Tuesday, December 20, 2005


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Spent some of yesterday afternoon helping my sister do some repairs at her house. What happened, you may ask.

Her neighbour from across the street was reversing and found herself going backwards down Julie's (quite steep) driveway. She burst open the closed gates, sent a small chicken shed flying and came to rest at the end of the driveway. The car had to be towed out of there.

But all things considered it was a fairly mild result. The gate suffered only a displaced hinge (though we still haven't found the lock!) and the only hen in the chicken shed escaped without injury. The 130-year-old sandstone steps at the back of the house are slightly out of place.

I just thank God that this didn't happen when Julie was out in the yard feeding her livestock. That hardly bears thinking about.

Received in the mail this week, the latest edition of the Rupert the Bear annual published by London's Daily Express. I agree with the Rupert website that said "What is true of all Rupert Annuals is that they are miniature masterpieces of childrens' literature - full of magic, mystery, fun, memorable characters and truly beautiful illustrations...All Rupert Annuals are beautiful books, with a consistency of look, quality and style that is astonishing."

Rupert has been an institution in Britain since 1920 but it's only in the last few years I've seen the annuals turning up on Australian bookstalls. The strip runs in the local reprint of the Daily Express but in very small black-and-white form -- nothing like the beautiful artworks in the annuals.

I remember the days of my childhood when even if you'd lost your calendar you knew Christmas was approaching if you walked past your local bookshop and saw the piles of children's annuals stacked high. There was something for every interest, from little girls to teenage boys. A world completely vanished nowadays (except for a Doctor Who annual that came out this year though it wasn't called a Doctor Who annual on the cover!)

We don't have national radio stars as such in Australia. The "shock jock" phenomenon is a ghetto with only a couple of practitioners. We certainly don't have anybody like Howard Stern.

Thousands of people rallied on Friday, said the news, to applaud Howard Stern, who after years of raging against government regulations on obscenity, broadcast his last show on public airwaves before heading to unregulated Sirius satellite radio station.

"We broke every rule known to radio and mankind and I'm proud of that," Stern bellowed to supporters from an outdoor stage erected in a closed-off midtown Manhattan street.

Syracuse University Professor of Television and Popular Culture Robert Thompson said Stern's enormous popularity could be what takes satellite radio into the mainstream.

"Every medium has needed one great show to kind of push it over the edge. Milton Berle was called 'Mr. Television' because he got people to go out and spend money and move the radio out of the place of honor in the living room," Thompson said.

"There is a pretty big audience who would not only follow him to satellite, they'd following him to Neptune. I think that's what Sirius is counting on," he said.

Interesting, though academic since we don't have satellite radio in Australia either.

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