Friday, July 31, 2009

Beyond Schadenfreude

The sun has been in Leo for over a week now and the moon is currently in Sagittarius. Both are fire signs, and therefore very passionate, and Leo is a very dramatic sign, while Sagittarius is the sign of exploration. Our outer nature will be drawn to drama and bombastic adventures, while our inner self longs to travel.

Speaking of travel, I am coming to you from the road. That's right, folks, I'm in transit from New York to Philadelphia, and thanks to yet another element, water, what should have been a two hour jaunt has turned into a five hour excursion. Still, I can't blame it all on the rain. There is a fabulously obnoxious practice that will never fail to create traffic even under the best of weather conditions.

As we crawled under the dark, pendulous clouds with gray rain sheeting around us, I suddenly saw the light. No, I had no epiphany; it was the familiar blue and red lights of a squad car. Aha! There was an accident. Being on the other side of the bus, I could not see what unfortunate event had occurred, but I did note that no sooner had we passed by that our speed began to increase and traffic seemed to disperse.

What could have possibly caused this phenomenon? There is a term that is an apt description of the situation: rubbernecking. The act of twisting one's head in order to observe and event more easily. However, when driving, that act can be very dangerous; ergo, most people will slow down in order to perform this irritating action.

What is this fascination we have with accidents? We describe other things, such as someone's outfit, this way. "It was like a train wreck. I couldn't look away." The human race is infinitely fascinated with seeing people fail. It's incredible to me. Specifically with roadside trauma, unless you are a police officer, an EMT, or some other service member who is able to assist, keep moving! Besides, if it's a big enough issue, it'll be on the news later.

Which brings up another point: why must the news be inundated with accidents, deaths, rapes, shootings, killing, murder, etc? It's so rare to hear about a good thing. The television has been referred to as the "idiot box." Why? Because it enables escape. It's supposed to free our minds; hence it being mind-less. The news does just the opposite; it smacks us in the face with reality, forcing us to acknowledge such horrible aspects of our world with wild abandon that it's overwhelming at times. I am amazed by people who can sit and watch the news all day. I go to my television to escape reality.

Reality TV shows are no better. While they don't quite provide us with "reality" as they claim, it's certainly enough of it to make me cringe. Shows like American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance are great shows in their own right, I suppose, especially when (and if) you get to the point where everyone is incredibly talented. However, they televise the auditions and I have many friends who are uninterested in the show once the auditions are over. They love to watch people get shot down. That is not fun for me at all. People who have dreams of performing get crushed on those shows. And folks argue, "But it's good for them. Someone has to tell them that they suck." Fine, go ahead. I don't want to watch someone's dreams destroyed. I'd rather watch the last episode when someone's dreams come true.

This is beyond schadenfreude ("happiness at the misfortune of others"). I admit that, when watching a movie, I want to see the bad guy get what's coming to him, but it's not exciting to me to see the the average human being harmed for the entertainment of others. And roadside accidents are certainly not for the entertainment of others, but people certainly seem to view it that way. If you're one of those people who has to watch to see what happened, fine, but pull over! Otherwise, drive on!

The drama of misfortune has its appeal, but I prefer to attend such an event when it's planned and brilliantly written, rather than accidental or shallow. Perhaps the sun in Leo will not let us get away with banal tragedy. Yet, Leo's sun is playful as well and as I finish this blog, I can see it winking at me from behind the clouds.

Here comes the sun.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Word Of Mouth

Pluto, planet of power, rests in the 3rd House, the house of communication and humanity. People will find great importance in what they and others say, write, and other media of conveyance. Pay close attention to what your friends are saying or telling you through their body language. You might find some hidden tidbits.

In the vein of communication (or lack thereof), I realize I am way overdue for a new blog post and I beg the forgiveness of my readers. However, with power rooted in communication, especially with the influence of Capricorn, there is great potential for growth, especially with regard to career and recently, there have been many developments in my literary world. Since that has been an enormous influence in my life, I can't help writing about it, so I am excited to make the following announcements.

Firstly, I have just been introduced to blogtalkradio, which is an online radio talk show website, where you can tune in to shows of varying topics. I've been exploring some of the shows and in fact, one of my newest friends just began a wonderful show, called "The Muse & You." His name is Mark David Gerson and he is an award winning author who helps people with their creativity. I have the pleasure to say that I will be his guest on August 20th at 1pm EST, talking about the writing process. Please feel free to tune in and check it out!

