Monday, March 18, 2019

Music Monday ~ Emotional Response

Which musical instrument evokes the greatest emotional response?

That is a question posed several years ago at Quora. Over the years the wording has been slightly adjusted (e.g. 'greatest' replaced 'deepest'), through merging of similar questions - the basic question did not change. When I stumbled across the thread the other day, I immediately decided my answer would have been "the saxophone!" There are answers nominating drums, guitar, piano, human voice and so on. When I came to a couple of answers pointing out that really, it isn't the instrument - is isn't any instrument - it is the player, the musician, the artist, who has the ability to evoke emotional response, I realised that this has to be answer. Here are two examples.

Longer form - from Rex Spaulding, High school All-State Honor Band 3 out of 4 years, guitar hobbyist.
Contributed 29 Nov 2016.

I wanted to answer classical guitar.

But then I thought of a homeless guy with nothing to his name but his old cello, and man… he made that sing.

Then I thought of the guy who played tenor sax on the street (made me decide to start with saxophone when I was a kid).

And next I thought of numerous concert pianists who can make a piano sound like something more than just a piano.

Then I got to thinking about a jazz trombonist who made his trombone sound like both a French horn and a trumpet, at the same time, while retaining his trombone tonality.

Then I began to recall the violin solo that choked me up.

Finally, I remember a harp - a simple harp, but it sounded like dancing fairies (or something crazy like that).

There is no simple answer - the instrument wasn’t the source of my emotions… it was the musician, every time.

It’s easy enough for any old Joe to pick up a saxophone and make it squawk like a dying bird. Or drag a bow across a violin and make it sound like nails on a chalkboard. Or just sit a (non-gifted, untalented) kid in front of any instrument…

Short form - from Angel Vera, Professional Musician, Stubborn Intellectial, Philosopher. Contributed in Oct. 2015.

None. The person is delivering the message of emotion through the instrument.

Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn
. Charlie Parker.

Joy, sorrow, tears, lamentation, laughter – to all these music gives voice, but in such a way that we are transported from the world of unrest to a world of peace, and see reality in a new way, as if we were sitting by a mountain lake and contemplating hills and woods and clouds in the tranquil and fathomless water.

Albert Schweitzer.

I play until my fingers are blue and stiff from the cold, and then I keep on playing. Until I’m lost in the music. Until I am the music – notes and chords, the melody and harmony. It hurts, but it’s okay because when I’m the music, I’m not me. Not sad. Not afraid. Not desperate. Not guilty.
Jennifer Donnelly.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Saturday and Sundry Thoughts: Another 2020 Candidate: Beto O'Rourke.

Beto O’Rourke Is Running For President

Another candidate to add to my growing list of hopefuls, for brief investigation into astrological chances of success in 2020.

All I'm doing in these posts, astrologically, (others in this series are linked at the end of last weekend's post) is searching for any astrological indication of major change in the lives of candidates, change which could indicate ascent to the presidency, or to a more important position in government. Transits of the outer planets, Jupiter to Pluto are those to watch, in comparison to the candidate's own natal planets.

Significant transits between now and November 2020
Uranus will traverse the last few degrees of Aries and up to 8 degrees of Taurus
Neptune: between 14 and 20 degrees of Pisces
Pluto: between 20 and 24 degrees of Capricorn
Saturn: between 11 and 27 Capricorn
Jupiter: between 11 Sagittarius and 22 Capricorn

Born on September 26, 1972 in El Paso, Texas. Time of birth is unknown, chart below is set for noon, so Moon position not exactly as shown and ascendant not as shown.

My eye is drawn first to North Node of the Moon - currently Pluto is transiting the area of Capricorn close to that degree. This indicates, for the chart-holder, a time of feeling passionately or compulsively driven towards a path that feels right for him. What could be more appropriate for a guy who has just announced his candidacy for the presidency of the USA? More interesting still, a Yod (Finger of Fate) formation with its apex at North Node, from two planets linked in sextile: Venus and Saturn. Venus, his natal Libra Sun's ruler and Saturn planet of legal matters and public status, drawing down upon life path choices.

None of that indicates success in 2020...but there's more. In early November 2020 Jupiter will transit O'Rourke's North Node - Jupiter "the lucky planet". While that still is not sufficient to indicate success, without other indications elsewhere in the chart (which I don't see right now), it does signify that whatever the result, and whether O'Rourke was the Democrat's nominee or not, he will have made a good impression on the public, and on his peers. His name will not easily be forgotten. Vice Presidential material? I wonder!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Arty Farty Friday ~ First there was "surround sound", now there's "surround Van Gogh"

 Self portrait
At a new Van Gogh exhibit in Paris, you won’t just be able to see Van Gogh's most famous works — you’ll also be able to step inside them.
An immersive show called Van Gogh, la nuit étoilée, just debuted at digital art center L’Atelier des Lumièrest and it’s an exquisite treat for the eyes. The exhibit features several of the Dutch artist’s most well-known paintings, from "Starry Night" and "Sunflowers" to "Potato Eaters" and "The Bedroom," by projecting them all over the walls and floors. These larger-than-life works highlight Van Gogh’s exaggerated brushstrokes and bold color choices, and are paired with musical selections from pianist and composer Luca Longobardi.


More on the exhibition HERE, with photographs.

