Mega comet coming, Hollywood ups and downs, UK petrol crisis, taxi-top gardens

Oct 6, 2021 Episode 67

Mega comet near sun in 10 years, box office highs but threat of workers strike, UK petrol crisis and Thailand’s taxi-top gardens

Episode Transcript

EPISODE 67: Mega Comet Coming


OPENING STING – LEELA: “New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!” 


LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – the news pool for curious kids and adults!  

I’m your host Leela Sivasankar Prickitt and, as ever, I’m joined by the big story explainer and sound effects finder, otherwise known as my Mama.

MAMA: Hello, hello – I’m Lyndee Prickitt. 

LEELA: In Newsy Pooloozi this week An enormous comet, possibly the biggest ever detected, is flying through the sky toward our inner solar system. OMG. Find out when and how close it will come to us (don’t worry – we’re not in its direct path!).

Hollywood is happy but stressed there’s good news at the box office, but trouble behind the scenes. Speaking of trouble, we’ll explain Britain’s petrol crisis and the worries it will affect Xmas dinner. And, finally, ever heard of a taxi-top garden? Well, it’s a thing!

LEELA: But first, it’s time for… 

BIG NEWS STORY STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “The big news story of the week!”

MAMA: And when we say big, we mean BIG. Yes, one of the biggest comets ever seen is making its way from the edge of our solar system towards us. 

LEELA: A huge ice body that orbits the sun with a fiery tale that looks like a coma is edging closer and closer! 

MAMA: It’s so big astronomers thought it was a dwarf planet when they first identified it. But closer analysis revealed it was moving way  too rapidly through the Oort cloud for that.

LEELA: The Oort Cloud – what’s that again?

MAMA: Ah, that’s a huge, distant region of space thought to hold trillions of icy bodies from the early solar system. 

LEELA: Oh, yeah. Isn’t it also called a “scrap-yard of icy rocks?”

MAMA: Yeah, good one. So this object appeared to be headed our way and it had a glowing tail. 

LEELA: Right, that’s when the ice particles fly off the comet and turn into gas when it gets too close to the sun. 

MAMA: Exactly. So they realized it wasn’t a dwarf planet, but a comet – a massive oval-shaped comet at least 62 miles (or 100 kilometers) wide and over a 100 miles long. 

LEELA: What?! Most comets are like a mile or two long – you know – the size of a neighbourhood. But that’s more like the size of the county.  

MAMA: Or a small state even. 

LEELA: But, uhhh, how many years till this mega-comet comes close to Earth? (laughs nervously)

MAMA: Oh, about ten or so. 

LEELA: What? Only ten? Like in my lifetime? 

MAMA: Yeah, but don’t worry – even when the Bernardinelli-Bernstein comet, named after the scientists who spotted it, gets as close to us as possible, it won’t pose a threat. 

LEELA: Phew! 

MAMA: Yes, it’ll make its closest approach in January 2031, when the massive icy body is expected to come within about a billion miles of the sun, that’s roughly as far as Saturn is from us on Earth. 

LEELA: Oh. That’s far. So we won’t even be able to see it with our eyes? 

MAMA: Well, depending on how much gas the comet releases as its ices vaporizes in the glare of the sun, it could get as bright in the night sky as Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. If so, it should be visible with a decent backyard telescope. In 2031.

LEELA: Hmmmm. It’s interesting but, ummm. I mean, it’s not coming for ten years and then it’s so far away you can only see it with a telescope. 

MAMA: Well, yes, it is a big deal – because as it gets closer astronomers, with their HUGE telescopes, will get a right and proper good look at it. And because it’s come from the Oort Cloud – 

LEELA: The icy scrap-yard from the beginning of the solar system. 

MAMA: Right, so imagine what a rich source of information that will be for our understanding of the world and the early solar system.

LEELA: Alright, you’ve convinced me! 

MAMA: Alright. Let’s come back down to Earth for the rest of our news stories, shall we? 

