Thursday, November 23, 2017

Wishing all in the USA...

“True thankfulness is being thankful not only for what you have, but for what you don’t have to have!"
~ Debbie Croley

And, as I've said myself, in more than one past Thanksgiving blog post - albeit with questionable grammar, preposition-wise :
In a world in which there often seems little (or nothing) to be confident about, there's still a lot to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Texas Tidbits

Last week we travelled into deepest Texas to visit husband's younger daughter who now lives in Killeen, it's a city just a little northwest of Austin. Here are a few choice Texas sightings from husband's camera. (Clicking on the photographs should bring up larger or clearer versions.)

You know you're in Texas when the hotel chain has had thousands of yards of carpet woven, just to make sure you know it!

On turning a corner one day, I wasn't too sure we were indeed in Texas! Maybe a fellow British ex-pat lives in that house.

I'm always happy to see junk transformed to art!

I suspect this little collage was unintentionally arty - or maybe not:


A car junk Christmas tree - nice!

It was a surprise to see this guy in the hotel bar one evening. He was in semi-civvies, but instantly recognisable: the Killeen Mall Santa of some 18 years' experience.

The old Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells has deteriorated further since we first passed by some years ago. It was once, long ago, a popular vacation destination for "the beautiful people" - its story is available in several places on the internet, including at Wikipedia, HERE.

The city of Mineral Wells, as a whole, now seems depressed and down-trodden, reflecting the dismal state of its once-prized hotel .

In a very, very junky junk/antique store in town we saw a few remnants of the Baker Hotel's brighter days.

LOL! Almost home, but still in Texas:

The Remains of the Day (apologies to Kazuo Ishiguro for use of his book title).

Monday, November 20, 2017

Rhapsodic Music Monday

I'm not an avid fan of 20th (or 21st) century pop/rock, but a handful of songs of that genre did appeal to me. I was always was drawn to, and still have on my favourites list: Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)- see below; MacArthur Park (Richard Harris), Whiter Shade of Pale(Procul Harum), More Like the Movies (Dr. Hook), and Baker Street (Gerry Rafferty).

The first three songs have a whisper, or echo, of classical about them that I enjoy, the fourth, I like just because; and the fifth - I lurve that saxophone!

With regard to Bohemian Rhapsody, I read a couple of interesting responses to questions about the song, at Quora a while ago:

From Neil Anderson
I’ve heard a number of people suggest it’s about AIDS. It absolutely isn’t. The song was released in 1975. AIDS wasn’t even spoken about until the early 80s and Freddie wasn’t diagnosed until 87.

There’s an idea that it’s about coming out.

This sort of works in the first verse, as a man telling his mother he’s gay and had killed his old self. The rest of the song doesn’t work so well with this for me, but I accept it’s plausible.

There’s a version released with album notes saying it’s a cosmic argument between God and the devil over the soul of a murderer. Hmmm.

For me it’s a tale of murder. It does what it says.

A man kills someone for reasons we don’t know. He confesses to his mother and tries to run, but the police arrive and he’s taken away.

The operatic section is complex.
Scaramouch is a clown character. He’s comparing himself to a tragic clown. The hemp fandango is slang for the twitching of a hanged man. He’s asking if he’ll be hanged.

He’s tried for murder and there’s a court case which is hotly debated and/or a public outcry about his position and whether he should be tried and executed when he’s a victim of circumstance. The legal profession feel he should, but many don’t agree.

Meanwhile he feels abandoned by his family and/or lover who refuse to engage with him.

We leave before we know what will happen, but the protagonist realises that life and death for people like him are so meaningless that he doesn’t care whether he lives or dies.

It’s a cross between a tragic opera and a murder ballad.

Freddie was candid about it and often said it’s about what you want it to be about. He’s also said that much of it was nonsense.

Freddie wasn’t always truthful.

It’s what ever you want it to be.

