Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Dorothy Parker - In the American Manner

I stumbled upon this poem by Dorothy Parker the other day:

Poem In The American Manner

I dunno yer highfalutin' words, but here's th' way it seems
When I'm peekin' out th' winder o' my little House o Dreams;
I've been lookin' 'roun' this big ol' world, as bizzy as a hive,
An' I want t' tell ye, neighbor mine, it's good t' be alive.
I've ben settin' here, a-thinkin' hard, an' say, it seems t' me
That this big ol' world is jest about as good as it kin be,
With its starvin' little babies, an' its battles, an' its strikes,
An' its profiteers, an' hold-up men—th' dawggone little tykes!
An' its hungry men that fought fer us, that nobody employs.
An' I think, 'Why, shucks, we're jest a lot o' grown-up little boys!'
An' I settle back, an' light my pipe, an' reach fer Mother's hand,
An' I wouldn't swap my peace o' mind fer nothin' in the land;
Fer this world uv ours, that jest was made fer folks like me an' you
Is a purty good ol' place t' live—say, neighbor, ain't it true?

She was in full sardonic, sarcastic, satiric mode there, under cover of a bit of the good ol' folksy. Though her sentiments were rooted in her own century - the 20th - nothing changes!

Dorothy Parker has always been worth a second look, so here's something I blogged some years ago:

These days Dorothy Parker is remembered most for her witty and cynical poetry. She was not particularly proud of the poems, but they have survived in public memory long after her short stories and other writing has been forgotten. Some of her screenplays have survived. The screenplay of A Star is Born was her work, and nominated for an academy award. Three different versions of the story have been made, and have entertained three different generations. It's a bittersweet tale, the kind she knew well from experience.

Dorothy's poems are mainly reflections of her own disappointments and frustrations. She had a sad childhood, losing both parents at an early age. This shadow followed her throughout her life. Her lovers and spouses only seemed to add to her distress. Dorothy attempted suicide 3 times, eventually took to alcohol, and died alone in a New York hotel, aged 73. The New York Times printed one of its longest ever obituaries as a tribute. She left her estate to Martin Luther King Jnr, though she had never met him, and he had never heard of her! She supported many left-wing causes, civil rights campaigns and at one point joined the communist party, and found herself on the US government's blacklist.

DOROTHY PARKER Born 22 August 1893, West End, New Jersey, at 9.50 PM.

According to a couple of sources on-line Ms Parker's birth time was 9:50 PM, putting the ascendant angle in Taurus. It's said that the ascendant can give clues as to personal appearance. In this case it doesn't. Dorothy Parker is described as fragile looking, doll-like, almost elfin, quite the opposite of the sturdiness of Taurus. From what I've read about her personality, Taurus seems to have been well-eclipsed by Virgo and Gemini.

The Sun had just passed into Virgo, at 00 degree when Dorothy Parker was born. There are 2 other planets at 00 degree: Venus at 00 Libra, and Jupiter at 00 Gemini. Some astrologers consider that the first and last degrees of a sign carry more of the "pure essence" of it, which could be of some significance here, especially in the case of Virgo and Gemini. Dorothy's legendary sharp tongue, naturally critical and acidic attitudes are typically Virgoan. The two signs, Virgo and Gemini, both ruled by Mercury, provide her writer's "signature". It was as though the Sun and Jupiter had struggled to get into their proper places just in time for the birth - or she had waited to emerge until they were properly placed!

Sun is conjunct Mars - novelist Sinclair Lewis had Sun conjunct Mars too (he who said "When facism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross"): two writers of the same generation who were not averse to expressing controversial views. Writers with a fighting (Mars) spirit! Sun in Virgo, Mercury in Leo are in mutual reception in Dorothy's chart too (each lay in the sign of the other's rulership), which adds even more emphasis to the astrological picture, showing a born writer.

Moon in Capricorn and Sun/Mars in Virgo, both in Earth signs forming a wide harmonious trine. This I find somewhat surprising. She doesn't seem to have been the solid, stable Earthy personality it indicates. However, Moon is in challenging square aspect to Saturn in Airy Libra, and Sun is square to Jupiter in Airy Gemini. Two Airy challenges stirring up dust! Without these square aspects people might never have remembered the name and personality of Dorothy Parker.

