The Dade Planet apologizes for the wild excesses of its former Czodiac Czar, Madame I. Liner (right). The bossiness, the specificity, the sheer, unmitigated gall of Madame I’s prognostications offended no reader more profoundly than it did The Planet. Readers, may we consider Madame I. a troubled era in the history of this newspaper, and turn the metaphorical page to a fresh new chapter?
The Planet also apologizes for its slowness in replacing Madame I. Good prognosticators are thin on the ground. But now, by dint of an arduous search, The Planet has assembled an impressive panel of candidates, and in this issue’s horoscope will allow them to audition for the horoscope post.
First, Candidate 1, tell us something about yourself; then show us what you can do.
Hi, hon! I’m Madame Charlene. My present job is as a Huddle House waitress, but I’ve also been the star of The Planet’s advice column, Ask Charlene the Small-Town Snoop. Now I reckon I am ready to move on to the Big Time. I’m fixin’ to start with Sagittarius.
Saj, don’t sweat the small stuff—do these pants make my butt look fat? What do the neighbors think? Save your perspiration for the big things. Like that pile of crap you left in the driveway. That’s big. It’s getting rained on. Slugs live underneath it. And hon, you don't wanna know what the neighbors are saying about that The nice ones think you’re dead. One of the mean ones told me you was in jail. The neighborhood association is trying to get your house condemned. (It’s why you don’t get invited to the meetings no more.) And by the way …
Wait a minute. You’re as bad as Madame I, but with worse grammar.
…what’s wrong with washing the windows once in a while? I was crouching out on your porch the other day and couldn’t see in even though you’d left the curtains open. (I was just checking out the story you was dead. I know you ain’t in jail because I ast the sheriff. He eats here.) I could see just well enough, though, to notice you hadn’t put up the laundry and it looked like the rug needs help, too. If it was me I wouldn’t eat saltines nowhere but in the kitchen…
That’ll be all, Charlene. Don’t quit your day job. I believe Madame Rosie is next. Madame Rosie?
You don’t have to shout so loud. It elevates my anxiety levels.
I beg your pardon. Readers, Madame Rosie is a black German shepherd who has also authored an advice column in these pages. Hey. Where are you?
Under the desk. I told you I was frightened. In fact, I’ve had a little accident …
Oh, for cryin’ out loud. OK, Madame Rosie, how can I put you at ease?
You know how. You just don’t want to do it in public. You speak to me in a falsetto, like this: “Wosie’s a dood dirl, but she’s a widdle high-stwung and weacts best to positive weinforcement!”
Aw wight, Wosie, I’ll twy. Now. Maybe you could twy Capwicorn?
Capricorn, a little fresh air will do you good! Get out from under that porch! Or if you’re an inside dog, bark until they let you outside! Anyway, you’ve got to try something besides lying around all day licking your butt! Try licking somebody else’s! Or you could switch briefly to your crotch and see if that doesn’t provide a fresh new perspective.
You know, Madame Rosie, I don’t think this is working for me.
Please. Positive reinforcement only.
Capricorn, don’t let anyone define you but yourself! Remember the story of the blind dogs and the elephant? One sniffed the ear and thought the elephant was a flying carpet; another licked the tusk and thought it was a spear; a third bumped against the animal’s flank and thought it was a wall (so he peed on it.). A fourth, humping the elephant’s leg, concluded the animal was a cow. One played tug of war with the elephant’s tail and got what he deserved but don’t worry, dogs enjoy that sort of thing, it’s why they roll in it. And the one that tried touching noses got shook up so bad he was never the same dog. Now, I wonder why nobody thought of smelling his butt…
Rosie, that was terrible! Oh, no, not on the carpet!
Oh, my. I am sorry. But you forgot the falsetto...
Hi. I’m Madame Charlie. I heard you got a job needs done. I could write a newspaper column!
Charles Manson? Good heavens, I heard you had died.
That didn’t stop Dear Abby, man.
It’s slowed her down some. All she does now is tell people to talk to a licensed counselor, or send money for her instructional pamphlets. It’s like people coming to Huddle House and me instead of feedin’ anybody diagnosing ‘em as hungry.