In other book news, Rising Sign was just entered into the Wake Up Celebrity Author Contest, where votes from all around the world count to rate it as far as cover, title, and summary are concerned. The more votes and the higher rating, the better the book does and the winner of the contest will be pushed to the top of the Barnes and Noble bestseller list; a coveted position among writers. As many of you are readers in your own right, I would be honored to have you stop by and cast your vote for Rising Sign.

Tell all friends. As Pluto in the 3rd House demonstrates, word of mouth can be a powerful influence.

Thank you to everyone who has been steadily reading for their continued support and I promise that the next blog will be much more entertaining.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


DIRECT VS. RETROGRADE There is a split in the chart for today. Half of the planets are direct and in a row of houses while the other half are retrograde and in a row of opposite houses. What madness might occur from this, especially after yesterday's solar eclipse? This might be a great opportunity to try something you wouldn't normally explore.

A few friends of mine have subscribed to the madness that is the blogosphere. There is a great deal of joy to found in blogging and in reading blogs. I would like to introduce them to my readers.

If you love sweets, this first blog will whet your appetite. The Chocolate Swirl is a dessert company run by a friend of mine in New York. There are numerous confections that they offer, including truffles, cupcakes, cakes, brownie pops, and cookies. They ship throughout the country and will create specially designed desserts for numerous occasions. (I sound like an ad, don't I? I can't help it. I love The Chocolate Swirl.) When my mother graduated from college, I commissioned a cake that was made from two books and a graduating cap. It looked awesome; everyone commented on it. They just started a blog, complete with pictures and advice, one post of which is what you can do with leftover cupcakes. I would have never thought to use them the way The Chocolate Swirl does! Curious? Or hungry?

The second blog is a new blog by an author friend of mine. If you like the Star Child Trilogy, but feel that it's too old for your kids, you might want to check out The Wonky Witch. Author Becky Titelman has recently started a blog to track her endeavors with this fabulous series. Kids will find endless fun on the Wonky Witch website and book three is almost out! The adventures of Maude Sinks and her friends in Abracadabra Academy are wonderful for any age, but especially those who haven't quite reached Harry Potter or Star Child level yet. The adventures of Becky herself are a fascinating read for anyone who is interested in children's literature or enjoys writing themselves.

Whether your passion is sweets or books, be sure to check out these fabulous blogs!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Casey Feldman: In Loving Memory

Both the planet of passion (Mars) and the planet of beauty (Venus) lie in the Eighth House, the house of regeneration, death, and rebirth. There will be change, especially with regard to relationships or passionate endeavors. Perhaps you'll be changing idea of what you want.

Unfortunately, this is a rather negative post. Upon exploring my Facebook, I saw a post that one of my former students had joined the group: In Loving Memory of Casey Feldman. Completely shocked, I immediately went to the group, but since it was a locked group, I requested admittance and headed over to her page where I found a number of RIP messages from her friends. I checked the pages of other students and saw posts and pictures in her honor. Determined to find out what happened, I Googled her name and came across one article that finally told me that she was hit by a vehicle while crossing the street in a crosswalk. She was rushed to the hospital where she passed five hours later. There is also a Fordham blog in her honor.

I realize that there are many who did not have the pleasure of knowing this young woman. Casey was a former student of mine who I directed in my high school's production of The Laramie Project back in 2004. She was a bright, vivacious girl who went on to work in journalism. Working with her made me laugh. She had an infectious smile and incredible enthusiasm for the work. She showed wonderful promise when I worked with her and though she was never able to realize her full potential, she made fabulous progress before she left us.

I am devastated to experience my second loss of a friend almost within a year. My roommate was killed the same way last year. Although death is a change, it is an incredibly radical change and extremely hard to deal with when it's so personal. And so young. Jen was taken from us at 29; Casey, at 21. One of the hardest things is watching others go through the same thing. Seeing them deal with death at such a young age is heartwrenching. No one knows what to say when something like this happens. Nor would I, given the same situation.

