Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Pair of Poems by John Ciardi + A Birthday

I've stumbled across another poet not known to me before: John Ciardi. Some of his poems remind me of Ogden Nash's, others have a tinge of Shel Silverstein. I was not surprised, either , when I noticed that some of his books of poems, especially his children's poems, were illustrated by Edward Gorey, about whom I wrote a post a few years ago see HERE.

Here are a couple of poems by John Ciardi as tasters:

Philosophical Poem

The disease of civilization is not tools, citizen.
Ignorance might be closer to it.
Politics closer. But only Money
Will hit the brass tacks everyone wants to get down to
Squarely on the head.

Above all, I have no case against human nature.
Whatever that is, I like it.
I like mechanics with wrenches,
Taxi drivers' photos on licenses,
Drunks lighting cigarettes.
What the hell else is there to like
After you've kissed your wife and gone to sleep?

I like everything but important people being important.
And academic people being academic.
What I like least is bookkeepers
Spending their human eyes on accounts receivable,
Interest receivable, payment due, balance on hand.
And columns of soldiers marching.

Why Nobody Pets The Lion At The Zoo

The morning that the world began
The Lion growled a growl at Man.

And I suspect the Lion might
(If he'd been closer) have tried a bite.

I think that's as it ought to be
And not as it was taught to me.

I think the Lion has a right
To growl a growl and bite a bite.

And if the Lion bothered Adam,
He should have growled right back at 'im.

The way to treat a Lion right
Is growl for growl and bite for bite.

True, the Lion is better fit
For biting than for being bit.

But if you look him in the eye
You'll find the Lion's rather shy.

He really wants someone to pet him.
The trouble is: his teeth won't let him.

He has a heart of gold beneath
But the Lion just can't trust his teeth.

For any passing reader interested in astrology, Astrotheme has John Ciardi's 12 noon natal chart. He was born on 24 June 1916 in Boston MA.

I found it rather odd to see that he had Sun conjunct Pluto, and Venus conjunct Saturn - all in Cancer. That doesn't seem to fit the atmosphere of his poetry at all. Uranus was at 19 Aquarius in harmonious trine to Mercury in Gemini - there's his quirk!

PS Wishing A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY today, to my husband Anyjazz!

Speaking of Lions, as the poet was, husband happens to have Leo Moon and Leo rising to go with his Aries Sun - hot stuff!? I should keep in mind these lines from Mr Ciardi, I guess:
"The way to treat a Lion right
Is growl for growl and bite for bite."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


World Puppetry Day, comes every March 21.

The idea came from the puppet theater Artist Javad Zolfaghari from Iran. In 2000 at the XVIII Congress of the Union Internationale de la Marionnette, (UNIMA) in Magdeburg, he made the proposal for discussion. Two years later, at a meeting of the International Council of UNIMA in June 2002 in Atlanta, the date of the celebration was identified. The first celebration was in 2003.

Well then, all those media puppets whose strings are being pulled by corporations, banks, plutocrats et al, in this part of the world, should feel quite at home today.

What first came to mind when I noticed that it is World Puppetry Day ? This painting by Michael Cheval:

Clicking on the image should bring forth a slightly larger version.

There are other puppet-related paintings by this artist, including a different version of this one. I like this one because, looking closely, we see that even the puppeteers are subject to their own strings being pulled, from even higher up the "food chain".

Monday, March 20, 2017


“Spring has many American faces. There are cities where it will come and go in a day and counties where it hangs around and never quite gets there. Summer is drawn blinds in Louisiana, long winds in Wyoming, shade of elms and maples in New England.”
Archibald MacLeish

A few more thoughts, from far better writers than I will ever be, on the matter of springtime's hide and seek games:

In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.
Mark Twain

Spring is the time of year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade.
Charles Dickens

Winter lingered so long in the lap of Spring that it occasioned a great deal of talk.
Bill Nye

The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.
Henry Van Dyke

Lifeless in appearance, sluggish dazed spring approaches They enter the new world naked, cold, uncertain of all save that they enter.
William Carlos Williams

And...on Spring and the Vernal Equinox in general:

It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what.
John Galsworthy

Oh, what a catastrophe for man when he cut himself off from the rhythm of the year, from his unison with the sun and the earth. Oh, what a catastrophe, what a maiming of love when it was a personal, merely personal feeling, taken away from the rising and the setting of the sun, and cut off from the magic connection of the solstice and the equinox!
D. H. Lawrence