Thank you, Madame Charlene, but we have moved on now to another candidate.
Or trying to sell ‘em the goddam menu.
All right, Madame Charlie. Show us what you can do.
Aquarius, are you in luck, man! This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Or it was when I got tossed in the slammer. It might be the high noon of Aquarius by now. Or mid-afternoon, whatever. Anyway, today is your day, Aquarius, so live in the moment! Carpe the diem! Wow the now! Toss caution to the winds, fire up a J, and dance naked into the Technicolor dawn. Or the Technicolor high noon. Or mid-afternoon, whatever. Don’t let others guilt-trip you. Just because you’re convicted in a courtroom doesn’t mean you’re guilty of anything. But watch your back. Remember, total paranoia is just total awareness. And whatever you do, man, don’t take the brown acid.
Well, it’s not bad. It’s incoherent, of course, but not any worse than Jeane Dixon on a bad day. At least it’s upbeat. Mostly. So Madame Charlie. You wanta try Pisces?
Think for yourself, Pisces! Sanity is a small box, but you’re free, man, so fly your own flag! You make the money, man, you roll the nickels. The game is yours! You deal the cards. The real strong have no need to prove it to the phonies. If they give you any crap just waste ‘em. Death is the greatest form of love. Anyway, those people stalking you, they’re, like, totally evil, no jury would convict. Now is the only thing that’s real. Look at the madness that goes on, you can’t prove anything that happened yesterday. Of course, some folks, give ‘em enough evidence and they’ll convict a cheese sandwich. But hell, you can find the universe in a small cell. Kill.
Um. Would someone please call Security?
Get your hands off me, pigs! After what you’ve done to me, doesn’t that give me equal rights? Aughhh! Alice, I don’t think we’re in Wonderland anymore….
Am I lookin’ better every minute, hon? How’s about I do Aries?
Well, maybe if you just read from the script. I’m beginning to have second thoughts about letting people prepare their own material.
Glad to oblige. Ahem. “Aries, keep your personal life a secret.” Haw! Sorry, hon. I can’t get no further.
What’s so funny about Keep your personal life a secret? I copped it from a nationally syndicated column!
This is a small town. Nobody’s got no secrets. Nobody’s got no personal life. Now step aside, hon, and let me show you how it’s done.
Aries, around here they commence talking about what you’re going to name the baby before you figure out your period’s late. And paternity? Hon, you don’t need no DNA tests when you go to the beauty shop I do. So Aries, it ain’t a matter of keeping your personal life a secret, it’s a matter of giving up them things in your personal life you want kept secret before they get broadcast on Bitch A.M. I ain’t going to say no more because I don’t aim to embarrass no one, but it was me that found your underwear on the pavement that time. I wondered why your car was parked there so late at night. Then the next time I looked the car wasn’t there no more but them drawers was. I ain’t going to ask why you took them off because we are both growed up and we both know there’s several good reasons to take off your panties in the Trenton town square. I am just going to tell you you’re lucky it was me that found them because other people have got big mouths. P.S.: And I was lucky too because they was just my size.
Thank you, Charlene. But I belive we have other candidates waiting.
If Madame Charlene got a second chance, why can’t I? At least I never wore anyone else’s panties.
Rosie, you once ate someone else’s panties. I know because you vomited them.
Not to put too fine a point on it but you’re a dog, Rosie. How can you advise people when all you ever think about is licking your butt and sniffing other people’s?
So are all those K-9 officers dogs, and their testimony puts people in jail! Being taken seriously is important for my self-esteem.
Self-eshteem? Vot is this self-eshteem? Never haff I heard such Scheisse!
We’ll get to you in just a moment, Mein Herr. All right, Rosie. Go ahead and take a stab at Taurus. But stick to the script. Start where it says: “Stay calm, no matter how unreasonable someone is.”
Taurus, stay calm, no matter how unreasonable someone is. Even if they're unreasonable enough to think you can read two minutes after they’ve reminded you you’re a dog!