One friend offered this: Some people are meant to sit under the stars and some are meant to be them. My Casey's star burn bright and watch over all of us.

I wish to send all love and warmth to those who deal with deaths in their own lives and especially to the family and friend of Casey Feldman. My heart grieves with you.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Black And White

The sun, planet of vitality and basic nature, is in Cancer, the sign of nurturing and home life. Pluto, the planet of power, is in Cancer's opposite, Capricorn, the sign of ambition and career life. This suggests that personal focus is going to be sensitivity and the hunt for belonging. The worldwide focus is going to be on economy and workforce. This combination may bring about a strong focus on job security and how the workforce will support or not support those in power.

As Cancer and Capricorn are opposite signs, there are many opposites with regards to interpretations of our world. We've heard the phrase "black and white" before. It shows up in many ways throughout our lives: good and bad, pro and con, either/or, this or that. Any situation can and is broken down into very simple choices. We know people who see the world in black and white. For them, choices are easy. They see everything as either on one side or the other.

I also know people who see the world only in black or only in white. They refuse to see any options other than the one before them. For these people, there is no choice. They can only work with the shade of life they choose to view. There other is always viewed as bad.

Of course, some people say, "That's ridiculous. Nothing is black and white. Everything has shades of gray." Many people I know agree with this and fit this category. There are so many sides to any situation. If you have thirty-five people that witness an event, you're going to get thirty-five different accounts of that same event. These shades of gray are myriad, but they are yet not enough.

I like to take the worldview a step further. The world can be seen in a veritable smorgasbord of color, each with a plethora of shades. Take the previous event into consideration. Now, not only will you have thirty-five accounts of the event, there are innumerable emotions intertwined with each moments of the event and those will change from day to day. People's experiences change their perspectives and of course, everyone prefers to offer an account that makes them look better. We are all individuals and as widely varied as there are frequencies of color and light, even beyond the human eye.

Think about it. Just not too long or your perception will change. :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tykes And Teens

The moon, planet of hidden emotion, is traveling through the youngest sign of the zodiac, Aries. A bout of childishness will emerge in many people, but in subtle ways. Keep an eye out for your own inner child and try to give him or her what she needs before he or she takes over and you find yourself watching unattractive children's theatre.

So, continuing with the lesson in child development (oh, stop it, you were fascinated by the last post), we discussed another theorist - Piaget - who has four stages of development. As my professor was discussing these stages, one thing became abundantly clear: adolescence is just a repeat of early childhood. I'll pause for the resounding, "Duh!" from all of the parents out there.

Let's examine the evidence.

The main quality that exemplifies the early child: they are egocentric. Well, of course they are; they have no concept of other people, except for the parents, who, if they're typical parents, dote on the child. I mean, come on, even if there are older siblings, the parents are going to show attention towards the younger child for awhile. Unless the child is taught to share, a young kid is going to focus completely on themselves and believe that everything revolves around them. No one could feel differently from them. The only rules that really apply are created by them. Everyone thinks exactly the same as they do.

Sounds like a lot of teenagers I know. Egocentric? Check. Name one teenager you know that doesn't think that the world revolves around them. Exactly. They believe they are invincible; they can do whatever they want at any time without repercussion because they knew best. They take this to the extreme. They are consumed with themselves. No one could possibly understand them.

Taking it a step further, I believe that age 15 is the equivalent of the terrible twos. Where a two-year old is "no"-it-all, a 15-year old is a know-it-all. It's the wonderful age that a teenager believes that they know everything and it starts almost the second that the 15th birthday occurs. Fortunately, eventually, that dissolves and the teenager regains a sense of humbleness.


Friday, July 10, 2009

A Matter Of Trust

As these two planets traverse the sign of nurturing and home (Cancer), we'll see a lot more communication with our "home" groups, whether that be family, friends, coworkers, etc. We turn especially to the mother figures in our lives to find a trusting soul who understand us.

This week, I began my class in Child Development. Stop groaning; it's actually fairly interesting, especially to me since I originally went to school for psychology. For those of you who were just tempted to stop reading, consider that each of you was a child at one point and this applies to you. I'm also highly intrigued by this subject because of the psychological aspect of astrology. From the first day of class, the comparison between these two subjects was setting off bells inside of my brain. The teacher, on the first day, asked us to think about the question, "Who am I?" as we read the eight stages of development by Erickson. (If you're unfamiliar with Erickson, do not fret.) Who am I? There are so many ways to answer that question, including, on an astrological level, Libra sun, Pisces moon, and Gemini rising. I'm also a firstborn and the only boy among four grandchildren.

