Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Comparisons #6: ST Magazine UK/Aust vs ST Magazine US

Continuing my series of comparisons between the UK/Australasian and US editions of "Star Trek" magazine.

And that latest issue turned up Down Under today! While #6 of the US version of Titan's Star Trek (JUL/AUG 2007) is the regular 66 page size, the UK/Aussie version (#91 SEP/OCT 2007; #133 UK) has a bonus lift-out section and is 98 pages!

The UK/Aust. bonus material features "Star Trek: The Extended Universe", a pictorial guide to characters in various Pocket Star Trek tie-in novels and eBooks, compiled by the novelists themselves:

* "Star Trek: New Frontier" by Peter David.

* "Star Trek: Corps of Engineers" (formerly "S.C.E.") by Keith RA DeCandido.

* "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" (post-series relaunch) by Michael A Martin.

* "Star Trek: Stargazer" by Michael Jan Friedman.

* "Star Trek: Voyager" (post-series relaunch) by Keith RA DeCandido.

* "Star Trek: Klingon Empire" (formerly "I.K.S. Gorkon") by Keith RA DeCandido.

* "Star Trek: Vanguard" by David Mack.

* "Star Trek: Titan" by Michael A Martin.

* A two-page UK Forbidden Planet bookshop catalogue, "The Forbidden Ferengi".

* A four-page article, by Curt Danhauser, on the old Power and Peter Pan TOS record/comic sets.

* A competition for UK fans to win DS9 DVD boxed sets.

The next US issue is again back up to 98 pages, with the bonus pages featuring the 20th anniversary of "The Next Generation".

Editor Paul Simpson has assured US fans online that arrangements are in place for the different editions to be standardized as from the next issue, differing only in advertising content.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

By the light of the crimson moon

lunar eclipse

Sydney hosted a gorgeous crimson-coloured lunar eclipse tonight. As usual, the various television news programs delighted in demonstrating precisely how lunar eclipses work, and they did a great job of encouraging viewers to go outside and observe the "blood moon" for themselves, but it's hard to look up and not wonder what ancient peoples of the world must have thought - what omens were being summoned forth - by such spectacular natural phenomena.

And a big welcome to all my fellow lunatics.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Thongs to thing for Spring


Yesterday, a week before September, the men of Sydney doffed their Winter socks and runners, and dug out their trusty thongs (flip flops for my US readers), from the dark recesses of wardrobes all over the city, to enjoy more fully the gorgeous Sunday sunshine that we received.

I went down to Penrith Showground to check out the annual display of students' art and craft in the Penrith District Show - my class really cleaned up on prize ribbons last year - and although my school did quite well, I didn't have the same emotional response since - now I'm in the library - I'm not teaching any art and craft. Sigh.

In any case, as I was saying, yesterday there was an hilarious increase in the number of Aussie men displaying tanned legs and lily-white ankles above their thonged feet. You'd think they'd spend a few days getting a more even tan around the backyard before venturing out, but no... yesterday was the first appropriate day for thong wearing, and wear thongs they did! Tan lines? Who cares about tan lines!

I would guess that, in a few more weeks, the fashion conscious guys will realize that last summer's thong varieties are so passe, and there'll be a sudden switch of styles. Gone are the days when Aussie double-pluggers were manufactured here (by the Dunlop tyre people, of course), and worn for years until the foot outline wore through to the pavement underneath, and the thongs literally fell apart. (Unless the lugs broke on the straps first.) Nowadays, Aussie men are allowed to be metrosexual enough to own several pairs of thongs at once (eg. Bodie in "Big Brother" this year entered the house boasting seven pairs, each pair colour-coded to his designer outfits!). Keeping up with the new season's designs is almost compulsory.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

"Let's do the Time Warp Factor Ten"

I was recently shown this great Youtube link and just had to share it. I can't imagine how much thought and research went into it. Hilarious - and great work!

"The Rocky Horror Show" is actually returning to the stage in Sydney very soon, with iOTA, of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" fame, playing Frankenfurter, and the delightful and perky Sharon Millerchip as the delightful and perky Columbia. I've seen several stage versions of "Rocky" over the decades and it's always been a whole lotta fun.

Sunday's magic number: 93.9 - yay! Still on the downward slope - and that includes yesterday's pancake brunch with the stars, a picnic, a Margarita, several shortbread bikkies, and the three vanilla frosted cupcakes I made last night! (But I did share! From the original batch of twelve, there are still six of them winking at me from inside the cake tin. I can almost hear them scrabbling around inside, saying, "Eat me! Please, eat me!")

Saturday, August 25, 2007

David and Donner Down Under

Over the past few weeks, I've been swapping emails back and forth with a Canberra-based convention organiser, Onelia, who has two upcoming Sci-Nut conventions: one tomorrow in Canberra, and one next Sunday in Brisbane.

I suggested to her that if her guests were passing through Sydney after arriving at the airport, she might like to whisk them through some of the sights and sounds of the Harbour. My Star Trek Meet-up Group was already planning to picnic at McMahon's Point - although, of course, some bright spark decided that this weekend was the perfect time to renovate the McMahon's Point ferry wharf.

And so it was that Onelia invited a group of us to brunch with novelist David R George III and his wife, Karen - and Star Trek actor, Jack Donner - at a venue (suggested by me): Pancakes at the Rocks.

Tal cloaked
Tal the Romulan with
personal cloaking device activated

(Diane Duane would call this The Empty Chair of the Rihannsu, no doubt.)

A Romulan decloaks!

Jack & David in Oz
Jack Donner (Tal the Romulan from "Star Trek" and Vulcan Priest from "Enterprise") and Star Trek novelist David R. George III at Pancakes at the Rocks, Sydney, today. Straight off the plane but already greeting the local fans!

Jack, David and Karen were all confident, funny and charismatic guests - and hopefully we represented Australian star trek fandom well. Thanks so much Onelia! I'll see you all on 2nd September in Brissie!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Breakfast with the star(s)

Stay tuned to hear the true tale of the jet-lagged Star Trek novelist force-fed pancakes - at The Rocks - in good ol' downtown Sydney, Down Under.

