ARCHIVES - MAY 2003 TO
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PITY ME, MORON, HELL!
How would you feel if your address was PITY ME (England),
INTERCOURSE (Pennsylvania), HELL (Michigan), or MORON (Cuba)? You would probably
dream of moving to PARADISE (California) or, when surfing the internet, SURFERS
PARADISE (Australia). To read about these oddly-named places, click on
OF MURPH THE SURF!
Did you catch the recent news that a sapphire worth £780,000 was
stolen in London just a few days before its owner, a Russian heiress, was to
marry a British publisher? It reminded us of another huge sapphire robbery that
created a sensation in New York nearly 40 years ago, when disk jockey Jack
Roland Murphy (Murph the Surf) and two accomplices stole the world-famous
sapphire Star of India. For details of both robberies, click on
MURPH THE SURF.
Planning a round-the-world visit to the UK, a woman in Australia's
second largest city, Melbourne, recently made an airline booking to London by
internet. At the last moment she discovered, to her dismay, that she had paid
$US611 for a non-refundable ticket for a flight from Melbourne, FLORIDA. For
a story about the two cities, click on
What's the furthest anyone has thrown a ball? It's difficult to find
the answer on the internet, where there are different records for baseball
(North America) and cricket (Britain and its former colonies). The world record
seems to be an almost incredible 445 feet 10 inches (135.89 metres). Earlier
ball-throwing champions were cricketing legend Dr. Grace and bareknuckle fighter
Bendigo. For more details, click on
We Aussies gaze in awe at Ploddy, a 17ft. long replica of a dinosaur, which
has guarded the Australian Reptile Park near Gosford, 50 miles north of Sydney,
for nearly 40 years. But the World's Largest Dinosaur, in Drumheller, Alberta,
Canada, could eat poor Ploddy for breakfast and would still be hungry. For a
story about these two monsters, please click on
DISCOVERS TRIPLE HYP-HEN
Two months ago, we lamented the death of the dreaded but often hilarious hyp-hens
- words that used to over-run column width with wrongly-placed hyphens in a way
that led to mans-laughter and other typographical leg-ends. We
gave two examples of double hyp-hens. Dan Cooper, of Seattle, has
discovered a triple hyp-hen, and better. For details, click on
CLARISSA! JOHN PEEL'S COAT WAS GRAY, NOT RED!
Clarissa Dickson Wright, "one half of the Two Fat Ladies, and one of the
undisputed characters of TV cookery," should change the colour of her car from
red to gray. In naming it JOHN PEEL she has perpetuated a popular myth.
We're sorry to tell you, Clarissa, that you've fallen into a common error, in
believing that English men and women chasing foxes (the unspeakable in full
pursuit of the uneatable, to quote Oscar Wilde) have always worn pink or red
jackets. For more about this, please click on
JOHN PEEL. 0309
BITCH BOUNCES FROM BILLINGS TO BOGGABRI
When you read a pun that makes you laugh out loud, you want to pass
it on. That's what we did, when we read a "pun of the week" in Frank Kaiser's
Suddenly Senior newsletter. We have adapted the story for Australian and
South African readers. To see all three versions, click on
BAR BITCH. 0309
GIVE THEM ALL A PAT ON THE BACK!
Australia's cow cockies (dairy farmers) should stop moaning about
their poor returns from milk. There's light at the udder end of the
cow's tunnel. A quick internet survey shows that cow pats (aka chips, pies,
droppings, or poo) can be a useful source of income. And that's no bull. -
Provided you don't find the subject offensive, please click on
ON HER 80th BIRTHDAY
Life Begins at 80 today salutes a Tamil writer, Thangam,
who began writing stories for children when she was in her late 70s, and now, at
80, has had a collection of them published as a book. Members of her family of
eight got together to help her promote Monkey Times and Other Stories in
July. Appropriately, the book launch was held on another kind of launch, on
Hussain Sagar Lake. For further details, please click on
ARE GOOD FOR YOU!
Here's a tricky trivia question for a quick quiz: What are beestings?
If you're one of the world's half-million wordlovers who receive Anu Garg's A
Word A Day newsletter, you'll know the answer. We've discovered that you can
eat and drink beestings. For full details, please click on
Last February, we wrote that Strickland Gillilan, author of
The World's Shortest Poem,
had also composed a poem called The Reading Mother. From it, we quoted
eight lines very popular on Mothers' Day. One of our U.S. readers, Rosie Kolodziejczyk, has e-mailed us: "There is more to the poem than what you
printed. A copy was given to me as a Mother's Day gift by my own mother, because
I have always read to my children. It is one of my most prized possessions."
To read Rosie's story, click on
DEATH OF THE HYP-HEN
The dreaded but often hilarious hyp-hen has
died. With improved technology, today's books, newspapers and magazines rarely
break words that used to over-run column width with wrongly-placed hyphens in a
way that led to mans-laughter and other typographical leg-ends. For furt-her
de-tails, click on HYP-HENS.