The world isn’t fair, Taurus. Have you ever considered how many people prefer cats to dogs, when if their house got robbed cats would just sit there washing their faces with spit? They wouldn’t even bark. Well, I find robbers a little scary myself but I would at least bark. I bark all the time. I bark when somebody farts in the next county. Sometimes I bark preemptively, you know, just to get a little ahead.
For heaven’s sake, Rosie! Aside from everything else, this isn’t about you! It’s supposed to be about Taurus. And since you can’t read the script, here’s the next line: “Meet them halfway.”
But this is about you, Taurus, not me. You’re not a dog, so if your house gets robbed it would probably be a mistake to bark. I guess you could call the police or something. Or, I know! You could meet them halfway. You could take all the valuable items to the door and then they wouldn’t have to break in at all. That would save you money in window glass and besides, it wouldn’t be so frightening for your dog. If you’ve got a dog, I mean. Or are you one of those people who prefer cats?
Someone throw a rock at that dog.
No, please, I agree the dog should go but I prefer that nobody throw rocks at our candidates. I presume, ma’am, that you are a candidate, too?
I’m Eloise and I am sick and tired of that dog pooping in my flowers. Hand me that big old shovel and I’ll just—
No, no! Rosie is not much of a prognosticator but she’s a dood dirl and besides, she only wesponds to positive weinforcement!
Please, Madame Eloise, put the shovel down. Would you like to audition for the astrologer position? Here. You can give the Gemini horoscope. Stick to the script: “Gemini, your past is fast becoming your future.”
“Gemini, your past is fast becoming your future.” What is that supposed to mean?
That things people do today affect their future. You know, like bad childhood habits cause problems in adulthood.
I don’t need a script to tell nobody that. I tell people they should whip their children more every time I go out in public. Don’t nobody ever listen.
Well, here’s your chance.
Gemini, whip your children more. If you don't whip them when they run around tearing up the grass and tramping all over people’s flowers, they’ll getting even meaner. They’ll begin to steal and drink and cuss. Then one day the police will come and put them in jail. I don’t mind that much because the sheriff he’s real nice about letting me use trusties to help pull weeds. What I don’t like is when those children get into my flowers.
This is a horoscope column, Madame Eloise. You’re supposed to give Gemini advice.
Gemini, if children are getting into your flowers what I find works is if you plant things that hurt their skin. Roses have real good thorns, nandina’s got a few spikes, but nothing tears into a kid like a holly bush. Plant holly where the children like to run through your yard. That’ll learn them. I plant holly and roses together. And sometimes I throw rocks …
All right, Madame Eloise. That'll do. We’ll call your agent if we need anything else. Next?
I shtill vish to comment on der “self-eshteem” mentioned by Rosie der Hund. Self-eshteem is for veaklinks!
Mein name ist Madame Adolph und I am here to do der Sodiac column. Now. Please to sit down and say nothing. I vill start mit Cancer der Crab:
Cancer, you vill not feel goot today. Ashk me if I care! Get up, vash der face und greet der day anyway, veaklink! It doesn’t matter about der aches and der pains and der “low self-eshteem.” I shpit at der “low self-eshteem!” There is vork piling up vhile you shleep der morning away mit der “low self-eshteem!” So shtep up to der plate und get der job done! Do you know how sick everyone is of your vhining? If I vere your boss I would look you straight in der fat ugly face and say YOU’RE FIRED. Now go out und do something great mit your life. Schnell! Schnell!
Well, I guess it’s what they call “tough love,” right? There are those who say what we need around here is a firm hand. Madame Adolph, do you want to prognosticate for Leo as well?
Leo, someone vill use emotional blackmail to take zumthing dot belongs to you. Kill zem.
Wait a minute. That’s all for Leo? “Kill them?”
Vell, zen Leo can shtep over their body und shpit in their face and take back votever they shtole. I thought that vent vithout saying. But you are right. Some people are not very shmart. Eshpecially Leos. I haff never met a shmart Leo.
I’m a Leo …
Ve vill now move on to Virgo. Virgo, vear shades of gold und orange today…
You know, Madame Adolph, thanks just the same but I think we’ll have the next candidate do Virgo.
