December 23rd – 25th – ‘The Day Santa Got His Dates Wrong’

‘I think this is his best entry yet!’ Santa bellowed to Mary who was making a Chicken Tikka in the kitchen. ‘I thought his ‘mums handbag’ entry couldn’t be topped and then I nearly coughed up a lung reading the one about his sister-in-law knocking over ‘The Grange’ on Christmas Day.’ Santa started laughing all over again as he looked back at the picture of Duran Duran. ‘But then this! His ‘New Romantic Dancing in the Dandenongs’ is genius!’

Santa decided to go back to the beginning of Damian Callinan’s Advent Calendar to make sure he hadn’t missed any. That’s when he realised. The dates that each blog were published didn’t correlate to the the date on the post title.

‘Mary. what’s that date?’

“The 25th!’ she said chopping up a cardamon pod.

“Fuccckkkk!!!’

‘What’s wrong?’

‘I thought it must still be the 22nd.’

‘Why?’

‘I’ve been going by the dates on Damo’s blog and now it’s too late to deliver the presents!’

‘You dickhead! I thought you did it when you went out earlier?’

‘No, i just went down to the North Pole RSL to play darts with Johnno.’

Ah, I wondered where the meat tray came from. What are you going to do?’

‘I don’t know. There’s no time to get around to everyone now.’

‘Why don’t you ask Damo? It’s inadvertently his fault and he’s Catholic so you’ll be able to make him feel guilty.’

‘Great idea! He can use his fictional approach to writing non-fiction to alter history.’

24 hours later Santa and I sat down exhausted for a well earn frosty at the North Pole RSL having successfully delivered all the presents to all the kids in the world with only minutes to spare.

‘It’s bloody hot in here.‘ said Santa as Snowy the barman pulled our pots.

‘Aircon’s rooted.’ he said as he put the pots on the beer towel.

‘That has hit the spot beautifully Snowy!’ Santa held up his half skulled pot as Snowy waddled away leaving a puddle with every step and a carrot in the last.

‘Couldn’t have done it without you Damo.’

‘Same Santa. Best excuse ever to combine the last 3 days of the blog without looking like I’d fucked up my timing.’

‘And you helped me out of a pickle as well. Cheers Damo!’

‘Cheers Santa’

‘Darts?’

‘Why not!!’

The End

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December 22nd – ‘Christmas on Planet Earth’

(The following piece is an adaptation of a story from my solo comedy show ‘The Cave To The Rave)

Those who knew me in my late teens will know who was responsible for unleashing my dance potential: I call to the witness stand ‘Duran Duran’!

Duran Duran in their pomp were at the vanguard of a movement known as The New Romantics who had a brief moment in the musical sun during the ‘Post Punk New Wave’ era. The movement reached its zenith in 1981 at the ‘Blitz Club’ in London where proprietor and ponce Steve Strange began turning away people who weren’t dressed weirdly enough: A policy that led to Mick Jagger’s one and only rejection by a nightclub. But for the tyranny of distance a certain teenage lad in suburban Watsonia was building up a wardrobe that would have seen him bypass Mick and his stodgy mates in the queue.

The music was peripheral to dressing up for the New Romantics. Their ranks would go out for the night attired as dandy highwaymen, foppish lakes poets, medieval ces pool cleaners, Flemish lorry drivers, albino Vatican guards: anything was on the table as long as you looked like you’d tried too hard.

As a teenager the New Romantics taught me 3 valuable life lessons …

1/ If you wear a pirate shirt, a kilt and your sisters make-up on the Hurstbridge Line you will definitely get beaten up: That is a given.

2/ If you survive said journey and arrive at your destination intact and dance like a New Romantic will get you the unfettered attention of girls

… we’ll deal with Part 3 later.

So why was getting girls attention so important? I’ll put this in perspective for you. I went to a Christian Brothers school … and no, is the answer to that question! But yes, I have undergone some counselling … to work out why I was overlooked. I must have been a particularly abhorrent adolescent.

The result of 6 years of all boys Catholic education was that the only women I had conversed with were either librarians or fundamentalist Catholic housewives who used to come to school to talk to us about the Billings Method of not having sex as a form of contraception. I’d been using that technique for a number of years and was to use it for a number of years to follow: I didn’t need their meddling. Subsequently the only topics I felt comfortable broaching with girls of my age revolved around the pros and cons of the Dewey Decimal System or the viscosity of vaginal secretions during ovulation. Not a great opener at a school social.

