Thursday, May 31, 2007

Webloggers in the Attic

Tonight Sydney's Weblogger Meetup Group met again in the well-hidden Attic Room of the Art House Hotel in Pitt Street. About 22 members turned up; always a few new faces - and plenty of chances to chat, and then recombine with different small groups for more chat.

Weblog2WeblogWeblog4Weblog3
Sydney Weblogger Meetup pics by Tim Lambert.

Therin of Andor and group organisers, Mr & Mrs Bargain Queen, are at far left.



I especially enjoyed meeting two fellow Star Trek fans, neither of whom have indicated their science fictiony passions on their blogs, as far as I can see. A third member claimed it was my Andorian pic on the Meetup site that made him want to attend. (If he expected to find a blue-skinned guy with antennae, he was to be disappointed.)

One recurring topic was how Google seems to be listing blogs above other search hits, meaning that the content and keywords of our blogs can determine where we get lots of visitors or just a few. It continues to be fascinating to be a small part of the blogging phenomenon. Who can guess where it's leading?

One of the females in the group had a bizarre experience, though. It seems that a member of an RSVP meeting of Sydney's online, lovelorn singles was taking place elsewhere at the ArtHouse tonight, and that a lost RSVP guy was checking out our group and evaluating that the weblogging females were a more choice collection than the RSVP females.

"He didn't even know what a weblogger was!" our targeted female blogger said, "I tried to tell him that Meetups weren't RSVP pick-ups, but he wasn't buying it..."

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Write now!

I attended my second, once-per-term, teacher-librarians' district meeting today (back into the swing of a decade ago, when I was last practising as a teacher-librarian in schools!). It was great to be in such a positive, enthusiastic atmosphere with like-minded professionals. One of the guest speakers was Lee FitzGerald, a friend and former "Scan" editor. It was great to catch up with her and hear all the brave and exciting teacher-librarian challenges she's trying out in her school.

At one point, there were three "Scan" editors standing together over afternoon tea: Lee, the current editor Cath, and yours truly! A photo opportunity, but noone had a camera. Someone suggested we were perhaps the "three wise monkeys" and Cath quickly claimed being the one with her hands over her mouth. We were interrupted before assigning the other two monkeys.

Towards the end of the session, a teacher-librarian recognised me by my name tag, and gave me a great compliment about the quality of my book reviews in "Scan" over the years. What a buzz! I've been reviewing books and teaching resources for "Scan" since the early 90s, and I've now become quite accustomed to writing a pithy review in only 100 words; it's quite a skill to convey as much evaluative information as possible in such a short paragraph, and I guess I forget that these reviews get read and appreciated - even anticipated - by people.

"What else do you write?" she asked.

Mmmmm. "Nothing that's ever earned my agent a commission," I admitted guiltily. (Hi Selwa!)

I'm really going to have to fix this, you know... I now have about five skeletal children's book projects in my head, and on random computer files. As I walk to and from work each day, the words and ideas flow so easily. But when the computer gets turned on, they just don't transpose into something tangible. I end up playing on various bbs sites, telling myself I'm writing, but it's not really helping my word count. (Maybe I'm the fourth monkey? The unwise one, with his hands in his pockets?)

This blog is keeping me writing more regularly, sure, but I very much need to get regimented and show some real progress with my writing projects. Okay, the first of the month is almost here: a new beginning?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Peter and the Wolf and The Weird Coincidence

Well, it's happened again. Blog about a series of coincidences often enough, and surely there'll be more coincidences. (And don't call me Shirley.)

A week ago, one set of metal shelves, from a forgotten corner of the school library, collapsed, spilling their contents of bulky, excess, to-be-deleted teacher reference materials all over the floor! I immediately put in a request for our general assistant to re-bolt the shelving to the wall, and they were repaired with great efficiency. However, the piles of scattered resources had to wait a few days for my undivided attention.

On Thursday, my school has a troupe of puppeteers visiting, to perform Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" for the students. Last Friday, one of the teachers said she'd scoured her own book collection, wanting to find a text version of the classic story. (She'd been playing numerous variations on the spoken-word-with-musical-accompaniment version.) On Monday morning, a different teacher mentioned that she wanted a text version, too. I typed "Peter and the Wolf" into OASIS Enquiry, but... "Computer says 'No'!"

Now, my last time in a school library was a decade ago, but I often find myself remembering the collection of my last school library. There, we had a set of about a dozen picture books based on famous musical works: "Coppelia", "Swan Lake", "The Carnival of the Animals", "Peter and the Wolf" and many others. Published in the early 70s, the internal artwork was of a Japanese inspiration, often using collage. In fact, when I mentioned this series to my current colleagues, they were sure that this library used to have them, too.

A search of classroom collections uncovered first one, then three more, books in the series. They'd been deleted, and moved out of the library years ago, due to lack of their circulation in the system but, today, as I finally got to those unwanted piles on the library floor, I found nine more books - including the elusive "Peter and the Wolf"!

You know, if that shelving hadn't collapsed on cue, I would not have gotten to that dusty, to-be-deleted shelf until the visiting puppeteers were a very distant memory.

And again: doo doo, doo doo, doo doo, doo doo...

Monday, May 28, 2007

Clutter

I read yesterday, in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper's colour supplement, that no one ever generated a creative idea from a clean, blank sheet of paper. Hence, it was the random juxtaposition of objects in any pile of clutter that inspired the imagination.

At last, a valid reason behind my (at times) sloppy housekeeping habits!

Bless this mess.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Merino on the move


Big Merino
Ian looking skinny at the Big Merino in 1986!


Goulburn's Big Merino tourist attraction was moved yesterday! It made the TV news last night and all the Sunday papers.

One of Australia's most famous "Big Things", built in 1985, this icon - and the kitschy souvenir shop within its cavernous interior - had fallen right out of tourists' agendas after a by-pass diverted traffic away from Goulburn's main drag about fifteen years ago. So last year, it was decided by a couple of Goulburn locals to make an offer on buying and relocating the giant sheep to a service station where it could be more readily seen by users of the new motorway.

I first saw the Big Merino in person in 1986. I excitedly sent a postcard of it to my penpal, Olivia, who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the US, who was almost appalled that, with so many wonderful natural Aussie landmarks, flora and fauna, I'd send her an image of a giant concrete sheep. She promptly returned the favour with a giant rubber tyre (or, indeed, "tire") from nearby Detroit.

The Big Merino is said to be one of an estimated 146 "Big Thing" tourist icons throughout Australia. Others include the Big Banana at Coffs Harbour (currently being renovated), the eerie Big Prawn at Ballina, and at least two Big Pineapples in Queensland (but I think one closed down due to lack of interest).

A year ago, when again passing through Goulburn, the restaurant next door had been long abandoned, and the souvenirs had been drastically scaled back, so moving the ram certainly seems like a great solution. As The Seekers used to sing, "You know I'll never find another ewe."

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Going pro

My Site meter on this blog site regularly tells me that people find these entries more often by the images that appear on them, rather than my words of wisdom. (I've been sitting on my maximum 200 Flickr pics for several months now, and trying to think of clever ways to recycle them in new blog entries.)

Today, with that in mind, I made a new attempt to pay for a professional unlimited upgrade to my free Flickr account. This time, all the wacky Javascripts, or whatever they are, decided to work correctly with Firefox 2. Uploading to Flickr is certainly more efficient that fiddling around with tools to upload material to my regular old web spaces, and trying to remember the HTML to reference them properly, so hopefully this with be a worthwhile investment.

Here's to a more pictorial blog site!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Jack: 0; Mozzie Zapper: 1


Jack
Jack the Brave

It was a bit chilly just after dark tonight and I'd already promised Jack a walk (uttering the infamous "W" word), planning to swing past the local charcoal chicken shop and pick up something for dinner...

Then I remembered I was all out of cash, so I dressed Jack in his collar, harness and cute little winter dog coat and we ventured off in the opposite direction: first to a Flexiteller ATM on the main road, and then several blocks down to the kebab shop. From past experience, I knew I could play out Jack's extend-a-lead enough to leave him on the footpath while I reached the shop's counter and placed my order.

