ARIES (March 21-April 19) Here's how rock critic Aidin Vaziri described the stage set when hip-hop artist 50 Cent played in San Jose: "an urban wasteland that looked like it was designed by Disney (complete with an overturned police car, graffiti-covered trash cans and the decapitated head of the Statue of Liberty)." I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but there's a certain resemblance between that environment and yours. The so-called chaos you're surrounded by is either imaginary or artificial or both. It may be seductively well-made, and therefore hard to resist, but you can walk away from it any time you choose.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20) You have the potential to be a great wizard in the coming week. Here's how to fulfill that promise: 1) Renounce grandiose fantasies of transforming lead into gold or frogs into soul mates. 2) Think small, be specific, get extremely pragmatic and don't make up stories based on inconclusive evidence. 3) Take everything that's dreamy and hazy and bring it down to earth. 4) Don't bitch about the limitations; love them and use them to your advantage. 5) Treat idealism as a distraction unless it can be translated into concrete acts that do some good for actual human beings.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20) Millions believe in the existence of elite puppet masters who manipulate our shared resources to serve their own power and wealth rather than the public good. I'm not smart or crazy enough to evaluate this theory, but right now, it's crucial for you to be extremely skeptical of every authority, expert and leader. You should express similar discernment toward those who present themselves as hip, high-status or special. It will be to your advantage to disrespect hierarchies and become a devotee of pure democracy.
CANCER (June 21-July 22) "All I learned in the three colleges I attended," says my friend Davey, "was how to beat the system by using its own rules against it." "All I learned in college," declares author Miravi Bhuna-Giva, "was how to make up sh." "All I learned in college," asserts late-night TV talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, "was how to drink while standing on my head." All these educational experiences are highly recommended for you in the coming weeks. You're in a phase when you'll have luck and grace if you act like an eager student, whether you're trying to perfect the art of squeezing more perks out of the game of life or mastering goofy tricks that will make more people want to invite you to their parties.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22) Do you have total confidence in your ability to swing lawn chairs around with your teeth? Can you safely eat broken glass, withstand people riding bicycles over your belly and smash bricks with your head? If so, you don't need my advice this week. But if you're not sure you're capable of pulling off the kinds of feats I named, please resist the temptation to try them. For that matter, don't even think of submitting to other strenuous tests that are at the edge of your ability. This is a time for you to lay low and recharge, not throw yourself into trials by fire. Be modest and self-protective, not brazen and reckless.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) You have weathered a turning point in your relationship with darkness, and will never again be tempted by its strange attractions. Did you hear what I said? You have had your last encounters with hellish monsters that unleash torment for the fun of it. You will never again get mixed up with events that resemble crawling through caverns filled with the souls of the damned. In the future, you may on occasion have weird dreams about owls and spiders and snakes, but they will be good weird. Congrats.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22) "If the Angel decides to come it will be because you have convinced her, not by tears but by your humble resolve to be always beginning; to be a beginner." So said the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, as if speaking to your exact needs tight now. Let me offer this addendum: The Angel wants to come very badly. She is passionate about offering you the novel assistance she has dreamed up just for you.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21) Henri Matisse departed so recklessly from the traditions of his art form that some critics believed he threatened to undermine civilization. That seems unbelievable today. Can you imagine any modern painter, musician, writer or filmmaker being accorded that power? I can't. Those whose creative expression carries the greatest clout do their work in the areas of business and technology. I'll make an exception: You currently have the potential to wield dramatic influence with your creativity in every realm except business and technology.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) "Dear Rob: Two years ago I had intimate relations with a mountain. I was driving toward the Cascades when I became aware of a physical longing for Bonanza Peak, which lay ahead of me. As I got closer, I rolled down the windows and sucked in the cool air. I had the exact same sensation as loving someone so deeply that breathing in their breath fills me with erotic images and naughty tingles and lusty compassion. I thought you should know. Earth Lover."
Dear Earth Lover: Thanks for your testimony. It's the perfect message for Sagittarians to hear right now, so I'm advising them to learn from your example.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) There's a connection between al-Qaida and actor Kevin Bacon, according to Tatsuya Ishida at www.sinfest.net. Al-Qaida was trained by the CIA, he says, which was established by President Harry Truman, who dropped the atom bomb, which was cooked up by the Manhattan Project, which was the name of a movie starring John Lithgow, who was in the film Footloose with Kevin Bacon. I invite you to make liberal use of this kind of logic in the coming days. It will be healthy for you to let your imagination run away with you as long as you don't take as gospel truth all the conclusions it leads you to. So please feel free to ramble down the fine line between creative storytelling and total BS.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18) When your plane takes off and the flight attendants give you their lecture on what to do in case of emergency, they remind you that "your nearest exit may be behind you." That's good advice for you to keep in mind during the coming week. I don't mean to imply that you'll be facing some literal danger that will require you to make a quick escape. What I do suggest is that you remove yourself, at least temporarily, from a certain process that's barreling full-speed ahead. The best way to do it is to go backward, into the past or in reverse.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20) When I went to a hardcore rock festival recently, all but one of the bands made abundant use of the F-word. They invoked it so often, both in their songs and between-song patter, that it got boring. The lone group that departed from the norm did express gleeful rage, but it was with a phrase I rarely hear anymore. "I don't give a damn," the singer shouted at the end of one song. I chuckled at the archaic modesty of the expression, but it stayed with me more than the histrionics the other bands preferred. That brings me to the advice I have for you: Get to the root of your anger and then render it with an understated craft that sets it apart from the overwrought venting that everyone has grown numb to.