Eyes in Movies

Mar 06 2013 Published by under On Screen

Photo by April White

A native of Wolseley, Saskatchewan, Jonathan Petrychyn is currently completing graduate studies at Memorial University after completing an undergraduate in Film Studies. As part of the Words in Edgewise series at the Eastern Edge Gallery, he did a presentation on eyes in cinema in February. Petrychyn recently chatted with Adam Clarke about that presentation, which you can watch online below.

So, why do a presentation on eyes?
I wanted to see how many pictures I could get of eyes from various films and spend 20 seconds talking about each one. Later, that concept expanded to spectatorship and the concept of vision in general. I used The Ring since the cursed video is like an eye. I talked about Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, since you can’t talk about eyes in film without talking about Rear Window. Also, Un Chien Andalou, [by Luis Buñuel and artist Salvador Dalí] from 1926 where the eye gets sliced with a razor blade.

Rear Window and Un Chien Andalou both represent in this very broad, airy-fairy, very metaphorical way, the governing ways we approach vision and perception in cinema. Andalou splits the eye which to me speaks to that idea of split vision and the camera’s vision, the spectator’s vision and the character’s vision. All the ideas Laura Mulvey goes on about in her seminal, widely-anthologized article from ‘75, “Visual Pleasure & Narrative Cinema.” Then in Rear Window, that whole film is a metaphor for cinema. James Stewart is sitting there, staring out his window and he is imposing narrative on random events. That’s Hitchcock’s metaphor for cinema. I feel that, when people go to the movies, that’s what happens. This process of negotiating between their vision, the camera’s vision, the projector’s vision, the character’s vision… all these different ways of looking and you’re stuck here in your chair. You can’t move. Well, you can, but etiquette suggests that you shouldn’t.

Eyes in Movies

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Hot Ticket: Spookey Ruben – March 1 & March 2

Mar 01 2013 Published by under Hot Ticket

Once upon a time, MuchMusic played music videos, and it occasionally launched some very left-field careers. Spookey Ruben’s is just such a career. Breaking onto the airwaves in 1995 with his video for “These Days Are Old” from Modes of Transportation Vol. 1, Ruben’s surreal, jangly pop attracted major attention, and he’s been keeping it weird ever since. Ottawa-native Ruben will be joined by fellow Ontarians Thunderclap, and will perform two shows at the start of the month. Spookey’s getting local support from George Nervous Four, Devon & Waterman, Nuke ‘Em, Face The Day, and Fireign. Both shows start at 10pm at Distortion.

Hot Ticket: Spookey Ruben – March 1 & March 2

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Flashbacks: February 2013

Mar 01 2013 Published by under Flashbacks

The spring of hope may be just around the corner, but February is still crotch-deep in the winter of despair. But if the never-ending parade of winter storms is leaving you out in the cold, don’t worry: there’s enough hot air being blown around in the news this month to make St. John’s feel downright tropical.

Senators: the opposite of beer goggles

So, anyways, the Ottawa senators are a giant mess this year, and that’s not a hockey jab. For those of you unfamiliar with the subtle machinations of the archaic mess we call a federal government, the Senate is an unelected body of patronage appointments meant to provide “sober second thought” to legislation coming out of the House of Commons (which was presumably really important back when Canada’s first few governments were run by raging drunks). While creating a class of pseudo-aristocrats to put a check on democracy fit right in with the Victorian era, this argument feels a little less compelling now that we’re into the second decade of the 21st Century. What little dignity the Red Chamber has as a grand historic institution is also being squandered by recent embarrassing behaviour from many senators themselves. A cadre of senators led by former CTV pundit Mike Duffy have been busted for claiming tens of thousands of dollars a year in living expenses for a ‘second home’ in Ottawa despite already living in the national capital for decades. To make matters worse, another one of those double-dippers—young Patrick Brazeau—was recently arrested on charges of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Senator He-Man defends Eternia but permanently resides in Etheria

