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Archive for October 2008

March 21 - April 19 Aries
You’re a mover and a shaker. Enthusiastic, adventurous, a true pioneer. You’re not one to let the most important election of our lives go by without casting a ballot. Yes, we all have a civic duty to enact on Tuesday, November 4th. Make sure you’re all set for this date with destiny by checking here. This site will give you the lowdown on whether you are registered and tell you where your polling place is.  Be certain to have your voice heard in this election, no matter where you live. It’s incredibly important that we all weigh in on this one and act like the democracy we’re supposed to be.

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
Taureans adore rituals and have a deep spiritual streak. In case you weren’t aware, a few weeks ago a new kumari (living goddess) was appointed in Katmandu. The child, 3 year old Matani Shakya, was so named by Hindu and Buddhist priests and Nepalese President Ram Baran Yadav. She will be worshiped by both Hindus and Buddhists as a direct incarnation of the Hindu deity Taleju until she begins to menstruate, at which time she will leave the temple where she now resides to go back to live with her family. While she is regarded as a kumari, she must always be dressed in the color red and exhibit a painted third eye on her forehead. This tradition dates back many centuries.

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
Being Gemini, you have an insatiable need to know everything. You crave information, you eat it for breakfast. You need to have all your proverbial ducks in a row. Well, if you’re a Gemini mom-to-be, I’ve got just the website for you. Check out nameberry; baby name experts Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz recently launched this incredible resource for anyone researching baby names. Search through over 50,000 boy and girl names and meanings culled from the Satran/Rosenkrantz’ bestselling baby name books. Cool name lists, popular, unusual and unique names, plus the latest naming news and expert advice – all here. Latest celebrity babies? Listed here. Spiritual names? Stylish names? Supermodel names? Biblical place names? All here. I have to agree with the website’s claim – it’s pregnant with possibilities!

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
Our independent bookstore of the week is An Open Book in Greeley, Colorado, which I chose because it’s located in a swing state. Being a Cancer moonchild, you’re all about a cozy atmosphere, which An Open Book is known for. The owner, Ann M. Lacefield, is a retired teacher with many ties to the local community. The store offers personalized service in finding the right book for you, a Book Club with a 20% discount, monthly events for both children and adults, a Young Readers’ Loyalty Program, and more. There’s even a Mother/Daughter Book Club that meets on the last Saturday of every month from 2 to 3pm.

July 23 - August 22 Leo
The download of the week was chosen specifically with Leo in mind. It’s my favorite BeeGees song ever, Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You. If you’ve heard of it, I’ll eat my hat (unless you happen to be the lead singer of the Chesterfield Kings, that is). Released in 1967 as the flip slide of the hit single Holiday, it was included on the album Bee Gee’s 1st. The album cover, designed by Klaus Voorman, is the height of freaky psychedelia. The lyrics are beyond bizarre; it’s obvious that the Brothers Gibb were ingesting some sort of hallucinatory agent (Oh solo Dominique…Don’t walk so tall – before you crawl – for every child – is thinking of something wild). It sounds like Marilyn Manson crawled into a time machine and emerged in the beating technicolor heart of the Swinging Sixties on Carnaby Street. Listen to it here.

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
Mayhap every Puritan could have been a Virgo; straight-laced, critical, detail-oriented to the degree of …um… obsession. Sarah Vowell breaks it all down for us in her new book The Wordy Shipmates. Marrying serious research to the zing of pop culture, Vowell opens the book with Reverend James Cotton’s sermon in 1630 to passengers about to set sail for the New World. She calls Cotton the smartest man in England and notes that ‘Getting him to bless the send-off would be like scoring Nelson Mandela to deliver the commencement address at the neighbor kid’s eighth grade graduation.’ You get the drift. Vowell, a social observer, is a regular contributor to Public Radio International’s This American Life. She has frequently appeared on The Daily Show, The Late Show with David Letterman, and Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

September 23 - October 22 Libra
Librans love beautiful jewelry, it’s a known and well documented fact. Get your religious groove on with SaintsforSinners, Rob Clemenz’ stunning, one-of-a-kind Saints serenity medals, imported from Italy and hand-painted in New Orleans. They come to you with a greeting card and beaded chain for wearing. Says Rob, ‘The stories are a little off beat but most are historically accurate, though I do tend to stray or stretch the facts a bit every now and then so I can try and reach as many folks as possible to provide serenity … for sharing!’ Rob even provides same day shipping in case you want to order one pronto for special Election Day blessings!

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
You eschew being pinned down and analyzed. Being a Scorpio, you’re intense, full of mysteries, and very very resourceful. It’s possible you already know that Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibi now has a blog, Taibi Unbound. And not a moment too soon. Taibi’s pen is – doubt me not – mightier than a sword –and woe betide ye if you’re the subject matter. To wit: ‘Not only is Sarah Palin a fraud, she’s the tawdriest, most half-assed fraud imaginable, 20 floors below the lowest common denominator, a character too dumb even for daytime TV — and this country is going to eat her up, cheering her every step of the way. All because most Americans no longer have the energy to do anything but lie back and allow ourselves to be jacked off by the calculating thieves who run this grasping consumer paradise we call a nation.’ This from his manifesto on Palin’s speech at the RNC, Mad Dog Palin. Taibi is my new favorite writer. Witness his first blog post: ‘… Blogger. What a horrible word. It has such an awful, dirty, biological sound to it. The words it reminds me of are words like felch, belch, bilge, log, globes and rubber. It sounds like belching log-rubber. And now I am one. I feel sick.‘ Thank you Rolling Stone for giving this man his very own bitching post on the world wide web.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
Sagittarians are wholeheartedly curious about everything and everyone. They seek adventure. They’re party animals. And they’re endlessly fascinated by old slang terms. Check out A Hepcat’s Guide to 50’s Slang Terms. Literally hours of fun. Funsville, I mean – according to this site, to qualify as slang of this particular era, most words can be padded out just by adding the phrase ‘ville’ to them – e.g. coolsville, deadsville, squaresville, weirdsville, etc. All the flat top cats and the dungaree dolls are headed to the gym for the sock hop ball (quoth Buddy Holly). There’s even a whole page here dedicated to just the slang used by Edd ‘Kookie’ Byrnes in 77 Sunset Strip. For instance: antsville – a place full of people; front burner – current crisis; and smog in the noggin’ – memory loss.

