Boithday Star-Crossed Ruminations

Monday, 4:30pm
Reno, NV
“Yeah, we’re gonna have a party, party…” Beatles, again



The Dude’s another year older.

As to how much wiser I’ve gotten… well, the jury’s still out.

So here’s my question to you: Do you buy astrology’s promise…

… and if so, do you think there’s no better sign to be born under than yours?

(And you gotta cut me total slack here, cuz it’s my birthday. So no sniping.)

My confession: There is, clearly, no rational reason to be into astrology. It’s basic premise — that the celestial arrangement floating overhead at the moment of your birth somehow influences how your life progresses — can be demolished by a fifth grader.

Empirically-minded friends are aghast at even a hint from anyone that they’re paying serious attention to the “star-crossed lovers” concept of looking for meaning in the real-world soap opera we all live in.

And my more spiritually-minded friends take guilty pleasure, anyway, in getting their horoscopes professionally done every few years.


I don’t see any reason for astrology to actually “work”.

Nor do I see any overwhelming evidence that attempts to read meaning into metaphysical matters are all bullshit.

I am officially a fence-sitter.

It’s like chiropractic, in many ways. I know that if you examine the roots of the practice, you’ll discover that the pioneers were completely nuts… and without question absolutely wrong about what adjusting muscles and bones could accomplish.

And yet, I first visited a chiropractor in my late twenties, when I was having horrific migraines every week. (Not headaches, but debilitating, brain-curdling migraines. We’re talking 8 hours in a fetal position in a dark room, wanting to die.)

My friends begged me not to go. They considered physically restraining me.

But I was having an aura one day — peripheral clouding of my vision — which meant I had about an hour before finding a cave-like refuge to ride out the coming pain…

… and I just decided to screw all the bad PR about chiropractic, and give it a try.

Nothing else had worked.

And this doc — an old-school Palmer type, with archaic electric gizmos cluttering his office — simply adjusted my neck (took all of 30 seconds)…

… and the aura vanished.

The migraine never arrived. And, though I had been leveled by them weekly for years at that point, I never had another one for two years.

When they did appear again, I found another chiro, and they stopped again.

Haven’t had one in twenty years now. First thing I do when I move to a new city is find a chiro I like. (And no, I don’t go very frequently. I’m always on a “call as needed” basis, and never go in unless I’m feeling those familiar-but-vague warning sensations.)

So, you can “prove” to me that chiropractic is bullshit all you want.

I don’t care what you come up with. I’ve got all the proof I need in my non-scientific, totally subjective personal experience.

Same with astrology.

I have no idea how to argue for it to anyone else. Back in college, some chick did my chart… and, though she didn’t know a thing about me, just nailed my past and predicted some very near-future events with jaw-dropping accuracy.

And — even stranger, to me — years after my college career, I discovered that the core group of people I kept in touch with…

… were all Sagittarians. Born in December. And we all get along like twins. And did so before we realized we shared a sign.

I realize this is hardly earth-shaking news.

But I have not been able to rationally put away my suspicions that astrology may have something going for it… something way beyond my ability to understand.

I’m a psychology grad. I’ve spent a lifetime examining the mysteries of human personality and interaction… which has come in handy as a salesman, let me tell ya.

As a hard-core direct response dude, I care more about results than theory.

I cannot always explain to someone why a certain tactic works in marketing. As an old-school copywriter, I learned early to listen to my gut when approaching new markets with a pitch… and sometimes, your gut will deliver advice that runs counter to every sane, logical, and rational direction available.

And to insist to a client — when there’s big money on the line — that your gut is right… even as other experts are tearing out hair and rending clothes at the very thought of doing what you suggest…

… well, after a while (if you’re successful), you start to appreciate the Mysterious Forces floating around us.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Even so, I don’t make any hard decisions based on astrology. I just like to flirt with it.

I like to visit psychics, too, every few years. Back when I was studying street-level salesmanship (hanging out with 3-card Monte experts and other sleight-of-hand masters), I became aware of “cold reading” skills (gaming the gullibility of a stranger using physical clues and “tells”)… and I like to see how experts continue to use them.

