness but the next sign Taurus has a bit more light during the day giving more confidence to express itself in the world and so forth with each sign until you arrive at Scorpio when there is more darkness than light. Scorpio is known for being mysterious, secretive, hard to get to know but also insightful and powerful.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Music Monday ~ "Django"

A musical birthday today: "Django" Reinhardt's, he was born on 23 January, 1910, died in 1953.

A violinist first, guitarist later, Jean Baptiste "Django" Reinhardt grew up in a gypsy camp near Paris where he absorbed the gypsy strain into his music. A disastrous caravan fire in 1928 badly burned his left hand, depriving him of the use of the fourth and fifth fingers, but the resourceful Reinhardt figured out a novel fingering system to get around the problem that probably accounts for some of the originality of his style.

A free-spirited gypsy, Reinhardt wasn't the most reliable person in the world, frequently wandering off into the countryside on a whim. Yet Reinhardt came up with a unique way of propelling the humble acoustic guitar into the front line of a jazz combo in the days before amplification became widespread. He would spin joyous, arcing, marvelously inflected solos above the thrumming base of two rhythm guitars and a bass, with Stephane Grappelli's elegantly gliding violin serving as the perfect foil. Although he could not read music, with Grappelli and on his own, Reinhardt composed several highly original tunes.
(See allmusic.com)

See also my 2007 post : Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt - A Magical but Unlikely Pair of Aquarians


Django Reinhardt, born on 23 January 1910 in Liberchies, Pont-à-Celles, Belgium, at 10:00 PM according to Astrodatabank, with a "B" rating - not 100% reliable but it'll suffice for this purpose.

Moon conjunct creative Neptune was in Moon's rulership sign Cancer. Eccentric Uranus was in Capricorn, oppposite Moon/Neptune, and just out of range to be considered conjunct Sun in Aquarius. So Django had near enough a classic planetary lineup for a jazz artist - creative eccentricity brought to earth sufficiently to ensure a skilled outlet. Venus, the musical planet is tightly sextile (helpful aspect) Mars in Taurus, reflecting his dynamic musical style.

There's a Grand Cross in his natal chart linking Neptune, Uranus, Saturn and Jupiter, this configuration usually signifies some kind of ongoing inner conflict, possibly manifesting in Django's case as his unreliability and tendency to be unpredictable.

Here with The Hot Club of France:

Below, one of Django's own compositions Nuages (Clouds). The person who uploaded this video at YouTube wrote:
This was done just weeks before he died.
I recall the original liner notes, written by Charles Delauney ( a friend of D.R) stating that there was a "certain ennui about the session" ..a sadness and premonition that Django had that he didn't have long. Delauney stated that it was the most emotional version of "Nuages" ever done.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Saturday & Sundry Thoughts on Blogging

What am I doing here, blogging still in mainly empty halls? Am I trying to re-create a Tinkerbell (or Tinkerb-log) Effect keeping alive the belief in blogging by... clapping blogging?

As long ago as 2009 I was lamenting the decline in personal blogs; seven years down the road and, though my own blog, now over 10 years old, is limping along and lonely, many more have gone to the bloggy internet graveyard to rest in peace. In allegorical terms I guess one could say there has been an ever-widening pandemic - of blog flu - better known as Facebookitis, with side effects known as Twittering or tweeting.

In 2009 I wrote, among other things:
"...Perhaps blogging, as practiced by The Great Unwashed, has now passed its peak. Each new internet activity tends to do so with increasing rapidity these days. Message boards, though not completely extinct yet, are much less used than they were a few years ago. Blogs aren't likely ever to disappear completely either, but the number of small, personal blogs is certain to shrink in future, with other enticing options now available.

Facebook and Twitter have been upstaging blogs to some extent. Internet communication is evolving ever more rapidly as equipment becomes slicker and possibilities more exciting and inviting. Bloggers, too, are evolving, having honed their skills over two or three years, they may be feeling now that it's appropriate to post less frequently in order to maintain quality level, or so as to leave time for newer interests. "

Among a number of comments (yes this blog did, once upon a time, have commenters!) was one from my husband "anyjazz":
...This is a thoughtful observation on the direction of blogging and the web in general. I don’t know the culprit either but I bet it is a combination of several elements.