My post from 2007 about Vincent and his astrology is in the archives HERE.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Midweek Miscellany

We frequently see or hear quips about the older generation's fumble-fingered efforts with new (to them) technology - here's a chance for those of us of "a certain age" to have a little snigger at the younger generation:

"Are we supposed to pick up the phone and then do it?' Fun footage shows two teenagers completely baffled by a rotary telephone when given four minutes to make one call:

Teacher wears same dress for 100 days to teach students a lesson
By Hannah Frishberg

Teacher Julia Mooney dressed to impress her earthy beliefs on middle school students.

To prove that you are not what you wear, Mooney, 34, donned the same gray, button-down dress for 100 days in a row, washing it only “as needed.”

She didn’t tell her young charges what she was up to in the beginning — but slowly they caught on that she was rocking the roughly $50 frock “through ceramics projects, blizzards, whatever.”

“I was a little bit fed up with the cultural expectation to go shopping and spend all this money for other people to approve of me,” Mooney told “Good Morning America” back in November, when she launched her minimalist mission. “There is no rule that says I cannot wear the same thing every day if I choose to, so I thought, why not.

Fast-forward to February: By buying into the buzzy “fast fashion” trend, Mooney says we are cultivating what she describes as a “culture of excess” that hurts the environment — and young people.

"This is something they deal with every day as 12- and 13-year-olds,” she tells TreeHugger. “As they try to define themselves, they are often identifying with brands or superficial things like their social media presence. Many seemed excited to have a reason to talk about how silly all of that really is.................“Let’s use our energy to do good instead of looking good,” Mooney advises on her @oneoutfit100days Instagram account, where she posts about the importance of sustainability and the evils of fast fashion.

Do read the full piece (linked at the title) where there's a photograph of Ms Mooney, and the dress.

Cartoon by Mad John Peck (1971) - the idea never gets old!

A movie "coming soon"- actually at the end of June 2019, is said to offer a new slant on Beatlemania, with a spoonful of sci-fi added.

A failing musician finds himself the only person in the world who remembers, after a weird world-wide sci-fi type event, the Beatles and their music. Guess what a failing musician might do next in such circumstances!

If the movie hadn't been written by Richard Curtis (from a story by Jack Barth) I'd probably be very wary of its potential, but Curtis has written such delights as Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Notting Hill (1999), Bridget Jones's Diary (2001), Love Actually (2003)... Yesterday is directed by Danny Boyle.

This coming movie has to be worth a look (keeping disbelief suspended!)

Official trailer:

Monday, March 11, 2019

Music Monday ~ Unsettling

What is the most unsettling song that you've ever listened to? A question posed some time ago at Quora. I didn't answer it, but pondered on it for a post today, came up with three songs I've always found to be unsettling.

Strange Fruit sung by Billie Holiday.

Written by teacher Abel Meeropol as a poem and published in 1937, it protested American racism, particularly the lynching of African Americans. Such lynchings had reached a peak in the South at the turn of the century, but continued there and in other regions of the United States. According to the Tuskegee Institute, 1,953 Americans were murdered by lynching, about three quarters of them black. The lyrics are an extended metaphor linking a tree’s fruit with lynching victims. Meeropol set it to music and, with his wife and the singer Laura Duncan, performed it as a protest song in New York City venues in the late 1930s, including Madison Square Garden.

Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees

Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop

Farmer in the City written and sung by Scott Walker.

The first song of Scott Walker’s seminal album, Tilt. With a mixture of haunting vocals and orchestral music, Walker chilling envisions Pier Paolo Pasolini’s death. ... "Farmer in the City"
"Farmer in the City", is subtitled "Remembering Pasolini". A few of the lyrics are appropriated from Norman Macafee's English translation of Pier Paolo Pasolini's poem, "Uno dei Tanti Epiloghi" ("One of the Many Epilogs"), which was written in 1969 for Pasolini's friend and protégé, the scruffy young nonprofessional actor, Ninetto Davoli. Throughout the song, Walker's chant of "Do I hear 21, 21, 21...? I'll give you 21, 21, 21...", may be a reference to Davoli's age when he was drafted into (and subsequently deserted from) the Italian army. (Wikipedia)
Lyrics are here:

Pumped up Kicks - Foster the People

The song was written and recorded by fron-tman Mark Foster while he was working as a commercial jingle writer. Contrasting with the upbeat musical composition, the lyrics describe the homicidal thoughts of a troubled youth.
The lyrics to "Pumped Up Kicks" are written from the perspective of a troubled and delusional youth with homicidal thoughts. The lines in the chorus warn potential victims to "outrun my gun" and that they "better run, better run, faster than my bullet."

Foster said in a statement to, "I wrote 'Pumped Up Kicks' when I began to read about the growing trend in teenage mental illness. I wanted to understand the psychology behind it because it was foreign to me. It was terrifying how mental illness among youth had skyrocketed in the last decade. I was scared to see where the pattern was headed if we didn't start changing the way we were bringing up the next generation." In writing the song, Foster wanted to "get inside the head of an isolated, psychotic kid" and "bring awareness" to the issue of gun violence among youth, which he feels is an epidemic perpetuated by "lack of family, lack of love, and isolation " The song's title refers to shoes that the narrator's peers wear as a status symbol.
The issue of youth violence is a matter close to the group. Foster was bullied in high school, while bassist Cubbie Fink has a cousin who survived the Columbine High School massacre in 1999.