We were almost two blocks from the shop when Jack started avoiding shop doorways and asking for "pick-ups". Ah! He was remembering that the kebab shop has an ultraviolet mosquito zapper. Jack hates mozzie zappers. Zzzzzzpt!

The guy who runs the shop must be scared of dogs, because he always asks me the same questions.

"Does he bite?"

"How old is he?"

"Are you sure he doesn't bite?"

"Why do his ears point in the wrong direction?"
(ie. flattened back to his head)

Me: "Because he's scared of your mosquito zapper. I have one at home that I use during barbecues and he's scared of that one, too."

"He never sits for long when you say to him, 'Sit!'"

Me: "Because he's scared of your mosquito zapper." Zzzzzzpt!

"He looks frightened."

Me: "Because he's scared of your mozzie zapper." Zzzzzzpt!

"His legs are trembling. Is he cold?"

Me: "No, he's just scared of your mozzie zapper.

Sigh... My Big Brave Jack Russell is a wimp sometimes.

Zzzzzzpt!

Sigh. "No pick-ups!"

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The fifth Warble passes the flame


Warbles plus one
Above: The Warbles plus one, 2006


Today the whole school walked to the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre to see our second free concert by The Warbles, this time their sequel show, The Warbles Go to the Opera. Once again, four classically-trained opera singers played their stage personas to the hilt: passionate French girl, Sylvie Soprano; swashbuckling Barry Baritone; magical Miffy Mezzo; and - performing his debut just for us - a new version of T-shirt-wearing ocker, Terry Tenor.

The students were mesmerised, not just by the songs, props and costumes, but by the theatre environment, the footlights and spotlights, the (new) smoke machine - and the inevitable return of the somersaulting, kookaburra hand puppets!

This time, we saw Wagnerian Valkeries, the sinister Phantom of the Opera, the ever-popular Doh Rey Mi from "The Sound of Music" - and a different male teacher up on stage to dance with Sylvie and defend her honour against Prince Vince the Invincible (aka Barry) and the Phantom (aka Terry).

Last year, Sylvie came down off stage, mid performance, and selected me from the audience. With zero rehearsal time, she involved me in a very energetic waltz up on stage, much to the delight of all the students (and staff). This time, Sylvie asked for a male teacher volunteer to join her - and every head swiveled in my direction. Ooops. Did I really need a second five-minutes of fame? I sat it out and, as soon as the students started chanting the name of a male colleague (unsuccessfully attempting to blend into the seat coverings of the back row), I ran up to his row and escorted him down towards Sylvie.

"I had a turn last year," I reminded Sylvie. "Someone else should have a turn".

"I remember you...", she said later.

So, with Mr E safely up on stage, I beat a hasty retreat back to my seat. "Dancing With the Stars", "It Takes Two" and "Australian Idol" have a lot to answer for.

Great show, Warbles! Congratulations on some very engaging performances, which will live in many of the children's memories forever.

When Two-Face weeps tears of blood: a soap opera

You know, I really must stop writing spooky stories... it's freaking me out.

When I moved to this house in January 2000, it was bad enough to discover the house had a resident, but benevolent, ghost. But now the soap in the bathroom is literally weeping red-tinged tears!

A few weeks after settling in, a friend - I can't even remember who - gave me a little housewarming gift, of some wacky character soaps they'd found in a close-out sale. Beautifully packed, there was a vibrant, lolly pink Two-Face bas relief soap (the image of Tommy Lee Jones from "Batman Forever"), and a vibrant, bright green Buzz Lightyear bas relief soap (from "Toy Story"). Neither soap fitted the colour scheme of either bathroom, so the soaps stayed in the linen press for a while, but I eventually removed the wrappers and put them out on display near the bathtub.

And there they've sat, unused, for over five years. Now, we've all heard too many news items about religious statues weeping blood, or oil, or holy water. But this week, I noticed a puddle of red stains under Two-Face. Upon closer inspection, he was covered with large red drips, although it's clear that the soap has never been used in water, and it has not been accidentally splashed. The whole bar of soap has begun "sweating" red liquid. I guess it's finally reached its "Use By" date? One of the drips has now trailed a red trickle all the way down the inside of the bath.

TwoFace

A quick check of the back of Buzz Lightyear revealed some small green-toned beads of sweat, so at least - Whew! - I can assume the red drips on the pink soap are not some harbinger of a Doomsday visitation by the spirit of Two-Face.

I hope.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

"You unlock this door..."

... with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension. A dimension of sound. A dimension of sight. A dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both style and substance of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone." (R. Serling)

Doo doo, doo doo. Doo doo, doo doo... The Twilight Zone: I've been there, you know. And here's the story I promised you way back when I started this blog. I hope I can do it justice...

In 1981, I was still living with my parents on Stoney Creek Road at Kingsgrove, and had started doing local casual teaching work, awaiting a study trip to Ireland (a Montessori course I never got around to doing, mainly 'cos I'd have been staying with Irish nuns in Dublin - and the IRA had taken to bombing Irish nuns at the time). Frustratingly, although we lived directly opposite Kingsgrove Infants School, I was only ever offered one day's work there.

One morning, I was heading off down nearby Kingsgrove Road, either on my way to a day's work at Kingsgrove Primary School, or perhaps I was catching a train at Kingsgrove Station. As I passed the bus stop opposite Kingsgrove High School, I noticed an old fashioned Globite suitcase, secured by leather straps, apparently abandoned on the nature strip.

About a block further along, a dusty little elderly man suddenly popped up, seemingly out of nowhere - he must have been in his late 80s, maybe early 90s - and he asked me, "How do I get to Kingsgrove High School?"

It took me a moment to comprehend what he was asking. The school in question was almost within spitting distance, and the man had such an intense expression. He wore horn-rimmed glasses with lenses like Coke bottles - literally as thick as the bottom of a Coke bottle - and coated with a thick layer of dust. I was amazed he could see anything out of them. He was also wearing a very old-fashioned black suit, and carried a wooden walking stick. I tried to point out the school, but he wanted to know if he could catch a bus there. Again, I tried to point out the nearby location of the school, but I was feeling rather flummoxed. (It didn't help that he looked rather like an extremely elderly version of Burgess Meredith in the ironic "Twilight Zone" episode, "Time Enough at Last", in which a book fanatic is the last man left in civilization, trapped in a library, but then breaks his glasses.

Did the man mean that he wanted to try to catch a bus to the school, in which case that wouldn't be necessary, or did he have to catch a bus from the bus stop at the school?

"I live at the school..." I thought he said. (He lives at the school - or did he say near the school?)

Now running late, I regrettably had to fob him off with more hand gestures towards the school and the bus stop. And I was on my way, feeling a little guilty at abandoning him, but also more than a little glad to be out of his eerie presence.

That night, my spine still felt rather chilled by my strange encounter. Over dinner, I tried to describe my chance meeting with the dusty-little-old-man-with-dusty-Coke-bottle-glasses. Neither my parents nor my brothers seemed to understand just how creepy the scene had been. In fact, I got the distinct feeling that they almost didn't believe me.

Everyone had gone to bed by 10.00 pm, or thereabouts, but I was fiddling with some project or other - as per usual (and not too different to 2007) - and it got to be about 11.45pm, when I heard the weirdest twanging noise out in the front yard.

"Twang, twang, twang, twang, twang, twang..."

I'd just convinced myself I was hearing things when the noise started up again.

"Twang, twang, twang, twang, twang, twang..."

Finally, I opened the front door and stepped out onto the front balcony and peered into the darkness. And there he was... (doo doo, doo doo...)

... the little-old-man-with-dusty-Coke-bottle-glasses was banging on the metal balcony railing with his walking stick. He was holding a battered old Globite suitcase tied up with leather straps.

He asked me, "How can I get to the high school? Do I need to catch a bus to get there?"

