All Eyes on Oscar

I’m back in California and made the mistake of going to a Trader Joe’s this afternoon in Cathedral City to fill up the refrigerator and the freezer. (My progressed Moon in Taurus is activating my Ceres and all of a sudden I’m eating nothing but fresh produce and fish.)

What was I thinking? Every Baby Boomer in the Coachella Valley had decided to go shopping for his or her Oscar party tonight. As I said to my husband, in California, the Oscars are viewed the way the Super Bowl is in the rest of the country.

I made it back home in one piece. Barely. Meanwhile, here’s a rehash of the Oscar predictions that Pamela Cucinell and I made on AstroChatterRadio a couple of weeks back with some brief astro explanations.

Slumdog Millionaire — Best Picture and a slew of other awards. Why? Look at India’s independence chart. It’s being lit up like a Christmas tree by today’s stellium in Aquarius, which opposes the Independence Sun.

Remember how in the film everyone is watching Who Wants to be a Millionaire on TV, from the slums to the posh skyscrapers of Mumbai? It will be that way with the Oscars. A collective roar will emanate from the Subcontinent when this rags-to-riches tale brings home the gold.

According to the Wiki, Los Angeles is 13.5 hours behind Mumbai. So by my calculations, the cheer will go up around 10:30 a.m. in Bollywood (India’s answer to Hollywood) since Best Picture is usually announced close to midnight Eastern time.

Kate Winslet — Best Actress. The Aquarius stellium trines her natal Libra lineup. I did a double-take in the Houston airport yesterday when I saw Winslet on the cover of Time with the headline “Best Actress.”

Until I read the deck on the headline, which made it clear that the magazine thinks she’s the best actress whether she wins the Oscar or not, I thought I was in some kind of time warp.

Mickey Rourke — Best Actor. I’m going out on a limb here. Everyone thinks Sean Penn is a shoo-in for Milk, a gay-themed picture that is a favorite with the Hollywood crowd. Also boosting Penn’s chances is the fact that the transiting Aquarius stellium opposes his Leo Sun, guaranteeing a high-profile night for the actor.

However, I think dark horse Rourke, who’s getting the Saturn/Uranus opposition in Virgo/Pisces on his Virgo Sun, could walk away with an award for his comeback performance in The Wrestler.

As someone very wise said to me in the past week, 99% of the people in the audience are waiting for their comeback. Aren’t most of us?

Footnote: Slumdog won eight Oscars tonight and the Times of London is crowing “Hail Britannia.” I still think this is a victory for “In-ja,” as the Duke of Windsor referred to the former British colony.

My next prediction? That Bollywood-style dance classes will take the U.S. by storm. It’s already starting to happen, according to this article from an Indian newspaper.

Here’s a fun clip with the stars of Slumdog Millionaire dancing to Oscar-winning song Jai Ho on the set of The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Leo and Kate: From Titanic to Revolutionary Road

I’m very excited about the composite I just ran between Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. The two made box-office history with Titanic in 1997, but were snubbed at the Oscars.

Next month, the two actors are reunited in Revolutionary Road, one of my favorite books, a setpiece about suburban angst written by Richard Yates. Based on the DiCaprio-Winslet composite, which has Sun conjunct revolutionary Uranus at 0 degrees of Scorpio, this time they may score with the critics and at the Academy Awards, but bomb at the box office.

Where do I get that? Well, even though the Sun/Uranus conjunction will be sextiling powerful Pluto in Capricorn when the film is released on Dec. 26 to qualify for Oscar consideration, next year Jupiter will be broadly conjuncting Neptune in Aquarius. That squares the Scorpio, so I’m getting disappointment.

I know, some people will say Neptune is good for film, but you can’t escape the challenging square.

We’ll see. If you want to take a peek at that composite, you can see it here, courtesy of Astrodienst.

The Fargo Connection: Sarah Meets Marge

Last night, as I was watching Republican Sarah Palin sprinkle her answers in the vice-presidential debate with such folksy phrases as “Doggone it, Joe,” “I’ll betcha,” and “Darn right,” one word came to mind: Fargo.

Don’t you get the feeling that Palin is channeling Police Chief Marge Gunderson? You betcha! Frances McDormand won a best actress Oscar for her performance in the 1996 film by the Coen brothers.

Here are some choice quotes from Palin and Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Joe Biden last night, courtesy of Yahoo, and the Fargo trailer.

Well, it turns out that I’m not the only one who made the Fargo connection. My tipster Gastriques sent along a clip that will have you LOL. Leave it to Marge to get the truth out of Palin! (P.S. This is funnier if you watch the Fargo trailer first!)