A good psychic is, most often, a bullshitter of immense talent. They practice their craft as well as a great poker player. (And you know the mantra of playing poker, don’t you? “If you look around the table, and you don’t know who the sucker is… then YOU’RE the sucker.”)


… a couple of times…

… well, let’s just say that certain psychics I couldn’t nail as cold-readers… laid some heavy duty observations on me that turned out to be shockingly accurate. Just like the amateur astrologer back in college.

Some people just wave all this nonsense away, appalled that anyone with half a brain could even tolerate its existence.

To me, though, it’s like love.

Have you ever tried to explain love to someone who’s never been there?

There is a case to be made that it’s just a complex (yet chartable) series of chemical and mechanical reactions in your body and brain.

A glandular event, genetically engineered to propagate the species.

But, as a human being, that doesn’t come close to adequately explaining love, does it.

One of the biggest advantages I’ve experienced as a professional ad writer…

… is that I get to dally with all this metaphysical, spooky, out-there stuff to my heart’s content.

And, oddly, it actually provides killer insight when selling stuff to other humans.

Cuz we’re a wacky blob of biology and life-force, lemme tell ya.

And yeah… as a proud Sagittarius, born at 4:44pm on a Saturday with the moon in Leo (and living with a Scorpio who keeps me challenged and on my toes)…

… I can say that I honestly feel sorry for anyone not born under this sign.

How do you Taurus’ and Gemini’s live with yourselves?


Okay. Rumination over.

Love to hear your thoughts.

Stay frosty,

John Carlton, b-day boy

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  • Alan says:

    Happy birthday first, then on to my comment.

    Who cares if it works, the advice is usually good and good advice is good advice no matter where it comes from!

    So believe or not, act or not, but as long as there are believers in anything there will be believers. Now I need to figure a way to profit from it cause I am going broke!

  • Happy birthday, John! And great post, as always.

  • Happy Birthday John, Best Wishes from Amsterdam! I am not a Saggitarius but my little son is and indeed is a cool sign!

    The “Intriguing Mexican” (loved that!)

  • Ian says:

    John, happy escape from the womb day.

    I swam my way into this world on July 19. That makes me a cancer.

    Never understood why they named that sign after a terrible disease

  • edward says:

    Happy Birthday, John!

    Great post, but why the dig at we Taureans? 😛

    Hope you had a great day…


    John Carlton replies:

    Those were the first two signs I could remember. As an arrogant Sag, I barely pay any attention at all to other signs, and can’t even name the entire Zodiac from memory. Is Exxon one of ’em? Yield?

    Pop’s a Pisces. Explains why it took us years to get along, but he gets a pass cuz he’s such a great guy…


  • Mark says:

    Happy birthday John!

    I can’t really say what it is, but I believe that there is some truth to the whole astrology bit as well. Two of my teachers and myself, one guitar teacher and one art teacher, are all left-handed virgos.. And we all get along so well we can practically finish each others sentence at times. There’s just a vibe of some sort. Granted we’re all into music and art, so it helps. But on some strange cerebral level, everything just jives well whether we say anything or not.

  • Lisa Manyon says:

    Happy birthday, John and nice post!

    I’m a fence rider, too but always fascinated and have found some scary truths in readings etc.

    Ian, I’m a Cancer as well — we do kinda grow on ya! All (bad) puns aside, Cancer was named after the crustacean not the illness.

    I’m personlly thankful for the horoscope section of the paper because lately that’s the only section I’ve been able to read that hasn’t been completely overwrought with doom and gloom.

    Write On!~


  • Happy birthday John.

    Ya know, my girlfriend came back from a psychic last week and it was shockingly accurate. No cold reading BS, but laser targeted stuff that was relevant today.

    Sorta tripped me out.

    But I didn’t put too much stock into it.

