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ARCHIVES - MAY 2005 TO OCTOBER 2005

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NATTY BUMPPO, EUCHRE SPRUIKER
Quirky Kentucky counsel, Natty Bumppo, loves playing euchre after church on Sundays. He's a world authority on that once-popular card game, and has written a book on it. "Euchre is a poor man's bridge," Natty declares. "Bridge is for discerners. Chess is for discerners. Euchre is for drunken slobs who think they know what they are doing." Read about Natty's life and book by clicking on BUMPPO. 0510

FOUND! AUTHOR OF THE MAN AND HIS DOG
Eureka! Thanks to one of our readers, we've discovered who wrote the usually anonymous story about the man and his dog wanting to enter Heaven, that has delighted readers around the world for more than 40 years. He's Earl Hamner, who later achieved fame as creator and narrator of the Emmy Award-winning series The Waltons, the long-running TV show that millions of viewers around the world have enjoyed for a quarter-century. To read about the talented writer, now 82, who has just completed a tour of Virginian and Californian bookstores, click on EARL HAMNER. 0510

WE MAY YET BECOME A BANANA REPUBLIC!
Paul Keating's memorable 1986 warning that Australia might become a banana republic may yet be proved literally correct. At a time when the price of mineral oil fuel has rocketed to a record level, there's talk in Queensland of vehicles being powered by fuel made from bananas, while in South Australia a company is promoting the idea of making paper from the trunks of banana trees. To read more, click on BANANA REPUBLIC. 0510

SUN-HERALD STAFF MAROONED
The Sun-Herald faced a desperate crisis last month. Power was cut off, mobile phones didn't work, and many of the staff were unable to return home. The paper's website said: "Sun-Herald employees: Call 1-800-346-2472 to let us know where you are." No, it wasn't in Sydney, but in Biloxi, Mississippi, one of only four places in the world with a newspaper called the Sun-Herald. To read how the newspaper survived in the devastated city, click on HURRICANE KATRINA. 0510

WELL, BUTTER MY BUTT AND CALL ME...
"Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit!" a surprised Dolly Parton once exclaimed. That's almost as comical as that other phrase, "Slap my ass and call me Sally," which we discussed in February. Scott Wright, editor of The Post, in Centre, Alabama has posted a hilarious collection of southern phrases written by contributing editor Tim Sanders. Enjoy them by clicking on Well, Butter My Armpit and Call Me a Hamster. 0510

YOU COULD CALL THIS A JAKE HAMMER
Thirteen years ago, Jake Tyson, an 18-year-old apprentice carpenter in Sydney, Australia, found that his hammer didn't hit nails very effectively (yet they say a good workman never blames his tools) and the reverberations sent uncomfortable shocks up his arm. So he set out to design a better hammer. You can read how he achieved success and won a top US award, by clicking on JAKE'S HAMMER. 0510

WOMBATS AND ROOS GET GREAT REVIEWS
Young American children will learn about Australia's kangaroos and wombats when their parents or grandparents read them a delightful book released on October 1. Written by Sallie O'Donnell, a 76-year-old Florida grandmother and former teacher, Animals, Vegetables And Minerals - From A to Z links an animal and a nutritional concept to each letter of the alphabet, in a four-line verse. To read more about this new book, and see its colorful cover, click on ANIMALS. 0510

SUDDENLY SENIOR JOINS GRAYPOW NETWORK
To our great delight, Frank Kaiser's hugely popular US weekly webzine Suddenly Senior has joined our Graypow Network of outstanding web sites catering for the over-50s. According to a Retired.com reviewer, "Kaiser's the Andy Rooney of the Internet, combining knee-slapping humor with useful information and genuine compassion." To enjoy Frank's latest jokes, click on SUDDENLY SENIOR. 0510

IS GOLDFISH RACING CRUEL?
The latest craze in the Wild West of the United States is goldfish racing, held in Arizona and Utah bars, and more recently on the east coast in Florida. Goldfish race in narrow troughs, hurried along by jets of water squirted at them by noisy drinkers in various states of sobriety. Would the goldfish prefer to spend their days circling aimlessly inside small glass bowls? Before answering this difficult question, read more about these races by clicking on GOLDFISH. 0509