Both the NDP and the Conservatives have expressed interest in tackling the Senate problem for years, and the recent surge of scandal has started tipping popular opinion away from fixing it and towards just scrapping it altogether. Abolition is certainly tempting. The idea of keeping the patronage status quo is nothing short of depressing (despite what Justin Trudeau might tell you), but the cure isn’t immediately much less painful. Reform would likely trigger a Constitutional crisis (the best kind of crisis!) where we’re forced to get all the provinces to agree over serious arguments like seat proportions, and good luck getting Ontario, Quebec, the West and the Atlantic to agree on who gets more power in the Senate. There is also the nightmare scenario that two different political parties might separately control the Commons and the Senate at the same time and that nothing would ever get done (although some wonks find that kinky). Getting rid of the Senate entirely would certainly be easier, but then we have other problems: like, say, the Prime Minister in a majority government having even fewer checks on their already almost limitless power. Even if everyone starts electing senators like they do in Alberta, who is ultimately appointed is still the Prime Minister’s decision: and let’s be honest, can you imagine anyone appointing a Bloc Senator?

It wasn't the politicians poll-cooking, it was THIS KITTEN

Back home on the Island, of course, our democratically elected officials are giving us grief with a distinctly 21st century problem: it turns out the provincial government has a high-school calibre inferiority complex. Public luminary Paul Lane was caught with his proverbial pants down after a series of leaked Blackberry messages revealed that, despite his earlier claims to the contrary on VOCM, he took a leading role in pressuring Tory MHAs and staffers to actively cook online opinion polls to make the government seem more popular. Partisans are not only instructed how to vote in each poll, but are also issued with instructions on how to game the websites and vote multiple times to ensure that the party line wins by a landslide. For about a week after this broke, Lane was uncharacteristically silent and refused comment, so Kathy Dunderdale came to his rescue by shrugging it off and equated this with phone-bombing votes for Rex Goudie on Canadian Idol. In fact, this whole thing is really a non-story and we should all just move on to caring about more pressing things, like a looming multi-billion dollar budget deficit, a public sector hiring freeze, rumours of layoffs, and impending labour agitation. There are a bunch of serious things to get mad at the government about, so we shouldn’t make mountains out of molehills.

Verifying the results of the latest Question of the Day poll

Fair enough. But if these polls really are irrelevant, it does raise the question as to why government members are so emotionally invested in manipulating the results. Tory stalwarts are spending an awful lot of time and effort jigging polls whose results they allegedly ignore, which suggests more or less the opposite of what the Premier claims—that it’s a weirdly big deal. Other recently-released media documents reveal a communications office dedicated to meticulously recording political criticism on Twitter, suggesting a government that is seriously distressed about its own public image. You can’t publicly shrug off criticism and then anxiously order your underlings to hit ‘refresh’ a hundred times on VOCM’s Question of the Day without generating the kind of cognitive dissonance that hints at unresolved self-image issues—especially considering that these are non-scientific polls designed largely for entertainment purposes. This might not be the corruption fiasco that Con O’Brien & The Known Critics have been hoping to turn into a platinum hit, but it does underscore just how much the Tories are concerned more with style above substance.

Speaking of substance, I’d like to end with a shout-out for Brad Cabana’s Constitutional Challenge against Muskrat Falls as it finally gets underway at the courthouse in St. John’s. It’s super important to never give up on what you believe in, no matter how many people rudely insist it has questionable legal grounding or that it is a waste of the court’s time and resources. Dare to dream the impossible dream. The only peace is in the struggle, brother: rock on.

Flashbacks: February 2013

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Live Documentary

Mar 01 2013 Published by under On Stage

Louise Moyes is known for her “docudance” performances, an innovative mixture of dance and storytelling incorporating materials from various media. Her new show, Moore-Galant, features theatrical and film interpretations of stories by local legend and recent Canada Reads winner, Lisa Moore, and the Montreal-born master of the short story, Mavis Gallant.

