Weekend in Burnie with The Three Wise Men

In the year of our Lord 2014, there were Three Wise Men, Tonyavalot (who governed for the small but dominant Havealot tribe), his accomplice Shirazcigar Jo and El Clive from the strange northern lands. These wise and powerful men had much influence and favour with the gods, but were sadly misunderstood in their own lands. One night after a customary banana split and cigar they looked to the sky and pointed.

“Hark!” said El Clive, the largest of the three. He held a monogrammed, gold-plated telescope to his eye. “I think I see something bigger than me!”

Shirazcigar Jo, who used to be a fat kid himself, gave an inward sigh. El Clive always got the best lines.

Tonyavalot was intrigued, how could he use this next big thing to his best advantage, considering he had failed to use the other big thing, El Clive.

“I’m not a tech head but what do you see in your giant abacus there, Big C?”

“It’s a telescope, dumdum”, said Shirazcigar Jo in a peevish voice, but no-one was listening.

“Hark!” exclaimed El Clive for the second time that night. “It’s a giant comet come to guide us. From this day forth it shall be known as Clive’s Comet”.

“So, what is this comet doing?” asked Tonyavalot, sniffing an opportunity to press reset on his ragged week.

“It’s called Clive’s Comet and its moving south”, replied El Clive.

“By south you mean ….”

“Tasmania”, said Clive with a look that approximated fear but was very hard to tell. It might have just been wind.

“Well, maybe we should follow the star and it might teach us about economic policy,” said Shirazcigar Jo.

“I have long studied the bright star”, said Tonyavalot. “It is prophesied that it will guide us to The Chosen One, he who is sent to earth to give me untold power and influence and marry my chaste daughter, the artist.”

“Whatever. I’m up for an adventure”, said El Clive. “All I know is we have to follow Clive’s Comet. Besides Tasmania is flowing with King Island milk and Huon Valley honey. Plus there’s ice-cream.”

“And while we are there we might even be able to take out the Lamb named Jackie, the Terror of the South”, said Tonyavalot.

“How will we get there? asked Shirazcigar Jo. “It’s too far to drive, and I don’t want to catch a boat with all the poor people”,  he whimpered.

“Stop whinging Jo, we are wealthy and wise remember. We will take our private flying chariot.”

And with much ado about nothing, the Three Wise Men were thence whisked to Tasmania in their flying chariot.

When they arrived in the port town of Launceston they looked again expectantly at the night sky. Clive’s Comet shone brighter still. It was leading them west and they felt sure they were being taken to Cradle Mountain, a golden temple where every whim would be attended to. Alas, twas not to be and they veered further west to a distant place called Dismal Swamp.

When they got down to the swamp they came across a makeshift manger, surrounded by the Lamb named Jackie, Xenophon of Adelaide and Annabel Crabb, a scribe with a basket, who hailed from the left bank of the disputed ABC territories.

“Greetings, O Wise Men” said Xenophon of Adelaide. “I came here by mule, as befits my humble yet enigmatic persona. Whereas you Wise Men three, took the gravy train in order to follow the night star.”

“Clive’s Comet” interjected El Clive.

“Ha, Clive’s Comet up your ass!” scoffed the Lamb named Jackie shaken from her lambielike innocence. “You are the devil himself, and I’ll not kowtow to you.”

She fixed her black gaze on Tonyavalot. “As for you, dark lord, the night star has brought you to Burnie to meet me, since you won’t reply to any of my messages I sent by carrier pigeon.”

“Um, ahh I am a very powerful and busy man”, said Tonyavalot in his most important voice. “And, I am searching for the chosen one, who most certainly is not you.”

“Evening Wise Men all”, chirped Annabel, who was revered for her knife skills and hair curlier than the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Tonyavalot turned to her. “What hast you, fair lady in the basket? Is it a gift for the risen son? For we too have brought gifts for the wonder child who will help me inherit the earth and marry my virtuous daughter.”

“And fix the budget deficit wrought by Labor’s Debt and Deficit Disaster”, added Shirazcigar Jo.

