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Herewith a completely solipsistic list of things that tickled my fancy this past week and that bear further investigation by The World Out There. IMHO.

Kate McKinnon on Saturday Night Live: She had me with her recent channeling of Ann Romney, but last night took the cake with her wondrous portraits of the Long Island Medium, Ellen deGeneres, and (most side splitting of all) Celia Gimenez, the eighty-year-old Spanish lady who painted over a 100 year old fresco of the face of Christ. I’ve got my eye on you, McKinnon. You’re now officially the one to watch on SNL. Gracias.

Not Fade Away, David Chase’s new movie: Well I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I have been waiting for this film to come out for what seems like years. The feature film directorial debut of genius David Chase (ahem, The Sopranos), it stars James Gandolfini, John Magaro, Jack Huston, Will Brill, Bella Heathcote, Brad Garrett and others and is the story of a rock group in 1960’s New Jersey. The music supervisor is Steven Van Zandt, so ’nuff said.  It’s due out in December from Paramount. Check out the trailer here.

The return of Homeland, on Showtime: Even if you didn’t watch the first season, or know anything at all about this show, you probably grokked that it swept the Emmys and also racked up a few Golden Globes. Apparently all this attention resulted in a huge ratings win last week when Season 2 premiered, and it did not disappoint. We find Claire Danes’ character Carrie puttering around in the garden and closing down her laptop when a news story about the Middle East pops up, until her old buddy Mandy Patinkin (um, J’adore) reaches out to get her help with an asset she recruited years before. Of course it doesn’t take much to get her on the plane to Beirut. And suddenly our Sunday nights look a whole lot better for the next few months.

Theatre Is Evil, By Amanda Palmer, racks up the establishment kudos: Rolling Stone named Amanda Palmer’s new album Theatre Is Evil one of the year’s best rock records. Palmer made world headlines earlier this year with her massively successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of this album, from which she raised $1.2 million. The record is kickass. The band is magnificent. Palmer is a goddess. You can stream and purchase the record here for as little as $1.00 in a Pay-What-You-Want scenario. Mark my words; she’s the Queen of Social Media and she puts on one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. Plenty of chances to see if I’m right on that, here.

The Candy Bar of the Week goes to the New Smoked Banana Caramel Chocolate Bar by Vosges: I haven’t had it yet, but who needs to with a description like this: Smoked bananas blended into soft caramel, with a touch of Alderwood smoked salt and tucked it into the pockets of a 72% cacao dark chocolate bar. When tasting the bar, the smoke flavor is distinct with the smoky notes found primarily in the Mesquite smoked banana. Who writes these things? Vosges always comes through and I’m sure this is my tastebuds’ version of a rocket to the moon.

Janey Milstead, Editor In Chief of my favorite magazine, like, ever, TeenSet, located via Google!: Well, to me, this is Ultra Mega. Not only did I locate the website of Ms. Milstead, I also found out that while at TeenSet she wrote under many names and one of those was Shirley Poston, possibly my favorite writer…ever. All these years, I never knew they were the same person. To my teenage self this is the equivalent of the Mars Landing or some other huge scientific discovery. I’m still hoping to find someone has digitized all those TeenSet magazines, somehow, somewhere.

The Communication Cure, by Dr. Neha Sangwan: I was lucky enough to meet Dr. Neha at a nutritional seminar several years ago and have stayed abreast of her work ever since.  Sangwan is an internal medicine physician as well as a gifted corporate communication strategist who speaks internationally on the topics of conflict resolution, stress management, and wellness. This video sets out the premise of her upcoming book, and I guarantee you she’s going to be a household name when it comes out.

The 30th Anniversary of Men Without Women by Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul: Earlier this week, it was thirty years to the day of the release of Men Without Women, an album that, to be quite honest, I probably played more than any other record I own. Ten songs - a masterpiece of passion - the first solo statement from an artist who had already proven himself as an incredibly gifted songwriter, though until this album, not for himself. In July 2011, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes paid tribute to the record with a live show bringing those songs to life again, and you can now pay homage to it by purchasing SSJ’s version here.