Easter occurs on different dates each year because, like the Jewish Passover, it is based upon the vernal equinox, that dramatic moment when the hours of the day-light and the hours of darkness at last draw parallel and then the light finally and triumphantly wins out. Thus Easter is always fixed as the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. It's a cosmic, solar, and lunar event as deeply rooted in religious traditions originating from sun-god worship as one could conceivably imagine.
Tom Harpur

I've always assumed that every time a child is born, the Divine reenters the world. Okay? That's the meaning of the Christmas story. And every time that child's purity is corrupted by society, that's the meaning of the Crucifixion story. Your man Jesus stands for that child, that pure spirit, and as its surrogate, he's being born and put to death again and again, over and over, every time we inhale and exhale, not just at the vernal equinox and on the 25th of December.
Tom Robbins

For Vernal Music Monday: George Harrison and "the other" Paul (Simon) with
Here Comes the Sun

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Resistance - 14th Century Style

When The People as a whole feel sufficiently oppressed, reach that mystical thing called the "tipping point" they act. Famous examples of this phenomenon leap out from pages of history books - here's an early example:

Backtracking a century or six:
The Peasants' Revolt in England.

Without the aid of Twitter, Facebook, the Royal Mail, telephone or cellphone, tens of thousands of peasants in England managed to achieve solidarity sufficient to rebel against their noblemen masters, march on England's capital city and cause chaos.

The Black Death, a devastating pandemic, had ravaged England and Europe in 1348/9 greatly reducing the labour force available to the Lords of the Manors and other noblemen of feudal England. Labourers, who were little more than slaves, began to demand improved terms and conditions: higher wages, fewer hours. Some even asked for their freedom from serfdom. The government attempted to curb this by pegging wages and restricting the mobility of labour. Additional cause of resentment was the poll tax ("poll" in this context meant "head") every person was subject to this taxation. The then monarch King Richard II, only 14 years old, was largely "under the thumb" of a corrupt group of officials, possibly the crux of the problem - or maybe not, we have no way of knowing.

Uprisings began in the south and east of England. In early summer of 1381 leaders emerged: Wat Tyler, John Ball and Jack Straw. They led a march of tens of thousands on London arriving on 12 June.

The rebels stormed the Tower of London and executed the Lord Chancellor, Archbishop Simon Sudbury, and the Lord Treasurer. Peasants looted the city and set fire to numerous buildings. Wat Tyler was stabbed to death by the Lord Mayor William Walworth in a confrontation at Smithfield, thus ending the revolt. Nobles quickly re-established their control with the help of a hastily organised militia of 7000. Most other leaders were captured and executed, including John Ball and Jack Straw, who was beheaded.

The Peasants' Revolt did not succeed in its aims, but it did show the nobles that the peasants were dissatisfied and quite capable of wreaking havoc. The Revolt was, eventually, instrumental in bringing an end to serfdom, and in the even longer term, helped to form a radical tradition in British politics.

Wondering about the astrology of it all - a snip from the ephemeris for June 1381:

It's interesting that on 12 June 1381 Moon (representing The People) was in late Aquarius - sign of rebellion; Mars (anger, aggression)was in communicative Gemini, and in harmony with Aquarius Moon.

Final thought from Carl Sandburg's "The People, Yes" (Chapter 75)

Hunger and only hunger changes worlds?
The dictate of the belly
that gnawing under the navel,
this alone is the builder and the pathfinder
sending man into danger and fire
and death by struggle?

Yes and no, no and yes.
The strong win against the weak,
The strong lose against the stronger.

And across the bitter years and the howling winters
the deathless dream will be the stronger,
the dream of equity will win.
There are shadows and bones shot with lights
too strong to be lost.......

Friday, March 17, 2017

Arty Farty Friday ~ Russian Artist Mikhail Vrubel

Mikhail Vrubel, Russian artist, was born this day in 1856. He painted during the art nouveau period and has been credited with introducing the art nouveau style to Russia. As well as painting in oils he was a skilled majolica craftsman, and talented in theatrical design.

Vrubel's life appears to have been rather wild, troubled and comparatively short (he died aged 54). He suffered mental disease brought on by syphilis, but left behind some superb work, sadly not as well-known in the USA as it deserves to be.

