Friday, November 28, 2008

The Grass is Greener on the Other Side of the Zodiac

By SHELL SHERREE

I'm a Sagittarian. I'm not into reading my daily horoscope, or even the monthly one. But I'm generally a believer in the personality traits of the starsigns.

Generally. Sometimes they are a tad errant. Take me, for instance. (Really - take me. My hubby is over trying to find me a birthday present and he's almost at the point of deciding it's easier to give me away. I'm not really serious, of course. He'd like at least an Angora goat and a case of Tatachilla Foundation Shiraz in exchange.)

Two primary characteristics that are supposedly shared by all those under the sign of Sagittarius are athleticism and a love of travel.

To be fair, I am still open to the whole 'love of travel' thing. I haven't done much of it yet, mostly because I can tear off bikini wax far more easily than tearing myself away from our furry children. And I haven't yet met an international economy-class flight that anyone but its mother could love.

There is, however, an inexplicable strand of Paris woven into my DNA. (I say inexplicable because I can't explain it.) So I live in hope that Gene Roddenberry left some blueprints before he went to the other great Star Trek Enterprise in the sky, and that one day my trip to Le Tour Eiffel will be as simple as standing under the heat lamp exhaust fan in the bathroom and saying, "Beam me up, Moet & Chandon-ny".

The 'athletic' thing, on the other hand, has me baffled. I used to tell our Deputy Principal at primary school every sports day that, "My mummy said I'm not allowed to run today." (A fib, I confess.) One year, an odd urge overcame me and I whirred my little white chicken legs through their strides for one race... and won. Perhaps it was that innate Saggi athleticism trying to make a run for it. Alas, this feat inspired our heat-stroked Phys-Ed teacher to put me into the interschool relay team. A couple of weeks later, my latent sporting aspirations bounced several lanes away in the wake of shoddy baton exchange and never returned.

So here we are at the root of my grizzle. It's nearly time for fashion magazines to print their fashion forecasts for next year based on star signs. And every year, I look enviously at the bold glamour of Leo or the luxurious seductiveness of Scorpio and heave a big, fat, heavy sigh when I see the prediction for sporty, travelling Sagittarius: a pair of running shoes and a very large canvas bag. If any fashion editors are reading, I beg of you: please take pity on a not-so-sporty she-Centaur and show me something pretty that doesn't look quite so at home in a men's locker room (and I don't mean a cheer leader's pom poms).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Men in Tights

By SHELL SHERREE

My dear aunt Norma (87 years of age and extremely sparky) sent me a news clipping from her local Canberra Times. I'm sure she intended to enlighten me on the native Animalia that proliferates on her doorstep. It was a lovely article, proving to me that the Possums Private Club (of which I'm an honorary member, as you'd know if you read one of my earlier posts) has a reach that stretches furry, far and wide - something that should stand me in good stead when I travel.

Not that I'll ever tell her, but what really caught my eye was printed on the reverse side of the page, in the Odds and Ends. It mentioned a Japanese man who has started an online campaign to legalise marriage between humans and cartoon characters. I googled it and sure enough, here's what Taichi Takashita has to say.

“I am no longer interested in three dimensions. I would even like to become a resident of the two-dimensional world,” he wrote. “However, that seems impossible with present-day technology. Therefore, at the very least, would it be possible to legally authorise marriage with a two-dimensional character?”

It got me thinking. Who would I choose? Who would choose me back, assuming they or I could exercise some advanced form of extra-pixelatory perception?

Further contemplation led me to the realisation that all the comic book heroes who sprung to mind looked mighty fine in lycra. (It's a relative thing. Any daydream of the week, I'd choose a Bonds singlet, gluteus maximus-hugging jeans and a bit of imagination rather than spandex and a graphic outline of turkey giblets. But as with cycling, it appears that superheroes need a bit of aerodynamic assistance and denim simply doesn't cut it, let alone the potential problems of fading after repeated washing.)

So who would it be? Superman? Batman? Spiderman?

Then I realised how stupid the whole thing was. I'm already married!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Baz Luhrmann: Just Foxing

By SHELL SHERREE


Are we the lucky country or what? Think how Kath and Kim we'd have sounded if Mark Anthony Luhrmann had taken the nickname Bazza instead of Baz.

"Bazza Luhrmann's Austroilia. Now showing at a cinema near every bloke and his sheila."

Thank heavens for small mercies. Come February 22nd, 2009, does anyone really want to hear, "And the Ocker goes to..." (If that day ever comes, pickle me pink and keep me perpetually sozzled.)
As a matter of fact, Baz earned his affectionate nickname for his resemblance to the adorable British glove puppet fox, Basil Brush, created in the late 1960s. So to all those Hollywood naysayers who doubted whether Baz would get 'Australia' over the line in time, take that - he was probably just foxing! (I say 'as a matter of fact' loosely, by the way, because my research only extends as far as Wikipedia and since it can be edited by anyone, there's a modicum of chance I'm giving you a bum steer. I'll always wonder if Josh Groban really did play kazoo at school...)


My same source says that Basil Brush's "persona, speech and gap-toothed look", in turn, was inspired by Terry-Thomas, a stirling English comedian, renowned for portraying disreputable cads of the upper classes and uttering "Good show!" By my calculations, this makes Baz a second cousin to Terry-Thomas or at worst, only two degrees of separation away, which is considerably less than the distance between Terry-Thomas's teeth. (I, on the other hand, have a veritable mosh pit of pearly whites jamming in my front row, proving that you can have too much of a good thing.)

Little wonder that Baz turned to show biz with such associations in his life. (Oh, and his father ran a petrol station and movie theatre, both of which would influence his film making career, according to my source. Not sure about the petrol station. He wanted to set the world on fire? He learned the importance of being able to pump up his own tyres? He saw the look in a woman's eyes when offered a grease and oil change and realised the power of a great romance?)