However, this question was asked in specific respect to Erickson's article. Erickson defines the development of the human being as a series of crises. The first crisis (and I'm sure I will be working through each of them here over the course of the...well, course) occurs between a person's birth and 18 months of age. The crisis is called trust vs. mistrust. It's when we either learn to trust the world around us or we learn to to distrust it. Who is to blame for all of this? Why, our parents, of course. If they are inconsistent in their ministrations to us as babies, we do not develop that sense of trust that we so desperately need throughout life. Without this, we will be unable to to form relationships or even know that there are things we can depend upon.

That's an awful lot of pressure to put on a new parent! Fortunately, there are ways to overcome this crisis, should we fail to develop the proper sense of trust. Therapists love this, of course. Babies must feel that they will be taken care of. There is no better sign for this than the nurturing sign of Cancer, the sign of the mother. Additionally, it's probable that a strong Piscean influence will produce a desire to escape, which Erickson may say stems from the infant's learned mistrust. While I am fairly certain that my teacher will not accept a strong planet in Cancer as a compensation or a Piscean excuse, I have to admit to strong curiosity regarding these stages and what other influences may be involved, and not just the astrological ones.

My teacher, so far, seems pretty hardcore about the Ericksonian developments, but then, I suppose it's her job. I certainly enjoy having a professor who is passionate about her subject. I am not likely to broach the star route in class, but I will certainly be keeping track of any parallels between them.

On a personal note (as if there isn't a part of this blog that isn't personal), I do not think that trust vs. mistrust is a crisis that I have carried on. I believe my parents did a very nice job helping me to trust the world around me. I learned my mistrust later, but not from them (or maybe it's my moon in Pisces influence).

And so the Erickson blogs are in their infancy. You can trust me on that.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Midsummer's Twelfth Night

Identity confusion is going to be rampant while Neptune, the planet of illusion, traverses a retrograde path through the 1rst House, the house of self. There are always challenges when it comes to knowing oneself, and this is a difficult time for those who do not have a firm grasp on who they are. There may be a strong desire for escape from the self.

Nobody does identity confusion better than Shakespeare. Last night, I had the fortune to attend a production of Twelfth Night at the Delacorte in Central Park. This is the first show that I've ever seen at the Delacorte and the first thing that immediately hit the audience was the set. I do not always notice the set when I attend a show, but this set was beautifully constructed with faux grass and rolling hills. Trees dotted the landscape. It truly looked as I would have pictured Illyria to look. The advantage that the Delcorte offers a show like this is the natural outside environment.

Having been invited by a friend, I had no prior knowledge of the cast and I was surprised to see that Raul Esparza would be playing Orsino, Audra McDonald as Olivia, and Anne Hathaway would be taking on the gender-bender, Viola/Cesario. Knowing the first two to be well-known for their voices and aware that Anne was also making more use of her singing experience, I wondered aloud if the show were a musical adaptation. I was assured that it was not. We took our seats in the section that provided closed captioning, something I had not experienced except for at the Metropolitan Opera. There was an electronic board in front of our section, not blocking the stage, of course, that would scroll with the lines. I think it highly enriched the show for me, as a bibliophile and a writer, I absolutely love words and there are very few people who achieve the same resplendent poeticism that Shakespeare does. There's something to be said for reading a play and watching it come to life before you.

And come to life it did. From the moment the actors entered the stage, we were transported to Illyria. There were fabulous integrations of music throughout the show and the musicians were not kept separate from the actors, often stepping from the musical world directly into the Illyrian landscape. From the depths of the stage emerged Viola and her seafaring comrades. I was expecting fabulous performances from the well known actors (at least to me), and I was delighted to find that that extended through the entire cast, from those loveable characters like Maria and Sirs Toby and Andrew to the soldiers who stood by, silently in character, and adding depth to the scenes. I was never taken out of the show.

