Feed your family… Italian style

Thursday 19 May 2011

You’re not my friend any more Curtis Stone.

I’ve been following your “Under $10” recipes since the very beginning and, while they’ve never cost less than $15, I’ve enjoyed them immensely. I felt you were teaching me to be both frugal and flavoursome, taking me on a journey through the marvels of budgeted home culinary. I felt, perhaps, you understood me.

So I hope you understand why I say this: Baked Rigatoni with Tomato and Sopressa Salami.

I wrote the ingredients out carefully and trotted to my local Coles with green bag in hand. First stop the deli for the pre-sliced ingredients, and the first sign of a chink in our friendship. My Coles had none – NONE – of the listed ingredients: not the 150g Sopressa salami, not the 100g Delre mozzarella, and not the 1/4 cup Coles Parmigiano Reggiano parmesan cheese. “Fine, I’ll buy it from fridge section,” I said, but the salami comes in packs of 100g, so I had to buy two, and the mozzarella and parmesan in lots of 250g.

So your “$9.97” meal, including the herbs, ended up costing $32.95!

Having spent three times what you reckon this meal was going to, I started preparing. It was here our friendship completely fell apart. It was a small issue, as most friendship-enders are, but I’m sure the reason why a lot of people have stopped being chummy with chefs. It appears time and time again and does nothing but frustrate the amateur cook.

It’s the half a small brown onion.

Why must you include such a ridiculous ingredient? What’s wrong with a full brown onion? You know everyone’s going to include the whole onion – who keeps half a brown onion? – so why specify such a measurement? Really Curtis, do you seriously think any of us, no matter how many episodes of MasterChef we’ve suffered, can tell the difference between the taste of half and a full brown onion? And what am I supposed to do with the onion’s other half? The baked rigatoni serves 4; single me will be eating this the better part of the week!

And don’t get me started on the 350g of Coles rigatoni pasta. Why – WHY – stipulate 350g when pasta comes in bags of 500g? What am I supposed to do with the other 150g? I had to buy a grater for the 1 small carrot; must I purchase a set of kitchen scales as well?

So I’m sorry Curtis but I can’t be friends with you anymore, it just makes me too upset when I attempt your recipes. I hope you’ll understand and perhaps one day we can laugh about this.

However, I must say that the final result was pretty tasty, even if I did forget to include the basil.


A poem for Scott

Thursday 12 May 2011

Scott's new vase

My dear friend Scott once bought a jug,
A tiny thing from history.
The salesmen thought him quite the mug:
Such fuss for some old pottery!

Scott paid the bill and pock’d the prize
(All carefully wrapped in cellophane)
Then told the man, to his surprise,
“Tis priceless piece from Grecian fame.”

The man, his jaw gobsmacked it fell
And echoed round his antique freighter.
Scott thanked the man, then said he’d sell
It back to him on ebay later.



Script Frenzy – Scene: The First National Bank of Business City

Friday 29 April 2011

EXT. FIRST NATIONAL BANK – DAY

The Van pulls up in front of the First National Bank of Business City. Ultimate Bad jumps from the Van. The Henchmen all jump out, squinting in the sun light.

JIM

Where now?

LEX

Looks like Main Street.

JIM

But where on Main Street?

Lex turns to face the Bank.

LEX

The First National.

Sally is getting out of the Van. She freezes when she hears Lex’s line. He lifts her out of the Van.

SALLY

What did you say?

LEX

The First National Bank of Business City. I suppose we’re going to rob that.

SALLY

(shaking)

The First National?

She turns and sees that she’s out front of the Bank. She panics, taking a few steps away.

SALLY

I… I… can’t do this.

She backs into Lex who holds on to her more for comfort than for security.

LEX

Sally, what’s wrong?

SALLY

Please, I have to go!

LEX

Sally?

SALLY

Please!

She breaks from his grip and runs away down the street, disappearing into the crowd.

Lex watches puzzled. Jim and Thunderhead join him.

THUNDERHEAD

What’s with her?

LEX

Something about the Bank.

JIM

Hmph, probably didn’t give her a loan or something. Come on, we’re on duty.

Jim leads the concerned Lex away by the arm.

