How on Earth-Hour???



You know you have severe tardiness issues when you're late for Earth Hour...

... as we were.

Yes, I'm ashamed to admit that even in our own home ~ without going anywhere; without putting on makeup and getting tizzied up in the good clobber {and that's just hubby ~ let alone me}; without the flurry of last minute feeding of kitties and possums; without setting the timer on the video ~ we still couldn't manage to turn up on time.

It started off well enough but became Mission: Impossible when hubby decided to cook risotto for dinner.

Don't get me wrong. I love that he cooks for us. He's a fantastic cook. He can find his way around fresh herbs and spices without any help from a compass or Wii Cooking Mama.

But he's meticulous. Thorough. Each ingredient that requires chopping is slowly and methodically assessed and dissected so that each piece is the exact same size as the next. And if someone manufactured spirit-levels for chefs, we would own one.

Viewing hubby's prepped food would send an obsessive compulsive straight to Nirvana, though the trip home again could be delayed quite significantly by the sound of one hundred-times-washed hand clapping. {Don't worry, though. This überneatness is healthily counterbalanced by a disturbing habit of tossing eggshells and vegetable peels into the sink. We haven't had a sink with a garbage disposal since 1998.}

While Slow Food proponents around the globe might be rejoicing at the sound of all this, I, on the other hand, watched in horror as the clock ticked inexorably towards 8:30pm and a C minus in Social Conscience.

My inner screeching banchee grappled with my inner Dr Phil until I discovered that lying prostrate on the sofa with a bottle of gin for five minutes is an excellent home-made spirit level. Armed with a new resolve, I boldly offered myself as a sous-chef in an effort to get us over the Thin Green line. Though a little rusty, I used to hold an Honorary Speedy Gonzales diploma for my food prepping. I figure there is a time and a place for precision, like brain surgery and Swiss clocks {damn, is it already 8:20pm?}, not onions and mushrooms.

It was a valiant effort, but at 8:30pm, the arborio was still drowning in a sea of stock and only time could save it. Another sixteen point three minutes, to be precise. But after finally sitting down for dinner on the deck, we stayed in candlelight for a full hour anyway, then added a little more as the CFC-free equivalent of several Hail Marys. I don't know if it counts, but it eased the guilt somewhat.

I only hope we aren't 'outed' by Google satellite maps. I bet they didn't turn those off for Earth Hour. Damned modern technology.

What a Bubbly Pear


Look: twins. One of my dear girlfriends, home from Hong Kong for a little holiday a few months ago, arrived for lunch Chez Shell and we looked like two peas in a pod, except for her beautiful white Kate Spade tote bag. Sigh. She softened my bag envy by kindly bringing a bottle of Eric Bordelet Poiré Granit, a sparkling cider made from pears of true varietal trees, some of them centuries old. The trees. Not the pears. "... Champagne-like and dry; the pear aromas are subtly balanced by citrus, flowers, and earth, and the finish is long and complex..." I felt like she'd whisked me off to Normandy for a little while. What a lovely girlfriend she is, for all manner of reasons, not just that one!

A Spot of Leopard


Stick a cute leopard in your print ad and I'll buy anything from you. Not seriously ... but I'll at least want to draw it. This one's inspired by Ralph Lauren Home. {I couldn't find an Out of Africa theme on their website, but as long as it wasn't harmed in any way, I'm OK with a handsome gratuitous leopard.} Mine turned out more like a leopard cub. Perhaps it's my subconscious saying that the full size model would be too much of a handful for me.

BeGuinness Luck



At the risk of starting a debate among a bunch of drunks bearing a startling resemblance to Kermit the Frog with grass stains, "Top o' the mornin' to you!"

I can hear you asking, "Why would this friendly welcome cause Guinness fuelled fisty-cuffs?" {Yes, I can hear you. Not nearly as unsettling for you as for me...}

I'll tell you why. I've just read that "Top o' the mornin' to you" isn't an Irish expression at all, rather something contrived and propagated by some furtive bunch of misfits shamrockfully hell-bent on making the Irish appear friendly. {Either that or it came from a movie. I'm not sure which. My fact-checking's a bit loose at the moment. I ran out of milk this morning and found out on The Beguinness Guide to Ireland that milk and Bailey's Irish Cream are interchangeable; begosh, begorrah, begin the beguine.}

Out of respect for the cheerfully belligerent spirit of the nation in the thick of today's St Patrick's Day festivities, I say, "Bollocks." Or is that Scottish? British? I'm sure I've heard both Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver say it, neither of whom is Irish. But according to Wikipedia, "In 1977, Professor James Kingsley, a famous linguistics professor at Nottingham University, had accredited the word to be used in the early eighteenth century with the Roman Catholic Church priests. His studies show that the actual word "bollocks" means either a 'priest', or 'rubbish spoken by the priest'." Given that St Paddy's Day is observed by people of Irish ancestry, Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox, anyone in English speaking countries who fancies an excuse for a pint or has an unnatural fondness for the colour green, and Roman Catholics, I hereby deem the word entirely appropriate for this purpose. Bollocks!