Deja vu? Again, it took me a moment or more to comprehend exactly what he was asking me. Once again, Kingsgrove High School was almost within spitting distance, but in the opposite direction than it was from the location of our prior conversation. (Had this eerie little man been following me all day? How come he didn't pop up again until everyone else - my witnesses - had gone to bed? Would anyone believe me? Did people actually get out of "The Twilight Zone" alive?)

So did the little old man mean that he wanted to try to catch a bus to the school - in which case, once again, that wouldn't be necessary - or did he have to catch his bus from the bus stop outside the school? At 11.45pm?

"I live at the school..." I thought he said again, or did he say near the school.

It's hard to recall what happened next. I think I pointed in the direction of the high school and ran inside. And went to bed. And tried to sleep.

Needless to say, noone believed me the next morning, although I was glad the little stranger had vanished without a trace. (If that Globite suitcase had been sitting on the verandah, I may have screamed.)

Looking back on the two encounters over the next few days, I eventually worked out that, wherever the man had been going that morning (Rockdale was the end of the route), he must have been returning from there to the same bus stop, but the driver had mistakenly let him off too early: at the Infants School (ie. opposite our house), instead of at the High School a block further down Stoney Creek Road.

Afterword: Several years later, my Dad happened to mention a bizarre little anecdote he'd heard about the eccentric, very elderly father of a golfing mate... who'd lived alone, opposite Kingsgrove High School, until he was well into his 90s - and I realised I'd finally solved at least enough of the mystery to know that Rod Serling wasn't going to pop up some day and drag me off to the Twilight Zone.

Doo doo, doo doo. Doo doo, doo doo...

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Coincidence Files

Well, what a coincidence! Only this morning, I posted that weird coincidence that happened in the little town of Mogo. I was getting ready to post a second coincidence that happened in that same shop, and was wondering whether I should make it a second entry for today, or wait a few more minutes (till midnight) and make it tomorrow's post instead.

Then, coincidentally, I happened upon Nash's "Coincidence Files" blog entry, where he invited others to add their own coincidence anecdotes. Oooh, spooky.

So, here goes... In about 1968, one of the kids at school (we were in 4th Class) had a great issue of "The Flintstones" comic, which featured the introduction of The Gruesomes family (ie. Weirdly, Creepella and little Goblin, and their pet, Schneider the spider), who move into the same street as the Flintstones and the Rubbles. I'd only recently seen an episode with these characters on TV, and we had immediately realised that the prehistoric Gruesomes were an obvious satire on the live action series, "The Addams Family", which had begun airing in the same US TV season as "The Munsters" (1964). Weirdly Gruesome was very reminiscent of Gomez Addams, Creepella was like Morticia, and Gobby was rather like Pugsley. (Weirdly and Creepella were also uncannily similar to comedy/singing duo, Sonny & Cher!)

Now, 1968 was about about six years before any schools or public libraries had photocopiers, so if another kid had a comic you coveted, but was unwilling to agree to a trade of precious merchandise, then there was really no way you were ever going to own that particular comic. "The Flintstones" were really big in Australia in 1968; we all pestered our Mums to buy only Nabisco's "Weeties" for breakfast, as the pop-up Flintstones trading cards were only available as premiums in that cereal.

I convinced my friend, Vito, to lend me the comic for a few days/weeks, as its "origin" storyline really intrigued me. My young aunt had just left high school and was teaching herself to type, so I asked her if she'd consider using the comic as typing practice. I supplied her with a coil-bound stenographer's pad someone had given me and asked her to type up the speech balloons, leaving a few spaces for pictures.

I hadn't considered that the pages had to be torn from the binding to be inserted into the typewriter, and I also hadn't realised my aunt would only put one comic frame's speech bubble per sheet of paper. Therefore, Janice ran out of pages in no time, and had to supply a second steno pad (of slightly different dimensions) to complete the script. Although I was really grateful that she'd actually completed the bizarre task I'd set her, the end result meant that there were now hundreds of drawings needed! Needless to say, after one or two drawings, my enthusiasm petered right out, and the pile of unbound papers eventually ended up forgotten on the bottom of the toy box.

So, anyway, last month I visited that same aunt, now living in Nowra. It was a long-promised return visit, as January 1976 was the last time I'd been down her way! I entertained her with many anecdotes about the good ol' days, but she was often amazed that my brain remembered such obscure things in great detail. Our conversations meandered off on tangents often and, although I'd planned to mention the wacky typing assignment I'd given her in 1968, the topic got changed several times more and I didn't ever get to that story.

That very afternoon, I ended up in quaint little Mogo on the way home. And, in that same second hand bookshop I blogged about this morning, there it was... a hardcover picture book for just $4.00: "The Flintstones Meet the Gruesomes" (1965). Strange, but true. And a bargain at any price, I reckon.

Flintstones
The Flintstones Meet the Gruesomes

By the way, one of the first times I ran dry on ideas for blog entries, when I first started blogging, I threatened to tell a very different, weird coincidence story, and I don't think I've ever gotten around to writing it up - mainly because it's genuine "Twilight Zone" material, and still spooks the hell out of me - but maybe I'll write up that one as well...

The (discount) price of fame

A forgotten anecdote from my last vacation: I can't pass through a country town without checking out its second hand book stores, and my recent visit to the south coast town of Mogo netted me an interesting batch of books and collectibles.

An Aussie non-fiction book for kids, about the history of chewing gum(!), has two b/w photos inside: of me showing off my Star Trek gum card collection. The book was written by my friend, Natalie Jane Prior in 2000, as part of her "Ubiquitous Things" series. It's called "Chewing gum: how it fed the gods, went into space and helped win the war".

Gum cardsChewing gum

I was in one of Mogo's second hand book shops in March and they happened to have two remaindered (but mint-condition) copies of the book on display, and for a great price, too. When I approached the woman at the counter, I flipped open the book to the appropriate page and smiled at her. I got a discount on my discount!

So it does help to have a photo; I've tried pointing out my name in the Acknowledgments page of the Star Trek novel "Ex Machina" at bookshop counters, but they're never as impressed, and it doesn't result in discounts.

Perhaps my new aim is to be the next Captain Calhoun and be on the cover of a Star Trek novel. I wonder if Keith Birdsong's neighbour gets mobbed in science fiction bookshops? He even got his own Star Trek action figure from Playmates!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Runepp of Rasiinia: going, going, gone!

John Paul Lona's Rasiinian costume, from "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine", was up for sale on eBay last week. The guys at "It's a Wrap!" weren't able to identify the costume, so it was just listed as a DS9 Promenade alien costume.

RasiinianwhiteRunepp2

John was the winner of Playmates' "Design-an-Alien" contest, back in the day when that company held the action figures licence. For his prize, John got to be an extra on DS9 ("The Muse") wearing the alien mask and - thanks to the costume guys - the rest of the outfit, which they got him to complete as new sketches. And Ambassador Runepp of Rasiinia was born.

The (completed) auction link is here!

I did send John an email to the only old address I had, but I don't know if he actually put in a bid. The rubber pieces on the costume are perishing badly, and it wasn't being sold with the Rasiinian mask, which is the original part of the design with which he won the contest. The costume sold for $US 177.50. I was going to place a bid of $200, so I probably would have won, but I was worried I'd get stuck by Aussie Customs problems, knowingly importing perishing rubber.

The whole "Design-an-Alien" story is here on my Reocities site.

Thanks for the heads-up on the auction, Jörg.

And hey! I just found out that the Borg had once encountered and assimilated some Rasiinians. An image of one such Borg drone appeared during one of Seven of Nine's guilt-induced hallucinations in "Infinite Regress", an episode of "Star Trek: Voyager"!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Neato!

Over at Drift, Nash is pondering quirky, antiquated, everyday phrases.

My younger brother used to get into trouble in the late 60s/early 70s for saying "Fab!" all the time - and it took me years to realise that Mum was assuming he was using "Ffffffab!" as a swear word, ie. as an alternative to a certain four-letter word. (And I guess he was, but it was all quite innocent, in that he was just repeating his friends' schoolyard catchcry. As soon as she banned "Fab!", he substituted "Fit!" instead, and still got into trouble. (The two girls who lived next door used to say "Sssssugar!" and "Schweppes!" as their secret swear words.)