That ees the theeng about fascism, eesn’t eet? Eet is “a strong hand” when eet is persecuting others. When eet begins to persecute you …
Your face is oddly familiar. So is your heavily sententious tone. Have we met?
Eet is unlikely. I have not been long in thees country.
Fine. We’ll talk later. But first I think after our brush with the Third Reich we’re ready for some Wisdom of the Ages. Madame Socrates?
Why don't you do Virgo for your audition?
Virgo, Εκείνος που δεν είναι ικανοποιημένος με αυτό που έχει, δεν θα είναι ικανοποιημένος με αυτό που θα ήθελε να έχει. Όταν η επιθυμία, έχοντας απορρίψει το λόγο και υπερβολική εξουσία που οδηγεί προς τα δεξιά, τίθεται προς την κατεύθυνση της ευχαρίστησης που η ομορφιά μπορεί να εμπνεύσει και πάλι υπό την επιρροή των συγγενικών της επιθυμιών κινείται με βίαιη κίνηση προς την ομορφιά των σωματικών μορφών, αποκτά ένα επώνυμο από αυτήν την πολύ βίαιη κίνηση και ονομάζεται αγάπη. και φορούν αποχρώσεις χρυσού και πορτοκαλιού.
You know, this is getting to be a long day. Thank you, Madame Socrates, that will be all.
But what about Virgo?
Virgo, wear shades of gold and orange today.
That ees the theeng about the Weesdom of the Ages, eesn’t eet? Eet can take time to understand.
I’m not looking for easy answers, lady. But I was, yes, hoping for English. Did you understand a word the geezer said?
Only the last beet, when he told Virgo to wear shades of gold and orange. Though Virgo, you should also beware of a short squint-eyed man selling light bulbs. He ees not what he seems. Neither are the light bulbs.
You seem sure of yourself. Who are you? Have you done this before?
Yes. I am Madame I. – I mean, no, I am Madame N. Cognito, a geefted prognosticator freshly arrived from the Old Country, here to audeeshun for the horoscope column.
Really? Where is the Old Country?
Oh, Europe somewhere. I am not geefted at geography. Now. Shall I cast a horoscope for Libra?
Libra, you weel wake up feeling intrepid today! The world ees your oyster! Nothing can stop you! Heady stuff, but please remember the last time you felt thees way, and invaded Poland. Eet is sometimes important to ask yourself, Ees thees self-confidence, or incipient megalomania? Until you have answered thees question, perhaps eet is wiser to violate no international borders. Also, eet is too late een the year for white shoes, and put those Capris in storage, too!
I don’t know. It’s catchy, but maybe a little introspective.
Nothing wrong weeth introspection. Eet helps us avoid mistakes. Such as firing a geefted prognosticator, and hiring dogs, dictators, grumpy gardeners, serial keelers and Waffle House waitresses instead.
That’s Huddle House, hon.
You know, Madame N., you look a little like my old prognosticator. I think it’s the turban. She had one just like it.
Eet is widely known that all professional prognosticators have a turban like thees. Eet is kind of a uniform, like cowboys wearing cowboy hats or judges wearing robes. Or newspaper writers wearing hairy sweatpants. But shall we proceed?
Do you really theenk it ees true love, Scorpio, when eet is someone you barely know, someone who perseests in saying no, or een eeny case someone who ees merely standing een front of you een the elevator? Ees true love what you are telling HR, the cops and the Senate subcommittee? Eet is time, Scorpio, to start theenking before you act, and to begeen seeking legal counsel as queekly thereafter as possible. Introspection would not hurt you, Scorpio! Neither would a Yale lock for your pants. Be sure to open the egg carton before purchasing, and check sell-by dates on dairy products.
Thank you, Madame N. I'll let you know.
Gosh, Readers, what's a Planet to do? Madame N. Cognito is the only candidate who seems to know a horoscope from a handsaw when the wind is southerly, but there's just something odd about her it's hard to put a finger on.
What do you think, Readers? Who should be the next Planet prognosticator? Madame Charlene? Madame Rosie? Madame Adolph? Or any of the others?
Let The Planet know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or commenting on the Planet's Facebook page!