My hubby has an Irish mate who always shouts this welcome heartily down the phone. {"Top o' the mornin' to you," that is, not, "Bollocks!"} What's more, he roundly chastised me the first time for not knowing the appropriate response should one receive such a greeting: "And the rest of the day to yourself."

Given that he is Irish, I figure he should know. Then again, he is Irish. The world isn't full of Irish jokes for nothing, unless they too have been contrived and propagated by some furtive bunch of misfits wilfully hell-bent on making the Irish appear friendly, begorrah.

True to form, he's often drifting in a cosy befuddlement of whiskey when he rings. Whiskey is widely considered to be one of Ireland's favourite drinks. Irish whiskey was first distilled by monks about a thousand years ago. It is clearly viewed as an essential for life, given that the name was derived from the Irish uisce ("water"). And perhaps it's no accident that the word 'whiskey' starts to look very strange if you stare at it long enough. My cat has curly whiskeys. I shall whiskey the eggs until they are fluffy. Driving while inebriated is whiskey. Where was I...

Oh, yes. Happy St Paddy's Day to you all. Let the festivities beguinness, begorrah.

Be Still, my Beating Heart-Wings


I've discovered a penchant for pretty winged things. And with Thomas Sabo, I can indulge a pendant penchant at the same time. If you'd rather fall for his charms, you'll find plenty of those as well.

This gorgeous thing has a face covered with synthetic red garnets and is listed as a unisex item, inspired by the popular tattoo design. Hmm. Ladies, would you prefer him wearing this around his neck or the old-fashioned way, inked into his toned bicep? {Reminds me of a father and son I used to know, who both wore this heart design under their sleeves. They were equally adorable.}

Would You Like Brain-Fries With That?



Hubby returned from his burger run this afternoon with a genuinely funny story, as opposed to the usual ones that I laugh at because I love him.

While waiting for his chips to be 'up', the perky chicky-babe on his window informed him that their sister store a few suburbs away thwarted an attempted robbery.

In a sign of defiance to any wanton displays of grey matter, the two would-be 'entrepreneurs' drove into - err, the drive through, to make their demands. They thought they'd nailed it. No need to waste time hoofing it over to the getaway car. Just stay in the getaway car and hit the pedal to the metal as soon as the money was handed over.

Unfortunately for them, not all went to plan, though I'm assuming they really didn't have one and it just seemed a good idea at the time. When they pulled up and said, "Give us all your money," the quick-witted girl {my money's on a brunette} simply slid the window shut and walked out of the booth, leaving them sitting there with hands as empty as their brains.

At this point, discretion would have been the better part of valour. But it comes as no big surprise to find these dudes skipped their Shakespeare class in favour of the advanced glue sniffing class, aka woodworking.

They should have smelled a rat and gunned it out of there. But years of extra certification in woodworking class had perhaps taken the edge off their olfactory system. Instead of fleeing, they sat in their vehicle and waited. Dude. I'll bet they have Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure posters on their bedroom walls and thought it was the coolest documentary they'd ever seen.

Before long, a carful of people who actually could spell and knew the sign said Drive Through Takeaway, not Drive Through Getaway, pulled up behind them in readiness for the traditional custom of handing over money to the attendant in exchange for something hot and spicy. {Depending on the attendant, they might also get food.} This innocent manoeuvre effectively cut off any chance of retreat for the culprits.

By the time the carful of customers with normal brain function sat on the horn to express righteous indignation at the hellishly slow service, a police car calmly drove in from the opposite direction and blocked off the exit. At long last, the fumes wore off or an addled sense of self-preservation kicked in, and the brain-fries fled the vehicle. They were quickly tackled to the ground. Either that or they tripped because they'd tied their own shoelaces together.

I can almost imagine the conversation as they sat in their car, waiting.

"Dude. Where's she gone? I thought they kept the money in the register."

"Dude, you're a moron. She's gone to get the order we placed before we drove through."

"Excellent. I wish I'd asked them to hold the pickles."

"Pickles. Dude, what's with those things. Eat pickles and die. There should be a burger made just of pickles for the weirdos who eat pickles. Then the rest of us don't have to even think about not eating pickles."