WHY WE FORWARD JOKES TO OUR FRIENDS
Warren Bonner, a retired Orange, California businessman and former webzine editor, has urged thousands of internet surfers around the world to send their friends a sentimental story about a man and his dog wanting to enter Heaven. Many have followed his advice, but he has received virtually no credit for his contribution to global harmony. Read about this anonymous writer, by clicking on WARREN BONNER. 0509

PIZZAS FROM HEAVEN IN HAVANA
We first read about Pizzas from Heaven in an interesting story published a year ago in the Burlington Free Press, about impressions a group of US university students had gained from visiting Cuba. Their tour was arranged by Dr. Lynne Bond, a psychology professor at the University of Vermont. Read the details, and see great photos of a novel pizza delivery service, by clicking on PIZZAS. 0509

OLD-TIME JOURNOS: "BLOOD, BOOZE, BANDITS"
Still active at 91, Canadian newsman Gwyn "Jocko" Thomas must be one of the last of the English-speaking newspaper world's old-time police roundsmen. He sounds very much like several I worked with on Sydney and Brisbane dailies in the 1930s and '40s. They were hard-working, hard-drinking, chain-smoking and constantly-swearing tough guys who were on friendly terms with both cops and crims. To read more about Jocko, click on POLICE ROUNDS. 0509

BORF, KILROY, BANKSY AND MANHOLES
Kentucky attorney Natty Bumppo was interested to read about the BORF graffiti decorating/disfiguring Washington DC, which we wrote about last month. He claims his second wife invented the name Borf. To read this and other emails, click on FEEDBACK. 0509

GRAYPOW'S TWO NEW ASSOCIATES
Our global network for senior citizens, Graypow, goes from strength to strength. We warmly welcome the UK webzine Open Writing and the Canadian website FeelGood Stories. If you'd like to read several new and interesting stories every day, you'll enjoy visiting Peter Hinchliffe's Open Writing website. It offers a feast of words from regular columnists, U3A [University of Third Age] writers, and other authors. And from her home near Toronto, FeelGoodStories' founder, warmhearted French-Canadian Marie Svistunovs, offers inspirational tales and poems, and interviews about success and good deeds. 0509

RARE STAMPS: SYDNEY'S NUDE OLYMPICS
Five years after the Sydney 2000 Olympics, we've discovered a series of 20 rare stamps showing nude athletes participating in those events. To the deep regret of the world's millions of philatelists, the stamps can't be used for postage, and the athletes aren't real either. To read about these artistic stamps, and view them too, click on ARTISTAMPS. 0508

CENTENARIAN SCULPTOR JOSEFINA DE VASCONCELLOS
One of the world's most famous sculptors, Josefina de Vasconcellos, a centenarian who lived most of her life in England's picturesque Lake District, died peacefully in a Blackpool nursing home on July 20. Until her final illness she was still sculpting and planning a special Garden of Peace, to be adorned with some of her statues. To read about her remarkable achievements, click on JOSEFINA. 0508

THIS PRETTY BLONDE WILL FALL FOR YOU!
Russian artist and computer wiz Igor Alexeev has presented the world's web surfers with a truly fascinating game. It features an attractive animated blonde high-diver bouncing into huge bubbles. When you click the cursor on various parts of her body, you can make her display her versatility. When she stops, exhausted, you can fling her into action with a flick of the cursor. That sounds pretty sexy, but it's not; viewers of all ages will enjoy it. Just click on TETKA. 0508

MR. CHAD AND KILROY LIVE AGAIN
After 60 years in retirement, the world's all-time number one graffiti subject, Mr. Chad, has been resurrected in England, while in the United States, where he was known as Kilroy, he may appear on a postage stamp. He's a funny little man with wide-open eyes and a huge U-shaped nose, peering over a wall. During World War II, this comical cartoon figure appeared in the most unlikely places around the world. Read all about it, by clicking on CHAD/KILROY. 0508

