AstroCoach Special Discount Offer

Archive for the “Reviews” Category

It’s his nature.

There are some movies that reflect magickal principles and symbols in very direct fashion. “The Game” with Michael Douglas immediately comes to mind as a cinematic meditation on the “Tower” card. “Faceoff” with Nicholas Cage and John Travolta is pure Gemini, with crossed identities, switched faces, duality, good vs evil, etc.. “Back To The Future” is pure, Mercury Retrograde involving time travel and going back in time to set things right for McFly’s parents. But I have never seen a film with such a deeply embedded astrological theme, from start-to-finish, even channeling the sign of the lead actor. The film is “Drive” starring Ryan Gosling and the sign that drives the narrative, from start-to-finish is Scorpio.

First off, Gosling is a Scorpio (11/12/80). Gosling’s Scorpio Sun is conjunct Uranus in Scorpio, giving him access to the fully explosive character he plays in “Drive.” In fact, he has no name and is simply known as “Driver.”

Gosling doesn’t speak much. Instead, he lets his driving do all the talking, which is fast, violent and crafty. By day, he’s a film stunt driver and part time mechanic. By night, he’s a get-a-away driver for petty thieves. In essence, he has one foot in this world, the other in the underworld. In fact, he works for a part-time hood known as “Shannon” played by Bryan Cranston who has connections with two, Jewish gangsters played by Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman. Funnyman Brooks is totally chilling as the avuncular Hollywood producer who slits throats like he’s gutting a trout.

Gosling sports a windbreaker with a scorpion on the back, just in case you’re not getting it. And like a true Scorpio, he’s not halfway. Gosling’s character is all in and whether he’s smashing a hoodlums fingers with hammer, or be-friending the mother and kid down the hall, he’s fully present, intense and loyal. Scorpio gets a bad rap sometimes, but their loyalty is unquestioned.

One of the great scenes in the film is when Gosling takes a joyride with the mother and the son he’s be-friended through LA’s aqueducts. Again, it’s a Scorpionic detail that some people might miss as the water represents his contact with his emotions and its in a car; motion/emotion.

Oh yeah, did I mention that Gosling’s character is violent? In fact he’s so violent that in a scene where he’s protecting the mother, beautifully portrayed by Carey Mulligan, that he goes way beyond merely warding off the bad guys. Driver spends an uncomfortably long time getting crushing sounds out of the bad dude’s head.

This film has a bit of Scorcese’s Taxi Driver in it. Gosling’s Driver is corrupt in that he helps bad guys getaway, but he also has a fixed morality that borders on overcompensation.

Near the end of the film, he utters a line about the scorpion and the frog and how the scorpion cannot help himself, that’s it’s his nature to destroy.

Gosling himself has a bit of an interesting background. He came through the Disney factory which has produced a stable of manipulated child stars. Is scorpion prince of them? If “Drive” is any indicator of what lurks in his soul, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near him if his programming breaks down.

Comments 6 Comments »

marrsumner.jpgThey made it happen.

Sometimes a musical pairing is just so damn good that I have to drill down and find out why two people share a creative magic that is unique unto them. That was the thought that crossed my mind as I caromed and careened around town, listening to Electronic’s third album. Twisted Tenderness at an unsuitably high volume.

Electronic was originally conceived as an eighties alternative supergroup of sorts with Neil Tenant (Pet Shop Boys), Bernard Sumner (New Order) and Johnny Marr (Smiths). The first two records featured all three, while Twisted Tenderness was pared down to just Sumner and Marr. It was a less is more arrangement as Tenant’s deadpan was almost so overpowering that the first two records seemed like The Pet Shop Boys on HGH. But with Tenant out of the fold, Sumner and Marr crafted one of the great, unknown records of the nineties.

