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O Best Beloved, our first anniversary actually was on March 14 but I was otherwise occupied during the ides of March - therefore this weekend I am celebrating with the first ever Best Of column! Here’s some zodiac nuggets you might have missed the first time around.

March 21 - April 19 Aries
It’s that Aries time of year ~ birthday time, Ram people! It’s also time for Passover and Easter. Well, fellow Hebrews; I have a question for you. Have you believed for lo these many years that because you’re of the Jewish persuasion you’re totally unable to get your religious groove on with rosary beads? Thanks to Brooklyn designer and Nice Jewish Girl Carlen Altman, may I assure you that is no longer the case. Altman makes these mitzvah beads by hand and offers a variety of styles, even providing a glow in the dark option for the more adventurous amongst us. Such a bargain! Good Yom Tov!

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
During the Taurus transit in 1967, May 1 to be exact, was the date of Elvis Presley’s wedding to his long time girlfriend Priscilla Beaulieu. And thanks to Mattel (they’re swell) you can now purchase a set of Elvis & Priscilla wedding day Barbies, dressed in tiny replicas of their wedding attire, though the Priscilla doll could use a lot more eye makeup and her bouffant hairdo isn’t as frozen in place as the real Mrs. P’s was that day. The packaging also contains a sticker reading Direct from Graceland. I don’t know about you, but this is one of those times where I just say – I don’t care what I have to do without; I gotta have this item. Then there’s the added bonus that though the real-life Elvis-Priscilla union only lasted 5 years, your dolls will live forever in the first romantic blush of their wedding day.

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
I’m going to just come out and say it and I know there is at least one Gemini or two out there that will understand. I am a pen fetishist. There - I said it - and I am not ashamed. A good pen is everything to me. And I recently discovered one that is as close to perfect as they get; it glides over the page; it seems to encourage my recalcitrant hand to write more and better. That would be the Uniball Bold 0.8mm Vision Elite. I recently bought a pack of them at Staples and I’ve been hoarding them like a miser - when someone asks to borrow a pen, it’s not this one that I give out in case I don’t get it back. Declarative statement on the package: won’t leak in flight.

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
The novel Whistle Down the Wind was published in 1958 by Mary Hayley Bell, wife of actor John Mills and the mother of actresses Juliet and Hayley Mills. The story was made into a movie in 1961 starring Hayley as a young farm girl who finds an escaped convict (sexily played by Alan Bates) sleeping in the family’s barn and believes him to be Jesus Christ. She and her brothers and sisters attempt to keep him a secret from the grownups so they don’t find him and crucify him again. The book is stunning, spare, and haunting. The film will break your heart. Apparently it’s now been Andrew Lloyd Weberized into a Broadway musical set in the American South but I urge you to check out the original book and film. What can I say, Moonchild? Your overemotional, moody side will truly dig Mary Hayley Bell’s sweet masterpiece.

July 23 - August 22 Leo
If there’s one thing that Leos go ga-ga over, it’s rare 50’s and 60’s movies and TV shows. Aren’t you lucky - The Video Beat! is just about the most fun you can have with your clothes on. This web site specializes in the aforementioned. To quote them: When you order from The VIDEO BEAT! you’re not just gettin’ a hard to find movie, you’re gettin’ a full evening’s worth of high-cultured, jet-propelled rock and roll entertainment 100% guaranteed to make you the host with the most! Crazy man! Check out LSD: Insight or Insanity from 1966 or Marijuana - Sonny Bono’s anti-drug film from 1968 which he hosts wearing what looks like gold lame pajamas. I think we all need to see the 1968 TV Special Noel Harrison is Where The Girls Are. Guests include The Byrds, the Association, Cher, Don Adams, Professor Irwin Corey, and Rob Reiner. Highlights: a comedy skit about Transcendental Meditation; Noel Harrison visiting Sunset Strip nightspots like the Haunted House. They just don’t make television like this anymore.

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
So don’t say I never told you anything, Virgo boys and girls. Here’s the coolest most awesome gift idea of all time, brought to you by……the U.S. Post Office. Say what?!?! Seriously, you can upload a photo and make your own personalized stamps. Perfect for holiday cards, or gifts! Talk about branding for your company. Talk about an awesome way to send thank you cards for wedding presents. Talk about a unique way to send out new baby announcements. The possibilities are truly endless. You can buy them in seven different postage denominations ranging from postcards to package rate stamps. You can even buy them in production rolls of up to 10,000 stamps for large mailings. I think this is the greatest idea ever, and I’d love to know who thought it up over there at the U.S. Postal Service, because I would love to send them a handwritten thank you note with a Snoop* du Jour photo stamp.

