Friday, December 17, 2010

Room by Emma Donoghue

Room is a popular book right now. Based on recent news events, it’s about a young woman who was abducted and imprisoned in a small room for I’ve forgotten exactly how-many-long years. Unlike the real-life cases, “Ma” was not a child when she was kidnapped. The story is charmingly told from the viewpoint of her now five-year-old son, Jack (Happy birthday, Jack), who has never been outside the room where he was born and they are imprisoned.

There are only five or six chapters in this story, and they are long. The first two are mostly world-building, and one thing that makes it interesting to me, as a writer, is that Jack and Ma’s world is the exact opposite of the usual type of world-building that appears in science fiction and fantasy books such as Tolkien’s or Rowling’s. In those books, cities and countries, species and creatures, and magical abilities are created to expand the world beyond our current reality. In
Room, the world is the opposite. It is reduced to the bare necessities that will fit into a space the size of a backyard shed. While it was fascinating to imagine, and even more interesting to see how it was all perfectly natural to Jack, being the only world he knows, by the end of the second chapter, I was ready to move on. I wanted to see something happen.

And happen, it does. Jack is finally alerted to the fact that a whole other world exists beyond the confines of
Room, and it’s naturally scary to him in the same way that we might be a little frightened if, for instance, we were suddenly hit with proof that we’re not the only intelligent species in the universe, or discovered that life is not what we think it is. That’s kind of mind-blowing to us as adults. Imagine what it’s like to a five-year-old. But due to Ma’s persistence and Jack’s bravery, their world does suddenly expand, and then Jack must learn to adjust. 

Room is an entertaining story on a rare subject in novels. I’m not going to grade it on judgments about things Ma should or should not have done as other readers have, because until we’re in that situation, we have no room to judge. Some of Ma’s choices and decisions are what make the story and characters realistic.

Four bookmarks (one deducted for the chapter that made me want something to hurry up and happen). For an explanation of my bookmark system, click HERE.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lolita in Japanese

When I read a book, I carry it around with me everywhere so that I can read any time I have a few minutes. Waiting in line at the grocery or the Giant Superstore that I hate with a passion is much less tiresome when I can stand there and read, and has probably saved the life of a cashier or two. Right now, I’m reading Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. I had it out at work the other night, hoping for a minute or two, when a young friend (still a teenager) noticed it.

“Do you know what Lolita means in Japanese?” he asked.

Was it something I was unaware of? I’d bite: “What?”

“It means being a pervert for little girls!” he said. 

I shrugged. “Yeah, that’s what it means everywhere. It’s pretty much universal.”

He seemed a little alarmed. “Then why are  you
reading it?”

I was amused. “Because I never have. It’s classic literature, like War and Peace …”

His face registered no recognition.

“… or a Tale of Two Cities …”

“I’ve heard of that one,” he said.

“Oh. Good.” 


I shudder to think what they're not teaching kids in school these days.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Second Duchess by Elizabeth Loupas

My friend, Elizabeth Loupas', little Beagle, Cressie, was seriously injured this week, playing in her own back yard. When Elizabeth told us about it on Facebook, it reminded me to get over to her blog (I am sooooo bad about making the rounds!) to find out what happened. Poor little Cressie. Elizabeth was never able to figure it out. However, while I was there, I was also reminded to update you on the progress of her forthcoming book, The Second Duchess. It was due to come out in January, but for a mysterious reason, the date was pushed back to March 1. It is already garnering excellent reviews, as I knew all along that it would. Here's one from Publisher's Weekly, which is the Bible of the publishing business: 

The Second Duchess
Elizabeth Loupas, NAL, $15 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-451-23215-1
Robert Browning’s classic poem “My Last Duchess” provides the starting point for Loupas’s winning debut set in Renaissance Italy. Barbara of Austria, the virgin bride of Alfonso d’Este, the fifth and last Borgia duke of Ferrara, has heard rumors that Alfonso murdered his first wife, but by marrying the duke she has escaped the convent as well as her controlling brother, Maximilian II. “Banquets and music, dancing and fashion, loving and loathing–everything is an art in Ferrara,” one of the duke’s sisters tells Barbara, who must carefully maneuver around the gossip about her predecessor, gossip that the duke has forbidden, as she seeks to establish herself at court. Meanwhile, spies lurk around every corner, ready to besmirch her reputation and standing. Readers will warm immediately to the clever, intelligent Barbara, while the demanding, sometimes brutal, Alfonso makes an intriguing man of mystery.