Someone had also asked:
What is the meaning of Bismillah in "Bismillah, no! We will not let him go!" Noam Kaiser replied:
Originally the question asked was "Who is Bismillah".
It isn't a "who", it's a "what".
Bismillah" is a term in Arabic meaning "in the name of Allah" and the beginning of the most common Islamic prayer.
"No, in the name of god, we will not let you go".
It was a nod at Freddie Mercury's upbringing in majority-Muslim Zanzibar.
The meaning of the usage of the term is vague and has been interpreted as trying to spare either the young man's (depicted in the song) life or his soul.

Monday, November 13, 2017

If only, if only.....

It was good yesterday to find this piece, by Keith Burris, at The Blade:
Kucinich: I know why Trump was elected.
We don't hear nearly enough from Dennis Kucinich these days. He was my first choice of US politician during my early years here in the USA. There are numerous posts about him, accessible via the Label Cloud in my sidebar.

If only...if only!

Mr Burris wrote:
"Kucinich was Bernie Sanders long before Bernie..."
I know what he meant but they have both been around in politics, fighting the good fight, for a long time. Americans in general remained too blinkered (or too something) to give them the credit, and the support, they deserved - until 2016 in Bernie's case.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour...

“If one were to stand on a street corner at 9 A.M. and watch the spirits of the British dead march by four abreast, the column would be 97 miles long and would take twenty hours, or until five the next morning, to pass. The French dead would take an additional fifty-one hours and the Germans another fifty-nine hours. Considering all the dead on the western front, this parade would last from 9 A.M. Monday to 4 P.M. Saturday and stretch 386 miles, roughly the distance from Paris halfway through Switzerland or from New York to Cleveland.”
~Joseph E. Persico, Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day, 1918.
“The living owe it to those who no longer can speak to tell their story for them.”
~ Czesław Miłosz, The Issa Valley.
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."
~ Joseph Campbell.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Arty Farty Friday ~ Big Lies and Big Eyes

Netflix has the Tim Burton movie movie Big Eyes on offer; we watched it last weekend, without any prior knowledge of its theme. It's another of those "based on a true story" movies - a good one too, well acted by leads Amy Adams, as Margaret Keane, and Christoph Waltz as her husband, Walter Keane.
Big Eyes is a 2014 American biographical film directed by Tim Burton, written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski.... The film is about the life of American artist Margaret Keane—famous for drawing portraits and paintings with big eyes. It follows the story of Margaret and her husband, Walter Keane, who took credit for Margaret's phenomenally successful and popular paintings in the 1950s and 1960s. It follows the lawsuit (and trial) between Margaret and Walter, after Margaret reveals she is the real artist behind the big eyes paintings.
Not even the kindest art critic would call Margaret Keane's big eyed subjects "great art", some would even refuse to call them art at all; at the time, though, the general public loved these rather sweet whimsical depictions of sad longing, a general public encouraged greatly by Walter Keane's genius-level salesmanship.

From a piece at The Painter's Keys:
Margaret (and Walter) Keane’s “Big Eyes” were called, “the most popular art now being produced in the free world,” by Life Magazine in 1965. New York Times critic John Canaday described them at the time as, “the very definition of tasteless hack work,” and “sentimental kitsch.” Andy Warhol said, “It has to be good. If it were bad, so many people wouldn’t like it.” Margaret Keane is now 88 [in 2017 she's 90] and lives in Napa, California. She paints daily. Walter Keane died in 2000 at the age of 85. He was never witnessed actually painting.
For a quick look at some of the Keane Big Eye paintings, visit Google Image HERE.

What Walter Keane lacked in artistic talent and truthfulness he made up for in cunning and the ability to turn on the old charismatic sales spiel at the drop of a proverbial hat. In the beginning, according to the movie, Walter was a kindly, charming spouse to Margaret. My husband had him tagged, early on, as "a dork", then "a complete asshole". At first, I offered that Margaret's paintings would never have paid (eventually) for their home, her daughter's education etc. without Walter's sales experience. It had to be looked on as a joint business venture, tentatively agreed to by Margaret, partly from necessity and lack of funds; partly because she was infatuated by Walter, his charm and the facade of his being an artist himself. I changed my mind on Walter, agreeing with my husband the minute Walter began strong-arming Margaret, his marital charm turned to abuse and brutish demands on her work. According to this article, from the LA Times, the movie doesn't paint nearly as dark a picture of their marriage as was the case in real life.

