Saturday, April 6, 2013

Has The Daily Astonisher (aka Townsville Bulletin) adopted a new motto: Yesterday’s News Tomorrow? They’ve been a bit slow on the uptake this week – one story by a couple of months and another a matter of years.

And a blow-by-blow call of an hilarious, good old-style, slanging match between two southern newspapers – and while old mate Peter Typo Gleeson started it, the Sydney Morning Herald has conclusively ended it, deciding Typo is a sook  ….  

Resident doodler Bentley has his telling say about that North Korean nutjob, Kim Un Jockstrap …

Plus a must see video about road rage Russian style, … and why an American senator wants the sale of lion meat banned in Illinois, all here in this week’s nest at

Interesting week for The Daily Astonisher all round.

The amiable gals who help us drongos out at the self-service check-outs down at the local supermarket were less than impressed with Tuesday’s Bulletin. The paper that occasionally prints the wrong crossword sets, or can’t manage the right date on the front page, and often wrestles with English, ethics and the truth in its news columns somehow forgot to print its bar code to let people buy it. 

This mysterious oversight required the check-out helpers to wave a special card for those buying the paper. Fortunately, the product was, as usual, not in great demand, but had it been the Courier Mail, all hell may have broken loose.
Ace Astonisher revealer Anthony'Simpo' Templeton.
But talk about a day late and dollar short, although it’s good to see that Astonisher ace ‘revealer’ Anthony Simpleton knows a good little stirrer of a yarn when he sees one. He certainly saw one about six weeks ago in this very column and decided after a decent interval to trot out during the week as some sort of investigative gob-smacker. 
Ray 'Haystack' Gartrell:
Still heading for higher office, apparently.
His breathless Thursday tale of Ray Gartrell eyeing a leg up the political ladder to state was a good bit of insider goss … which is why The Magpie gave it even more detail six weeks ago, on February 23rd last. 

At that time, The ‘Pie wrote: The Magpie understands that a certain Scott Stewart who works at Town High has been making more than mutterings about a tilt to carry the ALP’s broken lance into the fight for Townsville … but far more intriguing is the suggestion that our old mate Councillor Ray Haystack Gartrell is considering  a shot at the seat of Townsville. Two heavy breathers down the MagpieFone both suggested he would perhaps look to join the Labor pre-selection square dance. But that appears to be a doh-see-don't.

Ray staunchly denied the rumour of any plans of that nature to The Magpie, making the point that he certainly wouldn’t be able to run for the ALP or the LNP, where three years continuous membership is generally required, with only the rare exception. But since Ray isn’t a black Northern Territory female Olympic gold medallist, the three-year rule will knock him out. anyway.  Which is maybe a shame in one way - Ray comes from a staunch Labor family – apparently, his Dad didn’t speak to him for a few months when he teamed up with the Team Tyrell mob  which was perceived – not entirely correctly – to be LNP in all but name’.

And so on, and quite a bit more than Mr Simpleton managed to winkle out of the situation. But if he's right about the ALP easing the membership rule back to six months, we'll be keeping a close eye on the membership roll of local Labor branches. Here’s The Magpie’s full report at that time, and although the old adage has it that comparisons are odious, here’s Revealer Simpleton’s effort last Thurdsday.

This seems to be getting to be a habit at the Astonisher, recycling old and known facts. Last week it was the re-heated northern Australian expansion lifted from a southern journo’s skimming of the back files, this week, it is the whole load of shock/horror horsefeathers about the larger ocean liners not being able to access the new quasi-military ‘cruise ship’ terminal at Townsville Port.

Painful is the word alright - for both the headline and the story.

This is news?

Well, not to those who read this column, since The Magpie has mentioned the access facts more than once in the past couple of years. And it didn't make the old  bird an investigative clever-clogs when he first ‘revealed’ the situation - it was established almost from the outset that the prohibitively expensive and environmentally difficult channel widening and deepening was not an option, and even if it were, it wouldn’t be enough for the bigger boats of the latest class to get in anyway.

The usual guff - but light on the real truth.

Just because a report has now confirmed what everyone already knew, it is front and center as ‘revealed’ news in The Astonisher?  Well, it certainly wasn’t news to say, TEL boss David The Kipper Kippin, who The ‘Pie is told has openly acknowledged the fact in discussions around the town. The TCC councillors all knew about it, possibly because The Kipper reminded them about it in one of his quarterly smoke and mirrors justifications for ripping off the ratepayers. One assumes that Mayor Mullet knew of it – she is the deputy chair of TEL. 