I can recall "The Brady Bunch" repeats on TV keeping "Groovy!" in vogue long beyond its "Use By" date.

In the 70s, "gay" was definitely not yet in vogue as an alternative for the term "homosexual". More often, someone was said to be "camp". There was a fascinating article in an old "TV Week" or "TV Times" that talked about Joe Hasham (who played Aussie homosexual lawyer, Don Finlayson in "Number 96") having a gay time at a party. ;)

"Neato!" I first heard during a one-night stopover in Hawaii in December 1983. I was able to meet up with an art class fellow student, who happened to be there to run in the annual Hawaii Marathon, and he explained it was the current "in" word. I started using it myself all 'round the USA - complete with phony American accent, and I was surprised that it did end up in use in Sydney a few years later - but usually just as "Neat".

And "Neat!" was totally overshadowed by "Sad!" (meaning "Good") in the 80s, "Cool!" (or indeed "Kewl") in the 2000s, and "Sick!" and "Fully sick!" in 2006.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Epiphany or bust. Next stop, Lithgow.

I finished the last chapter of "Vulcan's Soul: Epiphany" last night: a thoroughly entertaining Star Trek trilogy of novels, set both before the much-maligned feature film, "Nemesis", and the time of the Sundering of the Romulans from Vulcan.

"Epiphany" builds upon the previous instalments, "Exodus" and "Exiles", and, while telling two compelling storylines, also manages to give a satisfying and logical background to the Nosferatu-looking Remans of "Nemesis", and some more tantalizing tidbits about Saavik, Spock, the female Romulan Commander (of "The Enterprise Incident", TOS), and many more.

Thank you, Susan and Josepha! I was fairly tired last night, coming home from the city - after dark and after the big Pedlar's Fair event at work/school - on the country train. Without the final revelations in "Epiphany" to keep me alert, I'd have ended up in Lithgow, I reckon, having fallen into a deep slumber.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Pedlars on parade

For Education Week 2007, our school hosted a Pedlar's Fair, and it was wildly successful. It had been several years since we'd had one; it had been an annual event for a while there, but was an idea we "rested" more recently. This year, we raised lots of money for the school's coffers. Many parents, caregivers and friends turned up for the day's events, and the students performed and behaved magnificently.

The junior school dressed as pedlars and carried thematic trays of wares: homemade foodstuffs, small glittery or feathery trinkets, bookmarks, pet rocks; whatever you can think of, it was there! The older students had formed small groups to run various competition stalls and fete-like entertainments. Groups of parents ran the multicultural food stall and the tea/coffee.

Everyone participated by buying Pedlar's Pennies as the day's currency. Not having my own class to muster, it was my job to sell the extra pennies, wearing my hand-me-down red velour cape and my "$2 Shop" jester's cap. (More about the cape later.) We expected to only be selling pennies for the first hour today (the students had been paying for pennies all week), but the adults were really getting into the spirit and I sold my last pennies just before lunch, as things were winding down.

At the end, several stalls had guessing competition winners to announce. I was soooo close to winning a huge jar of how-many-jelly-beans-in-the-jar. But I came third, and received probably the most bizarre prize of the day: "Noise Putty", which comes in its own little plastic toilet. Push in the putty and it farts! Well, library lessons might be interesting next week...

Oh, about the cape: it was given to me by a fellow Star Trek fan before he emigrated to England, so many years ago now. It's a most handsome cape. My friend once tried to hire this cape (as the finishing touch to a Star Trek costume for a convention) from the then-Orange People, aka the sannyasin sect, at their inner city facility. But the Orange People, being so loving and trusting of the entire world and its inhabitants, refused to charge him a hiring fee or even a deposit. Although he fully intended to return the cape after what ended up being a longer term loan than expected, the sect suddenly reinvented themselves, and vanished from their old location... to Byron Bay, I assume? As the renamed Rainbow People, they were attempting to disassociate themselves from some embarrassing exposés about the sect's organisers, but eventually they were back being Orange People. Seemingly disbanded, the Orange People of Sydney were no more, and the cape had nowhere to be returned to. It eventually passed to me.

It's certainly brought a lot of pleasure to a lot of people as the finishing touch to a plethora of science fictiony costumes over the years. The sannyasins would be pleased, I hope, but I carry a certain amount of guilt when I think of the original terms of the, ah, loan.

Jester2007

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Born to read

Tonight, our school was part of the official launch of a local initiative to improve literacy potential of students entering Kindergarten through early intervention: books from birth.

An interesting array of speeches from an equally interesting array of speakers, with the keynote address being from Dr Robin Morrow, a former bookseller and Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) judge.

Dr Morrow, whom I know briefly from numerous teacher-librarians' meetings and conferences over the years, spoke fondly and knowledgeably of her documented efforts of reading iconic picture books to her grandchildren in their pre-school years, fostering a love of literature through repetition, anticipation, shared experiences, and even plenty of cuddles.

Our choir attended and made us all proud, not only with their singing, but with their exemplary behaviour through long speeches aimed mainly at adults.

It was a great evening all round and gave us all reassurance that what we do every day at work/school really makes a difference.

Tomorrow: the Pedlars' Fair! (I have my red velvet cloak and jester's cap at school, ready for the big day. In other words, I'll be there with bells on.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Shhh! I've got a secret and I can't tell!


BevDon
Where are they now?

Watch this space:

Captain's Log: Supplemental.
All can now be revealed! See the reunion of the Number 96 cast on "Where Are They Now", Network 7, Sunday night, 6.30pm, 8th July, 2007!

Monday, May 14, 2007

A sense of place...

When the Possum Magic Book Rap I'm doing with my students ran the first time, in 2004, I mentioned on the accompanying Teacher Rap that I remembered an anecdote by Australian author, Libby Gleeson. Libby once said that one of the ways a writer can make a fiction story have an air of authority and uniqueness about it is to capture "a sense of place". For example, her charming children's picture book, "Big Dog", is set in the street where she and her family lived and - even though Armin Greder drew very different illustrations for the book - the story still carries an authenticity that the action occurs, not just on any residential street, but one particular street. Even with the economy of words needed by a picture book, or the briefest of production chats between author and editor, and then editor and illustrator.

For this Rap Point, where the possums of "Possum Magic" will visit the students' own town/suburb and have a new adventure, written by the students, it seemed to me that I really wanted the students to convey their "sense of place". That previous time, in our brainstorming session to write jointly about Penrith, I had the students describing orally, and in detail: the local car park, Penrith Plaza, Lemongrove Bridge, High Street and other (to them) instantly recognisable locales. The unique Penrith food that was found became obvious; if the students described Penrith clearly enough, the available local food is always going to be mentioned in their descriptions. I hoped. And I wasn't disappointed.

I wondered if this new batch of students would coincidentally delve into the same material - but they have surprised me yet again! We did our brainstorm in two sessions, last Friday and again (quite briefly) today. This time, the students had vivid oral descriptions of how to get to Penrith from the city - most of them would go by train, of course, not bicycle like the grandmother possum in the original picture book, so suddenly they have Grandma Poss at Circular Quay station, buying train tickets: for herself and the bike! (Hush is still invisible and doesn't need a ticket, of course.)

The students also settled on one particular takeaway food shop, gave great descriptions of it (including its unique smells!) and they are now really eager to do a joint construction of our first draft tomorrow.

Thanks again, Libby, I'll be forever grateful for your insistence that every book (and even a few paragraphs?) should have its own "sense of place".

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Which Tarot card am I?

A quiz found via Drift's blog:


You are The Magician


Skill, wisdom, adaptation. Craft, cunning, depending on dignity.


Eloquent and charismatic both verbally and in writing,
you are clever, witty, inventive and persuasive.