And here's another from Joseph - Beth Booksellers. Bookstores get to read advance copies of everything coming out so they'll know what to buy, and what to put on the front and center table of the bookstore.

The Second Duchess, by Elizabeth Loupas (9780451232151, 3/1/2011.)

Barbara of Austria comes to the Duke d’Este as his second wife and is immediately confronted by whispers and insinuations about her predecessor. Did her new husband really murder his first wife? The proud Hapsburg wife attempts to solve the mystery, while the ghost of the previous duchess observes and comments on her efforts. A charming riff on Robert Browning’s poem “My Last Duchess.”
Jennie Turner-Collins
Joseph Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati

And even more good news! The Second Duchess got a book club deal! She has been selected as a featured alternate for the Literary Guild, the Mystery Guild, the Doubleday Book Club, and the Book of the Month Club Online.

There are two more bits of news: Elizabeth (or Elisabetta, as I like to call her) is arranging a combination book-launch party and beagle adoption event at Murder by the Book in Houston. She adopted both of her dogs from Houston Beagle and Hound Rescue, so if you live in that area, you might want to mark your calendar for that. When she gives me a firm date, I'll pass it on to you. 

Secondly, there's a possibility that she'll be in Nashville in August for a writer's conference (Killer Nashville), and with any kind of luck, maybe she'll arrange a book signing there, too. I'm definitely asking for time off work to attend, if she does that. Gina-re, make up the sofa for me! 

One last tidbit here, if you've ever wondered about the publishing process, about how a manuscript becomes a book, just follow along in Elisabetta's blog.

An imperial archduchess, a Medici princess, and the last Borgia duke—intrigue, passion and murder at the glittering Renaissance court of Ferrara. The Second Duchess is now available for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Powell's, Books-a-Million, and of course your favorite indie bookstore. In Memphis, please buy from Burke's Books at 936 South Cooper in Midtown!

Friday, December 03, 2010


Welcome to Horn Lake, Mississippi where we’re sanctioned to vandalize your car. We’re serious about our parking ordinances in Horn Lake; so serious that we skip the courtesy notice and fair warning, and go straight to defacing your property. After all, you should have known you’re not allowed to park on your own grass. How long have you lived in Horn Lake? A month? A month is plenty long enough to acquaint yourself with our local ordinances. Don’t you go to the town meetings? Haven’t you stopped by City Hall to research all the possible laws you might be breaking just by living in Horn Lake? Well, too bad for you, then. Paper tickets under the windshield wiper? Why, yes, we’ve heard of them, but those are too easy to ignore, too easy to throw away. We really want your attention!

The cop next door to you had us come out and post the entire street corner by his house as a No Parking Zone, so on-street parking is forbidden. Then there’s that fire hydrant you can’t block between the corner and the only four feet of grass that’s yours, so don’t have anyone over to visit unless you can talk a neighbor into letting them park in his or her driveway, because there just isn’t anywhere else. You might try the edge of the park one street over. Just don’t let us catch you there. You also can’t bike, rollerblade, or skateboard there. God knows The South, and Horn Lake, in particular, is famous for the residents being tubs of lard so no exercise in the park! No fun! It’s forbidden. 

We must keep our reputation for being an ignorant bunch of hicks at all cost! Now go move your car before we tow it off. And welcome to Horn Lake, Mississippi.  Notice that this ticket is signed by Dan Smith, who is now head of Animal Control.

Thinking of moving to Horn Lake? Here's another post you might want to read before finalizing that decision! Welcome to Horn Lake, MS Again

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Instant Turkey

In the kitchen, the general Rule of Thumb is, When in doubt, throw it out. As I cut open the plastic on my turkey this year (a 20 pound Butterball), believe me, there was no doubt. I pinched my nose and backed away quickly. Everything else was prepped. The celery, onion, sausage, and water chestnuts were ready to be added to the bread cubes for the dressing. The sweet potatoes were already topped with their marshmallows. The corn was creamed, the red peppers and green onions were sliced for the beans, and the cranberry sauce was chilled. So I grabbed my purse and headed out to find a turkey substitute. 