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
One of my favorite Capricorns, Harry Shearer, will be bringing his merry band, The High-Value Detainees, to Gotham City Saturday November 1st. The location is the 92nd Street Y-Tribeca at 200 Hudson Street and if you hurry you can still grab tix. Author, director, satirist, musician, radio host (the weekly Le Show which has been on the air for well over 20 years – on NPR, XM, and podcast), playwright, multi-media artist, record label owner, voice of many Simpsons characters, founding member of Spinal Tap, and channelmeister over at My Damn Channel – check out his ode to La Palin Bridge to Nowhere and the final item of his Silent Debates Series. And make sure you’re not drinking any liquids, because they might come out your nose while watching these vids. The tour will also take in Seattle (Dec. 2 and 3), LA (Dec 5 and 6), Evanston IL (Dec 11), Sellersville PA (Dec 16), and New Orleans (Dec 20).

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius

The bar of the week (the first of an intermittent series) is Puck Fair, a revisionist Irish pub located directly across from the Puck Building just south of Houston Street in lower Manhattan. Aquarians, at once intellectual and charismatic, will enjoy the very swinging atmosphere of this awesome watering hole. New York Magazine said ‘From above, Puck Fair’s sleek neo-rustica looks like the bar in The Shining somehow transported to Tolkien’s Middle Earth.’ Also, couldja ask for more, the ciders, ales, beers and stout are kept at the best possible temperatures for their delicate ingredients. The food rocks too; mini burgers, bangers and mash, fish and chips, etc.

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
You tend towards escapism and the current financial crisis has you burrowing under the covers hoping it’s all a bad dream. Alas, it’s not. But get on the good foot and investigate the Palace of Depression in Vineland, NJ. If nothing else you’ll be completely fascinated by the story of this bizarre castle built in 1932 by George Daynor. Daynor claimed to have struck gold in Alaska and then lost his entire fortune in the crash of 1929. Somehow he made his way to New Jersey and bought four acres for four dollars in Vineland, after which he built this structure from the ground up. It was destroyed by fire in the 1960’s but is now in the process of being rebuilt. Amazing photos of the original palace are here.

Corn and grain, corn and grain, All that falls shall rise again. ~ Wiccan Harvest Chant

A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently; there is a whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand presses the snib of the window, the latch rises. ~ J.M. Barrie

Just like a ghost you’ve been a-hauntin’ my dreams, so I’ll propose on Halloween. Love is kinda crazy with a spooky little girl like you. ~ Classics IV, Spooky (1968)

‘Tis now the very witching time of night, When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out Contagion to this world. ~ William Shakespeare

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click on this image to buy these amazing papier mache skulls!

March 21 - April 19 Aries

Aries people should find themselves in an extremely creative mood as All Hallows Eve approaches. Get yourself hopped up for Halloween by downloading the song Walking With a Ghost by Tegan & Sara, from their 2004 release So Jealous. You know you’re as likely to hear about music that’s four years old as four minutes or months old here on SDJ; my only criteria is that the song be amazing. Walking With a Ghost was later covered by the White Stripes because Jack White knows a hit when he hears one. Tegan & Sara, in case you don’t know, are diminutive singer-songwriter identical twin sisters from Calgary, Canada. Their most recent album, The Con, was released in July 2007 and a new one is planned for next year. Walking With a Ghost is perfect power pop, just over two and a half minutes in length, and the ethereal feeling of the song will haunt you. Boo!

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
You have a tendency to be indecisive, weighing all aspects carefully before making any decisions. Even when it’s something like – um – carving a jack-o’-lantern. This year you can create your bright orange masterpiece and at the same time declare for your Presidential candidate. Please visit and grab change by the stem. Today’s featured pumpkins include one reading VOTE (with the ‘O’ being the Obama symbol) and another one reading OOOBAMA! You can share your own Barack O’ Lantern by uploading a photo the site and perhaps win an iPod Nano; submit a Halloween themed Obama event; or watch this video and carve for change.

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
Your inner child is much closer to the surface than that of the other signs. Since this time of year is all about letting said inner child roam free, no matter what your age, I suggest you get in the mood by reading James Whitcomb Riley’s wonderful colloquial poem, Little Orphant Annie – aloud – and to a little person if possible. When I was a little girl, my grandfather used to read me this poem and make me both giggle with joy and gasp in horror. It’s about a servant who comes to work for a family and entertains the children with scary stories about goblins. Each verse has a moral tale to tell; a little boy who wouldn’t say his prayers gets snatched away; a little girl who makes fun of her elders is made to disappear. The final verse reiterates that kids should mind their parents and teachers and help those less fortunate, and it ends (as every stanza in the poem does):
‘Er the Gobble-uns ‘ll git you
Ef you

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
Cancer folks are homebodies; nothing is more enticing to you than a warm, comfortable evening at home. And speaking of homes, mayhap you missed this wonderful piece in The New York Times a few months ago about The Pumpkin House. The Pumpkin House resides just north of the George Washington Bridge at 186th Street and Chittenden Avenue in Manhattan. It’s a three story brick house perched on a cliff which is the highest point in New York City. The best view of the house can be seen on the Circle Line as it passes by on the Hudson River. The house was originally built in 1925 by Cleveland Walcutt – a full two years before construction even started on the GWB. The nickname of the house is due to the fact that the lighted windows make it look like a carved pumpkin, even more so the case at sunset.

July 23 - August 22 Leo
Leos are ambitious, warm-hearted, and idealistic. Dare I posit that you might be an occasional Martha Stewart viewer, n’est-ce pas? And by any chance did you happen to catch the visit of Noah Scalin to Ms. Stewart’s show, he of the marvelous Skull-A-Day website? It’s really worth watching, especially when Martha takes a bite of his skull-shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (Noah: “It’s better because it’s skull shaped”). I just never thought of Martha as a skull person, but perhaps that’s just me. Skull-A-Day was born when Noah decided in June 2007 to craft a skull a day for a year out of everything from rice to toy soldiers to toothpaste. Skull-A-Day’s 2.0 version welcomes submissions from readers and also sells skull puzzles, skull cubes, and a great book about the project. In addition you can now download two free Skullphabet fonts.

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
Your critical nature often intervenes when you’re trying to have fun, O Virgo. But because it’s the season of Ghouls and Goblins, it’s fine to let down thy hair and leap about madly. It’s the one time a year in your buttoned-up life you can do this and feel good about it! How about decorating the house in complete and utter Halloweenity? It’s not too late to visit Pushin Daises and place a rush order. Put the fun back in funeral with this totally sick site created by licensed funeral director Catherine, aka Cadaver Cat. “Being a funeral director and having some computer skills, I decided to merge the two together to create a fun, online store for funeral service professionals,” quoth Cat. Featured products include coffin earrings in blood red garnet, a hearse cookie cutter, a day of the dead skeleton garland, and an anatomically correct chocolate human heart. All ordered items will be immediately shipped in a coffin-shaped box.