Out-going Port boss Barry Holden and Port chairman Ross Dunning were always aware of the situation, and so were the state and federal politicians. It was no secret, they all knew that it was a 'grey' terminal, primarily for the use of Australian and international naval vessels, where there is big bucks in bunkering (fuelling up), some provisioning and of course the crews’ cash splash around town. 

In comparison, cruise ships contribute SFA to the local economy. Calling it an ‘ocean cruise ship terminal’ was all political grandstanding by Blight et al in an abortive  attempt to shoe-horn the white shoe brigade into a totally inappropriate canal estate development across the creek. (The Magpie will detail some fascinating tidbits on that episode in an upcoming blog).

In another not entirely unrelated matter, the blood sport of political slanging matches is almost ho-hum nowadays, but there’s nothing more calculated to delight the populous than a good old mud-slinging stoush outside the political realm.

The ‘Pie is in seventh heaven when the feminists decide to take each other on, in the feminazi equivalent of a Labor factional cage fight. Or when Mark Latham (remember him) has the latest instalment of his running slanging match with the neocon sourpuss Gerard Henderson, who makes Gengis Khan looks like a simpering socialist softy.

But for much of last century, it was the newspapers of the day themselves having a ding-dong go at each other that kept us enthralled. Circulation wars brought out the worst in the likes of Sir Frank Packer and the fabled Ezra Norton. So it is a delight to report that we now have one of those newspaper toe-to-toes right now, although maybe a bit tame by historical standards..

And guess who’s in the thick of it?

Right in the middle of it all … well, you won’t be surprised to know that he started it ... is our favorite greyhound punter Peter Typo Gleeson.

Here’s how it has gone down so far.

Last weekend, the Sydney Morning Herald ran a story on the demise of what the reporter called the fraud capital of Australia, i.e the Gold Coast , with business shonks and sharks everywhere, tourism down and development in a deep stall. All round, somewhat negative, to say the least.

That was all too much for Typo Gleeson. 

On Tuesday, bottom lip atremble, he penned a muddled but Typo-typical editorial, slamming the SMH for its knife job, while failing utterly to refute any of their claims.  What Typo did do, though, was revert to form, and attacked the messenger instead of the message, concentrating on how the story came to be written.  “Amazingly, the Gold Coast City Council paid for it to be written. The author travelled here on a junket funded by ratepayers of the city he went on to attack.’

And later ‘We have almost grown used to this sort of character assassination, but here’s a handy guide for the next Fairfax scribe who arrives for a gin-soaked freebie and then has to justify his jaunt to his editor by googling ‘Gold Coast’ and ‘rip-off merchants’.

And then this deliciously hilarious blub to end - 'Sadly, until we get our own city passports a la Monaco, we have to accept everyone – including southern journos with an axe to grind’. 

What !?! 

You mean, sort of how Townsville people felt about you for three years or so, Typo?

In fact, the vein of irony is so rich it’s a wonder Gina Rinehardt  doesn’t try for a ore mining permit on Typo's head.

But the Sydney Morning Herald was not about to let a pipsqueak junior journalist from a Queensland regional get away with that, so later in the week, the return fire from Sydney was deadly accurate. Describing Gleeson’s effort as ‘a sookfest’, the Herald’s highly regarded CBD column was somewhat miffed with the suggestion that just because a reporter is hosted by someone, a puff piece should be guaranteed. Quoth CBD: ‘At Fairfax Media, we don’t allow commercial considerations to influence our journalism. Do they do it differently on the coast? No, said the Bulletin;s deputy editor Ken Robinson – he said the point was to question whether press junkets represent ‘value for money’.’

Get out the spade, Gina, here’s another rich load of iron – or certainly a load of something.

Why? Because not so long ago, Peter Gleeson announced that he was banning any reporting of matters pertaining to Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate, after the mayor rubbished the GC Bulletin to local businessmen. And why would he do that? In that editorial, Gleeson loftily complained that the problem with Tate is that ‘he can’t cop criticism’!  Oh, Typo, you scallywag, you, pot and kettles an' all that, but don’t put your pick and shovel away yet, Gina, there’s more.

When Typo had been told by his betters in Sydney not to be so bloody stupid, he and Tate kissed and made up … and then Typo sent reporter Sharon Willoughby (known as the Queen of the Freebies on the coast)  on a junket to China with a delegation headed by Tate. The result in the paper was so threadbare that the question of ‘value for money’ would certainly be a valid subject for debate.

Typo, you remain a comedian’s dream.

From the North Korean Leadership Training Manual.

