Chicago. -- Ever since a British astronomer announced recently that all the signs of the zodiac are out of whack because the constellations have shifted in the night sky over the centuries, a lot of people have been confused about their horoscope.
Somehow it doesn't quite cut it to say, "Hi, I'm a Leo. At least I was last year. Now I'm a Virgo. Or maybe a Cancer. Whatever. Can I buy you a drink?"
The problem, actually, is more complicated than horoscope signs that no longer match the original constellations. The signs themselves all need to be updated and brought into new-age relevance. Who, after all, really wants to be identified with Cancer, the crab, or Scorpio, the scorpion or even Pisces, the fish?
Ancient people, with little else to do at night, played mental games of connect-the-dots with the stars, tracing imaginary stick figures and turning them into images of myths, animals and gods.
But anyone can play connect-the-dots with the stars (if you don't mistake the lights of incoming aircraft). And all of us can fantasize images in the sky far more appropriate for the late 20th century than Sagittarius, the half-man-half-horse shooting an arrow, or Aquarius, the guy pouring water out of a bucket.
It wouldn't be difficult, for example, to imagine patterns in the stars that would fill a new zodiac, to fantasize how people born under these signs might be influenced by them and what their horoscopes might say. For example:
Credit Card (March 21-April 19) -- If you were born under this
sign, you were born to shop. Plastic will rule your life. You are acquisitive, possessive, a true hunter-and-gatherer. Numbers are your weakness, especially annual percentage rates on unpaid balances. Remember that money will only buy like, not love.
Fax (April 20-May 20) -- You have a compelling need to reach out to others quickly and are impatient with those who are slower to respond. You delight in words, especially your own. Be careful about sharing your number with those you meet today. There may be trouble ahead where you least expect it.
Remote Control (May 21-June 21) -- You have enormous curiosity, a short attention span and a need to dominate your environment. You constantly seek entertainment, but not at the expense of your own energy. Your bathroom scale knows more than you are willing to admit. Beware of conflicts with those living in your household.
Pasta (June 22-July 22) -- This is the sign of the frugal gourmand, the up-to-date epicure who wants to keep up with the foodies only when it's affordable. You are talented at mixing people and things to achieve a surprising result. But you don't like to be taken for granted. Look for opportunities to appear less starchy, more tender.
Pacifier (July 23-August 22) -- You are constantly seeking a quick fix, looking for fast comfort in distressful times. Friends think you concentrate too much on yourself. Try turning some of that energy into your job. Seek support from others if you hope to succeed in not smoking.
Boom Box (August 23-September 22) -- You are insistent on creating your own space. You demand to be noticed. You tend to force yourself on others, even when you
know you are being offensive. You can expect big benefits if you learn to listen. Look for career possibilities in public speaking, hog calling, as army drill sergeant.
Baseball (September 23-October 23) -- You see life as a game, except when your income is at stake. You expect to be richly rewarded for your efforts, but you are often disappointed. Teamwork is important for you, but you must also look out for your own interests. Seek franchise opportunities in hot dogs, peanuts, pennants.
Hamburger (October 24-November 22) -- This is the sign of the down-home, practical, efficient, no-time-to-waste person. You don't put on airs. You identify with the ordinary. You are easy to please. You aren't adventuresome, don't like the unexpected. Part of you has never grown up and your children will find that endearing.
Stock Ticker (November 23-December 21) -- You are the eternal optimist, always looking for opportunities as the numbers flash by incessantly. You like to bet, expect to win and blame your unlucky stars when you don't. But you will be luckier in love today than in the lottery, and you should recognize that love is more important.
Airplane (December 22-January 20) -- You are always on the move, always looking for new horizons, new opportunities, new points of view, new people. But you tote a lot of old baggage with you and that slows you down. Don't forget to cash your frequent flier miles before they expire. Remember the love you seek may be close to home and the food is better.
Gun (January 21-February 19) -- This is the sign of the law-and-order cop, the prosecutor, the judge, the crook and the gang member -- everyone who wants everyone to play by the rules and those who refuse to do so. But danger lurks under your sign. Look for alternatives to force. Love will solve many of the problems you see.
Tax Form (February 20-March 20) -- You were born under the sign of the middle-class and the wealthy, of those who have enough that it's worth the efforts of politicians and bureaucrats to take it away. Resist efforts to be creative. They can bring trouble. Look for an opportunity to file jointly. Don't trust anything you hear on an IRS hot line.
Joan Beck is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.