Inspiration From The Distant Past

Inspiration From The Distant Past
Found note in an old book... warms the cockles of my bookish heart...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Help Australia!

Yes, here is yet another post celebrating newspapers. Not to run the topic into the ground, but really, no celebration of newspapers could be considered complete without honoring the opposite end of the spectrum. You know the kind of paper I mean: So bad it is actually good. And, oh boy, do I have a doozy for you!

Drumroll please....

Introducing the Country Star, a weekly county paper that shines like a diamond in a goat's.... Well, you get the picture. This paper has left me dumbfounded, stunned, bemused, disturbed, exasperated, incensed and completely hysterical!

Doesn't stretch my mind in any way but certainly provides lots of entertainment.

The Letters to the Editor are the most diverting. Typically, Podunk county inhabitants rave, rant and feud amongst themselves regarding county affairs and often state affairs. Occasionally national affairs catch their attention but seldom do the locals peer beyond the US borders. Never in a million years did I expect to see a plea to help the poor cursed people of Australia!

Oh, this slays me! I had no idea that DeLynne, my dear ex-pat friend and lovely co-blogger, lives in fear of her life everyday in an accursed land. Rise up America and deliver Australia from it's 'recent' plague of vicious creatures!! ;D What overwhelming absurdity!

In the Country Star, the feuds might last weeks and can be quite entertaining as well. Some of the brouhahas are as addictive as a reality show. Each week, I can't wait to see what in the world they will say next.

One woman was so riled at her town council that steam practically rose off the page. She layed into them alright but was so incoherent with rage that I never could get the gist of the matter. Since she stated several times that the town council was all 'bound up with cheese', I'm guessing that they had a serious problem indeed.

Some letters are not amusing in any way. Some are disturbing. Shameful and frightening that people still fear books. That level of mentality in this day and age is astounding.
They might as well be living in the dark ages.

Thankfully, those letters are few and far between. Most of the citizens of Podunk county are good hearted sensible people. Still, it was a culture shock to move from my Texas hometown with a population of seventy thousand and a normal newspaper to an Oklahoma county with a total population of less than twelve thousand and a weekly paper that seemed completely foreign.

It took me several years to get the groove of the Country Star. Could not perceive the charm of pie suppers, singings, hunting/fishing trophies, church doings and community news. Who could possibly be interested that Mabel Who-sit visited Thelma What-sit or that Sister Sue Ellen ate beans and cornbread at Brother and Sister George's home? Can you guess what I was thinking?

Yep, Heehaw...

Never did get the attraction of the news from the various communities. The same folks doing the same thing week after week. I suppose the writers just mention their friends and don't ask for interesting tidbits from the other community members. As the years passed, I did begin to appreciate the Country Star as a lingering remnant of americana. Started to view it in a whole new light...

More Mayberry-esque, albeit with a tad less charm.

If the residents have a particularly meddlesome week ...

It reminds me of the Shire but definitely minus the charm.

Have you ever encountered a paper similar to the Country Star? Don't know whether to hope it is unique or not the last of its kind.

Nothing remains the same, however. Guess the third generation of the publishing family was tired of the paper being a laughingstock. They hired a new editor (an outsider) a couple of years ago who immediately raised the bar.

The first thing the editor did was limit the letters to the editor to one per person per week. He also brought in new better writers to cover more actual news of the county rather than just the doings of a few.

Now, our state representatives and senators write informative weekly columns regarding capital business when the legislature is in session. Also, a few regular columnists write memory columns about county events occuring usually between the 1930s and 1950s. These stories may involve recalcitrant mules, bandits, one room schoolhouses, childhood pranks, ghosts, and wisdom gleaned from elders. So not near as many funny feuds in the Country Star but it is becoming a better quality read.

The new editor is not a local and I wondered how long he would last. Especially after a rather scathing editorial regarding the ruckus over the ten commandments on the courthouse lawn.

He retained his job though, even after pointing out the embarrassing fact that the seventh commandment was misspelled (adultry). Pitiful, isn't it? What can you do? Podunk county is what it is.

But please don't pity me my rural locality. I may not have convenient access to concerts, plays, movies, classes, shopping and other amenities of city living but there are perks to living in Podunk county. No neighbors. No traffic. Fresh air. Stars at night. A surprisingly well stocked friendly (no shushing) county library. And of course, the Country Star.


  1. +JMJ+

    Hahahahaha! This is so funny that I'm going to wait until I calm down before I attempt to leave an intelligent comment!