The issue of youth violence is a matter close to the group. Foster was bullied in high school, while bassist Cubbie Fink has a cousin who survived the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. (Wikipedia)

Robert's got a quick hand
He'll look around the room, he won't tell you his plan
He's got a rolled cigarette, hanging out his mouth he's a cowboy kid
Yeah found a six shooter gun
In his dad's closet hidden oh in a box of fun things, I don't even know what
But he's coming for you, yeah he's coming for you

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet

Daddy works a long day
He be coming home late, he's coming home late
And he's bringing me a surprise
'Cause dinner's in the kitchen and it's packed in ice
I've waited for a long time
Yeah the slight of my hand is now a quick pull trigger
I reason with my cigarette
And say your hair's on fire, you must have lost your wits, yeah

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet

Songwriter: Mark Foster.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Saturday and Sundry Thoughts on 2 More Would-be Presidents : Jay Inslee, John Hickenlooper.

Two more hats flew into the ring recently: those of Jay Inslee and John Hickenlooper. I'm not sure whether either is a well-known name outside of their own communities.

Jay Inslee politician, author, and attorney serving as the 23rd Governor of Washington State, and a member of the Democratic Party. Before being elected governor, Inslee served in the United States House of Representatives and the Washington House of Representatives. His priority: dealing with global warming. (Do I hear an "About time!" from any stray reader?)

From The Atlantic

If there is a new Democratic president come 2021, he or she will get pulled in all sorts of policy directions. Inslee says he has one priority: global warming. It’s not theoretical, or a cause just for tree huggers anymore. Putting off dealing with it for a year or two or kicking it to some new bipartisan commission won’t work, he says. He plans to focus on the threat that climate change poses to the environment and national security—the mega-storms and fires causing millions in damages, the weather changes that will cause mass migrations, the droughts that will devastate farmers in America and around the world.

Even more so, he wants to talk about the risk to American opportunity. “We have two existential threats right now: one is to our natural systems, and one is to our economic systems,” he said.

Born on February 9, 1951 in Seattle, Washington. Chart is set for noon as tome of birth is unknown. Moon and ascendat positions will not be as shown.

All I'm doing in these posts (others in this series are linked at the end of this post) is searching for any astrological indication of major change in the lives of candidates, change which could indicate ascent to the presidency, or to a more important position in government. Transits of the outer planets, Jupiter to Pluto are those to watch, in comparison to the candidate's own natal planets.

Significant transits between now and November 2020
Uranus will traverse the last few degrees of Aries and up to 8 degrees of Taurus
Neptune: between 14 and 20 degrees of Pisces
Pluto: between 20 and 24 degrees of Capricorn
Saturn: between 11 and 27 Capricorn
Jupiter: between 11 Sagittarius and 22 Capricorn

Governor Inslee does have Neptune transiting his Pisces stellium of Venus/Jupiter/Mars currently, by 2020 Neptune will have moved on past those planets, but still within range of being significant. I'm not sure that Neptune is quite as powerful in indicating major change of this type as Uranus, Saturn or Pluto. The conjunction to his Pisces stellium could relate to his decision to become a candidate. Saturn will reach his Aquarius Sun by 2022 - maybe indicating a second run for the 2024 election - and a more successful one?

John Hickenlooper politician and businessman who served as the 42nd Governor of Colorado from 2011 to 2019. He is a member of the Democratic Party.

From New York Times
He jumped into the race on Monday as a long shot with limited name recognition. But he has a biography and a résumé that warrant attention. He didn’t enter politics until his early 50s, after a hugely successful career in beer — in brew pubs, to be exact. And he talks, persuasively, about what a customer-service business like that taught him about courting people rather than confronting them, about pacifying instead of inflaming.

As the mayor of Denver from 2003 to 2011 and then the governor of Colorado from 2011 until the start of this year, when he left office because of term limits, he was known for swearing off negative political ads, for gravitating away from divisive issues and toward whatever common ground he could find, and for a style with substantial measures of goofiness and geekiness but barely a pinch of truculence. That said, he marshaled toughness and persistence........... to build a light rail system in Denver, expand Medicaid in Colorado, enact gun control and tug the state from recession to boom times that were the envy of other governors.

Born on 7 February 1952 in Narbeth,PA. Chart set for 12 noon as time of birth unknown. Moon position and ascendant will not be as shown.

Saturn will be visiting John Hickenlooper's natal Sun - but not until early 2022 - so in similar vein to Jay Inslee, he could be more likely to make a stronger, or more successful impression as a candidate in the election in 2024, after getting himself more widely known during the current run.

I like these two candidates, possibly more than any others I've investigated, so far - other than Bernie Sanders of course! I suspect what their charts are telling me is also a fairly rational outcome too. Neither candidate is currently a household name, but they both will become much better known during this run, up to 2020, and likely to be more successful in the 2024 election.

Other posts in this 2020 series:

Friday, March 08, 2019

Arty Farty Friday ~ Sir Anish Kapoor & Cloud Gate

[Sir]Anish Kapoor is a leading contemporary British-Indian artist working in large-scale abstract public sculpture. Among his best-known works is the popular Cloud Gate (2006), otherwise known as “the Bean,” featured in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Throughout his career, Kapoor has worked on a variety of scales and with diverse materials—mirrors, stone, wax, and PVC—exploring both biomorphic and geometric forms with a particular interest in negative space. “That's what I am interested in: the void, the moment when it isn't a hole,” he explained. “It is a space full of what isn't there.” (Wikipedia)


Born on March 12, 1954 in Bombay, India, Kapoor moved to London in the late 1970s, studying at both the Hornsey College of Art and Chelsea College of Arts. He first gained critical recognition for his work in the 1980s, with his metaphysical site-specific works in which he manipulates form and the perception of space. Kapoor was awarded the Turner Prize in 1991, and named a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2003, and Knighthood in 2013 for services to the visual arts. The artist currently lives in London, United Kingdom. Kapoor’s works are held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Tate Gallery in London, among others.

