Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sheila's list of Five Mystery Series you might like if you like the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series (The Beekeeper's Apprentice, etc.)

Laurie R. King's other series, featuring detective Kate Martinelli and set in contemporary San Francisco.
sample books: A Grave Talent, With Child, To Play the Fool

Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series, set in London after WWI, with Maisie practicing at the intersection of early psychotherapy and forensics.
sample books: Maisie Dobbs, An Incomplete Revenge, Among the Mad

Rennie Airth's John Madden series, set in the English countryside and wonderfully written, featuring a Scotland Yard detective-turned-farmer and his physician wife in the run-up to WWII.
books in the series so far: River of Darkness, The Blood-Dimmed Tide, and The Dead of Winter

Dorothy Sayers' classic Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane books. This series is a masterpiece of Britain's Golden Age of detective fiction.
sample books: Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, Gaudy Night, Busman's Honeymoon. (And featuring Lord Peter but not Harriet: The Nine Tailors.)

Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins books combine a lively mix of the occult and supernatural, the folklore of the English/Welsh border, and the trials of single motherhood in the Anglican clergy.
sample books: Midwinter of the Spirit, Lamp of the Wicked, To Dream of the Dead

July 2010, Sheila Avelin

Friday, July 30, 2010

Erica’s Five Extraordinary Correspondences

I confess: I’m a snoop. I will go through the text messages on your cell phone. I will read your email and sift through your private papers. If you have a deep, dark secret, do not keep it in a shoebox in your closet. I will find it. Luckily, there is a literary genre that allows me to indulge my need to snoop: the epistolary novel. I can read other people’s fake letters and nobody gets hurt.

Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence by Nick Bantock (Chronicle Books, $19.95)
The letter fetishist in me lives her guilty pleasure each and every time she slips between the covers of this beautifully written and illustrated book. The correspondence of the title characters is fastened to the pages allowing you to slip handwritten letters from their envelopes and hold them between your sweaty palms. Feel like both a god and a pervert as you examine the intimate letters of Griffin Moss, an isolated artist living in London, and Sabine Strohem, an unknown woman who, though thousands of miles away, can somehow see and experience his art as he creates it. Is she real or a figment of Griffin’s troubled imagination? “Foolish man,” Sabine writes, “You cannot turn me into a phantom because you are frightened.” Nothing like a quarrelsome muse to make you question your own sanity.

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (Penguin, $13.00)
This book is the exception on the list in that the extraordinary correspondence within its pages is entirely real. While living in New York and working as both a playwright and screenwriter, the Philadelphia born Hanff, began writing to Marks & Co., Booksellers in London in search of hard-to-find books. What evolved was a twenty year correspondence between Hanff and the employees of Marks & Co., specifically Frank Doel, the reserved Englishman in charge of granting her literary requests. Hanff’s spirited letters betray her fine wit and dry sense of humor. She is a literary broad of the finest quality and it’s thrilling to witness her relationship with her friends across the Atlantic unfold from one letter to the next.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (Simon & Schuster, $14.00)
Wallflower has been called many things ranging from cult classic to a coming of age story in the vein of The Catcher in the Rye, which the book itself references in passing. Neither of these descriptions does it justice for me. When you open the pages and immerse yourself in the letters of the titular wallflower, Charlie, what emerges is an unflinching portrait of a teenaged boy caught between passivity and the desire to “participate.” The novel is composed solely of Charlie’s letters addressed to an anonymous “Friend,” a one-way communication which leaves the reader to fill the other half of the correspondence. It’s an intimate and troubling role to fill as you witness Charlie’s struggle to engage not only the people around him, but his own personhood.

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn (Anchor Books, $14.00)
Say the title three times fast. Sound like a familiar sequence of letters? Letters, i.e., the individual characters which make up our alphabet, are of the utmost importance in Dunn’s pleasantly clever tale of the tiny island nation of Nollop, whose citizens find their speech increasingly restricted as the use of one letter after another is outlawed. Dunn’s characters savor language and it’s an absolute delight to read their missives and experience their struggle to preserve their right to write using each and every letter of the alphabet, even that “funny little letter” Z.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker (Houghton Mifflin, $14.95)
Walker’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel begins with Celie’s letters to God. It’s a tricky thing writing to God. I don’t know of anyone who has His address and chances are He won’t write back. But for Celie, there aren’t many who will stand as witness to the unflinching brutality of her life. Her forthright language does nothing to disguise the pain and violence of her existence, but she draws strength from the women around her (the indomitable Sofia, the scintillating Shug Avery) and discovers herself in the process. Celie’s beautiful, tender humanity unfolds in her letters through the stark, blunt honesty of her words.

