The Backstabbers Guild Of Australia Annual General Meetings

My forthcoming trip to Melbourne and Sydney will be enlivened this year -and I hope in every subsequent year – by the opportunity to conduct the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia Annual General Meetings in each city. I am preparing my address for each location.

The Guild was founded in Melbourne several decades ago and has flourished – so much so that backstabbers can be found in every state of Australia. The Perth AGM has languished for several years  but this will also be re-instituted. Given the boredom and despair – not to mention the red-hot anger and viciousness – that an AGM can generate for any society, the BGA ones are memorable.

I am planning, as Right Evil Bastard, to award medals of dishonour to several people. My chemist has assured me that the pins on the medals are tipped with curare. He was unable to obtain suitable amounts of ricin or polonium but fortunately he has a cousin from Brazil. I always think the organic poisons are the best for the environment, in any case.

In both Sydney and Melbourne I have authorised agents to book tables – a pizza restaurant is the traditional venue – and allowed them the freedom to round up the usual suspects. I am happy to say I expect the worst. If it is to be a German restaurant that would be wurst.

Will there be sadness? Will there be fear and horror? Will there be treachery and madness? Look at our name – it says it all.

Care for an invitation?

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How Many For Dinner?

A simple question, but there is room for pain and suffering between every word.

a. ” Don’t know “. Shall I cook for four or one? Because it does make a difference in the amount of ingredients committed to the pan.

b. ” I’ll be working late”. Well that means you’ll either be eating late or elsewhere or not at all. Shall I cook a soup that can set or a quiche that will not?

c. “I’ll let you know “. If I am going to cook something slow, complex, or hazardous, tell me early in the piece. If you wait until 5:30 for 6:00 you will be getting scrambled eggs on toast. If you tell me at 6:00 neither the eggs nor the toast will be cooked…

d. ” We were going out but we changed our mind “. Oh good. Let me do the mathematics of dividing a two-person dinner, perfectly cooked, into a four-person snack.

e. ” I brought people home “. Good – you divide your guests into the ones who are to be eaten and the ones who get to eat. Let me know and I’ll stoke the oven.

f. ” I decided that I am not hungry “. The leftover pot grows fatter.

The Designed Life – Part Six

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Is it dinner time yet?

Okay, then is it breakfast time yet? Is there any food in the house? Is it in any recognisable form? Will it need to be cooked for 8 hours over a cat to be edible? Should the sauce be that colour? IS that actually sauce or are we a month late?

If you are going to live a happy life, you will need to eat something. There are no end of people who will tell you what you must eat, not eat, and when. Some will do it for religious reasons, some for dietary reasons, and some just to enjoy a feeling of power over you. How you adjust yourself to the first and last on that list is your own affair – and whether you will be able to do it and remain friends with the rest of the household is a moot point. Please do not write in and say that I split you forever from your family or community by recommending that you eat boiled reindeer with pine needle sauce.

But how do you stay healthy at the same time as being happy…and need you take external advice to do it? When you remember that Mark Twain said his diet would surely assassinate others, yet lived to a ripe age, you see that there is a fair space to play around in.

For me, I think variety does the trick – with a sensible mixture of protein, carbohydrates, and lipids…plus a normal intake of vitamins through those other foods. You can incorporate a great deal of taste in whatever you do eat with little other effect on the nutrition of it by the use of various condiments and spices but again moderation is the key. This lets you have a few sweets, a few drinks, a few meats and breads, and a few vegetables throughout the week.

If you’re wise you take in enough to function well, but not too much  – most of it would be stored as unwanted fat. Mind you, if you need to be fatter, then it is not unwanted, and may be of benefit. A set of bathroom scales and a mirror works well, if you look at it over a year rather than a day. And don’t take selfies in a public toilet and expect to look good.

But here’s the best advice – learn to cook. You do not have to be Escoffier and please do not be Gordon Ramsay. You may be Nigella if you wish. Learn to cook 6 types of good meals – four everyday standbys that will feed the family – two for hot weather and two for cold. Then learn two party pieces that you can be confident will work every time. If you can afford the ingredients, these six recipes will feed you all week – two days with fresh cooking and four more with the leftovers. If the seventh is a day of rest for you, you can legitimately shut the kitchen and eat out – you’ll have done a good job.

Only six? Well consider that you can choose from five different types of meat protein without even considering the other sources. Crank in over a dozen common vegetables in regular supply even in outlying areas, and a nearly infinite variety of bread-like substances and other grains, and you have enough players in the food orchestra to make music for a long time. And the joy of discovering new combinations is all the more intense – who knew that you could dip reindeer meat in chocolate?

If you can cook you are free of the toils of the commercial fast food industry – notwithstanding their utility when you are travelling or overburdened – but the most part of your eating can be done on things you make yourself – and things that need no making. Fill up good on good fillers and you’ll find that the snack habit goes away.

Now, where did I put that water bucket full of chocolate bars?

An Italian Curse On You

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I wish I knew the Italian language. I need it. I need it badly.

I have just tried a new-age gluten-free vegan eco-friendly pizza that probably wears a kaftan and Birkenstocks on its multicultural sabbatical. I need the Italian language to provide me with a suitable curse on the shop that made it. In the end I would settle for a mild bout of bad language and a health department order closing their doors.

Pizza? There is no part of this flat sheet of nasty taste that suggests pizza, or Pisa for that matter. It is round, and packed in a square cardboard box, I give you, but so is a teller mine. I would rather cook the mine.

I will also be realistic – there are pizzas that are not round – square sheets of perfectly adequate pizza have been made for years – if there are no round pans you may have to use a cookie sheet – and if there are a lot of eaters you can make more pizza per oven rack on rectangular trays.