This all changed in Year 12 when I went on a Stranger Camp. These camps were so Catholic that most Micks don’t even know about them. Students from a variety of schools were sent away together on a weekend retreat. We’re talking male and female schools : very Vatican 2.

Our gang of 5 from Parade College arrived on a cold, June night at ‘Druscilla’ a mock tudor manor at the foot of Mt Macedon and were ushered into a circular room with natural acoustics and the feint piquant odour of Franciscan sandals. We sat on cushions and talked earnestly about our relationship with God and our attitude to prayer. All the while contemplating who we might like to shag later in the heritage listed gardens: perhaps unwittingly on the unmarked grave of a Jesuit.

The result of this weekend was not a spiritual epiphany but something more important for young lads starved of contact with the other gender. We met girl females! They came from a girl female school called Mater Christi in Belgrave in the Dandenong Ranges … and it didn’t end there. The girl females invited us to girl female parties at girls females houses with actual girl females in attendance … ney in abundance! They had girl female names like Julie & Tess & Fiona & Fiona & Fiona and the Campion Twins: the jewels in the Mater Christi crown.

Let’s talk geography for a moment. When you’re 17, you live in Watsonia and you don’t drive a car, the Dandenong Ranges may as well have been the Pyrenees. In fact in order to even get to these parties before they were over we’d have to create clandestine WW2 like operations. We’d mingle together in the cool misty dawn of a Saturday on the station platform, double checking our papers, exchanging forged passports and practicing our German because we knew when we got to Ringwood Station we stood a good chance of getting stopped by the Gestapo.

‘Papers please … yah you in za kilt und za sisters make-up … danke … So, Herr Callinan, do you intend to go to Belgrave or Lilydale? You go to za mountains yah? Zese New Romantics from za Northern suburbs choose to go to za mountains. Vat vill zey do when zey arrive? Maybe you will have za Devonshire tea. Maybe you will go to Miss Marple yah? Maybe you will go to Za Cuckoo? Zis is the Fuehrers favourite restaurant. Za profiteroles are exquisite. They use real brandied cream not za mock cream zey use at Fergusson’s Plarre at Northland! Pahhhh!! No I sink zey go to a party? Zis one looks hungry like za wolf. Maybe zey will mingle with za Frauleins: za blonde Aryan frauleins of za eastern suburbs and you will fuck up our gene pool yah?’

It was at one of these parties in Nazi occupied Belgrave that I came of age. We arrived at the party disguised as peasants having left at 4am 3 days previously. Immediately all the girls started saying …

‘Damian, do that dance you did at the Stranger Camp … Go on do the dance!’

Now I’m of the belief that what happens on a Stranger Camp should stay on a Stranger Camp but I was whisked into the games room, they pushed aside the bean bags, folded up the table tennis table and I was away

 [For maximum effect now visualise me dancing in a kilt and pirate shirt to Duran Duran’s ‘Planet Earth’]

For 2 minutes and 42 seconds I became a Dance God in the Dandenongs! It started happening every week: we’d arrive at the next impossibly distant party, the French Resistance would disappear back into the night, and I’d get pushed into the rumpus room for another round. But after a few weeks I started noticing that at the end of the dance I became transparent. The girls would drift off one by one and snog my mates and I’d be left alone sipping my island cooler and would inevitably end up in the kitchen helping the hosts mum serve out the ‘vol au vents’

So at the tender age of 17 I retired from dance.

Reader: Ohhhh!!

But then, a reprieve!

The Campion twins were having a Christmas party!! It was a co-sanctioned event with Dr and Dr Campion and their fellow doctor friends getting drunk in one room and the rest of the Campions and their friends going absolutely off their nut throughout three stories of Belgrave weatherboard chalet. It was the best party I’d ever been to. There were no rules.

To put this in some context, the Campions were like the Medicis of Belgrave. Think 16th century Renaissance Italy meets the foothills of the Dandenongs.