Ultimate Bad stands before his Henchmen.

ULTIMATE BAD

Are you ready Minions? Let’s make this one interesting: the Minion who brings me the largest bag of cash gets to keep it!

AUDACIOUS-BOY (O.S.)

You can all keep your hands to yourselves!

There are all the Sidekicks – Audacious-Boy, Spirit-Girl, Hardy-Boy, Net-Girl and Battle-Boy – all standing in the front of the Bank’s door.

NET-GIRL

Not one step closer you high collared villain, you’re under arrest!

Ultimate Bad rolls his eyes.

ULTIMATE BAD

I don’t have time for this.

From up his sleeve drops a small black orb, about the size of a grapefruit. He click-click-clicks its two halves against each other – it starts to flash and beep.

ULTIMATE BAD

Here, catch!

He tosses the orb at the Sidekicks. Battle-Boy catches it. He looks at the orb mystified.

HARDY-BOY

Umm, Battle-Boy, you might want to get rid of that.

Battle-Boy suddenly realises he’s holding a bomb. He throws it into the air and the Sidekicks scatter.

The orb falls and B-O-O-O-M!!

The door – and half the wall – have all been blown away. Rubble and fallen Henchmen lie everywhere.

Ultimate Bad, who had simply protected himself by holding up his sleeve, brushes the dust off his robe.

ULTIMATE BAD

Onward footman soldiers!

He strides off over the rubble and through where the doors used to be. He sticks his head back out and gestures at the Sidekicks.

ULTIMATE BAD

(to his Henchmen)

Deal with them first though, will you?

The Sidekicks and the Henchmen all get themselves up, aching all over.  Jim pants heavily.

JIM

Can’t we just call this one a draw?

A RANDOM HENCHMAN near him is suddenly swept away by one of Audacious-Boy’s bolos.

JIM

Obviously not.

He roars and runs at the Sidekicks. Other Henchmen follow.

INT. FIRST NATIONAL BANK – DAY

Alarms wail everywhere. Customers hide in the corners, cowering as Ultimate Bad strolls past and up to the inquiry counter. He D-I-N-G-S the bell.

No one comes to his assistance. After a moment he looks over the counter.

There crouching on the floor is the BANK MANAGER.

ULTIMATE BAD

Hello.

The Bank Manager looks up.

BANK MANAGER

Ca… ca… can I help you?

Ultimate beams a lovely wide smile.

ULTIMATE BAD

Yes. I’d like to withdraw all your money please.

EXT. FIRST NATIONAL BANK – DAY

Ultimate Bad steps back out through the door frame, in his hand he has a bank cheque which he is checking the details. As he walks along he folds the cheque in half and slips it into his pocket.

A Henchman flies past him. One of Net-Girl’s nets splats against the wall, narrowly missing Ultimate. The battle is still going, but all the Sidekicks and Henchmen are down to their final ounces of strength. Already some of the Henchmen, and Hardy-Boy, Battle-Boy and Spirit-Girl, are knocked out and lying about the ground.

As Ultimate Bad steps across the bodies more and more people fall. The closer Ultimate makes it to the Van all that is left standing is Audacious-Boy and Lex. They wearily throw punches at each other until Audacious completely misses Lex and he falls down zonked onto the ground.

LEX

Yay me.

Lex falls zonked onto the ground.

Ultimate is by the Van.

ULTIMATE BAD

Well come on, I haven’t got all day!

The Henchmen drag themselves, some carrying others, into the back of the Van. Battle-Boy pulls himself upright.

BATTLE-BOY

Quick! They’re getting away!

Battle-Boy hobbles over to the Henchmen to keep fighting. Thunderhead pushes Battle-Boy on his forehead and he falls back down.

As the Van drives away Audacious-Boy’s mobile phone rings. Then Net-Girl’s phone rings. Then Hardy-Boy’s. Then Battle-Boys. Then Spirit-Girl’s. They each look at their phone screens and grimace.

NET-GIRL

Who wants to go first?

INT. HERO HQ – DAY

The full wall monitor blares with the image of the Mayor. Not in his mayoral robes he wears a just as blaring suit.

MAYOR

What the hell is going on with you people?