The Magician is the male power of creation, creation by willpower and desire. In that ancient sense, it is the ability to make things so just by speaking them aloud. Reflecting this is the fact that the Magician is represented by Mercury. He represents the gift of tongues, a smooth talker, a salesman. Also clever with the slight of hand and a medicine man - either a real doctor or someone trying to sell you snake oil.


What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.


(I knew that.)

Lost in Sydney


Dharma

Last night, seven intrepid members of the Sydney Star Trek Meetup Group rendezvoused at Star City Casino, Pyrmont, intending on having a meal together in the Garden Buffet but the queues were ridiculously long and we decided to relocate to the Casino's noodle bar instead.

Our eighth party member (a new person who'd only RSVPed a few hours earlier, and whose Internet profile pic is a startled, white-faced cartoon character) remained... lost. Of course, we had no idea who we were actually looking for. (Deja vu: the last meeting, we spent much of our time wondering about a different new member, who'd also failed to show up - and had similarly chosen to remain genderless and ageless in their online profile.) At least they had my mobile number, so we can only assume they just didn't make it.

Conversation turned to "Lost", the hit television show which shares its executive producer with the upcoming "Star Trek" movie. We decided that there was plenty of fan crossover potential for us to try expanding our regular "Star Trek" meetups to embrace "Lost" as well. It doesn't cost me any more to run two (or three) Meetup groups than one.

So...



Let the "Lost in Sydney" Meetups begin.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Deja Trek?

Once again, there's hot gossip and brewing panic on the Star Trek BBSs of what a flop they expect/hope the next Star Trek film will be. Have I posted about this before? Talk about deja vu, 'cos it's back again.

Fans will claim, "This is one of the biggest problems with Trek today. The powers that be have no understanding of their own franchise or the audience that likes it. And they consistently try to work against the existing fan base." Etc.

Huh?

Many of these complainers are probably too young (or not born) to recall the huge block of antagonism to the changes Gene Roddenberry, Harold Livingston and Robert Wise made to ST for "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" (TMP). In the lead up to the film's premiere in 1979, fans complained about the Enterprise being remodelled, crested Klingons, new uniforms, the revamped bridge set, Kirk's promotion, Spock's rejection of his friends and all humanity to undergo Kohlinar, "the interloper" Will Decker, the focus on SPFX over character interplay, not enough Alexander Courage theme music, the changed transporter effects, Vulcan's orbiting planetoid (even though it had been seen in TAS), Ilia in Chekov's chair...

TMP got me into Star Trek, and it took me only days to find the local fanbase, but it took years to find more than five new ST friends who actually accepted TMP for what it tried to do. I felt quite alone in a fan club of hundreds.

ST II came along and most fans seemed to happily forget TMP altogether, but it's also had a grudging acceptance, by whoever's left in original fandom, as they look back with nostalgia and compare TMP to what came later. And ST newsletters in 1978 were filled with similar sentiments about TMP. And again, as they anticipated detesting the infiltator "Mary Sue" Saavik in ST II, who was being groomed to replace Nimoy. Not to mention the assumed Kirk replacement, David Marcus.

In their haste to hate the upcoming JJ Abrams' new film already, I assume that they do not care for "Lost" and the fresh take that series has given television drama in the midst of the reality show overkill.

Sometimes, they'll hold up Peter Jackson and his "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy as a franchise done right, but I disagree that that series has been uniformly accepted by the diehard LotR book fans. I sat next to a very dear friend of mine who gnashed her teeth all through "Fellowship" because Jackson dared to name a creature Lurtz. "Lurtz," she muttered. "Who's Lurtz[?" She was almost inconsolable during the change of venues in "The Two Towers".

Mind you, she now has a new respect for the trilogy and has learned to appreciate the impossibility of filming Tolkien exactly as written.

(She was also the one who shouted at the screen after seeing the premiere of "Dune" in the 80s, "It doesn't rain for two more sequels, you idiots!")

Me? I can't wait for Abrams' Star Trek.

Friday, May 11, 2007

I continue to be bemused...

... bemused, puzzled and surprised by what people Google, and how their seemingly random searching brings them to my site. After the Easter lull, where my hit rate on Site Meter dropped down below 50 visitors per day because I was on vacation, and not posting, today the number was back up - and reached a new peak of over 100!

Aha!, I thought, my recent research into the Star Trek audio productions was bringing in new customers but, no, most of the people finding my site have been browsing for images of actress Abigail ("Number 96") naked - and therefore they find the cover of her autobiography - or pictures of Jack as a puppy, or my name in Chinese characters. Only a few of the referring URLs seem to have been in regard to my Star Trek articles, such as from this page at the Non-canon Star Trek Wiki, thanks to whoever put it there.

The Internet is a strange animal.

IanChineseAbigail

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Jack Russell: 1; Master: 0

Jack woke me this morning by smothering me with wet doggy tongue kisses, but when I got up to let him out into the yard, he hid under the bed. Yes, it was sprinkling with rain, and Jack had obviously assumed it was going to be too unpleasant to wee.

He's now just over five years old but has always been disconcerted by rain. He also used to hate the hose being on, although in recent years he's been known to race through the water stream, barking loudly. However, rain freaks him out, and i fail to understand how he'd prefer to stay inside all day, holding onto a full bladder all day...

Usually, I have a range of sneaky strategies for tricking Jack outside on a wet day, and at least one has worked: "Look, there's a cat outside!"; ringing the front doorbell and catching him when he runs through the hallway; "Oh, look!"; sneaking up on him curled up on my bed after I've been in the shower; "Jack, come and get your collar on"; or simply grabbing him by the scruff while under the bed, then carefully extricating him and carrying him into the yard.

This morning, absolutely nothing worked. After 20 minutes, I had to admit defeat, then run all the way to work to make up for lost time. This afternoon, before going into the city on the train to collect my weekly comics, I had to swing past the house to let you-know-who relieve his pain.

Children... Sigh.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

One step in front for Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day in Australia on Sunday, and my mother lives in Perth, meaning that today was the last possible chance to get a yellow overnight mailer in the post box for delivery to Perth suburban regions on Friday. It's overnight anywhere else, including Perth CBD. But Perth suburbs require an additional day. Dammit.

Often something comes up at work and I miss the post office. Or I walk right past it, in my usual daydreaming state, and forget I have something to send off. Today was almost no different; I was about to leave work this afternoon when the carpet shampooers showed up at the last minute, and "requested" me to be "ready". Which means: everything off the floor, etc.

I'd bought Mum's gifts weeks ago, but she encourages me to combine her birthday, Easter and Mother's Day presents in the one satchel. But I'd left the contents at home! Luckily, I bought a mailer, got it all packaged up at home, then Jack and I headed off back to the post box, to beat both an imminent thunderstorm and the 6pm cut-off time for the overnight mail. With only a few toilet breaks (for Jack), we made it in good time, then celebrated with a takeaway kebab.

Jack was quite hilarious at the kebab shop. I extended his lead out all the way, as per usual, so I could reach the shop's counter and place my order. Sometimes the owner brings Jack out a few morsels of kebab meat, but tonight Jack just stood in the doorway, staring at the guy and looking distressed: ears pinned back, one paw raised, and trembling all over.

It took me a while to work it out, but the shop had one of those ultraviolet mozzie zappers. Every time it went zzzzzzzzzzztttttt!!!!!, meaning yet another bug had just bitten the dust, Jack reacted in an atypical Jack Russell way. Also particularly scary when you're so low to the ground, was an empty McDonald's bag that blew towards him in the breeze. Jack reversed onto my foot, I almost tripped - and, to any bystanders, it would have looked like I'd just kicked him.

Big Brave Jack Russell!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The best of Trek on audio

Further to my definitive listing of Simon & Schuster Audioworks Star Trek productions, which ones are the best?

It's not as easy as just naming one's favourite ST novels. For example, I love the book version of "The Entropy Effect", but Vonda McIntyre had to trim out her entire Sulu subplot to fit the story into just 90 mins, the standard of the day. I miss it.