September 23 - October 22 Libra
Librans are by nature gregarious creatures and hate to be alone. And on Halloween, depending on where you live, the little ‘uns are going to come a-knockin’. This year surprise them and their parents with vegan candy corn. Yes, seriously. The Urban Housewife has come up with a recipe for candy corn sans animal products, beeswax, and other icky stuff like high fructose corn syrup that’s in the regular store-bought kind. There’s just nothing that says Halloween more than bright orange and yellow candy corn. Our witch and wizard hats are off to The Urban Housewife who by her own admission is all about rock ‘n’ roll & a mixing bowl. Trick or treat!

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio

The word insatiable describes you to a T. You want to do everything and be everywhere. Scorpio, thy name is rapacious. And the blessed holiday of All Hallows Eve falls within your astrological sign. So too Dias de los Muertos – Day of the Dead. Celebrated mostly in Mexico, this holiday honors those who have passed from this life and are now in the next world. The ceremonies take place on November 1st and 2nd and date back to Aztec and Mayan times and even further back than those cultures. In some areas of the country, people honor their relatives by spending all night beside their graves. Traditional foods for the holiday include sugar skulls and an egg bread made to look like bones called pan de muerto.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
Sagittarians answer to no man (or woman). You’re the very picture of a free spirit. You even like scary movies, of which there are plenty opening these days. Go see Saw V, Quarantine, The Strangers. But when you come home at night with your honey and get all snuggly, imagine the look on his/her face when you romantically light these candles and, as they burn, appear to drip blood rather than wax. You know you have to order them. Now. For next weekend. Vite!

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
Workaholic, patient, driven, disciplined – you Capricorns are all these things and more. Hey, how about releasing your inner Sarah Palin this year for Halloween and dress up like Alaska’s favorite Moose-Hunting Hottie?  Or – go all blue collar and put together an outfit that could conjure up either Joe the Plumber or Joe Six-Pack (hey by the way, are they the same person? I haven’t been able to figure that out). You wouldn’t even have to buy a costume to turn yourself into Joe; just a t-shirt and jeans that show the crack of your ass when you stoop over to pick up some candy to put in your workpail. Carry a plunger to make it look even more authentic. Thanks, Senator McCain, for creating the easiest and cheapest Halloween costume ever!

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
Aquarians are creative, independent, and fascinated by crazy weird things. Well there’s no better place for you to be for this particular holiday than New Orleans. Parapsychologist Dr. Larry Montz calls the city “the most haunted city in America, per square inch, no doubt.” Read about some of the more haunted places in town here. Go on a haunted tour. Visit the voodoo shops in the French Quarter and buy amulets to protect yourself against evil spirits. Get yourself dolled up for The Queen of the Damned Ball on Friday Oct. 31 at Rosy’s Jazz Hall. Word has it that Lestat attends every year – in costume. There’s also the Krewe of Boo Parade, starting Halloween Night at around 6pm at Elysian Fields and Decatur. Read all about more NOLA festivities here. C’est si bon!

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
A true Piscean soul constantly battles between going towards the light or seeking the darkness. Well, find the darkest places listed here for your convenience at, a Haunted Places Directory. You can find a state-by-state listing of current paranormal activity, true life haunting stories, ghost hunting equipment, paranormal certification courses, and more. Plus you can buy the National Directory of Haunted Places or the International Directory of Haunted Places – there’s a discount if you want to pick both up. They also sell the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Ghosts and Hauntings. And hey – this website won the Paracelsus Award given by the Alchemy Guild. That’s good enough for me.

early morning thoughts and prayers….12 days to go until the day that changes all our lives forever. With grateful thanks to Woody Guthrie, a man who believed unequivocally in this country and its people. He fought all his life against intolerance and fascism and for every single person to have a voice and be counted. This Land Is Your Land was written in 1940 as a reaction to God Bless America by Irving Berlin.


This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

- (c) Woody Guthrie

RRC Extra No. 3

SOMETHING ABOUT YOU…When I was 15, I met the Four Tops on a downtown Detroit street, where they were doing a photo shoot with the Supremes. The group—especially Duke Fakir—were extraordinarily kind to a trio of white kids totally out of their element. I love the Four Tops for that, but I would have loved them anyway. They are the voice of adolescent angst and adult heartbreak, the pure, the absolute joy that humans can take in one another. Call them love songs –I’d say it was more like lifelines—but call them silly and you’ve branded yourself as a fool.

Phil Spector once said that “Bernadette” was a black man singing Bob Dylan. The name of that black man was Levi Stubbs. And for those of you who are Bruce Springsteen fans, go find the Tops greatest album, The Four Tops Second Album, and listen to “Love Feels Like Fire” and “Helpless,” two of my alltime Motown tracks (and they weren’t even singles). You’ll feel the same thing. Those crazed sax breaks are as close to free jazz as Motown ever let itself come, and they got away with it there solely because the Tops were such a perfect machine with the most powerful voice of its time at the fore. I could never figure out whether Levi was the toughest or the tenderest singer at Motown, so I finally accepted that he was both.

Yeah, a lot of the Tops is formula Holland Dozier Holland. Sometimes even I think it’s the Supremes when the intro to “It’s the Same Old Song” or “Something About You” comes on. So what? To begin with, HDH created the greatest formula in the history of rock and soul. Now: Go listen again to “Reach Out” and see if you can think of a Supremes record that could grab you in the gut that way. It’s the “Like a Rolling Stone” of soul—with a flute and hand percussion leading the way! The group always got Eddie Holland’s greatest lyrics (and he the most under-rated lyricist of the ‘60s) and that’s one.

They got those songs because Levi could sing the most impossible stuff. Any other soul singer I know would have insisted on editing. The great, long, image rich lines in “Bernadette” and “Ask the Lonely” were too long, that they needed more space to really sing. Not Levi. He charged into those words and wrestled everything out of them, and somehow, he sounded graceful as he did. “Loving you has made my life sweeter than ever” is so multisyllabic that they had to shorten it for the title: “Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever” fit the label better, I guess.

The Tops got away with that as a group because they knew how to work with such vocal intricacy. By the time they had their first Motown hit they’d already been together for ten years. Duke told me recently that their earlier sojourn at Columbia Records in the late ‘50s came after a brief appearance at the Apollo. The talent scout who signed them was John Hammond—the same guy who found Bob, Bruce, and Aretha. That’s the company the Four Tops, and Levi Stubbs, in particular belong in. Who else could turn “Walk Away Renee” into soul music? Who else could get away with “7 Rooms of Gloom” as a love song without a hint of irony, let alone comedy?