Brunch is summoning. And - luckily for me - it's my weekly Junk Food Day!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Writers blogging

I just discovered that a writer/reviewer/editor friend, Judith Ridge, who works on the editorial staff of the long-running "School Magazine" (NSW Department of Education & Training), has a very slick and erudite webblog, The New Misrule Blog. Judith focuses on children's literature, of course, and her blog was recently reviewed in the latest issue of the professional journal, "Scan", my own old editorial stamping ground. A "Scan" reviewing colleague, Carol Thomas, praised Judith's work in the review, suggesting ways teachers might use it for both information, and as a weblog model of excellence. Carol also provided some pithy comments on blogging and the Internet in general; I absolutely love Carol's incisive observation that "the electronic world is choked with egocentric ramblings".

Egocentric ramblings? Mmmmm, sounds a lot like my blog?!

If you follow the link above to Judith's site, you'll see she links to blogs from other colleagues and contacts from my days at State Office, including former editor of "School Magazine", Jonathan Shaw, and the zany novelist, poet, globetrotter and film buff, Geoffrey McSkimming, creator of Cairo Jim!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Meet Ortees Sharad

Ortees Sharad

Coming very soon from IDW Publishing:

Star Trek: Aliens Spotlight: Andorians is a one-issue comic written by Paul Storrie, with art by Leonard O'Grady, and four alternate covers (the above cover by Zach Howard and O'Grady).

"In the vast Star Trek universe, many diverse alien races abound, and now they finally get their due! Continuing a series of one-shots, each by a different creative team and featuring a different Star Trek alien race. Now, the spotlight shines on the Andorians." In this issue, "Andorian Ortees Sharad, a Commander in Starfleet Intelligence, returns to his homeworld while on leave and finds himself in the midst of mistrust and deception, and is captured by a renegade commander of the 'True Heirs of Andor'."

Sounds very, very cool! I think I've been waiting for this comic since... oh, about December 1979!

Captain's Log: Supplemental. Initial promotional material called the feature character of this comic "Ortees Shared".

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Tellarite never reveals what's under his kilt

I know you're dying to ask, but I'm not telling whether or not I decided to wear the official Paramount Pictures Tellarite fat-suit under the ambassadorial robes or not! (I'm actually convinced that the design of the outfit, the fabric, and the pattern are intended to accentuate bulges, to give the illusion of porcine dimensions - whereas the Andorian outfit made me feel quite buff!)

Tellarite robes
Ian tries on the Ambassador Gral's robe (and trousers).

The tailoring on these outfits is truly amazing. To think that so much work - often completely unnoticed in the episodes, such as to render it invisible, or at least not jarringly wrong - went into even minor Star Trek characters!

Andorian plus Tellarite jacket
Ambassador Gral's matching topcoat is even more elaborate!
The elaborate design on the back (below) includes dark fabric sections to match the trousers.

Gral costume back

Monday, August 20, 2007

When programs crash...

Success! For the last fortnight, I've been trying to think of sneaky ways to out-think an old, corrupted BB Edit Lite program, which is installed on my old iMac computer, because all the original files for my various fan web sites are stored on the iMac's hard drive and they need the program to open. (It didn't matter if I tried to open the file I needed to change - which used to open the program automatically - or, now, even clicking on the program itself, which used to work up until a few months ago.)

An old Internet contact had emailed a few weeks ago to ask me to remove their name from my website; their new job meant that they no longer wanted to be associated with fannish trivialities, and their name on my site was coming up as the top entry when theirr employees Googled the boss's name! Try as I might, I couldn't access the files to make the requested deletion. But I just now realised what to do: I simply duplicate and rename the .html file I need to change to a .txt file.

It worked! Now that I've come into BB Edit Lite via the back door, as it were, I can make the changes I need to make and upload the new version of my site to the Web. Be back soon!

Who needs a computer guru these days?

Note to self: "Ummmm, me?"

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fat free forever: Phase III

Why, oh why, did Dianne Barker call it "Fat Free Forever"? As a diet plan, it works perfectly. I'm now doing it for the third time. (There's an irony there.) Just over a year ago, on this very blog, I boasted that I was mere kilograms from my goal weight again. I was ecstatic! But, inevitably, Christmas rolled around - with all the parties, farewells, celebrations, retirements, and those lazy days of sitting around the house, playing on the Internet and watching DVDs - and I spent all of January too scared to hop on the scales, at least until I thought I'd gotten back to within reach of that goal weight. I also joked, based on my first dieting endeavours with the book from the 90s, that I could writing my own book called "Fat Free For Five Years". Mmmmm. "Fat Free For Five Months", perhaps.

Unfortunately, that day never came. I surprised myself that I could fit into the Andorian costume I won on eBay, and I think I may have relaxed too much (stupid, really, because the costume's made of stretch lycra, and it's designed to hide all the flabby bits!) Very soon after that, I was straining and breathless to tie my shoelaces again. Deja vu! I suddenly had an awful feeling that I'd crept right back up to my mass of about two years ago. (So, out came the scales, and you know, I had put back almost everything I'd so recently lost! Heartbreaking!)

Two Sundays ago, after a particularly unsatisfying takeaway pizza feast, I started all over again. You see, there's nothing wrong with Dianne's diet plan; if you stop putting fat in your mouth, and do lots of walking, then you won't add fat to your body. Easy! (Yeah, easy. Ha!)

Without a doubt, the hardest bit is being disciplined about how, and what, and when, you eat. "Fat Free Forever" urges you to keep your body running as you'd keep a car engine running: use the best fuel; keep the car topped up all the time (including morning and afternoon snacks); and don't let the car engine run dry. Makes perfect sense. And the body's metabolism definitely starts to run faster. (I definitely remember the day that my metabolism first slowed down. I reckon it was the day I turned 30, and so does my waistline. I also figure it slowed down again, quite noticeably, at age 40.)

Dianne recommends that, if you want to eat the five starchy carbohydrates (bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, cereals) then do it before the mid afternoon so your body is not tempted to store up the goodness for later on, when you'll just be sleeping anyway. (Wow, that's weird; there is an "expert" discussing carbohydrates on the radio as I type! Essentially, the speaker agrees with Dianne about their value, and busted some of the myths, suggesting that a dry sponge and a wet sponge look exactly the same, but one will have more mass. Similarly, your body needs to have a store of carbohydrates for the day, and you'll weigh more on the scales, but it doesn't mean that the body is carrying new fat. Cool!)

