Aries (March 21-April 19): Let's say, hypothetically speaking, that you found yourself in a position where you were being chased by an alligator. Given the fact that the average gator can easily outrace Michael Jordan, let alone you, what would be your approach -- again, hypothetically speaking -- to eluding your carnivorous pursuer? My expert sources in South Florida assure me that running in a zigzag path would be your best bet. I suggest you employ that strategy no matter who or what might be tailing you this week. An even better idea, though, would be to avoid going anywhere near gators and their ilk in the first place.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): Have you ever run across those newspaper horoscopes with rating systems? Five stars mean your boss will suddenly realize you're the key to the company's success, or you'll win a car in a radio station contest, or a secret admirer will slip you a note that reads, "I am your love slave forever." Then there are the one-star days. Your dog'll eat your homework, your best friend will blab your big secret to everyone, and even your mom won't return your calls. In my opinion, a rating system like this is totally bogus. It's simply impossible to make such an absurdly simplistic categorization for one-twelfth of the population. Except, that is, for Tauruses in the here and now. This week will be six stars for you.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): Gemini Marilyn Monroe started out life as Norma Jean Baker. Early on, Gemini Judy Garland was known as Frances Gumm. John Wayne, also born under the sign of the Twins, was called Marion Michael Morrison by his mama. All these stars, apparently, decided as young adults that their ambitions would be better served if they changed their names. I'm not necessarily suggesting that you follow their example. But if you were ever to choose a fresh moniker in this lifetime, now would be an excellent time. At the very least, I urge you to dream up a vivid new alias for yourself, or a nickname that excites your imagination, or an outrageous title that makes you believe you have more power to succeed than you ever thought possible.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): If I were the kind of therapist who didn't talk everything to death but instead gave you concrete assignments, I would advise you to study the sky and the clouds and the stars right now -- preferably not just by shoving your nose in books about those subjects, but mostly through firsthand observation of the heavens. In fact, I'd try to convince you that any problems you were tormented by would magically metamorphose if only you gave yourself passionately to the great outdoors and let nature teach you secrets you didn't even know you needed to know.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): It would be a fun week to wrap yourself in a red silk kimono and luxuriate amid velvet pillows while a love slave showers you with kisses or a coterie of sycophants regales you with stories of how great you are. But your time would be even better spent by wrapping yourself and an equal partner in red silk kimonos and luxuriating amid velvet pillows while a healer or fortuneteller tells you two exactly what karma you still have to work on together.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): You may not recognize the person you see in the mirror these days. And if you listen to the voice of reason, that may alarm you. But I'm a voice of mischievous wisdom, not of reason, and what I say is, hallelujah. Be happy and proud you're not quite yourself, Virgo. This is your big chance to find out more about what you're not, and to explore futures that've always been taboo. So go ahead and milk that curious reflection for all it's worth. Unpredictability is power. Try being even more not yourself.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): As you languish there in captivity, I thought it might cheer you up to know that quite a few masterpieces have been whipped up by people in far more dire straits than you. Libran novelist Miguel de Cervantes started Don Quixote while in the slammer, for instance. Libran writer John Bunyan was incarcerated when he penned the religious allegory Pilgrim's Progress, and Libran poet e.e. cummings wrote The Enormous Room while in prison. In conclusion, Libra, consider the possibility that your current phase of constraint and limitation is an excellent opportunity to wax creative. Maybe you'll be forced to accomplish wonders and marvels that you haven't had the self-discipline to pull off before.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Selling refrigerators to Eskimos, it turns out, is not such a coup after all. Many folks in the far north use the things to keep their food from freezing. Similarly, it's not so far-fetched for me to advise you Scorpios to read books and watch videos about tantric sex. While you obviously have little trouble getting turned on, sometimes you get so totally pumped up that you don't bother to explore the subtler, softer pleasures of erotic communion. And this would be a perfect week for you to invite lust and love to become better acquainted.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Let's see what we can do to prevent a full-blown outbreak of ergophobia, or fear of work, among those of the Sagittarian tribe. I think it may be helpful not just to permit but encourage you to engage in a healthy amount of do-nothing laziness. You need a timeout, you see; a retreat and respite; a period of dormancy. If you can satisfy these imperatives without guilt and recrimination, you may not have to resort to pathology. I urge you to call in sick tomorrow. If it would help, you can use this horoscope as your excuse note.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): In California, where I live, Gov. Pete Wilson seems to get turned on by hurting people who have a hard time making enough money to live on. He apparently longs to see single mommies work 50-hour weeks, and lusts for the chance to deprive destitute immigrants of medical care, and probably even fantasizes about smashing the toys of kids whose parents are unemployed. In response, wise-guy politician John Burton has proposed legislation that would make it a crime to be poor. Of course even if his bill passes, only a tiny percentage of its violators would likely be Capricorns, at least in 1997. This is the best year in over a decade for members of your tribe to get richer quicker.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Meditation exercises: 1) Picture yourself having a dream in which you produce a flame on an unlit candle by blowing on the wick. 2) Visualize a fairy tale in which the heroine fills a cup with a magic potion by holding it upside-down over a hole in the ground. 3) Imagine yourself utterly giving up on one of your fondest hopes, only to have it fulfilled within a month after that surrender.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20): I'd very much like you to practice saying yes this week. I mean YES! Wherever you are, no matter who might be listening, please speak the magic word aloud -- YES! -- 22 times in a row, preferably with a different inflection each time. Right now, please! Don't read on until you've done it. The fact is, Pisces, though I'm proud of how much expertise you've developed in the art of saying no, I fear you've become a little too good at it. At times lately, you've been invoking the n-word like an automaton. And it would be a crime to do that this week, since there'll be so many sweet reasons to scream

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