Saturday, January 20, 2018

"You've either got or you haven't got class..."

Ann Landers was a pen name created by Chicago Sun-Times advice columnist Ruth Crowley in 1943 and taken over by Esther Pauline "Eppie" Lederer in 1955. For 56 years, the Ask Ann Landers syndicated advice column was a regular feature in many newspapers across North America. Owing to this popularity, "Ann Landers", though fictional, became something of a national institution and cultural icon.
(More at Wikipedia, HERE).

While much of the advice dished out by "Ann Landers" writers would now feel seriously dated, the following quote, on how to have 'class' endures .

"Class never runs scared.
It is sure-footed and confident.
It can handle anything that comes along.
Class has a sense of humor.
It knows a good laugh is the best lubricant for oiling the machinery of human relations.

Class never makes excuses.
It takes its lumps and learns from past mistakes.
Class knows that good manners are nothing more than a series of small, inconsequential sacrifices.

Class bespeaks an aristocracy that has nothing to do with ancestors or money.
Some wealthy “blue bloods” have no class, while individuals who are struggling to make ends meet are loaded with it.

Class is real.
It can’t be faked.

Class never tried to build itself by tearing others down.
Class is already up and need not strive to look better by making others look worse.

Class can “walk with kings and keep it’s virtue and talk with crowds and keep the common touch.” Everyone is comfortable with the person who has class because that person is comfortable with himself.

If you have class, you’ve got it made.

If you don’t have class, no matter what else you have, it doesn’t make any difference."

― Ann Landers

Friday, January 19, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ Cindy Sherman

Happy Birthday, Cindy Sherman! As her birthday this year has fallen on Arty Farty Friday, I'm re-airing a post I wrote about her work in May of 2010.

It was tricky finding a photograph of the real Cindy Sherman, which is odd really, because almost all her best-known photographs feature just....herself. Having studied many pages of her photographs, on-line, I'm left with an impression of her as the Tracy Ullman of photography - or maybe it should be the other way around....Tracy is the Cindy Sherman of comedy? Either way, they both present themselves as caricatures or satirical images of cultural archetypes or stereotypes.

Cindy Sherman, in costume and makeup, portrays images of the female sex in all their glory or ignominy, spotlighting their foibles, conceits and human frailties. A series of black and white photographs in the style of film stills from the 1950s was a feature of her early work. More recently she concentrates on American female stereotypes. Some of her photo-portraits seem, on first sight, overly harsh, bitchy and unnecessarily cruel - but then life's like that! There is underlying social comment here I guess - but without much trace of compassion or empathy.

Before I looked at her birth data and natal chart I was expecting to find evidence of a self-centered personality. After all, her main body of work depicts only herself, albeit in many guises. Perhaps there'll be some close alignment to Sun or Moon by Uranus, planet of the unexpected and weird, or of Neptune representing photography, creativity and illusion.

Cindy Sherman was born on 19 January 1954 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey at 4:27 AM (Astrodatabank).

Sun conjunct Venus in the last degrees of Capricorn conjunct Mercury in first degrees of Aquarius, with Uranus in opposition from Cancer. Here we have weird old Uranus's involvement! Moon in early Leo also opposes Sun/Venus/Mercury. Neptune, planet of photography and illusion is in square aspect to the Sun Capricorn/Aquarius cluster. Both opposition and square aspects are thought to be challenging rather than helpful. Initially this might be thought to be a poor fit here, yet these hard aspects and challenges could well account for the overly harsh treatment Sherman gives to her portraiture. Furthermore, Mars and Saturn in Scorpio (a harsh trio if ever I saw one)could well reflect a lack of compassion I see in her work.

Sun (essence of self)forming an axis with Moon (inner self) represents her seeming need to "use" herself in her work. I'd have expected either Sun or Moon to have been nearer to an angle though. Sun is in 2nd house, the house of earnings and possessions. Her work does command record prices - a Sherman "movie still" sold for $2.1 million (Christie's, 2007). Amazing!

Sagittarius was rising as Sherman was born - no planets close to the ascendant though, but Jupiter in Gemini is on the opposite angle, the descendant, giving it extra significance in her chart and her nature. Jupiter represents exaggeration, Gemini = communication of all types, so her urge to portray exaggerated portraits for public consumption fits this placement well.

