Friday, December 13, 2019

TV version of Illuminatus! trilogy planned

You can find a lot more detail about this possible tv show, over at, a good source for ongoing feedback and news.

You can find the main announcement, here (that includes the complete press release).

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Curious Launch

I found it amusing when Stan Grof said that using astrology appeared even more contentious (to the modern intellectual mind) than using psychedelics!

As it happens, they  won't use the traditional 'signs', during their course, that dominate trivial discourse of astrology.  Their main focus remains on the planets and the major transits.  

Let's face it, most people celebrate their 'birthday' (aka Solar Return - when the Sun returns to the same part of the sky as during our birth).  

Quite a lot of women (at least) remain aware of the Moon Cycle - when we call the 'opposition' of Sun and Moon a 'Full Moon' and you can clearly see it, even in a light-polluted city.  And the 'conjunction' of Sun and Moon has the label 'New Moon' (but this absence needs a bit more calculation).

So far, no real argument.  

Most of us have no knowledge of  'our' Venus Return (about once a year), or Mars Return (every two years or so), or Jupiter Return (every 11-12 years), etc, for instance.  And we don't care.  They actually signify as much (or as little) as your Solar 'birthday', but most us don't have time to calculate or discover such relationships.  We just use that handy 'calendar' thing (e.g. sometimes your Solar Return may actually happen a day before or after your 'calendar birthday', but hey, who cares, right?  People have their party on the nearest Saturday, or whatever.)

I find the slower-moving planets even more interesting (and that's most of what this course seem to cover).

Saturn Returns (29, 58, 84) relate to crucial moments.  As we approach 30, many people put away childish things and start to take life (and their possible future) more seriously.  At the same time, if they have committed themselves early on to things, that 'looming 30' can prove a moment when they kick off the limitations and start afresh.  You may get married, or divorced.

No, I am not saying "Saturn made me do it!"    These planetary cycles act more like clocks (think, the Sun and the Seasons, which appear indisputable).  The Jupiter Cycle of conjunctions happens every 12 years of so, and by coincidence (ahem!) my Jupiter conjunction happens on the 28th of this month, two days after the course starts.   I rolled back the clock to my previous conjunction, and found myself studying 'The Tale of The Tribe' with Robert Anton Wilson (October 2005).

Other Transits can come into account, too.  The outer planets move even more slowly, and we rarely complete cycles.  Uranus Return happens at about 81.   You may want to consider the 'opposition' transit point at age 42. And so on.

Once you get to Neptune and Pluto, their movements seem more accurately represented by cultural shifts, rather than human life cycles.  And this course intends to reveal the patterns that seem to correlate with such big correlations - like 'The Thirties', or 'The Sixties', or our current times.   Wouldn't you find it interesting if the current nonsense of Brexit and Trump revealed connections to earlier parts of similar cycles of cultural shifts?  

That it may then refer back to my own adventures (I was 21 in 1967) would prove a perk.

archetypal astrology

Gonna re-activate this old blog, as a notebook for the course I am about to start on, with Stan Grof and Rick Tarnas.

I did an intense period of work on astrology in the late 70s, so I have a good basic grasp of the language, symbols, mythical meanings, etc.  I looked at the various processes, and procedures, the history and so on.

I even did charts for various friends who asked; I also studied well-known people, etc.

I looked at the charts for events, too, and this course is particularly interested in this kind of side of astrology.

Really looking forward to it.

You can find details of the course here.

Here you will find Richard Tarnas' website

Saturday, December 12, 2015

First a librarian, then an archivist

Since I gave up show business (at the age of 51), and got my first 'proper job' in the local library, I have enjoyed this new phase of my life, and layer of skills.   I don't have a professional qualification, but they have so de-skilled the library service that I feel entitled to loosely call myself 'a librarian'.  After the first couple of years I found my way into the computer department (a DOS-based management system) so was in place for when the Library Service moved into a Windows environment, and for when libraries rolled out free internet access - at which point I described myself as the computer whisperer (as I didn't work in the IT Dept, but for the library service - more involved with the Human-Computer Interface than the technical side, but it gave me the opportunity to be an early uptaker of Internet - as part of my job!

Well, the library eventually 'let me go' at the age of 68, and I sort of retired.  But then the non-animal circus I have been involved in so long offered me the job of creating an archive of their 30 year history.

For the last year I have been collecting up stuff, which is currently on display in a short-lived exhibition, is available on a newly-launched website here - - and the paperwork will all get laid down in the Glamorgan Archives - where it will be stored for future historians, a hundred years from now.

So, to 'librarian' I have added 'archivist' in my cv, still without any qualifications at all....

I plan to have another go at 'being retired', at least until my 70th birthday in February 2016.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Messing about with websites...

I have torn down the old website, rather than tinker with it. 
Currently it has a Home Page quickly made in Word (5 minutes) and a link to a dynamic 'Brain' map which I may use to put some links and bits together with, before re-creating a new website.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Old Dogs in the mountains

Up at the cottage, and the weather has been very mixed.  Dandy Dog doesn't seem inclined to go for steep walks right now, but I am not sure if he is ill or just lazy.