I will testify. Levi and the Tops were among the graces of my own soul. When I get nervous before an interview, I always remember how kind those guys were to that 15 year old kid, and I feel beyond harm. When I listen to “The Same Old Song,” I remember once again the sweetness of sour. “Bernadette” calls to my mind the futility of believing you’re in control, and how easy it is to confuse passion with obsession. “Reach Out” is simply as colossal an extravaganza as rock and soul music have ever produced, as monumental in its way as “Like a Rolling Stone.” The focal point of all that musical gingerbread and the mighty Funk Brothers is not the group—it’s one man, Levi Stubbs, pushed not to his limit but way past it. But there’s not a hint—not a second—where Levi Stubbs sounds like anything but a guy from down the street, across the way or in your mirror. Imagine a Pavarotti on the corner. There he is. All of it helped, somehow, make my own life possible.

This is no case of “Shake Me, Wake Me (When It’s Over).” Levi Stubbs was 72 years old. He hadn’t been in good health for several years. This isn’t Marvin Gaye or David Ruffin or Tammi Terrell. This is a man who made his full contribution to our culture, our lives. That doesn’t make it all that much easier to hear the word.

At the Tops’ golden anniversary show in Detroit several years ago, he sang from a wheelchair. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” his friend and attorney, Judy Tint, told me this afternoon.

Ain’t any in this house today, either.

–Dave Marsh

Reprinted With Permission

March 21 - April 19 Aries
Aries are always way ahead of the curve. They’re inventive folks with big dreams. Starting October 24 through January 7th, you can dream the night away at – of all places – the Guggenheim Museum. Yes, overnight. Like a hotel. How, you ask? You can stay in an art installation by Carsten Höller, the Revolving Hotel Room, which is part of the group show theanyspacewhatever. The Guggenheim invited ten contemporary artists to use the museum as a springboard for work that reaches beyond the visual arts into other disciplines such as architecture, design, and theater, engaging directly with the vicissitudes of everyday life to offer subtle moments of transformation (in case you’re wondering - I did not write that sentence; it comes from the Museum’s website). The Revolving Hotel Room consists of three glass discs which have been mounted onto a larger fourth disc, all turning harmoniously at a very slow speed. Overnight guests will be served a continental breakfast and will also enjoy regular hotel amenities such as a bathroom, robes, slippers, bath towels, and the like. You’ll also be able to spend the evening having the museum all to yourself. The price for this incredible experience is about in line with regular hotel costs in Manhattan these days. Call 212.360.4373 to make a reservation. See photo here.

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
Who knows how to make love stay? Tell love you are going to Junior’s Deli on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn to pick up a cheesecake, and if love stays, it can have half. It will stay.
Tom Robbins, Still Life With Woodpecker
If there’s one thing that speaks to the Taurean heart and soul (and arteries), it’s food. And let’s talk about cheesecake, of which there is no better place than Junior’s - absolutely the creamiest, most incredible cheesecake money can buy. The Deli was founded in 1950 by Harry Rosen and is still in its original location at the corner of Flatbush and DeKalb Avenues in Brooklyn. Now, however, you can also have the Junior’s experience at either one of their Manhattan locations – Grand Central or Times Square. And, if you’re not in New York City, you can have one of these suckers shipped in a special stay-fresh container. Go there. Have a slice. Or order online and have this amazing experience shipped to you. Believe me – love will stay.

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
Intellectual, multitasking Geminis will be fascinated by Norman Doidge’s book, The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science. Doidge, simultaneously a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, researcher, author, essayist and poet, is on the Research Faculty at the Columbia University School for Psychoanalytic Training and Research as well as the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. The book is about the very real science of neuroplasticity, which holds that the brain is a plastic, living organ that can actually change its own structure and function, no matter your age or health challenges. This book, written in layman’s terms, is a riveting collection of case studies in which the patients had long been dismissed as hopeless, making a case for the profound implications of the changing brain in a moving, inspiring book that will permanently alter the way you look at human possibility and human nature. There’s a lot to be depressed about in the age we currently live in; this book will both give you hope and will amaze and delight you.

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
Columbus Circle, the beating heart of New York City, is now the brand spankin’ new home to the Museum of Arts and Design, which opened just two weeks ago looking over Central Park. Cancerians have a special penchant for interesting, beautiful items and you’ll certainly find that sort of thing here. The Museum of Arts and Design (formerly the American Craft Museum in west midtown) has been the country’s premier craft institution for well over 50 years, dedicated to the collection and exhibition of contemporary objects created in media such as clay, glass, wood, metal, and fiber. Even the design of this incredible new space uses materials that express the Museum’s craft tradition, with a new façade that features textured terracotta panels and transparent fritted glass. The original Museum grew out of the American Craftsmen’s Council, established in 1942 by Aileen Osborn Webb, the nation’s premier craft patron and benefactor. The Council’s original goal was to recognize the work of American craftspeople and to raise awareness of the vitality that contemporary craft expression could bring to an age of machine-made products. The Museum places a unique emphasis on the essentials that link all of the creative arts: materials, techniques, and the artist’s engagement with process. Continuing to honor Webb’s vision through its collections, exhibitions and educational programs, the Museum of Arts and Design encourages awareness and appreciation of art, craft and design in daily life.

July 23 - August 22 Leo
Although Leos are known for being magnanimous and warm-hearted, they also have a streak of the arrogant and bombastic about them. Could be time to take yourself down a notch. I know it sounds trite, but laughter really is the best medicine. Heidi Heyns of Laughing Tree Lightness and Levity Coaching wonders if we could all put ‘laugh at least 20 times today’ on our daily to-do list and actually accomplish it. She insists we would experience fewer headaches, less pain, more relaxation, more joy, and better health. I know, I know – the stock market, health care, the election, terrorism – all real and consistent concerns. But if Heidi, who works in New Orleans, can help eliminate stress and sadness there, she’s certainly more than capable of helping to heal the world with laughter. Bring her in to your office to raise levels of innovation and creativity immediately because laughter in the workplace can unite a team like nothing else. Hire her as a Laughter Yoga Coach. Did you know laughter is an all-brain activity? Heidi says, when you get rolling with a good laugh … it engages a strong connection between the Left/Logic side with the Right/Creative side. It also helps improve the tensile strength of your arteries. Better heart health and respiratory health can be found through laughter! Read about Laughter Yoga. And I dare you not to laugh when you see this video of the laughing quadruplets on YouTube.