LEELA: Oh, yeah. 

MAMA: So, guess what huge thing happened to millions of people over the weekend in America? 

LEELA: Hmmmm

MAMA: I’ll give you a clue


ACE STING – LEELA/MAMA: “Now it’s the ace part of our podcast: Arts, Culture and Entertainment. Darling.” 

MAMA: Yes – big entertainment news this week, folks: millions of people in America and around the world….

LEELA: I’m waiting for it…

MAMA: Went to the movies! 

LEELA: That’s it?!

MAMA: What do you mean, that’s it? Do you know how much Americans – wait, the whole world loves going to the movies? Like into a theatre. And because they haven’t been able to because of the pandemic?

LEELA: Oh… yeah! Popcorn, candy, dark, loud theatres, big screens… 

MAMA:  Yeah Right?! Well, last weekend people crowded into theaters in levels not seen since the pandemic hit. 

LEELA: Not us. 

MAMA: Not yet. In fact, not a lot of young people in general. For more on this story, we need to head state-side and hear from our US entertainment correspondent, Lani Power. 

LEELA: Take it away, Lani. 

LANI: It’s time to grab your popcorn and soda because movies are back! 

I guess people are kind of tired of being cooped up in their houses with their little screens and are ready to see movies on the big screen again! 

And the bigger the better, because IMAX, a company who makes HUGE movie screens, just had their 

biggest October weekend ever!

The most popular movie in the US last weekend was the sequel to Venom – the superhero film featuring the Marvel Comics character called – you guessed it – Venom.

Internationally though, the top movie is…. Bond. James Bond. 


Both sequels got about as much money as the originals did BEFORE the pandemic, with the new Venom movie making even more than the first one!!!

Not everybody is running back to the movies though. 

The new animated film The Addams Family 2 released on Friday and made less than a quarter of Venom’s earnings. But that could be because not a lot of kids are vaccinated and families are still being careful. That’s the case with my family.

We’re excited to get back into the movie theaters, but only once my little sister gets vaccinated!

In Florida this is Lani Power, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!

LEELA: Thanks, Lani. That sure must be good news for Hollywood. 

MAMA: Absolutely, though there is some not-so-good news too. You see, after months of pandemic lockdowns, Hollywood’s film and TV sets have been booming in recent months. But crew members – the hundreds and thousands of people who help make a film possible besides the actors and director say the hours and demands placed on them have become worse than ever.

LEELA: For more on this story let’s go to California where our LA reporter, Porter Robbins has the latest.

PORTER: Thanks, Leela. 

So, you know a union is an organization for workers in the same kind of jobs, right? 

Well, the union that represents some of Hollywood’s most important workers has voted to approve a strike. 

Now what is a strike, you ask? 


No, it’s not when you miss hitting a baseball. 

It’s actually when a group of workers all decide to stop working all at the same time as a form of protest, usually to get better working conditions or better pay. 

That’s what’s happening with the Members of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) – wow, what a long name! 

They represent a load of people in the movie industry from the camera operators to the set builders and makeup artists.

They say they’re working grueling hours, some work 18 hours straight, day after day! – with no guaranteed rest or meal breaks.

So, they’re demanding better work conditions and better pay from, particularly from streaming services, to cover their share of labor.

If they don’t come to an agreement with the production companies – and decide to actually go on strike – it could shut down nearly all US film and television production.

In Los Angeles, I’m Porter Robbins, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi

LEELA: Thanks for that update, Porter. Let’s hope they all come to an agreement soon. 



WORLD WRAP STING – LEELA: “What’s that? I’ll tell you what. That’s the halftime bell! Which means… It’s time to hear what’s making news around the rest of the world. Hold on tight, it’s around the world in 80 seconds.” 

MAMA: Tough times for Facebook. First the social media giant had a six-hour blackout across its platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp. And now a former employee is testifying before the US Senate, saying the company’s sites and apps harm children, create divisions and weaken democracy. 

