They Know They’re Hot

Still on the job — aspiring Hollywood writer Eric Francis types at his usual voracious speed. Photo by Danielle Voirin.

Dear Friend and Reader:

YOU HAVE heard me say a lot of times that TV sucks, and now its writers are on strike. Hearing that, I immediately forgot my silly old grudge and wrote to Jeff Apter, my union president in Paris, and asked him whether I had to walk off the job in support of these talented Hollywood scribes who provide so much of the material that we and our children use to educate ourselves about the wild world.

Whatever may have been my prior opinion of television, I feel like I owe these comrades-de-plume my support. As I said in a footnote to the last edition of this letter, writing careers don’t happen fast. It takes longer to become a writer than it does to become a medical malpractice lawyer. If you’re extremely talented, driven and lucky and/or have the right brother-in-law, maybe you will finally make it at 30, or 40, or 50; perhaps somebody, somewhere, someday will give you a gig. Then with any luck, it lasts six months.

Jeff replied promptly with his counsel in this time of dire need for our fellow unionists. “Just think of your support for your colleagues for two minutes and, if possible, tell others about why journalists are taking action to draw attention to threats to jobs, etc.” So, I am taking two minutes to write this column.

In honor of the strike, I was considering respecting the picket line, and at least refusing to read the chart for the strike and instead marching around with a sandwich board outside my house. But it’s such a great chart, I am here to advance their cause, and it’s a bit chillier here in upstate New York than it is in Burbank.

Houses the 2nd and the 5th

LEO IS rising. Are these writers just drama queens?

No ma’am, the Sun (ruler of the ascendant) in Scorpio conjunct Juno (the divine consort) in the 3rd house of writing says they are loyally wedded to their work in soap-opera fashion, but they know its value as well. Scorpio always does. Juno suggests they have a lot of complaints. You can be sure that their negotiators have a score card the length of Santa’s list.

Price is not the only measure of value, but Hollywood has cash. It would not have cash if it did not have ideas. Writers come up with those ideas. I know studio execs don’t like it a bit. I know that the studios are hard at work developing Artificial Kitsch software that will spit out new TV scripts all by itself. You just put in a few keywords and out comes a completed program; and soon the actors will all be virtual. But they are not there yet.

Saturn in Virgo in the 1st house says these old-fashioned, low-tech human writers are hard workers, and detail oriented. But detail don’t get you shit in Hollywood; you need the nectar and it has to be hot nectar. And this chart has it. Take a look at the 5th house, on the lower right. That is the house that grabs you. Which is a good thing, because these writers know that if they don’t grab you every single day or week, they ain’t worth their salt, and they’re only as good as their last episode.

The 5th house of any chart is the house of creativity, art, risk-taking, acting like a little kid and being passionate and bold. The 5th in this chart has Sagittarius on the cusp. That is big; that is visionary; and there is a conjunction coming, between Jupiter, Pluto and the Galactic Center — something is up, and it’s creative.

There is a lot of pure garbage on TV, and there is also Steve Colbert. Not only that, it’s gutsy, it pissed off all the right people and it changed the world, if just a little. There is Jon Stewart. There is Conan O’Brien. There is Keith Olbermann.

Tell me, is there ever a day when Jon Stewart is not funny?

The people who are on strike know they are hot, and they know their front men depend on them. They know they are the real talent, and their voices are totally subsumed by the one delivering the lines; that Pluto disappears behind that Jupiter. It never occurs to most people that there even are writers until you hear about a strike and the programs start to disappear.

Even the windbags who spout out neurotic soap opera dialog we use to feel better about ourselves must write to spec. They have to be creative every single day. They have to do things over 27 times till they get it right by somebody else’s standards. But this chart’s 5th house is about more than that — it is about the full awareness of what talent demands — the drive to create (Pluto in the 5th), demanding a kind of all-consuming obsession with the work, a broad base of knowledge and experience and yes, the gift of gab (Jupiter in Sagg in the 5th).

If you’ve ever envied someone you perceive as talented, don’t — unless you are aware of the commitment involved. You may see what talented people do; you do not see what they give up in order to do it.

Comedy Central’s Steve Colbert speaks at the April 29, 2006 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Then there is the 2nd house — the money house in a chart that is really about money. That has Virgo lingering around the cusp, and two planets occupying it — the Moon and Venus. At least there are planets at all. Were there not, we would have a problem, and one of them is Venus, which is a good thing to have in the 2nd. The Moon is less helpful, indicating the extreme income cycles that writers live with.

Virgo is intensely self-critical; it is both difficult and essential in any equation where creativity is a theme. You need to see the flaws in your work without getting obsessed by them; you need to know what constitutes good enough. But in a money house, you have the constant question of is this really worth what I am asking, worth what I am getting paid, or worth anything at all? Most of nature exists on a sustenance basis, and too often this is Virgo’s style. The implication is that these writers, no matter how successful, do not feel they are worthy of their pay, and that they need to learn; they are taking a step in self-esteem by walking off the job. They are in effect recognizing their own worth.