The guests arrived in their masks and cavorted, pranced and canoodled about the palisades and groves: the young snickering as the young are wont to do. The two generations nary met, like the Capulets and Montagues they kept their distance … Until!! The elders grew tired and grumpy and sought the more frivolous company of the young. The twins were summoned.

Twins come hither … Bring us the fool … Yes we simply must see the kinaesthetic musings of the dancing one you speak of so oft. Bring us the fool at once.’

Word passed around!

‘The fool intends to dance’ … ‘the fool doth channel Duran Duran once more, come hither’

The fool was trumpeted into the great hall with a twin on each arm. The fool found himself ensnared: the young at his rear, the elders in front. He had nowhere to run. But the fool did not want to run. He wanted to dance and how the fool did dance.

As the music commenced there was confusion in the room. This was a different composition. Secretly the fool had been rehearsing to Durans Durans’s news single ‘Girls on Film.’

How he amused them with his camera chirades.

‘Szzzz … Here madam I have taken a polaroid for you. Take it … Not yet. It’s still grey … now take it … ah but why take it. It is not there! It is but an illusion.’

Oh how easily he charmed them with his photographic antics.

‘I’ll take a Selfie with all of you in the background and then I’ll text it to you … in 25 years time when they develop the technology’

Even his anachronisms were working! The elders sat gobsmacked as he began to do moves nary seen afore in these temperate hills. He did hip swivels and arm motifs that even put the great Simon Le Bon to shame.

But the fool became over confident and climbed onto the feasting table itself.

The crowd hushed as all looked to see how the host would cope with this affront but he was pissed as a neut and began the slow hand clap. The tension was high for those who had seen the fool dance knew that he always finished with a double knee drop … always!! But surely not from such a height: surely not! But the fool … was a fool!

He leapt into the air with no care for his own personal safety with his knees tucked beneath his torso. But the fool had not reckoned that he was about to land on a cowskin rug and the pelt of a slain beast does not afford the purchase required to arrest trajectory from such heights. On landing his knees splayed outwards. Sensing peril he threw his arms forward but they too offered no help … oooopphhhhwhackk!!

The fools face bounced on the floor like a mallet on a peg at the Elmore Field Day. Such was the force of the impact that he was thrown back to his feet. Sensing his injuries the fool took a bow. Unaware of the damage, the adoring throng went into a euphoric rapture but as the fool raised his head a curtain of red poured freely from my each nostril.

Moments later the fool was whisked from the room by twins lest he bleed on something important and he soon poured his cardinal life force down the weatherboard citadel walls. Then the doctors came for him but each was more addled from their intake of ale than the last and offered wildly conflicting advice.

‘Hold thy head back fool … no knave forward … fetch an ice pack to ensure his nose becomes misshapen … send for the leeches … and get my bag I shall amputate the afflicted proboscis’

Soon all lost interest in the bleeding fool … except for one! For the fool had finally learnt his 3rd lesson under the tutelage of The New Romantics …

3/ Dance + physical injury is a powerful elixir no teenage girl can deny.

… For that Christmas Eve the fool awoke on the couch at the crowing of the cock and the bleating of Puffing Billy’s horn with a broken nose … and a Campion twin.

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December 21st – ‘Nathan Houilhan’s Top Ten Favourite Christmas Cracker Jokes’

(For those who didn’t read yesterdays blog, Nathan is my 9 Year old alter ego who has a particular world view. Enjoy what happens when he writes his own Christmas Cracker Jokes)

1.Why was Santa’s little helper feeling depressed?

– His whole family died

2. Why would you invite a mushroom to a Christmas party?

– Because you had no friends

3. Who hides in the bakery at Christmas?

– Homeless people

4. What do you get if you cross Santa with a duck?

– A viral youtube clip

5. What do you do if you see mummy kissing Santa Claus

– Go and wait in ‘Toys R Us’ until they come out of the store room.

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6. What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations?

– a psychiatric assessment & a social worker

7. What did Tony Abbott give his wife for Christmas

– You’d think it would be an ironing board but no … for once he was considerate and gave her a divorce.

 8. Why did the reindeer cross the road?

– Santa’s GPS broke and they landed in the Bunnings Car Park

 9. What did the penguin say to the tractor?

– Can I get a lift the shops

10.  How many elves does it take to change a light bulb?

– None, they are heavily unionised and it doesn’t fall within the negotiated conditions of their current workplace agreement.