September 23 - October 22 Libra
Let’s talk about one of our favorite Libras, John Winston Ono Lennon. Back in 1969, 14 year old Beatle fan Jerry Levitan interviewed John in the hotel room in Toronto that he and Yoko stayed in during one of their Bed-Ins for Peace. Now, 38 years later, Levitan has produced a short film about this encounter which he calls I Met the Walrus, during which he interviewed John about peace and non-violence. Using the original interview recording as the soundtrack, director Josh Raskin presents a visual element in which Lennon’s words are beautifully illustrated by Alex Kurina and James Braithwaite. It will take your breath away.

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
Yes, we’re in a recession. Yes, money is scarce. But if you have it, now is the time to travel because they’re practically giving away plane tickets these days in a frenzy to get you to buy them. And I’ve got just the destination for you passionate, obsessive Scorpios:  Consider a trip to Barcelona, one of the finest cities on this planet of ours. And while there you must not miss anything designed by Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926). His eccentric, warped, neo-psychedelic Gothic style is unique and years before its time. He’s known as the leader of the Art Nouveau moment in Spain, but that doesn’t even come close to describing what his work is like. He designed a park and sculpture garden (La Parc Guell) along with several buildings, and the redoubtable La Sagrada Familia cathedral. See them all and marvel at this man’s twisted, innovative genius.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
Sagittarians know from crazy crazy love. Therefore this week’s download is targeted to our self-indulgent, sociable, flirtatious centaur friends. The song is Bernadette by the Four Tops and is a testament to complete and utter jealousy and obsession. This 1967 Motown hit was produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland and recorded at Hitsville USA. The stellar lead vocal is of course by the unbelievable Levi Stubbs. Listen to the raw urgency in his voice as he cries, Bernadette! They want you because of the pride that it gives; But Bernadette, I want you because I need you to live.

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
It’s because of your really great sense of humor, Capricorn Goat People, that I urge you to spend some “time” playing hide and go seek with “superfluous” quotes. First get your feet wet with The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks. For instance: Leave the Light “On” (??); “Labor Day Weekend” (is it or isn’t it??); “Best Coffee in Town” (so I guess it really isn’t). Hours of fun can be had here and you’ll find yourself with a whole new “lease on life.” Once you get into the swing of this, you’ll see them everywhere. All hail the “Internet”, also known as the “World Wide Web,” Mother of a Quadrillion Obsessions.

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
O Aquarians, you share your birth sign with the ultra-hip, ultra-amazing, legendary Andrew Loog Oldham. While working for Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein in the early 1960’s, Oldham found the Rolling Stones and turned them into the greatest rock and roll band in the world. He was 19 years old at the time. He became the band’s co-manager and assisted them in creating the most compelling music of their storied, lengthy career. He’s done five million other incredible things as well. Read about him, track down his two books (Stoned, and 2 Stoned, both currently out of print), read his blog, listen to him liven up the satellite airwaves daily on Sirius’ Channel 25 Underground Garage.

February 19 – March 20 Pisces
Alice Austen, Piscean, born March 17, 1866, was a photographer from the age of 10 almost until she died at the age of 85. She took amazing, stunningly beautiful photos of her family and surroundings as well as contemporary life in New York City. The Austen family fortune dwindled so grievously after the stock market crash of 1929 that she had to declare herself a pauper. Her photographs were discovered and published in Life Magazine and the money enabled her to live out her last years in a nursing home. Her childhood home is a national historic landmark on Staten Island and well worth a visit.

March 21 - April 19 Aries
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that as we ease into the Independence Day three-day weekend, Gotham city dwellers have the unalienable right to honor the Birth of our Nation by viewing a buncha explosive political films - a mix of the wacky and the weighty in contemporary America presented by the fine folks at Rooftop Films. There will be food, drinks, live music, and an incredible view of the fireworks on the pier at Solar One (23rd St. at the East River). All audience members must be at the venue by 6pm; doors open at 5pm. Such a bargain! Only $30 for a fabulous night, presented in partnership with New York Magazine, IFC.com, and Solar One. Quoth the organizers, In this crucial election year, we present films on a range of topics, stressing the importance of history and offering irreverent looks at our heroes, making a case for a re-evaluation of who we are as Americans and who we want as president.

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
Hey, where the hell is Matt?
Seriously, if you haven’t seen this viral video hit, just sit down right now and dial it up on los internets. Matt is a self-described 31 year old deadbeat from Connecticut who decided in 2003 to travel around the world and record himself dancing. In 2006 and 2007, Stride Gum bankrolled two more trips in which Matt traveled to all 7 continents and danced with people in 42 countries who had contacted him about his original video. The results are sweet and endearing. Matt’s website tells the whole story, with journals, maps, and FAQ.  Matt even shares some of the best emails he’s received out of thousands. “Are you doing anything on these trips? How about spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and saving some souls” writes one irate video observer. To which Matt responds, “Right! Jesus. Totally slipped my mind.”