Having said that, the best of the very early material is easily "Strangers from the Sky". Much is made of James Doohan's voice talents on TAS, but in this audio production, it's George Takei who performs a tour de force. His performance of southerner Melody Sawyer is soooo good. Assuming it was Margaret Wander Bonanno abridging her own manuscript, she manages to squeeze a sweeping TOS "giant" novel into just 90 mins, losing very little of the sense of wonder and nostalgia contained in the original book.

Of the more recent productions, "New Frontier: Stone and Anvil" is the tear-jerker. I'm not that keen on Joe Morton's strange (alien?) delivery for Mackenzie Calhoun, but this NF story - and especially the ending - is fantastic! I was really busy, and had a huge ST novel stockpile so I actually listened to the audio of this one first. Then I swept everything aside and read the actual hardcover!

I think the only other audio version I heard before reading the novel was "Sarek". I had a similar response, racing to read the original.

I really, really wanted to love the "Captain Sulu" adventures but they were disappointingly bland. It wasn't helped that I bought the cassette versions of the first two - then someone told ne the "3-D" FX work much better in the then-new compact disk format, so I bought the first two all over again. "Cacophony" was... well, a cacophony. Ick. (Is JJ Molloy a Peter David pseudonym; Peter's name was originally advertised as the writer. Maybe he asked for his name to be changed?) For the third one, I got CD, but I note it says on the cover that the FX work better with headphones. They do.

Disappointments? I once saw trade ads for TNG's "Metamorphosis" and "Vendetta" - and (complete with cover art!) "TOS: The God-Thing" - audio productions, but they all got cancelled. Sigh. And no "DS9: Unity", the first ST hardcover not to get an audio. (Sadly, since then, several hardcovers have missed out.)

An annoyance for my collecting: "Captain's Glory" wasn't available as a cassette set. So I have eight matching cassette boxes, plus one squat CD box in a row.

Monday, May 07, 2007

"Will you be requiring anything else, sir?"

There's something a little disconcerting about making one's bed before leaving for work and arriving home in the afternoon, only to find the doona turned back just enough so that one's Jack Russell terrier can lie in the bed... with his head on the pillow!

I hear Star Trek

Spock hat

Something I've often intended to do is to compile a checklist of all the Simon & Schuster Audioworks productions of "Star Trek" fiction. When I got up yesterday morning, a poster on TrekBBS had asked for a definitive list, or at least some help checking if an online list they'd found at SFF Audio was complete or not. Since I do own all of these tapes, and they are located rather close to the computer (but not so close as to be affected by the magnetic field!), I figured I'd bite the bullet and work on the list.

Simon & Schuster Audioworks started their "Star Trek" fiction line in 1986, making audios of their sister company's licensed ST novels and novelizations. The first coincided with the publicity and marketing frenzy for the movie, "ST IV: The Voyage Home". They followed up quickly with some solid sellers from the Pocket fiction line. The early audios were read by either George Takei or James Doohan, "with Leonard Nimoy as the voice of Spock", a clever compromise to cash in on the pulling power of busy actor/director Nimoy, and yet not be too taxing for the ever-popular Mr Spock to squeeze a little narration into his schedule.

The audios, especially in those early days, were abridged by their own authors, although as deadlines became more difficult to meet, George Truett became "the man" behind most abridgments. Music and sound effects on the productions are unique to this audio line, although some use is made of the key TV theme music for TOS by Alexander Courage.

Although S&S have pulled back on frequency of their Trek releases in recent years - they eventually were adapting mainly hardcovers (simultaneous with the release of each one, after the first ten or so audios), and now they don't even do all of those - the ST audios are still a fascinating, and always enjoyable, aspect of the Trek licensing juggernaut.

The audios have survived some interesting package format changes, and have embraced the rising popularity of CDs and Internet downloads. (Updated May 2013!)

"Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" by Vonda N. McIntyre, read by Leonard Nimoy and George Takei, 1986, 90 min. (Novelization.)
"Strangers from the Sky" by Margaret Wander Bonanno, read by Leonard Nimoy and George Takei, 1987, 90 min. (Giant novel.)
"Enterprise: The First Adventure" by Vonda N. McIntyre, read by Leonard Nimoy and George Takei, 1988, 90 min. (Giant novel.)
"Web of the Romulans" by M.S. Murdock, read by Leonard Nimoy and George Takei, 1988, 90 min.
"The Entropy Effect" by Vonda N. McIntyre, read by Leonard Nimoy and George Takei, 1988, 90 min. (uses Kirk/Spock cover art from "Triangle"; Sulu's subplot has been abridged right out of the audio.)
"Yesterday's Son" by A.C. Crispin, read by Leonard Nimoy and James Doohan, 1988, 90 min.
"Final Frontier" by Diane Carey, read by Leonard Nimoy and James Doohan, 1989, 90 min. (Giant novel.)
"Time for Yesterday" by A.C. Crispin, read by Leonard Nimoy and James Doohan, 1989, 90 min.
"Spock's World" by Diane Duane, read by Leonard Nimoy and George Takei, 1989, 180 min. (Hardcover.)
"Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" by J.M. Dillard, read by Leonard Nimoy and George Takei, 1989, 90 min. (Novelization.)
"The Lost Years" by J.M. Dillard, read by Leonard Nimoy and James Doohan, 1989, 180 min. (Hardcover.)
"The Kobayashi Maru" by Julia Ecklar, read by James Doohan, 1990, 90 min.
"Prime Directive" by Garfield and Judith Reeves-Stevens, read by James Doohan, 1990, 180 min. (Hardcover.)
"25th Anniversary Audio Collection", newly introduced by William Shatner, 1991. (Boxed set includes reissues of "Enterprise: The First Adventure"; "Strangers from the Sky"; "Final Frontier"; set later reissued as "Epics on Audio" without mention of the anniversary.)
"Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" by J.M. Dillard, read by James Doohan, 1992, 90 min. (Novelization.)
"Faces of Fire" by Michael Jan Friedman, read by Bibi Besch, 1992, 180 min.
"Probe" by Margaret Wander Bonanno, read by James Doohan, 1992, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover.)
"Best Destiny" by Diane Carey, read by James Doohan, 1992, 180 min. (Hardcover.)
"Windows on a Lost World" by V.E. Mitchell, read by Walter Koenig, 1993, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett.
"Shadows on the Sun" by Michael Jan Friedman, read by James Doohan, 1993, 180 min. (Hardcover.)
"Sarek" by A.C. Crispin, read by Mark Lenard, 1994, 180 min. (Hardcover.)
"Federation" by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, read by Mark Lenard, 1994, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover.)
"Vulcan's Forge" by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz, read by Leonard Nimoy, 1997, 180 min. (Hardcover.)
"Vulcan's Heart" by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz, read by Tim Russ, 1999, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover.)
"The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Volume 1" by Greg Cox, read by Anthony Stewart Head, 2001, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover.)
"The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Volume 2" by Greg Cox, read by Rene Auberjonois, 2002, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover.)
"The Last Roundup" by Christie Golden, read by David Kaye, 2002, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover.)
"Vulcan's Soul, Book 1: Exodus" by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz, read by Boyd Gaines, 2004, 240 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover.)
"Star Trek" by Alan Dean Foster, read by Zachary Quinto, 2009, approx. 480 min. (Unabridged trade paperback novelization.)

Original to audio
"Transformations: A Captain Sulu Adventure" by Dave Stern, performed by George Takei, Dana Ivey and Daniel Gerroll, 1994, 70 min. (3-D sound.)
"Cacophony: A Captain Sulu Adventure" by J.J. Molloy, performed by George Takei, Simon Jones, Maryann Plunkett, Lynne Thigpen and Lee Wilkof, 1994, 70 min. (3-D sound.)
"Envoy: A Captain Sulu Adventure" by L.A. Graf, performed by George Takei, Essene R., Jenifer Lewis, Nan Martin, Howard McGillan and Meredith Monk, 1995, 70 min. (3-D sound.)