What does the “docu-” part of “docudance” stand for exactly?
It refers to the documentary aspect of a lot of my work. Often I tell people’s own stories, in their own words and accents, like a “live” onstage documentary, through film, theatre and dance.

A sense of place and the way it manifests in people seem to be essential concerns of your work. When you give performances abroad, do you make any changes to your performances? Do audiences react differently?
Certainly they react differently. I would say the most intense performance I have ever had was in Cape St. George for my show “Florence,” about a woman from the Port-au-Port. The community centre was full and the audience was loud—they laughed at the sad parts (laughter of recognition) and cried at the funny parts. They were with me all the way. One man said afterwards “I never thought I’d see a show about the places I know.”

When I perform abroad, the reaction is one more of curiosity than such a tight familiarity. Mind you, even when I performed in New York, I thought beforehand, “How will city people react to this show?” but, you know, most everyone has rural roots somewhere, and they connected through that. In Tasmania, which is much like Newfoundland, people said directly that except for the French elements, “Florence” could have been about a woman from there. In New Brunswick, audiences identified with Florence as an Acadian woman, which was a whole other feeling for me as a performer.

Do I change the performances? In a show with French content, I vary the French-English quota, depending on the levels of the audience. When appropriate, I actually give a slide show on the basic history and show off the geography of Newfoundland and Labrador before I perform.

How does your new show relate to your previous shows?
It will be quite different from most of my previous shows, although I have done works made by other choreographers in the past five years, Jo Leslie and Eryn Dace Trudell, where if there was text it was not from interviews.

But story is still central to all my work. The Mavis Gallant piece is like my previous work in that I am working with film, song, theatre and dance to tell a story, intercut in a non-linear way. There is a verbatim first-person account from Gallant in the form of an excerpt from her diary…

Lisa Moore’s story will be a complete contrast, in all ways. More contained, more focused, me telling the story from beginning to end, with three simple props and a pool of light. It is a sculptural and contained telling, to reflect Lisa’s very fine, multi-layered story. It was published for the first time this Fall in Anansi’s The Selected Short Fiction of Lisa Moore.

Why did you choose to pair these particular stories?
While they are completely different in topic, “All Zoos Everywhere” and “Rue de Lille” to me both deal expertly in the many ways of self-deception; the ways we lie to ourselves.

Michael Ondaatje said of Gallant’s writing: “Before we know it she will have circled a person, captured a voice, revealed a whole manner of a life in the way a character avoids an issue or discusses a dress. She meets these characters in the zone between thought and possible action.”

Gallant writes about a complex love triangle; Moore about a man, a gorilla, a woman and Heidegger. And the line between human and animal, which is always rich and full of tension.

Moore-Galant runs from March 6-9 at the LSPU Hall.

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A Toast to The Person Who Drugged Me

Mar 01 2013 Published by under News & Views

Sometimes bad things happen to us. They fall out of the sky. We don’t ask for these bad things, but they happen anyway. And the only thing we can control is how we react. Often, we’re paralyzed. We try and forget. We stuff these bad things inside us, where they fester. Because we don’t speak about them, they take on power and grow strong.

This year, a random bad thing happened to me. It presented me with an opportunity, cloaked in an assault on my autonomy.

But wait. I’m getting ahead of myself.

On January 12, 2013, I went dancing with my friends K and B at a night of DJs playing music from different decades, one decade per hour. I can remember until midway through the ‘70s, then nothing. Several hours later, the sensation of a blood pressure monitor on my finger and the rim of a bucket embedded in my forehead. A male voice I didn’t know was saying my vitals were fine, it was good that I threw up because the drug didn’t have a chance to get too far. I recognized the couch cushions from B’s house. My body felt like concrete. The voice was asking whether I wanted to go to the hospital to get bloodwork, a lifelong phobia of mine. Concrete-brained, scared and sick, I didn’t say yes. I couldn’t even raise my head to see what he looked like. Had I foreseen that I was about to become a posterchild for drug-related sexual assault, I would have chosen to get the bloodwork done, despite everything. Then the words ‘allegedly’ or ‘believes she was drugged’ wouldn’t have appeared in the interviews, like maybe nothing had happened after all.