“I feel I’m anonymous in my work. When I look at the pictures, I never see myself; they aren’t self-portraits. Sometimes I disappear.”

“I didn’t want to make ‘high’ art, I had no interest in using paint, I wanted to find something that anyone could relate to without knowing about contemporary art. I wasn’t thinking in terms of precious prints or archival quality; I didn’t want the work to seem like a commodity.”

— Cindy Sherman

Thursday, January 18, 2018


Dennis Kucinich has been one of my favourite figures in US politics since my first months in the USA. He has been gone too long! Now it is time! Several archived posts on him are accessible from the Label Cloud in the sidebar.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

1968: Oh my - 50 years ago - How Time Flies!

This special edition glossy magazine (knock-down price $14.99 - which I refuse to pay) was sitting in the rack at the supermarket check-out the other day. I asked husband to take a quick photo of it for me, it reminded me of an old blog post of mine, and I'm always happy to be able to pull out an old post, when its contents might have become new again, so saving further wear and tear on my typing fingers.

Previously posted in 2007 and 2011 - now ever so slightly edited.
3's a charm!

There have been some clear "tipping points" throughout the world's history. Whether we're presently living through another of these remains to be's starting to have that smell about it though. The thought was originally sparked by a reference to journalist Dahr Jamail, author of Beyond the Green Zone. I discovered that Dahr Jamail was born in 1968, into the atmosphere of tumult, unrest and change that year brought with it. From a book review (now disappeared) of Beyond the Green Zone:
"Soon after the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Jamail emptied his savings, bought a plane ticket to Iraq, and began writing about what he saw as an independent reporter from the war zone. His missives were sorely needed by those people looking for a side of the story not being told by the so-called embedded media and soon his stories were being published in multiple internet outlets, radio programs and even some newspapers....... the book is a riveting and clearly written piece of journalism that puts the pap most US residents consider as news to shame."

Without much astrological knowledge, it is possible to see astrology at work. Here's an example of how the qualities of a single year can be crystalised and reflected back many years later by some of those born within that time frame.

How about that year, 1968? Anything special about it? A synopsis of Mark Kurlansky's book 1968, The Year that Rocked the World threw some light on this.

"1968 was a year of political upheaval and protest around the world. In the U.S., there were the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the antiwar protests, the Chicago riot at the Democratic National Convention, and the Apollo 8 mission around the Moon. In Vietnam, the Tet offensive was underway. Protests in France began the downfall of Charles de Gaulle's government. Soviet tanks rolled into Prague to quell the rebellion there. Mexico City police opened fire on university protesters. Mark Kurlansky documents these events and more that occurred in 1968, and examines the cultural forces that drew them altogether across the world."

An exceptional year! 1968 is described elsewhere as "a benchmark of unrest, tumult, and change."

Astrology tells us that those born during that time are bound to bear its imprint - some more clearly than others.

From a list of birthdays in 1968 , among the usual gaggle of actors, musicians, sportsmen, three names leapt off the screen: Mohammed Atta (said to have masterminded 9/11 attacks, and died in them), Timothy McVeigh, (the notorious Oklahoma City Bomber), and Ramzi Yousef (mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing). The astrology of that tumultuous year had certainly left its imprint on those three characters, and in the worst possible way! Dahr Jamail, however, carries the positive side of the same imprint.

It's necessary, for a moment, to blank one's mind to the horror and tragedy that Atta, McVeigh and Yousef individually caused, and look at their motives. They each had what they saw as "a cause" which they sought to further. They chose the wrong route - a route of destruction and death. Dahr Jamail too has a cause, but in him it is manifested in a noble and more enlightened way. His "cause" is to let the public see the truth. He furthers it in a way dangerous only to himself. The causes of these four men spookily reflect qualities of the year of their birth, 1968, when numerous events, both tragic and noble occurred, all in pursuit of "causes".

Pluto's transit during 1968 took in 22 to 25 degrees Virgo, with Uranus retrograding from 29 to 25 Virgo then proceeding into Libra by October. Neptune started the year at 25 Scorpio and after some retrograde motion finished in December at 27 Scorpio.

All the outer planets, then, were in the last ten degrees of Virgo or Scorpio for most of the year, often within conjunction (same degree or near) and/or sextile (60*). In the summer months Saturn at between 21 and 25 Aries would have been inconjunct (150*) some of the outer planets.