For a selection of his artwork, in large sized images, I recommend a visit to this website, at a piece headed
10 paintings from Russian artist that battled demons in art and life - author:Ksenia Isaeva, RBTH. From brief biographical detail there:

"Soviet art critic Nina Dmitrieva compared Vrubel’s creative life to a three-act drama with a prologue and an epilogue, with the transition between stages happening sharply and unexpectedly. The prologue would be his younger years spent studying and choosing his vocation.
The second act was his Moscow period, which began in 1890 with the famous painting “Demon Seated” and ended with the painting “Fallen Demon” (1901) and the artist’s hospitalization.
The third act was from 1903-1906. During these years, Vrubel battled mental illness and his physical and intellectual abilities were in decline. The epilogue was his final years until his death in 1910.
It is said that Mikhail Vrubel sold his soul to the devil. So, it is no coincidence, that all his problems and tragedies began when he was working on the “Fallen Demon” painting.
A son was born to the Vrubel family when “Fallen Demon” was being painted. He was a good boy – but he had a birth defect, a cleft lip. Vrubel himself started hallucinating. He was put into a mental clinic. That, however, was not the end of his misfortunes. A year later his son died. "
As syphylis progressed, Vrubel went blind. He died of pneumonia after deliberately exposing his body to the cold, and declining to fight for life. He died in the mental clinic.

This short video (less than 5 minutes) offers a quick look at a range of Vrubel's works.

I like many of his stylised paintings - I see echoes of Gustav Klimt in some of them, espsecially those portraying females.

Fascinated by Lermontov’s long poem, The Demon (1829-39), Vrubel repeatedly portrayed the image of the devil on canvas. These paintings became his most famous. Vrubel’s demon became symbolic of the artist’s own struggles with mental illness.

Vrubel's demons are rather dishy to my eye! But then, I guess that's how a demon manages to beguile and tempt ya - it'd be no use at all for a demon to have a face "like the back end of a 'bus" (as my Gran used to say).

 Flying Demon
 Tamara & Demon

 Sadko (Majolica ware)
Sadko is the principal character in a Russian medieval epic Bylina. He was an adventurer, merchant, and gusli musician from Novgorod. (More at Wikipedia)


Born on 17 March 1856 in Omsk, Russia. Chart set for 12 noon, time of birth unknown.

From Russkiy Mir foundation website

 Self portrait, 1885

A few pointers as to his personality:
An aspiring artist L. Kovalskiy from Kiev described his first encounter with 24-year-old Vrubel, who just came to start working on Kirillovskaya church: ..... The scene was more than exciting: against primitive hills of Kirillovskoye behind my back stood a fair, almost white young blonde man with a very notable head, small moustache, almost white. Not too tall, very balanced body type, dressed in black velvet suit, short underdrawers and half-boots. No one dressed like that in Kiev and I was impressed. It was a young Venetian man from the paintings of Tintoretto and Titian”.

From this article by S.E. Hecker, regarding his "Demon" paintings:

To understand these demons, one must know how the subject came to be such a fascination to Vrubel. Vrubel’s first major commissions as an artist were for the restorations of St. Kirill’s in Kiev. His participation here would lead to the development of a Byzantine style that would be seen in all of his subsequent work. During his stay in Kiev, Vrubel developed a tendency to drink too much, throw away money, and participated in numerous amorous escapades which led him to disappear without warning. This lack of self-discipline and loose manner of living created unusual patterns of thought and temperament bringing about extravagant behavior. Because of this behavior he committed numerous offenses against societal conventions and had lapses with reality, such as a belief in his father’s death, and a growing frequency of migraines. Despite this, his work never showed signs of it. Also, while in Kiev, he began a lifelong fascination with creating images akin to classic Russian folktales. More importantly, however, Kiev was the place in which Vrubel saw Anton Rubenstein’s opera The Demon for the first time, giving him his initial inspiration for the subject that would be a constant throughout his artistic career.

Alrighty then! Not far to search for indication of excess in his nature - Neptune (creativity and potential for addiction) conjunct Jupiter (excess) 8 degrees from natal Sun (self), all in Pisces ruled by Neptune. Potential for trouble comes via a square angle from Saturn in Gemini to these planets.

Mercury and Venus conjunct in Aquarius and in trine to Saturn were, possibly, redeeming features preventing Vrubel's immediate complete slide into darkness and incompetency. In fact, there's a Grand Trine -in Air (mental acuity)- a harmonious circuit linking Venus to Saturn and Mars.

A Yod (Finger of Fate) links the sextile between Saturn/Jupiter and Uranus, by two 150 degree angles to Mars, again, I think, drawing in a little Airy balance to the somewhat extreme and unexpected facets of his nature.

In the end, though, it would seem his penchant for excess eventually overcame the rest, leading to a too early demise.

Chiron ("The Wounded Healer") was in exact and challenging square aspect to Pluto (death and darkness)at Vrubel's birth; this could be seen as a link his frequent painting of demons used as somewhat of a healing aid.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Another Broken Reed ~ Rachel Maddow

She ain't kidding - and in more ways than one!