Speaking of buffoons,  Asia’s answer to Moe of Three Stooges fame, North Korea’s Kim Jockstrap or  Jong Un or whatever is proving an A grade nutjob. The Magpie would like to believe this is all eye-poking amusing bluff and togue-poking. Except that Jockstrap and his equally barbaric father really both qualify as rolled-gold, nickel-plated maniacs.

The whole world is asking why would someone start a nuclear war they couldn’t win? Especially now that even the Chinese have had a gutful of the bloke who has his hair cut by his missus using a rice bowl and crimping scissors. Beijing is more worried about an influx of starving North Koreans, and has deployed a massive military presence along its border with the Hermit Kingdom – not to go to its aid, but to stop any mass exodus their way.

Bentley reckons it’s all bluff, summing it up yet again with one picture worth those thousand words.

The only bright light on this particular horizon is that the world, including China, may now have the decency to free the North Korean people from this vicious twerp.

This week, The Magpie had reason to recall the Berk of Edinburgh’s famous jibe: 

‘If it has four legs and is not a chair, has wings and is not an aeroplane, or swims and is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it’.

Well it turns out that we no longer have to look down in princely disdain at the Chinese predilection for unexpected menu choices. – the Yanks are now at it, and how.
(Memo Jenny Stirling/Christine Milne: don't read this over breakfast, or your breakfast may be all over you.)

If you're looking for something off the beaten jungle track to scoff down with your sav blanc, how about some lion meat, the best porterhouse of the pride. Or maybe a brisket of bobcat. A bit tame? Well, go wild with an offering of otter offal, BBQ'd beaver (now, now, keep it clean), perhaps python nibbles, or iguana a la mode.

The Pie’s gimlet eye spotted a small item from America, reporting that a senator in Illinois wants to ban the sale of lion meat. At first glance, that seemed a bit like the bloke employed to keep Townsville free of elephants.
‘But there aren’t any elephants in Townsville!’
‘See – I’m doing such a good job, I think I’ll ask for a raise’.

But The ‘Pie was wrong. Lion meat – and much more – is openly, and apparently legally on sale.

A crowd called Exotic Meats is flogging just about everything edible on the internet. Check it out here and don’t forget your FlyBuys. (The ‘Pie particularly liked the message at the bottom of the long list of dead things for sale – over a pic of a telephonist was the message ‘live human is busy, leave a message’.

Perhaps we won’t smile quite so much when we next see those bumper stickers proclaiming ‘Cat: the other white meat’.

While we’re in the neighbourhood of creatures to grace our tables, here’s an interesting(ish) question and a mystery solved - maybe.

The grand old British tradition of Swan Upping on England's River Thames has been an annual event since the 12th century. The Magpie has often wondered about the somewhat suggestive name, but it appears now he may have an answer. 
Queen Betty (left) and swan (right).

Swan Upping involves the counting of swan stocks on certain stretches of the upstream river, and all mute swans belong to the Queen, and must not grace any one else's table. The mute part of the deal had hitherto been hidden from The ‘Pie, so now suddenly, the lmystery is solved – it is reasonable to assume that since Queen Betty only owns the  'mute' swans, the 'upping' is the short sharp operation to discover which swans are mute and those that are not.

This pic seems to confirm The 'Pie's suspicions.

Just sayin', y'know.

Yes, yes, The 'Pie knows that all British swans are mute, but those dirty continental whistling and honking types may have dropped in for a bit of more traditional 'upping' - you just never know with those shifty buggers from across the Channel.

Finally DO NOT MISS LOOKING AT THIS. If you’ve suffered road rage, as either perpetrator or victim, or worse, had the galling hours of dreaming what you should have done to that roadhog bum, here’s the man for you – a Russian bus driver they call The Punisher who takes crap from no one, happily crashing into vehicles that cut him off – and his boss loves it and the authorities seem to silently applaud him. The other video on this link – spectacular and terrifying road accidents in Russia – is possible because of the Ruskies' necessary habit of all having dashboard cameras running all the time as evidence for insurance claims. Truly spectacular.


  1. Hilariously good and informative this week Pie. Love your work.

  2. Pie, A wonderful and hilarious trip from The Astonisher to Typo to the Lions and Swans and finally, the Russian Push-kin. I dips me lid to a lovely blog. Gonzo

    1. Lovely family photograph of Simpo. Shows 'CREDIBILITY'(cough)as a future Courier Snail reporter...............

  3. I had a good laugh at the Russian bad drivers clip; but noticed one thing - all the drivers were MEN! Just saying...

  4. Dearest Pie,

    Always entertaining, always good.

    Sagely yours,
    Miss Lou.

    p.s. If I was allowed to say truthfully what I thought of meter maid Typo, I'd be in trouble.