But here is the catch.

The 2nd and the 5th meet in a tense angle — a square. This is, first of all, a picture of the eternal struggle between creativity and its worth. To be a creative person who makes money at it, you need to sell something that is deeply personal. I assure you it is on the same level as someone who is not a prostitute doing a direct cash transaction for sex. Both writing and sex should be too personal to commodify.

That is selling or renting your creativity, which is a fact of life if you are a professional creative. But then imagine you have to establish its value every day and face the constant need to bargain, negotiate and be rejected — and occasionally get hired. It can eat your soul.

Much of the public may think the people on strike are overpaid Hollywood guys who should be thankful for what they have. I can assure you that they are struggling with that very issue. In truth, they are hardworking writers like the rest of us, and they deserve to get paid for all their work, they deserve their extra four cents residuals on every DVD that is sold, and they deserve to be cut into the future of the Internet.

This chart says they need to hold out. They will get what they want, and in the process they are going to figure out they deserve what they already know they are worth.

In solidarity,

Eric Francis

Scorpio Mew Moon 

By Kirsti Melto and Eric Francis | Lunations

New Moon in Scorpio — November 9, 2007, 23:03 UT. Chart by Solar Fire.

THE NEW MOON is in Scorpio conjunct Juno, the third asteroid ever discovered. With Venus newly arrived in Libra we are swimming in deep waters of relationships, which is another way of saying understanding the way people interact and the agreements they make with one another.

But Juno is more than generically about ‘relationships’; she is about our attitudes toward others, the presumptions we make, the ways we keep score in relationships and the privileges we afford ourselves and others to use jealousy as a way of life. However, in the simplest context, such as in a natal chart, she can stand in for the original concept we were taught about who our partner should be.

The Sun and the Moon are in the dark and potent sign of Scorpio, the astrological sign that is associated with mysteries of life, death, transformation and sexuality. In the Northern Hemisphere, the days are getting shorter and shorter, and the darkness arrives early. At the New Moon the Moon is totally invisible, not reflecting any light from the Sun. At present we are exploring the darkness, facing the unknown, not really able to see what is happening. This can feel very frightening. We have to rely on our instincts and subjective awareness to get through this phase. Astrology teaches us that everything is cyclical and this is just one phase before entering another — there is eternal shift between day and night, light and shadow. Our fear is really fear of change.

The New Moon squares Neptune, which may increase the feeling of not being able to see clearly, or not being able to trust our intuition. On the other hand, Neptune is associated with intuition and imagination, so this may be very helpful and heighten our instincts. The Sun and the Moon form a water trine with Mars in Cancer and Uranus in Pisces, which also may be helpful in allowing our emotions to flow.

The Sun and the Moon are conjunct Juno. The Roman goddess Juno was queen of the gods and the jealous wife of Jupiter. By most accounts we think of Jupiter as unfaithful; we do not normally think of him as alive. If you were the king of the gods, you would probably want to have sex with all the other goddesses and nymphs, wouldn’t you? But it’s interesting that there seems to be no female equivalent, surely not in the form of Jupiter’s wife.

She was a goddess of marriage and she could also throw lightning bolts like Jupiter; she was decidedly less benevolent, at times acting out her petty jealousies or wrath arbitrarily. The Greek goddess Hera, who had approximately the same temperament, was always honored and bowed to, lest she seek jealous revenge.

Juno symbolizes marriage, partnership dynamics, woman’s role as a wife, fidelity and jealousy. She will also reveal shades of commitment, the feelings about commitment, and (in a natal chart) the original pattern we were imprinted with in childhood of what our partner would or should be like. This can change, particularly as we go through relationships. With Juno square Neptune, we may be questioning commitment unconsciously, or confused about its dynamics or meaning. We may in some way be feeling unfree, but experiencing it as chaos or loss of clarity.

Possessiveness and learning how to let go arise as central themes of this lunation. Throwing the lightning bolts may not be the best and the only way to deal with the situations we are facing. Feeling through the confusion would be better advised.

An exact conjunction of two asteroids, Vesta and Lilith in Capricorn is adding its own spice to the mixture. Among other things, these two asteroids are also talking about woman’s role in a relationship and about woman’s deeper idea of herself. Lilith can also represent the crisis that “being the real me” brings into the lives of both women and men, particularly when it happens to women. Women in particular are trained to conceal their real identity as a way of life and of survival, particularly where sexual desire is concerned. For women, the price for admitting to sexual desire is apparently much higher than it is for men. When considering Lilith as the real woman inside the woman, this is an essential dimension to consider.