One of her best-remembered darkly cynical poems:


There's little in taking or giving,
There's little in water or wine;
This living, this living, this living
Was never a project of mine.
Oh, hard is the struggle, and sparse is
The gain of the one at the top,
For art is a form of catharsis,
And love is a permanent flop,
And work is the province of cattle,
And rest's for a clam in a shell,
So I'm thinking of throwing the battle ---
Would you kindly direct me to hell?

Her self-chosen epitaph: "Excuse my dust."

Monday, December 11, 2017

GUEST POST ~ by "Anyjazz" on Music Monday

What follows comes from a post written by my husband on his blog "Thinks Happen" in 2008. I stumbled across it in searching for something else and decided the post ought not to be wasting away, hidden in the depths of defunct blogdom. In its original setting the piece can be accessed via the link at the foot of this post.

The camera tried hard to get a shot for me but the lighting and the inept operator gave only a marginal result. The shutter was open too long and Alison Young moved.

That’s okay. The memory of listening to her play live comes back just as well with this shot as with any other. As my wife and others will attest, when I hear a really talented musician or a really wonderful performance, I tend to weep. Yes, I know.

As I sat in the dark at an after-hours jam session during an Ottawa Jazz Festival, I was often a bit misty eyed. Talented musicians, relaxed before a small audience, played as they felt, often only for their own appreciation. Good stuff.

One such night, a young fellow played an alto sax solo backed with rhythm and piano. His technique was good, polished; his chorus was fresh and welcome. Then as he finished, he unhooked the alto from its neck strap and handed it to a red-haired girl standing just out of the spotlight. After a couple hearty solo piano choruses, 19 year old Alison Young stepped into the light and began to play that same alto sax. And tears came instantly to my eyes. Yes, I was impressed.

It was the same saxophone but nothing else was the same. Her tone and range set her apart. Her attack and enthusiasm made it fascinating. Most of all, her inventiveness kept the listener sitting up straight. I’ll never forget it. When she finished we all realized we had been holding our collective audience breath.

Every moment of our lives has that possibility to connect with someone. Each moment has that ability to be an important moment in someone’s life.

Perhaps as a race we are losing that capability to empathize with our fellow humans. We have become protectorates, isolationists in our own being. We fear or loath connection so much that we avoid sharing any of ourselves. We only perceive the surface of others, not the warmth within.

A child knows how. A child has the ability to freely observe moments from everything, collecting, mimicking and blending. But just like the fairy tales and goblins, this talent fades away as adulthood comes jack booting down the life path.

We can rail on about conservation and brotherly love. We can preach about faith and hope and charity. We can be reliable or lie and make work or leisure for ourselves. We can vote and debate and scoff and complain.

But in the final analysis: we are all we have.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Saturday and Sundry Rant-worthy Thoughts

So many issues currently in the news are eminently rant-worthy - shall I count the ways? Brexit; Trump; Republicans; Democrats; monopolies; men who harass; comedians who are unnecessarily gross, not to mention unfunny; creeping crapification of - just about everything; "smart" stuff encouraging us to speak to inanimate objects as a way of life. Sigh.

There's yet another, more personal, irritant: people who, at the mention of the word 'astrology' pounce eagerly, ready to question the mental capacity of anyone who is, in their estimation, "irrational" enough to give astrology even an inch of headroom. This happened to me a few days ago at a blog which shall remain nameless; it has happened many times during past years on the net, and is tiresome - putting it mildly!

On most occasions, when an urge to intervene with any mild reference to astrology arises, I turn "chicken", shrink from mentioning it, or my interest in, and study of the ancient art. Among those people with no interest in astrology, and in some cases with a definite abhorrence of it, such an interest marks one as a gullible nitwit and totally irrational.

Do rationality and astrology mix? I contend that they can, given the right approach and a mind open enough to see serious failings in both camps, but failings which completely negate neither.

For many people astrology has no relevance at all. I do get that. Football, baseball, basketball and other sports have no relevance to me, but I don't go around denigrating fans of those pastimes. So...why can't astrological skeptics simply ignore astrology and any mention of it? It's almost as though they feel threatened by it!