"Hahaha. Pickles sounds a bit like pecker. I wanna burger but hold the pecker."

"Hahaha! Oh, I've got a good one. Do you want fries with that pecker?"

"Dude! That's uncool."

"Oh. Yeah. What do you think's taking so long?"

"They're opening a new jar of peckers? Hahahahahaha!"

"Hey, what's that bogus thing from school. Peter Pecker piped a pick of peckered peppers?"

"Hahaha. Really, dude, should it be taking this long?"

"If it was that pizza place, we could try and get it free by now, they're taking so long."

"You think we might get it free?"

"Dude, there's a car backing in front of us. Hey moron, you're going the wrong way!!!"

"Man, what an idiot."

"Moron!!! Dumb ass!!! Oh. Wait. Bummer. Run, dude, run!"

Sadly, even an A+ in woodworking class won't get them out of this pickle. No matter. I'm sure their mothers are very proud.

Raindrops on Daisies and Whiskers on Kittens


Daisy by Marc Jacobs {Eau de parfum} scores top marks for a gorgeous bottle and top marks for using an adorable four legged model instead of a two legged one {though I'll take the smell of a kitten over perfume any minute of the day}.

I'm also awarding top marks for an enchanting website. You can have some fun being gorgeous, youthful, elegant, feminine and flowery while planting virtual daisies and winning downloads. {And the fragrance? Violet, wild strawberries, gardenia, jasmine, vanilla infusion. But not, ahem, daisy.}

Sean Penn as Milk, no Sugar



I'm confused. {Just another day, you're thinking to yourself.}

Where does Harvey Milk begin and Sean Penn end?

Penn's portrayal of Milk in the biopic of the same name was so convincing that people were saying things like, "Sorry, was Sean Penn in that movie? I thought it was a documentary."

He was so Milk-like, he denied Mickey Rourke the opportunity to give the Oscars' censors RSI of the Bleep finger in Guinness World Record time. {And the soft-gel ear plugs placed on the Kodak theatre seats went completely to waste. Tsk, tsk, people, there are poor, starving lighting technicians on the sets of Christian Bale movies who could have used those ear plugs.}

He was so Milk-like that we can expect a new phrase to become commonplace in our language, replacing "Like White on Rice," with "Like Penn on Milk". {"Like White on Milk?" ... "Like Milk on Rice?" But I digress...}

Just like Harvey Milk, Sean Penn stands up for what he believes in. And he believes that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger should sign a bill recognising Milk's birthday on the 22nd May each year as a "day of significance" in California, in spite of Arnie politely declining the same opportunity last year while drinking a soothing cup of diplomacy tea and watching The View.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Penn tried the Shame-You-Into-Submission-Plus-Backhanded-Compliment approach, saying to the cameras from the top of his milk crate, "I would never assume such ignorance as for him to not have revised his (position). I have too much respect for him to be able to do that."

I find double negatives more confusing than not saying what you really don't never mean. Pardon? So I can only take a rough stab at this, but loosely translated, it might be taken as, "Now that I've poured my soul into an Oscar nominated movie about the man, will you let the damn bill go through? Oh, and I just implied that you're a dumb ass if you don't."

Well, the Penn may be mightier than Conan the Barbarian's sword, but there's a much easier way to get what he wants, if a little less lofty. It's gold, shiny and naked and is probably sitting in the door of his fridge next to the orange juice. A few weeks on loan to the Governator and I suspect Oscar could be very persuasive.

The Forgotten Superheroes



This morning, I saw a Warholian piece of street art depicting President Obama as Superman.

Judging by the pallor of quiet desperation on night show comedians still unable to crack a joke or joke about crack at his expense, this sentiment continues to hold true.

I have to wonder, though, if there are other policitians - past and present - moonlighting as superheroes, perhaps more modestly than Mr President. {Damn you, Superman ... always the show pony.}

After months of investigations under the cloak of darkness {rum fumes and a spy camera in the shape of a Thanksgiving turkey}, I can reveal to you my still unconfirmed suspicions. {Note to self: reallocate next budget surplus from rum to spy cams.}
  • George W. Bush: Battyman
  • Al Gore: Green CFC-Reduced Lantern
  • Bill Clinton: Flash-Your-Gordon
  • Hillary Clinton: Like-Hellboy
  • Bill Clinton if Hillary had become President: Iron-ing Man
  • John McCain: Spidervein-Man
  • Sarah Palin: The Inedible Elk
But if you're lying awake at night worrying about whether they are up to the job, never fear. What's that? Up in the sky? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It's Superman, travelling in the comfort of Air Force One.
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