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.

Another Milestone for Astrology Mundo

Sometime while I was sleeping this morning, Astrology Mundo crossed the 20,000 hits mark. Very exciting! Maybe it’s because Nancy’s Blog is on vacation for the month of July that my traffic has been picking up. But in any event, I want to thank everyone for their astrological commentary and words of encouragement.

It’s been a wild ride since I started blogging on Mar. 17 — a mention in Time magazine and lots of new cyber-friends, some of whom aren’t even astrologers, just “fellow travelers.”

Old friends have been surprisingly supportive. Regina at Gastriques has been a great astro-sleuth for this site. Who knew a foodie would be so attuned to cosmic events? Check out her site for a spicy mix of food and politics. It’s on my blogroll.

Another click worth making is Civic Center, also on my blogroll. SFMike offers wonderful photography and great coverage of the arts scene around San Francisco’s Civic Center neighborhood and other places that he travels, including Palm Springs, where my husband and I spent the winter.

When the news seems so unrelentingly bad, art is a wonderful escape. Thanks, SFMike!

More Death Valley Days for California?

I didn’t need California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to tell me the Golden State is in the middle of a drought. You can see it in the California natal chart, set for Sept. 9, 1850 in San Jose, at 9:41 a.m. Here’s the chart, thanks to Astrodienst.

Note that dry, constricting Saturn is heading for fertile California’s 16 degree Virgo Sun. Transiting Uranus is currently past an opposition with the Golden State Sun, but it’s moving retrograde, back to an opposition with Saturn in the sky. This will take place in early November at roughly 19 degrees of Pisces/Virgo.

Mars will also make a passage through Virgo, in August, going over the state’s Sun before it opposes Uranus in the sky, a signature for wildfires if I ever saw one. But this could easily be psychological fires as physical ones.

It looks to me like California’s populace could be angry. That may be due to the strain of higher gas prices on residents of a state that has long had a love affair with driving. Driving the Ventura Highway memorialized in the America tune has gotten a lot more expensive in the last year.

Still, with Virgo involved, the state’s civil servants might be up in arms about something or it could be agricultural workers or the truckers who transport produce who rise up in protest.

Few astrological sites are better than Richard Nolle’s AstroPro for predicting wild weather, which is often triggered by new and full moons. Click on his site on my blogroll and when you get to his home page, click on the label that says “futures.” Be sure and do this in the beginning of August if you live in California.

As California goes, so goes the nation. (Sorry, Maine!) A drought in this agricultural state is more grist for the mill of higher food prices. Here’s the link to a story about the governor’s official declaration:

At the same time that the Governator is proclaiming a drought, the National Trust for Historic Preservation is sounding the alarm about the vulnerability of California’s state park system, citing “deterioration, neglect, and poor public policy.”

Here’s the link:

Saturn in Virgo could also be interpreted as belt-tightening (Saturn) in public parks (Virgo). Although it’s known for its symbol, the Virgin, Virgo is the sign of the worker. He or she takes the family to the park on weekends because it’s a low-cost form of entertainment, not to mention a way to commune with nature.

Protecting California’s land is an issue that has been close to home for me this winter while my husband has been working at one of the 125 golf courses in the Palm Springs area. Of course, you know how these courses stay green in a region that gets two to four inches of rain a year. They’re watered every day, sometimes twice a day.

In the interest of marital harmony, I’m going to reserve comment on the wisdom of this. Certainly, golf courses bring tourists to the desert and that helps the economy, but…

Given the number of swimming pools in the state, perhaps a daily swim could be a state-mandated substitute for a shower or bath. That’s assuming there’s enough water to fill the pool.

All Charged Up at the Integratron


As Neptune stationed near the transiting North Node in Aquarius this weekend, a friend and I traveled about an hour and a half outside of Palm Springs, to Flanders, Calif. Our destination? A public “sound bath” at a building called the Integratron. This is apt because Neptune rules music and it’s in the sign of groups (Aquarius) and with the North Node, another indicator of involvement in a collective endeavor.

As you’ll see from the photo above (the first I’ve ever posted on Astrology Mundo!), the Integratron is a vaulted wooden structure that is painted white. It’s said to be sitting on top of a vortex of electromagnetic energy, which seems plausible given its proximity to the San Andreas Fault.

The Integratron is the creation of aeronautic engineer George Van Tassel, who died in 1978. Its current owners, Nancy and Joanne Karl, bill it as the only all-wood, “acoustically perfect sound chamber in the U.S.”

Van Tassel, who worked for such aerospace contractors as Lockheed, Douglas Aircraft, and Hughes Aviation, built the chamber based on the ideas of inventor Nikola Tesla and information he allegedly gleaned from channeling extraterrestrials. He began building the Integratron in 1954, not far from Giant Rock, a place long considered by Native Americans to be sacred because of its powerful energy.

Asked to describe the Integratron, Van Tassel told people that it was “a machine, a high-voltage electrostatic generator that would supply a broad range of frequencies to recharge the cell structure.”

Nancy Karl facilitates the rejuvenation with public sound baths, where she plays a series of nine quartz crystal bowls designed to activate the chakras in the body. With her radiant appearance and grounded, laid-back manner, Nancy is a walking advertisement for the benefits of the Integratron. It’s definitely working for her.