I'm not going to attempt to interpret those configurations, except to describe the qualities of the three planets involved. Pluto is known as the planet of transformation (sometimes involving death). Uranus is planet of change and revolution. Saturn is planet of laws, rules, structure, representing the establishment and "status quo". Neptune is planet of illusion, delusion, and dreams. The fact that these astrologically powerful planets were so closely aligned during 1968 has to have a very significant connection to the world changing events happening then, as well as to the qualities born into some of the year's natives.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Music Monday ~ That Gently Weeping Guitar

The lyrics of George Harrison's beautiful composition, While My Guitar Gently Weeps
are so meaningful, yet to my mind many artists, however illustrious their record, do not give the piece's meaning enough weight in cover versions.

I look at you all see the love there that's sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping
Still my guitar gently weeps
I don't know why nobody told you how to unfold your love
I don't know how someone controlled you
They bought and sold you.

I look at the world and I notice it's turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps
I don't know how you were diverted
You were perverted too
I don't know how you were inverted
No one alerted you.

I look at you all see the love there that's sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
Look at you all . . .
Still my guitar gently weeps.
Those lyrics are written in such a way that they can be understood either literally or metaphorically.

Literally, one can imagine the singer sitting in the corner of a bedroom watching loved ones sleeping, possibly some have been in trouble or are unhappy. He sings that they are capable of so much love, so much good, but they have been led astray, “perverted” by…could be by weakness or manipulation by others. The possibility for change, through love, remains.

Metaphorically, the sleepers become the whole of humanity. We are innately capable of so much love, yet we have been drawn away from its focus by manipulation, greed, lust, hatred - perversion, by others, or by governments, media, leaders, the Powers That Be.

The singer sees these things, and even his guitar weeps. Literally he sees dirt on the floor around him, metaphorically he sees the wrongs and injustices of life continuing, day after day, and nobody tries to change them - they need sweeping away, just like the dirt on his floor.

There’s a lovely version of the song in the movie “Across the Universe”, it is played when the leading character and a friend first hear of the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. The words fit that terrible, and sad, situation so well. This version, for me is the ultimate and definitive vocal version, sung by Martin Luther McCoy and Jim Sturgess. As it is MLK Day today, 15 January, it makes this reference to the song even more apt.

For me, many vocal versions do not do the lyrics' meaning proper justice - the words are virtually thrown away. Looking for some version that would satisfy me, I found two - strangely they are both jazz versions - but the musicians really understood what the lyrics are all about and were able to interpret them beautifully, instrumentally.

British violinist Nigel Kennedy's great instrumental version is eminently goosebump-worthy!

Another great jazz version is played by Portland Oregon group, Black Chamber. I love this, and the video images accompanying it are so apt.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Can a man......?

This question appeared at Quora this week.

I guess it's the currently charged atmosphere of
#Me too and suchlike that has set a few male nerves jangling, perhaps a tad overmuch. Once upon a time such a question wouldn't have seemed at all relevant.

There are some good answers. I especially enjoyed reading the one from Andrew Cullum - a little story of his encounter with the boots of the woman standing behind him in line at a 7/11.

I didn't contribute to the thread myself, but the question did set me thinking back through my long lifetime, my interactions with humans of the male variety, searching for examples of commentary from them on my wearing apparel.

You know... my opinion of men on this front is that, in general, they simply do not notice a woman's clothes, unless one wears something deliciously revealing, wildly eccentric or when there's a huge stain on the back where you'd managed to (for instance) sit down in some cheese sauce. The only instances I recall of my clothing being under scrutiny, complimented or commented on have been in conversation with gay guy colleagues, who have always had the knack of doing so delightfully and gracefully. My husband will, occasionally, notice the pattern on a shirt I'm wearing and say he likes the pattern (he's arty farty by nature), but I usually have to ask him directly whether I "look alright". Earlier male significant others in my life have had much the same attitude - even my first husband, an Italian with fairly snazzy fashion consciousness himself, didn't seem to give a hoot what I was wearing.

Maybe it's me! Maybe (I snigger) they loved me for my mind.

All the above being so, I suppose that I'd be flabbergasted more than anything else, if a male commented, unbidden, on an article of my clothing. I would certainly not think he was being sexist - nor would I have thought so when I was much, much younger - but then, I come from a different era.