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Blog Plus Travelog Equals Blogalog
Mike (68) invents new genre for Olive, world's oldest blogger
Eric Shackle (shack)     Print Article 
Published 2007-08-12 14:46 (KST)   
Veteran international filmmaker Mike Rubbo has invented a new form of home entertainment. He calls it a blogalog -- a cross between a blog and a travelog.

His first blogalog features the life of his 107-year-old Australian friend Olive Riley, whom he has helped become the world's oldest blogger and favorite grandma (in fact, Olive is a great-great-grandmother).

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The blogalog showcases Olive's amazingly clear memories of episodes at different stages of her long and varied life. Born in 1899 in the tough mining town of Broken Hill, in Australia's red center, she raised three children as a single mother, worked as a station (ranch) cook in outback Queensland, then moved to Sydney to become in turn a barmaid and an office worker.

Rubbo first met Olive four years ago while making a film about centenarians. He was so impressed by her youthful outlook, her forthright speech and her acting ability that he made an hour-long documentary film about her: All About Olive, which ABC-TV broadcast throughout Australia.

He uses clips from that film to illustrate the blogalog, together with a large selection of still photographs and ancient newspaper clippings. Adding variety to the blogalog, Olive sings several once-popular songs with a surprisingly firm voice: "Bye Bye Blackbird," " K-K-K-Katie," "Pack Up Your Troubles," "You're the Only Star in My Blue Heaven" and others, all of which can be viewed and heard separately as YouTube videos.

In another YouTube video, Rubbo proves to be an outstanding raconteur and actor, as he tells a story about a deserted gold-mining town, Talbotville, in Victoria.

Thousands of Net surfers around the world, of all ages, have viewed the 31 episodes of the blogalog so far posted. Their comments, which are also posted, often digress from the main theme, leading to other topics for future posts.

Here, for instance, are just a few of the hundreds of enthusiastic responses to Olive's memories of the Great Depression (1929-1933). Strangely, many of them came from senior citizens now enjoying the good life in Florida, USA:

I enjoyed the post as usual. I remember when I was a kid; my father told me stories about when he was a kid. He was born in 1935 and said when he was little that they used to save up all the fat drippings from whatever they had cooked. Every so often, someone would come around and collect all the drippings from the neighborhood for the war effort. Supposedly, there is glycerin in fat drippings, which the government utilized to make explosives, as well as antiseptics of a sort.
-- Eric Stamper, Jacksonville, Florida

Olive, your blog is amazing. Thanks so much for sharing your stories of the Depression. When my grandmother was alive, she used to tell us bits and pieces of what life was like during the Depression in the heart of the Dust Bowl. She lived on a farm in Oklahoma (in the U.S.) with her parents, brothers and sisters, until her father had to move them to the "big city," Oklahoma City, to find work. My grandmother wasn't able to go to college since it was too expensive, so she got a job in a department store where she met my grandfather.

When I was a little girl, I remember watching, horrified, as my grandfather would put an enormous amount of butter and jelly on his toast at breakfast. He said it was because he still remembered what it was like during the Depression when he couldn't afford butter or jelly. Not having basic food like that was so hard for me to imagine.
-- Kristin Park, Arizona

Hi, Olive and Mike. I don't have any stories, I just want to say how much I enjoy this wonderful "blob." Olive, these stories would be lost without you to tell them, and Mike, we would not have them without your recording them. Mike, you make Olive's stories even more personable with your comments and photos. I added a link from my blog so others can find you. I hope there will be many-more fascinating tales to come.
-- Suzz, Northeast Florida

Been a bit busy lately so I just got back to the blog. Wow! that ghost town story is pretty special! At least you saw it Mike, and the story lives on even if the town doesn't.
-- Wendy Rogers

My grandparents went thru the depression, and it is such an obvious difference in attitude - they save everything and fix everything while the mindset today is typically "throw it out and get a new one." In fact, these days it is often cheaper to replace something than it is to fix it.
-- Christina, Clearwater, Florida
Australian-born Rubbo, 68, studied anthropology, graduating with honors at Sydney University. He won Fulbright and Ford scholarships to study media at Stanford University in California, where he gained a master's degree.

He worked at the National Film Board of Canada for 25 years directing more than 40 documentaries, including "Sad Song of Yellow Skin" (1970), "Waiting for Fidel" (1974) and "Solzhenitsyn's Children" (1979).

He also wrote and directed four fiction feature films, "The Peanut Butter Solution" (1986), "Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveler" (1988), "Vincent and Me" and "The Return of Tommy Tricker" (both 1990). These films won many prizes including an Emmy, and two gold medals from Parents' Choice as the best videos of the year.

In the early '70s, Rubbo returned to Australia every year to teach at a film school, doing eight-week-long intensive sessions. On weekends, he ran retreats and gave public lectures. He also taught at Harvard University for two years and has been a visiting lecturer at New York University, University of California-Los Angeles and Stanford University.

In 1995, he returned to Australia as head of documentaries at the ABC, instigating the "Race Around the World" series that led to a new generation of documentary makers.

Since leaving the ABC, Rubbo has researched, written, directed and shot his own films. He has also been trialing new low-cost people-to-people distribution initiatives. He bought a data projector and traveled to New South Wales (NSW) and Victorian country towns with his documentary "Much Ado About Something," staging "debates on the finer points of English literature wherever he could muster a few sheep and a farmer."

These days, Rubbo spends much of his time preparing the next post for the Blogalog and making a series of great YouTube videos, in which he reveals himself to be a younger down under version of Britain's favorite granddad, Peter Oakley, who has become a national figure for his blog Geriatric1927.

In one of his best efforts, Rubbo tells Olive about his idyllic childhood holidays at Bateau Bay, NSW. Later, when making a film in Russia, he met a beautiful Russian girl, Katya, who was his interpreter. Then he revisited Bateau Bay, with Katya as his wife.

YouTube video storylines don't get any better than that.
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Eric Shackle

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