Wednesday, 31 May 2006

"Go Now" - Moody Blues, 1965

I see that a new descriptive word has entered the British vocabulary.

I received an e-mail this morning from the online travel company The subject of the mail was: "Don't Do a Shabhaz - Leave the House Now". And then they go on to advertise their travel specials.

What's/Who's a "Shabhaz", you might well ask? He's the manic gay Pakistani/Scottish housemate from this year's edition of UK's Big Brother, a very popular TV show on Britain's Channel 4. Well, let me be more precise. Shabhaz Chauhdry was a housemate...past tense. He voluntarily left the Big Brother house last week on Day 6, after suffering what can best be described as a mini-nervous breakdown, live and in color, in front of the BB viewers' eyes.

But as Shabhaz spent quite a lot time in front of the TV cameras -- being more and more hysterical and bizarre -- before finally living up to his threats to voluntarily leave the Big Brother house, it appears that "doing a Shabhaz" might be finding its way into the British lexicon as a descriptive term!

It make me think of the use of the term "going postal" in America...except nobody got physically hurt in the BB house. Thank God for that.

By the way, Shabhaz was reported to have had another "incident" in a Borehamwood hotel last weekend....well, that is, if you believe "The Sun" newspaper. And I rarely do.


PS I have just noticed that today's post is my 200th for Lord Celery! Who would have ever thought that I would keep a blog going for so long...and post with such regularity???

Tuesday, 30 May 2006

"Noose Dressed Up As A Necklace" - Kevin Devine, 2003

I was just cleaning out my Yahoo Mail inbox and noticed a marketing e-mail from Neiman Marcus. (The name always makes me think of my friend Debbie, who has always referred to Neimans as "Needless Markups"!) I'm not sure how I got on their e-mailing list, but obviously I have somehow.

I must have been really bored, though, because I actually opened the e-mail. Something caught my eye. "Pendants for Men" was the link. So, being curious, I clicked on it.
You can do the same, by clicking right here.

Folks, am I missing something? Would any of Lord Celery's male readers actually wear any of the selections pictured? John certainly wouldn't...and would most likely laugh me right back out of the house if I brought one of them home to him as a gift! I even double-checked to make sure I hadn't misread the intended gender for these pendants

Nope. There is it. These necklaces are indeed in Neiman's online shopping section labeled
Men & Electronics - What's Hot - Trendsetters - Pendants.

Oh dear. Have I completely lost my sense of style? Have I suddenly become an old fogey-ette?

Somebody help me...please!


Listening to: Snow Patrol, "Eyes Open"

Monday, 29 May 2006

"All By Myself" - Eric Carmen, 1976

Along with four friends from the UK, John and I witnessed a very special moment in baseball on this date in 2000. We saw the only unassisted triple play which has ever occurred at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx! This historic event was executed by Randy Velarde of the Oakland A's against the Yankees.

I must admit that I had completely forgotten about this important least I had before I saw that my husby wrote a blog item about it before I even got up this morning. So perhaps I'll just direct you to his entry rather than trying to reinvent the wheel myself!

I'll always remember that game for another reason as well. It was the first time I ever saw Center Fielder Bernie Williams play live-and-in-person! And he's been my favorite Yankee ever since.

It's worth noting that the 29th of May back in 2000 was also "Memorial Day" in the States. And as it's a Bank Holiday here in the UK, John and I are enjoying a relaxing Monday off work right along with my American friends and family.


Sunday, 28 May 2006

"Strange Bedfellows" - Sandi Shaw, 1988

The World Cup is coming up. I can't wait!

I was running a couple of training courses in London last week, and several of my students and I began talking about the upcoming World Cup matches during Tuesday's lunch break. One of the delegates was another American living in the UK (like me) and married to a British citizen (like me). He's from South Dakota and is living in Edinburgh with his Scottish wife -- whom he met in Australia, by the way, but that's another story!

Anyway, the student told me something very funny. Football (soccer) fans in Scotland are supporting the national team from Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago? Yup. He said you see their team items being worn by people all over the Scotland. He also told me that you can't buy a Trinidad and Tobago team shirt for love nor money in any shop in Edinburgh right now. Scottish shops imported tons of them, and they are now all sold out!