"Fat Free Forever" also recommends celebrating with a "Junk Food Day" meal. It's certainly something to strive towards! Once a week, with your metabolism running fast, having a meal of junk food sends your system into overdrive, and it actually works harder to process the greasy stuff. The problem with having junk food every day is that it slows down the metabolism. And eating fat regularly makes you crave fat. Of that I don't think anyone would disagree.

Regular exercise is certainly not a problem for me. I don't own a car, and I walk a lot. (And the dog has ways of making me feel guilty if I don't take him with me.) But... I often wonder how big I'd be if I did have a car. Obviously I don't walk enough for the food intake when not on the diet. Well, it's a diet plan for forever, of course, but I am constantly amazed by how much walking is supposedly needed to walk off a bag of hot french fries. I can promise myself to "walk it off" before eating the chips all I like, but the reality is that I probably won't end up doing it, and there lies the problem. If I don't put fat in my mouth, then I won't be adding fat to my body. Sigh.

Without a doubt, my problem is discipline. Self-discipline. If I was more disciplined about my diet routines, I'd still be at my goal weight from the 90s. If I was more disciplined about my writing routines, I'd be a published novelist by now. If I was more disciplined about housework... (Ooooh, let's not go there.)

Well, this blog is doing it's bit. I hope. I'm doing a fairly good job of making myself write something every day, and certainly some anecdotes in this blog have given me great ideas for stories. It's funny looking back over a year of these little anecdotes from daily life; there are some gems in here, that would probably have been forgotten had I not written about them as they happened.

A surprising number of hits that show up on my site meter are from people Googling Dianne and her diet. There's certainly a lot of curiosity about it, and it does work! I'm very grateful to have heard her speak that day in the 90s, and for all the encouragement that book gives me every day I'm back on the plan. As I said, all I need is the discipline to stick with it. Forever this time.

Sunday's (no longer) mystery number: 94.6, yay!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Happiness is a new squeaky

I made Jack's furry little face light up today: an all-new, well-bound, supposedly-difficult-to-destroy squeak toy, in the shape of a large fabric donut.


At first he just carried it around the house - tail wagging - barely able to decide whether to play with it, hide it, be chased while running with it, or attempt to remove the several squeakers sewn inside.

Certainly, it has been a great hit, so far. I wonder how long it'll last?

Friday, August 17, 2007


I was asked yesterday, "Why do you like Andorians so much?

I dunno. I think I first read about them in Bjo Trimble's "Star Trek Concordance" and I related to her brief, yet tantalizing, description, based on DC Fontana's script notes from "Journey to Babel" (TOS). I guess I related to the mention of blue skin, antennae, a calm exterior hiding their warrior traits, and Shran having a slight lisp?


I didn't get into organised Star Trek fandom until seeing "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" in December 1979 and, after seeing the film about three times, I made it my mission to find the two Andorian crewmen featured in publicity stills, and (when they finally invented video freeze frame for VCRs) the three Andorian extras playing ambassadorial staff in the San Francisco scenes.

The quest to see an Andorian in an actual episode of TOS was my next passionate mission. Star Trek wasn't screening on Aussie television at that time, but we did have a guy who ran Star Trek Marathons throughout the 80s, at ANZAC House - five monthly episodes on the big screen! It was there that I eventually saw "Gamesters of Triskelion" and "Whom Gods Destroy". The second marathon I attended was a costumed affair, so there was only one choice by that point (see my icon pic, which was my 1980 dress rehearsal shot before the big day):


I started reading all the Blish novelizations, and when I bought my "Mr. Spock's Time Trek" View-master reels, that was the day I realized I'd already seen "Yesteryear" (yay Thelin!), and the brief cameos of Andorians in "The Time Trap" (Filmation's Star Trek Animated series, aka TAS).

I put the screws on the marathon guy to screen "Journey to Babel", but he apologised that the only print he owned was badly damaged: green scratch lines down the middle of most footage, and huge bits missing from many scenes. (Every time Amanda went to speak the scene changed!) However he did run the twenty minutes,or so, that he did have, during the lunchbreak of one marathon - I'm sure that's the origin of the misremembered Bjo Trimble anecdote (about censorship of Star Trek Down Under) in the TOS DVDs bonus features. One of my first conversations with Bjo, when I met her in 1984, was telling her that I'd only just been able to see a badly-chopped 20-minute version of "Journey to Babel" back home!

Shras & Thelev

(I also once joked I'd play a new Andorian at a ST convention: a "Bob Johnston print Andorian": complete with green stripes down the face!)

When news was breaking on the ST II film project, I decided that my perfect Andorian villain (or hero) for a ST movie would be... John Phillip Law (Pygar of "Barbarella"), but alas, Andorians weren't even glimpsed again until ST IV. And then all but ignored in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (TNG). "Deep Space Nine" (DS9) and "Voyager" (VOY) offered only a few stray references in dialogue.

You can imagine how pleased I was when "Enterprise" (ENT) announced "The Andorian Incident", which was to feature Jeffrey Combs, in what became a frequently recurring Andorian role. With moving antennae to boot!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bordering on alienation?

I promise I had absolutely nothing to do with this photo cover of the 2007 Father's Day book catalogue! I walked past Borders book store in Sydney's CBD tonight, and was suddenly aware of multiple (huge) versions of this cover, as their window display, looking over my shoulder.

Andorian Dad

Inside the catalogue there are other photos of some stereotypical Dads, and the books and gifts they might like: Dad as Elvis; a detective; racing car driver; university student; and the (above) small inset of an Andorian.

It's not the first time I've been tempted to feature a Borders book catalogue in this blog. Last Christmas, the b/w cover photograph had Aussies making traditional American "snow angels", but on a beach on a hot day! If i hadn't run out of Flickr! space, it would be here, too.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Be here now

When I was a teen, a friend had "Be here now" written by hand on her school folder for several years, and I well remember the day Monica was daubing it in white paint, on a soon-to-be-demolished brick building at my high school, during the early hours of our Higher School Certificate year Muck-up Day in 1976.