NON-STICK CHEWING GUM: IS IT REALLY WRIGGLY?
British scientists have at last found a way to stop city pavements being polluted by millions of blobs of sticky chewing gum. Professor Terry Cosgrove and his colleagues have won a £12,000 prize in the University of Bristol’s New Enterprise Competition, for having developed a new non-stick chewing gum called Revolymer (Revolutionising Commodity Polymers). To read about this welcome development, click on WRIGGLY. 0508

SHEEPSHAGGERS' BEER, MANHOLES AND ARMADILLOS
We were pleased to receive a great variety of interesting and amusing emails as feedback from last month's stories. Julie Bradford, editor of All About Beer magazine, wrote to us about Shag beer and the shag dance, Alexander Kholopov (aka Kholopov Trouser) and Natalia Lamanova (aka Lamana Wooma), founders of the Moscow website Sewers of the World - Unite! told us about their new stamp project, and Kentucky attorney Natty Bumppo offered more newspaper slogans. To read these and other emails, click on FEEDBACK. 0508

NEWSPAPER SLOGANS BOAST, LIE OR LAUGH
Newspapers around the world flaunt slogans on their front pages. Many are boastful, some are untrue, and others make us laugh out loud. We've made a selection from several lists found on American websites. You can decide for yourself which category each belongs to. To read them, click on SLOGANS. 0507

PENCIL STUBS ONLINE JOINS GRAYPOW NETWORK
We warmly welcome an outstanding US literary webzine, Pencil Stubs Online, as the latest link in our Graypow global network of senior citizen sites. Published monthly, it offers professional and amateur authors and poets an opportunity to share their work and creativity, and provides exceptional reading and entertainment. You can visit the webzine by clicking on Pencil Stubs Online. 0507

MANHOLE COVERS AS WORKS OF ART
Who would have thought that such mundane objects as manhole covers would ever be regarded as works of art? A quick tour of the internet shows that some of the world's great cities proudly display these essential pieces of road furniture, and encourage artists to suggest new designs. New York, Paris,Tokyo, Seattle and Vancouver are all proud of their manholes, which are found with a wide range of patterns. For more details, click on MANHOLES. 0507

SHAG BEER'S NAME SHOCKS MINISTER
The name and marketing slogans of Shag bottled beer have so offended our State's Gaming and Racing Minister Grant McBride that he has threatened to ban the sale of the Dutch brew in New South Wales . "I'm outraged by this product," he said. "To name the product Shag links it directly with sexual intercourse - and that's not on." Not surprisingly, Mr McBride's proposed ban has evoked worldwide mirth. We searched the internet for comments, which you can read by clicking on SHAG BEER. 0507

ASTROLOGER, 95, "EXAMPLE TO ALL GREEDY MEN"
Life Begins at 80 salutes an Indian astrologer and philanthropist, Sri S A P Varadhan, who at 95 still lives a busy and varied life. One of his admirers calls him "a good example to all greedy men of the world." To read about this remarkable man, click on ASTROLOGER. 0507

Spammer deplores the ice of silence
As a rule, we trash spam emails without reading them, but we couldn't resist looking at a message headed "Production and supply of all kind football," which seems to have taken two years to reach us, as we didn't receive it until June 2005. To read the amusing details, click on SPAMMER. 0507

COWBOYS, CHURCH BELLS AND CURTAIN CALLS
The US Consul General in Australia, David Hopper, launched the American Heritage Exhibition in Melbourne on June 7. (You may remember our story, Americans Invade Australia, in the May edition). The exhibition, in the Immigration Museum, is called Cowboys, Church Bells and Curtain Calls, reflecting some of the reasons why an estimated 100,000 Americans have migrated to Oz since the First Fleet arrived in Sydney in 1788. For further details, read this newspaper report, by clicking on THE AGE. 0507

CANE TOADS, ARMADILLOS ON THE MARCH
Is global warming the reason why two tropical animal species, cane toads and armadillos, are migrating to cooler zones in Australia and America? Millions of poisonous cane toads, originally found only in Central and South America, are moving south in Australia, while large numbers of armadillos, once found only in South America, have worked their way northward through the United States, and may even invade Canada before long. To read more, click on TOADS AND ARMADILLOS. 0506