But take note. Pizza contains a number of essential ingredients. Leave them out or substitute house dust and hummus and you end up with no-pizza. You need:

Pizza dough with gluten. Italian gluten. Gluten that loves football and red cars and girls. Loud gluten.

Tomato sauce base – with oregano and basil and garlic and salt and pepper. Maybe thin slices of tomato as well.

Pepperoni sausage sliced thin. LOTS of it. Ask about the sausage maker – if his name is Mario or Luigi or Paolo and his last name ends in “one” you’ll be fine.

Green pepper pieces.

Mushroom slices.

Olive slices.

Onion slivers.

Cheese – Mozzarella and parmesan are a good start.

Anchovies. Just a few, and if the eater doesn’t like them they can be chewed around.

Stop. Add a portion of Stop Immediately right here before the temptation to add sweet potato or Indian frog spleen paste or raw cauliflower becomes irresistible. Put the pizza in the oven and let it bake. Take it out and slice it and serve it hot. With vino or birra, as you wish. Finish with espresso. And gelati.

Do not try to make an essentially Italian thing anything else – just enjoy it for what it is. If you wish to serve unicorn cupcakes do it some other time.

 

 

 

How Does An Atheist Bless You?

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Well, it’s not as silly a question as you might think. If an atheist does not imagine or believe in any deity but still wants to give out some sort of non-committal promise that you will be happier because they said so…they have no mechanism in place to project it from. They can’t really promise you kindness from the government because they know what the government is like – and they can’t promise you the fealty and love of other people because the other people might know what YOU are like.

About the best they can do is assure you that they hope you are not run over by a street car. And even this is difficult to promise in Melbourne.

Atheism is a tough row to hoe. All the work of being moral and no relaxation afterwards by killing your enemies in the name of superstition. You might get a chance to kill them in the name of economics or theory or a coloured rectangle of cloth on a pole, but like as not someone will write a book about it 50 years later and try to make you look bad.  It almost takes the fun out of explosions.

The other tough part is there are no feast days for atheism. And feasts involve food and drink. Oh, you can go to the local hotel and order a counter lunch and a couple of pints on Tom Paine’s birthday but no-one puts up a tree or makes presents or takes you into the broom closet for a cuddle because of it. ” Joyeaux No ” as a song has never made it to the charts.

Worst of all is there is no money to be made out of atheism. No cards, no gifts, no food, no booze, no sleigh rides in cold climates or slay rides in hot ones. No-one ever gives money to the No Salvation Needed Army. Even when their lassies are not blowing trombones and tambourines outside the pub.

I tell you, it’s enough to shake your faithlessness…

 

 

Bar 399 – A Happy Place

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We all have happy places – or at least I hope we do. Someplace that seems to welcome us and provide us with a good time.

Here in Perth I am happy to say that I have found one – the Bar 399 in William Street. It nestles into the top end of the place a few doors from the Mosque – about a block and a half down from Tony Yozzi’s sports store. It’s opposite the Indian restaurant and the pizza joint and next door to the Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants This is important.

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It is one of the new wave of cocktail bars that have become popular in Perth. Relaxed liquor licensing laws now allow us to have these venues – no longer are we tied to residential pubs or wine saloons…

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Tonight was a special night for Chelsea Bunz and I – she secured a place on the walls for artwork depicting all the things she does and I was able to print up a whole raft of things to decorate the place. Thank you Mr IKEA for making 5 x 7 and A4 frames at a reasonable price. Chelsea spent the day decorating it and tonight it was ready for an opening party.

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I can’t be sure how many of our friends were there but I got to sit with a big table of them and they all seemed to be delighted to be there. Well, at least they were there. We sent out for Vietnamese snacks and enjoyed ourselves with the cocktails and other drinks. I am delighted to say that Perth drinks contain more alcohol than price – as opposed to the same things in Melbourne. Score one for us. Also score one fro the Vietnamese restaurant  – their dry chilli mussels were worth ordering. I shall suffer tomorrow but I am prepared for the pain…

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This is a bar that I can thoroughly recommend – it is at the kind end of William Street and the patrons seemed to be there for fun and not fights. The staff were cheerful and the prices moderate. And the artwork is ….well…Chelsea.

 

Police Harrassment, And How To Foster It

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I was picked up by the Police today. They turned me over, looked at the price tag, and put me down again. The constable went away muttering that there was no way he was going to pay that much for something that looked like me. Apparently I sell for far less on the internet.

Okay, what really happened was I got on the train to come back from downtown and two transport policemen entered the carriage as it left Perth station. Between Esplanade and Canning Bridge they moved down the carriage checking for valid tickets. I handed over my Smartrider card, they passed it under a scanner and handed it back. ” Thank you, Sir.” and they were off down the rest of the train.

I have had similarly disappointing brushes with the law when they conduct random breath tests on Perth roads. They pull me over, ask me to blow into a disposable plastic tube attached to a small machine, and then wave me on through. It is so much less exciting than the television show where they chase people through alleys and piles of cardboard boxes.

Even the visits from the secondhand dealers squad at the shop are bland. They arrive with a clipboard of papers, leave with a clipboard of papers, and nothing seems to change. I can’t be sure that they are not leaving extra papers…

I am getting the feeling that I am missing out. Other people get to go to riots, then get to be arrested,  then summonsed, and then remanded. I get Domino’s pizza delivered and it isn’t even that good a pizza. I think this country needs more lawlessness and violent behaviour – on the part of government and private citizens – and I think there need to be more armed clashes and car chases in the suburbs. And a great deal more pepperoni on the pizzas – you can keep the ones with pineapple to yourself.