    I also had a numerology dude make a video for me recently about my birthday. Again, he was pretty accurate. Not as much as the psychic, but he was close. However, he knows me from online so it’s not that hard to come up with something relevant. The thing is, he didn’t know the time of my birth, so basically every thing he said to me is basically applicable to everyone born on the day I was.

    It was cool he did that for me, but it was hard to be very impressed with it.

    Anyhow, I think they are all a bit cuckoo. But then again, I kinda like nuts!


    John Carlton replies:

    Nuts is as nuts does, J-Mo. I love the way so many guys always have a story about how accurate some of this shit is, followed by the declaration that, of course, they don’t believe in any of it. Same way everyone denies liking porn…

    Thanks for the b-day wishes, dude.

    Did the storm kick up any waves?

  • Jay says:

    Ah, a fellow Sagittarius! I just turned 22 on December 5 and have noticed that I also get along disproportionately well with December babies, although I don’t put much serious stock into astrology. Oh well, it’s interesting nonetheless.

    Happy birthday!

  • Peter says:

    Happy Birthday and great post.

    Don’t forget Virgos do pretty well too!

    I had a similar experience with a chiropractor curing a problem, after years of scepticism.

    My younger son is also a Sagittarius, still young enough to be smarter than his father so maybe there is something to this!


  • Simon Little says:

    Let me join the Birthday wishes John

    It’s nice to ruminate about these subjects – and there are few more important, or indeed open, topics than the question of whether we are destined or choose the destination

    (Shakespeare also wrote that ‘it is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves’)

    I have been an advocate of a ‘Law of Contradiction’ for a while – or the idea that everything has an equal and opposite, and that both are ‘true’

    Would also love to know what you think about stuff like this:

    Thanks for inspiring thoughts, let’s hope you have many more parties to come!

  • Juri Maruli says:


    Congrats Mr. Carlton.

    Happy Birthday.

    Now, it’s time to hear song of Click Five – Happy Birthday over and over again.

    A little bit rock, but’s it’s nice because you’re rockin’ in writing.

    You’re outstanding and great.

    Great for you.


    Juri Saragih

  • Deb Williams says:

    Happy Birthday, John! ! ! Fantastic post, as usual – but that’s a Sag. communicating with another Sag. 😉 (my birthday is tomorrow).

    Chiropractors & psychics are great, if you get good ones they both can help.

    I’ve related a Gemini to Lou Christie’s song “Two Faces Have I” many times.

    John Carlton replies:

    Happy birthday, Deb.

  • Kevin Rogers says:

    Happy Birthday, John.

    Hey, I’m a Pisces and we hit it off right away. Go figure.

    I was dragged to a psychic in Jacksonville, FL once… same woman who warned Ronnie Van Zant not to fly 2 weeks before Skynyd’s plane crashed. Freaky.

    She had better news for me… it also came true.

    But a chiro? Too scary for me.

  • Julie Perry says:

    Terrific post, John. Spoken…er, uh, ruminated like a true Sag. I, like Deb Wms above, celebrate my birthday tomorrow, Dec. 16.

    So: Happy Birthday from a fellow cooly. Because we are…Cool. Last of the great free spirits, I like to say. I, too, keep in touch with about 12+ friends from high school & college who have b-days within 15 days of today, and we’re all still on very similar paths. A pretty adventurous lot, I’d say.

    I gave up on psychics a long time ago, but I do admit to checking Susan Miller’s horoscopes every month just for kicks. Note: I’ve been known to read them at the END of the month on occasion to see how accurate she was — and she usually is. Crazy how that works.

    As for chiropractors, I tend to refer to them as quacks. I feel sort of guilty about that after reading your post. If you want to know the truth, I saw one back in college for horrible neck pain, as well, and he cured me on the spot. Miracle worker.

    Okay – enough ruminating back. If you’ll excuse me, I turn a year older in about :30 minutes, and I need to go consult my horoscope to see what’s going to happen.


    Enjoy the final moments of YOUR day!
    ~Julie Perry

  • Karen says:

    well… this Taurean has become quite good at living with herself…. seems to be a bit of a challenge for everyone else though.