No one really had to explain what "Be here now" meant, and no one even questioned where the phrase came from but, today, Google tells me it was the title of a 1971 book on spirituality by someone called Ram Dass.

Every now and then, that little phrase comes back to me, but because it's so intrinsically linked to the precise times when I first read - and pondered - it, not only can I be here now, but I am suddenly also there now, too.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Blessed events: a shaggy dog story

One of my (adult) volunteer library helpers reported today on the progress of her sick dog. Two weeks ago she was off to take her dog to the vet, and it had all seemed rather grim, but we didn't get the update until she returned to the library this morning.

The dog had been very listless, droopy-eared, moody, and sometimes agitated - and was putting on weight, even though the family had cut down on her doggie treats.

"I told the vet that something about the dog just wasn't right," she said.

Needless to say, the dog gave birth to puppies last Monday.

I mean, the answer seems so obvious in retrospect, but this kind of immaculate conception anecdote turns up so often. Vets must get really sick of it. Surely the guess-what-your-dog-is-pregnant tale rates right up there with taking one's female kitten to be desexed and having the vet point out its healthy set of testicles! Or the case of the pair of guaranteed female guinea pigs, which produce a litter a few months after purchase (and a second litter after the male breaks through the dividing wall of the hutch the morning of the first delivery)!

The more my helper insisted, "I told them that something just wasn't right", the more we all fell about in fits of giggles.

Congratulations, Grandma Carmel!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Brisbane Sci-Nut Convention: Sunday 2nd Sept!

On a whim, I've decided I'm going to the one-day Brisbane Sci-Nut Convention on Sunday 2nd September! (Mmmm. Happy Father's Day, Dad - but you can't have that bag of black jellybeans until I get to Perth in October.)

Guests include Jack Donner (Romulan Subcommander Tal, of the original "Star Trek" episode, "The Enterprise Incident" and the Vulcan Priest from several episodes of "Enterprise"), David R George III (Trek novelist, who wrote the recent "Crucible" trilogy and co-wrote "The 34th Rule"), Dragon Dronet (props & weapons) and Wanda Piety (costumes, modules and miniatures). Mr George is a last-minute switch for Susan Shwartz. For bookings, use the convention's online ticketing agent, Water Sprite Pty Ltd.

Crucible: triptych cover
David R George III, author of "Crucible" is coming!
(Triptych cover art by John Picacio)

The same convention runs in Canberra the previous Sunday (26th August), the day after the Sysney Star Trek Meet-up has scheduled its first picnic - but I already have accommodation in Brisbane, visiting my friends Peter and Maria, and their new baby, Benjamin (who hopefully won't already be walking before I get there. Babies grow up too quickly these days!).

I hope to see some familiar Sydney faces there, plus the regular ConQuest crowd, since ConQuest itself isn't running until November this year!

Sunday's mystery number: 96.1, sighing with relief.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Trek days straight

Hey there Beckie (my niece)!

I just realised there's been almost a week of Star Trek-related posts! I've been scratching my head, trying to think of something else but I guess I'm just in a Star Trek frame of mind...

They mentioned at work this week that the students will be encouraged to wear multicultural costumes at an upcoming school event. Mmmmm. Should I wear the authentic Andorian robes, or the Tellarite jacket?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Faces in the crowd

I've wanted to do this for quite a while, as it's a frequently asked question: who in Star Trek fandom played the crew of the USS Enterprise in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" (1979)?

To thank the fans who'd supported the ongoing call, throughout the 70s, to put pressure on Paramount Pictures to make a Star Trek reunion movie, Gene Roddenberry - knowing that Hollywood couldn't possibly supply the number of Screen Extras Guild card-carrying bodies the scene in the Rec Deck needed - asked that a now legendary "cattle call" be organised by fan extraordinaire, Bjo Trimble. There were strict height and costume size restrictions, and the males had to forfeit any elaborate sideburns or moustaches, unless they were to be hidden inside a latex alien head.

Special white outfits were made for four guest extras who were too tiny to make the height restriction: including Susan Sackett (on the upper deck); Bjo Trimble herself; a Star Trek office secretary named Michelle; and Leonard Nimoy's then-fan club president, Louise Stange. Everyone else had to be aged between 20 and 40, men from 5'8" to 6'2", sizes 40-42, and women from 5'6" to 5'8', sizes 8-10.

Over the years, several books, including Bjo's own "On the Good Ship Enterprise" (Donning, 1982) and Walter Koenig's "Chekov's Enterprise" (Pocket, 1980) have mentioned partial lists of the fans who made up the successful group of about 170 (of over 350 hopefuls). An early article by Dennis Fischer (a regular "Cinefantastique" reviewer) was called "Part of the magic: the experience of being a Star Trek extra", which appeared in issue # 7 of "Enterprise Incidents" (Nov 1979, pp 4-8), the slick pro zine of the day. Dennis's article was written only days after the filming of the scene, and before any official publicity material about the TMP aliens had been released. It has the best list of participants, with a lot of information on who's who, and where to find some of them. Susan Sackett's "Starlog" column on the making of ST: TMP also featured the casting call (in issue #20, p 22).

Other fan extras have made themselves known in recent years via Internet sources. I've added a scale along the bottom of the photo to make it easier to point out certain humans and aliens. If you know anyone I missed, or can identify someone in the cast pic, please do let me know!

Whole crew, TMP
Extras and Star Trek fans play the crew of the USS Enterprise in ST:TMP.

James Doohan's twin sons, Christopher Doohan and Montgomery Doohan, appeared as extras, as did Richard Arnold and Bill Hickey (I think located in third row at 6). Koenig's and Trimble's memoirs name "The Trouble With Tribbles" writer David Gerrold, Roddenberry's assistant, Susan Sackett, Millicent Wise (director Robert Wise's wife, front row at 7), TMP movie hairdresser Barbara Minster, TMP makeup artist Ve Neill, and fans JoAnn Christy, Cedric Taporco (a handsome guy who ended up in a purple Saurian head), John Watts, Rosanna Attias, Paula Crist, Denise Tathwell (now Denise Okuda!), Leigh Strother-Vien, Dennis Fischer, Kathleen Sky-Goldin, Verne Dietsche, Will Guest and Eileen Salamas. Susan mentioned Leah Livingston, daughter of TMP screenwriter Harold, as a participant in her 1980 book "The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture" (p. 38).