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December 20th – ‘Choose Your Own Adventure Christmas’ … by 9 year old Nathan Houlihan

[This is an updated version of Nathan Houlihan’s CYOA Christmas story. For those who have not seen Nathan, he made his stage debut in my solo show ‘Eureka Stocktake’ written to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Eureka Rebellion and to celebrate my forebears role in it. Nathan’s CYOA Eureka Story was the highlight and as as a result he started doing solo gigs and has been doing them ever since. He even got to read this story on the Melbourne Comedy Festival Gala. This piece and his CYOA Asylum Seeker Story are his most requested. At this point I’ll hand over to Nathan to explain how to read the story … In your mind picture a loud 9 year old in a legionnaires cap.)

Nathan: It’s a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure Story’ so you have to help. Sometime I would say A … and sometimes I would say B … and you have to choose … but when I say choose … SAY B!!!!!!!!! … Ok?

Everyone: Ok

Nathan: Thank you … Mary, what is Jesus mum, was waiting in her bedroom when the angel came to her window and said … A/ You are going to have a baby called Jesus B/ You are going to have a baby called Foogalsnotlumpberger …

Everyone: B

Nathan: B/ She said you are going to have a baby called Foogalsnotlumpberger but Mary said that’s a stupid name I want to call it Jesus. So Mary told Joseph they were going to have a baby called Jesus so they got on their … A/ A donkey B/ A fixie …

Everyone: B

Nathan: B/ They got on their fixie but some bogans saw Joseph with his beard and thought he was a hipster then ran him off the road and he ran into lamp post. Fortunately Mary was also a hipster and had crocheted a cover for the lamp post so they weren’t hurted or nothing. Then they traded their fixie in at Cash Converters and got on to their donkey instead and went to … A/ Bethlehem B/ Toys R Us …

Everyone: B

Nathan: B/ They went to Toys R Us and bought Jesus a Play Station; and a Barbie in case Jesus was a girl but then they realised that he would be too little to play with them so they went to Bethlehem … but when they got there, there was hardly even nowhere to stay so they stayed in … A/ A stable B/ The Big Brother House …

Everyone: B

Nathan: B/ They stayed in the Big Brother House, but even that didn’t help the ratings so Big Brother said ‘It’s time to go Mary and Joseph!’ because Joseph, who was a carpenter, kept making renovations to the house because he thought he was on ‘The Block’ – stupid dickhead Joseph!! They did some radio interviews and some nightclub appearances but within 3 months their brief flicker of fame had been extinguished … then they went to sleep in the stable. Mary was about to have the baby but there weren’t any nurses or anything, only farm aminals. Not long after Jesus came out of Mary and she said … A/ ‘He is the son of God and his name will be Jesus’ … B/ ‘No wonder it hurts, he’s wearing sandals!!!’ …

Everyone: B

Nathan: B/ She said ‘No wonder it hurts he’s wearing sandals!!!’ … but she said it in Hebrew and the farm animals didn’t hardly even speak Hebrew and they thought that she had said … ‘He is the son of God and his name will be Jesus.’ A little drummer boy came in and played A/ ‘Purruppa Pum Pum’ B/ ‘Thriftshop’ by Mackelmore …

Everyone: B

Nathan: B/ He played ‘Thriftshop’ by Mackelmore … cos Jesus was a white ass honky … but it woke Jesus so Joseph told him to play something quieter so he played ‘Parruppa Pum Pum.’ A star was shining over the stable and this was seen by A/ 3 wise men B/ 3 really stupid men …

Everyone: B

Nathan: B/ The star was seen by 3 really stupid men who were trying to put a helicopter into a cordial bottle. But the 3 wise men also saw the star and got onto their camels and came to see Jesus … but they got mistaken for ISIS rebels and got taken out by US Tomahawk missiles.

The End

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December 19th – ‘Check Your Facts!’

When I embarked on this frivolous enterprise I had no idea of the controversy it would stir. After each daily post I have been inundated with messages from family members decrying the content, asking for retractions and pleading their version of events. I’d talk about it in more detail but in one particular case the matter is before the courts. To be honest, if she had just said sorry when she knocked over the bottle of Grange that Christmas, none of this would have happened.

