Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipses on Music Monday


What journalists have been calling "The Great American Eclipse" will occur today. In Oklahoma we're not in the direct track of the solar eclipse - we're a little too far south, but I think it'll be happening in full sight, at the nearest point to us, at around 1PM.

Eclipses of the Sun are dramatic events, fertile ground for imaginative writers, they have featured in a few novels and movies - Wikipedia has a list. I do recall "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court": Bing Crosby (playing a time traveller to the past) convinced adversaries of his power by using knowledge of an imminent solar eclipse.

There's another story involving an eclipse of the Sun in Borodin's opera "Prince Igor", set in Russia. The synopsis goes something like this:

The Prince is mobilizing his army against the Polovtsians (a nomadic people) who have been attacking and raiding the Russians' territory and carrying away their people into slavery. There is an eclipse of the Sun, the sky grows dark.



The people see this as a bad omen and plead with Prince Igor to abandon his mission. Igor sees it as an omen - but whether good or bad is yet to be seen. His wife, Yaroslavna, begs him to stay home but he is not persuaded. He must defend his and Russia's honor. Things go badly, Igor's brother plans to depose him in his absence, Igor and his son are taken captive by the Polovtsians. In the end though, Igor escapes and returns to his wife and to defend his city. There's a sub-plot involving his son's love affair with the daughter of the Polovtsian leader.

So....there was bad news, and there was good news, after that eclipse. I understand that Igor's story is based on historical events. See HERE -
"There was apparently opposition to this campaign among members of Igor's retinue. On May 1, 1185, there was an eclipse of the sun, which the Nikonovskaya Chronicle describes: "A Portent. That same year, in the month of May, on the fist day, there was a portent in the sun; it was very dark, and this was for more than an hour, so that the stars could be seen, and to men's eyes it was green, and the sun became as the [crescent] moon, and from its horns flaming fire was emitted; and it was a portent terrible to see and full of horror." Although the Russians interpreted this phenomenon as an evil omen, Igor insisted that the campaign continue, saying, "No one knows the mysteries of God. God is the maker of this sign and of the whole world. And whether that which God does to us is for good or for ill, this too we shall see."

Regarding outcome of the current eclipse, for good, for ill or SNAFU: "this too we shall see".

It's Music Monday, music from Borodin's Prince Igor fits the bill today. First the original, then a slightly more modern variation of part of the piece, as used in the 1953 movie Kismet to form the song Stranger in Paradise.





Saturday, August 19, 2017

Saturday and Sundry Words and Things: guayabera, Klein bottle, & woke.


I've learned a few new, to me, words this week: guayabera, Klein bottle, and woke.


Guayabera : I came across this one at The Sartorialist, a daily stop on my wander through the streets and back alleys of the internet. It's a garment once, possibly still, favoured by males living in certain countries.
The origin of the garment is something of a mystery, thought to be the result of a mixture of Native American and Spanish styles, developed in the late 18th or early 19th centuries. Various claims for the distinctive style have been made, from Mexico to other Latin American countries to the Philippines.(Wiki.)






Klein bottle : this one appeared in a comment thread on a political website, context of its metaphorical use, in that instance, would be a little too involved to fully explain here, and in any case I'd probably get myself into political trouble. So, just the words. Wikipedia tell us that:
In mathematics, the Klein bottle is an example of a non-orientable surface; it is a two-dimensional manifold against which a system for determining a normal vector cannot be consistently defined. Informally, it is a one-sided surface which, if traveled upon, could be followed back to the point of origin while flipping the traveler upside down. Other related non-orientable objects include the Möbius strip and the real projective plane. Whereas a Möbius strip is a surface with boundary, a Klein bottle has no boundary (for comparison, a sphere is an orientable surface with no boundary). The Klein bottle was first described in 1882 by the German mathematician Felix Klein.

Picture a bottle with a hole in the bottom. Now extend the neck. Curve the neck back on itself, insert it through the side of the bottle without touching the surface (an act which is impossible in three-dimensional space), and extend the neck down inside the bottle until it joins the hole in the bottom. A true Klein bottle in four dimensions does not intersect itself where it crosses the side.

Unlike a drinking glass, this object has no “rim” where the surface stops abruptly. Unlike a balloon, a fly can go from the outside to the inside without passing through the surface (so there isn’t really an “outside” and “inside”).