I remember reading some relevant observations years ago, written by Darin Hayton (link is now defunct). Mr Hayton asked:

"And what really is at stake in this enduring battle between science and astrology? Are astronomers [for instance] afraid that their funding will suddenly go to astrologers? Does the fate of the free world or the rational mind or science depend on refuting astrology? Given the characterization of astrologers and believers in astrology as simple-minded, uneducated, irrational dupes, what threat do these people pose to astronomers and scientists? Does belief in astrology stand for a purported, societal-wide irrationality that threatens the entire practice of science? That seems a bit apocalyptic, but maybe. And what is served by the denigrating rhetoric typically used to brand astrologers frauds and charlatans? Surely it would be more effective to adopt a more conversational approach rather than labeling astrologers and their customers irrational, superstitious dupes..."

Ten years ago, in my early days of blogging - when, even then I found astrology skeptics to be rant-worthy, a commenter "Velvet Blade" wrote:
I used to love those people who would come into an astrology shop and say, "Prove it to me". Why? Because I was once that person. Skeptics are GREAT, as long as they have an open mind. Otherwise, they are not skeptics at all, just stubborn folks who believe that everyone should think the way they think... Hmmm... Ringing any bells in politics???

True skeptics believe what they have found to be true for themselves. The don't close their minds and shut down, with no hope of opening.

True skeptics always make the BEST astrologers. They won't accept anything as true until they have seen it for themselves.
To allow my BP to return to what passes as normal, a quiet ponder upon a couple of quotes:

“The world,” he said, “grows hourly more and more sceptical of all that lies beyond its own narrow radius; and our men of science foster the fatal tendency.
~ Amelia B. Edwards, ("The Phantom Coach").

And, from Sir Terry Pratchett:
Sometimes, if you pay real close attention to the pebbles you find out about the ocean. ("Lords and Ladies").

Friday, December 08, 2017

Arty Farty Friday...with goosebumps

Today, 8 December is the anniversary of the day John Lennon was murdered.

At around 10:50 p.m. (EST [Eastern Standard time]) on 8 December 1980, lone gunman Mark David Chapman shot Lennon in the back four times in the archway of the Dakota as Lennon and Ono returned to their Manhattan apartment from the Record Plant. Lennon was rushed in a police cruiser to the emergency room of nearby Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival at 11:00 p.m. (EST). Earlier that evening, Lennon had autographed a copy of Double Fantasy for Chapman.

Chapman avoided going to trial when he ignored his attorney's advice and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20-years-to-life. In 2016, he was denied parole for a ninth time.

Today is also Arty Farty Friday, so focus will go onto another talent of John Lennon. He loved to draw, and did possess a certain quirky cartoon-like talent in that direction (well... anything Lennon would be quirky by default, wouldn't it?) Some of his sketches remind me of James Thurber's work.

Oh my! I've just retrieved a link to an old post of mine with a few of Thurber's sketches included, for comparison, and see that....
James Thurber was born on 8 December (in 1894) in New York City. John Lennon was killed on 8 December 1980 in New York City. That brought forth a few goosebumps!

A few examples of John Lennon's artwork:

You Might Well Arsk

 Remember Love

 Sijin (poet)

 Come Together

Borrowed Time

 A Happy Life (John, Yoko, and their son Sean)

Two to match the coming season:

See more via Google Image HERE.

Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Pre-seasonal Lethargy

This is the part of December when I have to give myself a swift kick up the backside to summon enthusiasm enough to: go find the Christmas trimmings, find the address list for Christmas cards, find the Christmas cards I bought months ago and now can't remember where I put them (theory was to save last minute hassle!)

So far, amazingly, I have managed to find, write and address the handful of specially chosen cards due to fly over the ocean. Others, for more local recipients remain pristine in their box secreted somewhere "easy to remember". Our big Christmas wreath is out front - that was easy, but nothing else so far, because there are too many leaves on the strip of front garden, waiting to be cleared. Ahem!

We've never done the "Christmas lights" thing beloved of so many in the USA. This summer we did invest in some cheap solar lights to stick in the ground around said strip of garden, all year round. They work well, for a few hours anyway, not as well now as in the summertime though, far too many hours of darkness in December.

Update: I now know where the boxes of Christmas trimmings are stashed in the garage. Next step - open them up and try to remember what goes where. Later this week, perhaps.