Marr’s guitar playing is absolutely incendiary, possibly some of the best work he’s done since The Smith’s salad days. It’s so good, I could almost live without Sumner’s vocals, almost, but his song writing deserves more credit than critics of the album give it. It’s been labeled “cheeky” and “cheesy” but at certain times it’s deeply understated and insightful, pulling back the curtain of failure, zooming in on mid-life crisis, kicking life in the groin on the way down and trying like hell to quell unfulfilled longings. Their cover of Traffic’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” features turntable scratching, mid-tempo house beats, and Marr’s moody fretwork. “Make It Happen” kicks the record off with a furious mix of smoking electronic rhythms, Marr’s propulsive, lightning and thunder riffs. The overall sound of the album echos what U2 was doing around the time of Pop fusing beats and bass lines with vocals and guitars. Both Pop and Twisted Tenderness are the best of breed when it comes to “rocktronica.” But what really makes the record go, is the chemistry between Sumner and Marr.

So I decided to take a look at their planets to have a better understanding of what made this album, and other parts of Electronic really work. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments 1 Comment »

joan quigleyLife for me is a series of strange attractions and unexplainable synchronicities. When I begin to mine a particular vein of thought or follow some ley line of meaning, unusual occurences begin to manifest. On the heels of my exploration of Aquarius in the chart of Sarah Palin, aquarius begins to manifest. I just found out that Sheila Fadia, my new health consultant and Thai massage therapist par excellence is an Aquarian and as I type from a hotel on the coast in Santa Cruz, the restaurant under construction here is named, “Aquarius.” I have no doubt that more synchronicities will begin to emerge.

In order to understand the role of Aquarius and what it has and will likely play in the furture of American politcs, lets go back in time and re-visit America’s last Aquarian president, Ronald Reagan. Reagan, known by many as “The Great Communicator” was born on Februrary 6th, 1912. Even though his Sun was in Aquarius, most of his planets were in Capricorn, in fact, Reagan had Mercury, Uranus, Mars and his Mid-heaven, all in Capricorn. Capricorn (The Goat) represents big business and large institutions like government and coporations. It’s no coincidence that when Reagan was in office, trade restrictions, tariffs, interest rates, etc began to be lifted and lowered, The US Govt announced that it was open for business. It was a dramatic shift in the policy and direction of the US as the seismic jolts of Reaganomics are still being felt to this day.

Even though the energy of Capricorn was prominent in his chart, Reagan was still very Aquarian as evidenced by his leadership of SAG, The Screen Actors Guild (Aquarians just love groups and organizations). Under Reagan’s leadership of SAG, he was extremely helpful in assisting Lew Wasserman, the head of MCA. Reagan’s influence in The SAG allowed Wasserman to be both a talent agency and a studio–that was verbotten until Reagan took charge of SAG and allowed Wasserman to have a near monopoly on talent and production. He never forgot what Reagan did for him and helped elect him first to govenor of California, then president. This type of cronyism goes hand in hoof with Capricorn. It’s big business, good ole boy networks and dollars for votes. The Reagan White House however was not just about opening the public coffers to big business.

Nancy Reagan was deeply into the occult, especially astrology. It played a key role in the Reagan administration and Nancy’s personal astrologer was Joan Quigley. Nancy Reagan had met Quigley on the set of The Merv Griffin show in the seventies and developed a relationship with her because she was fearful for The Gippers life. Quigley was the sister of Carroll Quigley, the noted Georgetown professor and mentor of Bill Clinton. Carroll Quigley was one of the few establishment professors who was aware of the fact and wrote extensively about the overthrow of Western politics by a group of elite bankers, businessmen, and acamedicians titled, The Anglo-American Establishement. But I’m getting slightly ahead of myself. We’re merely trying to establish the role that astrology played in The Reagan White House, during Ronald Reagan’s Aquarian presidency.

I met Joan Quigley once in the lobby of the Fairmont in SF, back in 1988. She had just written a book on astrology and was busy promoting it. Madame Quigley was demure to the point of being stiff. But she wasn’t calm by any stretch–there was a nervous energy that churned beneath her quiet reserve.

The difference between Reagan and Sarah Palin as Aquarians is pretty significant. Reagan, for all of the recognition he got as being “the great communicator” and a “uniter” was really all about doing business, big business. He was in some ways more Capricornian, since his mid-heaven, the place where we manifest our life path into the world was at zero degrees, it’s most potent placement. Sarah Palin has no Caprricorn planets in her chart at all and even though she has it on the tenth house as well, her chart is dominated by the eleventh house and her five-planet-stellium in Aquarius. If anything, Palin will be the anti-Reagan.