When I think back on it, it's pretty amazing, really. I looked in the turkey section of the meat counter. Legs, breasts, and ground turkey were the only options. Nothing that would produce the drippings needed for gravy. I turned around. A lot of the freezer section was blocked off by items being readied for Black Friday. I peeked between two stacks that were at least nine feet high, and Oh, Happy Day, there were two bags that read Freezer to Oven * No Thawing * Oven Ready Jennie O Homestyle Turkey. I'd never seen one before. And it happened just that quick.

It was expensive, costing $19 for a twelve pound turkey.

I think the reason this turkey can be cooked frozen is because it comes in a cooking bag that steams it. You put it in your roasting pan, cut six 1/2 inch holes in the bag, and pop it in a 375 degree oven. It comes with a popup timer hidden in there somewhere, but it's been my experience that with most of those turkeys that have the popup timer, by the time it pops up, the turkey is already over-cooked and dry. So I check often. I pull on the leg to see if it breaks away easily. I couldn't pull on the leg of this one because it was in the bag. I also couldn't see through the bag in order to find the little timer once it became spattered by the juices. So I stuck a meat thermometer in, and it was done. 

You have to let the bag sit for a few minutes if you don't want a steam burn. When I finally split it open, the turkey was brown on top, but the sides were still as white as if it hadn't been cooked at all. Not very appetizing. I looked for the timer, but couldn't find it. And the breasts looked as flat as my grandma's. 

That's when I realized I had cooked the thing upside down.  

So I flipped it over (yes, the timer had popped). Again, the turkey was brown on top (although not crispy), but white on the sides. The legs looked like they had been skinned from halfway down, and they had stuck to the bag, so when I pulled it free, part of them were left behind. 

Here's the picture Jennie O uses on their website:

Here's the reality:

With all this said, now I will add that the turkey was delicious. It was well-seasoned and moist, and probably one of the better turkeys I've ever eaten. I would definitely buy it again, but not for a dinner when company was coming, except in an emergency. 

It also comes with a small bag of gravy, but I have never liked the gravy that comes with a turkey. It usually tastes too much like the giblets (there were no giblets in this turkey, by the way, in case that's important to you). I also don't like turkey gravy from jars or powdered mixes. I make mine with drippings and corn starch. The gravy that came with the Jennie O turkey tasted like it had been made from a vegetable stock, including onions, celery, and carrots. My guests also preferred my gravy.

Jennie O's gravy:

My gravy:

I have never been a huge fan of cranberry sauce. As a kid, I wouldn't eat it. As an adult, after a certain number of cranberry juice-based cocktails, I acquired more of a taste for it, but it was still something I could take or leave. However, now I have found a recipe for cranberry sauce that I will make every year, and probably many other times throughout the year.  It's a cranberry-pear-walnut-brandy sauce that someone entered in a competition, and if it wasn't the winner (I have no idea), then it was a travesty because it is one of the best things ever put on a Thanksgiving feast table! 

It's described as all silk and fragrance, and that's true. 

It's not something you can serve to recovering alcoholics, but practicing boozers will snarf it up in a hurry. This stuff is Y-U-M-M-Y. I can picture having it with a pork loin, as well. It tastes just as nice warm, too. I'd pay good money for a cookbook written by Amanda and Merrill if their cranberry sauce is an indication of how all the other recipes would turn out. Try this one at home! (Please let me know if the link becomes broken.)

UPDATE: The cranberry sauce did win the competition. I'm not sure who Amanda and Merrill are. The cook who created the sauce is here. And her blog is here. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Jessica’s Trap by K Hillman

Jessica’s Trap is everything a good yarn should be.  

The story takes place in the UK  in 1647, and Jessica Chadwick is a young witch who lives in a hovel at the edge of the woods where she grows herbs that she uses to heal ailing villagers. Her mother was burned at the stake. Jessica didn’t witness her death, but overheard her father and a family friend discussing a betrayal by someone named Demdike.

War and plague blight the land, and Jessica’s father is drafted into the army. She is alone in the world now but for the family friend, Simon Bulcock, who is a kind, slightly older than middle-aged man who looks out for her and poaches rabbits from the King’s land. As the story begins, Simon is on his way to share a little of his bounty with Jessica at the same time that she is conjuring her mother’s ghostly spirit.

Jessica’s mother advises her to forget about Demdike; she has much bigger problems. There is a Witchfinder, one of the Golab. It possesses men’s bodies and feeds on the terror of women. Jessica should conjure a demon named Foras and ask for help, but to make sure she understands his price before agreeing. Jessica’s powers are strong, but she is inexperienced, and Foras is the President of Hell. 