A summary of fan extras from Dennis Fischer's article:

Dennis Fischer himself - brown uniform, green epaulets, no rank, therefore considered himself an orderly or medical cadet. Placed at back of group because he was 6'4" (two inches taller than specified in the height restrictions!), and taller than the principal actors. He then describes several fans who were placed around him:

Leigh Strother-Vien, tall red-headed female of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society (LASFS), placed next to Fischer.

Don Fanning - "big headed alien" with "methane mask with light-up eyes" covering his face and the "back of head looked like someone's posterior" (we now know to be a Zaranite), to the right of Strother-Vien.

Katherine Kurtz, tall blonde author of the "Deryni" series, placed on other side of Fischer to Strother-Vien, and to the left of Don Fanning's Zaranite.

Bjo Trimble - white uniform, placed to Fisher's left behind two tall people. Many people expect to recognize Bjo on the Rec Deck but, as she explains in her book, she is quite short and was placed behind a hulking male Zaranite. Most assume that the petite woman in beige, in the front row at 7 near David Gerrold (at 8.5), is Bjo - but no, that's Mrs Robert Wise!

Kathleen Sky - red-haired Bantam ST novelist, behind Fischer. Ms Sky wrote "Vulcan!" and "Death's Angel", and was married to fellow Trek novelist Steven Goldin at the time.

Jay Smith - red-haired male, next to Kathleen Sky.

Walt Doty - described as "handsome, young" African American student, a co-president of ASTRA SF club, who had to shave off his moustache to be a TMP extra; placed near other African American.

John Watts - Andorian (third row at 15) - as mentioned in Trimble's book, "for three straight years" John played "one sort of blue-skinned character or other" at Equicon conventions. Coincidentally cast as an Andorian by Robert Wise, he walked bluely past Bjo saying, "How did they know?"

JoAnn Christy (now Nolan) - Vulcan female, in front row at 6. The shy JoAnn is also mentioned in a cute anecdote in the Trimble book, and is named as T'Hesh in Christopher L. Bennett's novel, "Ex Machina". (See more details below.) The article mistakenly calls her "Joanna" (sic).


Vincent (no surname given) - in purple, Gorn-like "lizard outfit" (we now know as a Saurian). (Fischer tells the same tongue-poking anecdote as Bjo did, so this may be Cedric Taporco.)

James T Kirk, the 70s ST fan who had infamously changed his name by deed poll.

Marlene Willauer - almost chosen over JoAnn Christy to be the front row Vulcan, but ended up (balcony at 7.5) "hobnobbing with Susan Sackett", to quote Fischer. (Bjo's book misidentifies Marlene as Denise Tathwell - the future Mrs Michael Okuda - in the closeup group photograph. Denise can be seen in the rec deck scene at 17.5, four rows back, in front of a Rhaandarite.)

Susan Sackett - white uniform (balcony at 8).

Louise Stange - white uniform (balcony at 5.5). Appeared in TMP by special request of Leonard Nimoy. As often happened, Louise's surname appears as "Strange" (sic) in the article. Later known as Louise Stange-Wahl.

Michelle - white uniform, a secretary from Roddenberry's office at Paramount. According to Fischer's article, Michelle supposedly "threatened to refile everything" in the Star Trek production office unless she got put into the film. (I'm wondering if this is Michele Ameen Billy, who was secretary to Harold Livingston, the film's screenwriter? Ms Billy was cast as a speaking character on the Epsilon IX space station, filmed after the rest of principal photography - but this would mean that one Michele watched the other, identical, Michele die on the viewscreen! Today, Michele Ameen Billy is better known as Mrs Jon Povill.)

Unclear if they "made it", but mentioned in the article:

Mike Hodel, radio announcer of "Hour 25" SF radio series (or was he just interviewing at the gate?)

Alan Frisbie - "an alternate" extra - Dennis Fischer reported that Frisbie only "has to kill 15 people" to get into the scene.

Other Starfleet alien descriptions, mentioned by Fischer's article, were "another purple alien that resembled the mutant from 'This Island Earth', but with a smaller cranium" (ie. Betelgeusian) and "bump-heads who resembled Frankenstein's monster with long, blond hair, and they looked like they were ready to do the 'Time Warp'" (we now know as being Rhaandarites, but they were Vegans on that day and "high-domed Vegans" in the shooting script. Memory Alpha discloses that one "Vegan" was played by fan Steven Lance, also known as Steven L Hersh, who did a lot of screen extra work at the time and was a science fiction convention organiser.

Steven L Hersh as a Rhaandarite

"On the Good Ship Enterprise" devotes a chapter to the cattle call and the big day of filming. A black and white casual, group photo in the book shows some fans in uniform surrounding Grace Lee Whitney. ("Enterprise Incidents" has a differently-cropped version of the same photo accompanying its Fischer article, which unfortunately leaves off the alien, Worene, on Bjo's right).

There's a whole chapter, in "On the Good Ship Enterprise", about Worene, the wolfish alien created for TMP by actress/stuntwoman Paula Crist (who later played Baby the brontosaurus in Disney's "Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend"). Ms Crist met Gene Roddenberry at several conventions in Los Angeles. Once she was dressed as Thorwor, a feral-looking male alien. Roddenberry invited her to test for Bridge Alien, doing her own makeup, which she modified as female, but the role was won by fellow pro actor Billy Van Zandt (front row at 2, who scored Fred Phillip's Rhaandarite makeup, and one line of dialogue that wasn't restored until the ABC TV premiere). Because Paula Crist (now know as Paula Crist-Pickett) was a Screen Actors Guild member, she did score herself a screen credit for playing Worene on the Rec Deck.

Paula Crist told Dennis Fischer on the day of filming that she called Worene's makeup a Czintii. He assumes she did not intend any connection to Larry Niven's felinoid kzinti (of "Star Trek: The Animated Series" and Niven's "Known Space" science fiction universe). Fischer thought that Worene resembled a female Tellarite (TOS).