Ironically, Barack Obama has cited his admiration for Reagan, this goes back to the polarizing, opposite/attract dynamic I mentioned in the first part of this series as it relates to Obama (Leo) and Palin (Aquarius).

When it comes to the executive branch, the preponderance of presidents that are air and fire signs is notable; Dubya, fire (Leo), Clinton, air (Libra), Bush 1, air (Gemini), Reagan, air, (Aquarius), Carter, air (Libra), Kennedy, air (Gemini). Only Nixon, earth, (Capricorn) is the only elected preisdent that was not air or fire in the past 48 years. This obviously favors Obama, a fire sign (Leo) and not McCain, an earth sign, (Virgo). However, Sarah Palin, an air sign and a dragon in Chinese astrology will figure prominently in this election (a rat year) and will most likely be a very favorable candidate in 2012, the return of the year of the dragon.

Tomorrow, the astrological future of The USA as it relates to Obama and Palin.

Comments 7 Comments »

Step BrosYep, a new Will Ferrell film hits the screens today–Step Brothers starring Ferrell and John C. Reily. Directed by SNL alum Adam McKay, it’s part of the Judd Apatow franchise. Apatow has a real knack for creating satire that basically bashes the WASP male, poking fun at easy targets like redneck culture (Dewey Cox and Talledega Nights), wispy and waspy airheaded anchormen (Ron Burgundy) underachieving slackers (Drillbit Taylor) and sexually dysfunctional nerds (Forty-Year-Old-Virgin). Well team Apatow is at it again, this time taking on prolonged adolescence in Step Brothers and his comedic staples, Ferrell and Reilly play bumbling and fumbling step bros. Is it just me or does it seem like noone else is making comedies in Hollywood now besides Team Apatow?

But getting back to Will Ferrell. I like him, really, I do. He’s a great physical comedian and can satirize the seventies and eighties unlike any other comedian. But I’m getting sick of him. His last film about the ABA wasn’t all that funny and after a while there’s no real joy in seeing that a new Will Ferrell film is out. He’s always there with no real space to remember him fondly by and want more of what he does. I’m sorry–he’s as overexposed as meat left out for three days–getting stale and smellier all the time.

Comments No Comments »

Bad Apple

My loving and adoring wife gifted me with an Apple gift card on Fathers day.  I’ve been holding onto it until the right time, when I actually needed something.   That time was yesterday or so I thought.Let me first state that I have been using Apple product since 1988 when I was working at SF Magazine as an editorial intern and we worked off of Mac classics.  I was a Mac guy from that day on.

Fast forward, as I type this entry on a Mac, we have another mac desktop at home, I use Garageband alot and even purchased Logic Express.  Once I master Express, I can see myself moving up to Logic Pro and the dedicated workstation it takes to handle such beefy files.  I am an ideal customer.  While not filthy rich, we have enough money to play with Apple and get new toys when we need to.  In essence, we’re vertical and we’re in their wheel house when it comes to economic demographics–we can afford their shit.

I really enjoy the one-on-one program and have gained a lot of insight and help when it comes to using Garageband and other apps.  I’ve been their advocate and upseller to Apple newbies.  They need people like myself as brand ambassadors, so on and so on, blah, blah, blah.

Ok, I got the love out of the way. Now for the unbridled anger I feel for them today

So last night, I took my son and my $100 gift card to Apple to buy an external hard drive so that I could start working with video.  I roll up and see a line in front of THE EMERYVILLE STORE and think, “oh they’re just waiting for their iPhone fix” and march towards the store, four-year-old, hand-in-hand. When I got there, I found out that there was two lines, one for the iPhone and one for regular customers.  What is this, the fucking Roxy?  Since when did shopping become a velvet rope experience?

Well I wasn’t going to wait and was getting ready to leave when my son broke free and raced to the little peoples computer in the back where he sits on a ball and tries to play games.  I went in to get him and as I reach the back of the store, there are a number of Apple droids just standing around and one walks up to me and asks me “if I need any help?”  I tell her that, “I want a hard drive but they’re telling me I have to wait outside.”  She begins to help me anyway.  I think OK, she’s helping me, so it must be kosher, I can do this.