We mingled with folks before yesterday’s sound bath, many of them repeat customers for the $10, half-hour treatment. “California is wonderful that way — random strange things in the desert,” said one young woman as we prepared to enter the chamber.

The sound of the quartz bowls hurt my ears a little at first, but as the notes changed, I felt more comfortable. Many of the roughly 40 people in our sound bath fell asleep, but I didn’t feel particularly relaxed. In fact, the opposite was true. I felt energized, much the same way I have during acupuncture sessions when the therapist attached wires from the needles to electrodes.

© 2008 DDG

When we left the Integratron, the colors outside seemed more vivid than when we entered the chamber. I was definitely on a high that I can only compare to the way I felt not long after crossing the finish line of the New York City Marathon in 1999. I was also starving, so we stopped at the funky Crossroads Cafe in Joshua Tree for a restorative lunch. Then we made our way to Joshua Tree National Park, which felt like a trip indeed, thanks to my heightened sensitivity to color.

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:

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.

Panhandling in Palm Springs

Palm Springs, Calif., may have a reputation as a playground for the rich and famous, but the reality is somewhat different. Fact is, the wealth has moved down the road to the neighboring desert towns of Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, and Indian Wells, taking with it the upscale stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and luxury car dealerships.

Thank heavens the rich folks weren’t able to take Mount San Jacinto with them when they moved farther down Route 111. They have to settle for the foothills, while I’m just footsteps from Chino Canyon and the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

I like the fun, funky vibe of Palm Springs, which owes a lot to the lively gay scene. I have spent many happy hours combing the racks at Revivals, a chain of thrift shops that benefits the Desert AIDS Project, and getting fashion tips from ever-helpful Drew at Chico’s downtown. Sometimes I feel as if I’ve gotten a makeover on Bravo’s Queer Eye for the Straight Girl. Don’t worry, I’m not “outing” Drew. He’s out — so is half the town!

Another favorite Palm Springs pastime of mine is window-shopping at the used classic car lots. I dream of replacing the baby blue 1966 Ford Mustang that I crashed back in December, 1977. Saturn was at 0 degrees of Virgo then, quite close to where it is now. Maybe that’s why I’m eyeing Mustangs again. Fortunately, transiting Mars isn’t hanging around my Uranus in Leo, the way it was then. Mars/Uranus is an accident-prone aspect.

You know when I first decided that I had to have a 1966 Mustang? It was back in 1966, when I was watching That Girl starring Marlo Thomas. Her boyfriend, Donald Hollinger (Ted Bessell) drove a Mustang and worked for Newsview, obviously a stand-in for Newsweek magazine.

Now, most 6-year-old girls probably wanted to be an actress like Ann Marie, the character played by Thomas. Not me. I wanted to be Donald Hollinger because he worked for a magazine in New York and drove a Mustang. Even then, I could see it was much easier to be a journalist than an actress!

There’s no car in my life right now, and we’re living in what the locals call the “windy North side” of Palm Springs. When I want to take a break from my laptop, I make the 2-mile trek down to the heart of downtown. Along the way, I often encounter a fair number of homeless people, some of whom should be in rehab for drug or alcohol addiction or taking medication for mental illness.

Yesterday, I was walking down Palm Canyon Drive toward downtown when a bright-eyed, clean-cut young man with a ponytail approached me. I assumed he was going to ask for directions. I avoid making eye contact with folks who look scary and cross the street if they appear to be dangerous, but this kid seemed O.K. 

I was shocked when he gave me a big smile and said, “Hi, I just paid my rent and I don’t have any money. I get paid on the 5th. Could you give me a dollar?” (No one ever asks for anything less than a dollar here. Why not leave the contribution to the donor’s discretion? Somebody might hand you a $20 bill.)

“No, I’m sorry,” I said. But what I really wanted to say is: “I don’t have the money to pay my rent yet.”

Today is May Day, and the internalized voice of a long-lost Commie friend points out how little capitalism has achieved for the masses. He was Jewish boy from the Bronx who grew up during the Depression and got involved in organizing from the get-go, as his mother was shop steward of her milliners’ union. If he were still here, I’d hit him with one of my favorite John Kenneth Galbraith quotes: “Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it’s just the opposite.”

After my rant yesterday against folks who blame the victim, I can’t very well attack yesterday’s panhandler. But he got me thinking. None of the jobs around here, including the one that my husband has at an upscale golf resort, pay more than $11 an hour. That produces a paycheck of about $800 every two weeks.

The going rate for a one-bedroom apartment out here is $800 a month, though you can find one for a little less in August, when the temperature hits 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Throw in a car payment, auto insurance, and $4-a-gallon gasoline (some people do ride the bus out here, but it’s mostly schoolchildren and recent immigrants) and there’s not much left over.

My beggar yesterday was well-groomed and well-spoken. He was too healthy to be a crystal meth addict, though there are plenty of them in these parts. The young man looked about 22. He was so fresh-faced that if you cut his hair and gave him a suit, he could pass for a Mormon missionary. 

Is all his money going to pay off his student loans? Could be. Or does our vaunted service economy not pay him a “living” wage? I don’t know the answer. Maybe he’s been hitting the slots at the Spa Resort Casino, which, like a lot of Palm Springs, is owned by the Agua Caliente Indian tribe.

Even if I can’t afford the baby blue 1966 Mustang, maybe I need to splurge on a new retro Electra bicycle so I can dodge the beggars. Brother, can you spare a dollar?