Sir Anish Kapoor's natal chart is at Astrotheme, here. His Sun and Mercury in Pisces somehow feel rather appropriate to his Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago (above), as does the harmonious trine between Pisces' ancient and modern rulers, Jupiter and Neptune. It's as though Pisces has gathered the reflections of the rest of the zodiac -all that has gone before - and reflects them back to us, in a wide gateway to the future.

Photographs of more of this sculptor's work can be seen via Google Image, here.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Mid-week Movie ~ The Pumpkin Eater

Returning to the weekend's topic of TV/movie drama: a few nights ago we watched (via Amazon Prime) a British 1964 film, The Pumpkin Eater. I'd heard of it, but hadn't ever seen it, nor had my husband. I was persuaded to watch by the cast list : Ann Bancroft, Peter Finch, James Mason, Maggie Smith....what could possibly go wrong?

I'm still not sure exactly what went wrong, for me . It could've been Harold Pinter's screenplay (though this was much lauded by others). I'm not good at appreciating the arty-farty in film, so that could have been my basic problem.

I kept remarking to husband along the lines of, "People do not, and did not in the 1960s, as I recall, converse like this! " Apparently, in Pinter's world, they did. I simply was unable to believe any character in this movie, in spite of the A-list actors involved. They, of course, could use only the story and material presented to them.

Leading female character was played by Ann Bancroft. This woman, from what we could perceive from the script, was neurotic and self-absorbed to the nth degree. Why then did she continue having children, yet seemingly taking little notice of them as their numbers grew: 3, 4, 5, 6, and I think more, but lost count. She eventually passed on responsibility to a nanny and/or to her 3rd husband (played by Peter Finch) in a then-failing marriage. She gave little thought to the lives she was forcing onto those kids in an at times ugly, emotionally-charged, if fairly wealthy background. I felt little sympathy. Her 3rd husband was unfaithful on the one hand, but seemed to love the kids who were not his, equally to any who were (I was never sure which were which). I had no sympathy for him either, except a grudging admiration for his continued devotion to the kids, in spite of having warned his wife of potential difficulties in that area, before they married. I think they were, then, 3 in number. The two eldest were shuffled off to boarding school quick sharp, before getting to know their parents at all.

I'm sorry, but I could not dredge up sympathy for a woman who had hardly ever worked a day in her life, but insisted on procreating when it became obvious she did not have the required stability in relationships to be responsibly doing so. My sympathy was reserved for the kids.

The best thing about the movie, for me, was the lush black and white format. "Lush" seems an odd adjective, but, on our screen the black and white (or rather 1000 shades of grey) of this movie did come over much better than black and white format in other movies of the same age. I enjoyed just looking at the pictures!

I realise that my view of this film is not once shared by many. I haven't read the book by Penelope Mortimer upon which the film was based. I've read several reviews of book and film; the movie and its actors received plaudits and awards for their performances. Perhaps I'm just not up to appreciating certain nuances - or perhaps, if the screenplay and dialogue had been written by a woman it would have felt more true to life. I wonder if, and how, any re-make in 2019 would be different. Perhaps things have changed so much in intervening decades that this movie belongs among historical dramas, almost as much as do Poldark and Lorna Doone! (See last weekend's post). Or, alternatively, as a reviewer at Time Out wrote: " ..... the world of the Hampstead soap opera now seems so far away as to almost rate as science fiction. "

Monday, March 04, 2019

Music Monday ~ Loosening Up!

It's good to see police officers "letting their hair down"- when they have any that is!

Here Are The 10 Best Police Officer Lip Sync Videos

Cops across America are challenging each other to sing and dance to pop songs.........

My own two favourites:

"Shake It Off"

"I Should've Been a Cowboy"

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Saturday and Sundry Drama Series

During the past few evenings we've been time travelling - in mind only - as we watched two drama series, set in 17th and 18th century England.

Amazon Prime enticed us to watch, first, three seasons of the 2015 version of Poldark currently on offer, which I supplemented with a DVD of season 4. Season 5 (said to be the last) is still in production.

Poldark is set in the late 1700s, after the end of the American War of Independence, from which our hero, Ross Poldark returns as the tale begins. Ross Poldark is played by Aidan Turner with just the right blend of swashbuckling sweetness and a touch of the enigmatic. The setting is beautiful Cornwall, near Truro, in the far south-west of England. The series' female lead, playing Demelza, in true "My Fair Lady" tradition, is Eleanor Tomlinson.

I've been so taken with the story that I've now started on Winston Graham's set of Poldark novels, upon which this TV series, as well as an earlier one in the mid-1970s, were based.

The series has romance, politics, everyday life in 18th century Cornwall and London, human foibles and enigmas, with intervals of action and adventure. There's a satisfyingly evil villain of the tale, wonderfully played by Jack Farthing as George Warleggan. Coincidentally, we'd just watched Jack Farthing in a really whacky comedy series, Blandings, in a role which could hardly have been more different from that of George Warleggan. For an excellent example of a truly versatile actor, just take a look at Jack's performances in an episode of both Blandings and Poldark!