According to K, I was dancing happily, and then something went wrong. The change in my behavior happened quickly. We’d each had two drinks. Yes, we had laid those drinks down, but they were on a ledge that we were dancing next to, with no one between us and the ledge. The room was full of people we knew. It was about as safe as you can get and still go out, or so I thought. This s**t still happened, though.

With one simple, almost imperceptible action, an anonymous person shook my life to its roots.

I don’t remember the next part, but K told me later that I ran toward the washroom, didn’t make it, and began puking in the corner of the bar. She brought me to the bathroom and I kept vomiting. She said I was, amazingly, puking into actual receptacles like sinks and trash cans before I became so dizzy and f**cked up that I just lay on the floor, crying and apologizing, saying I was going to die. She went to get B, and the two of them got me up off the floor and into a cab. By the time we drove the few blocks to B’s house, I was vomiting out the open cab door. They got me up the stairs and situated with my trusty bucket, and called emergency response.

I’m so grateful to my friends for being there that night. I shudder to think what might’ve happened if I’d been alone. I was disoriented, and my body wasn’t working properly. I wasn’t in control, but was still conscious. I was pretty much a zombie. It would’ve been easy to manipulate me, to get me wherever I was intended to end up when Person X put Substance X in my Jameson whisky. And I wouldn’t have remembered what they did to me.

When I woke up the next morning I was nauseous, with a blinding headache and tingling in my arms and legs, and I was really upset. More than that. I was angry. What kind of person drugs someone else? Who would strip another human being of their independence in such a casual way? Did they mean to hurt me? Rape me? Rob me? Was it peer pressure? Done for a laugh, or by someone in so much pain themselves that they’re driven to harm someone else? I had not been raped, but I’d been violated. I felt used up.

That afternoon, I posted on Facebook that I’d been drugged and over the next few days, I received an avalanche of responses, many in sympathy, but some from people telling me their own stories of drug-related assault. Most of the accounts had happened within the past year, in bars, house parties and cabins. And contrary to the usual stereotype, not all of the victims were young women. I had two people their fifties contact me. I heard from straight men and from gay men. Four people told me they’d been drugged multiple times, and two others said they’d been drinking water when it happened to them. One person blacked out for over 24 hours. Another recounted how, at fifteen, they lost their virginity during a drug-related sexual assault.

Krissy Holmes at the CBC read my post and contacted me about doing an interview. I began to see how this random bad thing could somehow have a positive outcome. I could use this opportunity to encourage public discussion, not just for myself, but for all those other people who have suffered similar, and far worse, assaults without the possibility to speak about it.

A media blitz took up the next week of my life. In between, I cried. I was still shaken from the drugging and reeling from how quickly the story took on a life of its own. People said I was brave, and at first I didn’t understand why.

Then the online comments started.

Once you say something in the media, it isn’t yours anymore. Things get taken out of context, misquoted, passed from person to person like the telephone game. I’m learning some serious life lessons right these days, and a major one is that you can’t predict how something you say or do will be taken by other people. You have to forge ahead, following to your own inner compass.

There have been comments via email, Facebook and on media sites saying I probably just had a stomach bug, or that I drank too much and was embarrassed so I tried to pass it off as a drugging. Or that I was trying to frame the bartender. That I was out to ruin the bar. That women just can’t hold their alcohol. That I shouldn’t have said anything without a blood test, because it probably didn’t happen anyway. That it was my fault. After a few days I just stopped reading them.

Fortunately, those negative voices are, by far, outweighed by the flood of good energy that has surrounded me. Empathy has come from friends and strangers. One kind soul brought me balsam fir tea for my post-vomiting sore throat. Two others made me a cake. Each stranger who sent me their story made me feel less alone. The new Downtown Community Watch group has brought people into my life with similar values to my own (like, say, not assaulting others), and has opened me up to a network of friends and allies that I didn’t have before this bad thing happened.