More detail HERE.

Clear as mud? It was to me too. This little video might help.





Or, there's this (hat-tip HERE)

A German topologist named Klein
Thought the Mobius Loop was divine
Said he, "If you glue
The edges of two
You get a weird bottle like mine."



My own encounter with the Klein bottle was in a metaphorical sense, for which it has much fertile ground (without boundaries!)

From http://lisamaroski.com/2010/11/11/introducing-mobius-strips-and-klein-bottles/
It exemplifies the concept of a merging continuum or union of opposites. The Klein bottle embodies the type of paradox that could be incorporated into language to be able to speak into being a world that works for everyone—us and them, old and young, rich and poor, conservative and liberal, black, white, yellow, and brown—at the same time. For the world to work for all, I propose a linguistic structure based in the notion of both/and.




Woke : It's a word, of course, a common one; but it's being used nowadays as a concept.

A David Brooks' piece in the New York Times a few weeks back:
How Cool Works in America Today

Mr Brooks' article begins:
If you grew up in the 20th century, there’s a decent chance you wanted to be like Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Humphrey Bogart, Albert Camus, Audrey Hepburn, James Dean or Jimi Hendrix. In their own ways, these people defined cool.

The cool person is stoical, emotionally controlled, never eager or needy, but instead mysterious, detached and self-possessed. The cool person is gracefully competent at something, but doesn’t need the world’s applause to know his worth. That’s because the cool person has found his or her own unique and authentic way of living with nonchalant intensity.

He later continues:
I started to look around to see if there might be another contemporary ethos that has replaced the cool ethos. You could say the hipster ethos you find in, say, Brooklyn qualifies. But that strikes me as less of a cultural movement and more of a consumer aesthetic.

A better candidate is the “woke” ethos. The modern concept of woke began, as far as anybody can tell, with a 2008 song by Erykah Badu.

He expands on "woke" individuals:
The woke mentality became prominent in 2012 and 2013 with the Trayvon Martin case and the rise of Black Lives Matter. Embrace it or not, B.L.M. is the most complete social movement in America today, as a communal, intellectual, moral and political force.

The woke mentality has since been embraced on the populist right, by the conservative “normals” who are disgusted with what they see as the thorough corruption of the Republican and Democratic establishments. See Kurt Schlichter’s Townhall essay “We Must Elect Senator Kid Rock” as an example of right-wing wokedness.

To be woke is to be radically aware and justifiably paranoid. It is to be cognizant of the rot pervading the power structures. The woke manner shares cool’s rebel posture, but it is the opposite of cool in certain respects. Cool was politically detached, but being a social activist is required for being woke. Cool was individualistic, but woke is nationalistic and collectivist. Cool was emotionally reserved; woke is angry, passionate and indignant. Cool was morally ambiguous; woke seeks to establish a clear marker for what is unacceptable.


Postscript: A couple of my own archived posts on the subject of old-fashioned "cool": HERE (2009) and part 2 is HERE; there are some comments too.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Arty Farty Friday ~ Tejal Patni's Photographs

In searching for something, or someone, not featured in Arty Farty posts in the past, I stumbled upon this piece:
Photographer Mixes High Fashion And Zodiac Signs In Stunning Calendar (Photos)
by Kaylin Pound at Elite News, in 2015. At left is a small image of his version of one zodiac sign - astro fans will easily guess which one it represents!

Photographer is Tejal Patni, Indian born in Mumbai [Bombay]. I haven't found any date of birth for him, but he appears to be a fairly young guy. There's little detail about him online at present, other than lots of his beautiful work. An interview at The Floating Magazine, by Payal Khandelwal provides some enlightenment, and some of his photographs. First paragraph :
Tejal was born and brought up in India and moved to Dubai in the 1980s. He graduated from Sir JJ School of Applied Arts in Mumbai, and later studied film making at the London Film Academy. Over the years, he has worked with some of the biggest fashion brands across the world including Harvey Nichols, Bloomingdale’s, Caprese, and magazines like GQ, Grazia, Harper’s Bazaar, etc. The annual calendar he creates for the Middle East’s premium fashion brand Splash has been highly instrumental in getting him a much deserved wider recognition. And that’s not surprising at all because his sharp instincts, his inspirations and his unique vision – all come together on the stage of Splash calendar every year to give a spellbinding performance.