"Shatnerverse" novels (Hardcovers.)
"Odyssey" trilogy:
"The Ashes of Eden" by William Shatner with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, read by William Shatner, 1995, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett.
"The Return" by William Shatner with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, read by William Shatner, 1996, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett.
"Avenger" by William Shatner with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, read by William Shatner, 1997, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett.
"The Mirror Universe Saga" trilogy:
"Spectre" by William Shatner with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, read by William Shatner, 1998, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett.
"Dark Victory" by William Shatner with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, read by William Shatner, 1999, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett.
"Preserver" by William Shatner with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, read by William Shatner, 2000, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett.
"Totality" trilogy:
"Captain's Peril" by William Shatner with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, read by William Shatner, 2002, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett.
"Captain's Blood" by William Shatner with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, read by William Shatner, 2003, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett.
"Captain's Glory" by William Shatner with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, read by William Shatner, 2006, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (This title on CD only)

Star Trek: The Next Generation
"Gulliver's Fugitives" by Keith Sharee, read by Jonathan Frakes, 1990, 90 min.
"Contamination" by John Vornholt, read by Michael Dorn, 1991, 90 min.
"Reunion" by Michael Jan Friedman, read by Gates McFadden, 1991, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover.)
"Imzadi" by Peter David, read by Jonathan Frakes, 1992, 180 min. (Hardcover.)
"Q-in-Law" by Peter David, read by Majel Barrett and John de Lancie, 1992, 90 min.
"Dark Mirror" by Diane Duane, read by John de Lancie, 1993, 180 min. (Hardcover.)
"The Devil's Heart" by Carmen Carter, read by Gates McFadden, 1993, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover.)
"Relics" by Michael Jan Friedman, read by James Doohan and LeVar Burton, 1993, 150 min. (Novelization.)
"All Good Things…" by Michael Jan Friedman, read by Jonathan Frakes, 1994, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover novelization.)
"Star Trek Generations" by J.M. Dillard, read by John de Lancie, 1994, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover novelization.)
"Q-Squared" by Peter David, read by John de Lancie, 1994, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover.)
"Crossover" by Michael Jan Friedman, read by Jonathan Frakes, 1995, 180 min. (Hardcover.)
"Star Trek: First Contact" by J.M Dillard, read by Gates McFadden, 1996, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover novelization.)
"Kahless" by Michael Jan Friedman, read by Kevin Conway, 1996, 180 min. (Hardcover.)
"Ship of the Line" by Diane Carey, read by Kevin Conway, 1997, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover.)
"Star Trek: Insurrection" by J.M. Dillard, read by Boyd Gaines, 1998, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover novelization.)
"Triangle: Imzadi II" by Peter David, read by Robert O'Reilly, 1998, 180 min. (Hardcover.)
"I, Q" by John de Lancie and Peter David, read by John de Lancie, 1999, 180 min. Abridged by John de Lancie. (Hardcover.)
"The Valiant" by Michael Jan Friedman, read by Anthony Stewart Head, 2000, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover.)
"The Genesis Wave, Book 1" by John Vornholt, read by Tim Russ, 2000, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover.)
"The Genesis Wave, Book 2" by John Vornholt, read by Tim Russ, 2001, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover.)
"The Genesis Wave, Book 3" by John Vornholt, read by Tim Russ, 2002, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover.)
"Star Trek Nemesis" by J.M. Dillard, read by Boyd Gaines, 2002, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover novelization.)
"Genesis Force" by John Vornholt, read by Tim Russ, 2003, 240 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover.)

CD-ROM games
"Klingon: A Fully Dramatized Adventure" by Hilary Bader, directed by Jonathan Frakes, read by Michael Dorn, Robert O'Reilly, and a full cast, 1996, 90 min. (A novelization of the game was written by Dean Wesley Smith and Kathryn Kristine Rusch.)
"Borg: A Fully Dramatized Adventure" by Hilary Bader, directed by James L. Conway, read by Howard McGillin, John de Lancie and a full cast, 1996, 60 min. (Box art incorrectly attributes director role to Jonathan Frakes.)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
"Emissary" by J.M. Dillard, read by Nana Visitor, 1993, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Novelization.)
"Fallen Heroes" by Dafydd ab Hugh, read by Rene Auberjonois, 1994, 120 min.
"Warped" by K.W. Jeter, read by Rene Auberjonois, 1995, 120 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover.)
"Legends of the Ferengi" by Quark, as told to Ira Steven Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe, read by Armin Shimerman, 1997, 150 min. Abridged by George Truett.
"The 34th Rule" by Armin Shimerman and David R. George III, read by Armin Shimerman, 1999, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett.
"Millennium, Book 1: The Fall of Terok Nor" by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, read by Joe Morton, 2000, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett.

Star Trek: Voyager
"Caretaker" by L.A. Graf, read by Robert Picardo, 1995, 180 min. (Novelization.)
"Mosaic" by Jeri Taylor, read by Kate Mulgrew, 1996, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover.)
"Pathways" by Jeri Taylor, read by Robert Picardo, 1998, 300 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover.)

New Frontier
"New Frontier, Books 1-4" by Peter David, read by Joe Morton, 1997, 270 min. Abridged by George Truett.
"Excalibur: Restoration" by Peter David, read by Joe Morton, 2000, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover.)
"Stone and Anvil" by Peter David, read by Joe Morton, 2003, 240 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover.)

Unabridged audios
"Star Trek" by Alan Dean Foster, read by Zachary Quinto, 2009, approx. 480 min. (Trade paperback novelization.)
"Sarek" by AC Crispin, read by Nick Sullivan, 2012 (Re-release of 2001 Chivers/BBC version, now by S & S Audio via Audible Frontiers download), approx. 879 min. (Hardcover.)
"Star Trek Into Darkness" by Alan Dean Foster, read by Alice Eve, 2013, approx. 535 min. (Trade paperback novelization.)

Alien Voices
"Spock vs. Q" by Cecelia Fannon, performed live by Leonard Nimoy and John de Lancie, 1999, 60 min.
"Spock vs. Q: The Sequel" by Cecelia Fannon, starring Leonard Nimoy and John de Lancie, 2000, 60 min.
"The Spock vs. Q Collection", 2000. (Boxed set includes both productions plus video footage on a third CD.)

Other
"Conversational Klingon" by Marc Okrand, read by Michael Dorn and Marc Okrand, 1992, 60 min. (Based on "The Klingon Dictionary" by Mark Okrand.)
"Power Klingon" by Barry Levine and Marc Okrand, read by Michael Dorn and Marc Okrand, 1993, 60 min. (Based on "The Klingon Dictionary" by Mark Okrand.)
"To the Stars: The Autobiography of George Takei, Star Trek's Mr Sulu" by George Takei, read by George Takei, 1994, 180 min. Abridged by Sofia Marchant. (Non-fiction hardcover.)
"Inside Star Trek: The Real Story" by Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman, read by Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman, 1996, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Non-fiction hardcover.)
"The Klingon Way: A Warrior's Guide" by Marc Okrand, read by Michael Dorn and Roxann Dawson, 1996, 75 min.
"Get a Life!" by William Shatner with Chris Kreski, read by William Shatner, 1999, 180 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Non-fiction hardcover.)
"Gateways: What Lay Beyond" by Diane Carey, Peter David, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Christie Golden, Robert Greenberger and Susan Wright, read by David Kaye, 2001, 240 min. Abridged by George Truett. (Hardcover.)

(If not indicated otherwise, audio productions are abridged by the authors.)

kirkspock1

There are also some (by comparison, very expensive) unabridged titles, but not from Simon & Schuster Audioworks:
"The Physics of Star Trek" by Lawrence M. Krauss, read by Larry McKeever, Books on Tape, 1996, approx 390 min. (Non-fiction hardcover.)
"Sarek" by AC Crispin, read by Nick Sullivan, Chivers Sound Library/BBC Audiobooks America, 2001 (Re-released: Audible Frontiers download, 2012), approx. 879 min. (Hardcover.)
"Star Trek Nemesis" by J.M. Dillard, read by Grover Gardner, Chivers Sound Library/BBC Audiobooks America, 2002, 347 min. (Hardcover novelization.)
"Vulcan's Soul, Book 1: Exodus" by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz, read by Richard Poe, Recorded Books, 2004, 510 min. (Hardcover.)
"Vulcan's Soul, Book 2: Exiles" by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz, read by Richard Poe, Recorded Books, 2006, 630 min. (Hardcover.)
"Vulcan's Soul, Book 3: Epiphany" by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz, read by Richard Poe, Recorded Books, 2007, 694 min. (Hardcover.)

