At last year’s press gallery ball the then opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull stole the show with his veiled threats to the Labor staffer Andrew Charlton about the perils of lying about what became the OzCar scandal. At this year’s ball, with Turnbull away at another function, the threats, this time even more thinly veiled, were left to the Prime Minister. ”Can I say, ‘Guys, we’ve got a very long memory,” Rudd told guests from the mining industry, apparently in jest, although the joke, like much of Rudd’s speech, seemed to fall strangely flat. Rudd devoted much of his speech to trying to debunk through self-deprecating humour the thesis of the Herald writer David Marr, in a recent Quarterly Essay, that the Prime Minister is singularly motivated by anger. ”A few people have asked me … what I think about David’s analysis … I’ve told them to get stuffed. Each and every one of them.” The speech by the Opposition leader Tony Abbott seemed to be received a little better, particularly a gag about his days training for the priesthood. ”As a journalist I was a frustrated politician; as a politician I’m a frustrated journalist; in the seminary I was just frustrated,” he said. Abbott used precisely the same line when interviewed by Annabel Crabb at the Sydney Writer’s Festival. With that in mind, we are thinking of asking readers to give generously to help buy Abbott a new joke.COLD ON ABBOTT… In another matter related to Tony Abbott and midwinter balls, the Afghan refugee Riz Wakil had to ask what budgie smugglers were before his surfing date with Abbott – the highest-priced item at the Midwinter Ball’s charity auction. ”When I got the explanation I said, ‘No way’. I will just wear the wetsuit and that will be fine,” Wakil said yesterday. The lobby group GetUp! raised $16,100 for his private lesson and breakfast with the Opposition Leader, writes Yuko Narushima. Wakil arrived in Australia by boat in 1999. He spent nine months in Curtin detention centre, in Western Australia, before he was released on a temporary protection visa, since abolished. Abbott has pledged to bring them back. ”The main issue is to talk to Tony Abbott about what he’s planning to reintroduce,” Wakil said. ”I spent time in a detention centre. I ended up getting a temporary protection visa which did not allow me to study, which did not allow me to reunite with my family.” Wakil is now an Australian citizen and runs a printing company in Fairfield. For his part, Abbott was eager to hit the surf. ”Look, I’m always happy to have a conversation. I try to be open and collegial, and I’m looking forward to the day.”GORE AFFAIR DEBUNKEDA woman said to have had an affair with Al Gore, the former US vice-president, has denied the claim. Laurie David, a prominent climate change campaigner and the former wife of the Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm creator Larry David, said the story was ”completely untrue”, London’s Daily Telegraph reported. The claim had been made by the US tabloid magazine Star. Gore announced two weeks ago that he and his wife, Tipper, were separating after 40 years of marriage and said no one else was involved. The Gores, who have four children, said that they had made a ”mutually supportive decision following a process of long and careful consideration”. In a statement to the website Huffington Post, Laurie David said: ”The story is completely untrue. It’s a total fabrication. ”I adore both Al and Tipper. I look at them both as family. And I have happily been in a serious relationship since my divorce.” A source close to the Gore family told the website that Gore and his wife were still ”very close” and would be together with their family this summer. Another friend of the Gores, quoted by the New York Daily News, rubbished the report. Laurie David worked as a producer on Gore’s Oscar-winning climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth.GRAVE CONCERNSThe NSW Minister for Lands, Tony Kelly, announced yesterday that he would be opening Sydney’s first natural burial ground at St Francis Field, within the grounds of Kemps Creek Cemetery, in Sydney’s west. It will use, he said, ”’biodegradable coffins and will not be marked by traditional headstones”. That is, it will be a field. Not to worry though: ”The latest GPS technology is used to ensure the location of the deceased is noted and recorded.” (Otherwise you’ll be using a metal detector, presumably, to find Grandma). With tenure ”limited to 30 years” Kelly said he hoped ”St Francis Field might become a sustainable burial ground for Sydneysiders for