Wednesday, 19 November 2008

New Season! Yay!

One of the best things you can ever listen to on your iPod is:

... the podcast. Each episode is a work of art - the art of telling a story, without pictures, in the most beautifully crafted audio you are likely to hear. The show would surely bring a smile to the face of the (still) great Stan Freberg.

An aside: 'Who's Stan Freberg?' says you, if you are under 30 (or 40). Stan Freberg!!! The world's greatest believer and practitioner in the power of sound and radio. As an example of Freberg's genius, (quoting from Wikipedia): 'Through the magic of sound effects, Freberg drained Lake Michigan and refilled it with hot chocolate and a mountain of whipped cream, while a giant Maraschino cherry was dropped like a bomb by the Royal Canadian Air Force to the cheers of ten thousand extras viewing from the shoreline. Freberg concluded with, "Let's see them do that on television!" '

Back to Radio Lab. The hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich are having the time of their lives delving into all sorts of issues about Life, the Universe and Everything. Wagner. Infinity. Bizarre human behaviours. Space and Time. Music. Sleep. Stress. The Placebo Effect. Deception.

Go to the iTunes store and subscribe. It's free. As in "The Best Things in Life Are..."

Each season is 5 episodes, twice a year. In between they do shorter filler episodes, and these are not too shabby either. You can get most of the back episodes at iTunes. The rest are at the Radio Lab website if you dig a little. Each episode is about an hour and explores a single topic in ways you probably won't expect.

Do yourself a favour and put on a good set of headphones, or find a time when no-one will interrupt you, crank up the amplifier a little and just LISTEN.

If you want to learn more, click the title of this blog entry and it'll take you to the 'Radio Lab' website. A comment by Dr Pamela Gay on the 'Astronomy Cast' podcast led me to 'Radio Lab'. Thank you Pamela, and Jad and Robert. You guys are brilliant.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Ultraviolence for preteens - 60's style

The picture above is one I took at the now long demolished Sydney Boxing Stadium, in 1965, when I was a wee lad of 12. The stadium was an ugly tin shed and the largest covered venue in Sydney in the '60's. The Beatles played it and never returned to Australia. The solitary figure on stage is Japanese actor Ose Koichi playing the legendary swordsman 'Shintaro' from the Japanese television series, 'The Samurai'. This show was enormously popular in Japan, the Philippines, Australia, and nowhere else. The fan base was pre-teen boys, and that was definitely me.

I can remember having long arguments with my best friend at the time about whether or not the show should be banned. I defended the show as fun and only fantasy, and my best friend (who also loved the show) argued it should be banned because it would give children bad ideas. Our arguments went round and round, and to this day I haven't turned into a homicidal sword wielding maniac or killed anyone with star-knives (although I did try and make some out of can tops).

Cashing in on the craze, promoters brought Ose to Australia for a touring show. As he naturally didn't speak a word of English, he appeared only briefly three times in the hour and a half long show to vanquish evil doers in flurries of impressive sword play. He wisely remained silent, as his voice was reportedly much higher pitched than the manly dubbed voice of the TV series.

What was the rest of the show? An evil Koga Ninja prowled around with lines like: "I am going to fight Shintaro!(Audience: Boo!) I am going to beat Shintaro!(Audience: Booo!) I am going to KILL Shintaro!!'(Audience: BOOOOO! BOOOOO!) etc... Acrobats, stunt players and dancers did assorted things the balance of the time that didn't advance the plot much.

I loved it.

And Shintaro looked right at me for the photo! Swoon!

Ose retired from acting 4 years later (1969) at the age of 32. The Sydney Stadium was torn down the following year.