 Photograph from Time Magazine 1965: Margaret and Walter Keane.

I see from Wikipedia's page on Margaret Keane, that she was born on 15 September, 1927, she's now 90 years old. As I haven't found her natal chart online already, I hesitate to post one from my own software, it would seem intrusive while this lady is still among us. I'll say just that her Sun and Venus in meticulous, perfection-seeking Virgo would have felt comfortable, at long last, after the truth was revealed about her "big eye" paintings.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

POLARITIES - balance of power

As well as the elements (Earth, Air, Fire and Water) and the modes (Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable) there's a third aspect to be considered in a natal chart: polarity. Astrological polarities are variously described as masculine/feminine, active/passive, or Yin/Yang, take your pick!

Starting with Aries (positive/masculine/Yang) the signs change alternately positive/ negative. So:

Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius and Aquarius are all positive/masculine/Yang.

Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn and Pisces all negative/feminine/Yin.

Extract from Astrodienst (full explanation at website)
"The positive signs describe object-oriented, sociable people who are not afraid to jump into unknown situations. The negative or yin principle is subject-oriented, receptive, yielding, enclosing, withdrawing and inward-moving. The yin individual ‘is characterised by a reflective nature which causes him always to think and consider before acting. His shyness and distrust of things induces hesitation, and so he always has difficulty in adapting to the external world."

From Astrotheme's lists, some years ago, I noted names of some of the best known individuals who have Yin or Yang @ between 99% and 90% in their natal charts, reflecting in a high proportion of their personalities. I felt disappointed that easily perceivable difference between the people on these two lists isn't apparent. We know only their public faces though.

Men and women are listed separately, in case it helped to throw up any glaring differences between Yins and Yangs, but it didn't seem to do so.

Yangs include Anita Roddick, but Nina Ricci is amongst the Yins - both are, or were, very successful business women in similar fields. I'd have expected Anita Roddick to be among the Yins though. Kim Farnell is among the Yins - which seems correct for an astrologer. Paris Hilton is strongly Yang.

Do the Yang guys seem like a more macho, active group than the Yins? Not really. Er -wait a minute - perhaps the Yin males are a wee bit smoother? Bono has the highest Yin of all, almost pure Yin!

I wonder if these considerations might have more importance in relationship compatibility, rather than in straightforward personality assessment. Perhaps a strongly Yang person needs a strongly Yin partner, and vice versa.

Here are the lists. I've included percentages for first and last names in each list, percentages between are...well...between!

Yang - active - masculine

Paris Hilton 94.44%
Brit Ekland
Loretta Lynn
Barbara Walters
Anita Roddick 90.08

Ralph Bellamy 96.92%
Dan Quayle
Danny Elfman
Alfred Molina
Gary Puckett
Sasha Baron Cohen (Da Ali G)
Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee)
Jimmy Durante
Hoagy Carmichael
Stan Laurel
Barry Manilow 90.95%

Yin - passive - feminine

Kim Wilde 98.08%
Cindy Crawford
Maureen O'Sullivan
Kim Farnell
Nina Ricci 90.83%

Bono 99.09%
Keanu Reeves
Kurt Cobain
William Friedkin
Upton Sinclair
Keith Urban
Gary Player
BB King
Adam Sandler
Bob Kennedy 91.23%

Remember the balance; the give-and-take of energy. The symbol of yin and yang is more than the integration of male and female. It’s also the balance of light and dark, soft and hard, active and passive, in and out, giver and receiver. You can’t have one without the other.
― Brownell Landrum, A Chorus of Voices: DUET stories Volume III - Adult Version.