generations to come.” The state MP for Liverpool, Paul Lynch, added: ”No doubt natural burial grounds will become a popular option for many families over time.” We just wonder if ”popular” is quite the right word.A BIG DAY FOR RICHARD BRANSONExtravagance did not reward the billionaire Richard Branson yesterday when a gaudy celebration of the 10-year anniversary of his airline’s London-to-Las Vegas flight route backfired. Riding a jet ski to a pontoon in front of the Bellagio resort in sin city (where he was just going to, y’know, conduct the fountains), Branson lost control of the vehicle and took a dive along with Virgin stewardess Vicky Lewis. It capped off a relatively quiet week for the mega-mogul who fondled burlesque star Dita Von Teese on the wing of a Virgin Atlantic plane, unveiled a new video gaming company in Los Angeles and joined the cast of Cirque du Soleil’s Viva Elvis.STAY IN TOUCH  …WITH ABBA’S SECRETSTWO weeks ago an important letter arrived in the mailbox of the Australian author Christopher Patrick from Abba HQ in Sweden. Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Frida Lyngstad had given his book, Abba: Let the Music Speak, a rarely given approval to be part of the band’s official merchandise for Abbaworld, a multimillion-dollar touring exhibition which opens in Melbourne tomorrow. The only other official book is a children’s story by Bjorn. In what he believes is a world first, Patrick, 47, spent four years pulling apart every Abba song to determine how the group put them together in the first place. He hoped it would help him understand the band’s universal and long-lasting appeal. The secret is simple, he says. ”The songs are joyful but there is an underlying melancholy because of the long, dark, cold Swedish winters,” he says. ”That combination of joyful painted with a melancholy brush is what makes them so irresistible.” The band also typically used ”musically economical” hooks that only involved a couple of notes and  would add much more elaborate verses and arrangements. The chorus to S.O.S uses three notes, Dancing Queen uses four, and the same four as Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On. While the glittery jumpsuits and ”revolutionary” album production added to their fame, the foundation was a simple musical formula. Frida was enamoured with the book. ”I am so happy to at last read a book that mainly concentrates on our music, and not on gossip,” she wrote to Patrick. He said he was proud as punch.WITH ALTERNATIVE WORLDSTHERE will be much ”cosplay” and ”glomping” going on today when the Supanova Pop Culture Expo kicks off at Sydney Olympic Park. Fans of sci-fi, anime, comic books, video gaming and fantasy will congregate for ”a big melting pot of alternate, imaginary worlds,” said the event’s organiser, Daniel Zachariou. Many will be in cosplay, which is short for ”costume play”, which is the alternative-world term for ”fancy dress”. It is common for fans to dress in elaborate costumes to pay homage to their favourite characters such as Star Wars storm troopers and Sailor Moon. Glomping – a greeting that is a cross between a hug and a gentle tackle – is also common, particularly among anime fans. Zachariou stressed that Supernova would not tolerate unauthorised glomping. ”We have rules about glomping,” he said. ”You must know the person you are glomping and they must be of the type of person who allows glomping. You can’t have random strangers glomping. Sometimes people will wear placards saying ‘glomping allowed’. That’s acceptable. And heaven forbid anybody who gets in the way between a glomp.” Genre and cult celebrities such asDollhouse’s Eliza Dushku and Twilight’s Chaske Spencer will appear but have not confirmed whether they will glomp.WITH COOL KIDSSOMETIMES kids really do need to chill out. Finley Burton was 16 weeks old when he underwent surgery on his heart. The baby, from County Durham in England, then developed a potentially fatal heart rate of about 200 beats a minute. To bring it down, he was cooled in a special blanket filled with chilled air for four days, while he was still sedated. He was treated a month ago, and since then has made a ”super” recovery, said Paddy Walsh, a specialist children’s cardiac nurse at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle. Finley’s parents, Donna Link-Emery and Aaron Burton, were first concerned when he was 10 weeks old because he was not putting on weight. His mother told reporters: ”Now he’s doing really well and has already put on lots of weight.” Aaaah.GOT A TIP?Contact [email protected]出售老域名.au or 92822350