  2. Hahaha wow. That article is so weird, I'm not even sure I understand it. I will say, though, that when we were driving to Alice Springs, we saw one BIG GIGANTIC FREAKING SPIDER out in the middle of the road, just crawling along. My uncle was like "Hey, look, Shelob moved Down Under!" and we all screamed and screamed and screamed...
    But I don't think that's what the article was about. Hmmm I'm useless. I love Australia, though, and I fully intend to move there and bask once more in their awesomeness :D
    Thanks for sharing!
    PS my grandparents live in Texas! I think their town is like around 100,000 but I come from a big city and so it seemed really tiny by comparison :)

  3. Oh, friend, I had wondered what you were working on! This is too funny. There is at the moment a huge spider hanging out under our stairs. With his legs he's as big as my hand, a Huntsman, who eats bad spiders.

    I am struggling with some of the ideas. Do we have the Dead Sea here? Am I going to start receiving boxes of wasps from Oklahoma? And since when is Sodom and Gomorrah a cure for anything? And why are we not all wearing boots to protect ourselves from God's curse on our land? Did these creatures not exist for the 40,000 years the Aborigines lived here?

    Thanks, Lesa, that was fun!

  4. @E-- heehee...Believe me, I know just what you mean--- Wish I'd clipped more funny letters over the years. I'd keep you in stitches!

    @Amelia--- Don't worry, I've spent years in a state of bewilderment over the letters in this paper-- and laughing like a crazy woman! Makes me crazy that the guy thinks the spiders/snakes just appeared in the last few hundred years! What a moron!

    I've seen big spiders out in W. Texas on the highways. Freaky!
    Love Tolkien and love your Uncle's Shelob comment. Funny! Can hear the screams now! Thanks for sharing.

    Hey Now! Nothing is tiny in TX! ;)

  5. DeLynne, the mind boggles, doesn't it.

    I've had this crazy letter since 2006 and forgot to bring it to Tx for your last two visits.

    Everytime I run across it, I laugh till I can't breathe. Then, when I think I've recovered I read the editor's note: 'Not the candidate for county commissioner' and I go off again!

    p.s. The wasps have been shipped!

  6. As a letter to the editor contributor for the Country Star, I must say you hit the nail on the head; people have no idea what enjoyment we get from our weekly newspaper. I do especially like the ghost stories! I missed the letter about Australia but now that I have been educated about what is going on down under, I must say that I am intrigued.

  7. ha ha ha, that is hilarious! its so sweet of him to be worried about us down here with our enormous spiders and scorpions etc. he should rest assured however that we have our own native solutions to the problem, equal numbers of bunyips and drop-bears keep us safe :-)

  8. Hilarious! Australia before young, unmarried women were allowed there sounds like a heck of a lot of fun in my opinion!

  9. @Misty At least your letter was sensible and coherent--Otherwise, I'd have to blog about it. ;)

    @Mummazappa I don't know what bunyips or drop-bears are but glad things are under control Down Under. I was about to put out collection jars to raise money to send loads of wasps to help with the curse on ya'lls land. heehee

    @Torrey Sounds like fun to me too-- as long as I was one of the first gals off the boat-- What popularity!

    Actually, I think the poor guy was just talking out of his ass. The brief research I did seemed to indicate woman convicts were sent along with the men-- maybe not as many but still some. DeLynne, probably knows more about that.

  10. +JMJ+

    I think women convicts were also "transported." A couple of Historical Romances I've read take it for granted, and even though Romance novels are often "Wallpaper Historicals," this issue hasn't raised a stink in the more anal corners of the Romance reading world yet.

    And I must say, Lesa, that I wouldn't mind living in Podunk County and working for the newspaper! For one thing, I'd get first bags on all the letters to the editor. LOL!

    PS--About the misspelling on the Ten Commandments . . . Was I the only one reminded of the controversial "Adulterer's Bible"? ;) The printer made a HUGE typographical error, and the sixth commandment read: "Thou shalt commit adultery"!!!

  11. Lisa I finally got around to looking at your blog and my feelings are very hurt . This was a hugh culture shock for me even though I had been introduced by relatives who we visited each summer in Harpers Valley USA located east of Kiowa OK. But the paper was many times the only news these people got many had no TV so the rest of the world was not what they worried about daily. So anyway I kinda felt we were being made fun of. Juanita Carter

  12. @Juanita Awww friend, it's just all in good fun. A bit tongue in cheek, but I couldn't see the humor of it all if I didn't also appreciate it. It's always fun (and healthy) to poke fun at ourselves and I'm a Podunkian through and through.

    My article wasn't about the old days. I respect the folks who survived back then without electricity, indoor toilets, radio, tv ect. Surviving several icestorms with no heat, water, cooking, toilets, electricity was a big education.

  13. Enbrethiliel,
    I learned alot of history from historical romances back in the day. Spurred me to research further several times-- and helps with some Jeopardy questions too.

    I had forgotten about that bible typo-- funny! 'Thou shalt commit adultery'--- Wonder if church membership increased over that one! heehee


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