The original ambition wanes when realization sets in that having something pithy or indeed anything to say on a regular basis is really difficult. We are faced with the fact that we are not as deep, not as multidimensional, not as funny, as we originally fantasized; what we say is somehow not as interesting to every one else as it is to ourselves.

The shorter moment-to-moment systems have a broad appeal now. It is the convenient, instantly gratifying, worries free, one shot, conversational, language-crunching, grammatical disasters of Twitter, Face Book, texting, et al, that seem to be emerging as the popular communications mode. Communicate more, think less.

Maybe there is some good in everything. Granted, it is hard to see here. With humanity seemingly headed for disasters on several levels, (climate, religious and/or ethnic wars, pandemic disease, grand-scale greed and political implosion, for just a few examples) perhaps we are experiencing close-up an evolutional movement so grand we don’t recognize it.

The key to all of our human foibles is communication. If not the total solution, communication is at least the first step in any solution. Think of solving any problem, from vacation schedules at work to saber-rattling between continents that can be sorted out without communication.

Perhaps we are headed for a communications level heretofore unimagined in our world.
Another, from old blog friend from early days, Anthony North:
I think a major problem is people are realising what hard work it can be building up a readership on a blog. Social networks seem to offer a faster growth of readership. I think the future should be a merging of website, blog and social network, thus satisfying a whole package in one.
Another blog friend, Ron Southern, who has since died wrote, with regard to encroaching Facebookers:
Will it be as hazardous as a shiny black Cadillac going North moving over into my southbound lane? I just hate it when that happens......most writers in the world burn out after a while. Only "the great authors" want to die with a pen in their hand or their fingers on the keyboard! And, lately, I'm not so sure about them!!!

From Sparrow Chat blogger RJ Adams (link in sidebar) occasional commenter in 2009, and still in 2017; he and Mrs RJ have since "upped sticks" from the USA and moved to France. In 2009 he wrote:
I'm guilty of this myself, I'm afraid. Sparrow Chat is nowhere near so prolific as it used to be. Partly, because the demise of George W Bush and his not-so-merry band left a vacuum - the arrival of a sane US President being less newsworthy, even if the the rest of government still stinks to high heaven - but mainly due to other interests crowding out the blog writing. I've been very busy of late on other projects and keep promising myself I'll return to SC as soon as the pressure is off. Unfortunately, it never does. Meanwhile, I'm truly attempting to maintain at least one post per week.

And from the gals, in 2009, for whom I sadly have no photographs:

Elsa (astrologer and astrology blogger (link in sidebar). Elsa was first to welcome me to astrology blogging, back in 2006):
I've noticed the same thing. I chock it up to harder times myself. I think we are going to be paying for content more and more, going forward.

Tuikku said...
I have a history related blog I haven't been updating for months. Life has been hectic, true. Also, I've had Saturn on my Mercury, so expressing my ideas in writing hasn't been that easy. I'm still on someone's blogroll though, so I guess I should make an effort to start writing again.

Wise Webwoman (of The Other Side of Sixty blog - link in sidebar) wrote:
I haven't noticed this, T, maybe my blog buds are sticking to the knitting. I did drop a couple in the last few months, not updated since May in both cases. I do write them to see how they are but never a response....

From Jennifer:
I loathe Twitter. Really, being able to write one sentence at a time is THAT FABULOUS? Really really? I feel like people are going to lose their interest/ability to write anything longer and thoughtful, and it pisses me off.

So...as 2017 continues to unfold, what will I do with Learning Curve on the Ecliptic? Carry on carrying on, or put the blog to sleep forever? Tinkerbell survived, maybe this blog, and a few others still extant, can survive too. I'll continue logging on and blogging on...until I don't.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Arty Farty Friday ~ Mark Ryden and his accidentally appropriate painting for today

Mark Ryden, an artist/illustrator whose birthday it is today - born 20 January 1963, created a piece of artwork eerily appropriate to THIS 20 January, inauguration day of Donald Trump as President of the USA. Here it is, titled The Pumpkin President - I doubt Mr Ryden had The Donald in mind when painting this in 1998 though.