Back then, he even accompanied me up there in the snow (and this is in an area without even a mobile SOS signal, so that might have proved a bit reckless).
I also forget how quickly dogs age, because 3-4 years ago when we last went to the highest point for miles around, he was effectively in his teens, now he 'is' in his late-40s.

Still, yesterday I went without him, for the first time, and it was very misty, rainy so I didn't get another clear shot of the iron age hill fort, or anything.  Hey ho - but some aerobic exercise.

For contrast, this is how I captured it last time, on a crisp winter's day:

And the old dog remains adventurous on brighter days, and walking along the level of the river, rather than up and down the hills...

Note: This blog got neglected in a flurry of other projects, but it is a diary going back aways, likely to get plundered for the more recent years of my autobiography (work-in-progress).

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

If you're so clever, why aren't you rich?

This perennial question does assume that the smart thing to do with intelligence is earn money, and to the extent that having money does free up your time, eventually, it could prove a good idea.  However, if you sell all your time in exchange for money, putting off your thinking time, or your creative time, until you have 'enough', then maybe it doesn't seem such a good plan.

In the simple terms of IQ tests (whatever you think they actually measure) I score quite highly.  I got a scholarship type pass to the 11+ exam (although that apparently had a bias towards boys), and on various self-testing scales I did pretty well (though such tests seem rather unreliable).  When Test The Nation first happened I scored higher than anyone in the studio, and as high as the best on-line participant, but that test is not one recognised by MENSA, for instance.  MENSA chooses people from the top 2% of the population, whichever test that gets measured by.

I only once met a group of MENSA members, and don't remember a particularly stimulating time, but I would not dismiss the possibility that not all members are too glum or serious for me.  I appreciate that I might simply have been boring company for them.  Who can tell?

I reckon I know quite a lot of smart people, particularly if we look at them through the filters of multiple types of intelligence (cf: Howard Gardner), a model which seems to correlate with the world far better, as those earlier tests do seem biased towards literacy and  numeracy, in spite of a certain number of spatial awareness elements, and didn't appear to consider excellence in arts of sports (for instance), or maybe relationships, or the ability to communicate, as forms of intelligence.

Although I generally lean towards text-based learning myself (after decades of putting myself through the circus skills hoops, to encourage the other aspects of myself) I still veer away from books that sound like this:

"Despite the many specific disagreements that have marked the development of these theories of aesthetic and cultural  postmodernism, their development has generally been contained within a horizon of consensus that has defined valid theories of postmodernism according to their deployment of methodological self-reflexivity, based (sometimes covertly) in the unconditional rejection of categories of totality, or totalization - a rejection that acts as a negative totalization itself."

This, from a professor of English - discussing the vivid and lucid writer William Burroughs, in "Wising Up The Marks" - a title that sounded sufficiently 'street' that I might find it amusing and enlightening.

No way could I study 'English' in such a context of abstractions and technical jargon (although I did find lighter patches in this book).  That form of abstract, analytical study is what made Samuel Beckett sound unfunny, and Joyce 'difficult'.

The main problem for me, however, remains my dislike of tests.  I don't like the experience of auditions, interviews, exams, tests or any of those events.  Fear of failure, like everyone else (of course) plays a part in that - but also wanting to know who was so damned clever that they can set the tests.

Hard to fool a cat...

I love this movie.

I love Robert Altman, Elliott Gould, Raymond Chandler and the cynicism and world-weariness of film noir (and its deconstruction).

And I love the cat. Especially the gag about trying to fool the cat into thinking it was getting the right brand of food...

Note: though it is an extended stoner joke from 1973, it has one extremely unpleasantly violent moment.

How weird that Elliot Gould is now "the man from Ocean's Twelve", not "the man from the movie M*A*S*H" (long before the tv series).

Monday, March 04, 2013

Why is asking so hard?

I never felt comfortable with other people or society's rules. I thought I was surrounded by idiots. I couldn't even work out why I was on this planet.  I didn't want a job, or property, or respect, or power, or privilege.

I immediately fell in love with the assorted Zen fools that I came across in the literature, and in Western culture the bohemians and tramps and others who simply did not share the values of those around them.

At the same time, I felt sad to be alienated, because when humans act kindly, they seem really great!  I began to feel that in the 60s, when I also stopped feeling so alone, but that didn't really help me re-integrate with society, as I didn't display any musical or graphic talent that could be traded, for instance.

Street performing emerged from my defiantly spending my time on something I found interesting, and taking no heed for the practicalities of tomorrow.  It was other people who spotted the potential, and started to offer trade-off payments in kind (food, shelter, lifts, clothing)  in return for the entertainment value they perceived.  I never managed to hustle my hat-passing, like some of the more efficient/proficient performers who came along later, and turned it into a real profession.  I simply did my thing, and then told people that was all I did, and if they wanted to see me again, they could contribute, and that if they had no money I hoped they enjoyed it.  And that's all.  I have always been embarrassed to ask, and never could beg, for instance, I'd rather starve.