The circle that represents the whole is divided into Yin (black) and Yang (white) halves--two polar complements in harmonious balance. The two smaller circles in the centers (the eyes), shaded in the opposite color, illustrate that within Yin there is Yang, and vice versa. Yin and Yang contain within themselves, at their very centers, the seeds of change. The curve dividing them indicates that this change is dynamic and continuous. Each half invades the other half and establishes itself in the center of its opposite.
SIMMONE KUO, Yin-Yang in Tai-Chi Chuan and Daily Life.

The Pentacle - The ancients envisioned their world in two halves - masculine and feminine. Their gods and goddesses worked to keep a balance of power. Yin and Yang. When male and female were balanced, there was harmony in the world. When they were unbalanced there was chaos.
Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code.

 Hat-tip HERE

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Senator Murphy's Important Words

A Senator saying all the right things, following Sunday's mass murder in Sutherland Springs, Texas :
Sen. Chris Murphy (Democrat-Connecticut.)

"The paralysis you feel right now – the impotent helplessness that washes over you as news of another mass slaughter scrolls across the television screen – isn’t real. It's a fiction created and methodically cultivated by the gun lobby, designed to assure that no laws are passed to make America safer, because those laws would cut into their profits. My heart sunk to the pit of my stomach, once again, when I heard of today's shooting in Texas. My heart dropped further when I thought about the growing macabre club of families in Las Vegas and Orlando and Charleston and Newtown, who have to relive their own day of horror every time another mass killing occurs.

"None of this is inevitable. I know this because no other country endures this pace of mass carnage like America. It is uniquely and tragically American. As long as our nation chooses to flood the county with dangerous weapons and consciously let those weapons fall into the hands of dangerous people, these killings will not abate.

"As my colleagues go to sleep tonight, they need to think about whether the political support of the gun industry is worth the blood that flows endlessly onto the floors of American churches, elementary schools, movie theaters, and city streets. Ask yourself – how can you claim that you respect human life while choosing fealty to weapons-makers over support for measures favored by the vast majority of your constituents.

"My heart breaks for Sutherland Springs. Just like it still does for Las Vegas. And Orlando. And Charleston. And Aurora. And Blacksburg. And Newtown. Just like it does every night for Chicago. And New Orleans. And Baltimore. And Bridgeport. The terrifying fact is that no one is safe so long as Congress chooses to do absolutely nothing in the face of this epidemic. The time is now for Congress to shed its cowardly cover and do something."

Monday, November 06, 2017

Music Monday ~ Genres & Signs

Qualities of the many different musical genres can be seen reflected (if one squints a little) in signs of the zodiac. The ideas proposed below do not refer to readers'/listeners' Sun signs, I'm suggesting only that different music styles can be compared with qualities of the 12 zodiac signs. It might, however, be noticed that if particular signs in a natal chart are strongly emphasised, that chart owner might gravitate toward a music style with similar qualities.

Classical ~~ Capricorn & Virgo - tradition, rigid structure, meticulous performance.

Jazz~~~ Aries & Aquarius - energetic, spontaneous, modern, unpredictable.

Easy Listening ~~~ Libra & Pisces - undemanding, pleasant, non-controversial, dreamy.

Country ~~~ Taurus & Cancer - old fashioned, earthy, conservative, homely.

Folk & Bluegrass~~~ Cancer, Capricorn & Aquarius - sensitive, homely, traditional, often socially aware.

Rock~~~ Aries & Scorpio - energetic, can be passionate and/or menacing.

Pop ~~~ Gemini & Aquarius - eclectic mix of themes, all communicating to "the people" - all the people!

Opera & Stage ~~Leo, Sagittarius - dramatic, exaggerated.

Blues & Soul~~~Pisces, Scorpio - deep, powerful and passionate.

Latin ~~~ Scorpio & Sagittarus - passionate, "foreign".

Big Band & Swing ~~~ Aries and Sagittarius - energetic, big, happy sound.

Religious/Sacred/Gospel ~~~ Sagittarius, Pisces & Capricorn - spiritual, devout, traditional.