July 2010, Erica David

Poetic License Horoscope: July 30- August 6

Writing Games Horoscope

(Note: Your horoscopist moonlights as Philadelphia’s Slam Mistress. This week’s horoscope will appear in The Fuze Anthology: The Phenomena of Temporary, which contains many local and national poetry favorites and benefits the Philly Slam Team’s trip to nationals. Come out and celebrate with us at The Fuze tonight, July 30, at 7:30 pm, InFusion Coffee and Tea, 7133 Germantown Ave. For more info contact

Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): Listen to the Redwalls song “Thank You” and any other gratitude-themed songs you can think of. (Send me your list!) While you’re listening, draw a picture of someone you’re really, really grateful to. Make a detailed list of why, and give it to the person ASAP.

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): Take out a copy of Blake’s “Songs of Innocence and Experience” Look up “The Tyger” and read it aloud. Draw a picture of your favorite animal. Paste it to a piece of construction paper. Beneath that, write all the things your animal could say, if it could speak.

Libra(Sept. 24-Oct. 21): Find yourself a shaman, or hope that one finds you. He or she will instruct you on how to visit the underworld and will probably drum while doing so. Find your power animal. Ask him or her what to write about.

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): (Props to Lynda Barry on this one!) Draw a diagram of the exact moment your heart was broken. Put yourself at the center of the page, draw/list what is above your, below you, etc. Sleep with this diagram under your pillow. Your dreams will digest it into a poem.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): Write down everything you overhear in the next 24 hours, paying special attention to the children on the bus. Their questions are your new gurus. Write religious texts on their behalf. Now print up tracts and stand on street corners circulating them.

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): Learn the names of 20 new butterflies. Write them little plays. Is the Blue Morpho hooked on the nectar again? What’s her relationship to the Tiger Mimic-Queen? Do they go out with Malachite for rotting fruit? What’s going on with Mexican Sister? (I could do this all day…)

Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): Those love letters you keep getting? Print them out and cut them up lovingly, preferably with patterned craft shears. Rearrange them like refrigerator poetry. Glue up sheets of them so that passersby will feel adored but also confused. As always, bonus points for glitter.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): Find an Office Max or similar store that’s going out of business. Buy up all the red pens at a steep discount. Use these to begin listing your gentlest memories, in order of their similarity to rose petals. Make these into origami roses to hand out to everyone you’d like to meet.

Aries: (March 21-April 18): Get a small notebook like comedians carry. Start collecting jokes, one-liners, funny status-updates, etc. After you’ve been collecting them for awhile, print them out on little slips. Sneak them into fortune cookies when nobody’s looking. Invite your true love out for Chinese food.

Taurus (April 19-May 18): Begin by making a list of all the friends you regret losing. Now make each one a mix tape whose songs explicitly express that regret. Mail out the mixes if you can stand to, wrapped in collages from back issues of Real Simple magazine. Translate your ex-friends’ responses into new poems.

Gemini (May 19-June 21): Set your timer for ten minutes. Make a list of all your lost loves. Doesn’t have to just be people. What about lost jobs, CDs, hats you lost in the mosh pits of your wayward youth. Go into detail about every facet and sting. You’ll feel better.

Cancer (June 22-July 23): What’s that thing that’s been pissing you off? Google “pantoum” and write about that pesky obsession- the rhythmic repetition gives you the go ahead to ruminate ruminate, ruminate! What a relief!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

(Approximately) Five Books by People Jen Knows Outside of the Book Industry

The Carnival of the Animals, edited by Judith Chernaik, with CD by the Apollo Chamber Players, David Chernaik, conductor. (Candlewick Press, $16.99)
My aunt Judith is the creator of Poems on the Underground, posting poetry alongside advertisements on the London Underground since 1986. This illustrated version of “The Carnival of the Animals” has new poems penned by previously posted poets (plus my aunt) and illustrations by Satoshi Kitamura, with an orchestral CD conducted by my cousin David. With poems read in lovely British accents!

The Moonlight Mistress by Victoria Janssen (Harlequin Spice, $13.95)
My friend Victoria has published two entertainingly erotic novels with Harlequin Spice and has two more on the way. This one is historical, with a twist: werewolves during World War I. What could be more sexy?