Script Frenzy – Scene: Weapons Training

Tuesday 19 April 2011

EXT. QUADRANGLE – DAY

A large sunny high walled quadrangle. Half the Recruits are milling around the other end of the area. Gormenghast stands raised on a platform near a large painted “X” on the ground. Cronies still stand guard.

GORMENGHAST

Weapons are one of the most important tools of being a Henchman. Not only does it give you the opportunity to easily kill someone, it also means you have the ability to do it from quite some distance away. Now, you’ve all got your partners. Pair Number One!

SHOOTER #1 timidly approaches the “X”. He is holding a convoluted futuristic rifle.

Against the wall shuffles his partner TARGET #1. He is holding a large bull’s eye target, which he holds out at arm’s length to his side.

Shooter #1 takes aim, then reconsiders.

SHOOTER #1

(to Gormenghast)

Are you sure about this?

GORMENGHAST

Do you want to swap places?

Shooter #1 takes aim again.

Target #1 starts to wobble.

TARGET #1

I’m not feeling comfortable about this Sam!

SHOOTER #1

Just stop wiggling, will ya!

Target #1 hold out the target even further.

BANG! Shooter #1 shoots, completely missing the bull’s eye, but shooting Target #1 dead. Two Cronies come and drag the body away.

SHOOTER #1

Dean, are you all right? … Dean?

GORMENGHAST

Next!

(to Shooter #1)

Go practicing your aiming.

SHOOTER #2 enters and takes up her spot with a larger barrelled firearm than the previous one. TARGET #2 is pushed in place by a couple of Cronies.

TARGET #2

You’ve done this before, haven’t you Ruth?

SHOOTER #2

Once at the county fair.

TARGET #2

Did you win anything.

SHOOTER #2

… No.

GORMENGHAST

Just do your best.

Shooter #2 takes aim. She is shaking so much the gun barrel looks like it’s beating time.

BANG! Target #2 is now only hold half a smoking bull’s-eye. Target #2 looks over the top, terrified.

Shooter #2 is elated and jumps out in rapture.

SHOOTER #2

I hit it! I hit it! I hit it!

GORMENGHAST

Yes, very good. Next!

It’s Thunderhead. He’s got some sort of machine gun with the ammunition belt rapped over his shoulders like a sash. Against the wall shuffles Jim with his bull’s eye target.

Jim gulps and holds the target above his head. He shuts his eyes tight.

Thunderhead begins to take aim then looks up at Gormenghast.

THUNDERHEAD

Dude, I’m a pacifist!

GORMENGHAST

You’ll be a dead pacifist if you don’t aim at that target.

Thunderhead takes up aim again.

THUNDERHEAD

I’m sorry Jim Dude!

JIM

(eyes still clenched)

It’s all right Thunder, I believe in you!

Thunderhead shoot – POW POW POW POW POW POW POW! – the bullets go everywhere, eventually running out of ammo. He looks across through the smoke to the wall.

THUNDERHEAD

Jim!?

As the smoke clears, there is Jim with his bull’s eye target intact, but all around him in the wall is dotted row of bullet holes.

He falls FLUMP! face down onto the ground, stiff as a board, leaving the perfect bullet outline in full view.

Thunderhead rushes to help his friend.

THUNDERHEAD

Dude, you all right?

The shell-shocked Jim looks at the wall.

JIM

You see Thunder, I told you I believed in you!

GORMENGHAST

Next!

Thunderhead helps his friend away as Sally, carrying an enormous weapon, and Lex, with a bull’s eye target take their places.

Sally can barely carry her weapon.

SALLY

I’m sorry but you don’t think that this… thing might just be the wrong size for me?

GORMENGHAST

Hmmm, perhaps you’re right.

Gormenghast clicks his fingers and Cronies surround Sally. When they disappear she now has a bazooka cannon strapped to her shoulder.

GORMENGHAST

Try that instead.

LEX

(calls out)

Come on Sally, you can do it!

SALLY

But I’ll kill you!

LEX

No you won’t! I’ll just hold the target out really far like this.

He holds out the weapon at arm’s length in front of him and spreads his legs to get a better balance.

LEX

See, I’m all protected now!

