ARIES (March 21-April 19): A few months after America invaded Iraq in 2003, soldier Brian Wheeler wrote the following to help us imagine what it was like over there: "Go to the worst crime-infested place you can find. Go heavily armed, wearing a flak jacket and a Kevlar helmet. Set up shop in a vacant lot. Announce to the residents that you are there to help them, and in the loudest voice possible yell that every Crip and Blood within hearing distance is a PANSY." As a character-building exercise, Aries, I highly recommend you try something like this yourself. APRIL FOOL! I was just kidding. What I just said is not an accurate reading of the astrological omens. But this is: Get out of your comfort zone, yes, but with a smart gamble, not a crazy risk.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): According to a recent poll, God's approval rating has dipped below 40 per cent for the first time on record. My research suggests the new low is due in part to a disproportionate amount of dissatisfaction by those born under the sign of Taurus. Can you fix this please? If you're one of the discontent, please see if you can talk yourself into restoring some of your faith in the Divine Wow. APRIL FOOL! The real truth is, I encourage you to be skeptical in regards to all authorities, experts, and topdogs, including God. It's an excellent time in your cycle to go rogue, to scream "I defy you, stars!" Be a rabble-rousing, boat-rocking doubter.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Photographer Darrin Harris Frisby doesn't think people should smile in photographs. He regards it as "superficial and misleading." In the greatest portraits ever painted, he says, the subject's gaze is almost always neutral, "neither inviting nor forbidding." Did Rembrandt ever show people grinning from ear to ear? No. Did Vermeer, Goya, Titian, Sargent, or Velasquez? Nope. Make that your guiding thought in the coming week, Gemini. Be a connoisseur of the poker face. APRIL FOOL! I lied. The truth is, in the coming week you will have more than ample reasons to be of good cheer. You should therefore express delight extravagantly.
CANCER (June 21-July 22): Back in 1835, a newspaper known as The New York Sun resorted to an extreme measure in order to boost readership: It ran a story about how the renowned astronomer Sir John Herschel had perfected a telescope that allowed him to see life forms on the moon, including unicorns, two-legged beavers that had harnessed fire, and sexually liberated "manbats." If I'm reading the astrological omens correctly, Cancerian, you temporarily have license to try something almost equally as wild and experimental to "boost your readership." APRIL FOOL! I lied about the unicorns. Don't refer to cliched chimeras like them. But it's fine to invoke more unexpected curiosities like fire-using beavers and sexually liberated manbats.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): In his documentary film Prohibition, Ken Burns reports on the extreme popularity of alcohol in 19th-century America. He says that the typical person over 15 years of age drank 88 bottles of whiskey a year. In light of the current astrological omens, Leo, I suggest you increase your intake to that level and even beyond. APRIL FOOL! I lied. It's not literal alcoholic spirits you should be ingesting in more abundance, but rather big ideas that open your mind, inspirational sights and sounds that dissolve your inhibitions, and intriguing people who expand your worldview.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): A woman in Euclid, Ohio, claims her house is haunted by randy ghosts. "They have sex in my living room," Dianne Carlisle told a TV news reporter. "You can see the lady's high-heeled shoes." I suspect you may soon be dealing with a similar problem, Virgo. So consider the possibility of hiring an X-rated exorcist. APRIL FOOL! The naked truth is that you will not be visited by spooks of any kind, let alone horny ones. However, you would be smart to purify and neutralize old karma that might still be haunting your love life or your sex life. Consider performing a do-it-yourself exorcism of your own memories.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): In Karley Sciortino's NSFW blog Slutever.com, she announces that, "this blog is intended to trick strangers into thinking my life is more exciting than it actually is." I highly recommend you adopt that approach, Libra. Do whatever it takes — lying, deceiving, exaggerating, bragging — to fool everyone into believing that you are a fascinating character who is in the midst of marvelous, high-drama adventures. APRIL FOOL! I wasn't totally sincere about what I just said. The truth is, your life is likely to be a rousing adventure in the coming days. There'll be no need to pretend it is, and therefore no need to cajole or trick others into thinking it is.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): "Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem," said author William Gibson, "first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by a--holes." This is a good time to check in with yourself, Scorpio, and see if Gibson's advice applies to you. Lately, the jackass quotient seems to have been rising in your vicinity. APRIL FOOL! I was half-joking. It's true that you should focus aggressively on reducing the influence of jerks in your life. At the same time, you should also ask yourself rather pointedly how you could reduce your problems by changing something about yourself.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Do not under any circumstances put on a frog costume, go to a shopping mall, and ride around on a unicycle while reciting erotic poetry in German through a megaphone. APRIL FOOL! I lied. That wouldn't be such a terrible use of your time. The astrological omens suggest that you will be visited by rather unusual creative surges that may border on being wacky. Personally, though, I would prefer it if you channeled your effervescent fertility in more highly constructive directions, like dreaming up new approaches to love that will have a very practical impact on your romantic life.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): In F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan is stirred to the point of rapture by Jay Gatsby's silk shirts. "I've never seen such beautiful shirts before," she sobs, burying her face in one as she sits in his bedroom. I sincerely hope you will have an equivalent brush with this kind of resplendence sometime soon, Capricorn. For the sake of your mental and even physical health, you need direct contact with the sublime. APRIL FOOL! I half-lied. It's true that you would profoundly benefit from a brush with resplendence. But I can assure you that plain old material objects, no matter how lush and expensive, won't do the trick for you.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Last December a woman in Tulsa, Oklahoma, made creative use of a Wal-Mart. She gathered various ingredients from around the shelves, including lighter fluid, lithium, and drain cleaner, and set up a meth lab right there in the back of the store. She's your role model for the coming week, Aquarius. APRIL FOOL! I lied, kind of. The woman I mentioned got arrested for illegal activity, which I don't advise you to do. But I do hope you will ascend to her levels of ingenuity and audacity as you gather all the resources you need for a novel experiment.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): A Filipino man named Herbert Chavez has had extensive plastic surgery done to make himself resemble Superman. Consider making him your role model, Pisces. I hope he inspires you to begin your own quest to rework your body and soul in the image of your favourite celebrity or cartoon hero. APRIL FOOL! I lied. In fact, you'd be wise to avoid comparing yourself to anyone else or remolding yourself to be like anyone else. The best use of the current cosmic tendencies would be to brainstorm about what exactly your highest potentials are, and swear a blood oath to become that riper version of yourself.
Homework: Life is a bitch and then you die. APRIL FOOL! Here's the truth: Life is conspiring to give you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.