 Jack Farthing as George Warleggan

 Jack Farthing as upper-class twit Freddie

I suppose Poldark could be seen as a very well-done, well-acted and well-presented historical soap opera but really, it's much more than that.

The older 1975 series sounds, from what I've read of it, to be a little different in tone and detail from this more recent version. Perhaps in some ways it was nearer to the novel, but perhaps in some other ways not as true to the novel's basic intent and flavour. I won't know this until I find a way to watch the older version, and have read several of the novels. I intend to do both.

After we finished Poldark, I spied a dramatised version, aired in 2000/2001, of Lorna Doone at Amazon Prime. There had been an earlier version of this story too, in the mid-1970s.

I'd had a vague, and mistaken, idea that the story is set in Scotland ("Ye banks and braes o' bonny Doon...."). It isn't, it's set in the Devonshire/Somerset area of south-west England, a little to the north and east of Poldark's Cornwall. It is an adaptation of a novel by Richard D. Blackmore, published in 1869. There is a link to Scotland but one that isn't explored in this short (3 episode) TV series. Any link to Scotland relates to a time before the Lorna Doone plot begins, when the once aristocratic Doone family, were stripped of their ancient Scottish lands and heritage. Reasons are left untold, but I'd like to know! The Doones moved to an area of Devonshire near Exmoor which became known as Doone Valley. The clan turned into outlaws, frightening, pillaging, burning and killing local farmers and villagers. Our hero and narrator, in Lorna Doone is John Ridd, a yeoman farmer, whose father was killed by the dreaded Doone gang. When both were children, John met Lorna without knowing her family background....Romeo, Juliet an' all that! But there's more, with a bit of 17th century British history thrown in!

Lorna Doone is a much shorter series, and therefore the tale is more rushed than Poldark's, more detailed and leisurely telling, but it's still a worthwhile watch. It could well serve as an introduction to a classic British novel. Lorna Doone was originally shown as a 3 hour TV film, now arranged into 3 episodes for Amazon Prime. Here's the starry cast list:

I'd recommend both series as good ways to leave behind the cares of 2019, Trump, Brexit et al and do a bit of mental time travelling. It serves to remind us that though we do have problems in 2019, they are not nearly as severe as those many of our ancestors had to face.

Friday, March 01, 2019

Arty Farty Friday ~ Robert Grossman's Caustic Covers, Caricatures & Cartoons

Robert Grossman, best known as brilliant political cartoonist and magazine cover artist, was born this day,
1 March, in 1940. He died around a year ago, in March 2018, aged 78.

His politically satirical cover illustrations for iconic American publications such as The Nation, TIME, and Rolling Stone are classics. For numerous examples just Google search Robert Grossman covers and cartoons, then click on "images". This one, from 2004, with adjustment of facial likenesses, could apply to 2020!

A once famous LP cover for comedy group The Firesign Theater by Robert Grossman used a little astrology.

For the 1970 comedy recording Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers, Grossman painted a quartet of caricatures of The Firesign Theatre. The painting depicts the players as animal / human hybrids, with the animal portions signifying each member's Zodiacal sign (each was born under a Fire Sign).
(Wikipedia, link above).

Firesign Theatre material was conceived, written, and performed by its members Phil Austin, Peter Bergman, David Ossman, and Philip Proctor. The group's name stems from astrology, because all four were born under the three "fire signs": Aries (Austin), Leo (Proctor), and Sagittarius (Bergman and Ossman). Their popularity peaked in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and ebbed in the Reagan Era. They experienced a revival and second wave of popularity in the 1990s and continued to write, record and perform until Bergman's death in 2012.

Astrologically, Robert Grossman himself had Sun and Mercury in Pisces, but he also had three planets (Jupiter, Venus and Saturn) in Aries, Moon in Sagittarius and Pluto in Leo - so had Firesign credentials aplenty himself.

An obituary from UK's The Independent is worth a look. It features this cartoon strip by Grossman (must have been one of his much later pieces):

For more, see Robert Grossman's website HERE.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Blame the Dog - or Blame Theresa May?

We've been otherwise engaged for the past few days so I haven't got around to preparing blog posts - blame the dog[-sitting]! Pooh-dog is back with his new humans now, bless his little running jumping feet!

From any news-reading I've done lately, I note that the Brexit scenario hasn't improved any. My jaw can't drop any lower than the floor, but it is certainly grinding the carpet to dust! Here are some good well-upvoted observations from Richard Lock, who Has Somehow Ended Up Working as a Patent Attorney. It comes from his Quora answer to the question:

Why do so many people blame Theresa May for the Brexit mess since it’s not entirely her fault?

This answer has already been "shared"; I'm taking it that a further sharing here would raise no objection - so a big thank you, to Mr Lock!

Spilling a bucket of cowshit on the hallway floor may be considered an accident.

Tap-dancing in the resultant mess so that it sprays high and wide up the walls and ceiling, running through the house flinging handfuls of it around the living room, and then finger-painting the kitchen and bedrooms…cannot.

The referendum was held in June 2016. It is now nearly March 2019.

Consider the following. These are all Theresa May’s actions. Hers, and hers alone. Roughly chronological:

~ Appointed David Davis as Brexit Secretary (13th July 2016). Kept him in that position even when it was clear that he was doing nothing and achieving nothing. He resigned - not fired, resigned - in July 2018.

~ Triggered Article 50 (March 29th 2017). There was (and is) no ‘roadmap’ to leaving at the time she (and she alone) did this. Triggering Article 50 sets a two-year fixed time period for arranging an orderly withdrawal.