Saturday, November 04, 2017


You can ride high atop your pony
I know you won't fall
'Cause the whole thing's phoney....
(From "Bella Donna" by Stevie Nicks.)
Oh my! So what is Donna Brazile up to now?
"Before I called Bernie Sanders, I lit a candle in my living room and put on some gospel music. I wanted to center myself for what I knew would be an emotional phone call.

I had promised Bernie when I took the helm of the Democratic National Committee after the convention that I would get to the bottom of whether Hillary Clinton’s team had rigged the nomination process, as a cache of emails stolen by Russian hackers and posted online had suggested. I’d had my suspicions from the moment I walked in the door of the DNC a month or so earlier, based on the leaked emails. But who knew if some of them might have been forged? I needed to have solid proof, and so did Bernie....."

What is she up to?

I guess she's up to a few things at once:

1) Peddling her book, fishing for invitations to the several Late Shows and suchlike. Hmm - discovering how they'll square their constant on-going Hillary Clinton ass-licking with Ms Brazile's words could even persuade me to watch!
In July 2017, Hachette Books announced that it had acquired the rights to Brazile's forthcoming book, Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House, set to be published on November 7, 2017. Hachette said the book would be "equal parts campaign thriller, memoir, and roadmap for the future." (Wikipedia)

Ms Brazile could also be:
2) covering her own ass, in case of future revelations touching on other, erm...iffy goings on, where she could be seen as having been involved.
3)trying to position herself for a prominent post in some new and "cleaned up" version of the Democratic Party, should that come up on the near, or far horizon.

Most likely: a combination of 1), 2) & 3).

As someone at Twitter, or elsewhere on the net commented:
"Not since the words "Et tu, Brute?" were uttered has the backstabbing been this spectacular."
However, nothing Ms Brazile has now "exposed" was really news to anyone not blinded by the special, and no doubt paid for, HRC bullshit peddled constantly at so-called liberal blogs, websites, shows and pundits. The Podesta/Wikileaks e-mails gave us this same news many months ago....oh yes...but of course, how could I forget? "Russia!"

As commenter, "prisonersdilema" wrote (at - I think - Common Dreams ?)
Lots of ink has been spilled defending the DNC, and Hillary Clinton. Turns out that was mis guided at best. Much of that ink contributed to the divisive politics, that was designed to confuse people and mislead them. This is part of the way the elite rule, and it is the root of identify politics, to divide and conquer. The DNC, is gone say goodbye, this is the last nail in the coffin. I can only hope that there's a jail cell with Hillary's name on it.
I'm not entirely in accord with that commenter's last sentiment, I'd rather that she simply exited gracefully stage left from the political scene - never to return!

Friday, November 03, 2017

Arty Farty Friday ~ Alton Tobey

The internet seems uncertain whether Alton Tobey was born on 5th or 15th November 1914. He was an American artist whose work included hundreds of historical illustrations for Golden Books, portraits of luminaries such as Albert Einstein and Robert Merrill, and large-scale murals that hang in courthouses and museums such as the Smithsonian and the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum. Two of his portraits, "The Apollo Astronauts" and "Brothers United" - of John and Robert Kennedy - were reproduced on posters and sold millions of copies.

Tobey's historical paintings and murals were done in an almost stereotypical idealism, but he also worked in a variety of other styles, including "curvilinear," a decorative, semiabstract form he invented.

In the 1980s,Tobey began producing "Fragments," a series of photorealistic body parts - hands, lips, half a face - magnified by several times. Although his paintings of the famous tended to valorize their subjects in best civic-lesson style, Tobey was also capable of trenchant criticism, as in a weird multiple portrait of Ronald Reagan in which the former president disappears, Cheshire Cat-style, except for his grin.

Further detail is at this obituary, from which the above information was taken. Alton Tobey died in 2005.

As there's doubt on Mr Tobey's exact date of birth I shall give astrology an arty farty break this week.

One or two examples of Alton Tobey's artwork:

 Battle of The Alamo

 The Last Judgment.This painting  represents a final stage in a number of evolutions of his Curvilinear style of paintings


Thursday, November 02, 2017

To "plough and to sow, to reap and to mow..."