Together, with a whole host of demons who soon overrun her house, Foras sets a trap to capture the Golab, and Jessica becomes the bait.   

This story has all the tension and conflict a good story should have—the likable main character has a specific goal and endless obstacles thrown in her path. Will she make it, or won’t she?  

Who knew there are worse things out there than demons?

Unfortunately for you, this book is an advance copy from the author. It has been accepted for publication, but unless the publishing business in Great Britain moves faster than the glacial pace it moves in the U.S., it will probably be April before you’ll see it on bookstore shelves, and most likely with a different cover because that's what happens in the publishing biz. I’ll remind you of it again then. I hope you'll have it in time for next Halloween!

The story doesn’t have the gut-wrenching, heartbreaking power of say…Sophie’s Choice or Lonesome Dove, but for horror,  

I like it as much as any Stephen King book I’ve ever read
Five bookmarks.

For an explanation of my Bookmark System, click here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

CLEO The Cat Who Mended a Family by Helen Brown

Cleo is not the book I wanted to read when I bought it. The book I wanted wasn’t available at the store I was in, and the cover of this one caught my eye. I am a cat person. (I’m a dog person, too, although I don’t have one at the present time.) I wasn’t sold by the cover; it looks like a children’s book. But it says it’s an international bestseller, and was hailed by Good Housekeeping as “the next Marley & Me,” which I did not read (I read The Art of Racing in the Rain, instead, and would give it five bookmarks). However, I did see the movie, Marley & Me, and liked it, although not as much as the true story of Hachi, which I think will stay with me the rest of my life. As I reached about the middle of this book, I decided the “international” in “bestseller” must have been New Zealand and Australia, where the author once lived / now lives. 

I hate saying that I didn’t like a book. I know the blood, sweat and tears that go into writing one, and it seems traitorous, therefore, I will only say I didn’t care much for the first half of this one. I think it’s a memoir, and the plot is very thin: a young family suffers a terrible loss, and then gets stuck with a kitten they are not in any emotional condition to adopt. From there, they must figure out how to keep going on with their lives. And of course, their loss is terrible, but I wasn’t drawn in by it. It’s the initiating hook of the story, so maybe there was too little time for me to be emotionally involved enough to share their pain. I wish the author had taken the time to make me care. I was left feeling like a casual observer, and in fact, I didn’t see that some of the characters themselves were all that devastated.

There is practically no conflict in this story at all, and that may be one reason I didn’t care about it. Everything fell easily into place for Helen. When a job offer came from the blue and required the family to uproot and move, no problem. When they had to leave their friends, no problem. At the new job, the protag liked everyone, and everyone liked her. Even the new job was a dream. When the couple divorced, no problem. Give their dog away? Leave Cleo behind for a year? No problem. And on and on the same way through the whole book. Obstacles to happiness keep cropping up, but are brushed aside as easily and automatically as shooing a fly. It would have been much more interesting had there been something she had to fight for or against. I needed a reason to root for her. The closest thing to an antagonist in the story was her mother, who only appears briefly in two scenes. At least she made me want to slap her.

The story does pick up midway through, after Helen meets Philip. At least he is an interesting character who eventually experiences some emotional conflict. I think had he not come along at that point, I would have just put the book down and read something else. However, by the end, when Helen wraps everything up, I had come to care enough about the characters to shed some tears and felt the author redeemed herself and the story. 3 bookmarks

For an explanation of my bookmark system, click on this link.
Before posting this review, I read those on Amazon. They were all good 4 and 5 star reviews.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

SARAH'S KEY by Tatiana de Rosnay

This book has a gorgeous cover.

Holocaust stories are always horrifying and heartbreaking, and Sarah’s Key by French author Tatiana De Rosnay is no exception.

Julia Jarmond is an American-born journalist married to a Frenchman, who lives in Paris. She has an eleven-year old daughter. She writes for a magazine geared toward other Americans living in France. The 60th anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv’ is coming up soon, and Julia’s assignment is to write about it. The Vel’ d’Hiv’ was the day in July of 1942 when French police rounded up Jewish families at dawn, including more than 4,000 children, and took them to an indoor stadium to be held until they were sent to Auschwitz. They were there for days with no food or water, and no bathrooms. 

Many died.  
They were the lucky ones. This book does not spare us the horrendous events or conditions the Jewish people suffered in the camps…and they were unspeakable nightmares.