BEETLE AND WEDGE
Visitors to Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, chuckle when they
see the local newspaper is named The Manchester Cricket. They would laugh
out loud if they knew that the town once boasted a newspaper with an even
stranger name: The Beetle and Wedge. Stranger still, neither paper was
named after an insect. For this story, click on
BEETLE AND WEDGE.
CLUES ABOUT ARTHUR MacARTHUR
In last month's edition of this e-book, my wife Jerry wrote about her
1942 meeting with four-year-old Arthur MacArthur and his mother in a Brisbane
park. She asked "Where Is Arthur MacArthur?"
To read a partial answer to that question, click on
To read a combination of the two stories, click on
CRAZY (CLEVER) CABLE CLOCK
We've found yet another fascinating clock on the internet. This one's
a crazy cable contraption, posted by a clever website designer,
Andre Michelle, of Berlin, Germany.
The hands lurch or sag as they tick off the seconds. You can find it by
JUST READ IT - SET IT FREE!
Next time you've finished reading a book, leave it around for someone
else to enjoy. That's what Ron Hornbaker urges you to do. And more than 130,000
readers around the world are following his advice, sharing their pleasure with
thousands of strangers. They leave books bearing bright yellow stickers saying:
"I'm FREE. I'm NOT LOST!" on park benches, in airport lounges, in trains and buses, waiting rooms
and countless other places. For more details, please click on
AND DAFFY DEFINITIONS
One million bicycles = two megaphones. Two thousand pounds of Chinese soup = Won
Ton. Ratio of an igloo's circumference to its diameter = Eskimo Pi. Those are
three of dozens of comical conversions gathered by Cleveland (Ohio) grandmother
Alice Schubach. If you enjoy this kind of clever nonsense as much as we do,
IS ARTHUR MacARTHUR?
Two months ago, our children and grandchildren and I celebrated my wife
Jerry's 87th birthday. Sixty years ago, as Staff-Sergeant E. F. Germaine, of
the Australian Women's Army Service in World War II, she worked in the office of
General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Southwest
Pacific, when his operational headquarters were in Brisbane from 1942 to 1944.
She recalls meeting the general's wife, Jean, and four-year-old son, Arthur.
Jean died in 2000, aged 101, but what happened to Arthur? To read Jerry's
story, click on ARTHUR
OLDEST COLUMNIST IS 103.5
Today we salute Philip Mayne of Teesside, United Kingdom. Aged 103.5,
he must surely be the world's oldest columnist. His latest offering has just
appeared in his grandson Stephen Mayne's rambunctious online newsletter,
published daily in Melbourne. Crikey claims to be Australia's most successful
independent ezine, with more than 5000 subscribers and 7000 email freeloaders. To read
Philip Mayne's column, click
In our May issue, we wrote "We've just read that a New Zealand zoo
feeds horses' heads to its lions (shudder). It's a practice possibly followed by
other zoos around the world, but if so, they keep quiet about it." Our
story described how a lion in the London Zoo swallowed a lad named
Albert. On May 28, the
Washington Post published an AP report under this scary headline: Slump
in Visitors Leaves Lions and Tigers Hungry at Chinese Zoo. No wonder the
WAS A MAJOR MICROMINIATURIST
Our story about The World's Smallest Sculptures prompted a
Californian reader to tell us about Hagop Sandaldjian's amazing work in
the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles, where "everything is in
miniature, including whole tableaus made on grains of rice, prayers on pinheads,
etc." For a story about the museum and its exhibits, click on
IS MOSTLY FROTH AND BUBBLE
Life is mostly froth and bubble;
Two things stand like stone:
Kindness in another's trouble,
Courage in our own.
One of my relatives or a family friend inscribed those inspiring lines in my
autograph book more than 70 years ago. They linger in my memory, and their
message still applies today. But until now, I had no idea of the poet's name.
For the intriguing answer, click on
FROTH AND BUBBLE.
This e-book is entitled Life Begins at 80 ... on the Internet.
Now one of the Graypow award winning websites, Jeff and Judy Sellers' Frisky
After Sixty, has featured a story which may inspire some of our octogenarian
readers. "Watching a Larry King Live show recently Jeff and I were completely
enthralled by legendary Broadway star Carol Channing (82), and her new husband
Harry Kullijian (83)" says Judy. To read it, click on
FRISKY AFTER EIGHTY.
And you'll find a heart-warming story by Carolyne Zinko in the
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
GAVE NAME TO BRISBANE
Australia's third-largest city, Brisbane (population 1.3 million)
could well adopt the motto of its San Francisco namesake sister city, and call
itself The City of Stars. The Oz city was named after a noted Scottish
astronomer, Sir Thomas Brisbane, who catalogued 7385 stars in what was then the
largely uncharted southern sky. Brisbane's Planetarium, a popular tourist
attraction, is named after him. To read on, click on
YOU CAN MINI-PUTT ONLINE! (and it's free!)