“Did you remember dessert, fair Annabel with your rosy cheeks and fair jowls?” asked El Clive.

“Cheeks and jowls are the same thing”, said Xenophon of Adelaide. “Let the lady speak, El Clive and then you can have your cake and eat it too.”

“Well, it’s not an episode of Kitchen Cabinet, you know. You might have noticed there’s no film crew here” said fair Annabel.

“Oh, I just thought that was due to budget cuts”, winked Tonyavalot.

“That’s not funny, you psychopath”, snapped the Lamb named Jackie. “Do you want me to bite your tiny package right off?”

“We need to put that to a referendum” said Xenophon of Adelaide.

“Do not speak of the holy package in front of the child”, said Shirazcigar Jo.

“Speaking of which”, said Tonyavalot, “I want to see the chosen one.”

“Well, since you insist,” chirped Annabel sensing a column coming on. “I shall do the grand reveal.”

“Please, no Annabel”, said Shirazcigar Jo. “I’m married”.

“Oh, come off it. You sleep with a Bart Simpson doona for Chrissakes”, she said. “I’m revealing now so pay attention.”

She delicately moved the red and white checked blankie to reveal layers of ragged newspaper copy detailing Tonyavalot’s last ragged weeks.

When the last newspaper was lifted, hark! There flew out a hundred barnacles with wings, like Harry Potter quidditch balls. They circled menacingly around Tonyavalot’s head.

“Look, they’ve got little red speedos on”, cooed Xenophon of Adelaide.

“Poo, they stink” announced El Clive.

Like a man possessed, Tonyavalot brushed them off but the barnacles wouldn’t come off him, instead they started attacking and biting him in many Old Testament areas of his body, front and back.

“Oi, go for his package” called the Lamb named Jackie. “Even though it’s small, bite hard.”

“Get these barnacles away from me!”, Tonyavalot squealed uncontrollably in the manner of Christopher Pyne.

“They seem to like you”, Annabel quite reasonably pointed out. “In fact I think they have little names on them. It’s the names of failed policies, here’s one that says Paid Parental Leave. Oh, look, ABC funding cuts”

“Shuttup you meringue-munching leftie. Let me see the child, I must see my own male protégé, made in my image”. Through a haze of brown barnacles, he laid eyes on the child then gasped. In a makeshift manger with straw there was a hideous venomous monster. He went pale and started shaking uncontrollably.

“What is it m’lord?, asked Shirazcigar Jo. “Have you seen the devil himself?”

“No, much worse. A swinging voter in a marginal seat with fire and torment in his eyes. I feel sick, I’m going to vomit, I haven’t done that since Alan Jones was mean to me. Oh woe! Oh lamentation!”

With that, he ran away. He ran up a hill tormented all the way by barnacles. It was a big hill but as a very athletic man he could certainly sheik it.

“What’s he doing?” cried Shirazcigar Jo.

“Seeking asylum no doubt” said Xenophon of Adelaide.

“Remember Tassie is girt by sea” cried the Lamb named Jackie. “You’ll have to be smuggled in a boat to New Zealand to get away from them barnacles. Let’s hope it sinks!”, she added.

“Look the show must go on” said El Clive. “The Dalai Lama told me that. Or was it Kamahl?”

He moved towards the manger.

“We’ve brought gifts, little voter. From me is a replica of my head, fashioned from opals and rubies, from Uncle Jo is a $100,000 debt paydown for a perfect education and from Tonyavalot is his grandmother, who he’s just sold.”

The little swinging voter made a noise like BARF, and threw a massive tantie, which everyone ignored because it was dinnertime.

“Well, comrades, where are we going to eat? It’s like Bethlehem at Christmas time here, everything is closed” said El Clive.

“Don’t look at me”, said Annabel, “I can’t do the loaves and fishes trick from just one basket.”

“Tell you what”, said the Lamb named Jackie, “Club Burnie is open, it’s only half an hour up the road. All we have to do is follow the light on the hill.”

“Oh, please,” said Xenophon of Adelaide, “Why does everyone wax lyrical at Christmas time?”