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
Our Virgo of the week is the Most Awesomest, Most Amazing Joan Jett, born September 22, 1958 in the suburbs of Philadelphia. For no other reason than that she’s been on my list forever to write about and it’s finally time. Her career is too extensive to do more than gloss over here, but she moved to L.A. at 15 and was one of the original members of The Runaways, probably the most important punk girl group of all time – seeding the riot grrl movement of the early 1990’s. She’s a veritable force in pop culture, an originator, innovator, leader, visionary. She’s a singer (a mezzo-soprano actually), a songwriter (of countless hit records), a producer, one of only two women to be listed in Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitar Players of All Time, eco-warrior, fervent supporter of the soldiers protecting our freedom all over the world, and label owner and cool new band discoverer (Blackheart Records). No one kicks ass and takes names like Joan Jett. No one.

September 23 - October 22 Libra
Alaska Day is coming up this weekend, a true Libran holiday! The state holiday celebrates the formal transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States, originally taking place on October 18, 1867 at Fort Sitka. And we all know how close Russia is to Alaska, doggone it! The theme of this year’s celebration is 140 Years of Sitka Newspapers to call attention to the role of early newspapers in Sitka’s economic and cultural history. Schedule of events here for this year’s festivities, which span the entire week from October 13 to 19. It’s a little late in the day to get out there for this but the Totem Square Inn has a 20% off rate for Alaska Day Week. The Alaska Day Festival, Inc., was formed as a non-profit organization in 1954, in order to perpetuate the annual celebration of October 18th as Alaska’s birthday. The day has rapidly grown from a local celebration to a widely renowned occasion and each successive year attracts more guests from all parts of Alaska and the lower 48. And here’s the best part: by proclamation of the mayor, all males are urged to grow beards and all women to dress in the styles of 1867 for the festival period. I may have to add this to my calendar for next year. North to the Future!

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
Casa La Celada is a privately owned Guest House, Bed & Breakfast, and Villa available for rent nestled in the foothills of Southern Spain’s spectacular Sierra Subbética Mountains. In addition to a roof terrace with a jacuzzi hot tub and 360 degree views that will blow your mind, CLC is a beautiful destination that is perfect for touring local treasures like the nearby white villages to Granada’s Alhambra Palace. Special Offers for Writers and Artists are available. This paradise on earth is overseen by Artist and Designer Amanda Hamilton, who in addition to creating her own wonderful art also writes the Living the Dream in Spain blog. Even the compulsive, forceful Scorpio would have to relax in this environment.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
In 1957, a duo named Tom & Jerry from Forest Hills, Queens released a record called Hey, Schoolgirl. They originally met in elementary school when both were in the cast of their school production of Alice in Wonderland. A few years later in 1965 they reinvented themselves as Simon and Garfunkel, using their own last names, and had a huge hit single, The Sound of Silence, which received a massive audience in the soundtrack of The Graduate. You probably know a bit about them, their incredible harmonies, their love-hate relationship, their public split up and their reunions. But what you probably don’t know is that their first three albums are absolutely incredible. Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. was released in 1964 and contains spirituals, traditional songs, a Dylan cover, and a couple of Paul Simon originals. Their voices are young, joyous, hopeful and fresh as the vibe of this country back in 1964. Sounds of Silence came out in 1966 and the recording band consisted of Simon, Garfunkel, Glen Campbell on guitar, and the legendary Hal Blaine on drums. This stunning album included Homeward Bound, Richard Cory, I Am A Rock. Later that same year, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme was released and if you’re going to only buy one of these masterpieces make it this one. Between The Dangling Conversation (”Like a poem poorly written, we are verses out of rhythm, couplets out of rhyme, in syncopated time”) and A Simple Desultory Philippic (or How I was Robert MacNamara’d Into Submission) (”I been Norman Mailered, Maxwell Taylored; I been John O’Hara’d, McNamara’d; I been Rolling Stoned and Beatled till I’m blind; I been Ayn Randed, nearly branded a Communist, ’cause I’m left-handed; That’s the hand I use, well, never mind”) you can’t go wrong. Intellectual, philosophical Sagittarians will really dig that song - and so will the rest of you.

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
As a Capricorn, you’re practical and disciplined, but also can fall under the spell of a classic chocolate buttercream like the rest of us. This item might have worked in last week’s L.A. column but See’s Candies sell worldwide as well through their website. Charles See opened the first See’s Candies Shop and Kitchen on Western Avenue in Los Angeles in November of 1921. The sparkling clean, black and white shop was designed to resemble his mother’s home kitchen. See’s expanded to 12 shops in Los Angeles by the mid-1920’s and thirty shops during the depression. By 1936, See’s was able to expand to San Francisco. After World War II, See’s Candy Shops grew as California grew, and the See’s family opened up shops throughout the state. In the 50’s, See’s established itself with the new and growing phenomenon of shopping malls. Though in 1972 See’s was sold to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Buffett made sure that Charles See’s motto, Quality Without Compromise® continues to guide the company to this day. They sell all kinds of great stuff, but the milk chocolate vanilla buttercreams are pure poetry. As the site says: Filled with a nearly perfect concoction of vanilla, butter, and cream, these candies have a habit of sneaking into your consciousness at odd hours. They beckon you to find the box that holds them, pick one out, and bite down into its luscious softness.

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
Free-thinking, humanitarian Aquarians will dig the IndieBound website, which takes the place today of our independent bookstore of the week. Find yourself an indie bookstore by entering your zipcode here. The site is all about supporting independent bookstores and other businesses, and celebrating what makes them unique – reaching out, raising awareness, and taking pride in your community. Did you know that when you spend $100 at a local business, $68 remains in your community whereas that same $100 at a national chain will only net your local area $43? Literally hundreds of independent bookstores and other businesses are listed here and you can add your own store, or add a favorite indie retailer in your neighborhood to the site with a couple of clicks. Brilliant idea and the perfect use of the world wide web; to make us a global village who support one another. Declare your independence here.

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
Pisces, never known particularly for thinking positive, I have an idea for you. For the days leading up to Election Day, yoga teacher Amy Lombardo has organized a 40 Day Meditation for anyone and everyone who wants to hold a positive intention for the successful election of Obama to the Presidency of the United States. If you sign up here she will email you a daily intention with a link to a “Call to Action” podcast each morning. Even if you miss the beginning of the meditation, you can join it at anytime through this link. All the previous days’ podcasts are listed on her site and can be accessed any time. Today’s intention; honor your rhythm and find a way to get more actively involved in the campaign.


Well, doggone it, the shee-it has finally hit the fan. Little Miss Trustworthy, AKA The Spitfire from Seward’s Folly, is now the subject of a report by an Alaska legislative panel regarding the dismissal of Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan. Monegan told the panel that he was fired because he refused to dismiss Palin’s ex-brother-in-law, state trooper Mike Wooten, after undue pressure from Mr. Sarah Palin and Palin’s staff.