By the way, Worene's species is given as Aulacri in the more recent Star Trek novel, "Ex Machina" (2005), a sequel to TMP. (P-aula cri-st, get it?) The novel's author, Christopher L Bennett, has some great closeups of the Rec Deck characters, to whom he's given identities and personalities, in that novel. David Gerrold's character is named Gerry Auberson. Billy Van Zandt's is Vaylin Zaand. And one of the Rec Deck's Andorians is actually named for me in "Ex Machina": Shantherin th'Clane! Incredibly, this was the same Andorian played by fan John Watts; when I visited Bjo Trimble in January 1984, she thought John and I had lots in common, even beyond the blue skin and antennae. (John and I finally did get in touch via Facebook!)

The tall male Vulcan, whom Christopher Bennett calls Spanla, is easily recognisable in TMP: Scott Dweck, or perhaps spelt "Dwek", (three rows back at 9, in the above colour photo) is the son of Grace Lee Whitney. Scott and his brother had appeared uncredited in the episode "Miri" (TOS) as young children. Ms Whitney used to sell pics of her Vulcan son at conventions. If I recall correctly, Scott is the one who became the commercial pilot. His most exciting duty used to be to take actor Christopher Reeve for his annual pilot renewal test. In the 80s, Grace Lee Whitney used to boast that her son gave Superman his license to fly!

TMP fan extras with Bjo Trimble and Grace Lee Whitney
This pic joins together the two b/w photos mentioned above.

Front row, from left:
Marlene Willauer, Scott Dweck (as a Vulcan), Paula Crist (as Worene), Bjo Trimble, Grace Lee Whitney (as Janice Rand), Susan Sackett and Louise Stange.
Next row, from left: Kathleen Sky, Leigh Strother-Vien and the very tall Dennis Fischer. David Gerrold is behind Grace Lee Whitney.

Captain's Log: Supplemental.
The 2009 DVD release of TMP features a reunion between fan extras Fred Bronson (writer of "The Counter-clock Incident", TAS), Bjo Trimble, Christopher Doohan, David Gerrold and Jo Ann Nolan, chatting on the same soundstage used for the rec deck scene.

In August 2010, I was contacted by fan extra Don J Long, who explained that he could be seen "in the center at 8.5". His friend, Gordon Cardoza, "is on my right" (ie. to the left in the photo). Don's head is clearly visible in front of a African American man in a white costume (who is standing by the column in the center of the picture). Another fan extra known to Don was Randall Larson, from the Federation Outpost Star Trek store. Thanks Don!

More updates welcomed any time!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

On the mark

Mark asks, "Re: your (Star Trek) costume purchases mentioned in the previous post - It sounds like there are notations on the costumes themselves, but do you get any other documentation about their history?"

Good question, Mark! Thank you!

The It's a Wrap! Star Trek costumes come with up to four pieces of identification.

Firstly, on the Star Trek clothing items themselves, many Paramount costumes have sewn-in, rectangular, cloth tags, usually identified with the official logo of the Star Trek television series or feature film for which they were made, or perhaps a generic "Western Costumes" tag (as in Gulf & Western/Paramount). These labels have lines for several wearers, and the name(s) of these actors, extra or stunt people, plus often an episode number, are hand-lettered with a laundry marker. It's unlikely there is any more extensive and official surviving documentation than this. (The Christie's 40th anniversary auction, last year, did sell off some albums of wardrobe continuity Polaroids, if I recall correctly.)

However, many of the costumes also have a thin cardboard "luggage" tag (below), which lists any individual items that go together to make one costume. This costume tag would have been originally attached to the hanger, and when the item gets sold off, it gets placed into the envelope with the Certificate of Authenticity. (In fact, I didn't think to look for the Andorian tag until my Tellarite costume arrived with one. I checked the bottom of the Andorian's envelope - and there was the tag!)

Costume tags accompanying my eBay wins

There's also the online eBay description, a paragraph (usually) listing the most important appearances of the costume. While it's obvious that the Paramount and It's a Wrap! staff have put considerable effort into researching the costumes, many of which have hung on racks since the mid 70s, they do make mistakes and hasty assumptions, and that's where fans like Jörg (who posts all manner of errors and corrections to the Star Trek Auctions, Props & Costumes bbs), come in handy!

I actually lucked out on my Andorian costume, as the eBay description seems to focus on the costumes first onscreen usage, as per the costume ("luggage") tag. Had they used the sewn-in tags, they'd have listed the actor who first wore the outfit in scenes later reshot with a different actor, and the major re-use of the costume - with an additional cape - by a named character in a later episode! Had there been more information online, the price would have gone much higher!

Similarly, as I noted in my Tellarite post, the fat-suit's sewn-in tag (below) reveals that it has a more extensive life than the outer costume, and a quick Google search on actors' names, and/or episode numbers, brings up some exciting research results! It even revealed an extra name I could add to Memory Alpha.

Fat suit
The sewn-in tag reveals its history!

Finally, there's a Certificate of Authenticity from It's a Wrap! This features the title of the item, exactly as it was listed on eBay, and a small photograph of the item.

I recall Richard Arnold, then-Star Trek Archivist at Paramount, once mentioning the fun he had during the lead-up to 20th anniversary of Star Trek in 1986. A huge display was being organised and, for the first time, a serious rummage was made through the surviving costumes and props of the original series, the failed "Phase II" and the early movies. Much of TOS was unlabeled, but even more had been lost to the winds of time (or rejigged for renting out to shows like "Mork and Mindy"). At one point, someone found a box of random scarves. Richard suddenly recognized the colours and patterns, and realised it was actually a skimpy outfit once worn by one of "Mudd's Women"!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Drawing a blank

I was all ready to post a rather elaborate blog entry tonight when the 'Net went down. Drat! By the time it came back up, I was feeling uninspired and tired. Oh well, back to the old drawing board.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Tellarite vs Australian Customs

"Tellarites don't argue for reasons; they merely argue." (Sarek of Vulcan)

How ironic that I felt like arguing over a Tellarite costume! I took a leaf from Star Trek and quit while I was behind. It really wasn't worth trying to argue with Australian Customs, especially when I had no choice but to admit defeat. But today, I also have to come clean - and tell you about my latest eBay acquisitions.

