For the week starting 4.29.2010

“His complexion is perfect gallows.”
Gonzalo in Shakespeare’s The Tempest [I.i.27]

The comment is even funnier in context of the whole play. Sinking ship. Mercury is retrograde, oh why do I bother?

Taurus Taurus: I was listening to an iPod, factory earphones, volume low as I was traversing busy downtown streets and I wanted to be careful, not oblivious. The bass response on those isn’t that great, and like I said, the volume was down, buds loose in my ears. I heard familiar rim rhythm, the drum’s opening lines in ZZ Top’s “La Grange.”

Yes, it’s classic rock, and yes, it’s been done to death, and yes, it’s still good. As a native Texan, I don’t have a choice but to respect the Top. The opening licks are more than familiar with anyone born in the last half of the last century. I suspect those refrains will be valued into the future as well. It’s a lick we all recognize. That’s a “name that song in three bars” type of lick. Riff. Musical phrase, call it what you want.

This isn’t about the song itself, though, it’s about that opening thirty, maybe forty seconds of music. Guitar, funky little tap-tappity-tap, rimshot kind of rhythm, and the anticipation. The rock and roll is on its way, about to rock out. Blues, garage band from Houston that did well with three chords.

Me? I love the music. But that’s not what this is about, it’s about the anticipation — like the first 30, 40 seconds of that song? That’s going to stretch out all week, the drums beating an expectant beat, expectant Taurus beat. Gemini: “I am so out of here like a dirt shirt!” Little girl, maybe, middle-school aged, I don’t know, she was proudly proclaiming that. Her parental unit corrected her, “It’s ‘Off like a dirty shirt,’ honey.” The younger woman protested vehemently, citing examples of dirt shirts, and why that was a preferable expression.

I’m good either way.

There was that patient and long-winded explanation that can only come from a travel-worn parent with a hyperactive child. Brings up the question, aren’t all kids hyperactive? Isn’t that redundant?

I wasn’t but then, my mother’s memory is not always to be trusted on such topics. I was angelic. Still am. This isn’t about me, this is about being off like a dirty shirt.

Over, done with it. Gone. Bye-bye. No more. Stop. Cease and desist. Over and out. Off like a dirty shirt. Thirty. What did thirty stand for? I know the answer on that one, but that’s not what this is about. It’s about being over, done with, concluded with, whatever. Project, deed, action, reaction. Most of this echoes back to the Mercury situation, but there’s also an air finality to this spring’s Mercury Mayhem. It’s done with. Call it a day. Off like a dirt shirt. Cancer: One solution for the powerful planets that are playing with us? One way around this? The Full Moon triggers hunger in Cancer. Not a problem, way it is. Mars, although no longer retrograde, squares the Sun, and Mercury is still retrograde, alongside the Sun, in Taurus. Tough stuff. Fixed signs, not making anyone too happy.

I have a solution. It came to me, over a late snack with a girlfriend. We didn’t plan to be out, but we were, and there’s a little coffee-shop-like place. We stopped, got a snack, then we split a chocolate brownie. Is there really any other kind? I’m not big on the chocolate fudge sinfully delicious thing. When she cracked open that brownie? The aroma of fresh-baked brownie goodness, with all its gooey, chewy, fresh, hot goodness? All the promise of sins being forgiven, and the moment when anything is possible? That came with the smell.

It’s a hot fudge brownie smell. Can only come from something fresh out of an oven. Can only come from a brownie, made from scratch, fresh baked. By now, though, the effects of the Full Moon are over, you’re no longer hungry, correct? So there’s no need to try and find that brownie, as a solution to life’s little problems. Leo: I’d taken an aging aunt to out for her birthday. Old people and me, we are two groups that like to eat early. Catch that earl-bird special, you know, the 2 PM dinner crowd? For one reason or another, we’d gotten off to a late start. Since it was just her birthday, you may correctly assume that my aging, dowager auntie, she isn’t a mighty Leo. However, at this one restaurant, they have a tradition that if it’s your birthday? You get a huge slab of carrot cake, partially buried under a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and topped with a single candle.

Gratefully, the cast and crew didn’t surround us and sing happy birthday. I hate that part. However, as I was escorting her out the door, another elderly man leaned across from his table and wished her a happy birthday. Then two ladies from another table, they also wished her a happy birthday. Then that other guy he got in another happy birthday. Once I had her packed away in the truck?

I started to think about it. That other guy, he was hitting on my aunt. I didn’t know whether to be disgusted, amused, or, my final thought? Go back in and give him her number. Mercury is backwards. Look at the range of emotions I ran through when I figured it out: disgusted, amused, helpful. Helpful isn’t an emotion, just a notion.