Julia’s husband is renovating an apartment that had belonged to his grandparents, more specifically, his grandmere, when the story begins. When the apartment is completed, he and Julia, and their daughter, will move in. It is located on Rue de Saintonge, in the heart of the area where the Vel’d’Hiv’ roundup took place. Soon Julia becomes curious and begins researching who had lived in the apartment during that time.

Sarah Starzynski was ten-years-old on that fateful morning and her little brother was four. She adored him. She doted on him. They played together all the time, and had a secret hiding place. So when the French police came to get them that morning, Sarah locked her little brother in the secret place, promising to come back for him in a few hours. She had no idea what her future held.

This is a powerful story, masterfully told.
It’s swift reading, too. I finished it in a few hours. And then I read the author’s acknowledgments, her interview, the historical perspective, the recommended reading list, the reading group questions, and finally, the back cover again, because I didn’t want it to end. 

Monday, August 02, 2010

Pet Toss

My neighbor, Brandy Gull, moved out over the weekend. It was the last day of July, and I’m sure the need to be out by August 1st explains her big hurry. Four pickup trucks, one towing a flatbed trailer, all backed into her front yard at the same time on Saturday afternoon. She and her kids rushed back and forth, carrying out their belongings, which weren’t packed. The trailer was loaded with pots, soil, and other landscaping items from her job. I’m sure her big hurry explains why she forgot to take her pets with her.

I’m not sure about the woman. Sometimes she’s very nice; sometimes, she’s very defensive. One day, when I dropped the very heavy bowl of my birdbath while cleaning it, she came over and helped me pick it up. The next day, when I was looking for my cat, I asked if it might have gone into her house because a low, unscreened window a few feet from the last place I had seen her had been wide open at the time. The neighbor crossed her arms over her chest and responded as if I were accusing her of hiding my cat or something. Then of course, later, I learned the punk across the street had kidnapped it. But was it that unreasonable to ask if a cat had jumped through an open window? Sheesh.

The lady has a big family…four children whose various fathers often come and pick them up for the weekends, two dogs, at least two adult cats, maybe three, and three kittens. I know her children love those pets. Although I have nothing against the woman, we haven’t been on the friendliest terms during her year here. One of her dogs liked to run all over my yard, through a garden I had just planted. I love dogs, so I didn’t say much about it. But when the dog came in our yard and started barking at my ex, he said, “no way.” He wasn’t going to have a dog that wasn’t his stand in his yard and aggressively bark at him. I admit it made me a little leery that it might chase or attack my cats. That was before she acquired a few cats of her own; I couldn’t be sure. So when my ex talked to the lady about her dog, it put a damper on any friendship that might have blossomed.

The dog in question was skilled at climbing over the gate from her back yard, so her attempts to keep it confined was a problem, I know. She complained to me that the landlord wouldn’t “fix the gate,” which wasn’t broken. I knew he wouldn’t. He wouldn’t fix things that were broken. This is the same man who neglected two different, beautiful dogs when he lived there; someone I had never been so happy to see go. I hinted to my ex that maybe he could help with her gate. I guess he didn’t want to. The lady took to keeping the dogs inside, and sending her teenage son with them when they needed to go out.

Saturday evening, about 6:30, I noticed two of her kittens on my porch. I headed over to her house to see if she was completely gone, or only partially gone. As I made my way over, I saw that the blinds in a window that faces my house had been shredded, a new condition. I looked in. Imagine my surprise when that dog looked back. The poor thing was so happy to see someone that she didn’t even bark at me. It was obvious she was terrified that she had been left behind, and was trying to get out. My heart broke for her. I told her I was sure they were coming back for her, and I waited until midnight, August 1st, which I figured was her deadline to move, and then called the police. They came and told me wait until Monday, then call the shelter.

I was gone all day Sunday. I made a special trip back home in the middle of the day to see if the lady had come for her animals. I couldn’t rouse the dog by knocking on the glass or ringing the doorbell, so I assumed she did, and was glad of that much. But the kittens remained on my porch, and the third one joined them.

I only knew of one place I might reach the woman. Her daughter had once told me about a family business they all help out in on the weekends. So I called and spoke to a young-voiced woman who claimed to be the manager, and told her my dilemma. Did the woman want her cats, or did she want me to take them to the shelter? About two minutes later, the neighbor called me and said if I ever called her at work again, she would sue me. So I called the shelter. I don’t understand how people can have pets that they love and fight for, then abandon them when they become inconvenient. She may as well have thrown those kittens on the trash pile she left by the curb.

