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Hugh Jackman plays Jean Valjean, holding Isabelle Allen as Young Cosette, in a scene from Les Miserables.

Associated Press

Super fan adores Les Miz

"Sally Frith from Gloucestershire is a massive fan of Les Miserables," reports BBC News. "In 25 years, she has notched up 957 visits to see the famous musical on stage and has possibly spent more than £50,000 ($79,000) in doing so. 'I think it is one of the greatest musicals ever written,' she said. 'I love the story, love the songs and everything about it, and I've got to know quite a few cast members over the years.' … The film [version] is now out on general release and will Ms. Frith be going to see it? 'Of course,' she says, excited about her planned trip to the cinema on Monday. 'I will have to look at it with a totally different mind-frame because it's going to be a film, not a stage version, but from what I've heard it's going to be absolutely mind-blowing.'"

A low-cost model

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"While other 72-year-old Chinese men spend their days practising tai chi and playing mah-jong, Liu Qianping is enjoying a twilight career modelling clothes: women's clothes," says The Wall Street Journal. "At a fall fashion shoot, the 5-foot-8 former rice farmer from central Hunan vamped for the camera in lacy green tights and white-fur-lined pink dresses. Online and on TV, he has become a meme, with his image circulated by millions on Chinese media sites and talk shows. He owes his star turn to his granddaughter, Lu Ting, a clothier who struggled for months to find a model who could boost her online store without breaking the bank. 'He's just so slender,' Ms. Lu says of her 110-pound grandfather."

Gorilla on a high wire

"Zoo staff say that a tightrope-walking gorilla's attempts to impress the ladies appear to have paid off," reports Orange Co. U.K. "Kidogo has been accepted as a mate by both of the females in his enclosure since his high-wire display at Germany's Krefeld Zoo. One keeper said: 'They can't seem to get enough of his company – his high-wire jinks really do the trick.' " Zoo spokeswoman Petra Schwinn said: "We have observed he really seems to prefer walking upright like a human; we think he might be copying the visitors. And because he wants to show who's boss, he's showing that he can do it better than we can – by walking on a high wire." The tightrope had been intended for Kidogo to hang from, but keepers were amazed when he climbed up and began walking on it instead.

A sheepdog for penguins

"In 2005, the Little Penguin population of Australia's Middle Island dropped to fewer than 10 birds," writes Laura Moss of Mother Nature's Network. "When volunteers began keeping records in the 1990s, more than 700 penguins lived there. … At low tide, the small rocky island, which is situated just a few hundred feet from the mainland, is easily accessible by tramping tourists and hungry predators – namely the European red fox, an introduced species." Then an environmental science student who worked part-time on a free-range egg farm suggested placing Maremma sheepdogs – the same animals his employer used to protect chickens – on Middle Island. "Maremmas have been used in Italy to protect sheep from predators and thieves for centuries. Unlike herding breeds that nip and chase flocks, these dogs bond with the animals they protect and integrate with the herd, making them ideal guardians." The Warrambool city council agreed to a four-week trial in 2005 to test the idea. It was successful and penguin numbers are currently back in the hundreds.


"Knowledge is a comfortable and necessary retreat and shelter for us in advanced age, and if we do not plant it while young, it will give us no shade when we grow old."

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Lord Chesterfield

English statesman (1694-1773

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