A little about the artist from e-zine in a piece by S. Rupert: The Artwork of Mark Ryden

Mark Ryden's artwork has been described as captivating and disconcerting, mysterious and enthralling, unsettling, mystical, cuddly and frightening all at once.

Ryden has been referred to as the king of the Pop Surrealism movement. Mixing joyful child-like imagery with disconcerting pieces of body parts or bizarre sights in nature, forming a strange mixture of children's book images and meat or blood. Moved by alchemy, metaphysics, science, and philosophy and attracted to ancient cryptic symbols and mystical imagery, Mark Ryden produces incredible storybook artworks which are stunning yet disturbing.

Ryden's artwork mixes saccharine-sweet, cartoon-like characters with a detailed fullness and a eerie combination of numerology, little girls, meat, Catholic and Buddhist symbolism, and carnivalesque Americana. fascinated by things that take you back to memories from childhood, Mark Ryden frequently incorporates toys, as well as scenes of bunnies, children, clowns, and ice cream trucks, which just happen to be united with skulls and porterhouse steaks............

Astrologically, Mark Ryden has Sun at 00 Aquarius, conjunct Mercury at 29 Capricorn; Saturn is at 12 Aquarius. A mix of the eccentric and unexpected with traditional underpinnings then - and that fits.

Natal Venus, planet of the arts in Sagittarius sextiles Saturn and squares Jupiter in Pisces, also semi-sextiles Neptune in Scorpio. I'd say this is the source of the unsettling side of Ryden's artwork - the link to Neptune in Scorpio draws in a touch of the macabre! Saturn's square to Jupiter in Pisces inhibits any unadulterated softness/sweetness which might otherwise have been more apparent. Natal Moon could be in either Sagittarius or late Scorpio, depending on exact time of birth - I'd bet on Scorpio!

Video showing some of Mark Ryden's artwork:

Thursday, January 19, 2017

In Lighter Vein

Gahan Wilson (born February 18, 1930) is an American author, cartoonist and illustrator known for his cartoons depicting horror-fantasy situations. Many people feel that we in the USA are about to come face to face with the horror-fantasy to top all horror-fantasies - a Donald Trump presidency. I feel they're being a tad hyperbolic, better to simply watch and wait - calmly - but that's just from my perspective as a comparative newcomer: stranger in a (very) strange land.

Gahan Wilson is now coming up to 87 years old, and likely no longer cartooning regularly. A look through some of his excellent work via Google Image threw up a few pieces which could easily be adapted to cover current levels of weird. How about these? My own captions are added, in red.

 President Trump's first appointment with the White House barber.

 The Learning Curve

President Trump studies the book "Presidency for Dummies"

After a period of  humbling, President Trump re-names his Tower

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Inauguration & Days to Come

One of the best, nicely balanced astrological overviews of what we might expect from coming weeks and months regarding our President-to-be, is :

President Trump’s First 100 Days
by Pat Paquette at The Mountain Astrologer.

What I noticed, when looking at the chart for 20 January, Inauguration Day: Sun is at 00 Aquarius and will be conjunct Fixed Star Tarazed part of Constellation Aquila - The Eagle.

Bearing in mind that the Inauguration chart is not Trump's birth chart, but simply a chart indicating the "atmosphere" surrounding the day's events:

From Skyscript
In classical myth the eagle was the bird of Zeus who returned his master's thunderbolts and carried to him the souls of heroes. In The Royal Art of Astrology, Robert Eisler explains how, at the funerals of' Roman emperors, an eagle was lightly fastened to the top of the pyre so that as soon as the fire had singed its fetters, it would break free of its bonds and fly away - apparently bearing aloft the soul of the departed. The location of Aquila by the side of Aquarius, and its flight across the Milky Way was thus said by some classical authors to represent the ascension of Ganymede (identified with Aquarius) to Zeus. Modern scholars prefer the theory that this constellation's name was assigned when it was near the summer solstice - the bird of greatest elevation being chosen to assume the symbolism of the summit of the Sun.