Oh yeah; two guys who want to be President for the next four years were onstage together for 90 minutes in Denver: If you know me, you know how I feel. And if you don’t may I quote Immanuel Kant to you:  We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals. Under no circumstances would I vote for Mitt Romney to be President of a Block Association let alone the US, once I heard the story of Seamus strapped to the top of a car in a cage for hours during a highway drive. Laugh all you want, if you think this is trivial, but the mere fact that Mitt Romney did this; that the dog was ill and had the runs; that Romney pulled over and hosed off the dog and put him back up there, now soaking wet, to freeze in the wind; it doesn’t even bear thinking about. So yes, I was disappointed in Obama’s performance this week at the debate. But if you don’t want half the country, the poor, the unemployed, the 47% he spoke so disgustingly of when he thought no one but big money donors were listening, to be strapped on top of Mitt’s car while the special people ride inside as he races up the highway to glory — I beg you — don’t vote for him.

And lastly, if you need another reason to love Bruce Springsteen, he was part of a big campaign this week for gay marriage:
Springsteen joined The Four2012 Campaign, putting forth his macho Jersey stare right into your soul and blasting some strong words in support of marriage equality specifically in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington. Marriage equality is now a plank in the DNC’s platform, at last, and is sure to be a subject that will continue to be discussed as we head towards the Election on November 6.

ALSO ON MY RADAR:

March 21 - April 19 Aries
While we all wait in breathless anticipation for the magical text message from Barack Obama telling us who his comrade in arms will be, here’s some news you can use. You pioneering, enthusiastic, fearless Aries folks can get your democratic groove on with the Democratic Dream Mug (Its not just a dream - it’s a mug! Pour in a hot beverage and the country goes blue. You’ll be surprised how good it feels!) for only $12.95 from The Unemployed Philosophers Guild. They came to be in the last decades of the 20th century, when two brothers found their inner creativity in the midst of a dwindling academic job market. Although they still contemplate truth and justice, it is their enduring goal to fulfill the materialistic desires of the funny and sophisticated everywhere! Even better, most of the proceeds go to unemployed philosophers (and their associates) and a portion also goes to a few groups working on profound causes. They have scads of fab gifts besides the aforementioned coffee mug – e.g. a box of Atone Mints, an Axis of Evil Puppet Set, the Shakespeare Naughty Pillow (This pillow features the some of the naughty bits of Shakespeare. You can rest your head on it and dream of “making the beast with two backs!” 100% cotton. Machine washable).

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
Ah you self-indulgent Taurean brethren ~ celebrate these fine August days with the best ice cream you’ve ever tasted. I’m talking about Häagen-Dazs Reserve Flavors, holla! Did you know that Häagen-Dazs was started in 1959 in the Bronx by a Polish immigrant couple, Reuben and Rose Mattus? The company began with three flavors – vanilla, chocolate, and coffee. The name was made up to look Scandinavian but is actually nonsense words. In any case, check out their Reserve Flavors; fleur de sel caramel (Fleur de Sel caramels covered in a chocolaty coating blended into caramel ice cream with caramel ribbons and French sea salt accents), pomegranate chip (a creamy mixture of tart pomegranate, sweet cranberries and ripe, sun-warmed grapes with melting chunks of intense dark chocolate), toasted coconut sesame brittle (slivers of toasted coconut steeped in rich cream and coconut milk, blended with crunchy pieces of ginger-infused sesame brittle), and more. Swoon……