The Splash calendar is featured in the first link above - the one relating to zodiac signs. Splash, by the way is (Wikipedia) India's largest fashion retailer[citation needed] and part of the Landmark Group,one of the biggest retail conglomerates in the Middle East and India.

Scrolling down the photographs in the first link above gives some idea of Patni's style - though I'm not convinced he had the best astrological advice about the signs, in some cases.

Do also take a look at some of Patni's other work - I enjoyed the zodiac-related photos, but prefer others :

http://www.tejalpatni.com/

https://adlmagazin.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/tejal-patni/



I'll borrow a single example. This photograph comes from his 2017 Splash calendar. Personally I, with Sun in Aquarius, think something along these lines would have better represented Aquarius than the Aquarius photograph in the zodiac-related calendar linked at the top of the post.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Will He Do his "You're F...d" routine, or not? + UPDATE

Lawmakers Demand Donald Trump Fire Top Aides, Saying They Encourage White Supremacists

“Americans deserve to know that white nationalists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis are not in a position to influence U.S. policy.” By Sam Levine.

It begins:
The heads of Congress’ black, Hispanic, Asian and progressive caucuses sent a letter to the White House on Monday demanding the dismissal of top aides Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka, saying their presence in the White House has emboldened white supremacists.

Here's a link to my post on Stephen Bannon, from November last year:

Stephen Bannon - Trump's Right-hand Man (for now)


As I wrote then, "The only hope I can imagine is that, after the new President get his "feet under the table", he will stop feeling the need for this guy's support, and prove it in an early "You're fired!" session. Wishful thinking though, that!"

Bannon's natal chart is in that post. Amazingly my post comes up on Google's first page. That was before their new algorithm started gnashing its teeth. I didn't have a birth time for Bannon, but at noon his Moon was at 28 Leo - a degree from the solar eclipse due on 21 August, and from Trump's Regulus and ascendant. It's unlikely that his Moon was really at exactly 28 Leo, but it could be within a degree or two of that. Significant? We shall see.


UPDATE Friday 18 August 2017 12.20pm


An early-working eclipse? One out of three ain't bad - now for those other two?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Ghastly White

White supremacism:
"The doctrine that white people are superior to other peoples, and should therefore have greater power, authority, or status; advocacy or practice of such a doctrine." Dreadful events in Charlottesville, Virginia at the weekend caused me to look up the exact definition of that term. The second word is frequently watered down, somewhat, to "nationalism", in attempts to appear less contemptible.

White supremacism, as a movement, has been bubbling under for some time, here and in Britain and Europe. Memories of the horror of World War 2 (live ones) become fewer by the month as participants and onlookers die off. White supremacism is a close cousin of Nazism, which "subscribed to theories of racial hierarchy and Social Darwinism, identifying the Germans as a part of what the Nazis regarded as an Aryan or Nordic master race." (Wikipedia). Lack of living memories of World War 2 could be one strand, among multiple others, as to why this malicious "cult" has been able to press back into headlines.

I wondered what fellow-expats from Britain were thinking at this time, so had a quick look at the forum, and among a few comments much in line with my own thoughts I read, from one "Lion in Winter" commenting archly: This country can be deeply primitive. If that wasn't tongue in cheek, I have to wonder, only "this country"? How about his and my own native country?

Wikipedia
List of British Far Right Groups since 1945:
Many of these parties stem from either the legacy of Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists, or the political views held by either John Tyndall, Andrew Fountain, Eddy Morrison, Ian Anderson, Colin Jordan and A.K. Chesterton, along with those of their parties like the British National Party, National Front (United Kingdom), National Socialist Movement (1960s) and National Democrats (United Kingdom) over the last 40 years.
It was pointed out on some thread of comments, to which I regret I've lost the link that, back in the day, "white" was a label manufactured during Colonialism to separate the European ethnicities from the Native Americans, Africans and others. Before the New World, Europeans considered themselves separate races: Germans a separate race from French from Spanish from British from Dutch, etc. And, it should be kept in mind that Europeans (including British) are to blame that some civilizations have ceased to exist as entities. Another commenter in the same thread added that we are hardly "in a position to take the moral high ground because we had better guns".