For every a**hole who commits assault, there are many more good people out there, and that’s a sturdy thought to cling to when times are tough.

Looking back on it now, I think the person who drugged my drink that night got the opposite of what they wanted. Instead of isolating me and taking my power away, they gave me agency. They gave me community.

Next time I go out, I’ll be sure and toast to them for that.

By Sara Tilley

A community group called the Downtown Community Watch has recently formed to discuss ways to make downtown safer for everyone (downtowncommunitywatch.blogspot.ca). Find them on Facebook. If you have questions about drug-related or any other type of assault, you can call the NL Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre hotline, anonymously, 24 hours/day, 1-800-726-2743.

A Toast to The Person Who Drugged Me

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Coakers Meadow Plaza – Torbay Road

Mar 01 2013 Published by under Storefront

Storefront detective Lauren Power took his Deerstalker and pipe on the road to scope out businesses at this strip mall in the East End.

Coakers Meadow Plaza – Torbay Road

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Play On

Feb 28 2013 Published by under Music

Photos by Kyle Bustin

Hey Rosetta’s Tim Baker interviews singer-songwriter and Figgy Duff lead singer Pamela Morgan about her new solo album—her first studio album in seven years.

Tim Baker: I got an advance copy of the record, but I’ve never done an interview before. I’m always on the other side, right? I don’t really have question-questions, just sort of ideas that came to me.

I kind of want to talk about limitations a little bit. I’m very interested in this as I’m in the middle of writing and putting together our new record, and I found your new record to be without limitations in terms of the style, the sound, or the lyrical content even, and I thought that was really cool. I expected it to be folkier I guess. I don’t even know what that means, but especially the first three songs, they’re very different. Do you consider the limitations of being a folk musician, or of being perceived as such, or of what your creative voice is perceived as?

Pamela Morgan: No, I don’t give that any thought. And that’s probably why I can’t really market myself. I can’t and I don’t fit in any niches. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the whole gamut of things that Figgy Duff did, but we started out as a folk rock outfit, but Downstream was all original material. A lot of the stuff on this record is kind of on that continuum. There was a lot of experimentation with styles.

So you’ve long been bending your limitations.
Oh yeah, [we did that as Figgy Duff] and then I did an album of purely traditional songs with just the guitar, then did another album of original music. I’m pretty old, so I’ve done a lot of albums [laughs]. Yes, I’m probably mostly known as a folk singer, but it never was a limitation.
But every time you do something different you piss off your fans, so it’s hard to do it.

I’m sort of struggling with that myself. What we’re working on now is a bit different from what we’ve done. And in a way it has to be, right?

You’d want it to be. We do have that consideration of what our voice is, and how people perceive us, and what our fans think of us, and how far to go outside of that. Certainly, when I’m in the writing process I pay that no heed whatsoever. Because that’ll close you down. At that point you don’t want anything to limit you. You want to be able to say, “Well, we could perform this with Bulgarian folk singers.”

Or “this could be a full orchestra. Let’s get it out and see what it is.” Every now and then we’re rehearsing and the song, it just doesn’t—it’s too far away. Then I let it drop and I feel sad about it. I don’t know if that’s something I should do. I don’t know.
I’m a really bad one to ask about that because I tend to make mistakes over and over and over again. I haven’t got any of that figured out. Not only that, but I don’t have a producer, or a label, or a manager, or any of those things. I’m totally independent. So I’ve got nobody to keep an eye on that or tell me that’s the wrong thing to do.

But I don’t think experimenting is necessarily the wrong thing to do.
I did most of this album in England, and the engineer (Mark Lee) I was working with, occasionally I would tell him, “Geez, I don’t know if I’m going too far.” He said, “Well, the Beatles went with whatever album it was. Every single song was completely different.”