This news hit the wires last night around 8pm Eastern time and has the potential to be a real gamechanger in the final days before Americans cast their ballots for President of the United States. The bipartisan panel (10 Republicans, 4 Democrats) stated in no uncertain terms that Palin abused her power as governor in the Monegan situation. She was found to be in violation of a state ethics law against officials using a public office for personal gain.

Let me state for the record that the dismissal of Monegan was not the problem; it was that Palin violated a statute of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act by having her husband become a veritable attack dog using her office and her advisors in trying to have Wooten fired. Monegan reported that he was contacted 36 times in this regard over a period of 19 months.

Dear Readers, I thought I was pretty much done with the Palinisms and was ready to move on with my life, but this news just - shall we say - tickled my fancy to the extent that I had to weigh in on it. I mean, here’s the GOP’s VP Candidate telling crowds that Obama is consorting with terrorists and inferring that he is unpatriotic and un-American. And meanwhile she’s got a scandal brewing that sets all that trumped-up malarkey to shame for good and all. You betcha!

Now on the subject of McPain; who among us didn’t wince during last week’s debate as he doddered around the perimeter of the stage like a - forgive me - crazy old man? I mean do you seriously want this guy to be in charge? This guy hired for the most difficult job in the world? And, ouch, what was that weird moment where he lashed out at Tom Brokaw in that snide way he has, “Not you, Tom.”

McShame and his aide-de-camp La Barracuda have knowingly fanned the fires of racism, hate, and violence with their negative campaigning and attack ads. Rather than campaign on the issues - which they can’t do - they sling the mud over and over again and imply that Obama is both a Washington insider elite Harvard type argula-eater and also an outsider, as un-American as it is possible to be. Plus his skin is black. Oh the horror!

At a rally last night, McCain actually was forced in the position of having to defend Obama as someone Americans do not need to be frightened of when a man stood up and said he was afraid for the life of his unborn child if the Illinois Democrat became President. At the same rally, a woman in the audience told him that Obama was an Arab, and McCain actually took the mike away from her and said this was not true, that Senator Obama is a decent, family man with whom he disagrees on many fundamental issues.

This is rich! McFeign and Que Sera, Sarah created this atmosphere and now McCain, at least, is backing off because he suddenly seems to realize that it’s about to blow up in his face. Rile up unhappy broke people at your peril, sir. They’re looking for anyone to blame. And they’ve been shouting heinous epithets like ‘Kill him!’ and ‘He’s a terrorist!‘ at rallies this entire week. Thanks to you and your nefarious McCampaign.

Yes, Senator John Sidney McCain III, we do need a steady hand at the tiller. But yours is most definitely not steady. And Palin’s hand should be nowhere near the tiller. God only knows in which direction she would steer the boat.


More Palinizations from Snoop* Du Jour:

Post-Debate Palintological Observations (10.6.08)

In Hartford, Hereford, and Hampshire, Hurricanes Hardly Happen (10.1.08)

There’s No Place Like Nome…There’s No Place Like Nome (9.28.08)

Welcome to the Palindrome (9.24.08)

Que Sera, Sarah? (9.19.08)

Baked Alaska (Ruminations on McPalin) (9.15.08)

This week’s column is a special all-L.A. edition; enjoy!

Los Angeles is just New York lying down - Quentin Crisp

Los Angeles is a large city-like area surrounding the Beverly Hills Hotel - Fran Liebowitz

Los Angeles is 72 suburbs in search of a city - Dorothy Parker

March 21 - April 19 Aries
Aries loves elegance and beauty and to see and be seen. Therefore I suggest you hightail it over to The Blvd at The Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, located at 9500 Wilshire Boulevard in the luxurious & opulent heart of Beverly Hills - directly across the street from the shops on Rodeo Drive. This hotel, built in 1928, is a classic L.A. landmark in the Italian Renaissance style of architecture, and seethes with celebrities on a daily basis. A number of movies have been filmed there, including Pretty Woman and Clueless. HBO’s series Entourage frequently uses it as a location. Join the media power brokers at The Blvd where you can order up a vodka gimlet, a martini, or whatever tickles your fancy while glimpsing anyone from Mick Jagger to Warren Buffet on the next barstool. They also feature a great menu of everything from Kobe beef burgers to prime rib-eye steaks. And it feels like Old Hollywood reborn into the Age of New Media.

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
Taurus loves up that comfort food and nothing is more comforting than good ol’ cheeseburgers and apple pie. And that in fact is just about all you can get at the Apple Pan at 10801 W. Pico Blvd. Dating back to 1947, this place is no frills. It’s basically just a circular counter where patrons sit and order. The hickory burger is the house specialty. At lunchtime the line snakes around the perimeter of the room and out the door. This is a classic diner and the service is brusque and businesslike. It’s probably the cheapest meal you can find in Los Angeles County. And definitely order the Apple Pie (with vanilla ice cream) which is baked on the premises. To quote the Los Angeles Times, In the shadow of the Westside Pavilion in West L.A. stands a tiny building that houses a world. People come there for burgers and pie, and they keep coming back because something about the place is magnetic. They can’t stay away.

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
Geminis are passionate for obscure, offbeat places and facts. Your destination, should you be anywhere near the zip code of 90024 this weekend, should be the Raymond Chandler Los Angeles (Vroman’s Edition) Bus Tour this Saturday October 11th. This journey is served up by the fantastic folks of the Esotouric Bus Company, whose tagline is Bus Adventures into the secret heart of LAEsotouric Tours veer off into fascinating, neglected neighborhoods with tour guides who are passionate, brainy and hilarious. Trip themes are provocative and complex, with a mix of crime and social history, rock and roll and architecture, literature and film, fine art and urban studies etcetera etcetera. Even the snack stops are unique: a Chinese dumpling picnic in a garden of concrete sea monsters, homemade mint lemonade and cookies at the site of the first UFO sighting in the Southland, or Black Dahlia and Nicotine flavored gelato at Scoops in East Hollywood. The Raymond Chandler Tour leaves from Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena on Saturday at noon. Call them to reserve seats - 626-449-5320. The tour will be four hours long with a gelato stop at Scoop’s. Let’s quote Raymond Chandler, because you won’t be driving: Alcohol is like love. The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl’s clothes off.

