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Life Begins at 80...on the Internet
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ARCHIVES - MAY 2003 TO OCTOBER 2004

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INTERCOURSE, 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 INTERCOURSE.   0310

SHADES 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.   0310

WRONG  MELBOURNE!
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 MELBOURNE.   0310

WORLD'S BEST BALL-THROWERS
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 BALL-THROWERS.   0310

WORLD'S LARGEST DINOSAUR
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 DINOSAURS.   0310

DAN 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 CODERANGER.   0310

HEY 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

BAR 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

LET'S 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 COW PATS  0309

PUBLISHED 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 THANGAM.   0309

BEESTINGS 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 BEESTINGS 0309

THE READING MOTHER
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 READING MOTHER 0309

SAD 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.  0308

THE 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.  0308

MORE 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 "RELATIVE" OBSCURITY. To read a combination of the two stories, click on OZATWAR 0308

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 clicking on CABLE CLOCK.  0308

DON'T 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 BOOK CROSSING.  0308

DEFT 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, click on ALICE'S WEBPAGE.  0308

WHERE 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 MacARTHUR   0307

WORLD'S 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 on CRIKEY.   0307

ZOO VISITORS BEWARE!
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 visitors slumped!  0307

HAGOP 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 HAGOP0307

LIFE 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.  0307

FRISKY AFTER EIGHTY!
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  0307

ASTRONOMER 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 ASTRONOMER.  0307

NOW 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 on MINI-PUTT   0307

THE 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 NEWTON'S CRADLE.  0306

MARFA'S MYSTERY LIGHTS
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.  0306

THE 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 on HOWLERS0306

HOW ALBERT ESCAPED
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 ALBERT.  0306

GOSFORD CONNECTIONS
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 UMINA. 0306

PROFESSOR 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 on WATCHING YOU.   0305

WORLD'S  SMALLEST  SCULPTURES
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 HERE.   0305

SHAGGY 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 DOGS.   0305

ENGLISH 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.   0305

HEY, 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 YOUR SHOUT.   0305

FAMILY 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.   0305

WHO 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 APRIL FOOL.   0305

All above articles copyright © 2003.  Eric Shackle

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