~ Called an unnecessary election (June 2017) partway through the two-year Article 50 process, diverting time and effort from all parties into the campaign. Manages to lose 13 Conservative seats and cannot form a Government.

~ Decides to solve this problem by allying with the 10 MPs of the DUP, a Northern Irish party who believe the earth was created 6,000 years ago, and who are known for being somewhat…inflammatory, not to mention stubborn, in their viewpoints. Gets them onboard by somehow finding 1.5 billion pounds going spare in the public finances. At a time when the country is undergoing huge and sustained cuts in public spending.

~ Sets up a bunch of ‘red lines’ in her negotiating position with the EU. The result of these is to exclude certain solutions such as continued membership of the Single Market and Customs Union (e.g. the ‘Norway’ option and various other forms of ‘soft’ Brexit), and to put any possible solution that would fit within the red lines in conflict with the Good Friday Agreement, an international and legally-binding treaty which the UK is signatory to.
Refuses to modify the red lines to accommodate this (for example by keeping Northern Ireland in the Single Market), almost certainly because she has to rely on the DUP to stay in power.

~ Finalises an agreement with the EU (25th Nov 2018). This needs to pass the UK parliament. The vote is scheduled for 11th Dec 2018.

~ Is defeated in three preliminary votes on 4th Dec, including being held in Contempt of Parliament.

~ Announces on 10th Dec 2018 that the vote scheduled for 11th Dec is postponed. Admits that it’s because she would lose the vote. This is rescheduled for 15th January 2019.

~ Vote is put to Parliament on 15th Jan 2019. May loses by the largest margin ever (230 votes). She very narrowly survives a confidence vote held directly after this.

~ Another vote is scheduled for 14th Feb. She loses this one as well.

~ Another vote is, or rather was, scheduled for 27th Feb. This one was supposed to be the next ‘big’ vote - following the delayed and rescheduled Dec/Jan votes, the theory was that further changes would be negotiated with the EU, and UK MPs could then re-vote. This has not happened, as the EU has made it very clear that further changes cannot and will not happen. The vote is currently re-scheduled for 12th March. It is highly likely that this will be more-or-less the same deal that Parliament already voted down by 230 votes.

In short, ‘so many people blame Theresa May’, because she has made a bad situation almost infinitely worse, as a direct result of her own actions or inactions.

Edited to make an addition. This is from ‘Times’ correspondent Matthew Parris in his column over the weekend of 23rd/24th Feb 2019:
Time and again I’ve protested that she may not be the answer but she didn’t create this mess. She’s just a dogged politician, overly cautious and rather shy, but time and again my informants, MPs, former MPs, civil servants, special advisers, tell me eyes flashing that I’ve got it wrong, and the public have got it wrong and she’s so much worse than that.

She’s not normal, she’s extraordinarily uncommunicative, extraordinarily rude in the way she blanks people, ideas and arguments and to my surprise there’s no difference between the pictures of her that Remainers and Leavers paint. Theresa May they tell me (in a couple of cases actually shouting) is the Death Star of modern politics, she’s the theory of anti-matter made flesh. She’s the political black hole because nothing, not even light, can escape: ideas, beliefs, suggestions, objections, inquiries, proposals, protests, loyalties, affections, trust; while careers, real men and women are sucked into the awful void that is Downing Street, and nothing ever comes out, no answers only a blank so blank that it screams.

Reputations, they lament, are staked on her and lost, warnings are delivered to her and ignored, plans are run by her unacknowledged, messages are sent and unanswered, she has become the unperson of Downing Street, the living embodiment of the closed door.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Music Monday ~ Musically Architectural ?

Quora question:

If each music genre becomes an architecture what would it look like?

The answer by Jim Davis at the link has a selection of architectural illustrations for each music genre.

My non-pictorial answer would be along these lines:

Classical: Roman architecture
Pop/Rock: A typical city street
Jazz: An out-of-the-ordinary building (Frank Lloyd Wright skyscraper for example -see here)
Big Band and Swing: Dance Hall
Country: Rural ranch style dwelling
Christian: A church
Blues: Small, crumbling cottage in a rural swampy, or run-down urban area.

On a related theme, my post from last year:
Music Monday - Meet the Genres

Classical - Tall, handsome gentleman, polite and charming, with a beautifully dressed lady on his arm.

Swing & Big Band - Clean-cut happy-go-lucky guy in blazer and slacks, will buy drinks all round at the bar, girl friend is a leggy blonde who loves to socialise.

American Standards - A bit of a solitary nerd, horn-rimmed spectcles, always scibbling on the back of tickets and cigarette packets.

Jazz - African American couple, moody, changeable, charismatic, but for outsiders, not easy to understand.

Blues - Solitary, gloomy African American guy - tends to study his own navel a lot.

Early Rock and Roll - Teen school friends, frequent the coffee bars, a bit full of themselves- they think they've invented the wheel.

Psychadelic 60s - Good looking young couple, long flowing hair, he bearded, she bra-less, both smoking - something.

Country - A couple who've been through the mill, romantically and in life generally. They drive an old truck & go to church of a Sunday.

Folk - A youngish couple who have an oddly old fashioned look, a bit rumpled, a bit unkempt, yet they always retain a certain classiness.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Saturday and Sundry Thoughts: Bernie Sanders' Astrology & 2020

The entry of Senator Bernie Sanders into the 2020 presidential race is, by now, old news. He announced his intention to run early in the week. To match the pattern I've followed for other hopefuls, hats already in the ring, I'll peruse Bernie's natal chart for any clear signs of change of status, due in late 2020. For now, I'm limiting these 2020 posts to that process.