A couple of cartoons with a pre-seasonal flavour to fill out this lean post - click to enlarge (cartoons not the post - and not you, I hope.)

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

It's a's a film...

It's a's a film...(it's not Charades - just another blog post!)


The Long Earth, the first novel of a sci-fi series by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, and my current reading matter when offline. I'm getting towards the end of the book, enjoying it, and intending to move on to the second in the series soon. The premise of a multi-dimensional world is the main theme of the series, and when I say multi-dimensional, I don't mean half a dozen, or even a hundred dimensions, I mean millions and millions of alternative worlds, versions of Earth in a never-ending variation of modes, states, levels of development and evolution. A means of travelling between these Earths has been discovered.

This novel isn't as "laugh aloud" funny as some of Terry Pratchett's novels are reputed to be, but there's gentle humour, a touch of allegory, a touch of satire, none of it is forced.

A quote or two:

So now, he hoped, here was a chance to bring mankind back into the book-loving fold. He gloated. There was still no electronics in the pioneer worlds, was there? Where was your internet? Hah! Where was Google? Where was your mother’s old Kindle? Your iPad 25? Where was Wickedpedia? (Very primly, he always called it that, just to show his disdain; very few people noticed.) All gone, unbelievers! All those fancy toy-gadgets stuffed in drawers, screens blank as the eyes of corpses, left behind. Books – oh yes, real books – were flying off his shelves. Out in the Long Earth humanity was starting again in the Stone Age.

He quite liked the English. They tended to say sorry a lot, which was quite understandable given their heritage and the crimes of their ancestors.

And Joshua felt oddly uncomfortable, once more. A slight feeling you get when everything is so right that it might have gone all the way around the universe and come back metamorphosed into wrong.

All creatures on Earth have been hammered on the anvil of its gravity, for example, which influences size and morphology. So I am sceptical about finding armoured reptiles who can fly and spout flames.

Few bad words were said – apart from ‘Republican’, which was an extremely bad word.

Mankind isn’t really evil. It hasn’t got enough dignity to be evil.


The Dinner, a 2017 movie curently available to stream via Netflix. It stars Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve Coogan, Rebecca Hall. In a word it was: disappointing. Wikipedia states: The Dinner is an American drama thriller film directed and written by Oren Moverman, based on the Dutch novel of the same name by Herman Koch.

Where to begin ? For me, there were too many irritants in this movie. Bare bones of its theme hinge upon two brothers: one is a congressman (Richard Gere, natch, in his best oily smooth silverness), the other a neurotic misanthropic school teacher (played, for some peculiar reason, by British actor/comedian Steve Coogan). The brothers meet, wives in tow, at a painfully "elite" restaurant. They intend to discuss the problem arising from their sons having committed murder. That fact is hinted, but detail is slow to come and awkwardly revealed.

That these people would choose to discuss such a problem in a public place is quite unbelievable and that is one continual irritant, which sets the scene for what might, in other hands, have been dark high farce with some moral message embedded. Perhaps that was the original intention, but, well... something went wrong.

If a pompous maitre d' reciting the ingredients of every dish and garnish on the quartet's menu in great detail was intended to provide humorous contrast to serious matters discussed at the table - it didn't, it was clunkily time-wasting and caused me to shout at the TV!

Steve Coogan imitating, or rather ripping off, Woody Allen's voice, tone and attitudes was another major irritant. The role of the schoolteacher brother would have been considered tailor-made for Woody Allen, were he a few decades younger, but that didn't give Coogan the right to copy.

The film is confusingly carved up into sets of flashbacks, supposedly related to the many courses of the dinner. Dinner? I didn't notice much actual chewing of food taking place, come to think of it.

The movie's ending, no doubt reflecting how things would have turned out in a comparable real life situation, was unsatisfying, and a further irritant.

Bearing in mind the movie is based on a respected Dutch novel, all in all, I have to assume that much was lost in translation. Husband and I sat through the movie rather than ditching it, mainly out of curiosity to see exactly where it was going. We agreed that it was a sad waste of a talented cast. Next day I skimmed a handful of reviews and found that half were positive, for reasons I had difficulty understanding, and half negative, outlining views similar to my own. Polarisation - it's par for the course these days!