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
If you’re sentimental, a lover of fine things, and beautifully handmade items thrill you - you must be the moonchild of the Zodiac. And you would walk into Jack Taylor’s men’s apparel store at 341 North Camden Drive in Beverly Hills (310-274-7276) and feel right at home. There was a time when men were men and movie stars were glamorous. That’s the era when Jack Taylor made suits for the likes of the Rat Pack, Cary Grant, Jan Murray, Jackie Gleason, the Duke of Windsor, President Truman, Mike Douglas, Monty Hall, Danny Thomas, Charles Bronson, even Elvis Presley. Frank Sinatra was buried in one of his suits. Many actors of the day actually put it into their studio contracts that they wear his suits in their films. Mr. Taylor, now 90 years old and still working every day in his shop, is the subject of a beautifully made documentary Jack Taylor of Beverly Hills (stitched together as meticulously as his clothing) by Cecile Leroy Beaulieu which recently aired on the Sundance Channel. Lisa Eisner and Roman Alonso wrote in the New York Times: What does <actor> Jason Schwartzman like about Jack Taylor? ”Jack is like a shaman with big, thick glasses,” he says. ”You go in for an hour, you spend 10 minutes on your suit, and the other 50 you get to hear old stories about guys you admire.”

July 23 - August 22 Leo
The sophisticated, charming, and chic Leo will heartily enjoy a trip to the world famous Musso & Frank Grill at 6667 Hollywood Boulevard. This landmark harkens all the way back to 1919 and is the oldest restaurant in Hollywood (and remains to this day unremodeled, amen and hallelujah). Named for the original owners Joseph Musso and Frank Toulet, it was the hangout of folks like Raymond Chandler, William Saroyan, Dorothy Parker, Dashiell Hammet, Charles Bukowski, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. There is a story told that Chaplin, Valentino, and Douglas Fairbanks challenged each other to a race down Hollywood Blvd. on horseback and the loser picked up their dinner tab here that night. They are known far and wide for their martinis. The food is beyond beyond. You’ll remember this place the rest of your life (Thanks to Barbara for taking me here - next time’s on me).

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
Productive, resourceful, level-headed Virgos will enjoy a visit to the Margaret Herrick Library at the Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study. This building houses one of the world’s most extensive and comprehensive research collections on the subject of motion pictures and is supported through the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Foundation. The collection includes literally thousands of books, magazines, screenplays, clipping files, posters, lobby cards, pressbooks - over 10 million photographs - over a thousand manuscripts and other special collections relating to prominent industry individuals, studios and organizations. All this in addition to sheet music, music scores and sound recordings; production and costume sketches; artifacts; and oral histories. The Research Library, which was founded in 1928 and later named the Margaret Herrick Library after a former Academy librarian and long-time executive director, maintains a world-renowned, non-circulating reference and research collection devoted to the history and development of motion pictures as both an art form and an industry. It is believed to be one of the most complete collections of film-related materials ever assembled.

September 23 - October 22 Libra
Do you know a Libra who doesn’t either adore music or make music themselves? I personally don’t. Libran musicians include John Lennon, Ray Charles, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, and George Gershwin. I urge you to check out the LA-based indie label 2 Minutes 59 Records (00:02:59). Helmed by owner Abe Bradshaw (previously with Sanctuary, BMG, and RCA), this label (now almost four years old) is home to Willie Nile, Scott Kempner, Christopher Denny, Matthew Ryan, and more. New releases include the highly anticipated debut from Dana Falconberry, Oh Skies of Grey (the Austin Chronicle calls her voice a study in paradox: delicately soft yet powerfully dynamic, warmly inviting yet brazenly defiant, emotive yet wise beyond her years). The new Scott Kempner (ex-Dictators and Del-Lords) release Saving Grace is his first solo album in 16 years. I’ve finally found the follow up to the last Del-Lords album (from 1990), Lovers Who Wander! Kempner formed that band in 1984 and they were a kickass amalgam of 60’s garage with Americana country, blues and folk. Kempner had envisioned a band with four lead singers, similar to The Kinks, The Who, and The Beatles. Saving Grace is fantastic and Kempner’s voice has never sounded better. Check out the song Heartbeat of Time which features a duet with Dion.

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
Scorpio, you daring, adventurous nutcase you. You like to visit places out of the ordinary and thrive on the unusual. I know you’ll dig (pardon the expression) a visit to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, the Resting Place of Hollywood’s Immortals. One of the city’s most fascinating landmarks, this is the final residence for more of Hollywood’s founders and stars than anywhere else on earth. Founded in 1899, the cemetery was an integral part of the growth of early Hollywood. Paramount Studios was built on the back half of the original Hollywood Cemetery, where the studio is still in operation today. Visitors come from all over the world to pay their respects to Cecil B. DeMille, Jayne Mansfield, Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, and hundreds more. This place is unique not just because of the many famous people interred here, but also because they offer services available at no other cemetery in the world - like live worldwide webcasts from the Funeral Chapel and LifeStory Tribute Kiosks. Hollywood Forever Cemetery is located at 6000 Santa Monica Boulevard. Walking tours are available.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
You Sagittarians tend to obsess over your health and wellbeing. Satisfy both your urge for organic food and your love of good coffee at the Urth Caffe, which was established in 1989 as the first exclusively organic coffee company in America. Now they have three fabulous locations - West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica. They feature all organic specialty coffees, teas, and exquisite fresh-baked desserts in a terrific earthy-crunchy atmosphere. You can also enjoy a wide selection of healthy entrees, soups, organic salads, and sandwiches. The desserts range from the most decadent to low fat and also vegan selections. The LA Times deemed their Caffe Latte the Best in all LA; LA Magazine called them the #1 Coffee Restaurant in town. The last word comes from No visitor to Los Angeles should miss Urth Caffe. Seriously - if you have to skip Disneyland, skip the Walk of Fame, but don’t skip the Urth Caffe.

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
Capricorn lives for vintage collectibles, antiques, estate jewelry, the sort of classic style that is always in fashion. You will absolutely love Ralph Hancock’s 1949 book Fabulous Boulevard, long out of print, but still available through the magic of the internet and not at all difficult to locate. The Boulevard referred to in the title is Wilshire Boulevard, named after outspoken socialist, publisher and land developer Henry Gaylord Wilshire. Wilshire donated the land that is now the boulevard that bears his name to the city of Los Angeles. Alas, he died destitute in 1927 after a lifetime of gaining and losing vast fortunes. The book also takes a look at Los Angeles history dating back to the Triassic period (that would be 230 million years ago, give or take a few years).

