Monday, June 26, 2017

Long Ago and Far Away : From Bluebirds to Ciaos on Music Monday

In the beginning there was a wind-up gramophone, and records known as "78s" (78 rpm - revolutions per minute). These were of brittle, breakable, shiny black stuff. It was wartime in England, I was very young and the only songs I clearly recall from that time are:
"Bless 'em all, bless 'em all,
The long and the short and the tall,
There'll be no promotion this side of the ocean,
So cheer up my lads bless 'em all"
"There'll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of Dover,
Tomorrow, just you wait and see."

With the coming of those bluebirds, war over, and a few more years having passed, newfangled "LPs" (long playing records, at 33 and a third revolutions per minute) arrived on the music scene. Instead of containing just one song on each side, these carried five or six, and were unbreakable, though in the early days eminently warp-able. A new record player was needed, wind-up models were no longer suitable. The first LP I bought, using saved-up pocket money: songs from "The Student Prince" sung by Mario Lanza. It cost me, I recall, 37 shillings and 6 pence - a huge sum back then!

78-rpm records were still on sale alongside LPs, and around this time Bill Haley and his Comets, with their seminal rock and roll, burst upon young English ear drums from t'other side of the Atlantic. I was never greatly enamoured of this new music style, preferring to stick with songs from the shows, or big band ballads. I was always something of a square or, perhaps being a tad obtuse by nature, just never keen to be one of the crowd

Late 1950s to early 1960s saw a burgeoning popular music industry throwing up new product at an alarming pace. Elvis, Buddy Holly, The Beatles, and others from both sides of the Atlantic burst forth into the limelight. Juke boxes and coffee bars provided easy entertainment and affordable popular meeting places for teenagers. Pop music had arrived! None of this impressed me much. Nothing of this new phenomenon really "got to me" - perhaps I was born just a couple of years too soon to be part of this avant garde of pop music, and appreciated more easily the previous generation's styles and tastes.

In the early 1960s I met and married an Italian guy. We spent some periods in Italy, and as it happened, Italian songs had become fashionable at the time, probably the result of a few recent Italian-flavoured movies, and the fact that travel to vacation destinations such as Italy were becoming more possible for ordinary people; attendant music flavours began to seep into popular culture. "Ciao Ciao Bambina", "Three Coins in the Fountain", "Volare", and a few other ditties popularly sung by Dean Martin and Perry Como became moderately popular in England. These proved much more to my taste. My then husband also helped me to appreciate a singer I had overlooked, amazingly enough : Frank Sinatra. I soon realised that in a singer (if not in a husband) I'd found "the real deal"!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Weekend Cyclic Wandering

I've not fallen down an internet rabbit-hole for a while, but did so this week, though this rabbit-hole was not as deep as many, and did eventually lead me back via a T-junction to my very own archives!
My stumble really began outside the internet, in reading an article in a February 1974 edition of The Saturday Evening Post I'd bought in an antique/vintage store on our last trip. I'd been attracted by the magazine's cover illustration of an astrological chart, with Henry Kissinger's photograph at its centre. Title of the article heralded by the cover:
Astrology - Who Believes in It?

The article which, oddly, is not credited to any specific author, is a long one - almost receiving the tl:dr from me(too long did not read). It's printed in fairly small, close font. I did skim it initially, going back to special tid-bits at different times. The piece is certainly not as dismissive as a comparable piece in any current national magazine would be, but then the 1970s were still under a fairly "New Age" atmosphere, astrology back then was enjoying a short respite from ridicule.

My tipping point for rabbit-hole entry was the snippet:
What has astrology to say further about mankind's future? The long-term 794-year recurrence of the two giant planets Jupiter and Saturn in the same part of the Tropical Zodiac correlates closely to a cycle found in history by the great British historian Arnold J. Toynbee. During about half of the cycle the component states of a parochial civilisation engage in civil strife and a "time of troubles". Then during the balance of the cycle they combine as a Universal State or Empire. Northern and Western Europe and North America comprise such a civilisation.......
A 794 year cycle, thought I - Saturn/Jupiter, astrological opposites: Saturn the restrictive limiter, Jupiter the excessive expander. When they come together in conjunction I'm not surprised they make a mark of some kind.

I then began my descent, finding the words of several astrologers on internet pages crossing my eyes, jangling my brain.

If Saturn/Jupiter cycles were the only cycles to watch it'd be easy-peasy, but there are numerous other cycles, certain of my archived posts have explored these. I'm thinking, though, that Saturn and Jupiter, though categorised as inner planets, and still far away are much, much nearer to Earth than outer planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto whose various cycles are discussed over and over again by mundane astrologers. Whether this fact makes Saturn/Jupiter cycles more significant to us here on Earth isn't clear.

From astrologer Mark Lerner:
[It's necessary to read the whole piece, but just a taster -]

It turns out that Jupiter and Saturn – major planets connected to the social realm, religion, philosophy, education, profession, government and economics – keep energizing the same elemental quality (fire, earth, air or water) in a series of 20-year conjunctions for almost 200 years. Then the Jupiter-Saturn unions shift to the next elemental quality for another series of conjunctions for around two centuries. After a long cycle of 794-800 years, the entire Jupiter-Saturn pattern begins over although never exactly energizing the same degrees of the zodiac as during the previous 800-year cycle.

What is particularly interesting to us, here in mid 2017, is the fact that the 794 year long Saturn/Jupiter cycle will hit a change point in December 2020, when the conjunction will occur in an Air sign, Aquarius, for the first time in around 180 years. Conjunctions have been occurring in Earth signs for the past 180 years. This could reflect the materialistic atmosphere the developed world has experienced during this almost two century time span. Does it indicate that, very gradually (VERY gradually) materialism might recede making way for more a more humanitarian, thoughtful and caring feel? Change of atmosphere will probably be kick-started by an Aquarian revolutionary period, gradually, oh so gradually, morphing into calmer airways during the Gemini and Libra phases.