Other audio publications
"Inside Star Trek" by Gene Roddenberry, performed by Gene Roddenberry, William Shatner, DeForest Kelley, Mark Lenard and Isaac Asimov, CBS Inc., 1976, 54 min. (Non-fiction LP.)
"Contractions in Action" adapted by Will Dunne, from a story by Ruth Kirschner, song by Rick Nowels, 1979, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, ? min. (Parody.)
"Star Trek Memories" by William Shatner with Chris Kreski, read by William Shatner, 1993, Harper Audio, 270 min. (Non-fiction hardcover.)
"Star Trek Movie Memories" by William Shatner with Chris Kreski, read by William Shatner, Harper Audio, 1994, 300 min. (Non-fiction hardcover.)
"All I Really Know I Learned From Watching Star Trek" by Dave Marinaccio, read by Rick Adamson, Random House Audio, 1994, 90 min. Abridged by Sharon Holland. (Non-fiction hardcover.)
"Beyond Uhura" by Nichelle Nichols, read by Nichelle Nichols, Random House Audio, 1994, 180 min. Abridged by Sharon Holland. (Non-fiction hardcover.)
"I Am Spock" by Leonard Nimoy, read by Leonard Nimoy, Random House Audio, 1995, 240 min. (Non-fiction hardcover.)
"The Physics of Star Trek" by Lawrence M. Krauss, read by Lawrence M. Krauss, Harper Audio, 1995, 180 min. Abridged by Claire Keller. (Non-fiction hardcover.)
"Boldly Live as You Have Never Lived Before: (Unauthorized and Unexpected) Life Lessons From Star Trek" by Richard Raben and Hiyaguha Cohen, read by Armin Shimerman, Harper Audio, 1995, 180 min. Abridged by Claire Keller. (Non-fiction hardcover.)
"The Nitpicker's Guide for Classic Trekkers" [Parts 1-3] by Phil Farrand, read by George Takei, Nichelle Nichols and Walter Koenig, 1995?, AudioScope, 3 x ? min. (Non-fiction.)
"Nitpicker's Fun & Games for Classic Trekkers" by Phil Farrand, read by Denise Crosby, 1995, AudioScope, 100 min. (Non-fiction.)
"The Nitpicker's Guide for Next Generation Trekkers" [Parts 1-3] by Phil Farrand, read by Denise Crosby, Dwight Schultz and Robert O'Reilly, 1995?, AudioScope, 3 x ? min. (Non-fiction.)
"Nitpicker's Fun & Games for Next Generation Trekkers" by Phil Farrand, read by Dwight Schultz and Robert O'Reilly, 1995, AudioScope, 90 min. (Non-fiction.)
"Beyond Star Trek: The Final DeGeneration: A Parody" by Cathy Crimmins and Tom Maeder, performed by Gary Owens, Dove Audio Inc., 1997, 90 min. (Parody.)
"Inside Star Trek" [revised release] by Gene Roddenberry, performed by Gene Roddenberry, William Shatner, DeForest Kelley, Mark Lenard and Isaac Asimov, newly introduced by Nichelle Nichols, Columbia/Legacy, 1998, 64 min. (Non-fiction bonus CD accompanying "Star Trek: The Motion Picture: Original Soundtrack, 20th Anniversary Collector's Edition".)
"Warped Factors: A Neurotic's Guide to the Universe" by Walter Koenig, read by Walter Koenig, 1999, Dove Audio, 360 min. Abridged by Camille Franklin. (Non-fiction hardcover.)
"Buck Alice and the Actor-Robot" by Walter Koenig, read by Deniz Cordell, Walter Koenig and Jerry Robbins, 2010, The Colonial Radio Theatre on Brilliance Audio, 420 min. (Unabridged original science fiction novel.)
"Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas" by John Scalzi, read by Wil Wheaton, 2012, Audible Frontiers download, 461 min. (Unabridged parody hardcover.)

Captain's Log: Supplemental. Steve Roby has adapted my list, with links to the items themselves.

Interestingly, Amazon offers the Recorded Books unabridged titles as audio downloads, and has recently slashed the prices for "Vulcan's Soul" instalments from around $46 each to $12-$25. But you have to download (and burn them to CD?) yourself.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Spidey strikes again!

I did intend to post yesterday, but I made it home from "Spider-man 3" - screening at the IMAX Theatre at Darling Harbour - with only minutes to spare to change my shirt and go off to a work colleague's 40th birthday party.

If you liked "Spider-man" and "Spider-man 2", then there's plenty to enjoy about "Spider-man 3". I had a few reservations about seeing it in the IMAX format, because the trailer (a few weeks ago when I saw "300") was so busy, but we had excellent seats, right in the middle of the cinema, and the experience was quite impressive.

Topher Grace (of "That 70s Show") is a long-time TV favourite and I was intrigued how he'd go playing the bad guy (Venom) for a change. Thomas Haden Church (whom I knew from "George of the Jungle" and TV's "Ned and Stacey") was also fun to watch as Sandman, and the enigmatic Bryce Dallas Howard, as Gwen Stacy, was also an asset to this instalment.

I worried that a superhero movie with three villains was going to go the same way as the over-burdened "Batman and Robin" (with Batgirl!), where Mr Freeze, Poison Ivy and Bane fought each other relentlessly for screen time. But "Spider-man 3" seems to work well, and Venom, Sandman and the hand-me-down Green Goblin each contributed meaningful scenes to the whole, emulating those fast team-up partnerships that happen all the time in Marvel Comics.

You do perhaps need to leave your brain at the door for "Spider-man 3", and ignore the wacky coincidence of Peter Parker (as Spidey) rescuing his science lab partner from a modelling assignment in a skyscraper, at which her boyfriend, and Peter's rival, stands watching her fall while photographing her for the newspaper, while standing alongside her policeman father.

See, if I hadn't added that paragraph, you'd have believed me that this was a good movie. Go find out for yourself.

Friday, May 04, 2007

A rapping good time

This month at school, I'm working with a little phalanx of six- and seven-year old book rappers in the library. A book rap is a carefully guided discussion about a book by email, designed to teach students about ICT (information and communication technologies).

We had to brainstormed an introductory message to the other classes (all over Australia), edited it and emailed it, and then refreshed our memories with a reading of the featured book, "Possum Magic" by Mem Fox.

Today, with the cooperation of the four home class teachers, we were able to squeeze in an extra session, so we tried to get on top of next week's Rap Point. Highlight of the session, though, was when the library telephone in the office started to ring. I hesitated about answering it, but it would have been annoying to let it keep ringing. I gave an audible sigh and raced off to answer the phone.

Still clustered around the brainstorm sheet, one little voice among the group of students chirped, "Don't worry, Mr McLean, we can handle this..."

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

"If you blog, they will come..."

When I first set up my Site Meter on this blog page, I was receiving about 30 visitors per day and 50 page views. As I become more diligent about posting something every day, the stats built up to an average of 50 visitors per day and 100 page views, and stayed fairly consistent for months!

Merely going away on a week's vacation, the stats fell back to an average of 30 visitors per day and 50 page views. While the "By referrals" stats still show an amazing, often bizarre array of search terms that surfers use to end up at my site, it's the frequency of updates, not just content, that seems to draw the crowds.

The lesson, therefore, is definitely "... if you blog, they will come!" (Quote adapted from the movie, "Field of Dreams".) But to what extent does that mean I can just blab on about anything? And just how important is the quality/noteworthiness of the content?