Anyone who read this blog in 2015-2016 might remember that I was a firm Bernie Sanders supporter then. That has not changed. Bernie, for me, is "the real deal", has been since 2008 when he first came to my notice - a politician with focus always on what can, and should, be done to benefit "We the People".

There'll be more to write on the whys and wherefores of the campaign proper with its cast-list of hopefuls during coming months, for now all I'll add to my investigation of Bernie's chart is to quote closing paragraphs of an article by Benjamin Studebaker:
Why Bernie Sanders Matters More Than People Think

Bernie Sanders is a democratic socialist building on the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. He understands that inequality is the core structural factor in economic crisis and that growth in real wages and incomes is required for robust, sustainable economic growth. He recognises that the Democratic Party must fundamentally change to tackle this problem. He has been an independent and kept himself separate from the party machine because he recognises how corrupt and lethargic it has become over the years. He’s running not just to change the country, but to change the Democratic Party into the kind of party that can deliver for poor and working Americans.

All the rest is noise. This is not about just this election, or just the next four years. This is about whether the Democratic Party is going to care about inequality for the next decade. We are making a historic decision between two distinct ideological paradigms, not a choice between flavors of popcorn. This is important. Choose carefully.


It is unfortunate that there is no reliable time of birth available for Senator Sanders. has some rectifications noted, but do not rate them as reliable. One has Scorpio rising, with a birth time 27 minutes after mid-day; the other rectification, based on Bernie's history, has Gemini rising. The chart below is set for noon, so Moon position, as shown, will not be accurate, though Moon would be in Aries, whatever the true time of his birth. Rising sign has to remain a mystery, absent further information.

A reminder of the transits of outer planets in the time span under investigation:

Between now and early November 2020
Uranus will traverse the last few degrees of Aries and up to 8 degrees of Taurus
Neptune: between 14 and 20 degrees of Pisces
Pluto: between 20 and 24 degrees of Capricorn
Saturn: between 11 and 27 Capricorn
Jupiter: between 11 Sagittarius and 22 Capricorn

Born on September 8, 1941, Brooklyn, New York City.

Right now transiting Jupiter is opposing the Senator's natal Jupiter, it'll be criss-crossing the same general area and back again in exact conjunction this summer. Here's an astrologer's interpretation of this aspect: It certainly reflects the record-breaking huge (Jupiter) first-day fundraising haul Bernie achieved!

Transiting Neptune will exactly oppose Bernie's natal Sun several times in coming months and during part of 2020. I'd interpret that as a warning to the Senator to be careful in whom he places trust - something of which I feel sure he is well aware, and will have chosen his new group of assistants with that in mind. Still, though, there will be be members of the Democratic establishment and corporate media ranged against him, as well as President Trump and the Republicans.

Transiting Mars will be conjunct Bernie's natal Moon (exact dates depending on exact degree of Moon) and natal Mars, while also opposing natal Venus in weeks surrounding the election in 2020. This isn't a sign of success, but an indication of significant energy or dynamism being present at that time; it could also be related to non-election issues.

I have to say that I don't see, in the information available, any stand-out indication that Bernie Sanders' status in the public eye will change, or that his run will end in success, whether in the primaries or, if nominated, in the General election.

The lack of time of birth is particularly frustrating in this case!

Much as it pains me to write it, if I had to bet on any of the people investigated so far, relying only on my astrology, bets would still have to go to Elizabeth Warren or to Cory Booker (if his time of birth can be established as being accurate). But we do need Bernie's voice to remain in the mix - loud and clear!

Other posts in this 2020 series:

Friday, February 22, 2019

"Me and You and a Dog Named Boo" [or Pooh!]

He isn't really named Boo, he doesn't yet have a settled name. He's a wee dog who husband's elder son found wandering, a few weeks ago, one freezing morning, in the snow. In ensuing days and weeks he and his wife tried every possible way to locate his owner: enquiring of all the vets in town, the shelter, the boarding kennels, neighbours, adverts. Nothing! The local dog shelter advised a wait of 10 days before deciding whether son-in-law wished to keep the dog. They had, just before Christmas, lost a long-beloved pet Jack Russell, aged into her teens. They had declared, "Never again!" And then, just weeks later.....

We can only surmise that the wee dog had escaped from, or was abandoned by someone driving through town. He has, indeed, proved to be something of a 'runner', if ever he sees a chance of escape. He has a strange combination of traits: he's ultra clingy and affectionate, wants to be with us, around us all the time even though we haven't known him for very long, but still, he'd bolt and run given the chance. He has tried it, both from here and from his new home with son-in-law and family. He's a hybrid, definitely one part Chihuahua, his head is unmistakably that; the other half could be either Corgi or Mini-Pinscher.

Anyway...long story short: son-in-law and wife have gone skiing in New Mexico for 5 days, and we are dog-sitting - though in our own home rather than in theirs; our homes are just a short distance apart.