After weeks of gushing lava the Spanish volcano in the Canary Islands is erupting even more aggressively. And it’s not the only one. A volcano in Hawaii is also going for it, though officials expect the latest eruption to be confined to the summit. 

An oil spill is threatening sea life in southern California. Investigators are looking into whether a ship’s anchor may have struck a pipeline on the ocean floor causing 126-thousand gallons of heavy crude oil to spill into the ocean off Huntington Beach.

Speaking of fish, salmon are getting smaller. That’s according to a new study that found four out of five of Alaska’s wild salmon species have gotten smaller in size in the last few years, because of climate change.

And space history is being made – again – as a Russian actor and a director arrive at the International Space Station. Why? To spend 12 days shooting a movie in orbit, of course. 


LEELA: As ever, thanks for that whippity-whappity-zippity-zappity world wrap, Mama!

MAMA: Always a pleasure. Now let’s turn our attention to the UK, where gas is on everyone’s mind.

LEELA: Oh, those funny Brits. They do love their bathroom jokes. 

MAMA: Not that kind of gas, Lyndee. We’re taking Petrol.  Fuel. 

LEELA: Oh, right. All those lines at gas stations in England. The fuel shortage. I knew that.

MAMA: Right. Well, actually, not quite. It’s not the fuel that’s in short supply, as our south of England correspondent Jackson Hosking is about to tell us. 

LEELA: Alright then,  Jackson.  Give us the low-down on the long lines.


JACKSON: Yeah, things have been pretty tense here when it comes to filling up your car with petrol. 

I personally haven’t waited in any long lines. But for those who have it’s not fun. 

My dad and brother had to drive to about four different petrol stations before they found the one where they could fill up their car or else they would really struggle to get to work. 

And my mom and her friends were constantly texting each other with any news of petrol stations that were open and selling fuel. 

But the funny thing is,  it’s not the petrol that’s in short supply. It’s the drivers! Yep, some petrol stations have been forced to close due to a shortage of delivery drivers. Why? 

Well you may remember a year and a half ago the UK officially left the European Union. Not only did that mean products couldn’t freely come into the country, it also meant lots of people no longer had the right to live and work in the UK.

And – surprise, surprise – that’s meant there’s a shortage of truck drivers. And not just for fuel, but even food – most notably poultry,  like chicken and turkey, by the way. So,  the government is sending in the troops. To act as drivers,  delivering petrol to garages across the country.

And it will also issue 5,000 temporary visas for foreign drivers, which means they’ll be able to work until Christmas Eve. Phew. Some of us were a bit worried about those Xmas turkeys, I can tell you. In the South of England, I’m Jackson Hosking, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi.

MAMA: Thanks a lot, Jackson. 

LEELA: And finally, let’s see what the lucky dip machine has for us this week.



ODDBALL STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “Step right up, step right up… Have a go at the lucky dip machine… What’s it gonna be today, eh? An oddball, no doubt!”

LEELA: So, ever heard of taxi top gardens??

MAMA: Ummm… what?

LEELA: So, if you’ve ever been to Thailand  which I have as it’s so close to India and it’s one of my favorite places in the whole world – you would know their taxes are pretty colorful.  

MAMA: That they are. The whole country’s colorful.

LEELA: Yep. Well, so it’s no wonder the taxis are pink and not just any pink but bright Barbie pink and also bright Florida-orange orange. 

And As if pink and orange taxis weren’t odd enough, get a load of this.

MAMA: Oh, hold on – let me cue the music.

LEELA: Aaaand play. 


LEELA: So as we all know, the pandemic pretty much stopped tourism around the world for months. 

Well in Bangkok it’s still going on – and that’s a big deal because the country relies on tourists a lot. 

But with tough lockdown restrictions and therefore little to do, taxi drivers of the Thai capital returned to their villages, where at least they could get lots of food to eat. 