    Happy, HAPPY Birthday JC.

  • Happy birthday, John! Love the post. When you get astrology in the mix you’re bound to get more comments. Why do you think “Cosmo’s” most popular issue contains the “Bedside Astrologer.” Don’t tell me you guys have never sneeked a peek at your girlfriend’s or wife’s copy either.

    I’m a Gemini which is a really fun sign but can be a bit emotional. Nature or nurture? Who knows? I’m supposed to get along best with Sags and Libras but my husband’s a Cancer. Go figure.


  • BEST Birthday post EVER! 😉

    Happy, happy birthday to you JOHN!!!

    I wasn’t born under Sagittarius but it IS my rising sign so I have GREAT appreciation for the energy 😉

    I think it’s gonna be lots of fun when ‘hard science’ starts supporting both astrology and chiropractics…

    there is far greater wisdom in getting all the proof you need from your non-scientific, totally subjective personal experience.

    “Cuz we ARE wacky blobs of biology and life-force” who way too often deny what our personal experience tells us in favor of someone else’s wacky idea of what is “good for us”. 😉

    Keep followin’ the LOVE my man, keep following the love!

    –Mary K

    ¸..· ´¨¨)) -:¦:-
    ¸.·´ .·´¨¨))
    ((¸¸.·´ ..·´ -:¦:-
    -:¦:- ((¸¸.·´* Light


  • Saw some stats recently. Showed that some star signs are more than twice as likely to be involved in a car accident as others. I think it’s all nonesense, but that is difficult to explain away.

  • Bill Sadick says:

    Happy Birthday John!

    A reading for you…

    “You will live a long and prosperous life”.

    Anyway, my birthday is on December 22, that makes me a Capricorn on the cusp of Sagittarius.

    I haven’t met you in person, but I do get along with your online persona.

    Hope to meet you soon.

    By the way in regards to what Lori wrote:

    “Why do you think “Cosmo’s” most popular issue contains the “Bedside Astrologer.” Don’t tell me you guys have never sneeked a peek at your girlfriend’s or wife’s copy either.”

    Please let her know that we read Playboy and Cosmo for the stories.


    John Carlton replies:

    She doesn’t believe us.

  • Bernie says:

    Happy Birthday Mr. Carlton,

    I am in the process of rereading “The Freelance Course” as I launch my freelance business. Great read, and one I review every few months along with the Kick-Ass Copywriting Course.

    Many happy returns.


  • Happy (day after your) Birthday, John! I hope it was a stupendously AWESOME day! I loved the ‘boithday post’! Very cool to hear of such topics from you – mixed in with your psychological background, of which I didn’t know, makes for quite the interesting mix! Very cool!

    I may have also been born at 4:44 – but, A.M. – and – in May! Yep! I’m a Gemini – (with a strong leaning of Taurus, as I’m on the cusp) and I’ve NO idea how I live with myself – it’s a daily trial, I tell ya! ::shakes head::

    See – I don’t know if I was born at that time, because, I’m always mixing my ‘time’ up with my rotten brother’s time. One of us was born at 3:33am and one of us was born at 4:44am and I cannot, for the life of me, keep them straight! LOL

    Migraines – yep, constant companion of mine, too. Some years are worse than others. I went to a chiro. for them, too, at the advice of a friend. They did acupuncture there, too, and that was my favorite part. They stick four needles in your forehead and it’s INSTANT “AAHHHHH…….” Seriously.

    I love the way you turn a phrase – love it! These two phrases, in particular – ROCKED!

    “A glandular event, genetically engineered to propagate the species.”

    “Cuz we’re a wacky blob of biology”

    Awesome, those were totally awesome! Do you write your wife the best ever love letters??? Or is it kind of like the cobbler’s kids going shoe-less? LOL!

  • Lara says:

    Happy birthday John!

    Astrology – one of my personal fave topics. Your weekly newspaper’s horoscope is crap but natal charts when read correctly have been ridiculously accurate for me!