SALLY

Lex, are you kidding? If I push this button you’ll be –

She accidentally pushes the button. The force of the recoil of the cannon throws Sally back into a pile of garbage bins and old boxes by the Kitchen entrance at the far end of the Quadrangle. Meanwhile Lex has been blown through the wall. He lies there amongst a bunch of school desks, still holding the target in front of him.

He rubs his head trying to sit up. Likewise, so does Sally.

GORMENGHAST

(about Sally)

Ooooo, that’s gonna hurt.

INT. SLEEPING QUARTERS – NIGHT

Sally in a singlet top is examining her bruise – her entire shoulder is an alarming purply red. It looks extremely painful.


Script Frenzy – Scene: Ultimate Bad and the Cookie Jar

Sunday 10 April 2011

EXT. THE QUADRANGLE – DAY

All the trainees are lined up military style. Ultimate Bad is out the front finishing his pep talk.

ULTIMATE BAD

By the end of your training you will be my perfectly trained and able army of lackeys… you’re lucky to be my lackeys, give yourself a pat on the back, you’ve earned it. Feel the love, feel the love. Now, is there any questions?

A THUGGY FELLOW slowly puts up his hand. Ultimate smiles like the cat about to get the cream.

ULTIMATE BAD

Yes? You there!

He waves to Thuggy who moves to the front of the crowd.

ULTIMATE BAD

You have something you wish to say?

Thuggy puffs out his chest.

THUGGY FELLOW

Yeah. What if I don’t want to join your army of lackeys?

A murmur runs through the trainees.

ULTIMATE BAD

You don’t want to be one of my self effacing servants and help me overtake the world?

THUGGY FELLOW

Nah!

Ultimate considers this.

ULTIMATE BAD

Is there anything else?

Thuggy tries his luck.

THUGGY FELLOW

Yeah. I’m hungry.

ULTIMATE BAD

Hungry?

THUGGY FELLOW

Yeah. I haven’t had a bite since you dragged me from that bar.

Ultimate nods to Gormenghast, who clicks his fingers to a SERVANT, who clicks his fingers to ANOTHER SERVANT. This happens down the line till from the main building saunters a RAVISHING SLAVE GIRL carrying an ordinary cookie jar as if it was a Ming vase.

The Slave Girl passes the jar to Gormenghast who delivers it to Ultimate.

ULTIMATE BAD

Then perhaps you’ll like …. a cookie?

Another murmur mutters through the crowd. Thuggy looks around him for support but receives none.

He puffs out his chest even further, sets his jaw.

THUGGY FELLOW

(brazen)

Sure. Why not.

He swaggers closer to Ultimate and takes the lid off the jar. He looks into the jar to get his cookie. SWOOSH! A VENOMOUS COBRA springs out and attaches itself to his face.

Thuggy tumbles to the ground and writhes, screaming in pain, until the Snake has finished him off. Thuggy lies there dead, the snake curls itself up on its new kill.

Ultimate addresses the masses.

ULTIMATE BAD

What we have just witnessed there are two very important lessons. One: Never disobey me or I will kill you! And the second: Never takes candy from strangers, didn’t your parents teach you anything?!

Ultimate hands back the jar to Gormenghast.

ULTIMATE BAD

And now, I leave you in the capable hands of my Number Two. Gormenghast, they’re all yours.

Gormenghast salutes his master and Ultimate strides back to the main building.

ULTIMATE BAD

(to Slave Girl)

Come Annabelle. I’m in desperate need of a hard rub down.

Ultimate and the Slave Girl return to the main building.

Gormenghast is still holding the cookie jar. He suddenly feels foolish, so drops the jar and steps away.

GORMENGHAST

Right!


Unsuccessful “Sydney Morning Herald” Heckler piece – Families Schmamilies

Friday 25 March 2011

Thank you Kristina Keneally, thank you NSW Government, thank you yet again for nothing! Once more your election promise has decided to by-pass the common man and favour bloody families. Last time it was hardworking families, the time before that it was Aussie battler families, and the time before that it was giving families a fair go. What’s your big slogan this time round: Fairness to Families. Well one word for you: bollocks!