As the sky pinked with sunset, a full moon (in Capricorn) rose high over the stage, sending beams down upon Belvedere Castle in the background. Even the elements seemed to sense the drama that was happening onstage and Nature herself appeared as a character. The air seemed to pick up whenever the drama increased onstage. It added an extra dimension to the show.

To see Shakespeare's work come to life is always a treat and a treasure. To get the opportunity to experience that in Central Park in an open air forum was truly magical. If you get the chance to see this production, I highly recommend that you take it.

If music be the food of love, play on!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Everyday Tracking Devices

Jupiter, the planet of expansion and travel is sitting in Aquarius, the sign of originality and eccentricity. This will reveal itself in a series of new innovations, especially in the technological world and the world of travel. Perhaps will see new advances in travel technology itself.

One such advance that I just became aware of is the Loopt application on cell phones. No, I'm not paid to promote it, as you'll discover as you continue to read. Just stay with me for a moment. I saw a commercial for this application and, curious to learn more, I sought out information on the website. Loopt allows the user to find out where their friends are and what they're doing. What a cool idea. Instead of calling your friends to find out where they are, you can just look on your phone and find them easily, along with directions to get there. It's perfect for the friend on the go.

Or the stalker. Am I the only one who finds this terrifying? Granted, I'm all for the cell phones and I love technological advances that make our lives more convenient, but goodness, this seems to be crossing a line. After all, not so long ago, you had to wait until you got home to find out if someone had called. Nowadays, you're not just a Luddite if you don't have a cell phone; it's unthinkable. You're beyond passe. Many can't believe that someone can survive without a cell phone. In fact, I can't imagine what I would do if I didn't have a cell phone, but I do remember a time when I didn't have one. I didn't get my cell phone until my junior year of college. Even now, I don't have a phone that allows apps.

The idea that we could be reached at any given moment almost makes the supposed convenience and inconvenience. Fortunately, right now, you can ignore a phone call, especially with caller ID. Imagine if someone that you're not particularly interested in speaking to not only can call, but can show up to wherever you are without prior notice. And let's consider the possibility with ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriends or someone who is interested in you, but it's not reciprocal. Let's just add that into the mix. They can find you no matter where you are.

There is something to be said for being unreachable. Pack animals though we may be, we do not need to know where each member of the pack is at every moment of the day. Haven't we seen enough scifi or action movies where they put a tracker on someone? They always attempt to get rid of it immediately. Now, we're offering the exact same thing to anyone who wishes to have it (and can afford it)? I find that a frightening prospect.

Say what you will. I like being off-radar.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day Fireworks

Sun in Cancer, the sign of belonging and home is going to push people towards finding their own sense of unit. The moon in Sagittarius will color that with a great deal of wanderlust. People may travel in their journey to find a place that they call home.

That sense of belonging and home extends to the nation and the patriotism that naturally arises during Independence Day. It brings pride and comfort to know that you are celebrating with many others throughout a given nation. It's what draws us together during the Olympics. Well, that, and the sense of sport that churns the blood of many. The Olympics are a wonderful forum for nations to come together in healthy competition and for those of each country to show patriotic pride.

It seems that we love celebrate with ways that mimic that which frightens us the most: war. Some sports are highly war-like. Take a look at football, hockey, soccer, even capture the flag. Okay, that's not an official sport, but goodness, it certainly felt that way when I was playing. And don't even get me started on dodgeball. (Yes, I was picked last for everything; what of it?)

Moving on from that, all over America tonight, there were fireworks displays. People all over the country eagerly turned their eyes to the night sky to see "bombs bursting in air." Interestingly enough, fireworks predate the Independence Day celebration and were incorporated into the first Independence Day in 1777 (the war wasn't even won yet). Color wasn't even added until later.

When I was a child, I loved to see fireworks, but I was terrified of the loud noise that they made. Especially those that are most bomb-like. You know which ones I'm talking about; the ones that explode with a huge bang and a flash of white light and disappear immediately. Gosh, I hated those. I still do. What a pointless display. They're the bravado fireworks. It's like, geez, get over yourself. Look at the other fireworks. They have something to say. They have staying power and color and sometimes, sparkle. You are just loud. But then, so is war. So, I must acknowledge your right to be there.

As the night sky explodes throughout the country, I say, happy birthday, America.