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
You’re adaptable, you’re versatile, you’re lightning quick, and you’re Gemini! Looking into your future, I believe that you will find the website mediabistro.com to be a virtual salon of interesting information. It’s one of those delicious cyberstops where I go to look something up and two hours later I wake up as if from a dream after being totally engrossed with a boatload of other information I didn’t even realize I was looking for. The site states that they are dedicated to anyone who creates or works with content (that would be, um, everyone I know). Their greater goal is to revolutionize the way creative/content industry professionals relate. Therefore they’ve created the AvantGuild network; a new guild for the new guard in media . . . a new version of the 14th century guild system – so that talented professionals in related industries can meet informally, mentor each other, work on projects together, and more. Memberships are reasonably priced and include tons of perks but the best perk of all is that you can view vast quantities of material on the site only available to AG members. And my day always starts off right with The Morning Newsfeed, which you can sign up to receive for free. This is a list of smart media news culled from sources like AP, The New York Times, Washington Post, Hollywood Reporter, etc. etc. Oh and did I mention they also have amazing classes in several locations around the country, and online?

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
Cancerians tend to be moody, emotional, and intuitive. You’ll no doubt love the story of a man whose life was saved by the Rolling Stones. Retired baker Sam Carter, of Stoke, England, had lapsed into a coma after contracting a severe case of anemia. He had been given only a thirty percent chance of survival by his doctors. His wife played him his favorite song through headphones, Satisfaction, the first single he purchased as a teenager back in 1965, and Carter woke up from the deep deadly sleep he was in. He was quoted in the press, “I suddenly had a burst of energy and knew I had a lot more life left in me and that’s when I woke up - to the sound of the first song I ever bought. I would love to thank Mick and the rest of the Stones personally - I feel they really did help wake me from my coma.” Go, baby, go!

July 23 - August 22 Leo
Leos should be proud to count reporter Helen Thomas among them. She’s been a member of the White House Press Corps since the administration of John F. Kennedy. She asks the hard and brutal questions that GWB would apparently rather not answer and is now rarely called upon in press briefings. She has traveled the world with Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton, and covered every economic summit. In 1972, she was the only newspaperwoman to travel with President Nixon to China during his breakthrough trip. Celebrate her extraordinary life by watching Thank You, Mr. President (part of HBO’s terrific Documentaries series). The film was directed by Rory Kennedy, niece of JFK.

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
August 28, 1963
was the date of the historic March on Washington, which sees its 45th Anniversary this year. It’s interesting that this incredible event which changed all of our lives in both nuanced and electrifying ways happened during the time of Virgo, a sign mostly known for being careful, precise and quiet. Washingtonians can mark the occasion this year Thursday August 28 at the Historical Society of Washington, DC, located at 801 K Street NW.  At 6:30 pm historian, filmmaker, and photographer Eric Kulberg will discuss his photographs in an exhibit that opens that evening and runs until the end of this year, March on Washington: 45th Anniversary. Reservations are requested, please call 202-383-1828.

September 23 - October 22 Libra
Need hundreds of songs about presidents, elections and politics? Looking for songs for a June wedding — thousands of songs classified by 42 love topics? May I clue you flirtatious, diplomatic, urbane Librans into the Green Book of Songs by Subject. Search their database – which classifies songs of all genres (including novelty records, TV themes, and commercials) by more than 2,000 themes, concepts or topics – and is continually updated. Professional Desk References, Inc. publishes the best-selling Green Book Of Songs Of Songs By Subject: The Thematic Guide To Popular Music and the GreenBookofSongs.com® Database subscription service. The project is the ongoing work of Jeff Green, currently VP of Aircheck, a Nashville-based trade publication company and previously Executive Director for the Americana Music Association in Nashville. He’s assisted by my dear friend Lauren Virshup, who oversees the company’s extensive business operations and contributes significantly to the GreenBookofSongs.com® Database content and search tools. Believe me, you’ve never seen anything like this. C’est magnifique!