Well, Scotland didn't make the World Cup. England did. Many Scottish people don't like the English and make no bones about their lack of support for England. So they looked for an alternative national team to support. There are 6 Scottish-based players on the Trinidad and Tobago other words, these six and guys from Trinidad and Tobago play professional football for Scottish clubs. And Trinidad and Tobago are in Group B, along with England, so they'll be immediate and direct competitors with the English national team.

So that explains it!

I just found a UPI article about the Scottish support for Trinidad and Tobago. I hadn't heard anything about this in the British press until my student told me last week. How amusing!

Strange bedfellows indeed.


Saturday, 27 May 2006

"Do I Make You Proud?" - Taylor Hicks, 2006

Absolutely, Taylor! You make me proud to be American!


You have such joy -- humor -- style (albeit it a little unconventional sometimes) --- soul -- musical talent -- originality -- etc., etc., etc. You're a great American Idol! I just hope "show business" doesn't alter you too much.

But we'll be following what happens to Chris, Elliott, Katharine, Lisa, Melissa & Paris, too. What talent!

It was a terrific show this year. I miss it already!



Thursday, 25 May 2006

"Do You Want To Know A Secret" - Beatles, 1963

The suspense is over, thanks to Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling.

John and I were trying our best to avoid learning who had won American Idol until we could see the combination of Tuesday and Wednesday night's American broadcasts, being shown here in Britain tomorrow night. We avoided reading Yahoo and Google news. We've avoided CNN. We didn't even listen to British news this morning, fearful that they might just see fit to report that either Katharine or Taylor had won. Our American friends have been absolute saints to not let it slip, and we thank all of you so much for being so careful!

But this evening, I was reading a "breaking news" e-mail from CNN about the Enron verdicts. I figured that was safe. But NOOOOOOO. At the bottom of the e-mail was an ad for CNN's "Larry King Live", featuring an interview with the new American Idol --- Taylor Hicks.

ARGH......................!!!!!!! now we know. It's not the worst thing that has ever happened. And we're absolutely delighted with the news anyway.

And we are still very excited to see tonight's broadcast of the finals on ITV2, while eating John's world-famous tacos! (Yes, it's true -- my English husby makes the best crispy tacos in the entire world. Go figure!)


Sunday, 21 May 2006

"Happy Birthday To You"

Today is my dear husby's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, John!

I owe such a debt of gratitude to Anne & Joe for having such a beautiful boy...and raising him to be such a fine man!

(If you'd like to read a little about the world's most popular English language song -- "Happy Birthday To You" -- check out this link.)


Saturday, 20 May 2006

"A Short Burst of Clarity" - Mountain Mirrors, 2004

I may have already heard the dimmest line from a participant in this year's UK Big Brother, and this summer's program has only just begun.

Before each new housemate entered the house Thursday night, we were introduced to each of them with some pre-filmed footage. In hers, young Bonnie (a 19-year-old care worker from Loughborough) described herself as follows:

"I'm funny. I'm sexy. And everything. And everything."

It's even more amusing in her very strong north-of-England accent.

I don't feel qualified, as another female, to comment on how sexy Bonnie might or might not be. But she certainly hasn't made me laugh yet.


"Welcome Back" - John Sebastian, 1976

With -- I presume -- the start of the new UK Big Brother as his inspiration, my husby has restarted his "LCLB" blog! Here's the link. Yippee!

Happy reading!


Thursday, 18 May 2006

"Strange Combination" - T Bone Burnett

I have a business colleague in London who is pregnant for the first time. I asked her today if she was having any food cravings yet. She is. A very strange one.

She's craving Marmite and marmalade sandwiches. the same sandwich!

All I can say is ... Good Lord!


Wednesday, 17 May 2006

"Separate Ways" - Elvis Presley, 1972

It saddens me to hear that "Sir" Paul McCartney and his wife Heather are separating. It's particularly tragic because of their young daughter.

Meanwhile, the stock markets aren't doing so well today either...

If Arsenal can win tonight's UEFA Champions League final in Paris -- which John and I are watching as I write -- at least I'll be cheered up a little bit!


Tuesday, 16 May 2006

"Gonna Make You An Offer You Can't Refuse" - Jimmy Helms, 1973

A fish and chip shop, in nearby Aylesbury...