However, when I asked my auntie for advice, she was amused that I thought he was hitting her. And she was definite, I could give him her number, but she wasn’t going to go out with him, no matter what. I just took her home. Easier.

What is the correct course of action?

“Your uncle is the last man I’ll ever marry.” Virgo: I was in a doctor’s office for a routine follow-up examination. Normal enough. In the blood-letting room, there was a sign on the wall, “Lab coats must be worn at all times.” Being who I am, I asked if I was supposed to wear a lab-coat, too. “No, silly, that’s for employees only,” (Virgo) nurse explained. I was trying to figure out if that meant something deeper.

TV ruined this, but at one time, the Lab Coat was a symbol of expertise. Guy in a lab coat? Had to be right. He was a scientist, and therefore, the gods of science and technology proved he was correct. She. Used to be just males, but again, TV ruined this. In that doctor’s office? The whole crew was female.

I’m not complaining, just observing. What I’m driving towards? Imagine that I had on a lab coat. A white, mostly cotton lab coat with pockets and maybe medical-looking things pocking out of the right-hand pocket. Maybe some latex gloves tucked into another pocket. My name, “Kramer Wetzel,” stitched across the top left pocket. Does that make me an expert? Does a white lab coat make anyone really an expert? Credentials or appearances, which carries the most weight with you? Libra: Agreeing to shop with a girlfriend is a ticklish affair, at best. The things men do to have some kind of chance? Keep hope alive.

So the question about accessories came up, again, and I was politely slammed into my place. “Accessories are very important. Look at Wonder Woman. She could kill with hers.” Well, there you have it.

From cartoon wisdom — now we know. There’s a comic bit of wisdom that needs to be imparted unto the Libra crowd. I’m not sure what the correct cartoon/comic book/graphic novel character is most appropriate. There is a great deal of misguided (and stubbornly so) energy floating around you. It’s not you, but out of the people around you? One — or more — is being stupidly stubborn.

The best way to get your point across is with the joke. The comic book, the cartoon character delivery. Makes and illustrates the point better than any other medium. Scorpio: I’ve looked at a number of promotional items. Fishing lures with my label imprinted was one idea. There’s a certain model of fishing lure, a rattle trap, that’s the nickname, and those lures work in a wide variety of conditions, and for that matter, on a wide variety of fish. Bass, Striper, and Perch.

Price and quantity was prohibitive on ordering the imprinted lures. Besides, only a handful of those would really reach the water, and after all, isn’t that the point? T-shirts are out. Too much, inventory is a problem, and while I’m not impressed with the quality, the “Print On Demand” model works well enough.

Then there’s the flash drive craze. I came closer to ordering those, a small flash drive with my URL and name on it. Thought that would be the best item, just include on with every readings. Or most readings. Computer savvy crowd would use and appreciate those things. After three or for tries, I finally hit on the right idea. Only, now, the price is way too high. Can’t afford it, but it was a great idea. Which means we’re right back where we started.

However, you’ll notice that this hunt has taken us, Scorpio, all over the place. Into and out of the inner workings of the business. Which is what this next week is all about. Sagittarius: I have been known, from time to time, to spout apparently random Shakespeare quotes. Unnerved one editor. He put that bit in about how I thought I was Shakespeare in a past life. No truth to that.

My quotes, when I do spout them, they are less random than would appear, although, the connections between the conversation and the meaning of the quote can be a little tedious. Or arcane. Or, maybe, just maybe, there isn’t an apparent connection, and it’s only in the dark and twisted recesses of the canyons of my mind can I see a connection.

With Mercury backwards, not quite opposite us, in Taurus? There’s going to be a problem, and you’re going to be like me, proffering apparently random and apparently nonsensical verbiage. It does make sense, and it will make sense to me. But I might be the only one. I get it. I’m a Sagittarius — nonsense from another Sagittarius isn’t new or nonsense. It’s a twisted and arcane Mercury-inspired epithet. Aphorism. Something. Not a problem, not for me. However, the rest of the signs you deal with, the other 11? They may not get it. I can get away with it. Can you? Capricorn: Some years ago, I was looking at buying some land on the Texas Coast. Vacation property, rent it out in the tourist season, go down for the fishing season. Found one place that was, not really in my reach, but I talked to my insurance guy about hurricane insurance.

It’s my personal belief, on the Gulf Coast, it’s not a question of “if,” it’s a question of “when.” I was trying to sell my insurance guy on the idea that he should give me a really cheap deal. I pointed out that there is historical proof that no hurricane has ever ripped up that portion of the coast. No record, whatsoever.