A few weeks after winning a set of screen-used Andorian robes from It's a Wrap!, I placed bids on two other Star Trek items. ('Tis the season to be greedy?) I had found an amazingly detailed Tellarite ambassador's costume from the "Star Trek: Enterprise" episode, "Babel One" (as worn by actor Lee Arenberg, as Gral*), that wasn't garnering much interest.

Ambassador Gral of Tellar Prime

Ditto a casual grey Starfleet shirt from the doomed Epsilon IX Space Station of "Star Trek: The Motion Picture". While I fully expected to lose both auctions, I was rather startled to win both auctions - for very reasonable prices!

For the two weeks of my recent vacation, I watched the mail closely. My calculations had the parcel due sometime in that fortnight, but alas! In my haste to save on postage, I'd requested that both items travel Down Under in the same carton. Because the combined total cost nudged itself over the $AU 1000 mark, my latest haul was delayed... in Customs. Drat! Thus, I got hit with a hefty inspection fee, plus customs duty, and GST (sales tax). Drat and double drat.

The most frustrating aspect was that the box was to be held up for at least five days while I filled in the paperwork, calculated the separate amounts in Australian dollars (as per the day they were purchased) and faxed them back. After ten days I'd still heard nothing more, so I rang to inquire. Yes, there was a general delay. When I pressed for my details to be checked, customs said they'd never received my paperwork, even though the paperwork was sent in two different batches and the fax machine had printed out receipts confirming the correct fax number.

The faxes were re-sent, and suddenly there was another form - the payment invoice for the Customs charges - to fill in and fax back. (That was last Thursday, so it's been an agonizing few more days.)

Of course, the top secret box arrived this morning, while I was in the shower. My housemate answered the door to the postal delivery man - maybe he'd assume the box contained new Star Trek action figures - but his first question to me was, "What costumes have you bought now?" Drat and triple drat.

Having come clean on my latest eBay adventures, I had to wait until this afternoon, after work, to open up the box. The costumes are quite exciting! The TMP shirt looks like it was made for me! Perfect sleeve length; a beautiful, raw cotton, grey shirt, in beautiful condition, especially considering it's been in storage at Paramount Studios since 1978!

Epsilon 9Epsilon 9 insignia

"A costume featured in 'Star Trek I: The Motion Picture' for wear by characters on board the 'Epsilon IX Station'. The costume is a gray colored shirt with an open neck and an affixed yellow backed 'Epsilon IX' assignment patch on the left breast. Item Number 3716."

The Tellarite costume is an elaborate, two-layered brown jacket, covered in brass buttons, cords and tassels, and metal trim. It comes with matching trousers - and a "fat suit". Now, part of my strategy was that buying a costume requiring a fat-suit would be ideal, since if it was too small for me, I could just omit the padded undershirt. (After yesterday's "diet" post, it was all quite ironic.) Amazingly, the costume, although worn by the petite Mr Arenberg on-screen, fits me perfectly, even in the sleeve length. And yeah, I don't need the fat suit. Hardy har.

Gral costumeGral costume back

"'Ambassador Gral' (Lee Arenberg) was a high-ranking Tellarite official featured in the 'Star Trek: Enterprise' episode 'Babel One'. Gral was transported by the U.S.S. Enterprise NX-01 with the rest of his delegation to discuss a trade dispute with the Andorian Empire on the planetoid Babel however he complained for the entire voyage. His costume includes a cropped sleeved padded undershirt with padding around the belly and shoulders to create the Tellarite appearance. The ornate coat is ribbed brown with many gold and black colored buttons over the surface. It zips up the front and there are also two metal fastening on the front. Worn over the coat is a cropped long sleeved coat with more buttons and impressive detail on the back. Black cord with metal accents and brown tassels add to the detail. Corresponding brown trousers complete the outfit. Costume comes complete with costume tag. Item Number 3780."

By the way, the sewn-in "Enterprise" tag in the fat-suit shows that this costume element has an interesting pedigree! It indicates that, after "Babel One" (and "United"), the same fat-suit was used by stuntman Tony Brubaker, in the Klingon-themed episode "Divergence"; extra Pablo Soriano in "In a Mirror Darkly, Part I" (as Terev, the Tellarite in the agony booth); and extra Trey Stokes, as one of the Tellarite ambassadorial aides in the "Demons"/"Terra Prime" two-parter.

Combs & Arenberg in "United"
Shran & Gral shooting "United". Thanks Frontier of TrekBBS!

I must stop looking on eBay on Saturdays...

* By the way, Lee Arenberg has played a Ferengi - also called Gral - in the "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" episode, "The Nagus"!

Monday, August 06, 2007

The midnight munchies

It's almost midnight and I have the munchies. I recommenced my diet today, having managed to put back in the first half of 2007 almost everything I'd lost by July 2006. Sigh. I've avoided stepping onto the scales ever since February, and half-hearted attempts to get back into the swing of the diet have failed miserably. (I did drag out the scales yesterday, hence the new resolve.)

I actually started the diet yesterday, but I had to call in to see two different elderly women. Stereotypically, the first one plied me with chocolate coated mini Wagon Wheels and fruit cake with morning tea, and the second fed me chocolate Mint Slices and jam tartlets for afternoon tea. "Please have another one. You've hardly eaten anything." That's not to mention the leftover pizza I reheated for dinner - or, now that I think about it, the low-fat "Lean Beef Burger" I bought from McDonald's for lunch! Sigh...

They say that when you get late-night munchies while on a diet, just go to bed. Well, there's no more "Big Brother Uplate" until next year, and going to bed should help me to get to my morning meeting on time... so I guess I should follow that advice.

The diet, Fat Free Forever works extremely well, and I've done it successfully - twice. It's the "forever" bit that's hard. The diet allows for a weekly Junk Food Day! Sadly, though, to keep the "forever' bit true, one must keep the metabolism running fast, and steadily, like a car engine. Meaning Junk Food Day really can happen only once a week, and for the one meal. Self control. Will power. Drat.

At least the refrigerator has been emptied of all those high fat leftovers now. (Yeah, I know, I ate them yesterday.) Burp!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

A bitter little pill

I had a bit of a scare with the dog today. All seems well now but, yesterday, Jack had attended the vet with his usual Jack Russell confidence (march in, full of bravado, through the automatic doors, realise where we are, about-face - and run straight back out!) He was given something for every orifice, but emerged victorious and immunized for yet another year, having put a smile on the vets' and the receptionists' faces with his winning charm.