As indicated at the end of yesterday's post, a little about the life styles of English farm workers - "agricultural labourers" of the past. Many of my own ancestors were part of this group, in Yorkshire and in the south-east and south-west of England. Information following comes from writings of someone who must be a distant relative of mine, in Yorkshire, her website is HERE. (Illustrations added by me).

Until the middle of the nineteenth century, farm service was a common, perhaps the most common, way of dealing with rural youngsters when they reached working age and became too big and too hungry to fit into the crowded cottage of the agricultural worker. Children of farmers often went into service, so it was not only an institution catering for the labouring poor. The youngsters benefited from being housed and fed by the farmer whilst learning the skills needed to carry them through their working lives. They gained freedom from parental control and were able to broaden their horizons and mix with other workers within the system; they also received an annual wage from which the thrifty would save towards the future and marriage and which the not-so-thrifty would spend on beer and tobacco. They might, in their time as servants, work on several farms, usually within a radius of 10 or 15 miles of home.

Farm servants were different from other agricultural workers in that they were hired for a year at a time. These workers found employment through the annual hiring fairs, which were held in the market towns of East Yorkshire during Martinmas week at the end of November. Hiring fairs were held in places like Beverley, Bridlington, Driffield, Hedon, Hornsea, Howden, Hull, Malton, Patrington, Pocklington, and York. Here the agricultural servants – male as well as female – would gather in order to bargain with prospective employers and, hopefully, secure a position for the coming year. If a bargain was struck, the farmer would seal the transaction by giving the hired lad or man fest, or fastening, money – a small sum – in recognition of the hiring. In the late nineteenth century the amount was usually 5s[hillings] for a wagoner and 2s[hillings]& 6d[pence] for other workers. Once the fest had changed hands, a legal contract had been entered into.

Local newspapers reported on these colourful and sometimes rowdy gatherings.

The Driffield Times, 15 November 1873:
Early in the morning the great stream of humanity rolled into the town, conveyed thither in every conceivable appliance that could be obtained for the occasion; but conspicuous among the rest were the heavy wagons with their living freight, which were deposited amid the greetings of those who had chanced to outstrip them in the drive to town. Other vehicles, from heavy wagons to the humble donkey and cart were to be seen threading their way through the streets to their several destinations. The railway Company, too, brought hundreds into the town by special and regular trains, which were literally packed. At nine o’clock the bustle was commenced in earnest, for by that time most of the servants had congregated …
One former Farm Servant described the fair -
"We lined ourselves up on one side of t’road and farmers on t’other. They looked you over, talked to one another, and asked each other if they knew you and what you were like. They’d discuss you among themselves. Then they’d come across and say, “Noo, lad, dos’t thoo want takin’ on?”"

This tradition continued right through into the 19th century. The hirelings lived with the farmer or farm foreman, whose wife looked after them and on whose cooking skills, care and consideration their well-being depended. Living conditions were basic and on the rough and ready side; sleeping in crowded attic rooms, sweltering in summer and waking to frozen-stiff clothes in winter, they had no bath or washing facilities except a cold tap in the yard outside the kitchen door
An old rhyme about Martinmas:

"Come all ye dames arise
and let the maids lie still
They've risen all the year
It was against their will"

“Martinmas" [Note from Twilight: pronounced in East Yorkshire as "Mart'mas"] on the twenty-first of November, was when the farm servants would go to the Hiring Fairs in places like York and get hired by a new farmer if they didn’t want to remain with the farmer they were with. If they were "stopping on" they had to stay at home and do a days work. I remember hearing the workers talk about Martinmas.
"Is 'ta stopping on Jack?"
"Nay. I've packed me box. I'm off to the hiring's tomorrow. Bert."
"If you get taken on Jack, don't spend your fest all at once. Tha could get drunk for a shilling!"

The fest refers to when a man was taken on by a farmer, he was given a shilling to seal the bargain. The fest was probably a corruption of feast -a chance to go and treat yourself.”