STOP THOSE RACING SHEEP!
Racing sheep are gaining popularity around the world, as we mentioned in a recent story. Now we've discovered an amusing way to stop them in their tracks. All you have to do is visit a BBC Science & Nature website, place a finger on your mouse, and click the moment you spot a sheep dashing across the screen. The idea is to test your reaction time. After three miserable results, we were rated as a bobbing bobcat on our fourth attempt. Our children and grandchildren were all much faster. Give it a go, by clicking on SHEEP. 0506

WATCH YOUR HANDSHAKES!
Movers and shakers wanting to clinch a deal in Japan must first learn how to bow correctly. If you are greeted with a bow, return with a bow as low as the one you received. Keep your palms flat next to your thighs. It is very important to remember that business cards should be given after the bow, and are given and received with both hands. To read similar useful advice for other countries, click on HANDSHAKES. 0506

AUTUMN RAIN OFFERS CONSOLATION
Thanks to the internet, what was once a little-known poem has consoled countless mourners around the English-speaking world. Unpublished when it was first written in 1932, it touched the hearts of many people. It was originally circulated among a small group of friends, who showed it to others, and it has snowballed ever since. In recent years it has gained wide distribution by email. To read about the poem and its author, click on AUTUMN RAIN. 0506

KEYBOARD KAPERS
Last year we discovered why the letters forming the word TYPEWRITER are all on the top line of most typewriter and computer keyboards. You can read that story HERE. A clever English computer geek, Steve Goodwin, has now worked out that GALAHAD and ALFALFA can both be typed on the middle line. And using only the left half of the keyboard, he's found VERTEBRATES and seven other words, and on the right half, MONOPOLY and HONOLULU. You can check this out by clicking on Steve's website. 0506

SOLAR TOWER MAY BE LESS THAN A KILOMETRE HIGH
In our March issue, we wrote about a solar tower one kilometre (3280 feet) high - nearly twice the height of the world's tallest building - planned to be built in a remote part of Australia appropriately named Sunraysia. "Cynics scoff at the idea, saying they'll believe it when they see it.," we said. Well, the cynics may be right. Read the latest report, by clicking on ABC NEWS ONLINE. 0506

FREE ACCESS TO NEWSPAPER HISTORY
If you would like to read a newspaper report of any important event of the last 188 years, you should consult The Scotsman's superb new digital archive. The Edinburgh paper - one of Britain's best - has made available every page published since its first issue in 1817. For further details, click on THE SCOTSMAN. 0505

NORDIC WALKING: SKIING WITHOUT SNOW
We've never seen a Nordic walker in action, but it's claimed that 3.5 million of earnest enthusiasts around the world take part in this strange activity. Nordic walking is like skiing without snow or skis. All you need are a couple of poles to help you walk. In America (and Australia) obesity is a national problem, and Nordic walking is seen as a pleasant way of reducing weight. To read more, click on NORDIC WALKING. 0505

SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY
If you'd like to read interesting stories every day, you'll enjoy visiting the Open Writing website. It offers "a feast of words from regular columnists, U3A [University of Third Age] writers, and other authors. Every day there's something new to read in OPEN WRITING." 0505

ALL THE WORLD LOVES CHICKEN SOUP
"Where in the world do you find chicken soup?" Knight Ridder Newspapers' feature writer Kathleen Purvis asked last month. "You could just about dip this ol' planet in soup and roll it in feathers. Translation: chicken soup is everywhere." She was reviewing Pat Solley's delightful book, "An Exaltation of Soups". To read this entertaining story, click on CHICKEN SOUP. 0505

FEEDBACK: QUEENSLAND'S STRANGE LETTERBOXES
 Adrian Martin, of Townsville, North Queensland, Australia, has told us of his encounters with strange letterboxes (mailboxes in US). To read Adrian's amusing story, click on QUEENSLAND. 0505

All above articles copyright © 2005.  Eric Shackle

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