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
Scorpio Sister Marie Antoinette was born November 2, 1755 in Vienna. The 2006 bio film produced and directed by Sofia Coppola won the Academy Award that year for Best Costume Design. The film was actually made at the Palace of Versailles where the real Marie A. lived out her life as Queen of France. The movie is a stunning visual riot of colors and textures and is quite breathtaking as long as you don’t invest too deeply in its version of the truth. Oh and by the way Marianne Faithfull (visit Capricorn to see more about her) plays Marie’s mother. One of the film’s most endearing qualities is the soundtrack, brilliantly culled of 1980s New Wave bands with a few tracks from the present with the same sort of dreamy trancy feel. It’s our download of the week; you’ll eat it up with a spoon (along with your Haagen-Dazs reserve ice cream). Bow Wow Wow, Gang of Four, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and the magnificent Plainsong by the Cure are only a few of the yummies in this delicious box of confections.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
Sagittarians will no doubt enjoy indulging their insatiable search for knowledge on the Snopes.com website. This is one of those endlessly fascinating islands on the world wide web, calling itself The definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation. Wikipedia says it is the most widely-known resource for validating or debunking urban legends, Internet rumors, email forwards, and other such stories of uncertain or questionable origin in popular American culture. The site is run by Barbara and David Mikkelson, who were married after meeting on the newsgroup alt.folklore.urban. They also founded the San Fernando Valley Folklore Society. The Snopes site is meticulously organized by topic and also features a message board for users to post questions about urban legends.

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
Capricorns have every reason to be proud of their comrade/sister Marianne Evelyn Gabriel Faithfull, who is one of my all-time heroines. Briefly: her maternal great-great-uncle was Austrian nobleman Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (his novel Venus in Furs inspired the word ‘masochism’), her mother was a Baroness; while a convent schoolgirl she was discovered at a party by irrepressible impresario supreme Andrew Loog Oldham; she became a successful pop singer after the release of the Jagger-Richards ballad AsTears Go By was released in 1964; she became Jagger’s long time girlfriend; she was the famed “Girl in the Fur Rug” at the 1967 Redlands drug bust at Keith Richards’ country home; she became a heroin addict; she almost lost everything; she crafted the brilliant Broken English album in 1979; and yes, there’s more. A lot more. Read her autobiography Faithfull; her life reads like a modern-day gothic novel. A new album will be released at the end of next month. And if you get the chance to see one of her rare appearances, don’t think twice; just go.

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
All eyes will be on Denver, Colorado next week when the Democratic Convention comes to town. Here’s a tip for you independent, humanitarian, intellectual Aquarians; the nearby town of Arvada (7 miles NW of Denver) is home to Black & Read, 4000 square feet of books, games, vinyl, and CD’s. Rows and rows of scifi, classics, reference, philosophy, and more. Stacks and stacks of multi genre CDS and vinyl. Sounds like heaven to me! All hail the independent book/record store. Support them wherever you find them. They are, unfortunately, a dying breed.

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
If there’s one thing that Pisceans love, it’s knowing what’s going on. In fact we can be a little bit on the controlling side, n’est-ce pas? Well thanks to Jeff Stark and his cohort Alita Edgar, you can be on top of just about every interesting cultural / art event in the vast boroughs of New York City. Their weekly list, Nonsense NYC, is a discriminating resource for independent art, weird events, strange happenings, unique parties, and senseless culture in New York City. Everything from street events to bike rallies to outlaw dancing to burlesque to open mikes - Nonsense covers the stuff that has no name, or a name that you feel really awkward and self-conscious saying out loud, like “underground.” They use what they call the rule of three in listing events; three different things going on in the event: DJs, bands, dancers, costumes, fire performance, theater, film, art, projections, fashion, an unusual space, or a host of other intangibles. Quoth the team: We believe that there is more to life in New York than getting drunk at slick new bars. We were frustrated when we moved here and couldn’t find a reliable source of alternatives, even though we knew that there were creative people making cool shit happen. Almost more annoying was the fact that certain groups we knew about weren’t always aware of one another. Our solution was to start a weekly list . . . Our goals are to help make New York a more interesting place to live, to encourage others to do the same, and to have more fun than just about anyone else. We’re particularly drawn to participatory culture, amateurism, and urban folk art. Subscribe here. And they accept donations, so send one in! They’re doing great work and deserve to be paid for this!

March 21 - April 19 Aries
Three words: Big. Fat. Brain. Investigate thoroughly and rejoice in their sweet unholy genius as they unveil yet another crazy viral hit today on My Damn Channel: Sn4tchbuckl3r’s Second Chance.

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
Another year under your belt, congratulations! Celebrate by going to see fellow Taurean Miss Elizabeth Stamatina Fey’s new movie, Baby Mama, this weekend. Any movie that has both Amy Poehler and Tina Fey in it has to be worth two hours of your time. And by the way, if you haven’t already, start obsessing frantically over the brilliance of Tina’s contribution to the arid landscape of television comedy: 30 Rock. Fall deeply and desperately in love with Alec Baldwin.

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
O Gemini, I urge you to go to iTunes and download this week’s scoop* du jour pick of the week: I Am Waiting by the Rolling Stones. From Aftermath, released in 1966. A tiny slice of pure fabulousness, with dulcimer. It’s unlikely you ever heard this song on the radio – discover it today as if it were a succulent peach, and enjoy it as the juice dribbles down your chin.

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
Girlfriends, sign up posthaste for the Girlie Girl Army email list (tailored to NY, LA, Philly, Atlanta, or SF) – Your Guide to Glamazon Living. Quoth the wickedly wonderful Chloe Jo (list owner): Are you so sick of snobby girlie sites telling you were to buy Free Range Kobe beef or how to travel in Private planes? That is SO not our spiel (as if!!). We are their smarter older sister who wouldn’t be caught dead in fur, knows who the hottest band is before they hit the airwaves (and maybe even dated the drummer), and scour vintage stores like lunatics. You’ll be clicking unsubscribe on all those cheesy newsletters before we can say Green Goddess. Recipes, sales, causes, books, music, pets, veganism, ecology and all that good stuff tailored to your geographical location.

July 23 - August 22 Leo
The Leo of the Week is the redoubtable Helen Thomas, born in Winchester, Kentucky on August 4, 1920 and still going strong. She’s been kicking ass on the White House beat since JFK’s time and earlier this week took current White House spokesperson Dana Perino to task about Bush’s recent admission he signed off on torture. Watch it here. Send her flowers!!

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
If you live in New York City or your travels take you there, get yourself to the Kellari Taverna on 44th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues and make sure to order the Katsikisio specialty appetizer: warm goat cheese baked with dried apricots, Metaxa & Almond. Um, words fail me.

September 23 - October 22 Libra
Netflix the classic 1965 film Cat Ballou. In which Jane Fonda plays a smokin’ hot schoolteacher in Wyoming who hires a gunfighter to avenge her father’s murder. Said gunfighter is played hilariously by Lee Marvin. Throughout the film, Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye provide a running musical commentary on the plot’s twists and turns.

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
If you’re living in or visiting Los Angeles, sign up for an Esotouric Bus Adventure. These folks are sick and twisted in just the way we like. Upcoming tours including Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles (May 3rd), Blood and Dumplings (May 10th), The Real Black Dahlia (June 21st). Speaking of weird LA, check out the 1947project.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
O Best Beloved, please to visit the Best Web Site ever made - The Saint of the Month Club, unfortunately no longer active but you can still spend hours there. Glory, Glory, Glory! Josh Gosfield, who among other things was the Art Director of New York Magazine for 10 years, is responsible for this beauty.
Read more here.

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
Develop a raging crush on Keith Olbermann, and indulge in your weeknightly fix at 8pm on MSNBC. Go there, and be healed. This man’s insights on the current state of the world shine like a light through the darkness of the parade of horribles, yet he can still say sentences like “Sometimes when we focus too much on who will lead our country, we lose sight of the important things, like celebrity babies.”

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
It’s finally Spring. Hurry up and get outside before it’s Summer, which global warming indicates could be as early as ten minutes from now. Zingah!

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
Change your middle name legally to Hussein.