Given the pace of the blog challenge I set myself, I don’t always have the time to cross reference facts before publishing so it’s inevitable that I will occasionally err. Equally I can’t always know what is family gossip and what is a matter of national security. Apparently my cousin has been detained by ASIO after I published the post ‘My Cousin Seems To Spends A Lot of Christmas’s in Cuba?’ … [Since deleted]

Anyway I don’t want to cause any more trouble. This is supposed to be a fun, nostalgic blog and the last thing I wanted was … [Deleted by Asio]

So in the spirit of getting things right I can attest that the following story is 100% accurate.

If you flew over our family island off the coast of St Kitts in the Caribbean it wouldn’t appear at first sight to be inhabited. For most the year that would be a correct summation because we only ever go there at Christmas and even then we’re hard to spot due to the incredible job Frank Lloyd Wright did in blending the architecture into the tropical environment.

I remember the first time Peggy Guggenheim came over to watch the Boxing Day test on our 3D plasma she said ‘I think this may be Frank’s best work yet, don’t you agree Coco?’

We all rolled our eyes. Coco Chanel had arrived 3 weeks earlier and once she took root she was harder to get rid of than a bout of tinea in a coastal caravan park amenities block. Coco just nodded distractedly as she texted her bank details to purchase yet another limited edition signed Shane Warne print.

I decided to take myself off to the private beach on the far side of the island via the underwater cave. I could have guessed but Jackie Weaver and Che Guevera were already there hogging the ‘Slip & Slide’ with a very dejected Art Garfunkel looking on. I had a word to Che and suggested that in the spirit of socialism that it was only fair that Art have a turn and Che acquiesced. The look on the little fellas face would have melted the heart of the hardest man as he got to his feet. Unfortunately it ended in tears a few moments later when he came off the end too fast and put his head through a canvas that Salvador Dali had been working on since he’d arrived that morning on Woody Guthrie’s hovercraft.

A very annoyed, off duty Florence Nightingale patched up Art while Salvador claimed to have created a new movement called ‘Art Art.’

Mum called everyone in for dinner, but Mozart and Helen Keller, who were playing a rather one-sided game of Tether Tennis, didn’t hear it over the public address system.

As is tradition with our family if you’re late for dinner on Boxing Day you have to sit next to Bob Katter. Mozart and Helen played rock paper scissors to decide their fate. Mozart lost and spent the rest of the night writing his requiem.

After dinner we lured Richard Wilkins into the Piranha Billabong and then we gathered around our 120 metre Norfolk Pine Christmas tree for Kriskringle. I got the Dalai Lama … again!!! What do you give a man whose most famous quote is … ‘Oh yes, I have everything I need.’ I gave him a copy of the ABC Cricket Book: it worked for Uncle Pat. Marcel Marceau had me as his KK … with predictable results.

Later after mum served everyone ‘Neapolitan Ice-Cream in a Cone’ in the volcanic crater we played charades. As usual it was heaps of fun … until Russell Crowe had a go! ‘We get it Russ, you won an Oscar, sit the fuck down and let someone else have a go!’

‘Is that the last of them gone?’ asked Dad as he slumped into one of the gravity proof bean bags.

‘The Bronte Sisters are just waiting for a water taxi with ‘The Rock’ and then it’s just the family.’ Mum responded

Thank God for that’ said Jesus who was playing Boggle with the Holy Spirit on the floor behind the modular couch.

‘Right you two, out!’ yelled dad

‘But …’

No buts fellas!’ reiterated mum. ‘And grab your dad on the way out.”

‘But Christmas would be nothing without …’

Don’t try that one again mate. You’ve had a good go, now bugger off.’ Dad pointed to the door and the bearded one sulked his way across the calm Caribbean waters followed by a swirling vapour trail.

And that’s why we always … [Deleted by ASIO]

 

 

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December 18th – ‘Opening The Good Stuff’

In the early 1970’s my dad discovered wine. He knew it existed but until then they were mere casual acquaintances. He was beginning his first stint as a Principal at the time and it was some of his ‘lefty, home bottling staff’ at Greenwood High School in Bundoora, that made the formal introduction. They also introduced him to Olympic level stress so the two were natural companions.

