Horoscopes simple - too simple
In matters of speculation today, stick with number 8. Focus on marital status: if single, you could meet future mate. Review, revise, rewrite. Virgo native figures prominently.
That wasn't, in fact, my actual horoscope for today as written months in advance by the late Sydney Omarr. But it might as well have been. Columns by the man once known as an astrologer to the stars - and the first and only GI ever to be assigned astrology duty - had been lacking a bit in "freshness factor" for quite some time.
In fact, one of my cohorts thinks that if we were ever sent the wrong column too close to our deadline to have it resent that we could make up our own - using common Omarr phrases such as "flirtation serious" - and no one would notice.
The retread material in Omarr's horoscope columns must have left him much free time. I figured a sample Omarr day like this: 10:30 a.m. - roll out of the rack; 11:40 - make it into the office; 11:43 - recite a few lines for an upcoming column; 11:43:40 - set afternoon golf tee time; 11:45 - leave for lunch appointment; 12:23 p.m. - arrive at lunch appointment fashionably late; 1:43 pick up the check; 2:16 - after picking up cigars, arrive at country club; 2:41 - "next on the tee, the Omarr party;" 5:17 - after nine holes, stop back by office, return phone calls; 5:23 - gaze at upcoming star charts; 5:24 - recite a few more lines for upcoming column; 5:30 - leave for home to a night filled with cocktails, fine dining, hot tubs, and reality TV; 1:30 a.m. - bed.
Then news of Omarr's Jan. 2 death came out. Turns out I wasn't far off: In his heyday, Omarr was known as a lover of fine dining and cigars.
Maybe I have a future in horoscope writing. Let's see, Pisces ' I see a taco in your future.
I was off about the golf, though: Omarr had long been blind and paralyzed from the neck down by multiple sclerosis, and required round-the-clock care. Reports said despite his health, his spirits constantly remained high.
And he continued working until the end: Omarr dictating while propped up on pillows in bed and while his companion and editorial adviser Valerie Barbeaux took it all down on an old IBM typewriter.
"The column itself was general, but he had a system for doing it," Barbeaux told the Associated Press, failing to dispel my belief that Omarr's "system" included recycled lines. "We often kept letters (that) said they (his horoscopes) were right on."
With lines like "written word plays major role; get ideas on paper," it's hard to miss (heck, that's every day here at The Sun). Perhaps that's why Omarr's name still appears alongside the zodiac column's new author, Jeraldine Saunders: Some of his old phrases are still being reused.
Those who have studied astrology - many who were skeptical beforehand - say it tells little about one's future.
"The stars don't care," said Tom Davidson, a former professional astrologer now based in Kansas City, Mo. While the columns that often appear in newspapers are directed at readers as though something in the future is at stake, astrology "is not a cause-effect model. It's more like the relationship between your car and your owner's manual."
An association exists between celestial alignments and such things as a person's paths to power, that person's communication and emotional issues, and some of the challenges he or she might face, Davidson said.
"Knowing the exact time, date and place of birth coupled with the exact position of the current moving planets gives very precise information ' subject to interpretation," he said. There are things we can learn from our personal charts that can tell us something useful about ourselves, but it is up to us what we do with that information.
On any given day, Davidson added, there are 70 to 75 pieces of astrological information that can be considered. The "sun-sign" horoscopes such as Omarr's, which are often limited to just a few lines, can't begin to reach all the variables.
Which means you should think twice when you read things like "could encounter future mate." After all, you could just as easily encounter a slick bridge and a low guardrail.
Still, some people never miss their horoscope. Are they wasting their time? "If out of reading them, someone is motivated to seek out a competent astrologer and get their chart done, then it could be worth something," Davidson said. "Otherwise it's just a way for the author to make a few bucks."
And enjoy fine dining and cigars, perhaps.
DAVID NASH is a copy editor and page designer for The Sun.