Roger Angell is best known for his writing on baseball. He authored more than one hundred Sporting Scene articles in his time at The New Yorker, mostly about baseball, but also about football, hockey, tennis, rowing and horse racing. Angell is also the author of multiple sports books about America's favorite pastime, including the New York Times bestseller, The Summer Game.
However, considering who Angell's parents were, it's not a surprise that he wrote about a lot more than baseball. His mother, Katherine White, was an editor for The New Yorker—and his stepfather was none other than E.B. White, another New Yorker essayist and writer of classic children's books, most famously Charlotte's Web. Angell continued the family legacy, selling his first short story to the magazine at the age of 24, and eventually went on to become the chief fiction editor.
One of Angell's most well-rounded and humorous collections of essays is A Day in the Life of Roger Angell. The eclectic essays include everything from Christmas poems, parodies of sports broadcasts and contemporary author Lawrence Durrell, and a tense exchange regarding a short fiction contest that only pays in baked goods.
Below is the first story from the collection, "Your Horoscope." As you may have guessed, Angell's take on astrology won't help you make any life choices—but it will probably make you laugh.
(More Unsolicited Guidance from Out There)
Taurus (Apr. 21-May 21)
With Venus ascendant and frozen pork-belly futures holding firm, this is a week for modest household chores. Unkink and clean all shoelaces, not overlooking the lacing on your football. Recaulk the dog’s water dish, the tank on the Water Pik, etc. Toward the end of the week, chair casters may be inspected in relative safety. Because of an enigmatic (or quietly amused) aspect of Mercury, it would be wiser not to get dressed before nightfall.
Gemini (May 22-June 21)
Sorry, Gemini people, but still no advice for you. Eleven weeks now and still not a word from the Stars for this dormant house! Oh, well, things are bound to start popping soon. Meantime, try not to do anything at all.
Cancer (June 22-July 22)
A confused period for you normally ebullient Crabs. Purely social occupations will help keep your mind off insomnia, erasers, and eastbound watercraft. Damp bathing suits may prove annoying on Tuesday, but try to keep your composure at all costs. Some rumpling of the eyebrows may be observed upon arising. An elderly terrier will be thinking about you over the weekend.
Leo (July 23-Aug. 23)
Your best week of the entire year for sheer recklessness. Obey that wiggy impulse! Vault subway turnstiles, dress up in your wife’s clothes, tell off a policeman, coat yourself in peanut butter—it doesn’t matter, for the Stars say this is your time to howl! A meditative period will descend late in the week, when you may wish to consult legal and medical experts.
Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23)
Those not born under this sign would do well to visit all their Virgo friends before 4:20 P.M. on Monday, but to stay well away thereafter. As for you Virgos—well, astrology is still a difficult science, and maybe we’re reading these signs wrong, ha, ha! Good luck to you all.
Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 23)
A time for inwardness and mental housecleaning. Try to rid your mind of excess baggage. Forget about the Diet of Worms. Forget factoring, the cambium layer, Up with People!, and Sibyl Colefax. Get rid of the Rock of Chickamauga, the color of Ventnor Avenue, and the words of “Three Itty Fishies.” Throw out Ipana Toothpaste, the auteur theory, and “anent.” Try never to think about tundra. What a lot of trash you’ve been carrying around in the old bean! No wonder you can’t make any money.
Scorpio (Oct. 24-Nov. 22)
Mars will be entering this house shortly after lunch on Tuesday, so you Scorpios, already habitually suspicious, would do well to double your guard in this period. If your friends have been whispering about you in the past, just think what they’re saying now! Laundrymen and Celts may try to bilk you, possibly through the mails. An agent of a Balkan power, perhaps posing as a close relative, will try to blow nerve gas through your telephone receiver while you sleep. Next week will be worse.
Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 21)
All you Archers—so good-looking, so impetuous, so lovably harum-scarum—have been making a perfect hash of your lives ever since the moon slipped off your cusp way back in March, 1964. Time to come down to earth! This week, try to study some modest, everyday object and appreciate its true nature. Study one of your thumbs, for instance. Not the handsomest of all your fingers, perhaps, but one that does the job, day in and day out, without fanfare or vaingloriousness. See how wrinkled it has grown around the knuckle, but with never a word of complaint. You are lucky to have stubby Mr. Thumbkin (a typical Gemini) working for you, and you might do well to emulate his patience. If you were a dog or a fox, your thumb would be way up by your wrist somewhere, and absolutely useless. What a lesson for us all!
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
Rickey Henderson, Senator Mondale, Marilyn Home, J. D. Salinger, Henny Youngman, Phil Donahue, Bo Diddley, and President Nixon were all born under this sign, which rules the knees. The best guide to your week is to watch these fellow-Capricorns closely, for if things go well for them, they will go well for you, too. If they all have a terrible week—hamstring pulls, blocked legislation, tonsillitis, intrusive visitors, no laughs, etc.—so will you, in your own tiny way. You may find it difficult to discover much in common with each and every one of these Goat people, but that’s the way astrology works, so stop complaining.
Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19)
Persons born under Aquarius are restless, indolent, fond of water sports, pleasing, and agreeable. Their greatest fault is procrastination. This will be a fine week for you to mooch around the house quietly, smoothing over family arguments and making friends with the milkman. Take a nap or look out the window for a while. Maybe you could get in a little surfing. On the other hand, why don’t you wait and go surfing next week? What the hell.
Pisces (Feb. 20-Mar. 20)
This week climaxes a series of highly favorable indications for fish and Fish people. Go to the aquarium, take up fly-tying, buy a pair of guppies. Try codfish balls for breakfast—delicious! On Friday, before the onset of your coming counter-period of drought, why not throw a mammoth “Fish Fry”? Invite Hamilton Fish, Bob Trout, Ben Pollack, Dick Bass, Jean Shrimpton, Aldo Ray, Hulan Jack, Congressman Pike, etc. How they will laugh when they all “get it”!
Aries (Mar. 21-Apr. 20)
The stars tell us that during the coming six to eight weeks the Palestinian Liberation Organization will be overthrown by a Mormon clique; two members of the Quebec Nordiques will be unmasked as C.I.A. agents; Liverpool will be ravaged by locusts; Akron, Ohio, will slide into the Atlantic Ocean (you can’t argue with the Stars); the International Monetary Fund will be rocked by a Jimmy Swaggart-type scandal; and an oil slick will imperil the Wollman Memorial Rink. In view of the world-shaking nature of these impending events, how can you pushy, invariably selfish Rams keep asking astrologists for help with your petty personal affairs? Enough, already! Can’t you see we’re busy?”
Want more Roger Angell essays? Download A Day in the Life of Roger Angell today!
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