Other places? Sure, but since there’s never been a hurricane right there, should be cheaper insurance? I started to trot out fake numbers and probability points as proof. Didn’t work. He just calmly pointed out, like me, he thinks it’s not a question of “if,” but a question of “when.” No question, no discount rate for me, and now, no way to afford a place at the coast because the insurance is too much.

The not-so-valid argument I was trying to invoke? I’d suggest that’s about all that will work for Capricorn, Mercury and all, you know. Aquarius: Late at night, I was in a motel room west of here. Couldn’t sleep. I just finished reading a book, and I wasn’t drifting off, so I clicked on the TV. I caught a 1966 Science Fiction movie about a green vampire from outer space. Horrible film. Or good film, taken in context. Plot moved kind of slow for me, and the action, the acting, yeah, well, the special effects? The only part of the film that really worked? Historical noises. I liked the space ship sounds and the space ship special effects and the ham-fisted approach to how a space ship would look landing and taking off.

I think it was the same footage, just reversed. Wasn’t a complete waste as the film gives a sense of how much modern technology has advanced in the film-making arena. To me, the film seemed campy with no pretext of being campy. I’d figure, at the time, it was serious film with serious actors doing serious acting, or what passed for serious acting. Good sound editing, from a historical sound effects point of consideration.

Weird, that’s how we thought the future would look? As a historical point, though, there’s a good deal of evidence in the film, as a document of what we thought our future would look like. No ray guns, no green women from Mars who drink blood, and no space ships with decidedly phallic allusions. What’s the future really hold? We look a lot more like we do now, than ever before.

That’s a real glance at your future. Pisces: There’s a taco place, not far from home, and I tend to favor this place. English is spoken, but Mexican is much more common (that’s Spanish with a Central/Northern Mexico accent). Having lunch one afternoon, I watched as very little girl, I’m guessing 2-6 years old range, she poured honey, about a half of a squeeze bottle, all over her breakfast taco. Only makes sense, I’m sure. I’m not female, not in that age range, but if I were, it’s easy to see how that makes sense.

The bacon/eggs breakfast tacos are the stuff of legend. Sometimes more meat than egg, and full of flavor with the hint of the comal, grease, fried meat, eggs, and warm flour tortillas. Sure, I can see how she wanted that bottle of honey on top. I prefer the homemade green salsa, but again, that’s me.

I was intrigued by the choice. Looked like grandparents with the kid, and looked like the grandparents were indulging. Which is what should happen with grandparents. Let those kids have whatever they want. As we get into this Mercury (retrograde) pattern, we could all use some grandparent kind of spoiling. If you don’t have a grandparent figure handy? Use that image of one. Think about a whole squeeze-bottle of honey on a breakfast taco. Whatever it takes to make it through the Mercury period. Aries: “Here, you want to listen?” Nice enough woman, asked politely, she was offering to let me listen to whatever was piped into her headphones. Looked like a slightly archaic — to me — CD player spinning on battery power. She pulled the headphones away from her ears and I could hear the tinny music, droning on.

I smiled my wan smile, nodded and mouthed “no thank you,” and paid for my purchases. I think I was getting a hot dog and a diet coke. Road food, as it were. It was a nice offer, just, well, I’m not sure I wanted to share/touch that person. I was nice, but I did keep a little distance.

Polite, kind, but firm. I’d hope I was firm. She smiled a toothy grin and acknowledged me. Likewise, I’m sure. When Mercury is backwards and everyone is so uptight? Be polite. Stick to your point, stay on topic but do so in a polite manner.

Aries: Be nice.

About the author: Born and raised in a small town in East Texas, Kramer Wetzel spent years honing his craft in a trailer park in South Austin. He hates writing about himself in third person. More at

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  • Sarah Smith Apr 29, 2010 @ 11:20

    Credentials or appearances? I read the certificates on the wall–where she earned her degrees, where she interned. Don’t give a hoot about a white (or any other color) lab coat, unless it’s spattered with blood, feces or vomit. Then I might pay attention. With nurses, I do look to see if the name tag says LVN or RN or whatever, since they are all dressed similarly, even the aides and custodians (at the VA). A doctor deserves respect, an RN deserves respect, an orderly deserves respect, but each in her own field of expertise, and only the creds give you a clue. Flip side? (yeah, Sag with Jupiter in Gemini always wants to talk about the flip side) there are idiots in all of the above categories, so a common sense/experience filter, with a high level bullshit detector is always advisable. Not all lab coated figures are created equal or educated equally.

    I’m notorious among my friends for arcane references, obscure quotations and pithy trivia. They just shrug and say, “OK Sarah, whatever.” A few “get it” and I love them for it.