So everything in Amanda Fucking Palmer's wonderful TED talk rang bells for me, from the 'get a real job' jibes, to wondering whether I was somehow exploiting people and relationships, and whether it was fair to act 'as if the world owed me a living'.  I went through all that angst, and it was only the warmth and reassurance of other people (the audiences and students) that convinced me I was genuinely earning my right to be here, to do play/work.  And having regained my trust in people around me, other opportunities opened up.  Please, especially if you are a creative person, give Amanda just under 15 minutes of your time.

Monday, November 05, 2012

The Science of Magic

I saw an advert from Kenton Knepper, about some material he was offering on memory - and it was apparently stuff he prepared to show Psychology students at the University of Arizona.

Digging a little deeper, I found the course it was intended to be part of...

The Culture of Psychology and Magic

And that article on Randi's site, further pointed to Anthony Barnhart's website/blog

The Science of Magic

Where I found a link to an article by Teller, explaining how the principles of magic, field tested for centuries, can teach psychologists more than the inverse.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Testing, testing

Just experimenting with using Personal Brain to navigate my website - testing Home Page code in Blogger. If it works here, then I may put it in place on the old website... Personal Brain helps organise the pages, and to the left of each box you'll find a link that takes you to the actual page. I will add more content to the bottom part of the frame, bit by bit.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Living on Borrowed Time

As ever, John Lennon said it better than me (see post title and YouTube clip) - although I have managed to claw a few more years out of this lovely little planet, and the illusion of an individual life, than he did. Bless him.

This morning, I found myself in a snarl-off about the job I have now put 15 years into, because although it seems that my fellow workers know what I contribute, the people who actually pay me don't seem to value the role that highly. Hey ho. I am past retirement age, so I should probably just stop grovelling and quit.

I don't really care about pay-rates, but I like respect.

Since I dropped-out of school (when everyone said "you wouldn't dare leave, think of your future") and I just had to call their bluff (even if I starved, as they implied) I have had the same approach.

I remain a loyal and tireless worker for bosses who treat me with respect, but if someone implicitly threatens me with "think of how you would survive in the current economic climate" I just wanna go (I did that in the late 70s when the country was in crisis and someone thought they had the whip hand). I just walked away. I am still here.

But, if this sounds like a negative rant, imagine this. When we were filming The Dark Crystal we reached the end of the day (18:00h) and had not quite captured something we had all been working towards through the afternoon.

Jim Henson - still sadly missed Now in the film business, if you go one minute over, all the unions claim another hour (at overtime rates). We were so close to getting the shot. Jim Henson announced that he couldn't afford overtime for 150 people, but he and Frank Oz wanted one more try at getting it in the can before we all went home. And, that's how beloved they were, as bosses, every person in that room turned a blind eye to their contracts, forgot their unions rules, and their tiredness and family obligations, and unanimously agreed to give it one more go, to get it right!

That's good management. That's working towards excellence with mutual respect. That was my first ever proper job working in a hierarchy (taking orders) - because of my previous 'bad attitude' to authority figures. I guess it spoiled me for the 'real world'.

RIP Jim, and thanks.

When I was younger
Living confusion and deep despair
When I was younger ah hah
Living illusion of freedom and power

When I was younger
Full of ideas and broken dreams (my friend)
When I was younger ah hah
Everything simple but not so clear

Living on borrowed time
Without a thought for tomorrow
Living on borrowed time
Without a thought for tomorrow

Now I am older
The more that I see the less that I know for sure
Now I am older ah hah
The future is brighter and now is the hour

Living on borrowed time
Without a thought for tomorrow
Living on borrowed time
Without a thought for tomorrow

Good to be older
Would not exchange a single day or a year
Good to be older ah hah
Less complications everything clear

Living on borrowed time
Without a thought for tomorrow
Living on borrowed time
Without a thought for tomorrow

"...all I've got to bother about is standing up..."

Monday, February 13, 2012

So far, so good.

Reasons to be cheerful:

  • My birthday may still be associated with chocolate and cherubs, satin hearts and red balloons, sloppy romance and spending money - but at least it's a secular day now - all the religion squeezed out of it. I don't think the Church ever felt comfortable with Valentinus the Gnostic

  • In 66 years I have travelled 38,504,400,000 miles round and round and round the sun, at 66,000 mph. And that doesn't allow for other movements (sun around the galaxy centre, etc)

  • They didn't retire me yet, so I can still afford teeth, and shoes, and that sort of thing - before I fall into the black pit of the tiny pension
Here's Eric to affirm the wonder of it all:

And if you didn't get all those facts and figures, or wonder how accurate they are, this link takes you to a deadpan analysis of the details

This winter I decided to work on my old man archtype (I get bored with all this 'you don't look yer age stuff') On the whole, I'd rather pose with a spliff but it doesn't involve much more than letting the beard grow out (that fools most people, for some reason).

When George Burns was 93 he was at a party. It was after midnight and he had a whiskey in one hand and a cigar in the other. George Burns

Somebody asked him "What does your doctor say about your lifestyle?" and he said "Oh he died long time ago."

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