(Click on the image for a larger version.)


Listening to: "Demon Days" - Gorillaz

Monday, 15 May 2006

"So Sad To See You Gone" - Arlenes, 2002

I still haven't recovered from Chris Daughtry having been voted off "American Idol" last week. What a bummer...

This is the first season that John and I have followed "American Idol" like this, from start to finish. Coincidentally, we saw the first episodes of this season's Idol while we were in Singapore earlier this year. And thanks to ITV in the UK, we've been following the series ever since.

We're disadvantaged, though, in that we see both the performance show and the results show starting at 8:30 on a Friday night. That means that my American friends are sworn to secrecy between Wednesday night in the States and Friday night here (Claudia has been especially amazing in that regard), and John and I have learned to be very careful not to read too many online US news reports beginning on Thursday. So far, John accidentally read who had been voted off once, but he kindly didn't spoil the suspense for me. And last Friday, I inadvertently read a the headline about Chris having been offered the lead-singer position for a US band but thought absolutely nothing of it. Chris, I felt, was likely to be the last one standing when this year's Idol ended.

But it was not to be. To be fair, I've had a real fondness for Taylor since the beginning, but I've felt that Chris was most likely to win.
I have found an interesting op ed column from the "New York Post" about last week's vote. Perhaps it helps explain what happened.

Well, so now there are only three. And my husby and I are going to have to be even more careful reading news stories from the States in the coming two weeks, aren't we?

We haven't heard the last of you yet, Chris! I see a fantastic career in the future for you, and I'd certainly buy your first I would Elliott's and Taylor's as well. (As a matter of fact, I already have bought us a
Taylor Hicks' CD, and it's pretty good stuff!) I'd also be tempted to go see Katherine on Broadway or playing the West End, because I think that's where she's likely to end up...on the stage somewhere...looking gorgeous while belting out a love song.

But Chris, I am so sad that you're gone...


Sunday, 14 May 2006

"Take Your Mama (Out All Night)" - Scissor Sisters, 2004

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to my American readers...and especially to my family and friends who are some of the most wonderful mothers I can imagine. I miss my own mother dearly.


Friday, 12 May 2006

"Contrasts" - Jimmy Dorsey, 1940

I drove to the park & ride this morning, taking the shuttle bus the rest of the way into the Oxford city centre. I could have then walked the direct route to the office. But since I was very early and the weather is glorious here, I took the long route instead -- Broad Street to Turl Street to Alfred Street to Blue Boar Street and then south down St Aldates to the office.

It's an amazing walk, along some narrow little cobblestone streets. I wish I could film it and post it here for all of Lord Celery's readers to share with me. I strolled by Exeter College -- Jesus College -- Brasenose College -- Lincoln College -- Pembroke College -- Christ Church...all within that 20-minute walk!

On a lanyard around my neck, I was wearing the little black iPod Nano that John bought me for Christmas last year. It's a joy. It's small and lightweight. It's a breeze to wear while I'm walking, and it keeps me entertained.

But the "contrast" I refer to with today's choice of song title has to do with what I was listening to as I strolled. I recently discovered that I can subscribe to the podcast of the audio of PBS' weekly television program "Washington Week in Review". So I was listening to Gwen Ifill and her guest reporters as I walked. I was catching up on American news.

It could hardly have been a greater contrast.

Have a good weekend, everybody!


Thursday, 11 May 2006

"Fat Bottomed Girls" - Queen, 1978

This entry is for Lord Celery's American friends. My UK readers may not get it at all!

It's funny what combination of items can be found in your average British garden-supply store...

(Click on the image to view the full-sized version.)


Wednesday, 10 May 2006

"Christmas Day In May" - Dan Crow, 1992

Tonight's post is primarily for my friend Steve, author of "Today is Absolutely Today".

We took this photo this evening, in a village just north of where we live....

(Click on the image for a larger version.)

Steve, at least your neighbors in California put seasonal inflatable items on their roof!


Monday, 8 May 2006

"Tongue Tied Blues" - James "Nick" Nixon, 2001

One of the many things I love about my "husby" is that he's an over-grown kid.