From the early critic reviews, it looks like Baz Luhrmann's love of the theatrical and a love story as mushy as the best pie and peas are evident in 'Australia'. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I will and I'll love it, damn it all, because I'm already fed up with people sharpening their secateurs for some Tall Poppy pruning.

For those who say the love scenes are Harlequin or Mills & Boon-esque as if it's a bad thing, let's guess how many millions of women have had their fancies tickled and blood pressure elevated by such entertainment over the years. I'd say A Lot.

And to the angst-riddled types who think giving people what they want is a sign of artistic weakness, perish the thought that Baz knows the fairer sex far too well to hide Hugh Jackman's melting smile and tanned six pack under the shade of a sensible Akubra for long. I have to admit, though: I think I'm a little in love with Deborra-Lee Furness. What a woman! She has the guts not to embrace camping even though her hunk of hubby was filming in the Never Never (we comfort-lovers instinctively know there's a reason why it's called that). And she has the fortitude to not pass out with delirium every time he looks at her the way he does ... no wonder Hugh is so smitten!

There are accusations of schmaltz in 'Australia' but let's remember that Baz wanted to bump off The Drover. After a pushy test audience and possibly a beer or two, he acquiesced to peer pressure and went for one of his alternative endings, so it wasn't really his fault. (He was also seen hanging around the back of the cinema on opening night having a few surreptitious puffs with the tough kids.) I'm looking forward to seeing it and finding out for myself. Fortunately my blood pressure is on the low side so I can take a few hours of The Drover without missing a beat.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Beware the Volatile Organic Compounds

By SHELL SHERREE

It is done.

With steely resolve to complete what I'd started, I blocked off nearly two full days to finish my painting project.

After making excellent headway on Day 1, I arose on Day 2 and did some quick calculations, figuring that if I started straight after my nutritious, oaty breakfast of champions and horses, I'd be done by lunch time. With water conservation still at the forefront of our community minds, I decided to postpone my morning shower until after I'd finished the job, when I would cleanse the tiresome experience from my body and soul with as much Baptisimal fervour as I could manage in less than 4 minutes.

Sadly, my calculations were influenced by a large dose of wishful thinking and by midday, I was still hard at it and hours away from the finish line (marked with a blue cross of Painters' Masking Tape as my silently removable cheer squad).

Not only that, but the day had become unbearably hot and steamy and I had the unfortunate realisation that I was starting to smell like a possum.

I progressed through the humid afternoon with an increasing rating on the Honk scale. I wished desperately that I would become (to borrow from a memorable line in Oceans 13) nose deaf. Then I wished I hadn't bought the Low Odour paint. Oh, for some Volatile Organic Compounds to mask the smell of my own.

In spite of the vapours, my spirits began to rise as the rooms transformed from long-suffering inhabitants of my To Do List into something quite ethereal and lovely. As I put down the roller for the last time and surveyed my handiwork, not even my hubby recoiling from me in horror after he arrived home and approached me for a kiss could take the edge off my pleasure at a job well done. Then I threw everything away, including my painting clothes (they kindly walked into the garbage bag of their own accord) and had one of the best and most fragrant showers an egg timer has ever offered me.

I note that several days have passed and the family of possums living around our house is still keeping me under 24 hour surveillance. It seems I now have Honorary Lifetime Membership to their club. Add that to the list of things they don't tell you about DIY.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Melbourne Cup Tips: Gee, which GeeGees

By SHELL SHERREE

My hubby has been studying the Melbourne Cup edition of the racing purists' Bible (The Sportsman) for the past 30 hours straight, minus a few hours of fitful slumber (waking me up several times with sleep-talk about barrier draws, sires and what sounded suspiciously like a pumpkin muffin recipe). I know I can rely on him to come up with most sensible and thoroughly-researched tips as he figures out his final choices for his boxed Trifecta.

If you just thought to yourself, "Boxed Trifecta???", you'll find my own tips to be more your cup of tea. Or glass of bubbly.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I usually follow a scientific formula based on edible or clever names to choose my Melbourne Cup horses.

Iced Chariot was an instant standout for me. I suddenly had visions dancing in my head of a biscuit with plush marshmallow and jam or perhaps an exotic cocktail of mulled wine and Limoncello strained over strawberry sorbet. Imagine my disappointment when hubby pointed out that said gee-gee was in fact called Ice Chariot, not Iced Chariot. Nevertheless, I felt like I'd already set good vibes in motion, and I felt sorry for the horse having his Charlton Hestons removed, so I'll keep this six-year old gelding in my mix.

There was a distinct shortage of clever names in this year's Cup (just my humble opinion), so I had to call on some of my fallback methods to narrow the rest of the field.

There's the Ones that Sound Like an Epic Hollywood Movie method. Septimus, Littorio, Barbaricus and Alessandro Volta are great contenders. Septimus scores extra points for sounding most like a Russell Crowe character when the name Maximus is tacked onto the end. Septimus Maximus. Tick.

Alessandro Volta was probably named after the Italian scientist and philosopher who discovered methane gas. Does this fine equine have something extra building up in the tank to give him an edge over the distance? Perhaps he has been consuming Iced Chariots in preparation for a natural gas-powered boost? And his namesake had a Toyota hybrid-powered concept sports car named after him, which could be a good omen. Oh, what a feeling ... Tick.

So here are my tips in order of placing, but use them at your peril. You've read how they were chosen:
1. Septimus 2. Alessandro Volta 3. Ice Chariot

And no matter which neddies perform best on the day, let's just pray that when the race that stops the nation ends, they don't come over the line in this most unfortunate order: Guyno Viewed Prize Lady.

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