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
Celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence by seeing at least ONE independent film this weekend in the tradition of our founding fathers. You know they would have approved. We told you last week about Alex Gibney’s new film Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson which opens today, July 4th. Also opening today is The Gits Movie, produced by Jessica Bender and Steve Moriarty and directed by Kerri O’Kane. The Gits were one of the many brilliant bands to be birthed out of the Seattle scene that launched Nirvana and others back in the 1990’s. On the brink of huge success, 27-year-old lead singer Mia Zapata (said to be descended from Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata) was brutally murdered. This movie reminds us of her beauty and spirit and undeniable talent. Viva Zapata!

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
And speaking of Seattle, the book of the week is Gina Arnold’s Route 666 ~ On the Road to Nirvana, published in 1993 by St. Martins Press. Arnold writes about her complete and total love for music starting from her school years to her professional career as a Bay area music critic. Anyone who’s felt the siren call of rock & roll reaching into their drab suburban home can relate to this fascinating and joyous book. It doesn’t matter one bit whether or not you have followed the Seattle scene or know Mudhoney from Soundgarden. It’s a book about loving music and following it to the ends of the earth. If you can relate to that… you will enjoy it.

July 23 - August 22 Leo
Some Sunny Day ~ The Golden Age of Sheet Music
opens next Tuesday, July 8th, and will run until August 15th at the Pelham Art Center, 155 Fifth Avenue, Pelham, New York. The exhibit of two dozen pieces of sheet music, with cover art ranging from Art Deco to Art Nouveau to Cartoon and C&W illustrations, represents a range of popular music from the 1920’s to the 1940’s. The collection is on loan from music historian and record producer Teri Landi, with contributions from the collection of Dr. Albert Andresen, and was co-curated by Elizabeth Saperstein. Meet the simultaneously erudite and swingin’ Ms. Landi at the opening night reception next Tuesday at 6:30pm.

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
Have you believed for lo these many years that because you’re of the Jewish persuasion you’re totally unable to get your religious groove on with rosary beads? Thanks to Brooklyn designer and Nice Jewish Girl Carlen Altman, may I assure you that is no longer the case. Altman makes these mitzvah beads by hand and offers a variety of styles, even providing a glow in the dark option for the more adventurous amongst us. Such a bargain!

September 23 - October 22 Libra
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Or so it is said. You’ve only got two more months to catch Star Trek The Experience - an exhibit so old (10 years) that its website doesn’t even work in Firefox! Seriously though this popular attraction closes its doors forever on September 1 at the Las Vegas Hilton so get yourself over to Sin City pronto before that happens. Where else can you hoist a few in Quark’s Bar and Restaurant? View Spock’s coffin from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan? Take a thrill ride called the Borg Invasion? And get married on the Bridge by a starship captain, with witnesses who are Klingons? Get there now before these options are forever closed in our galaxy.

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
Another Seattle mention! Holy Space Needle! I give you KEXP: Where The Music Matters. This station started back in 1972 with only 10 watts and in 2000 became the first radio station to offer uncompressed CD-quality audio on the internet 24/7. Check them out; support them; stream them; enjoy them! No icky guys in suits tell these folks who to play and who not to play.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
Find yourself a labyrinth at the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator. The site’s stated vision is to activate and facilitate the transformation of the Human Spirit. Labyrinths date back to prehistoric times. They are believed to help quiet the mind and help the user to enter a meditative state. They are a metaphor for the journey of life.

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
French fries…..mmmm! It is believed that no less an august presence than Thomas Jefferson first served these tasty treats in 1802 at a state dinner, but they really didn’t become popular until the 1920’s after the first World War. May I reveal to you that one of the best places to get really great french fries is - yes, believe it - the Hard Rock Cafe. Doubt me if you must, but go to one and order them and you’ll see exactly what I mean. They’re located worldwide; find a location here near you.

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
Here is a fun computer trick for the next time you’re bored at work - Visit the Read at Work website, which was launched by the New Zealand Book Council to encourage people to read. The cool thing is that it looks exactly like a Windows desktop screen with all the reading material filed into folders. Poetry, novels, short stories are all here at the click of your mouse and no one will be the wiser.

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
She totally out-shangris the Shangri-Las. I’m speaking, of course, of Denise James. Her 2004 release It’s Not Enough to Love on Rainbow Quartz Records is as close to heavenly as an album can get. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to receive an entire album in which every single song is a nugget of perfection and not one of them is superfluous or doesn’t fit in. This is grown-up girl group music. This work of art was produced, of course, by unsung hero and way-beneath-the-radar musical genius Matthew Smith, a long time denizen of the storied Detroit scene. Smith is a songwriter, musician, and producer who should be far more famous than he is. He’s also the mastermind behind the psychedelically delicious band Outrageous Cherry.