    And no Taurus bashin’, we are awesome! I love my Taurean nature – especially when coupled with my Capricorn leanings. When I make up my mind to get something done I am a force to be reckoned with. 🙂

    Thanks for another insightful and entertaining post. I truly love to read your blog. On that note here’s to many, many more postings for years to come!


    P.S. I love those Scorpios too!

  • All good birthday later from Germany.

  • Seth Rum says:

    A little late but happy birthday, John. Loved your post. A lot of professionals in the sciences scoff at any of this stuff. Funny thing is, those same scientists keep coming up with experiments whose results suggest that our brains are extraordinarily powerful at creating physical changes. Let the naysayers blab. If it works for you, keep taking it to the bank.

  • ken ca|houn says:

    A belated happy birthday too — I remember dating a Sagittarius chick once back in the 80s, she was wild. Hmm count me a fence sitter too, much of this stuff is beyond measuring.. at least it’s fun. Us capricorns have to be practical and stubborn.

    Have a blast, and best wishes for many many more.

    live long and prosper,


  • Hi John,

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY! & All the best wishes for the new year.

    As far as astrology goes: I’m a firm disbeliever in disbelieving.

    I’d rather believe in something that’s not true but helps, than in something that’s “true” but hinders. (And then I don’t believe that our brains are actually capable of understanding reality anyway… I guess “firmly grounded in reality” just means that we resonate to the most commonly believed-in bullshit).

    But I never got my horoscope done, so what the heck do I know.

    Anyway – I wish you a great year, lots of fun and cool experiences + all the best for you and your loved ones.

    Copywriting Kid

  • Dan Curriden says:

    Hey John,

    Happy belated birthday! Just saw this one. Cool, didn’t know we share a birthday.

    Man, your writing…it just flat-out rocks. But then, you’ve earned your skills, so I don’t envy them, but I do respect them. Thanks for the always insightful, mostly thought-provoking posts.

    Sending good vibes to you and your girl…lots of good vibes.

    Oh, I’m also a chiropractor, and appreciate your take on chiropractic. It’s great when you find a good one!

  • Jeff Walker says:


    I really don’t know anything but astrology… but I have noticed one thing – like Julie said, us Sags are just a little bit more adventurous and a whole lot cooler. 🙂

  • Rabin says:

    Born in Dec.16,1987 at 5.15 pm in Nepal and may I know my astrology about all the life.

  • Patrick says:

    Hey John,

    Interesting post. I think astrology is complete bunk. As you said about its roots, the principles it’s based on are absurd.

    I know people say they have had a personal experience that was “bang on accurate”. The problem with a subjective experience is that we have no way of knowing if it actually worked, or if it was a freak chance coincidence. There actually have been scientific studies done about this and they have scored no better than chance. Richard Dawkins conducted some great tests in his television special, “Enemies of Reason”. Of course the astrologers and cranks were shocked that they were coming up wrong 9 times out of 10.

    I’m an empirical evidence guy. The question shouldn’t be, “does it work”? The question should be, “does it work with a better accuracy than chance”? Even as a results oriented direct response guy, I think you would want to know, not, did it get me a sale, but, could it get me sales consistently and predictably.

    Could you imagine a scientific law that worked only 50% of the time? Newton’s laws of motion work every time. The formula for gravitational force works every time. Even in the strange and wacky world of quantum mechanics, where nobody even really understands how it works (I have no idea how it works), the equations are stunningly accurate in their predictions. Even if we only want to deal in probability, 50% is a crap shoot. I would be shocked if astrologers got accurate results even 50% of the time.

    So, even though there are those who have had some deadly accurate results, there are far too many that don’t get any results at all. If something about it is working, we don’t know what it is, exactly. We can’t even use it with any degree of confidence. Therefore, it is useless to us.

  • Carlos says:

    Leo and Proud of it!

    I don’t agree nor disagree. I see the world spinning in a gigantic blob of energy called Universe, so the mere idea that humans can use give guidance through it is absurd.

    Yet, I’m a Leo and proud, wouldn’t change it for anything.


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