Biden called to mind Terms of Endearment when he got choked up talking about what it was like to be a single parent. It wasn’t entirely convincing, though, when Biden said the “people in my neighborhood get it…they know the middle class is getting the short end of the stick.”

Despite Biden’s working-class roots in Scranton, Pa., I don’t imagine he lives in a neighborhood where people are struggling. Maybe I’m wrong, goshdarnit.

As for the astrological angle, there isn’t one, except looking at the snowy landscape in the Fargo trailer got me thinking of Pluto in Capricorn. Brrrr!

Stars Rise on Indiana

I don’t know if you remember how I was arguing that Memorial Day weekend was not the best release date for the new Indiana Jones film (“Indiana Jones and the Search for the Best Release Date,” Apr. 11, 2008).

My thinking was that May 9, when Jupiter in Capricorn stationed and turned retrograde opposing Indy star Harrison Ford’s Cancer Sun, would be a great time for him to return to the screen as the swashbuckling hero.

Incidentally, this is also the post where based on the aspects of May 9, I predicted Speed Racer would do “boffo business,” a forecast that backfired.

So far, the buzz on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has been mixed, but I’ve decided that maybe this weekend isn’t such a bad release date for the film after all. Why? Because it’s the weekend of the Indy 500 car race.

I’m rooting for Danica Patrick, who made history last month when she became the first female to win an Indy race by taking the checkered flag in the Indy Japan 300. On a less happy note, she was also in the news after her car struck another team’s crew member on May 9 during practice for the Indianapolis 500. Clearly, the stars weren’t in the right place for that guy, who wasn’t where he was supposed to be and got badly hurt.

Why am I backing Danica when I grew up in Albuquerque, where the Unser racing family is royalty? Because girls rule, as my 11-year-old niece would tell you. Seriously though, I like to see records being broken and new firsts being made. So far, no woman has won an Indy race stateside. It would be exciting if Danica could do it. 

The feminist in me wants Danica to win, but I’d also be happy with a victory from the multitalented Helio Castroneves, the hunky Brazilian  who was last year’s champ on Dancing With the Stars. Helio won back-to-back Indy 500s in 2001 and 2002. Yesterday’s Los Angeles Times reports that he’s contemplating a move to NASCAR. Here’s the link to that story: http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-motors21-2008may21,0,1495689.story?track=rss

Maybe there’s an asteroid named Indiana that is conjunct the Sun or the North Node, which rules the public, this weekend. Clearly, all eyes will be on Indy this weekend. Let’s hope it doesn’t rain.

Gossip Girls: Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons

During my winter stay in Palm Springs, which is rapidly coming to a close, I’ve been steeping myself in the romance and deception of Old Hollywood, whose denizens would escape to this desert community when the glare of publicity became too harsh.

I’m in the process of reading Hedda and Louella: A dual biography of Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons by George Eells. I picked up a first edition of the 1972 book at a used bookstore. At least, I was told it’s a first edition when I asked the proprietor of the Palm Springs Book Exchange why she was charging $15 for a book that originally cost $7.95. I thought used books were supposed to be bargains.

This one is a real gem, though, and worth every penny. It chronicles the catfight of the century, between the rival columnists who ruled Hollywood gossip for roughly 40 years. As some older readers or cinemaphiles may know, Parsons got her start in newspapers and was made into a Hollywood institution by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and his mistress, actress Marion Davies.

Hopper was an actress first and then took on Parsons as the queen of Hollywood by stealing the show with her flashy wardrobe and signature hats. She also took better care of her health than Parsons, who was a heavy drinker and battled tuberculosis and other serious ailments throughout her life.

Another difference between the two: Hopper made fewer mistakes in her columns than Parsons, who was known for running many corrections. Eells suggests that some of Hopper’s success was due to the studios’ desire for a duopoly, rather than a monopoly, on gossip.

In the beginning, Parsons actually was a booster of Hopper’s and ran favorable items about her in her syndicated column. But once Hopper became a newspaperwoman in her own right and started “scooping” Parsons, the claws came out.

Parsons was a Leo, born Aug. 6, 1881, in Freeport, Ill., according to both the book and the Wiki. Hopper was a Taurus, born May 2, 1885, in Hollidaysburg, Pa. (My sources are the same as for Parsons.) Having reliable data is important because both women lied shamelessly about their ages during their lifetimes.