Vesta adds the theme of sublimating sexual desire — or of using it in service of something outside oneself. She can manifest either as celibacy or as the capacity to bestow sexual favors for the purpose of healing or growth; the choice is up to each of us.

The conjunction of Vesta and Lilith is opposing Mars in Cancer. This is a picture of some interesting confrontations between the part of men that is more feminine, insecure, nurturing or needy; and the part of women that is hot at the core and focused on the intention of being known and available as inherently sexual.

Venus, the ruler of Libra, has just ingressed one of its home signs (Taurus is the other) the day before the New Moon. We want harmony and fair play in our relationships. Venus at 1+ degrees Libra squares Pluto, the ruler of Scorpio. Anything in very early Aries, Cancer, Libra or Capricorn falls under the Aries Point phenomenon — the ‘personal is political’ theme. In spite of the present darkness someone or something is having a vast public impact.

Mercury is now in direct motion but still in Libra, traveling through the last degrees of the sign within a few days, and ingressing into Scorpio on Nov. 11. Sometimes the last degrees of a sign prove difficult or demanding.

The New Moon’s opposition to asteroid Ceres in Taurus is reflecting lunar-like light to our consciousness and ensuring us that our nourishment needs will be met. An opposition is an aspect of awareness and astrologically Ceres has a lot in common with the Moon. In myth Ceres’s daughter Proserpina (Persephone) was abducted into the underworld by Pluto. In her desperation Ceres stopped the growth of fruits and vegetables. Proserpina was freed, but she had to spend a part of each year in the underworld with Pluto; for the other part, she was able to return to living with her mother on Earth. Of course, Proserpina was happy with Pluto down in the underworld; it is we who may grieve her temporary loss.

Taurus is a spring sign and Ceres in Taurus symbolizes the phase when the daughter returns to her mother and nature starts blossoming again. It is a time for sowing seeds for a new cycle, as is any New Moon time. Ceres can represent not only the nurturing we receive, but also how we function as nurturers in our relationships. She reminds us to lend a hand to fellow beings who may need a guide.

The New Moon is opposite not just Ceres but also Sedna. This is repeating the theme that we get our needs met and we are taken care of. When the Inuit goddess Sedna is happy she releases her bounty of the sea.

Sabian Symbol by Marc Edmund Jones for this New Moon degree is: “A woods rich in autumn coloring. This is a symbol of nature’s high ministry of service to every function and purpose of individual living, and of the varying manifestations of a reality supported and brought to its genuine fruitage by the eternal and illimitable resources on every hand. There is here an exaltation of every ideal potentiality, dramatized in the form of inevitable and universal consummations of order and beauty. Life achieves its ultimate promise in a personal excellence, which may be found compounded a thousand-fold. The keyword is fulfillment.”




Weekly Horoscope for Friday, Nov. 9, 2007, #688 – By ERIC FRANCIS

Aries (March 20-April 19)
We take for granted the ways in which everything in Western civ is based on ownership. Everyone has heard the expression, “Possession is nine-tenths of the law,” which means that the law as we think of it is designed to protect property owners. This is good as far as it goes, and when we try to apply it to relationships, it simply does not go. Forget for a moment that many people deeply wish to be possessed because it’s supposedly such a beautiful act of surrender. Forget that many openly wish to possess another because it seems to make everything so predictable. You may be inclined to make some attempt to fool yourself this week that you’re not your own person. The sooner you catch this one, the better.

Taurus (April 19-May 20)
You seem to be looking directly into the face of a situation and questioning whether you can trust it. Yet consider that you are actually asking a question that you have already answered. So I suggest you review the available information in a balanced way. If you are looking for answers from outside yourself, they will arrive soon enough. The deeper question is not whether you are devoted to someone or something, but how you choose to go about expressing that devotion. Making many demands outside yourself may be a sign that you are not depending enough on your inner resources. These are resources we typically don’t know much about till we have to use them on a regular basis.