The imagery of the eagle has always been identified with the qualities of strength, courage, nobility and dignity, which accords with Ptolemy's belief that its stars are of the nature of Mars and Jupiter. Manilius illustrates the Martian trait in his description of those born under its influence:

He that is born in the hour of its rising will grow up bent on spoil and plunder, won even with bloodshed … Yet, should perchance his aggressiveness be enlisted in a noble cause, depravity will turn to virtue, and he will succeed in bringing wars to a conclusion and enriching his country with glorious triumphs.
Seems a reasonably good omen for the day!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


News keeps coming of those who will perform, and those who are feeling so "saintly" that they refuse to perform at this week's events associated with the inauguration ceremony of Donald Trump. That news is quickly followed by further outpourings of who will attend the inauguration ceremony and who - because "principles" - will not; then come declarations by those among billions of internet commenters, who will NOT watch the inauguration on TV.

Ye gods, I swear - this country sounds more adolescent by the hour!

 Refusing to look doesn't make Trump go away!

I'm a comparative newcomer to the USA, maybe I still don't fully "get it" but, rationally, the inauguration, as against the election and primaries, is simply the "Done Deal". Somebody won; that person must take a time-honoured oath in public view, an oath to uphold the important office they are about to undertake.

Before he enters on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

I'd have thought it important, for every citizen, to watch at least the oath-taking part of the ceremony, whatever their politics, whatever their views of the person taking the oath. The rest of the ceremony, and associated events consist, really, of fluff. Type and quality of the fluff depends on the person being inaugurated. Who sings or performs - or doesn't - is 100% unimportant...it's not about them. Knowing exactly who is part of the crowd watching live or via TV or streaming video is totally irrelevant in the great scheme of things, it's not about them either! Their supposed pure and "saintly" actions will change nothing at all.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Our Learning Curve in Stars Hollow

Back in England I'd been a fan of a couple or three "soaps" (soap operas). British soaps were much different from what pass as soap operas in the USA, much better quality - my husband has confirmed this, having seen a little of both varieties. When I first arrived to live in the USA I did miss the two Brit staples, Coronation Street or EastEnders. They were aired 5 nights a week at around 7.30pm, great to watch after work, while the evening meal was being digested! I'd watched "Corrie" from its 1960s origin, all the way to 2004, apart from the times when I didn't have a TV, or access to one.

Several weeks ago we began watching, from Season1 Episode 1, the old TV series Gilmore Girls, courtesy of Netflix. The series originated in 2000, lasted for 7 seasons, until 2007. Gilmore Girls isn't a soap, but it does have some soapy DNA that often reminds me of British shows such as Coronation Street and EastEnders, due to its skillful character-drawing, witty banter and good-natured humour.

We've now made our way, pleasurably, via a couple of episodes a night as far as the middle of season 5 of Gilmore Girls. The series, set in Stars Hollow a small (fictional) town in Connecticut has well-drawn characters, lots of humour, plenty of under-lying, non-preachy points to make for those with eyes wide enough open to appreciate them.

What comes through often, loud and clear in Gilmore Girls is the "class" thing. Brits used to be under the impression that, in America the great class-divisions we'd grown up with didn't exist because, well...they don't have a Royal Family do they ? There are no accompanying Lords, Ladies, Earls, Duchesses and suchlike. They don't have snooty individuals educated at Eton, Oxford, Cambridge, do they?

Wrong, wrong and wrong!

Gilmore Girls regularly throws light on the fact that the class divide here can be every bit as multi-layered, snooty, smug and occasionally vicious as that in the Old Country. There are other themes in the series: love affairs, parental relationship problems, whacky small-town characters and events, hotel life, school-life, Yale-life, diner life - a never boring mix.

Apart from the show's staple Gilmores, mother, daughter and her daughter: Emily, Lorelai and Rory ( for cast members/characters see Wikipedia page HERE), other known faces pop up, briefly, from time to time in cameo roles, faces more youthful than we've grown used to seeing them - for instance: Norman Mailer, Seth MacFarlane, Jane Lynch (Glee), Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Matt Czuchry (Cary Agos in The Good Wife), and several others, unfamiliar to us, who have also gone on to play major characters in successful TV series. There's a run down of these at The Daily Dot.

The catalyst spurring us to watch Gilmore Girls, from its very first episode, was reading of a new four-part mini-series, first aired on Netflix last November: Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Each episode was to cover a season of the year, Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. The four episodes are set in Stars Hollow, almost ten years after the final episode of the series proper. We decided we couldn't possibly partake of that tempting offering without background knowledge, so began our 7-year trek.

