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. 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%'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: