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March 21 - April 19 Aries

My courageous, dynamic Aries friends; be it known that tomorrow (Saturday, December 13) is Santa Lucia Day. Santa Lucia is the bringer of light in the time of darkness. The story from this fantastic Santa Lucia Day website is that,  According to legend, Lucia was a medieval saint who carried food and drink to hungry folk in the province of Värmland during a period of famine. She was seen across Lake Vänern with her white gown and crown of lights. . . . In Sweden, the Lucia Day is celebrated all over the country in every home, school, and workplace on the morning of the 13th of December. All of the other Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway) celebrate Lucia as well. In each home usually the eldest daughter dresses in a white gown with a red sash and a crown of candles. She and her sisters wake the family at dawn and serve them a breakfast of sun-colored saffron buns and gingerbread cookies . . . At every workplace they make time for a special morning “coffee break” before the day even starts and a few ladies dress up as Lucias. At most public institutions, a table is laid ready with coffee, saffron buns and gingerbread cookies for the public to enjoy all that day . . . Lucia brings a message of lighter times to come during the darkest time of the year. It is a very festive atmosphere, full of good feelings, hope, and expectations . . . Lucia is often accompanied by star boys, an ancient tradition which dates back to the time when boys used to go door-to-door playing tricks, singing and begging for money to celebrate the winter solstice.

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
Bettie Page, 85 years young and a Taurus (April 22), shuffled off this mortal coil yesterday. She was the most famous pinup girl of the 1940’s and 50’s and her centerfolds adorned millions of walls. She had a few stage and television appearances, but it was a chance meeting that changed her life. On the beach at Coney Island in 1950, she met Jerry Tibbs, a police officer and photographer, who assembled her first pinup portfolio. By 1951, the brother-sister photographers Irving and Paula Klaw, who ran a mail-order business in cheesecake, were promoting the Bettie Page image with spike heels and whips, while Bunny Yeager’s pictures featured her in jungle shots, with and without leopard skins. Her pictures were ogled in Wink, Eyeful, Titter, Beauty Parade and other magazines, and in leather-fetish 8- and 16-millimeter films. Her big break was the Playboy centerfold in January 1955, when she winked in a Santa Claus cap as she put a bulb on a Christmas tree. Bettie was humbled at all the attention she got five years ago, when she attended Playboy’s 50th Anniversary party at the Playboy Mansion with Anna Nicole Smith.  Both Smith and Page made a grand entrance and enjoyed the special attention they received.  That evening they were photographed together in what was said to be the only time in the past 50 years that Page allowed her photograph to be taken. Funeral services will be next Tuesday with a private service and burial at Westwood Cemetery a few feet away from her blonde sex icon counterpart, Marilyn Monroe.

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
The Geminis among us are eloquent, intellectual, and just plain book smart. So how about taking a few minutes to give back to our troops? It’s really really easy. Whether or not you think we should be entrenched in Iraq, I think we can all agree that those who volunteered to go over there and defend our country deserve a huge round of thanks from everyone here. The mission of Let’s Say Thanks is to provide a way for individuals across the country to recognize U.S. troops stationed overseas. By submitting a message through this site you have the opportunity to send a free personalized postcard greeting to deployed servicemen and women. The postcards, depicting patriotic scenes and hometown images, were selected from a pool of entries from children across the country. All you have to do is click on your favorite design and either select the message that best expresses your sentiment or draft a personal note. The postcards are then printed on the Xerox iGen3® Digital Production Press and mailed in care packages by military support organization Give2TheTroops®. It takes less than 30 seconds to do this. Give a smile to someone deployed overseas who won’t be able to see their family this holiday season and let them know you appreciate them.

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
Ah Cancer, the homebody of the zodiac. If there’s anything you love more than feathering your lovely nest, well I don’t know what it is. Thanks to the internet, you can stay warm and cozy at home, make some hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps, and fire up the computer to go straight to A BetamaXmas. Thank you, whoever set this up. Basically it’s a website designed to look like an old rabbit-ears set playing old Betamax tapes, shows clip after Youtube clip of Christmas specials, commercials and holiday-themed episodes of television shows, all circa 20-25 years ago. Adjust the rabbit ears to get that perfect ‘grainy’ look.” Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock, jingle bells swing and jingle bells ring!! (Thanks Barry R for this tip! Also thanks to BoingBoing and Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish!)

July 23 - August 22 Leo
Speaking of Xmas TV, thanks to Cynthia Turner’s Cynopsis, I read this week that The iconic holiday Yule Log is back via iN DEMAND Networks …. iN DEMAND has jazzed up the Yule Log, which originated in 1966, by producing a hi-def version with crackling sound effects… Viewers may choose the Yule Log offered by WGN America as the network will air Yule Log: The Golden Age of Christmas over nine hours beginning December 24 at 9p through 6a on December 25. This Yule Log footage uses the fireplace of Colonel McCormick, the former Tribune Company President and Editor/Publisher of the Chicago Tribune, from his office at Tribune Tower in Chicago. This commercial-free holiday special will present classic radio programs such as It’s a Wonderful Life, Burns & Allen and Fibber McGee & Molly and more. All the Leos I know are suckers for tradition, so I figured if you don’t have a fireplace and a real yule log crackling away, you might want to turn on what my mother still calls the idiot box, relax with the video yule log, and toss back some spiked egg nog.

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
Virgos are detail freaks. Therefore I feel safe in assuming you’ve been wondering for years what the real story is behind the Motown Christmas Album (I know I have). Artie Wayne tells it like it was here and it’s beyond fascinating. My favorite part is when Artie and George Clinton throw Ivory Snow flakes around the office in the middle of summer to get in the Christmas mood so they can write a song for the album. Who sang that song on the record? None other than Michael Jackson. You can hear it here too. Also, assuming you’ve been good for goodness’ sake, treat yourself to Christmas Music Videos for 2008 chosen by Mr. Wayne.

September 23 - October 22 Libra
Imagine this, mon Libran ami; caramello al sale gelato. Yes, salt carmel; with pink salt from the Himalayas, a sea salt of fossil origin that does not have the typical iodine flavor of normal sea salts. By the way,  this fantastic product is not refined in any way and its typical color comes from its high iron content. Five different people, none of whom knew each other, told me that Grom has the best ice cream they’ve ever tasted. Hence an excavation was made with Friend Judy last weekend and I am here to testify that no one lied.  Grom opened their first store in Turin, Italy in 2003 and achieved instant success. They have two locations in Manhattan, in the village and on the upper west side, as well as one in Paris and several in Italy. Allow me to quote the great Gael Greene from her brilliant ice cream manifesto in New York Magazine, Grown-ups who never eat ice cream are instantly suspect. They probably hate sand, sleep in pajamas, never eat spare-ribs, and kiss with their mouths closed. What are they trying to hide?

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
I don’t know a single Scorpio who doesn’t love to party, stay out late, gyrate on the dance floor, and like that. So I would like you to pause for a moment of silence for Elmer Valentine, who died this week. Valentine was a Chicago policeman who left the Windy City back in the Swinging 60’s and opened the Whisky a Go Go on Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood. The club became legendary, hosting musical performances by the likes of The Who, the Byrds, (house band) the Doors, the Kinks, and others. The Beatles made it their first stop when they played L.A. in 1964. Plus all that, this club was the first to suspend dancing go-go girls in cages.  This proved so popular that it was copied all over the world. One of the dancers designed the official go-go girl costume of fringed dress and white boots.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
If there’s one thing that can draw a Sagittarian in, it’s the promise of a whole bunch of awesome information about Deep Soul Music. At least this is the case with the ones I know. I doff my hat to Sir Shambling, who is a man of a certain age whose passion for most forms of black music, especially soul and R & B, extends back over 35 years. During that time he has amassed a record collection of around 25,000 items, all lovingly cared for and indexed in the normal anally retentive fashion. He has contributed to a huge number of reissue LPs and CDs by way of info, record lending and compilation work, and has annotated about 300 of them. This glorious obsession was funded by his day job as the CEO of a low-rent housing organization, from which he has recently retired. Sir Shambling’s Deep Soul Haven is a lovely stop on the information superhighway and don’t be surprised if you lose all track of time. Listen to MP3’s. Read tons of fascinating articles. (Thank you Very Short List for this yummy tidbit)

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
It was all over the news this week that astronomers have figured out by the position of the stars and planets at Jesus’ birth that he was most likely born in June, not December. Be that as it may, he’s still the Capricorn With The Mostest. And once upon a time, there was a rock opera called Jesus Christ Superstar written by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. I recently remembered how brilliant this soundtrack was (even more so back in the arid early 1970’s) and downloaded that puppy from iTunes. $19.99 later (it was a double album, hence the price) it’s the only thing I’ve been bopping to all week. Even though it’s really about Jesus’ final days and his betrayal by J. Iscariot, it catapults me smack dab into the Christmas spirit immediately. What a great record! Not one clunker on here; the music is phenomenal; and whatever happened to Yvonne Elliman? And the lyrics continue to amaze and delight: Tell me what you think about your friends at the top / Now who d’you think besides yourself was the pick of the crop? / Buddah was he where it’s at; is he where you are? / Could Mohamed move a mountain or was that just PR? My new favorite calm-down method is to listen to Everything’s Alright while on the subway. I double-dog dare you not to immediately feel better while listening to this song.

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
While your Aries friends are making their Santa Lucia crowns for tomorrow, you Aquarians can dress up as Santa for the Annual Santacon! Check for your location here, but if you’re in NYC the big day is tomorrow, Dec. 13. What is Santacon, you ask?  SantaCon is a not-for-profit, non-political, non-religious & non-logical Santa Claus convention, organized and attended for absolutely no reason. The Santacon in New York City starts at 10am sharp on Saturday; location to be announced here tonight (Friday) at 10pm. And here are the rules: Santa looks like Santa. HOLIDAY APPAREL IS MANDATORY. A Santa hat is not enough. Get a Santa suit. Buy a Santa suit. Make a Santa suit. Steal a Santa suit. Get creative: be a Secret Santa, a Santasaurus, Candy-cane, a Reindeer, a Chanukah Chicken, a goddamn latke, Stewardess Santa, Knight Rider Santa, Crusty Peace Punk Santa, the occasional Legless Reindeer, Chanukah Squirrel, Emo-Elf, or the Santichrist. Just don’t wear your fucking jeans. Talk about a don’t-miss! (Thanks Lisa Z for this tip!)

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
Have I got an independent bookstore for you!  I know the Piscean soul longs for complete and utter freedom. So I know you’ll dig Bluestockings, a radical bookstore, fair trade café, and activist center in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Bluestockings carries over 6000 titles on topics such as queer and gender studies, global capitalism, feminism, police and prisons, democracy studies, and black liberation. You can also find some good ‘ole smutty fiction. They also carry magazines, zines, journals, alternative menstrual products and other oddly hard-to-find good things. In addition to all that, they host readings, workshops, performances, discussions and films almost every night. Visit their events calendar for details on upcoming events, and when visiting the store, take a look at the community bulletin board to learn about other events happening around the city. And stop in to the café to pick up some fair trade, vegan, organic goodness! Next Tuesday, December 16th at 7pm – Naomi Wolf reads from Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries, her practical and passionate book which challenges us to reinvigorate American democracy and reminds us that we, the ordinary citizens, must take action to restore the promise of this nation.