Each episode starts with the show's theme song. It's by Carole King: Where You Lead. Ms King herself has appeared in a cameo role as music store proprietor in a couple or more episodes.

It's Music Monday - so, the obvious choice:

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Another Broken Reed : Sen. Cory Booker

In a vote this week against a budget resolution amendment jointly proposed by Senators Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar to allow both pharmacies and people with prescriptions to order their pharmaceuticals from Canada and other countries, where they sell for significantly cheaper prices than in the United States, the following Democratic Senators voted against it: Michael Bennet of Colorado, Bob Menendez and Cory Booker of New Jersey, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray of Washington, Tom Carper and Chris Coons of Delaware, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Jon Tester of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia.

Some of those Senators said they voted for other measures to drive down drug costs and they cited safety concerns as the reason for their opposition to the Klobuchar-Sanders measure. A very iffy excuse in my opinion, and it's one said to have been used regularly in the past by those whose political coffers are topped up by pharmaceutical industry $$$$$$$. It's a wee bit heartening that 12 Republican senators did vote "yes"; the measure would have easily passed had Democrats remained loyal, and walked the walk.

What most disappointed me was seeing Cory Booker's name among the "no" votes. Way back in 2008 when his name first came to my notice, (see my blogpost Drive-by Astrology - Cory Booker) I had high hopes about him. I thought Booker to be a definite "one to watch", one with true leadership skills. A pair of later posts about Senator Booker are here,
from that one:
I hope that life in the Senate will not change Booker, that he will not be infected by what appears to be a spreading disease of uselessness among congressional Democrats, or be co-opted by monied interests. I can hope, but do not feel optimistic. We shall see.

We saw!
A third post on him is here.

Booker's support for Hillary Clinton rather than for Bernie Sanders was disappointment number one. From what I'd gleaned, Booker's original style would have been the perfect partner to Sanders'. What a pair they could have been! I fear that the old Cory Booker of 2008 vintage has been well and truly "got at". He chose the establishment route, with accompanying corporate donations, including, it seems from the pharma people. Another broken reed. I'd have expected better - much, much better!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Arty Farty Friday ~ Aelita Andre - Prodigy

Aelita Andre (born 9 January 2007) is an Australian abstract artist known for her Surrealist painting style and her young age. She began to paint when aged nine months, and her work was displayed publicly in a group exhibition shortly after she turned two. Her first solo exhibition opened in New York City in June 2011, when she was four years old.

Born on 9 January 2007 in Melbourne, Australia - chart set for 12 noon, no time of birth known.

With Venus (planet of the arts) and Neptune(imagination) both in Aquarius, ruled by Uranus planet of the unexpected, why am I not surprised about this young person's early creativity? Venus is also in helpful sextile to Jupiter(extremes and excess)at home in its sign of rulership, Sagittarius.

Uranus and Neptune were in mutual reception for all those in Aelita's age group. That means Uranus lay in rulership of Neptune and Neptune in rulership of Uranus. As the two planets figure prominently in her chart the mutual reception is worth emphasis. Planets in mutual reception tend to work together, melding each other's astrological characteristics - this can be seen in young Aelita's surprising artworks.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Journalism & The Muckrakers (+ astrology)

This post, from 2010 and 2011, could stand another airing, bearing in mind recent articles and commentary around the internet on the current spate of "fake news". In the 21st century's second decade, would that we could identify a comparable group of journalists and writers, unattached to corporate patrons and without ulterior motives!
"We muckraked, not because we hated our world, but because we loved it. We were not hopeless, we were not cynical, we were not bitter." ~~ Ray Stannard Baker.

Once upon a time, around the first decade of the 20th century, the USA had a group of writers upon whom the then president, Theodore Roosevelt, bestowed the name "Muckrakers", a term borrowed from literature (John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress). The president could, it seems, see both advantage and disadvantage to the work of these dedicated writers who sought to expose growing social injustice in their country, as it began to flourish and become ever more industrialised.

