August 27th, 2003

Infinity Plus One

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." Einstein


Hi folks,

Too bad to hear that Pauline 'Please Explain' Hanson, of the Australian One Nation party, was sentenced to three years jail for fraud. One Nation's xenophobic anti-Asian platform was distasteful and embarrassing, and did some serious long term damage to Australia, but I thought the winding up of One Nation as a political party was punishment enough. (Ok - your honour, give her an additional 300 hours of community service . . . working in a Chinese restaurant.

The Troubadour 25th Birthday Party last weekend was a blast. The Troubadour was one of the three venues where I perfected my song, 'Shaddap You Face,' back in 1979. The other two were The Flying Trapeze and Catch a Rising Star. Each venue added an important element to the song's development. At The Flying Trapeze, which was a late night comedy venue, I used to show up at midnight to do 15 minutes and then pass the hat. The original song had no sing-a-long - it was just a character piece. One night, the audience was so drunk, they kept yelling the 'Heys!' all through the song at the tops of their voices after every line. I thought, 'hmmmmm . . .that'll keep those drunken fools occupied.' Hence the sing-a-long was born. The Catch a Rising Star was a more upmarket cabaret, (modeled after the venue of the same name in Los Angeles, I believe.) The acts also each got a 15 minute spot. It was run by Stacey Testro and had a little house band to back up the artists. Stacey suggested that I refrain from improvising too much and just make the song short and tight. The band was the same one I used on the recording - after 6 months of playing with them, they had a nice feel for the song. And, finally, The Troubadour, originally in Bowen Crescent, South Melbourne, was a folk music venue and was the place where the social/political content of the song was 'work-shopped' in front of a live crowd. I used to get into long discussions with audience members, during the song!, about what the word 'wog' meant, and what constituted a wog, compared to a non-wog. Stuff like that.
So this weekend, it felt all warm and squishy to perform that old chestnut once again before so many folk music icons. Kind of like reclaiming its roots. Kind of like 'Mighty Wind' meets 'Mighty Garlic Breath'.

One of the highpoints of the weekend for me was backing up JUDY SMALL on blues harp and mandolin. Judy is currently a practicing lawyer and has written some terrifyingly good songs in the past few years. I'm of the opinion that the Queen should appoint her the first honorary woman Knight: Sir Judy Small - (as there's already a Judge Judy. - And while we're rebalancing here, perhaps Dame Elton might be more appropriate.) Judy's Website


'Take My Life . . . . Please!"
Count Dracula (from the early years as a stand-up comic in Transylvania)


Bela Lugosi made a surprise channeling appearance in the middle of my version of Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' on Sunday afternoon to recite the lines originally read by Vincent Price.
Inspired by fellow performer Doug Ashdown's famous song, 'Winter in America,' Bela later told d.j. Danny Mac, in a Gold FM Queensland post-performance radio interview, ' I liked dat song 'Vintner in America' a lot. Da story of dat poor old vintner really touch my heart, it remind me of the poverty of my boyhood back in Transylvania: da poor old man in the vineyard, it vas a bad year, there vas a frost, the grapes vere the size of peanuts, the vine was no good. His vife had left him. Freezing and dejected, da poor old vintner contemplates suicide. But DEN . . a traveling band of vampires arrive at the ailing vinery, bite the old man's neck and turn him into da valking dead. Unluckily, everyting vorks out for da vorst, because now da old man doesn't drink . . . . WINE! Everyvun lives unhappily ever after. "
Bela also paid homage to the 'Vintner in Lancefield', Andrew Pattison, of Lancefield Winery, who founded the The Troubadour in 1978, and organized the birthday festival event. When the aging Count was asked who his favourite actor was, he replied: ' I'm fond of Arnold MeinSwartzesBigger. Except dat big dummy stole my line 'I'll Be Back' from one of my early movies. Dat's right. Years ago, ven I made the original 'Plan VUN from Outer Space' (the sequels, 2-9, veren't as good), I said, 'I'll be a BAT.' But Arnold didn't understand English too vell, back den, so he misunderstand me. But I like him anyvay 'cause he has those big fat veins in his neck." (ciao Bela.)

