Radio Active

June 30, 2009


Hello, dear reader.

I know it might seem lately that I’ve neglected you. I don’t write as often as I once did, and perhaps you think my love for you has waned.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, that may not true – there’s probably some things that are further from the truth, like “space octopi open convenience store in Geelong”, but you get the drift of my gist. While updates to this site have been – let’s say “sluggish”, shall we? – behind the scenes it’s been all systems go. Or go-ish.

On Friday July the 10th the exciting new radio version of The Outland Institute will be unleashed, and your ears will never be the same. Every Friday from midday to 2pm (Melbourne time) we’ll be exploring pop-culture in audio form on Joy 94.9. There’ll be plenty of exciting guests, plus some boring ones to make up the numbers. And we have a glamorous selection of resident experts, including Josh Kinal from Boxcutters, Glenn Dunks from Stale Popcorn and Anne-Marie Peard from Aussie Theatre. There’s even a theme tune by David Ashton from Destination Moon – take that, ABC 2’s News Breakfast! Not so big now!

So please join us on the 10th of July – you can listen on the wireless at 94.9FM in the Melbourne metro area, or hear it streamed wherever you are through, or download the podcast version from the Joy website (I’ll provide more podcast details in due course). And keep listening after the show for Flip The Tape, Joy’s fantastic indie/eclectic music show hosted by Adam C. It’s grouse.

The website will also continue to function, with both complimentary and new material, plus you’ll be able to comment on the radio show and basically make life just that bit more bearable.

To finish with, let’s look at some Canadian bilingual kite-flying, set to The Free Design‘s 1967 classic Kites Are Fun.

Au revoir!

House Of Games: The Saddle Club Show Jumping Game

June 8, 2009

John continues to explore what happens when you take popular culture and throw dice at it…


I love horses. But I can never eat a whole one. It’s an old joke, yet it’s true. Spooky, no?

horse crazy

The source material: The Saddle Club began life as a series of tween-skewing book published by Bantam between 1986 and 2001. Presumably intended as a Sweet Valley High-type series for lonely girls named Jacinta, they were ostensibly written by Bonnie Brayant, but were reportedly churned out by a number of ghostwriters. There were 101 titles in the main series, plus spin-off series of Super Editions, Inside Stories, Pony Tales (get it!?!) and Pine Hollow.

The books are set in the fictional town of Willow Creek, Virginia, and follow the adventures of Carole Hanson, Stevie Lake and Lisa Atwood who all ride together at Pine Hollow Stables. The first book is entitled Horse Crazy, which gives some idea of what’s to come. The girls are 12 years old at the beginning of the series, and they remain that way for the next fifteen years. Perhaps Willow Creek is one of those vampire towns.

The books were made into a highly successful television series in 2001 (and by “highly successful” I mean “highly merchandised” – the show spawned an alarming amount of tie-in product, including a surprising number of half-arsed singles, such as Hello World and Hey Hey, What You Say). The series was an Australian/Canadian co-production – surely a phrase that instills fear in most people – and 52 episodes were produced over two seasons, with a third season reviving the franchise last year (while the third season is considered a continuation, it has been entirely recast due to the original stars unprofessionally refusing to stay 12-years-old for the last seven years –  it’s not surprising women can’t get decent roles on Australian television if they insist on ageing).


The Wikipedia page for the TV show claims the characters were brought together through “recognizing their love for horse riding“, which makes it sound a bit like Brokeback Mountain. Only with horses. The article goes on to say “Throughout the series, The Saddle Club has to deal with Veronica, dressage training, and competitions, as well as the troubles of their friends and staff in the fictional Pine Hollow Stables. Through perseverance and friendship, The Saddle Club always comes through. The Saddle Club also has a mission set before them: get Veronica to take care of Garnet. The Saddle Club wasn’t successful in their attempts to get Veronica to take care of Cobalt, Veronica’s earlier gorgeous horse, due to him being put down because of a jumping accident“. No wonder this article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia’s quality standards.

Read the rest of this entry »