Wednesday, January 19, 2005

a roo!

"Stop the car!" said my sister suddenly out of the darkness. "Back up a bit." I stood on the brake and then put the car into reverse. Julie was peering out the window looking at something under one of the streetlights.

"It's a kangaroo," she declared. And indeed, standing under one of the streetlights around the corner was the unmistakable silhouette of a roo or more likely a wallaby.



I killed the headlights and just left the parking lights on; it was around midnight so there wasn't a lot of traffic in Lenah Valley. I didn't really expect the roo to stay there while we were sitting in the middle of the street with the car idling, but he didn't seem that bothered.

While we watched, he bent down to graze on the nature strip outside one of the houses. Apparently the grass was greener further up the street, since he moved uphill after a couple of minutes. It became increasingly difficult to distinguish his silhouette against the telephone pole behind him.

Another moment and we decided to drive off since "the seeing" (as astronomers call it) was getting worse. This is the fourth time we've seen kangaroos in Julie's street, possibly the same one, possibly not.




Today's New International Version of the Bible will arrive in stores in mid-February. But when the TNIV New Testament was released in 2002, it was attacked by some scholars who said it didn't just update language; it tampered with theology. And 118 critics signed a letter listing their complaints.

Zondervan publishers say the TNIV was essential for accuracy, clarity and accessibility, the same reasons it created the 1978 New International Version, translated by the International Bible Society.

Changes are not willy-nilly. Exodus still says, "You shall not covet your neighbor's wife." Jesus still speaks of the prodigal son in Luke.

But more archaic terms are ousted, and new usage is recognized. After all, Webster added 10,000 words and made 100,000 changes in dictionary definitions in a decade, says Ben Irwin, head of Zondervan's publishing division aimed at the under 35-crowd.

This happens every time there's a new edition of the Bible. I remember how dismissive many people were of the popular Good News Bible back when I was at school. They said it lacked all the majesty of the King James translation.

But if you want people to read the Bible, it has to be accessible. It doesn't help if you have to read with the Bible in one hand and a dictionary in the other.




On the late night radio programme Nightlife we have a new compere for two weeks.

Richard Fidler had been standing in for the regular host Tony Delroy over the Christmas season (as he often does), but he's now off to Queensland so we have a novice in the chair, Jennifer Fleming.

It's always interesting to see how they handle the midnight quiz The Challenge for the first time. Jen wasn't too bad, but the contestants phoning in were definitely B-team.

It didn't help that the questions were a bit dubious as well. "What's the largest island in the United States, leaving out Hawaii and Alaska?" Eh? The answer, in the end was Long Island.

Jen will get her act together, I'm sure, but I probably won't be phoning in.

You see, at the New Year the ABC changed most of the numbers for their phone-in segments. The Challenge used to be an 1800 number, now it's a 1300 prefix. That means if I'm not at home, to phone in with my mobile now costs $5 for 10 minutes instead of $2.

If you have to wait 20 minutes that's $10 just to get on and maybe bomb out. That's a bit more than I'm prepared to pay.




Meat And Livestock Australia has enlisted the comedic talents of the very politically incorrect Sam Kekovich as part of its traditional marketing push around Australia Day.

In the TV ad launched this weekend, Kekovich urges people to avoid being un-Australian and serve lamb on the national day.

Kekovich—an ex-VFL football player and a regular on ABC TV’s program The Fat—delivers one of his trademark monotone speeches explaining how he is sickened by the creeping tide of un-Australianism “eroding our great traditions, like serving Lamb on Australia Day”.

The ad has already drawn criticisms from vegetarians who get a serve from Kekovich in the ad. ("Long-haired pot-smoking tofu-eaters!") The Advertising Standards Board said it had only received ten complaints about the satirical commercial.

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) has a five year history of targeting the occasion of Australia Day to position Lamb as our national meat.

Personally Julie and I thought it was hilarious the first time we saw it. I'd love a poster of the text with Sam staring belligerently out at you.




Here's a very 21st century sort of anecdote:

I have Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine e-mailed to me by Fictionwise since it's not available in this country.

Like a lot of people I like to read in bed, and I was reading the cover story in the March issue – "The Case of Jesse James' Missing Loot", a new Sheriff Huck story by Joe Helgerson.

Unfortunately I didn't find out who-did-it because the battery died in my laptop!





On the idiot box this week:

  • A Place in France From sleepy Hampshire in the UK to even sleepier L'Archeche, southern France, we follow Nigel Farrell and Nippi Singh as they set out to buy a house for family holidays and, in Nigel's case, a place to start a new life. Has a certain na├»ve charm about it that keeps me watching.
  • Missing a new 4-parter that reveals alarmingly someone is reported missing in Australia every 18 minutes. Shows the problem from the viewpoint of both the police and the families. Gripping in a car-accident sort of way.
  • Firefly I've given up watching this on television and have bought the DVD containing all 14 episodes. The atrocious late-night scheduling makes it almost impossible to watch – I've only seen episodes #1 and #4 and can hardly follow it at all.
  • Star Trek: Voyager concludes this week – it's only taken Australian television five years to get round to showing the final season.


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