Today we visited an elderly friend, who always looks forward to Jack's enthusiastic visits. She asked if she could feed him, but I explained that she really didn't need to open a fresh pack of treats just for Jack. As she gave him a bowl of water, I noticed Jack crunching away on something he'd found in the corner. Then I noticed a long, white tablet lying on the floor, near the kitchen cupboards, and Jack about to devour it. Now, Jack is known to be impossible to get medication into - even chocolate flavoured ones! - but if he thinks it's a forgotten lolly, he'll suddenly treat it very differently.

While I was able to retrieve the stray pill just in time, I really had no idea if Jack had already consumed one. And if he had, there was no way to know which of my friend's many medications had gone down the hatch. I spent several worrisome hours, fully expecting Jack's heart rate to increase, or decrease, noticeably. Should I keep Jack quiet (Ha! Fat chance!), I asked myself, or should I try to run it out of his system? And did I really want to spend more at the vet in the one weekend?

Thankfully, it must have been a corner of dropped toast that Jack had found. Whew! And we were soon back to the important things in life, such as hunting for lizards and barking at cats.

Sunday's mystery number: 99, dammit.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Makin time for Number 96

I've just been interviewed about Aussie cult soap opera, "Number 96", and my website, by Paul Makin for his Saturday night radio program on 2UE (95.4 AM Sydney).

He asked me about how the home page came about, how I was banned from watching the show for its first 18 months, my favourite character, and my several pilgrimages to visit the actual building in Moncur Street, Woollahra, including the unforgettable night when I had dinner in what had doubled for Vera Collins' flat.

Number 96

Number 96 Home Page

The interview goes to air tonight, along with several other "96" segments, between 6pm and midnight. Should be a lot of fun.

Saturday, 06:00 PM - 11:59 PM: Nostalgia
Paul Makin relives the news, music and personalities that helped shape the 60s, 70s and 80s using 2UE's extensive archives and record library.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Double dipping

The complaints have begun. CBS Consumer products has announced that the first season of the 1960s Star Trek on DVD, with the recently-enhanced special effects via CGI, will have a US recommended retail price of $218. Now, we all know no one will be selling them for that premium price, but that it will also be a dual high definition (HD)/regular release set, with new bonus features.

Many collectors already bought the first versions of the DVD season sets, with 60s effects made on 16mm film stock, run through multiple passes of a SPFX camera. There will be buyer resistance to the new DVDs, with fans are saying they'd prefer just the regular TV sets, but with new CGI FX, be available separately.

There'll also be resistance from people who won't want HD TV as well, but what happens the prices of HD TVs fall so low they can't resist buying one? Then they'll feel a need to buy the HD TOS sets to play on it, but they'll already have the regular version. They'll yell at CBS for "double dipping".

Don't want HD TV? Eventually, when everybody else has had one for a few years, the more stubborn viewers (or technology laggards) will start to notice that their expectations - of what an acceptable level of clarity is - have changed. When colour TV came to Australia in 1975, you know, my paternal grandmother used to say that colour TV hurt her eyes - until we bought her one of her own.

I really don't understand the anger towards companies who "double dip" their DVD releases. That only infers that the producers of all DVDs should make people wait much longer for any DVD to become available for sell-through, as the various studios scramble to make the first (and only) issue of each movie and TV show a once-only double-disk-multi-commentary-100-bonus-extras version, and then promise to never ever release a second version in our lifetimes.

When i hear the complaints, I find myself thinking: divide $218 by the number of episodes in the set, and then contemplate how amazing HD TV is. Deduct the cash you make selling your old set on eBay. Think about the wages of the SPFX guys who've been churning out the new CGI FX sequences for syndicated, repeated TOS episodes on a weekly basis for the past year. And, remembering back to the bad ol' early 80s, I remind them that a double episode of TV TOS on VHS (or Beta!) was over $70 each.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Passing through

Tonight, the Sydney Star Trek Meetup Group had its latest get-together. It was fun to meet Yvonne, a UK backpacker on her last few days in Sydney. I love how a common interest in Star Trek can result in instant rapport among strangers.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Just another book meme

Dayton Ward is "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", but...

I'm The Poisonwood Bible!

by Barbara Kingsolver

Deeply rooted in a religious background, you have since become both
isolated and schizophrenic. You were naively sure that your actions would help people, but of course they were resistant to your message and ultimately disaster ensued. Since you can see so many sides of the same issue, you are both wise beyond your years and tied to worthless perspectives. If you were a type of waffle, it would be Belgian.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Now I'm curious. Much of the analysis is quirkily spot-on - isolated and schizophrenic?; just check out this blog - but I've never read "The Poisonwood Bible". Something to add to the pile!

Mmmmm. (Channeling Homer:) Belgian waffles.

Canon collision course?

William Shatner and Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens are writing about Kirk and Spock's Academy years in "Star Trek: Academy: Collision Course". Will it or won't it be overridden by the upcoming JJ Abrams "Star Trek" feature film now in pre-production?

Collision Course

Shatner and the Reeve-Stevens are free to create their own origins of Kirk and Spock meeting up, of course, since they are not contradicting any existing canonical Star Trek adventures, or even previous ST novels, except maybe a trilogy of "young adult" novels. This situation is no different to DC Fontana's "Vulcan's Glory", which specifically (and purposely) made the claim that Spock was the only son of Sarek in the lead-up to the release of "ST V: The Final Frontier", which was to feature Sybok.

The so-called "Shatnerverse", as written by Shatner and the Reeve-Stevens, already exists in its own continuity. Now nine books become ten. No problem.

If there's time, the ST authors can be requested to tweak their proposals and manuscripts to match changes brought about by impending/current canonical events. For example, Jeri Taylor had to revise "Pathways" to add Seven of Nine to the framing sequence, and to have Neelix channel the missing Kes's backstory. The Remans (of "Nemesis") had to be incorporated into the latter parts of the "Vulcan's Soul" trilogy by Josepha Sherman & Susan Shwartz.

But both of those rewrites caused scheduling delays, IIRC. So we end up with cranky fans no matter whether future canon is anticipated or not.

Awaiting the next collision course...