Human nature, at root, is to blame. I'll resist, though, entering an astrological rabbit hole at this point.



reddit - a website I seldom frequent had this question:
What is the end goal of white supremacy? What happens in a society in which there are only white people left? Would they argue over which of them are whiter than the others?
One response was:
Yes, in an entirely "White" society eventually tensions develop based on other measures of "otherness". See British vs Irish vs Welsh, and Serbs vs Croats, or Spanish vs Castilians.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Music & Movie Monday ~ Ear-worm...Once There Was a Way to... SING

Searching for something nice to watch on Netflix - something to take away the nasty taste of Trump-flavoured "fire and fury"; and white supremacist malice, I hit on "Sing", an animated story featuring a singing contest. I'd seen a preview, during a cinema visit, some time ago and quite fancied the idea. I've been a fan of singing talent shows from long before the birth of Pop Idol in Britain (parent of American Idol et al). I suggested "Let's give this one a whirl - how bad can it be?"

We thoroughly enjoyed the movie!




Sing left me with an ear-worm - not an unpleasant one, but an insistent one. The film begins with a phrase from a Beatles song, from their now iconic Abbey Road album: Golden Slumbers.





 Nana Noodleman
The film ends with lines from the same song too, probably giving birth to my ear-worm.

Some good cover versions of well-loved pop-songs are scattered through the film, sung by cast members, some well-known, some less so. In the clip above, that's Jennifer Hudson singing, as Nana Noodleman; Jennifer herself is a product of American Idol - a rather nice tribute to the show which has had its share of sneers and brickbats over the years. Other well-knowns as singing characters include Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson and Seth MacFarlane (yeah we knew he could sing - I have his CD to prove it, but am still mysteriously blocked from his Twitter feed.)

A current acting fave of mine, Matthew McConaughey, has a leading, non-singing role as the talent show's presenter.


Back to my ear-worm. I guess that, by now, almost everyone knows that some Golden Slumbers lyrics in Paul McCartney's song were "borrowed" from a centuries old piece of poetry, "Cradle Song" by Thomas Dekker (1572 –1632). I recall Golden Slumbers being known as a lullaby back in my schooldays in England. The first time I heard the Beatles' version, I well remember exclaiming the equivalent of: "WTF Beatles! We sang that in school donkeys' years ago!" We sang it to this tune:



In several online forums members have chewed over the meaning of the Beatles' song, as patch-worked together by Paul McCartney. Theories range around the idea that Paul was grieving over loss of his mother and childhood family life, putting his grief to music; or regretting the upcoming inevitable break-up of the Beatles as a band, another kind of family; or even a general life to death ditty - carrying that weight; or a fit-all soliloquy on how one can never get back to...whatever.

Personally, I love the first bars of the song - the "Once there was a way to get back home(ward)" - I wish Paul had continued with his own words, not those of some long ago writer. And yet... you know... that thought brought forth a theory, a bit left-field perhaps: We've heard and read, often, that the 1960s and early 1970s brought us some of the best popular music ever, and this has been put down to the then ubiquitous use of mind-altering drugs such as LSD.
Well...say the influence of LSD, or similar drug, sends the mind out there, where the buses don't run, but (tin-foil hat time) where everything that has ever been heard on Earth still remains in the ethers. Consider that things heard, albeit unconsciously, during these "flights", out where the buses don't run, might return inadvertently, when the mind is back on all-fours, on Earth. The story goes that Paul read the lyrics of the lullaby Golden Slumbers from among his step-sister's piano music, even so, he didn't copy the music, he didn't know how to read music then. The music he created, to mix with the centuries-old words sounds kind of classical to me. It has been said, too that the music of Eleanor Rigby sounds akin to the Gregorian chant style. And how come famous symphony orchestras can make Beatles' songs sound like classical compositions? Because they have classical DNA collected out where buses don't run? Tin-foil hat country? Possibly, but I enjoy that thought.

I should really post Paul McCartney's original version of my ear-worm song, but I'm not a dyed-in -the-wool Beatles fan. I have, though, come to appreciate much of their music when performed and arranged by others. So, I'll wind up with a YouTube video I particularly enjoyed: a mix of two Beatles' songs, the second is my ear-worm number, sung by The Seattle Ladies Choir :