Whether humans will still be around on planet Earth to encounter these changes is another matter. If climate change proceeds apace, perhaps only the very wealthy who have de-camped to the few safe places Earth will still afford, will be left. How long they could survive without an army of servants and protectors from who knows what, is questionable. So, in the end all speculation is somewhat, as they say, academic.

From my own archives, for any passing reader still interested in this topic, I'd recommend a look at these posts, not missing the comment threads attached too - some interesting stuff there!
Amalgamating the Jupiter/Saturn pattern with other, outer-planetary cycles is a bit like trying to follow a complex knitting pattern. The full beauty, or otherwise, of the item or garment will not be fully discernible immediately; in the case of planetary cycles, really not fully for centuries, or until, continuing the analogy, we've completed a good few "repeat the above pattern [...] times more". That's a bummer for the average human's less than one century life span!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Arty Farty Friday ~ Michael Whelan

Fantasy artist Michael Whelan was born on 29 June 1950 - this video is a good place to begin discovering his style.

The artist's own website has lots of interesting content.

For a few large-sized images of some of his work, take a look at THIS WEBSITE.

Lots more examples accessible via Google Image

Michael Whelan's art immediately brought to mind the styles of two other arty Michaels I've covered in the past (and more than once): Michael Parkes and Michael Cheval.

Michael Whelan's natal chart is available at Astrotheme
. It's easy to spot his "draw" to fantasy and sci-fi, his Sun and Uranus are conjunct at 7 and 5 degrees of Cancer. Uranus links to all things futuristic, unreal or "other". Neptune is thought to link to fantasy, yet, when one thinks on it, Uranus in its eccentricity has to have similar connection. His natal Sun at 7 Cancer, in any case, is in tight trine to Jupiter in Pisces (the Neptune-ruled sign).

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Nonagenarian Clancy Sigal

Counterpunch, on Tuesday, posted among its selection of articles: The Big Con by Clancy Sigal. I enjoyed the read, and admired the writer's style. I can't put my finger on exactly why, it's just that some writers chime and some don't - this one did!

First paragraph

A bunch of men in suits and ties in front of TV cameras investigating another bunch of guys in suits and ties could be one of the great shell games of the Trump era. Meanwhile, as the “Russia probes” go on, memos and tweets flying like paper shrapnel, many Americans not in suits and ties sicken and die as a direct result of the suits’ indifference or plunder or both.
Counterpunch offered, regarding the author of the piece:
Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Black Sunset.

I searched around the net for more information on Mr Sigal and found that he has led a very eventful life - and a long one. He was born in 1926, making him to be 91 this year. His natal chart, for anyone interested, is available at Astrodatabank. He has Sun and Moon in Virgo (Mercury-ruled), so writing - good writing - comes as second nature to him.

Three of his books:

From a synopsis of Blacklisted, a feature documentary chronicling the incredible adventures of writer, blacklisted Hollywood player & dissident, Clancy Sigal, created by Cai Howells :
Blacklisted is an examination of an extraordinary man in extraordinary times. Clancy Sigal was raised in the gangland of 1930s Chicago, he served in the occupation of Nazi Germany and witnessed the Nuremberg trials. After returning home he became a Hollywood player, agent to the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Barbara Stanwyk and Errol Flynn. In 1957, under pressure from the studios and the McCarthyist witch-hunts he was exiled to London. There, Sigal became the lover of Nobel prize-winning author, Doris Lessing. He collaborated with the radical psychiatrist, R D Laing on a halfway house for schizophrenic patients and later, American deserters. He won world-wide respect as a novelist and cultural commentator before returning to Hollywood as a successful screenwriter.

Clancy Sigal's life story plays out like the fanciful yarn of a bombastic Hollywood hack. Like a fiercely political and intellectual Zelig, an everyman compelled to live at the very edge of his times. He seems to have been present at many of the US and UK's most pivotal moments of the last seventy years. .........................
During my search I came across an interview with Mr Sigal, where he was asked for a book recommendation he regularly makes to his fans, he offered that George Orwell's Politics and the English Language will always be a must-read, and is so especially nowadays. Upshot of this: I ordered a used copy, await its arrival, after which perhaps a marked improvement might be noted in my own writing style!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

It is the month of June, The month of leaves and roses...

It is the month of June, The month of leaves and roses, When pleasant sights salute the eyes and pleasant scents the noses. (Nathaniel Parker Willis).
June....Juno: yes, in a handful of past posts I've confidently written that the month of June was named in honour of goddess Juno; such archived posts can be accessed via "Juno" in the Label Cloud in the sidebar. I've lately stumbled across evidence that I (and countless other writers, bloggers and internet websites) could be mistaken in this supposition. An excerpt from a book The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic by William Warde Fowler throws doubt on the June/Juno theory. The author includes a passage, in Latin, from Macrobius which he claims shows that Roman scholars were "at sea" as to the answer on whether the months of May and June were named after deities in the same way that March was certainly named in honour of Mars, god of war. There's more detail on the May/Maia question, which I'll not include here. As for June/Juno:

One source giving a hint that June/Juno might be questionable is Encyclopedia Mythica, where it is stated:
The fourth month
[In ancient Rome the year began in March] was named in honor of Juno. However, the name might also come from iuniores (young men; juniors) as opposed to maiores (grown men; majors) for May, the two months being dedicated to young and old men.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017