The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery (Penguin, $15)
Nif’s friend Ellis won a Lambda Award for this intense novel, set in Japan just before widespread contact with the outside world, when cultural traditions turn upside down.

Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power & a World Without Rape, co-edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti (Seal Press, $16.95)
Since we knew each other in college, Jaclyn has used her writing, performance, and activism to highlight messages about feminism, sexual assault, and sexual self-empowerment. A collection of powerful essays.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
(HarperCollins, $12.99; early volumes available in paperback for $6.99)

If you’ve read the first few books of this series and stopped for fear they would become repetitive, I urge you to continue on: soon you will encounter the overarching story arc, intrigue about the author, and Sunny’s unstoppable progress with language. I had a lot of fun! (Technically, it’s not Lemony Snicket I know, but his nonfictional handler.)

July 2010, Jennifer Sheffield

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Maleka's Five Poetry Collections to Sink Your Teeth Into

Grit and tender membrane by Samantha Barrow (Plan B Press, $13.95)
"I will be wearing the stench of celestial love in the morning"

The World is Round by Nikky Finney (InnerLight Publishing, $14.95)
"I turned around held up my shirt and brought my smooth belly into her scarred one; our navels pressing, making out some kind of new equatorial line."

What the Living Do by Marie Howe (Norton, $13.95)
"and I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I'm speechless: I am living, I remember you."

The Republic of Poetry by Martin Espada (Norton, $13.95)
"I don't like to be still. I want to climb the steps at Macchu Picchu. I want to talk about poetry all night. I want more wine."

New and Selected Poems: Volume One by Mary Oliver (Beacon, $17.00)
"I don't want to end up simply having visited this world."

-July 2010, Maleka Fruean

Monday, July 26, 2010

Kasey's Top Five Picture Books for Grown-Ups

The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman (Penguin, $20.00)
The back of this book says it best: The Principles of Uncertainty is about "death, love, and candy (not necessarily in that order)." It's also a memoir, a philosophical treatise, and a travelogue, filled with whimsical, gorgeously colorful, not-like-anything-else illustrations. Read slowly and savor!

French Milk by Lucy Knisley (Touchstone Books, $15.00)
I'm not usually a fan of graphic novels, but I fell in love with French Milk the moment I opened it. Blending hand-written text with photographs and drawings, this memoir tells the story of the author's visit to France with her mother; it's a coming-of-age tale, a tribute to friendship (especially the mother-daughter variety), and a love letter to a country and a particular time in life, all in one.

A Year of Mornings: 3191 Miles Apart by Maria Alexandra Vattese and Stephanie Congdon Barnes (Princeton Architectural Press, $21.95)
This gorgeous book of photographs records moments in the lives of the two authors, both bloggers and both residents of Portland (one Maine, the other Oregon), who decided to take one picture before 10 a.m. each day for a year. Spending time with their photos, which often center on small domestic details like coffee cups and cats' tails, always encourages me to slow down and notice the incredible beauty in the everyday.

Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills by Raleigh Briggs (Microcosm Publishing, $7.00)
This isn't really a picture book, but I'm including it because it's just as much fun to look at (a lot) as it is to read. Beautifully hand-lettered as well as hand-drawn, this book teaches you how to clean everything from your face to your floor using natural, non-toxic ingredients... and there's a great gardening section as well. Raleigh Briggs is an inspiration!

The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald (New Directions, $15.95)
One of the most haunting and memorable books I've ever read, The Emigrants is hard to describe. It's fiction, but reads like a memoir/family history/travelogue, and the text is accompanied by strange ghostly photographs that become impossible to separate from the magical experience of reading it. This is the sort of book that takes hold of you, gently but firmly, and won't let you go for a long, long time.

July 2010, Kasey Jueds

Friday, July 23, 2010

Five Six of Zivia's favorite books of mythology, folk tales, and gods and goddesses

The Serpent Slayer by Katrin Tchana, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
Stories of brave, clever, stalwart, and fierce women from all around the world, stirringly retold with rich illustrations by a mother-daughter team.

D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths and
D'Aulaire's Book of Norse Myths by Ingri and Edgar D'Aulaire
Wonderful compendiums of stories, with simple, accessible illustrations. A perfect start to a classic education.

Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales,
chosen by Nelson Mandela
Stories from all around the continent, both classic and contemporary, each one retold and illustrated by a different team. The audiobook (available at emusic or iTunes) is also wonderful. An all-star collection in every format.

The Little Book of Hindu Deities by Sanjay Patel
Super-appealing, color-saturated pictures of each deity created by a Pixar-studio animator, each with an explanation of the god or goddess's place in the pantheon.

Trickster, edited by Matt Dembicki
Graphic-novel format retellings of trickster stories from different Native American storytellers, including traditions from across North America. (We're still waiting for this one to come in, but we're including it because it looks awesome!)

July 2010, Sheila and Zivia Avelin

Poetic License Horoscope for July 23-29

by Jane Cassady

A Little St. Teresa, Some Cross-Dressing, and a Lot of Sarah Silverman

Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): Well, it’s summer, which means that we are now a little bit sucked into Big Brother 12. I admire the set artists who set up elaborate games in the jerktestants’ backyard. Be the kind of evil genius who’d make people crawl through caramel and then dig through popcorn for the prize of running the house.

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): In her wonderful memoir, The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee, Sarah Silverman described her childhood depression as “I felt homesick, but I was home.” Love the things that mean home to you. Kiss your vintage pitchers and cuddle the couch pillows. Don’t be in a hurry to clean up after parties.

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): Yesterday I spent the better part of a day trying to track down a lost library book. Last night, when the house cooled down enough to think, I sat down for a nice long session of bill-paying, paper-shredding, and checkbook-balancing. Cross-dress as a Virgo this week. Have my kind of fun!

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): Write a love song to your résumé. Praise your font choice, your years of experience concisely listed, your leaving off the phone numbers of mean people. Holy crap, you’ve accomplished some stuff.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): St. Teresa of Avila wrote: “All concepts of God are like a jar we break, because only the infinite can contain our perfect love.” Prepare for everything you love to come streaming through the windows like sunlight, scattering prisms.

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): Ride the busses for their air-conditioning. See the whole city grid, the theatre production of public transportation. Let your guard down and get chatty. Ride to the end of the line.

Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): I had a dance party last weekend and my friend’s band played. I can’t even put into words how happy I was when he revealed a Lady Gaga costume and sang “Paparazzi.” Not only did I appreciate the work that went into learning one of my favorite songs, but he’d been hiding tights and gold Spanx underneath his jeans through half a set, in a sweltering apartment. Have that much commitment to your art—and your friends!

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): Start collecting envelopes of all sizes, stamps of every denomination. Be as mail-prolific as semi-outsider artist Ray Johnson. List off your garden. Send stickers and music. We’re all waiting like mail slots.

Aries (March 21-April 18): I read somewhere that if you leave your stuff with someone, you are trying to make sure you see that person again. Leave important belongings everywhere: your camera in strange living rooms, your car on little side streets, your shoes in mysterious doorways. Almost anything could happen.

Taurus (April 19-May 18): Be beautifully, snugglishly silly this week. Listen to the funny things that people say and say them louder. Tell your whole arsenal of jokes. Stage competitive dramatic readings of pop songs. Flip a coin to see who wins.

Gemini (May 19-June 21): Enjoy this quote from my memoir-crush of the week, Sarah Silverman: “A lot of comics think the real threat of mental blockage lies in being happy. They fear that happiness or just dealing with their shit might make them not funny anymore. To me, that’s a bunch of romanticized bullshit.” Let’s do it, Gemini. Let’s get what we want and take our art with us.

Cancer (June 22-July 23): (Again with the Sarah Silverman!) She says that her overarching philosophy of life is “Make it a treat.” She tries not to overindulge in things she loves, so she won’t get sick of them. She’s talking about marijuana and fart jokes, but I believe it could be applied to anything.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Quote: Gail Carriger

    "Alexia finished her repast, gathered up her dispatch case, her latest parasol, and her long woolen coat, and wandered out the front door.
    "Only to discover exactly where everyone had gone--outside onto the sweeping front lawn that led up to the cobbled courtyard of the castle. They had managed to multiply themselves, don attire of a military persuasion, and, for some reason known only to their tiny little werewolf brains, proceed to engage in setting up a considerable number of large canvas tents. This involved the latest in government-issue self-expanding steam poles, boiled in large copper pots like so much metal pasta. Each one started out the size of a spyglass before the heat caused it to suddenly expand with a popping noise. As was the general military protocol, it took far more soldiers than it ought to stand around watching the poles boil, and when one expanded, a cheer erupted forth. The pole was grasped between a set of leather potholders and taken off to a tent."