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(Dad with daughter Michelle and the author on the set of Homicide)

This sounds like work drove him to drink but it really just dropped him off at the corner and he walked the rest of the way. To clarify, Dad is a wine buff, not a big drinker and his interest in wine became his great escape. Such was his passion that all holiday destinations from this point on were exclusively wine districts. I didn’t know we had a coastline until I was 14. On one trek I saw a glimpse of shimmering blue in the distance as our car meandered around McLaren Vale.

‘What’s that?’ I asked

‘Type of grape rot. Best to keep a safe distance.’

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(McLaren Vale during the ‘Blue Grape Rot’ outbreak of 2007)

Somewhere along the way dad was gifted a bottle of Penfold’s Grange Hermitage: The Holy Grail of Australian Wines. Dad had cellared it in the linen closet for a number of years and we’d given up asking him when it was going to be cracked.

One Christmas, without any fanfare, Dad put the bottle of Grange on the table. As each member of the family arrived they seemed to sense it and were drawn to the high altar to worship. Once everyone had seen it Dad took it out of sight to uncork and decant it as if it were a lamb to be slaughtered that the family had gotten to close to.

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Gifts were exchanged a little faster than usual and mum didn’t have to call twice to get everyone to the table. Dad had double decanted it back into the bottle so we could see the blessed liquid coming from the holy font. He prepared his sextant and measurement beakers in readiness for an even pour. It was taking forever but no-one dared touch the bottle.

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(Ancient Egyptians preparing to evenly distribute a bottle of Grange)

My sister in law Helen came to the table late. She completely missed the signs of the ritual that was unfolding and reached across the table before anyone could stop her.

‘Oh beauty, Grange!’ She grabbed at the bottle but having already had a couple of glasses of a lesser wine she misjudged the distance and knocked it over.

My family are reasonably athletic but you would have cast any one of us as the ‘6 Million Dollar Man’ if you’d witnessed our collective response. Hands from different bodies all got there simultaneously and righted the tumbling talisman almost on the bounce. Despite our Steve Austin like reflexes their had been collateral damage. After we’d restrained our brother in law Loz to stop him from sucking the wine out of the table-cloth we made an assessment and the estimation was that maybe a full glass had been lost … and by our reckoning that would be Helen’s glass so we were even. No!!!! We didn’t do that! Dad measured her the same revised 43ml as we all got and we heckled her every sip.

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(The 6 Million Dollar man takes care of a gorilla who had tried to help himself to a second glass of Grange)

Our dining table that day was a long piece of chip-board that lived almost permanently over our pool table. Mum had bought it so she could cut out fabric for her dress making enterprises and to ensure her son had no chance of fulfilling his destiny of becoming a World Champion Snooker player.

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(Australian Snooker World Champion Neil Robertson holding the trophy that would have been mine if mum hadn’t ruined my career)

The enduring result of the ‘Grange Fiasco’ was that there was a permanent stain in the wood grain. By the end of the day, as if part of an exhibit, it was accompanied by the descriptor … ‘Grange Hermitage Vintage 1976, by Helen.’

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December 17th – ‘Christmas In Our House’ – a poem

(This poem was penned and performed by my alter ego Roman from my early stand up comedy days. Roman was a member of a two man troupe but the other guy never used to show up so, left to his own devices, he would share his ‘rosey’ world view with the audience)

We’ve got a one foot tall tree

The branches have started to fade

The decorations are tatty and cheap

And the lights haven’t worked for a decade

We have chicken loaf for turkey

With gravy that tastes like spew

We eat on our laps in front of telly

Which is stuck on Channel 2

We once had an inflatable Santa

But my uncle took it out to the shed

It popped in suspicious circumstances

But nothing’s really been said

Occasionally we go to ‘The Boulevard’

To see the Christmas lights on display

But dad doesn’t like the traffic jams

So we usually go in the day

The gifts I receive aren’t conventional

In that they’re not specifically for me

Briquettes and insulation batts

And they weren’t even under the tree

My cousins come over in the evening

About their expensive presents they brag

So as I help mum my serve up the Christmas Pud

I discretely add in some slag

Christmas is a time of year

To be cheery and bury regrets

But it also falls on my birthday

A point most of my family forgets

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