How can anyone keep an animal for any length of time and not know that the animal experiences emotion just like we do? That they love us even at our worst. That they are dependent on us for their lives, and in every lick of our hands, and every purr in our arms, they show their gratitude. How can anyone look into the eyes of a pet and say, “Sorry, buddy, you’re not going?”

10/14/10 I've been meaning to add this post script for quite a while, but have been too busy and distracted lately. Very shortly after this happened, a nearly 20-year-old jade plant I had sitting on my front porch suddenly collapsed and died -- a lot like it had been poisoned. It made me a little suspicious.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mel Gibson and Chinese Music / Part 1 of the Astrology of Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson’s birth data isn’t in Lois Rodden's data bank, but is generally accepted to be January 3, 1956, at 4:45 PM EST, in Peekskill, NY, USA. From comparing the transits to his natal chart for the time the news broke that tapes of his shocking rants exist, I'd have to say it's pretty accurate. First Tiger Woods, now Mel. I think there will be one more big scandal this summer, in late August. I'm also expecting another Gulf Oil Spill event around that time.

But we came here to talk about Mel.

Mel Gibson is beginning to remind me of Nathan in Sophie's Choice, the Oscar-winning film of the hauntingly tragic novel (
William Styron). He's brilliant, talented, and fucked up as Chinese music.

Did you just laugh?

Or did you just think, "she did exactly what Mel did, only not in a drunken rant," as I disparaged Chinese music?
I think that's an important issue because it's a matter of individual sensibilities, as all ethnic jokes are. Personally, I find them extremely funny because there is a kernel of truth in them. I also find them fairly offensive because I believe that we are all brothers and sisters under the skin, even though some of you are as bat-shit crazy as Mel. You're the ones sitting there nodding, and wondering what nutty thing I'm going to write next, and the rest of you... Hey, wait! Where ya goin'?

The line between
funny and unacceptable is in the delivery, isn't it? If you're in a comedy club, you expect it. If your best friend tells you, you laugh. If someone at work tells it, you smile. If a complete stranger whispers it in a conspiratorial tone like a Russian spy, you move away quickly. And if it's bellowed loudly enough for the world to hear by a raging drunk, we gasp in horror and declare him a monster. Let's have a look at the man Mel used to be, when the whole world fell in love with him:

Remember this guy?

As we all know, Mel is a better-than-average-looking-middle-aged Caucasian male, upper class by financial standards, a celebrity, and a world traveler.
He's in the Herd phase of his evolutionary journey, with occasional forays into the Individuated state.

Before we go on, let's get you oriented:

Now, about Mel:

His moon's south node (the past, the crutch, the indicator of peddling backwards and backtracking) in Gemini shows that it's a repeat condition; that it's not the first time he's being given these particular lessons. Gemini represents the transfer of information in all its forms: communication, reading, writing, language skills, primary education, all written materials from letters to newspapers, from memoirs to novels, writing instruments, messages and messengers, telephones, telegrams, email, gossip, and the ability (or not) to reason and communicate clearly and effectively.

Bear with me for a bit, because this might sound a little crazy: Normally, Mel is quite rational. He possesses a balanced mind, neither leaping to conclusions nor slow to make decisions. It's indicated by the moon moving fast at the time of his birth, and Mercury (communication, rational mind) trailing his natal Sun (self-identity and ego). The evidence is in the smart career choices he's made.

His Mercury, the first position in the Triumvirate of the Transmission of Information, Lord of Gemini, Lord of the third house, is in serious, conservative, staid Capricorn, upholder of truth, tradition and authority. Mercury isn’t weakened in Capricorn, nor is it strengthened necessarily by engineering Saturn. In Capricorn, Saturn puts the breaks on the fun parts of Mercury. That’s his job.

Eventually every Peter Pan must grow up, even if it is kicking and screaming the whole way. Mercury in Capricorn gives a steady mind, but a dull tongue. It’s extremely helpful in performing Shakespeare, but not for tossing out just the right bon mot for an occasion. Some people with Mercury in an earth sign live with it just fine. For others, it’s an albatross. If Mel had been born one minute later, his Mercury would have been in lightning-fast, quirky Aquarius, where it’s exalted, and he would have been so much more comfortable with that.

. . .

Want more astrology? Visit me at Memphis Astrology.