That is true.
He said, “You should just steady on. My opinion is that you should just give the song whatever treatment it asks for, no matter what.”

I was listening to Abbey Road the other night, and it’s all over the place.

And that’s what is so good about it. What is it that ties it together? I don’t know.
Mark says, “It’s your voice.” That’s what he said to me when I asked that. “It’s your voice. It’s your sensibility. No matter how it’s presented, that’s the unifying force.”

That’s the place that I’m in now. How far you can go outside of what you’ve already done and whether that should even be a factor at all. I’m leaning towards forgetting about it all.
As an artist, that’s what I do, but as a very unsuccessful artist. I’d say maybe you should listen to people who want to market it.

I suppose it is a bit of a balance, you do want to remain recognizable and I guess, yeah, even marketable.
Marketing, that’s the thing. I’m a marketing nightmare. I’ve never had any success with marketing.

We’ve been much the same. Before we started this, I just wrote whatever. Then we’d go away and especially in America and in England, people questioned me: “What is your sound? What do you sound like? What is your aesthetic? What do you look like?” It’s just like, “What?” I never even thought about that ever before. Now it’s sort of been jammed down my throat and I’m still kind of gagging on it.
When Figgy Duff started touring, we used to play blues bars because nobody knew what the hell to do with a band with an accordion and a fiddle and a mandolin with bass and drums. We couldn’t do the folk bars because we were too rocky and we couldn’t do the rock bars because we were too folky, so we actually most of the time where we fit the best and people understood it best was in blues bars… But there was no Celtic, there was no such thing, there was no such genre.

Yeah and you helped establish that. And create that.
We sure did.

Long live the lack of limitations and the merging genres, really, because you created something new.
Yeah, not to say that it wouldn’t have evolved, but we certainly helped it.

I’ve been writing songs for a long time. I’m fairly young, but I’ve been writing songs since I was a child, really, about probably 20 years. Then it sort of became my profession in the last five years or so, and I feel like it’s much more difficult when it becomes your profession. It’s a watched pot. It only really comes to a boil when you’re ignoring it. I struggle with that a little bit. When you’re looking for an inspiration, it kind of hides from you. Do you find that at all? Is that’s your experience?
I’m not a prolific songwriter at all. I’m more of a music writer, a composer. I’m really most comfortable writing music to somebody else’s poem or lyric or something like that… This is my first record in seven years, and the last one I did was totally traditional. I do have some songs I didn’t use, but… You know what I find in my writing that I really find I have to put a lid on? Something I need to curb?

What’s that?
It’s moralizing… I catch myself doing it, but I have to tell myself no. I have a song called “Peter Pan”, for instance, it’s about men who leave their wives for younger women, and I didn’t put it on because I thought, “Here I am again.” I mean, I love the song, but I don’t want to be always moralizing. I edit myself that way. I try to create a range of subject matters.

The older I get—maybe it’s the watched pot thing and doing this as a job—but I feel like the older I get, the less I get inspired by little things. A political idea is still easy to get really engaged in, but a simple observation on life isn’t as amazing. So do you find that you’re drawn more to that sort of subject matter?
Yeah. I found myself more and more engaged in politics as I got older, too. The condition of the world. Ron Hynes: one time we were having a few drinks and he said, “You’ve got to stop writing things that have ‘I’ in it. Learn how to tell somebody else’s story, stories from somebody else’s point of view.” I consciously did that with “A Hundred Miles”, the one about the fisherman on this album. I told it from a point of view of another person, and it worked for me in that song. But it doesn’t always work for me.

It’s a good thing to be conscious of though, because when we’re younger we write a lot of, “I feel this way and I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I,” but perhaps later we should probably try and look a little bit further outside of ourselves.

I actually write too much in the point of view of the second person, that’s my favourite. “You do this and then you do that, you feel this.”
Oh, is that right?

