By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
ARIES (March 21-April 19): Happy Holy Daze, Aries! I've been meditating on the perfect holiday gift for you. What symbolic item might inspire you to take maximum advantage of the cosmic currents in 2004? I decided on the book Marathon Training for Dummies, by Tere Stouffer Drenth. It's not because I think you should literally gear up to run a 26-mile race during the coming year. Rather, I'd like to get you in a frame of mind in which you're always prepping yourself for lengthy projects that will require stamina, resourcefulness, and strategic thinking.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): The love song is an endangered species. Lots of modern musicians do sex songs and pain songs and rage songs, but few are inclined to craft tunes in which they declare their passionate affection and describe it in all its nuanced uniqueness. As a result, Taurus, you will most likely be out of sync with the tenor of the times in 2004. Your heart will be stirred as it hasn't been in many moons. Even if you're not a professional vocalist, you may often feel longings to express your lush emotions in song. If I were going to get you a holiday gift, it would be a compilation CD filled with the greatest love songs of the last 60 years.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20):Happy Holy Daze, Gemini! I predict that you'll dive deeper in 2004. You will cheerily plunge in over your head as you pursue the noble goal of getting to the bottom of things. Exploring murky waters shouldn't faze you because you'll have a sixth sense that's equivalent to being able to see in the dark. In looking around for a holiday gift you could give yourself to encourage these extraordinary predilections, I came across a yellow submarine for sale on the Internet. Amazingly, it's named the Gemini. For more info, see subeo.com/inside.htm.
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CANCER (June 21-July 22): You think you know what chocolate is all about? You don't. The tastes you find in M&M's and Hershey's Kisses comprise a tiny percentage of chocolate's total flavor spectrum. A few vanguard connoisseurs are beginning to awaken to the glorious diversity. New York now boasts several gourmet boutiques that offer the kind of variety characteristic of wine and coffee specialty stores. If I could get you a holiday gift, Cancerian, it would be a sampling of these exotic chocolates. Maybe if you realized what you've been missing in this one area, you'd also get more aggressive about pursuing a wider array of other fine pleasures in 2004. And that would be in alignment with the astrological omens.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Happy Holy Daze, Leo! I've been meditating on the perfect holiday gift for you. What would best get you ready for 2004? What symbolic offering might motivate you to take maximum advantage of the astrological opportunities ahead? And the answer is: dirtto be exact, one cup of good, rich soil from each of the seven places in the world where you feel most at home. With these containers of sacred ground displayed on your altar, you might be inspired to come way down to earth: to be more practical, detail-oriented, skilled at compromise, and hardworking than you've ever been.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Happy Holy Daze, Virgo! I've been meditating on the perfect holiday gift for you. What symbolic offering might inspire you to be in closest alignment with the cosmic currents in 2004? I decided on a framed photo of a Great White Shark, which is the only sea creature that has no natural enemies. I expect that you will likewise have few adversaries and obstacles in the coming months. The Great White is also at the top of the food chain, and while you may not ascend all the way to the pinnacle of your local hierarchy, you should definitely climb higher.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Happy Holy Daze, Libra! I've been meditating on the perfect holiday gift for you. What symbolic item might help you take maximum advantage of the cosmic currents in 2004? Here's what I came up with: the film Destino, a collaboration between surrealist painter Salvador Dalí and Walt Disney's team of animators. Though the joint artistic effort began soon after Disney and Dalí met in 1945, it wasn't completed until recently. In that sense alone it should be inspiring, because you, too, will be striving to revive an old dream in the coming months. Your near future will resemble a Disney-Dalí creation in another way: There'll be a convergence of what's weird and what's popular, what's extraordinary and normal, what's adventurous and cute.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): The coming year will be a favorable time to double your commitment to rowdy fun. I encourage you to attend more parties than usual and always be on the lookout for how you can energize social occasions with acts of joyous abandon. You'll also be wise to infuse even your intimate encounters with boisterous amusements. Therefore, Scorpio, please consider doing more handstands on bar stools in 2004. Try dancing on tabletops with only some of your clothes on, slurping right out of punch bowls, starting food fights, and knocking over lamps while spontaneously making love. If I were going to get you a symbolic holiday gift this year, it might be a chandelier, conveying to you my hope that you will bring back the lost art of swinging on chandeliers.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Happy Holy Daze, Sagittarius! I've been meditating on the perfect holiday gift for you. What would best get you ready for 2004? What might help you take maximum advantage of the astrological opportunities ahead? And the answer is: a $20-million, 30-second ad about you and your services, to be broadcast on TV during the Super Bowl next February. You need a splashy marketing gambit like that to get the word out. It's high time for you to shine in the spotlight at center stage.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Happy Holy Daze, Capricorn! I've been meditating on the perfect holiday gifts for you. What symbolic items might inspire you to take maximum advantage of the cosmic currents in 2004? I've decided on three things: (1) binoculars, which I hope will encourage you to constantly seek closer looks at distant sights; (2) mountain-climbing equipment, which I hope will encourage you to spend more time outside, get naturally high, and look at the world from lofty perspectives; (3) lightweight, quick-drying, anti-bacterial underwear designed to be washed every night as you travel. I hope they'll encourage you to leave behind heavy baggage and complicated expectations as you make frequent forays out of your comfort zone.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Your holiday celebrations wouldn't be much fun if there were no such thing as fungi. One member of the fungus family, yeast, is essential to brewing alcoholic beverages, baking pastries, and turning cocoa beans into chocolate. Another type of fungus is crucial to the growth of most Christmas trees. They grow well only because of the symbiotic relationship between their roots and certain mushrooms. Wrapping paper would of course also be scarce without the mushrooms' assistance. Now that you've heard these facts, Aquarius, I hope you'll decide to make the fungus your good luck charm in 2004. It will remind you to hold in high esteem the hidden forces and unsung people that will be constantly working behind the scenes on your behalf. This will be the Year of Secret Helpers. (Thanks to Tom Volk's "Fungus of the Month" website at botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/fotm.html.)
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Happy Holy Daze, Pisces! I've been meditating on the perfect holiday gift for you. What would best get you ready for 2004? What might motivate you to take maximum advantage of the astrological opportunities ahead? I've decided to give you a small, circumscribed part of the Pacific Ocean. It's a cubic mile located between longitude 110 and 111 degrees west, and between latitude 10 and 11 degrees south. I'm hoping that this manageable, well-defined section of the primal sea will inspire you to create better boundaries as you deal with your own oceanic emotions, to be more judiciously dramatic and less overflowingly melodramatic.
Homework: Forget what Time magazine thinks. Who is your "Person of the Year?" beautyandtruth.com