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
It should come as no surprise to any of us that Paris Hilton is an Aquarius, being born on February 17, 1981. Unpredictable, adventurous, independent, eccentric, a love for fame - these are all traits of the Aquarians among us. Yes, it’s another sign of the decline of Western civilization, bitches - the premiere of Paris Hilton’s My New BFF occurred September 30 on MTV. But don’t worry if you were too busy with the financial tsunami currently enveloping our country and the world to miss it, MTV will probably run that shit right into the ground with oodles of repeats all week long. Here’s the deal - it’s the usual reality show scenario of a gang of hot bods (in this case, 16 girls and 2 boys) living together in a gorgeous mansion. The first week they all received gift bags with pink blackberrys through which Paris sends them text messages and challenge instructions (they’re told not to text her back). During the premiere, they were all individually interrogated in a scene right out of the Hanoi Hilton - blindfolds, one hanging white light - while Paris and her boyfriend watched without their knowledge. They were asked things like Why should you be Paris’ new best friend? and Would you die for Paris? (by the way, the correct answer to that last question was yes, in case you were wondering). Make sure you have an empty stomach and watch the trailer here.

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
Our independent bookstore of the week has been specially picked for Pisces people, who have a penchant for Eastern philosophy, yoga, and the metaphysical. Located on Melrose Avenue a stone’s throw from the Urth Caffe in West Hollywood, The Bodhi Tree bookstore got its start in 1970 when the neighborhood was a very different place than it is now. The Bodhi Tree was founded by three aerospace engineers who left their careers to merge their mutual passion for books, metaphysics and mysticism into a bookstore. The store is now one of the best known and busiest philosophical bookstores in the Los Angeles area, featuring an extensive selection of books dealing with spiritual wisdom and knowledge. They also have a fascinating event schedule with everything from readings to workshops to lectures. Namaste.

Sarah Palin sings a lament to a bridge she’s had a love-hate relationship with, in a tone of latter-day exotica. Brought to you by the good folks at

Palin: Bridge to Nowhere

Sarah Palin and Joe Biden VP Debate

The VP Debate is over ~ the bells have chimed. And Lady Miss Sarah may now be possibly reprising the famous Ascot scene in My Fair Lady, after Eliza has been made over into an acceptably trained high society babe and allowed to mingle with the privileged class. Am I the only one who pictures Palin stamping a red high heel and yelling at her maverick principal, “Come on, McCain, move yer bloomin’ arse!”

Ah yes, the debate. Talk about must-see TV. Yes, she was bubbly, charming, engaging. She was the girl next door, she was the mom you sit next to at the hockey game, the mom who became the mayor, then the governor. Yet still just folks. Don’t forget, she and Todd have been in the middle class of America all of their lives – they know what it’s like to not have health insurance and also what it’s like to sit around a kitchen table.

The debate opened with both vice presidential candidates coming out of the wings and shaking hands, during which Palin revealed a frisson of nervousness while greeting Joe Biden amicably, “Nice to meet you. Hey, can I call you Joe?” - simultaneously melting Republican hearts while attempting to dismiss and demean him. Totally scripted I’m sure, and completely brilliant. Let’s face it – they’re not exactly on a level playing field.

Was she cute? Yes. Was she funny? Yes. Was she perky? Yes. Was she friendly? Yes. Was she the person you want anywhere near the Nuclear Football? Gosh darn it – NO. Such is the stuff of nightmares.

Palin was a-bursting with platitudes and grand oversimplifications. If a question didn’t tickle her fancy, well, doggone it, she was just going to gloss right over it and go right back to the topic of energy. Because her state, Alaska, is an energy-producing state that snarky East Coast politicians want to legislate those silly regulations all over in order to preserve the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Don’t forget, Joe Biden, the chant is “drill, baby, drill.”

I was profoundly depressed at first by the debate. I thought she did very well and she spoke in the obtuse and simplistic terms that (forgive me) Joe Six-Pack understands. But she had no substance, skirted hard questions, and blatantly refused to answer questions about things she knew nothing about, instead stubbornly sticking with her talking points and dissing Gwen Ifill. Sure, she gets an A for effort. For someone who went from a veritable cameo on Northern Exposure to a Vice Presidential debate in front of roughly 70 million people, she was phenomenal.

But you know what? I believe Mr. Six-Pack is a lot smarter and well informed than he was four years ago. Even though he may be a registered Republican, his son or daughter might be serving in Iraq and he has no idea when – or if – they will return home. He might now have had his job downsized and/or disappeared, had his pension cut drastically, or lost his home – or all of the above. He might have been bankrupted by health care costs that weren’t covered by his insurance.

The world is simply not the same as it was the last time delusional thinking folks like Mr. Six-Pack elected George Bush to a second term. People are smarter now and they have seen the little man with the Texas accent behind the curtain. And they’re sick and tired of living this way. They need change, real change – not the empty promises and banal clichés of these two so-called mavericks. Maverick my white ass ~

By the way, I’d like to tell you what the official definition of the word maverick actually is, according to the dictionary:

  1. An unbranded range animal, especially a calf that has become separated from its mother, traditionally considered the property of the first person who brands it. [Possibly after Samuel Augustus Maverick (1803-1870), an American cattleman who left the calves in his herd unbranded.]
  2. One that refuses to abide by the dictates of or resists adherence to a group; a dissenter.

I would like to plead the Fifth Amendment on the grounds that the first definition of maverick might tend to incriminate me with hysterical laughter. Um, perhaps not the best choice of words after all?

As for McCain, he both looks and acts like a character in Grumpy Old Men, sans the irascible lovableness of Walter Matthau. You can practically smell his panic as he realizes the presidency is falling from his grip. During interviews and speeches it is obvious he has to remember to smile while delivering his message. He doesn’t want to – but knows he has to. Totally creepy. Palin is his savior, his angel, his rescuer. He probably has a shrine to her in one (or all) of his eight houses.

Let’s hope that McMaverick has the guts to look at Obama at the next Presidential debate. It would seem to me that a man who lived in the Hanoi Hilton for five and a half years and was subjected to unimaginable torture by his captors, a man who is the descendent of a father and grandfather who were both admirals and in the top echelon of the military, a man who is a decorated war hero, would have the courage to greet his opponent like a man and look him in the eye.

Maybe Palin should debate Obama tomorrow night instead of McBlame. She’s Miss Congeniality, Miss Personality, and she knows how to work the camera in a way that McSame does not – and, let’s face it, probably never will at his age. She couldn’t be more dissimilar from the unfriendly cold stiffness of McCain, who’s body language at the First Presidential Debate was similar to that of a spoiled child not getting his way.

Charles Dickens has the final word on the state of the election, the state of the country, and the state of the world: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way.”

O Best Beloved, I am too jammed right now with work to write the horoscoop* for this weekend; but rest assured I have plenty to share with you and next weekend’s column will be magnificent. that, my friends, is a promise!

in the meantime, may i refer you to:

this site was made by some folks i know to channel their energy about the upcoming election.
if you like it, please spread the word!
do it for the polar bears!

à bientôt!