Well I’m just about to close the deal when this dipshit in what looks like modified liederhosen races into the store and starts yelping at about my not standing in line.  This is where I blow my fucking gasket.  All I wanted to do was simply buy a hard drive.  I’m not there to look around or check my email, like a lot of other people were doing, I was there to spend dollars and they’re making it really difficult and I don’t want their goddamed iPhone–my sense of self isn’t defined by what I speak into.  I just wanted a hard drive.  Simple.

So then this clown from the line tells me that “he feels my pain and wants to go outside to talk about it.” What is he Dr. fucking Phil?  I don’t need to vent with him. Now I just want to redeem my Apple gift card and leave.  I throw it down on the counter to get my $100 back on noone will touch it or help me.  I blow my lid and start calling bullshit in the store and now I really have to leave.  I pick my kid up from the kiddie computer and of course he doesn’t want to go, explodes into tears and I have to carry him out of the store.  I bark out at the people dutifully lined up for their new iPhones, let’s call them “iClones” and bray at them like clueless sheep.

This is just a shitty user experience and I plan to not only let Apple know about it, but also redeem my giftcard for cash and buy my hardrive at Costco.  I’ll continue with one-on-one and work with some really good teachers like Scott, but I’m all about the aftermarket from here on out.  I already got my copy of Logic express on eBay and saved over $100.

Let me just say that one of the things that makes capitalism successful is the ability to purchase goods and if that basic function is inhibited somewhere along the distribution chain, the model fails.  I’m not into aura or brand identity as a fashion statement–I just want products that work and be able to get them on a timely, as I need them basis.  Based on those simple principles, Apple failed miserably yesterday on so many levels.

Comments 2 Comments »

TCLast night, which had to be the hottest night in the history of Berkeley, Thievery Corporation, Bebel Gilberto and Los Amigos Invisibles took over The Greek Theater. I went with some friends and through the divine grace of the concert muse, I wound up getting backstage passes from a another friend that I sold my extra ticket to.  So before I get into the strange attraction, let me break down the show.

Los Amigos Invisibles looked a little rough around the edges, but they blazed through a set of smoking Venezuelan  funk called, “Gozadera” which matched the ambient heat rising up from the stone steps of the sweltering Greek.

Bebel took the stage next and cooled things down a bit, offering up her breezy brand of downtempo samba as couples kissed and carressed under a carpet of stars (I bet there was at least one solstice conceived last night).

Thievery assumed control and pumped out an epic set that sampled tracks from their early works, up through the ambitious Cosmic Game. They trotted out at least half-a-dozen singers with a cameo by the ultra hip, Seu Jorge. Almost two hours after they had started, they left in a flash of rapid fire strobes, suspending moments in stop motion capture with synchronous beats moving in time.They were big time–I was thoroughly impressed. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments 1 Comment »

Wattstax
I just saw Wattstax for the very first time the other night.  I was really struck by it’s honesty and grit, but what really stood out was some of the more vocal figures that share their commentary along the way.  I’ll get to them in a minute, but first the film itself.Wattstax for the uninitiated was a concert held at The LA Coliseum to commemorate the Watts riots, and to inject a sense of well being into the neighborhood.  This alone is remarkable given that we rarely if ever see a truly “black” experience of this scale for a purely “black” neighborhood. While falling short of being “The Black Woodstock” Wattstax nonetheless conveys a sense of community, togetherness and even possibility. The music is deeply soulful, ranging from the neo-gospel sounds of The Staple Singers, to the wild and witty funk of Rufus Thomas, working up the crowd with his classic, “Funky Chicken.”

Rufus ThomasRufus Thomas

There’s a great scene where the crowd is threatening to pour onto the field during Thomases first number. This, in and of itself is a pretty interesting phenomenon.  If this even were to be held today, every square inch of the venue would be filled, from the field to the seats in the stands and yet there was quarter of a football field, that’s roughly 20,000 sq ft of available space!  Even more remarkable was how well the crowd behaved and remained mostly in the stands.  But when Thomas breaks into his funky chicken, with a fairly direct prompt, they pour onto the field, then Thomas remarkably is able to talk them back into the stands!   Read the rest of this entry »

Comments 2 Comments »