Parking lots began to pile up and up with row-upon-row of empty pink and orange taxes. 

Many of them had already been falling apart from constant use. 

Well,  then came no use – no engine turning, they just sat in a hot and seriously humid city.  

Not surprisingly, they began to deteriorate further and further.  

The parking lots became taxi graveyards of the old thriving tourism industry.

Well, a few folks left behind at one parking lot were getting hungry and, probably bored, so guess what they did? 

They turned the tops of the pink and orange cars into garden plots, of course!

They grew  eggplants, cucumbers, zucchini, basil and chilies.

And that’s not all. 

They’ve even turned the tires into little frog ponds.

And now, we’re happy to report their bellies are full, even if their cars are empty. 



FAB FACTS STING – LEELA: “And it’s time to wrap up the podcast with the top five fab facts heard today. Here goes…” 

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 1 –  One of the biggest comets EVER seen is coming our way. 

What is a comet?

An icy object that orbits the sun with a fiery tale that looks like a coma. 

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – Why do icy comets have fiery tales? 

When the comet gets too close to the sun, ice particles fly off it and turn into gas.

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – This mega comet is believed to come from a  huge, distant region of space thought to hold trillions of icy objects that were formed in the early solar system. What’s the name of this area? 

The Oort Cloud 

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – A union of people who work behind the scenes of movies might go on strike to demand better working conditions and more pay. What’s a union ?

An organization of workers from the same field who group together to campaign for better working conditions.  

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – And what is a worker’s strike? 

When a group of workers decide to stop working as a form of protest, usually to get better working conditions or better pay. 

And don’t forget, if you want to test yourself later on, then go to the Lucky Dip page of our website, its www.newsypooloozi.com and take this quiz online in your own time!

LEELA: And that almost brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi – the news pool for curious kids and adults. 

As you know last week we drained our Jacuzzi and created our bigger and better pooloozi. But boy did we have some stellar suggestions about what we could have renamed ourselves. 

MAMA: Yes, we asked our most dedicated followers to suggest some alternatives to Newsy Ja- (bleep). And, boy, did we get some great ones.

LEELA: Like News Whirl. 

MAMA: News Rules.

LEELA: The Newsy News Pod. 

MAMA: I quite like that. Though my personal favorite was The News Happy Hour. 

LEELA: I thought your favorite was Newsy Unbranded Hot Tub? You nearly spit your tea out laughing so hard when you read that.

MAMA: Omigosh – yes – I nearly forgot about that. That is so good. 

LEELA: And there were a lot of food-centric names too, like the News Stew. 

MAMA: The News Soup.

LEELA: The News Burrito?! I love that!

MAMA: I think y’all are hungry!

LEELA: But if you’re looking for fun to say there was the World Newsy for Youzie.

MAMA: And, of course, a couple of y’all came so close to Newsy Pooloozi – with a couple of different spellings for Newza Poolooza – which actually considered, but was taken, would you believe. 

LEELA: But of course – the best answer was the person who nearly, so nearly, guessed the real name change. 

MAMA: That was the best answer because, of course, it’s the best name. Yes, on Instagram @homeschoolry nearly nailed it with newsipaloosi -z

LEELA: So close. But you spelt it with an A. Minor difference, but whatever.

MAMA: No, big difference we are a POOL of news. 

LEELA: Yeah, I guess, but they came really close. 

MAMA: Well, that’s why we’ll be in touch with you – @homeschoolry – to send some new Newsy Pooloozi merch. 


LEELA: And that’s it from us, folks. Don’t forget to check out our website – that’s newsypooloozi.com – p-o-o-l  o-o-z-i.com

See you next week in the happy, splashy giant Newsy Pooloozi!

And don’t forget, if you want to test yourself later on, then go to the Lucky Dip page of our website,  newsypoolozzi.com, that’s pool-o-o-z-i, and take this quiz online in your own time!