"Now, it is very necessary that we should not flinch from seeing what is vile and debasing. There is filth on the floor, and it must be scraped up with the muck rake; and there are times and places where this service is the most needed of all the services that can be performed. But the man who never does anything else, who never thinks or speaks or writes, save of his feats with the muck rake, speedily becomes, not a help but one of the most potent forces for evil.... The effort to make financial or political profit out of the destruction of character can only result in calamity."Theodore Roosevelt, "The Man with the Muck Rake" speech, 14 April 1906
.....these journalists, through their research and constant exposure of the wrongdoing by officials in American public life, gave fuel to protests that led to investigations and later on reform of not only Corporate America but the American Government. The Muckrakers’ journalistic efforts helped reform and regulate Wall Street and aspects of big businesses. The muckrakers also shed light on an array of social issues, such as the issues with urban housing and horrible living conditions in highly populated cities, medical patents, child labor laws, child prostitution, and even women’s rights.
A few examples:

Upton Sinclair lived among Chicago stockyard workers for several weeks researching his novel The Jungle. He aimed to expose dangerous working conditions in the meatpacking houses. Americans, though, seemed more concerned with the disgusting revelations about how meat was processed than by the conditions under which their fellow-countrymen were forced to work. "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach," Sinclair wrote. The Pure Food and Drugs Act was a direct result of his efforts.

Samuel Hopkins Adams revealed fraudulent claims and endorsements of patent medicines in America. His articles revealed many false claims that pharmaceutical companies and other manufactures made as to the potency of their medicines, drugs and tonics. His work forced a crackdown on a number of other patents and fraudulent schemes of medicinal companies during that time.

Ray Stannard Baker investigated coal mine conditions, a coal strike, and the situation of non-striking workers (or scabs). Many of the non-striking workers had no special training or knowledge in mining, since they were simply farmers looking for work. His investigative work portrayed the dangerous conditions in which these people worked in the mines, and the dangers they faced by union members who did not want them to work.

Ida M. Tarbell is best known for a series of articles which later became a two volume work on John D. Rockefeller and his oil interests: The History of the Standard Oil Company, published 1904. The exposé resulted in federal action and eventually in the breakup of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey under the 1911 Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

Lincoln Steffens' aim was to expose the pattern of corruption in local and national government, and the real villains, the supposedly respectable, honest businessmen whose bribes and greed fueled the whole system.

John Spargo a transplanted Briton exposed childhood poverty in his book The Bitter Cry of the Children (1906).

Nellie Bly went undercover in a mental institution to report on the reprehensible conditions inmates lived in. Her work sparked some long-needed reforms. In another instance she got herself arrested for theft to reveal the deplorable treatment of female prisoners.

Jacob Riis
, a transplanted Dane used his own photography to illustrate his writing and to indict the slums and tenements of New York. He visited stench-ridden tenements on hot summer nights to experience them at their worst. this work was documented in his book How the Other Half Lives.

Henry Demerest Lloyd's
Wealth against Commonwealth & Story of a Great Monopoly, were exposés of corruption related to the railroads and Standard Oil.

Each of those writers deserves their own post (and may well get it in due course!) There were others, too many for a brief blog-post. For now, I'd like to discover whether there were any common factors in the natal charts of this particular group of Muckrakers.

The charts shown below are set for 12 noon. They will not show accurate rising signs or Moon degrees but will be sufficient to show general layout of natal planets. I've copied them in groups which show a particular pattern. (Click on images to enlarge.)

First group of 5: I'll call these the Aries/Taurus Group. These writers had clusters of personal planets close to Pluto (which represents things hidden from view, secrets, the underworld and deep transformation).

Second group of 2: The Aquarius Group. These have Sun and one or two other personal planets in Aquarius, sign which represents social conscience, forward thinking, and the humanitarian - least surprising of the lot, I'd say. Both have some Aries (the initiator and fighter) input too.

Two others: Ida Tarbell with Sun and Mercury in Scorpio (ruled by Pluto and symbolising secrets, deep incisive mental faculties). Scorpio planets lay in opposition to their ruler and Jupiter, which must have surely added to that Pluto/Scorpio dynamic.

Upton Sinclair is a bit of an odd-man-out in this line-up (there's always one!). He had 5 planets in Virgo, one of the writer's signs, ruled by Mercury. He also had Sun/Mars harmoniously trining Pluto in Taurus though - which I reckon qualifies him to join this club.