Gemini (May 20-June 21)
A decision has turned out to be easier to make than you were anticipating, but I suggest you consider that you haven’t really finished making up your mind. You may be yearning for a sense of closure; you may be getting tired of going over the same issues repeatedly, but depth comes at a price. That price is time, persistence and the willingness to consider the subtle effects of self-discovery. Anytime you learn something about yourself, you change the world. Anytime you make an honest discovery about the world, you will need to make an adjustment within yourself. That whole process does not end, as long as you live. What you learn over the next two or three days will require some deep adjustments, but that was your goal in the first place.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
To those oriented on their feelings, it’s always challenging when people persist in using their heads. To those who analyze and proceed logically, it’s difficult when anyone cannot give a rational statement of where they are coming from. At the moment, you need to go beyond this whole game and trust your intuition, even in the face of direct information that your intuition is wrong. That is precisely the point. You are being guided which way to go, subtle though the dilemma may seem. At the moment, you need to reckon with the fact that certain questions don’t have answers, and perhaps closer to the heart of the matter, certain answers don’t have questions. When you find yourself in one of those situations, that’s when you know you’re probably in the wrong place. Questions and answers depend on one another, as do people.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
People tend to go out of their way to make themselves feel secure, and they can do it in some weird ways — most often by self-deception of some kind. Typically those efforts run in reverse; the more we create the image of stability, for example, the more aware we are of the factors that are working against anything staying the same for very long. Yet we must build our lives in earnest, whether in the face of uncertainty or adversity, hope or promise. Your solar chart suggests that you are putting down deep roots no matter what you may fear, and no matter what feedback or doubts your environment may be feeding you. Pay attention and you will see that there are two separate streams of information coming through. I suggest you listen to them both, and make up your mind which one is the witness to the truth.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
You are getting ready to take a deeper emotional plunge than normal; however, you are safe doing so if you stay in contact with the enhanced sense of self-worth that has lately taken you by storm. But what is happening these days is not supposed to be some kind of special occasion. Self-respect is the guiding force of any sane life, which is to say, sanity is (in part) about having a healthy relationship with yourself. The only time you are really safe going deeply with others is when you feel safe going deeply with yourself. Start there, particularly if the theme is erotic. I don’t suggest you “save your energy” for someone; rather, work your energy up into a hot lather, imbibe deeply of yourself, and then share it with someone you care about.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
Pay close attention to a financial situation involving a spouse or lover. The thing about this situation is you may not actually be able to see it for what it is. You may not recognize the extent to which it involves you, or the extent to which your values, priorities or resources are influencing someone else. One way to look at it resembles something my AP European History teacher said in 12th grade: History is the story of the haves vs. the have-nots. How is someone responding to your wealth, abundance, and the sense of freedom that it offers? How are you responding to being in a relatively powerful place, where you have options and choices? How has this affected your relationships in the past? Note, a new day is dawning.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
Jealousy is one of the central delusions holding up emotional ‘reality’ as we know it. We presume its existence; it seems indelible, etched with a laser into the cosmos. We give it power over ourselves that it does not need to have, and does not rightly deserve. We’re not going to move beyond jealousy, though, until we find something better. Usually, humans invent things on the basis of necessity; somebody notices an unfulfilled need and based on that, sets about finding a solution. In reality, the problem of jealousy has been solved; we just need to honestly notice that it’s the problem. Too often it is seen as a solution, or an inevitable fact of life that does not really have a cause — that is, something besides the obvious things that seem to be the cause; and which, incidentally, are not.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
You are making a commitment in a relationship you don’t know you’re making, though I think you will like the results. There seem to be two processes of joining or union going on in your life: one that you’re conscious of, and one that is rather cryptic, and which defies comprehension. You are more than aware enough to tune into both of them, though you may not want to, need to, or be curious. The results may be enough. Yet the deeper level of awareness, the emotional level, will give you a great deal of satisfaction if you allow yourself to go there. You do go there, by the way, when you dive in and question your motives and see all sides of the equation. You go there when you feel raw passion that is not connected to any specific vision for the world, but which you know on some level is driving you forward.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
Events this week seem destined to bring you closer to your friends, or to reveal the depth of your commitment with them. Yet it seems like you are boldly letting go not only of the past, but also of your attachment to keeping it alive. Be aware, this is coming mostly in the form of letting go of little tiny ideas. Any one of them may seem like a huge rock, but really they are grains of sand in the wind. They are small enough and smooth enough that they are no longer heavy, sharp or threatening. Yet it’s all a matter of scale. A grain of sand looks like a boulder under a microscope. It just may be that suddenly, you are bigger than your problems, bigger than your thoughts, bigger than your old idea of the world.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
You need to be careful not with your appearance but with your feelings. That is, you need to lead with your emotions. Because you are indeed leading, and you are doing so in a compelling way. The thing with leadership is that you tend to get what you put out. Therefore, I suggest that no matter how passionate about an issue you feel, you remember your Aquarian nature and be mindful of how the community feels. I am not saying to subjugate your feelings to those of a group. I am just suggesting that you focus on the total picture rather than your individual goals. Work for the state of mind where everything that everyone else is doing is as important or meaningful as what you are doing, and you will suddenly find that you have much more support than you were expecting.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
You seem to be involved in a matter of long-range personal planning, but you may as well forget it. The way your charts are set up at the moment, you cannot plan the future; you can only express your life consciously in the moment. The more you try to plan, the more you will get caught in a kind of delusion. The more you live for the present, the more your options will open up, and not coincidentally, the stronger you will feel. Yet be mindful that there is something about the present moment that is indeed setting a pattern for the future; but it’s not happening through the medium of planning; it is happening by anchoring your mind and feelings in the rather plain reality of who you are and what you need. The more honest you are about that, the deeper your roots will go, and the more will come back to you.

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