--Gail Carriger, Changeless, an Alexia Tarrabotti novel.

Soulless, Changeless, and the upcoming Blameless are part of the Parasol Protectorate series, a lovely alternate history and comedy of manners set in Victorian England. Supernaturals such as werewolves and vampires, who carry an apparent excess of soul, are fully integrated into English society, but much less is known about preternaturals, those apparently born without a soul and known for negating supernatural powers with a touch. Alexia Tarrabotti is one such preternatural, practical and with no patience for nonsense. Or for large officious werewolves. And yet so much nonsense comes to call...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Janet's Five Books: Beach Reads for Each Age

A Beachcomber's Odyssey by S. Deacon Ritterbush, Ph.D.
(Ritz Dotter, $39.95)

Filled with exceptional photographs (taken by Megan Elyse Lloyd who was working at a 24 hour drive through photo lab at the time), A Beachcomber's Odyssey is a tribute to the Zen of attentively strolling the shore line, eyes lowered, searching without expectation for the next treasure. Between photographs are memoirs to the healing properties of water and nature.

Bike Snob by Christopher Koelle (Chronicle Books, $16.95)
We all know the value of laughing at ourselves and the material items we often take so seriously. I especially liked Chapter Three which includes the "various subsets of cyclists". My sister-in-law just began training for a 50 mile charity ride. She doesn't know what make her bike is, how to work the gears, but she does knows that the bike is red. She's my kind of cyclist. I sent her the book.

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson (Scholastic, $8.99)
Enjoy the eccentricity of the Martin family who own and manage a failing hotel in New York City. Each character is brought to life by Johnson's elegant description. Endearing is the deep love and understanding of each member of the family towards one another. Suite Scarlett was the Young Adult Book Discussion choice for June. The cover is a brilliant RED.

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee (Harcourt, $16.00)
Eamon and his best friend, James, go to a week of "nature camp" which means a week with Eamon's grandparents who live on the beach. Your child will love the adventures, meals and simple acceptance and love that create the best week ever. Store legend has it that the day this book arrived was the first day that I sat down (to read) at the store.
[Editor's note: This book is also one of Mo's Staycation Picks this month.]

Be Happy by Monica Sheehan (Simon and Schuster, $7.99)
A small price to pay for simple and wise advise in the guise of a board book. Be Happy is sweetly illustrated with a juggling dog.

July 2010, Janet Elfant

Monday, July 19, 2010

Anatole's Five All-Time Favorite Books about Mice (by Claudia)

As you know from my Happy Go Lucky picks in April, I share my life with a furry companion named Anatole. Anatole is not only a handsome and smart and compassionate and wise and most loving and and and ... cat; like his owner he appreciates books, especially the ones that tell a good mouse story. Celeste, Chrysanthemum, Frederick, Cookie mouse and Babymouse became treasured friends, and the cozy illustrations and humorous language make us purr with delight.

So let's daydream into the summer with Anatole’s mice friends.

A Nest for Celeste by Henry Cole (HarperCollins, $16.99)

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes (William Morrow, $6.99)

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff (HarperCollins, $16.99)

Frederick by Leo Lionni (Random House, $6.99)

Babymouse by Jennifer L. Holmes and Matthew Holm (Random House, $5.95)

July 2010, Claudia Vesterby

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mo's Five Staycation Picks

Arrive without traveling--have a staycation with a book. Here are five that I enjoy.

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee (Houghton Mifflin, $16)

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell (Simon and Schuster, $15)

The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper: Recipes, Stories, and Opinions From Public Radio's Award-Winning Food Show by Lynne Rossetto Kasper (Clarkson Potter, $35.00)

How to Be An Explorer of the World: Portable Art Life Museum by Keri Smith (Penguin, $14.95)
[Editor's note: This book is also one of Maleka's May picks.]

You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination by Katherine Harmon (Princeton Architectural Press, $24.95)

July 2010, Mo Speller

Friday, July 16, 2010

Poetic License Horoscope for July 16-22

Poetic License Horoscope by Jane Cassady

With Advice from Lady Gaga, William Carlos Williams, and Band of Horses

Cancer (June 22-July 23): Once, during my Orange County days, my friend Jaimes was driving me home on the 405 when the dash lights started flickering. He got us safely to a gas station before the alternator died. He then proceeded to get out of the car and yell angrily skywards, asking God why this had happened. Rage against unfairness this week. Stamp your foot.

Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): Never get a couch that needs a slipcover. You will spend all of your time arranging the fabric to try and cover up the spots and stains. Get something that’s good and beautiful all the way through. Your ass deserves it!

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): Since your deepest desire is to be confided in, practice keeping confidences. Sew whispers and secrets into your coat like satin patches. It’s a little warm for this.

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): You like parties with lots of costumes. Next year you’ll be my date for the Steampunk World’s Fair, “A Three Day Expedition into Yesterday’s Future!” Start buiding yourself a copper shell, lit with glowsticks. Meanwhile, Halloween is mere months away—start boning the corsets, building the scaffold.

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): I believe in haircuts. Lay back and let a stranger shampoo you. When the scissoring begins, let each strand represent a mistake you’d like to forget. Someone will sweep them away.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): Your viral video of the week is “Yosemitebear Mountain Giant Double Rainbow 1-8-10.”(sic) Go camping by yourself and show enough awe to rival early American wilderness painters. It’s almost a triple rainbow. It goes all the way across the sky. What it means is that you’ll have everything.

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): I bought a poetry collection called The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing. I’m surprisingly giddy to read it. Let’s open up to a random page, shall we? “If you can bring nothing to this place/but your carcass, keep out.” (William Carlos Williams)

Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): In The Golden Compass, Lyra, the heroine, reads archetypal symbols said Golden Compass to plan out her next move. Here are your symbols, Aquarius: The Key, The Notebook, The Butterfly, The Giant Squid.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): Please enjoy this quote from Lady Gaga’s latest Rolling Stone interview: “When you work as hard as I do or you resign yourself to something like music or art or something, you have to commit yourself to the struggle and commit yourself to the pain. And I commit myself wholeheartedly to my heartbreak…It’s a representation of my work. As artists, we are eternally heartbroken.” Discuss.

Aries (March 21-April 18): Interviewer Lynn Hirschberg apparently makes a habit of coaxing rock stars into ordering French fries fried in truffle oil, then using that as an example of how bougie they are. Don’t let anybody tell your story like that. Be like M.I.A. and release a retaliatory single. Or two.

Taurus (April 19-May 18): I think I need to use my weekly So You Think You Can Dance time for something else. Mia Michaels’ phlegmatic alterna-sniping is no match for Mary Murphy shrieking about the Hot Tamale Train. It’s just not so fun anymore!

Gemini (May 19-June 21): Here are some great lyrics from the Band of Horses song “Factory”: “Now then later, I was thinking it over by the snack machine/I thought about you and a candy bar/The Now and Laters, now that I've got, stuck between my teeth/
I fell asleep to the greatest movie of the year” Do just that kind of motel ruminating.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Poetic License Horoscopes for July 9-15

Mix-Tape Obsessed Again! by Jane Cassady

(This week's picture is courtesy of the wonderful Rosanna Speller.)

Cancer: A favorite couple of mine sent a care package not too long ago. It included a blue glitter framed hand mirror, a box of fancy chocolates, a ticket to a Cirque du Soleil “Love” performance that they went to on my birthday, and TWENTY EIGHT CDs.If you send someone 28 CDs, some of them are bound to be exactly what that person needed.

Leo: Here’s an inadvisable way to be happy: they say you get a serotonin boost every time you correct someone. Go ahead, my darling backseat driver, use the imaginary brake on the passenger side, look back with me when I change lanes. Just don’t be surprised when I ask you to parallel park for me.

Virgo: It’s weird dancing to eighties hip-hop songs at a respectful distance. I feel a little lonely if folks aren’t all up in my proverbial business. Surrender to whatever it is that makes you cross boundaries. It’s probably the bassline.

Libra: A friend of mine once asked for my address so he could send me a mix, then liked said mix so much that he kept it, listened to it in the car, had LeTigre sing alongs with his little daughter. I know this because he sent me a poem about the mix he didn’t send. I feel like a millionaire just typing this story.

Scorpio: Interrupt the conversation to point out the birds you see. “OOH look, a tufted titmouse!” is really fun to say. Shush your best friend so you can hear the first notes of a song: some things are just worth it.

Sagittarius: A Sag pal who works in a preschool complains about her students not needing her enough. “They’re all just privileged princes and princesses.” But everyone needs care, Sagittarius. Even you.