At the website below, you can find my version of 'Thriller' which was included on Andrew Denton's 2 MMM Musical Challenge CD Volume 1, along with the following 'covers': Billie Jean - Neil Finn, Dancing Queen - Jimmy Barnes, Cheap Wine - Tina Arena, Lump - Lee Kernaghan, Wuthering Heights - James Reyne, My Heart Will Go On - The Screaming Jets, Freak - Troy Cassar-Daley, I Touch Myself - Rolf Harris, Creep - Gina Jeffreys, Gangsta's Paradise - Richard Clapton, Jump In My Car - Men At Work, Down Under - The Red Army Choir, Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) - James Blundell, It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock & Roll) - The Wiggles, Why Don't You get A Job? - John Williamson, Play That Funky Music - Archie Roach, and many others. 2MMM CD

My next live performance will be for the CERES CULTURES OF PEACE DAY on September 6th in Melbourne. Details on the website:

(Here's an interesting comment:)

Morning Joe,

About your newsletter -
Well, I subscribed at the beginning of all the madness regarding Iraq.  I had been so bust though, I hadn't read more that two of your newsletters, then just deleted them as they came in (much like your attempts to deal with spam, no disrespect intended).

A couple of weeks ago, I decided I would unsubscribe.  I opened your latest newsletter and scrolled down to the end of the page, trying to find out how I could unsubscribe, but was waylaid along the way with interesting news and facts, a great joke and some rather interesting recipes.
I now read your newsletters and am not ready to say 'Shaddapa your emails' quite yet.  And I agree with you... polenta is yummy.

Peggy K.
- That'a girl, Peg. The newsletters - paradoxically - seem to make more sense when you read them. I have included something special for you down at the bottom. Keep your finger off that delete button. Joe.

Paul Newman Is Still HUD

The Fox News Network is suing Al Franken, the political satirist, for using the phrase "fair and balanced" in the title of his new book. In claiming trademark violation, Fox sets a noble example for standing firm against whatever.

Unreliable sources report that the Fox suit has inspired Paul Newman, the actor, to file a similar suit in federal court against the Department of Housing and Urban Development, commonly called HUD. Mr. Newman claims piracy of personality and copycat infringement.

In the 1963 film "HUD," for which Mr. Newman was nominated for an Academy Award, the ad campaign was based on the slogan, "Paul Newman is HUD." Mr. Newman claims that the Department of Housing and Urban Development, called HUD, is a fair and balanced institution and that some of its decency and respectability has unfairly rubbed off on his movie character, diluting the rotten, self-important, free-trade, corrupt conservative image that Mr. Newman worked so hard to project in the film. His suit claims that this "innocence by association" has hurt his feelings plus residuals.

A coalition of the willing - i.e., the Bratwurst Asphalt Company and the Ypsilanti Hot Dog and Bean Shop - has been pushed forward and is prepared to label its products "fair and balanced," knowing that Fox News will sue and that its newscasters will be so tied up with subpoenas they will only be able to broadcast from the courtroom, where they will be seen tearing their hair and whining, looking anything but fair and balanced, which would certainly be jolly good sport all around.
Paul Newman, an actor, is chief executive of Salad King.
(thanks to John Jacobs for this one.)

Airline Attendants' Comedy
(Australian airline attendants' efforts to make the in-flight "safety
lecture" and their other announcements a bit more entertaining).

On an Air NZ Flight with a "senior" flight attendant crew, the
pilot said, "Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and
will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to
enhance the appearance of your flight attendants."
On landing, the hostess said "Please be sure to take all your
belongings. If you're going to leave anything, please make sure it's
something we'd like to have."
"There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways to
leave the aircraft."
As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Auckland, a lone voice
came over the loudspeaker: "Whoa, big fella. WHOA!"
After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in Adelaide, a
flight attendant on a Qantas flight announced, "Please take care when
opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that,
sure as fuck everything has shifted."
From a Qantas employee: "Welcome aboard Qantas Flight XXX to YYY. To
operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull
tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and, if you don't know
how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public
"In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend
from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your
face. If you have a small child travelling with you, secure your mask
before assisting with theirs. If you are travelling with more than one
small child, pick your favourite".
"Weather at our destination is 32 degrees with some broken clouds, but
we'll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember,
nobody loves you, or your money, more than Qantas Airlines."
"Your seat cushions can be used for flotation; and in the event of an
emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them, with our
"Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the
overhead area. Please place the bag over your own mouth and nose before
assisting children... or other adults acting like children."
Heard on Qantas Airlines just after a very hard landing in Hobart: "That
was quite a bump, and I know what you are all thinking. I'm here to tell
you it wasn't the airline's fault, it wasn't the pilot's fault, it
wasn't the flight attendant's fault... it was the asphalt!"
Another flight attendant's comment on a less than perfect landing: "We
ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal."
An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered
his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which
required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers
exited, smile, and give them a "Thanks for flying United. "He said that,
in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers
in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally
everyone had got off except for an old lady walking with a cane. She
said, "Sonny, mind if I ask you a question? Did we land or were we shot down?"
After a real crusher of a landing in Sydney, the Flight Attendant came
on with, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Capt.
Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt
against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning
bells are silenced, we'll open the door and you can pick your way
through the wreckage to the terminal."
Part of a flight attendant's arrival announcement: "We'd like to thank
you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the
insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurised metal
tube, we hope you'll think of Qantas."
A plane was taking off from Mascot Airport. After it reached a
comfortable cruising altitude, the captain made an announcement over the
intercom, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome
to Flight Number XYZ, non-stop from Sydney to Auckland. The weather
ahead is good and, therefore, we should have smooth and uneventful
flight. Now sit back and relax - SHIT! ARGHHH! OH, MY GOD!" Silence
followed and after a few minutes, the captain came back on the intercom
and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I am so sorry if I scared you earlier,
but, while I was talking, the flight attendant brought me a cup of
coffee and spilled the hot coffee in my lap. You should see the front of
my pants!" A passenger in Economy said, "That's nothing. He should see
the back of mine!"
(thanks to Margret RoadKnight)