From investigative journalist Robert Parry's excellent piece:
When ‘Disinformation’ Is Truth, yesterday. It begins:
The anti-Russian McCarthyism that has spread out from the United States to encompass the European Union, Canada and Australia has at its core an implicit recognition that neoliberal economics and neoconservative foreign policy have failed.

Later in the piece, under section heading New McCarthyism and Maddow:
But it appears now that many liberals and even progressives are so blinded by their hatred of Trump that they haven’t thought through the wisdom of their new alliance with the neocons — or the fairness of smearing fellow Americans as “Putin apologists.”

Meanwhile, mainstream news organizations have abandoned even the pretense of professional objectivity in their propagandistic approach toward anything related to Russia or Trump. For instance, I would defy anyone reading The New York Times’ coverage of Russia to assess it as fair and balanced when it is clearly snarky and sneering.

It also turns out that this New McCarthyism has become profitable for its leading practitioners. The New York Times reported on Monday that the ratings for MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow are soaring with her frequent anti-Russian rants.

“Now, rattled liberals are surging back [to network television], seeking catharsis, solidarity and relief,” the Times wrote, citing a Kentucky woman explaining why she has become a devotee of Maddow: “She’s always talking about the Russians!”

Frankly, for the past dozen years, I’ve wondered about Maddow. I first heard her on the radio in August 2005 when she was a summer fill-in at Air America reporting on President George W. Bush’s Katrina fiasco, which she partly blamed on the deployment of Louisiana National Guard units to Iraq, so they couldn’t help evacuate flooded New Orleans.

It was clear that Maddow was talented and her excoriation of the Iraq War was on point, although – by summer 2005 – it didn’t require a huge amount of journalistic courage to slam Bush over the Iraq War. As I watched her career rise through a regular Air America gig to her show on MSNBC and then to stardom as an anchor on the network’s election coverage, I always wondered whether she would put her lucrative corporate acceptance at risk and go against the grain at a tough journalistic moment.

Now, Maddow’s behavior in becoming a modern-day mainstream-media Joe McCarthy has put my doubts to rest. She is riding high in the ratings by keeping her whip hand coming down hard on the bash-Russia steed. She is putting her career or her politics ahead of journalism.

Like so many other Democrat/liberal/neocon activists, Maddow not only ignores the evidentiary gaps in the Russia-did-it conspiracy theory but she seems oblivious to the dangers of her opportunism. By stirring up this McCarthyistic frenzy, she and her “never-Trump” allies make a rational policy toward nuclear-armed Russia nearly impossible. Thus, she is contributing to the real risk of a hot war with Russia that could lead to the annihilation of life on the planet.

So Ms Maddow, in my estimation too, has traced a downward spiral since 2008, when I wrote, still somewhat starry eyed:

Rachel Maddow: One For The Future? (9 Sep. 2008)

I wonder who'll be on the political scene in the USA around 10 years from now, say for the elections in 2016 and 2020? One name in the future's political headlines which wouldn't surprise me a bit would be Rachel Maddow. She's 35 now, in ten years she'll be just about the right age to run as a presidential candidate, or be chosen as VP, having perhaps done a stint in the House or Senate in intervening years.

Rachel's new TV show, which has all the hallmarks of being "the one to watch" for those keen on politics, was aired for the first time last night. She has been seen fairly regularly on MSNBC all year, doing pundit duty along with Olbermann, Matthews, Buchanan and the rest, as well as presenting a regular radio show on Air America. She strikes me as the type of person for whom US politics is crying out. She oozes confidence, speaks and debates with a no nonsense clarity, clear grasp of issues, but never loses her calm, friendly approach.
After astrological meanderings on her natal chart:
It'll be interesting to watch Rachel Maddow's progress from here on.

However, by June 2012 I wrote in a post HERE:
I no longer watch MSNBC (bad for my BP!) In the days when I did watch, when Rachel Maddow's show first aired, in 2008, I wrote a post about her and her natal chart. That was before the political scales dropped from my eyes. I still enjoy hearing Rachel speak when interviewed outside of her show, but feel now much as Nick Gillespie indicated. He accused Maddow and Maher of being partisan. Well DUH!! They are. Maher gave President Obama's campaign fund $1 million cheque recently. In Maddow's professional eyes Democrats and President Obama can do no wrong. We have no means of knowing how she really feels....................................................Talking heads - all of them, including Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert as well as the MSNBC and Fox crowd are there to serve a single purpose - support for the two political establishments in the USA, to keep the controversy going, keep the country divided.

Broken reeds - so many of 'em to left and to right, so many I used to admire, but now see the error of my starry-eyed ways!