Capricorn: We’re both writing memoirs, but yours is braver. While mine is hidden on the desktop in a folder marked “My Issues,” yours is on display for all to see. So brave, Capricorn. You’re winning.

Aquarius: You told me not to worry about being too old for the club, because we’re all made mostly of water, and water's really old, and the atoms that make up the water are even older than that. So sensible. I love songs about how everything’s all really one thing.

Pisces: “Conscientiousness is no friend of serendipity.” Says Psychology Today. Kurt Vonnegut said “I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different.” So do it: dawdle in doorways, pick up conversations with pretty strangers, click on unnecessary links: it’ll make you luckier!

Aries: This week, my dad moved back from Iowa to live closer to his kids and grandkids. Pack up your metaphorical car this week, Aries, move closer to what you love, even if it means braving the lake-effect winters of Upstate New York.

Taurus: Nobody really goes to their high-school reunion, so make a real one for yourself. Get together your nineties Club Kids and spare no glitter. There must still be a coffeehouse somewhere for Xers to slack in. Make a scrapbook of all your old mosh pits and vintage dresses. (Note: Your horoscopist knows she’s dating herself.)

Gemini: I’m making you SO MANY cupcakes this week, Gemini. Not from scratch, but still. The act of scooping a can of frosting into a bowl, beating it on high to froth it up, and adding just the right amount of food coloring: that’s the sprinkled alchemy we need this week. I keep forgetting and then remembering.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Poetic License Horoscope: July 2-8

Poetic License Horoscope by Jane Cassady

(With thanks to The Academy of Natural Sciences, the TV show Work of Art, and a couple of other things.)

Cancer: (Happy birthday to my poetry-dad, Daniel McGinn!) I’m writing Cancer in Love Park today. The fountain in front of me is emphatic. The music behind me is pleasant. The air is full of mist and the temperature is perfect. This year, may everything good gush forth and fill the air.

Leo: I feel guilty whenever I go to a museum without you, but I always bring you a souvenir. Please accept this squashed penny with a squid on it, this Learn About Tropical Butterflies sticker book, this four-color pen.

My power animal lately is a blue butterfly, and today, a Blue Morpho flew right at my face and fluttered around me for a long while. This is your luck, too, Virgo. All your fluttering, nectar-sipping, lantana-loving hopes are coming for you.

Libra: It’s an all-you-can eat buffet this week, Libra. Try everything, even those weird little squares of cake. Remember to still give your server a full tip, he or she keeps taking all of your dishes.

Scorpio: I’m here as your bad influence, Scorpio. Make one call too many. Sit in front of your screens for hours. Miss deadlines and forget the bills. It’ll all wait.

Sagittarius: If you knew the number of times people think to themselves “I love (your name here),” you could spend all of your extra worry-energy on art instead. Make us paper snowflakes shaped like our hearts, sing lullabies to your houseplants, write an opera starring your beautiful children and/or friends.

As I was reminded by an adorable light-up ocean-model today, the sea floor isn’t flat, but mountainous. Undersea mountains have their own special creatures. Do some underwater mountain climbing this week, and look for the intricate basket starfish!

Your word of the week is “bioluminescence.” You don’t have anything to worry about deep under the sea- the lights on you are camouflage to match the color of the ocean’s surface.

I’m throwing a dance party, Pisces, and I hope you’ll come. Let’s shake it while we agree that yes, indeed, that girl is poison, throw our hands up in the matter of the apathetic. Whoomp, Pisces, there it is.

Aries: Before the passenger pigeon went extinct, they used to star in these incredibly elaborate meals at Wanamaker’s restaurant, huge towers of pigeon, all decked out in flame, more and more absurd in scale. Be exactly ten percent as decadent as that.

Taurus: This week on Work of Art, the artist were assigned to make a shocking piece of art. As much as I love Work of Art and would watch 12 hours a day of it if they had a live feed like Big Brother and the oil spill have, “Make something shocking.” is kind of an empty idea to start with. Be surprised by the subtle this week, Taurus. Fall for the unassuming.

Gemini: This week I was being my mom by getting into chats with total strangers at cash registers, and it kind of paid off: the girl who works at the art store knows Abdi from Work of Art. She says he’s super nice, double majored in art and religion, and he went to Penn. All this makes me want to root for him, but I still think his stuff is a little too literal.