Far Side Cartoon (variation 202)
Vice President Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld are sitting in a canoe with fishing lines; a tremendous mushroom cloud is rising over a hill in the distance.
"You know what this means, don't you?" says Cheney.
"Yeah, Screw the limit."

George W Bush Aviator Doll
Action Figures For Imbeciles
(Click Here)


Chief Two Eagles

An old Indian chief sat in his hut on the reservation, smoking a ceremonial pipe, and eyeing two U.S. government officials sent to interview him.

"Chief Two Eagles," asked one official, "you have observed the white man for 90 years.  You've seen his wars and his material wealth.  You've seen his progress, and the damage he's done."

The chief nodded in agreement.

The official continued, "Considering all these events, in your opinion, where did the white man go wrong?"

The chief stared at the government officials for over a minute and then calmly replied, "When white man found the land, Indians were running it. No taxes, no debt, plenty buffalo, plenty beaver, women did all the work, medicine man free, Indian man spent all day hunting and fishing, and all night making whoopee."

The chief leaned back and smiled, "White man dumb enough to think he could improve system like that."
(thanks to Maireid Sullivan.)

Washington Post's Style Invitational

The Washington Post's Style Invitational once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are this year's winners:

1. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

2. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

3. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

 4. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

 5. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

 6. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

 7. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

 8. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

9. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.

10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

11. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

 12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

13. Glibido: All talk and no action.

 14. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

 15. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've  accidentally walked through a spider web.

 16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito  that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast  out.

 17. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.

 And the pick of the literature:

 18. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole.
(Thanks to: Anselm & Candy Spender.)

(Two More Dishes with Polenta for Peg.)

Once again, I am soaking my baccala in a pot outside the back door! A while ago, I stumbled onto a little speak-easy style Italian eatery in the back of someone's house, no markings on the front door. It was a secret place that a friend told me about. It's been there for about 20 years and you just walk in, open another inner door and sit down. Three tables. A blackboard with four dishes listed. No English is spoken and it's run by some beautiful older people with an authentic grandma cooking in the kitchen. (I kill to find these kind of places.) Last Friday, for lunch, I had a sublime baccala dish with just a hint of tomato, and luckily found the recipe in my baccala collection.


2 lbs. of salt cod -soaked in water at least 24 hours
2 cloves of garlic-chopped
3 tables. of tomato paste
1 tsp. of capers
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of flour
1 cup of warm water
pinch of pepper

Cut fish into 4 inch pieces, and roll in flour. Heat oil in a skillet, and brown garlic. Fry fish on both sides until light brown. Sprinkle lightly with pepper. Mix tomato paste with warm water. Stir in capers, and pour over fish. Simmer covered about 10 minutes. Serve with polenta. (see below.)

Polenta with Kalamata Olives & Fetta

Make polenta the normal way - there are several ways to arrive at the same end but usually I mix one cup of corn meal with one cup of cold water and then add that to 4 cups of boiling water. ( approx. 4 or 5 to 1 ratio.) Stir continuously until smooth - until a wooden spoon stands up unaided in it (Was that a Freudian slip - if so, I didn't know he wore one.) If you prefer you can add some butter, salt and parmesan cheese to it while its thickening to give it more flavour. Pour onto a wooden board in a mound to cool a little.
Sauce: Fresh tomatoes (diced), Greek kalamata olives, onions (diced finely), a little sugar, salt, pepper, red chilli flakes, garlic and red wine to taste, olive oil, fresh basil or oregano.
Method: Sauté onions in oil until clear, add tomatoes and all the other ingredients. Simmer for 20 minutes or more if you wish. Serve onto sliced polenta with crumbled fetta cheese on top.


'Difficile et saturam non soibere.'
(It is difficult not to write satire.)