I’m trying to impregnate the listener’s brain with ideas. “You are walking outside and you are under the sky,” or whatever. I love the “you.” I don’t know where that came from, but it’s my favourite one.
Talking to the person you mean?

Yeah, like, “You’re walking down the road and all of a sudden you stop,” sort of putting someone inside the story. I’m into that, probably too much actually.
I don’t, I really try not to analyze. With the exception of a few little things, like we just spoke about the thing Ron told me. What I tend to do is write everything that comes to me and then pick the ones that have the most promise to them.

That’s definitely the wisest way to do it.
Like you said, it’s wrong to censor yourself off the top just because you may think that it’s not going to work.

I have bandmates that I work with and managers, and they often say, “So what kind of record do you want to make next?” I’m always like, “I don’t know. I really don’t know and I don’t even want to think about it, I don’t even want to speculate because it’s going to colour the process too much.”
Exactly, yeah. It’s like giving birth. You don’t know how hard it’s going to be until it’s born.

The St. John’s release party for Pamela Morgan’s Play On will take place at the Masonic Temple on March 5th.

Play On

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Free Will Astrology for March 2012

Feb 28 2013 Published by under Free Will Astrology

Rob Brezsny invites Pisces to help define the cosmos and rename the constellations.

PISCES (Feb 19 – Mar 20)
“I have decided to rename the constellations that have domineered our skies too long,” writes an Internet denizen named Hasheeshee St. Frank. He gives only one example. The Big Dipper, he says, shall forevermore be known as The Star-Spangled Gas Can. I invite you to come up with additional substitutes, Pisces. It’s an excellent time for you to reshape and redefine the high and mighty things to which you have given away too much of your power. It’s a perfect moment to reconfigure your relationship with impersonal, overarching forces that have wielded a disproportionately large influence over your thoughts and feelings. How about if you call the constellation Orion by the new title of Three-Eyed Orangutan? Or instead of Pegasus, use the name Sexy Dolphin? Other ideas?

ARIES (Mar 21 – Apr 19)
In 1993, Frenchman Emile Leray was on a solo trip through the Sahara Desert. In the middle of nowhere, his car suffered a major breakdown. It was unfixable. But he didn’t panic. Instead, he used a few basic tools he had on hand to dismantle the vehicle and convert its parts into a makeshift motorcycle. He was able to ride it back to civilization. I foresee the possibility of a metaphorically similar development in your future, Aries. You will get the opportunity to be very resourceful as you turn an apparent setback into a successful twist of fate.

TAURUS (Apr 20 – May 20)
Your power animal is not the soaring eagle or the shrewd wolf or the brave bear. No, Taurus, it’s the rubber chicken. I’m serious. With the rubber chicken as your guardian spirit, you might be inspired to commit random acts of goofiness and surrealism. And that would reduce tension in the people around you. It could motivate you to play jokes and pull harmless pranks that influence everyone to take themselves less seriously. Are you willing to risk losing your dignity if it helps make the general mood looser and more generous? Nothing could be better for group solidarity, which is crucial these days. (Thanks, Gina Williams.)

GEMINI (May 21 – Jun 20)
IIn the language of the Huron Indians, “orenda” is a word that refers to the spiritual power that resides in all creatures and things. If you’ve got enough of it, you may be able to declare at least partial independence from your own past. You can better shape the life you want for yourself rather than being so thoroughly subject to the limitations of your karma and conditioning. I happen to believe that your current supply of orenda is unusually abundant, Gemini. What’s the best use you can make of it?

CANCER (Jun 21 – Jul 22)
When I lived in Santa Cruz years ago, some of my published writings were illustrated by a local cartoonist named Karl Vidstrand. His work was funny, outrageous, and often offensive in the most entertaining ways. Eventually he wandered away from our colorful, creative community and moved to a small town at the edge of California’s Mojave Desert, near where the Space Shuttles landed. He liked living at the fringes of space, he told journalist R. D. Pickle. It gave him the sense of “being out of bounds at all times.” I suggest you adopt some of the Vidstrand spirit in the next few weeks, Cancerian. Being on the fringes and out of bounds are exactly where you belong.