“You can all pile into my Tarago” said the Lamb named Jackie.

“Senators, half an hour is a long time in a Tarago” said Xenophon of Adelaide. “Is there a game we can play to pass the time, you know, like Spot the Sane Senator. We haven’t played that in a while.”

“I’ll read some sacred poetry I wrote in 45 minutes in the year 1984” said El Clive.

And lo, they piled into the people-moving driving coach and the Lamb named Jackie conducted it. Even though they had enough room inside, they decided to strap Shirazcigar Jo to the roof. On the way they thought they heard Tonyavalot’s screams as he was bitten by barnacles. At the sound of his screams the Lamb named Jackie felt her spirit stir in the golden girdle department.

And lo, a chicken parmigiana and banana split later, that is what happened to the Three Wise Men at Christmas and how it came to pass there was peace on earth across the Great Southern Land.

 

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Coalition’s sad scrooged parliamentary pause

 

The Coalition has had a the parliamentary equivalent of a truck wreck in the M5 tunnel this week. Even Tony has lost a little of his lopsided smirk, although he still has a mad glint in the eyes. Joe the Whinger looks even more sulky than normal, Georgie B has stopped talking and Malcolm in the Middle is looking like he just ate something indigestible, causing him to regurgitate the words “efficiency dividend”.

Even the Coalition’s best friends, Bolt, Jones and Janet are turning on them, which has got to have even the most deluded ministers choking on their genetically modified Wheaties in the morning.

Thank goodness they appointed one woman to the inner cabinet. Seemingly the only half-competent minister (mind you swanning around the world in designer outfits ain’t so hard), Julie B. is out campaigning in a state election that will give many Victorians a mini opportunity to give the Federal government a piece of their mind. And possibly a piece of their finger too.

It’s hard to imagine a government could be so incompetent, especially a no-surprises, no-excuses, grown up government like we were promised. It’s also hard to imagine they are going to be able to vacuum up any policy “barnacles” off HMAS Abbott before the Christmas break.

Higher education is looking like it’s school’s out. Imagine negotiating with a newly-liberated Lambie on that, while the Defence Forces pay issue still languishes. As for GP co-payments, the on again off again lovechild of Joe and Mathias is still bobbing around and Tony just doesn’t seem to have the ticker to kill it off good and proper. As for Tony’s own lovechild, the paid parental scheme for rich people, he just can’t admit defeat, let alone poor policy. Let alone poor policy on the run without cabinet consultation. Let alone poor policy on the run without cabinet consultation because the country can’t afford it due to the budget crisis.

So, the Coalition Christmas break is likely to be very bleak indeed. Especially at Casa’s Turnball, Hockey and anyone with the titles Backbencher after their name. Scrooge has come early to the Coalition this year and, just like mum and dad always said, Santa doesn’t give presents to bad children and some of those Coalition kids have been very very bad this year.

Gift cards I wish away

Sometime in 2010 we were given a gift card. It was a lovely, thoughtful gift of $50 to spend at a number of outlets that we frequent regularly. I speak of BWS and Dan Murphys.

The trouble is we didn’t look after our gift card properly. This is because we put it in very safe place we couldn’t possibly forgot.

It got lost in the time space continuum that is the corkboard, and got covered with bills and invitations to divorce parties. Until this week when during a clean-up binge (very sorry, won’t happen again), it got rediscovered. Yea, a biblical moment had arrived. What is lost now is found.

The beautiful piece of plastic and its cardboard backing didn’t say when it expired but did helpfully direct me to a website where I could check my WISHcard status.

That’s when it started to go, not so much pear-shaped, but more like turd-shaped.

The WISHcard website asked for the card number. There were three different numbers on the card that could have been the card number but in the end only the big one worked.

So I typed in:

8239 1121 7081 6880 21025 73 then scratched the back in manner of scratchie card to enter my pin only to discover that it expired in January 2011.

OK, I should not have put the card in a safe place I’d never forgot. It should have bypassed the corkboard and gone straight to the wallet. But it didn’t.

The good news for WISHcard is that Dan Murphys will not be out-of-pocket because after an event like that I am in need of a drink, even if I have to pay for it myself.