The periodic feuding between Parsons and Hopper was punctuated by high-profile rapprochements, usually celebrated at a swanky Hollywood restaurant so everyone in town would see they were pals again — until the next battle.  Given this volatile relationship, I was curious to see what the composite or “combined” chart of the two women would tell us.

Here’s the composite, courtesy of Astrodienst: http://www.astro.com/cgi/chart.cgi?cid=41laaaa19347-s971800598&lang=e&gm=a1&nhor=228&nho2=227&btyp=621&mth=gw&sday=13&smon=5&syr=2008&hsy=-1&zod=&orbp=&rs=0&ast=

One of my friends suggested that I  keep my posts shorter so I’ll attempt to be brief here. I’ll note that the huge stellium in Gemini, which rules communications, in the composite chart is squared by electrical Uranus in Virgo, giving the relationship an on-again, off-again character. The inclusion of powerful Pluto in the Gemini lineup tells us this relationship was about mass communication and power struggles.

I couldn’t find birth times for either gossip gal, so I set the charts for noon. As a result, the Ascendant, house cusps, and degree of the Moon are not reliable in their combined chart. Still, it’s likely the composite moon is in Sagittarius.

As the book jacket for Hedda and Louella says, “Their like will never be seen again.” Not even the formidable Liz Smith wields the power that these women did through their relationships with the film studios, which kept stars on a leash back in Hollywood’s Golden Age. Today, nobody can control the Tom Cruises of the world when they want to jump up and down on Oprah’s couch.

All I Wanted Was a Word with Michael Caine

I’ve had the good fortune to interview lots of interesting people in my life and to hob-nob with celebrities. It’s an unspoken law that when you attend a star-studded “after-party” that you don’t introduce yourself to Madonna, unless you’re also a diva.

Mere mortals wait for the star to introduce herself or for a publicist or mutual acquaintance to do the honors. I’ve usually abided by the rule in social settings, but there was one time when I couldn’t help myself.

It was at a New York party for the Oscars in 1999. Michael Caine was there, and not in Hollywood, because he was shooting Curtain Call with Maggie Smith in the city. Fortified by a couple of flutes of champagne, I walked up to him and looked straight into his blue eyes. He’s 6 foot, 2 inches and I’m that tall in high heels. “I know you’ve heard this hundreds of times, but I adored you in Alfie,” I gushed.

I admit that l felt a little ridiculous mentioning a film that had come out more than 30 years earlier. I didn’t want to imply that the rest of his oeuvre wasn’t worthy of my admiration.

Always the charmer, Caine replied, “Thank you very much. Don’t worry. I never get tired of hearing how people appreciate my work.” I walked away knowing that I could now die happy.

Mind you, I was only 6 years old when Alfie was released, but when I saw it for the first time in my 20s, it knocked me out. If there were ever a film that symbolized the ethos of London in the Swingin’ Sixties, this was it. I loved it when Alfie talked to the camera, letting the audience in on the secret. And I was astounded by Caine’s emotional range.

Even though I’m a fan of Jude Law, I wasn’t surprised when his 2004 remake of Alfie got a ho-hum reception. As far as I’m concerned, and evidently a lot of other folks agree, there is only one Alfie.

Speaking of Alfies, isn’t it interesting that Caine played Batman’s butler Alfred Pennyworth in Batman Begins and in the upcoming Batman film The Dark Knight? There’s a branch of astrology that looks at the thousands of name asteroids up in the sky. Perhaps there’s an asteroid Alfred that was conjunct Caine’s Sun when he was born.

Michael Caine is also one of my husband’s favorite actors. His favorite Caine films are Zulu, The Italian Job, and The Man Who Would be King, which also starred Sean Connery and Caine’s wife, Shakira.

Anyone who has followed Caine’s career or who has read his 1992 autobiography What’s It All About? knows that he has had some tremendous highs and lows in his life. And though Caine may have shared some character traits with Alfie (a working-class background and a love of the “birds”), being a slacker wasn’t one of them.

Caine was long called “the hardest-working man in Hollywood.” He’s honed his craft and fattened his bank account by appearing in less-than-memorable films like the The Swarm and Jaws: The Revenge. Along the way, he has showcased his considerable comedic talents and won more mainstream fans with such films as Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, a classic collaboration with Steve Martin. Caine never phones it in. Even if the movie is a piece of junk, he always delivers a professional performance.

Some of my favorite Caine films, like Educating Rita and Mona Lisa, involve the British class system, which at first stymied the actor’s ambitions. He’s been a critic of the system over the years, though he’s obviously not a radical or he wouldn’t have agreed to be knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000. For key dates in Caine’s life, see his Web site.