  5. Simpo needs to get to the gym more often. Boy boobs are grotesque.

    China is in a quandry. They can't let that maniac let fly with the thermonuclear devices. They know that the USA has to respond - and who knows where that will end up. They don't want the regime to fall to a west-friendly revolution and have Yankee Imperialist Lackeys at their border. An option for them would be to get rid of Krazy Kim themselves and replace him with a Chinese puppet government with strict riding instructions from Beijing. North Korea would then be little more than another Chinese province - which is as good as life could get for the peasants. China would increase the living standards of the populace almost immediately and avoid a mass exodus. South Korea and the USA would not be all that distressed about such a situation. China maintains the buffer zone and South Korea would breathe a little easier. The USA would not have to maintain the same level of military presence nor have to worry about some lunatic with a red button to push. They would also pile in the humanitarian aid. Win, win, win and win.

    Available for diplomatic envoy postions at reasonable rates...

    I'll let you in on a secret...Ivan the Terrible Bus Driver did his induction training at Sunbus, Townsville. Pull onto the road suddenly into a line a of heavy traffic whilst you have your left indicator operating...take that, Capitalist Dog.

    1. Man boobs are reserved for the biggest loser show.

  6. Gosh, what a lovely 'lad' simpo looks like. By chance is he one of the three omegos who include, Mickey and Batman?

    We can only assume our super is another Cyprus crisis.

  7. A lot of metro journalists from Courier snail have been offered junkets to China. Typo was a twerp and I never liked that his wife had labor connections and I felt it was biased in my op.

  8. Sorry Magpie I am late commenting this week. Great news and wittier than ever. Simpo you hunk of spunk. Typo's words, hot air.

    Will the Crocs find a new owner?


  9. I know you must feel a sense of frustration Pie. Will the Astonisher ever go down? Probably not with Murdoch's money. I feel frustrated with the so called reporters and snappers who still work there. The ones who should have been fired but were protected by Attila The Hen.

    1. You're a bit off the mark there, Jan. The 'Pie does NOT want too see the Townsville Bulletin go down - quite the obverse, he wants to see it come back UP. Back up to a decent news standard of responsibility and maturity, and shuck off this News Ltd 'one-size-fits-all' metrofaux controversy mould for EVERYTHING. It just doersn't work, and the cold hard figures prove it.

      A community like Townsville and especially the smaller satellite towns in the circulation area seek solid and unemotive information from a paper that is a reporter and not a player. So The 'Pie would like to see the Astonisher move up to the realisation that its dive down to the lowest common denominator in seeking readership has failed and at the same time alienated its real audience and done the whole community a disservice.

      Emotively-spun stories and punning headlines - which only occcasionally are clever and/or appropriate - do not a newspaper make. And matters are not helped by the cynical cost-saving device of having us bombarded with kiddies writing opinion columns even before they can write a news story correctly - that really is insulting. And a bigger turn-off than the paper realises.

      But the Bulletin will always make dough - milions - it is the only game in town, and maybe it may have to take a hit or two financially, but it will remain a 'nice little earner' for Rupert, even if someone was silly enough to attempt full frontal competition. (They won't when they see the numbers.)

      But see it go down? No way, and anyway, It won't happen - real estate advertising alone could keep it afloat - although the once-proud Bulletin - editorial and management - is rapidly being reduced to bureau status. Everything else in this region is booming and expanding while our paper is shrinking - except in profits, and those have come at the expense of skilled jobs being forced out of town and the severe disruption and dislocation of entire families.

      85% of the paper is OK-ish, nothing to huff and puff about, it is simply the canker of the editorial policy and its execution that is dragging the good parts down with it.

      Perhaps soon, the southern management will realise that editorially, the paper has been down among the bottom dwellers too long, and It's time to start swimming towards the surface. That is, UP.

    2. What about Deutche Bank's generous donation to the Sri Lankens?

      They sent them here will they pay for them social security, house them, give them smokes for the next 20 years?

  10. I recently read that american papers are choosing not to publish their readership stats due to sinking numbers.

    It seems management may have got rid of the good workers at the Astonisher?


    1. Fortunately, in Australia and New Zealand, the trusted Roy Morgan outfit regularly updates readership figures on its website, open to all. Audited circulation figures are a bit harder to come by, but can be found with a little effort.

      Interestingly, all papers including The Astonisher must use the latest accurate circulation figures on their websites - it's illegal to tell fibs to potential advertisers, a nicety that unfortunately is not extended to readers of the Astonisher's news pages.

  11. Simpo needs a man wax. Most of the cub journalists are like this who work at the Astonisher. Let's face it, you'd need to be drunk as it's horrible place to work.