It’s not so much that I’m having immense difficulty in seeing how this vote sweetener is any different than others that Labor has dished out over the last 16 years; what my big beef is what’s so damn special about families? Tell me Kristina, what makes you think families have it any rougher than the rest of us; I mean, it must be so difficult paying off a mortgage with two incomes.

Little Timmy’s private school fees have gone up again? Well boo hoo! Send him to the local public with all the other snot rags.  Need that second car to get gifted little Susie to her violin class? Tell her to walk, or catch the bus, or get a paper delivery round, or whatever it is that young people do these days. Exhausted after the daily three-hour commute? Get a job closer to where your McMansion is. Electricity bill too high? Turn off the 80” LCD TV and read a book!

But this isn’t a rant aimed at families. What gets my goat is just how stupid do politicians think the general public are that by rattling off yet another cliché about how they understand the plights of managing both a family and a budget, that that will be enough to guarantee a safe path to electoral victory. “Oh look, they’re offering us a $50 gift voucher for school books,” says Mister and Missus 2.4 Kids, “that surely gets my tick in the box!” I like to think people are more intelligent than that.

So Kristina, my burning question is this: what’re you gonna offer the rest of us to secure our vote? What’ve you got in that magic bag for the mid 30’s, inner-city, homosexual, university educated, physically healthy, devilishly good-looking, single white male with a good income, his own apartment, decent public transport access, and a very well stocked corner providore? Basically, what I’m asking is what’s in it for me?

Actually, just offer me enough for a beer; I’m pretty fickle like that.


Good evening, and here is the news.

Tuesday 30 March 2010

In Jakarta a young man, devastated that his girlfriend was to marry another man, cut off his own penis in a fit of despair. Any hopes of reattaching the severed member were dashed after the 19-year-old, known only as AMD, threw the appendage into a well.

After much media attention the director of Cilacap General Hospital, Sugeng Budi Susanto, held a press conference. “Cutting off a penis can be fatal,” Sugeng said, nodding sagely.

Witnesses heard AMD standing at the edge of the well with his severed penis held high screaming, “If she can’t have it, then no one will!” as he then plunged the detached phallus wellwards. What was unknown until later was that the well was in fact a wishing well blessed by Indonesian water spirits.

The remarkable thing was that the Spirits took kindly to the young man’s trouser snake sacrifice and bewitched his girlfriend to return back to him. “Honey!” she called as she ran through the door, “I’ve come back to you, my one true love. Quick, take me now, right here on the carpet, and make a woman out of me!” The young man apparently rubbed the back of his head and let out a deep breath. “Yeah, it’s funny you should say that now, darling, ‘cos… well, you’ll laugh when I tell you,” AMD was reported to have replied.

In other news Ricky Martin, the Puerto Rican pop singer, with record sales of more than 60 million albums worldwide, has publicly announced on his official web site that he is gay. “I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am,” he wrote.

Yeah, well, THANK YOU BLOODY RICKY BLOODY MARTIN FOR MAKING IT JUST THAT LITTLE BIT MORE DIFFICULT FOR A SOMEWHAT ATTRACTIVE MID-30 YEAR OLD GAY MAN TO FIND A NICE BOYFRIEND. THANKS TO BLOODY YOU I NOW HAVE TO GO THROUGH THE REST OF MY LIFE KNOWING THAT THE BEST I CAN GET IS RICKY MARTIN’S HAND-ME-DOWNS. I MEAN KNOWING THAT MY COMPETITION WAS ONLY THE LIKES OF MATT LUCAS AND DAVID HYDE PIERCE I FELT THAT I HAD SOME HOPE OF A CHANCE; AND TO SIMON CALLOW AND STEPHEN FRY I WOULD HUMBLY ADMIT DEFEAT – WHO WOULDN’T?; AND SURE IT WAS BAD ENOUGH WHEN I HEARD ABOUT JOHN BARROWMAN; AND I WAS NEVER THAT THREATENED BY EITHER GEORGE MICHAEL OR RUPERT EVERETT; BUT YOU RICKY?! WHY, RICKY, WHY!!! WHO’S GONNA WANT ME NOW THAT YOU’RE ON THE MARKET?

THANKS RICKY MARTIN, THANKS A LOT!

And now the weather. Justin?

(Original stories are here and here.)