The thing that peeves me the most is the sheer tedium of the system. What was wrong with the bad ole good days when it was a gift certificate with a number and an expiry date and you could view at a glance when your time was up. We didn’t have to log onto a website enter a 24.5 digit code and then scratch the back in manner of Scratch Me Happy to find a password to type in.

Give me the gift of a simple life.

Oh, and Happy New Year.

Don’t darken my door with Christmas lights

There are two types of people in the world. Those who like Christmas lights and Bob Geldof music and those who want Bob Geldof’s money. I belong in the second group.

Bob Geldof, he could do with showering for approximately three years. Christmas lights, they could do with turning off. I’m not a total Scroogette (which would be a good name for Bob Geldof’s next Christmas song), it’s not that I absolutely hate them. It’s just that I like Christmas lights to be more along the lines of the New Year’s fireworks – in public places and done well. Like the Sydney fireworks, they should be tastefully tacky but not bogan. And definitely not fluoro baby Jesus on a crazy donkey out of Shrek (yes, I have seen this in the hood).

But in good old suburban Sydney the number of houses outdoing each other to produce the craziest sound and light show ever is a tad over the top. Have you not heard of the environment, people? It’s also expensive and it also makes no sense. Christmas lights are designed for the northern hemisphere, when Christmas falls close to the shortest day of the year and people need cheering up. That makes perfect sense.

In Sydney on a 30 degree night when it is not even properly dark until 8.30pm? Not perfect sense. (Also we don’t need cheering up in the great land downunder because we have a mining boom, which is making us rich and happy). No cheering up required! We are already delirious. Happy Christmas, blogosphere.

Christmas overspending in land of fat cats

I read the other day in The Daily Tele, that tome of investigative reporting, that Australians are spending more than any other country on all things Christmas. So that means: food, booze, decorations and Beroccas. It’s staggering to think that we are spending more than Americans. I don’t reckon this figure is anything to be proud of. Why? Australians are not especially religious, we are fat enough already and in the face of the global economic freakshow, it seems somehow, well wrong.

I’ve figured out why we spend so much: we like to do the hot dinner, for tradition’s sake and we like the cold dinner, as it makes a lot more sense. It also costs a lot more. Have you tried buying a six pack of oysters lately without taking out a second mortgage? As for prawns – what about buying a medium-sized bucket of prawns without having to sell shares? Then there’s hot pudding, ice cream – and because it’s Christmas it has to be the special ice cream – and blueberries, strawberries, stone fruit, pavlova. It’s a neverending spendy fest.

Then the over-the-top Christmas lights – well, that’s another rantarama for another day. But suffice to say – WTF are these people thinking? It doesn’t even get dark till 8.30pm so there’s only a few hours where we see them. Again, another Northern Hemisphere tradition that makes a lot of sense if it’s minus ten and dark from 2.30pm. Here in the land of non-stop spending and hot summer nights, just forget about it, please. Santa knows where you live, and given the amount Australians are spending on presents, you can bet he’s coming to you and your compatriots this year.

Essential elements of a Christmas holiday

With Christmas holidays approaching, it’s hard to decide where to spend January.

Holidays should be the highlight of the year, eclipsed only by getting the last slice of Friday night pizza or escaping the muppet from Procurement at the office Christmas bash.

But it can be confusing. How do you decide where to go? Where to stay? Follow this and you’re guaranteed a holiday to remember.

Over priced – January holidays should be overpriced. After all you don’t need to eat the rest of the year, when two weeks at Mollymook costs approximately the same as making an offer on Tetsuya’s.

Overheated –wherever you go it should be too hot. As long as even lying on the beach gives you second degree burns then you’re on the right track.

Overrated – it’s mandatory that every Christmas holiday be overrated. If you go somewhere overpriced (see above) then you’re pretty much set. For this you can’t go past Byron Bay.

Over it – I mean honestly, are they really worth it? Best stay home, apply a bit of Banana Boat Tahitian bronzer and pretend you had the best time ever. Why not – everyone else is doing it.