Here's an example. A few weeks ago, we were invited to a friend's birthday party in Reading. Among her guests were her cousin, his wife and their three children. We especially enjoyed the kids. And when one of them offered John a rather special piece of candy ("a sweet", as they would say here in the UK), he happily accepted...even knowing ahead of time what the result would be...

Click on the image itself, if you dare, to see a larger version!


Sunday, 7 May 2006

"Bluebells & Roses" - Loomer, 2004

In honor of last Friday, John and I bought a "Queen Elizabeth" variety rose bush yesterday. It's the most beautiful shade of pink -- very similar to the color of the outfit she wore while in Oxford on Friday -- and it's now planted in our garden. I hope I don't kill it!


PS By the way, I HIGHLY recommend the CD that today's title song is from -- "Love Is A Dull Instrument", by Loomer. Here is Loomer's official web site, and here's their MySpace site. Check them out.

Friday, 5 May 2006

"Life of Surprises" - Prefab Sprout, 1992

I had a wonderful surprise today. While out running errands at lunchtime, in Oxford, I saw The Queen!

Queen Elizabeth was in Oxford today for several reasons. I didn't know anything about it until I read it on the BBC's website this morning...although it was obvious, as I walked from the bus stop to my office just before 8am, that somebody important was visiting Oxford today. The police were much more in evidence than usual, and the doors to the grounds of Christ Church was closed and barricaded. Christ Church -- the cathedral and the college (part of Oxford University) -- is just a few blocks north of my office.

Anyway, when I left the office around 12:30pm, everything looked fairly normal on St Aldates....although there were clearly a few people standing around the entrance to Christ Church. Here's what the view looked like, as I approached Christ Church...

(Click on each photo for a full-sized version.)

Once I got a little farther north, I realized that clearly something was going on. Suddenly, police swooped in and blocked the streets. And here came a motorcade. And as the sidewalk ("pavement", to my British readers) is narrow in this part of Oxford, I was standing right on the kerb (British spelling!) and very near the passengers in a big car which suddenly appeared...and in the back seat was a lovely lady dressed all in pink...The Queen! I was so amazed but picked up my "mobile" again...and took the following shot...

The Queen is in the burgundy-colored car with the flag flying from it...and if you are able to click on the photo to make it full-sized, on the right side of the back seat you'll see a pink hat. That's Queen Elizabeth! (Well, not the hat itself...the woman in the hat!)

She was waving to the crowd, and of course we were waving back. The bells at Christ Church were pealing in celebration. The car, and the entire motorcade, all headed into the Christ Church property. The Queen apparently had lunch there today.

Just to show you what a beautiful day it was in Oxford, here's one final shot that I took of the Christ Church bell tower -- which I believe is known locally as "Old Tom"...

I just can't tell you how thrilling and exciting this was....what a life of surprises I have!

If you like to read more about Queen Elizabeth's visit to Oxford today, here's a link to the BBC website and to one of the Oxford newspapers.

WOW....I still can't believe it!


PS Oh...and Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Monday, 1 May 2006

"New York State of Mind" (reprise) - Billy Joel, 1975

Sorry for using a song title twice! (Or naybe I'm the only one who noticed...???)

This is a very important birthday for an American icon. Today's the 75th birthday of the Empire State Building in New York City!

The ESB played an important part in John's and my romance, so it's a very special place for us. We are hoping to get back there some time this year...we'll see whether or not that will be possible.

I had thought about coming up with a list of factoids about the ESB to write about -- films made there, history of the building, etc., etc. But better to just steer you to the official Empire State Building web site, which is linked here.

Some of you know that I lived in New York City from 1986 to 1993. While there, I developed a real love for "The City" and its fabulous architecture. Although the ESB is in my top three of favorite NYC buildings, I have to admit that it didn't manage to take one of the two spots. My personal #2 is the wedge-shaped Flatiron Building on 23rd Street, and my #1 is the fabulous Chrysler Building on 42nd Street. I had a view of the top of the Chrysler from my East 44th Street high-rise apartment. (Does anybody besides me remember that fantastic "Saturday Night Live" sketch which featured the top of the Chrysler Building blasting off into space like a rocket?)

Happy Birthday to you, Empire State Building...and happiness to all who set foot inside you today!