We've just discovered a fascinating electronic version of that old
game of miniature golf. If you fancy a round, please be our guest. Just click
HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE MOVES THE MOUSE
Remember that popular desk toy, in which five steel balls suspended from a
frame collide with their neighbors, with surprising results? Now you can drag
them with your mouse, just by clicking on a Turkish website. The physics toy and
demo sold as Newton's cradle is also called colliding balls, Newton's
spheres, counting balls, impact balls, ball-chain, the executive pacifier,
and even, believe it or not, Newton's balls, says Dr. Donald E. Simanek
To read more about this fascinating game, click on
Last month, we reported that Professor Jack Pettigrew, of Queensland
University, claimed to have solved the mystery of the Min Min Lights. Now, a
Texas scientist, John Janks, of Houston, has told us he published a similar
theory to explain the origin of the equally mysterious Marfa Lights in his
state. To read the details (some of which were in last month's story) click
on MYSTERY LIGHTS.
CASE OF THE MIGRANT HOWLERS
Dozens of websites wrongly attribute a list of hilarious howlers to
schools in Gorton (Manchester), Springdale (Arkansas), Springdale (Texas) and
Huntsville (Alabama). We have emailed several of those places, and no one admits
to knowing anything of these obviously British-born gems. So we asked Sherlock
Holmes to investigate. To read about this, and Sherlock Holmes's reply, click
Last month we posted the text of English
former music hall comedian and later film star Stanley Holloway's classic
monologue, The Lion and Albert, which told how a lion named Wallace had
swallowed the little lad 'ole. We also published the sequel, Albert Down
Under, which described the lion's later visit to Sydney's Taronga Park Zoo.
Albert figured in the story, and we couldn't understand how he had survived,
after having been swallowed a few years earlier. To read the answer to this
curious riddle, click on
Gosford Animal Hospital is in Bakersfield, California. Gosford Stadium is in
Coventry, England. Gosford House is in Scotland, Gosford Castle is in Northern
Ireland. And the city of Gosford, New South Wales, Australia, was named in
honour of the second Earl (and is also the home of a talented artist named
Charles Gosford). We wrote this story for the Gosford (Australia) newspaper,
Central Coast Herald, which published it on May 24, 2003. To read it,
please click on GOSFORD.
And for a story about a small town in the Oz Gosford area, click on
SOLVES MIN MIN MYSTERY
Motorists hoping to see Australia's mysterious Min Min Light have to travel
1900km. (1180 miles) from Brisbane northwest to Boulia. An hour or two before
they get there, they pass a road sign saying: "For the next 120km. (75 miles)
you are in the land of THE MIN MIN LIGHT. This unsolved modern mystery
is a light that at times follows travellers for long distances - it has been
approached but never identified." Now a Queensland professor believes he has
solved the riddle. Our story is posted on the Houston (Texas) website of
Lou MINatti, who is naturally intrigued by MIN MIN. For full details, click
Back in the late 1800s, A. Schiller, serving a
long jail sentence for forgery, spent 25 years inscribing all 65 words of The
Lord's Prayer on the head of each of seven pins... a truly remarkable
achievement. But now he has been outdone by two amazing artists, one in Ukraine
and the other in Britain, who have produced what are claimed to be the world's
smallest hand-made sculptures. For details and pictures, click
DOGS BARK AGAIN
We're pleased to see that Pat Solley, who runs the super soup site
Soupsong. has successfully revived shaggy dogs, after they had been lying
asleep for donkey's years. In last month's issue of her newsletter, Pat posted
several amusing entries in a soup-inspired shaggy dog contest. That led us to
discover a website with more than 1100 shaggy dogs in its cyber kennel. For
details, click on SHAGGY
LION ATE ALBERT, BUT SNEEZED HIM UP ON WAY TO OZ
We've just read that a New Zealand zoo feeds horses' heads to its
lions (shudder). It's a practice possibly followed by other zoos around the
world, but if so, they keep quiet about it. That gruesome story reminded
us of English former music hall comedian and later film star Stanley Holloway's
classic monologue, The Lion and Albert, which told how a lion named
Wallace had swallowed the little lad 'ole, together with his stick with its
'orse's 'ead 'andle and all. For the gruesome details, with a happy ending,
click on LION ATE ALBERT.
MATE, IT'S YOUR SHOUT!
Then and Now No. 11
"Shouting" (buying a round of drinks) is an old Australian custom,
deplored by sobersided citizens, but widely observed by gregarious grog-artists.
Read both sides of the story by clicking on
OF EXPLORERS: Then and Now No. 10
Frederick George Waterhouse (1815-1898) was an English-born naturalist
who accompanied Scottsh-born explorer John McDouall Stuart on a hazardous
expedition across the Australian continent in 1861, to collect and document its
fauna. His great-great-grandson is the Adelaide-born Australian astronaut Dr
Andrew Thomas, who has taken part in three space missions. To read about
them, click on EXPLORERS.
WAS THE APRIL FOOL?
On April Fools' Day spoof stories are cunningly hidden among genuine
news items in newspapers the world over So when we read a report headed Boy
sticks out tongue, is suspended in the April 1 issue of the El
Paso Times we suspected, not unreasonably, that it was a hoax. But was
it? To read more, click on
All above articles copyright © 2003. Eric