I'm calling the dog "Pooh" for now - Pooh Dog, after A.A. Milne's Pooh Bear. Guess why? Yep, probably due to anxiety and nerves, not long after his new "humans" had driven off, he pooped in husband's office/den. It happened again later on, and again this morning - in the living room this time. We take him out in the back yard often - it's a nice big open grassy space with a pasture behind - but he's not into pooping there, as yet. He did try an escape though. He had woofed to "ask" to go out, yesterday morning, so I let him out into the backyard without realising that we had a visitor there : the pest control guy, who had had opened the back gate. Pooh had heard something going on, woofed to go out and - quel horreur! Pooh flew! Panic central! The nice young pest control guy realised what had happened, ran to his truck and followed the direction in which we'd seen Pooh disappearing. He was soon back with the little rascal, who had covered quite a bit of ground in the streets around ours. He has a peculiar gait when running - more akin to leaps and bounds, possibly due to his disproportionately long body. Pooh is so generally sweet natured and friendly that he went straight to the young pest control guy, came back with him quite happily.

This is going to be an adventure and a half!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

30 Degrees of Separation - The Semi-Sextile

There's little I can write about in astrology that I haven't written about before, at least once during my many years of blogging. While preparing a weekend post, I began scribbling about the semi-sextile, referred to a piece by astrologer Donna Cunningham....then took a quick look back at my archived posts. Lo and behold - I'd written about this in the past - in 2014. Ah well, waste not want not. I shall simply link to the old post and include under the link the additional words I'd already written before discovering my earlier work. The old post has some interesting comments attached too, by the way.

In a Minor Key - The semi-sextile (2014)


Something I read at Quora had me perusing my own natal chart - I do so rarely these days. I then clicked around Google quickly and happened upon a piece by Donna Cunningham.

From Is the semi-sextile a good aspect or a bad one?
by Donna Cunningham.

Snips -
Have you read or been taught much about the semi-sextile? I’m guessing that you haven’t—in most astrology writings, it tends to get shrugged off as a minor aspect after a half-hearted sentence or two of description. It’s a 30° aspect, plus or minus 2-3°. For instance, a planet in Aries may form a semi-sextile to a planet at approximately the same degree of either of the two adjacent signs, Pisces or Taurus...........

.........The good traits of one of the signs can usually offset the less than wonderful traits of the other, especially if we learn to use them consciously. I have several in my chart, and they tend to pull me back off the ledge when I’m about to bungee dive into the worst qualities of the signs involved
I'm most aware of one prominent semi-sextile in my own natal chart: Sun at 6+Aquarius/Jupiter at 6+ Pisces. I like that one. Aquarius chases after logic, while Pisces chases imagination and dreams - the effort expended in maintaining a balance of the two helps make life interesting and satisfying.

I hadn't, until now, taken as much notice of two other semi-sextiles in my chart. Saturn and Uranus are semi-sextile within a degree, in Aries and Taurus respectively. Those are my Aquarius Sun's ruling planets (traditional and modern), and that semi-sextile does echo the feel of the Aquarius/Pisces semi-sextile: in a "stop-go" kind of way - Aries is spontaneous and quick, Taurus is traditional and steady. A feasible balance needs to be maintained, and it's not too difficult to do.

The third semi-sextile in my chart is between Mercury and Venus in Capricorn and Sagittarius respectively- not quite 2 degrees of difference in the semi-sextile. Again, here's that same flavour coming through "steady and careful as she goes" from Capricorn, but "get on the road now and go as far and fast as possible" from Sagittarius!

So, I've discovered what is a recognisable trait in my personality - recognisable to me anyway, only I know for sure what goes on within. There are three pieces of evidence of this trait in my chart. Knock-out fall-down fights of opposites are not a feature of these semi-sextiles, but gentle tussles between two subtly different sides of me, neither being too far beyond the pale to be blended together. One side wins sometimes, but the other side has been known to win equally often too.

For any stray passing reader with an interest in astrology and their natal chart to hand - take a look for any close semi-sextiles and discover how they fit in your own case. I'll finish today in the same way I ended my 2014 post:
"As always, personal experience is key to knowing how it (or anything) works for you."

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Stupid Idioms - with Ian Lang

What’s the stupidest idiom in the entire English language?

That was a question posed at Quora last week. Ian Lang, no stranger on this blog, has given me his blanket permission to use his writings here, contributed as follows:

Ian Lang, Leading Technician answered:
Oh, there’s lots of them. Down at the Idiomatic Phrase Testing Range (IPTR), we’re regularly trying these out.

No. 1 : What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger:

So we did an experiment. We got six large men and had them lift anvils.All of them could manage it. Then we shot two through the left knee, two through the right knee, and two through both knees. All six survived, but not one could succesfully lift an anvil any longer.

No. 2: It’s not rocket science:

We got a bunch of chemists working on solid propulsion systems and introduced them to a bunch of engineers working on rapid reaction guidance systems and told them to deploy a satellite by Friday teatime or they’d be next lifting anvils (see above). It appears it was indeed rocket science that happened thereafter.

No. 3: Time flies when you’re having fun:

We took a group of students from the local university and synchronised their watches to an atomic clock. The we got them totally pissed, fed them some marijuana, and played American soft rock at them for five hours. When we checked their watches, they were still in synchronisation. We didn’t make them lift any anvils. We feared that the work involved in lifting anvils might kill them and that would be a bit of a sticky wicket when explaining to their tutors.

No. 4: A picture is worth 1000 words:

We borrowed Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” from the Uffizi. We painted over it with white emulsion and wrote a very accurate description of what it used to look like in exactly one thousand words. Judging by the reaction when we sent it back, the picture was worth much. much more than a thousand words. Perhaps we ought to have used Italian words instead.

For some reason, the government is considering cutting the funding to IPTR. Personally, I blame Brexit.