If you’re a music person, don’t miss this ode to Caine from the Eighties ska band Madness. You’ll see that I borrowed from the lyrics (“All I wanted was a word or a photograph to keep at home”) for the headline to this post.

Caine’s biography is laugh-out-loud funny, especially to an astrologer. Born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite on Mar. 14, 1933, Caine is a Pisces, whose symbol is the fish. So what was his father’s trade? He was a fishmonger at Billingsgate!

Having visited some of Caine’s restaurants and knowing about his keen interest in food and nutrition, I suspected there was a strong Cancer aspect in his chart. Sure enough, there is. His 23 degree Pisces Sun makes a favorable trine to Pluto in Cancer in the second house of earned income. With that aspect, Caine can actually make money in the restaurant business, unlike most actors who try their luck in the kitchen.

Caine’s Pluto in Cancer is also squared by Uranus in Aries, a picture he shares with other members of his generation, but one that has led to considerable upheaval in Caine’s life — first being evacuated from London and separated from his family during World War II only to return to the city and witness bombing by the Germans, almost dying of a rare strain of malaria after serving in Korea, being sent to jail for not paying child support when he was destitute, to name just a few.

I’ve run the natal chart for 10:05 a.m. in London because Caine says in his book that he was born “a few minutes after 10 o’clock in the morning.” I’ve seen the chart elsewhere with a 10:10 birth time, but 10 minutes seems like more than “a few” to me.

You can see Michael Caine’s chart here, courtesy of Astrodienst.

Throughout his book, Caine notes how fortunate he has been during his life and that he sometimes has felt as if he had a guardian angel watching over him. This makes perfect sense. Besides the Sun, he’s also got the North Node and Venus in spiritual Pisces. This lineup is opposed by a stellium in Virgo — Mars, Neptune, and Jupiter. This is a lucky man, indeed.

In addition to the natal chart, I’ve included the transits for Aug. 24, 1966, the night that Alfie premiered. As you can see, the revolutionary Pluto/Uranus conjunction in Virgo was sitting on Caine’s Jupiter, turning him into an international superstar and bringing him big money, seemingly overnight.

Caine’s Gemini rising is ruled by Mercury the trickster. The Gemini ascendant forms a T-square with the opposing stelliums in Pisces and Virgo. The result? Caine is a chameleon par excellence. The Gemini rising has been opposed by transiting Pluto in the last few years, bringing Caine magician roles in The Prestige and the upcoming Is Anybody There?

So much has happened to Caine since he wrote his biography in 1992 that he could write another one. Since then, he’s won the best supporting actor Oscar for The Cider House Rules (he had previously won one for Woody Allen’s Hannah and her Sisters) and delivered a stunning performance in The Quiet American, which brought him an Oscar nomination for best actor and the BAFTA award (Britain’s answer to the Oscars) for best actor.

Here’s a coincidence of sorts: Some top actors passed on the original Alfie because they didn’t want to be in a film with an abortion scene. John Irving’s book The Cider House Rules also had a story line that included abortions, which was dropped for the film adaptation.

The astrologer in me sees that emphasis on infant life and death as another manifestation of Caine’s Pluto in Cancer trining his Sun. Pluto in Cancer is a generational signature, but because it makes an aspect to Caine’s Sun, it’s very powerful in his life. Indeed, both his wife Shakira and his daughter Natasha had serious health problems shortly after Natasha’s birth.

I haven’t done the research, but I seem to remember there was a disagreement between Caine and the distributors and producers of The Quiet American, Miramax Films, then run by Harvey and Bob Weinstein. I can’t remember exactly what the story was. Was it that Caine didn’t think he was getting enough support from the Weinsteins to win the best actor Oscar? Or was it that the Weinsteins didn’t want to put the film in competition because they didn’t think Caine could win? Whatever the power struggle was, it sounds like a manifestation of Pluto crossing Caine’s descendant and squaring the Sun.

As transiting Uranus moves across his Sun over the next year or so, Michael Caine could get a jolt. He could deliver a revolutionary performance that recalls the glory of Alfie. He could finally win the best actor Oscar. (So far, he’s only taken home the golden statue for best supporting actor.) Caine was recently honored by the Film Society at Lincoln Center with a tribute night. With Uranus and then Jupiter coming to conjunct his Sun, a lifetime achievement Oscar is another strong possibility, in late February or early March 2010.

Michael Caine still has a few tricks left up his sleeve.