LEO (Jul 23 – Aug 22)
The history of your pain is entering a new phase. Gradually, almost imperceptibly at first, an emotional ache that has been sapping your vitality will begin to diminish. You will free yourself of its power to define you. You will learn to live without its oddly seductive glamour. More and more, as the weeks go by, you will find yourself less interested in it, less attracted to the maddening mystery it has foisted on you. No later than mid-April, I’m guessing that you will be ready to conduct a ritual of completion; you’ll be able to give it a formal send-off as you squeeze one last lesson out of it.

VIRGO (Aug 23 – Sep 22)
“When looking for a book, you may discover that you were in fact looking for the book next to it.” Italian writer Roberto Calasso told that to The Paris Review, and now I’m passing it on to you. But I’d like you to expand upon its meaning, and regard it as a metaphor that applies to your whole life right now. Every time you go searching for a specific something — a learning experience, an invigorating pleasure, a helpful influence — consider the possibility that what you really want and need is a different one that’s nearby.

LIBRA (Sep 23 – Oct 22)
At least once a day, a cell in your body mutates in a way that makes it potentially cancerous. Just as often, your immune system hunts down that dangerous cell and kills it, preserving your health. Do you understand how amazing this is? You have a vigilant protector that’s always on duty, operating below the level of your awareness. What if I told you that this physical aspect of your organism has an equivalent psychic component? What if, in other words, you have within you a higher intelligence whose function it is to steer you away from useless trouble and dumb risks? I say there is such a thing. I say this other protector works best if you maintain a conscious relationship with it, asking it to guide you and instruct you. The coming weeks will be an excellent time to deepen your connection.

SCORPIO (Oct 23 – Nov 21)
Some rules in the game of life don’t apply to you and can therefore be safely ignored. Do you know which ones they are? On the other hand, do you understand which of the rules in the game of life are crucial to observe if you want to translate your fondest dreams into real experiences? To recognize the difference is a high art. I’m thinking that now would be an excellent time to solidify your mastery of this distinction. I suggest that you formally renounce your investment in the irrelevant rules and polish your skills at playing by the applicable rules.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov 22 – Dec 21)
“Don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter,” wrote the Persian mystic poet Rumi. “It’s quiet, but the roots are down there riotous.” I think you’re like that winter garden right now, Sagittarius. Outwardly, there’s not much heat and flash. Bright ideas and strong opinions are not pouring out of you at their usual rates. You’re not even prone to talking too loud or accidentally knocking things over. This may in fact be as close as you can get to being a wallflower. And yet deep beneath the surface, out of sight from casual observers, you are charging up your psychic battery. The action down there is vibrant and vigorous.

CAPRICORN (Dec 22 – Jan 19)
“When you come right down to it,” says religion writer Rabbi Marc Gellman, “there are only four basic prayers. Gimme! Thanks! Oops! and Wow!” Personally, I would add a fifth type of prayer to Gellman’s list: “Do you need any assistance?” The Creator always needs collaborators to help implement the gritty details of the latest divine schemes. According to my analysis of the astrological omens, you would be an excellent choice to volunteer for that role right now — especially in tasks that involve blending beautiful fragments, healing sad schisms, furthering peace negotiations, and overcoming seemingly irreconcilable differences.

AQUARIUS (Jan 20 – Feb 18)
In the movie Fight Club, there is an animated scene at the very end that required an inordinate amount of time to produce. Each frame in this scene took the editors eight hours to process. Since there are 24 frames in each second, their work went on for three weeks. That’s the kind of attention to detail I recommend you summon as you devote yourself to your labor of love in the coming days, Aquarius. I think you know which specific parts of your creation need such intense focus.

Talk about how you infused your spiritual path with eros and humor. Go to Freewillastrology.com; click on “Email Rob.”

Free Will Astrology for March 2012

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