Sunday, May 31, 2009

Taxes and distractions

Yes, it's tax time - and the dog is determined to distract me from my receipt-sorting task.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

For the birds...

Just as I was finding an interesting angle on this wall, a cheeky, self-confident feathered friend swept into shot looking for worms.


I like that, due to erosion, this sandstone sign says simply "PUB SCHOOL"!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Near mint, but not for long

Yes, I'm an "opener". I'm about to break ten Star Trek movie tie-in action figures out of their little plastic sarcophaguses!


Thursday, May 28, 2009

A shot in the dark

Today's pic in my "365 Pictures project": a view of Sydney, 5.30pm, while descending the ramp from Central Station. Note the distant Sydney Tower between the two middle buildings.


What's really interesting about this project is that some of the pics, so far, have been one-off, chance-in-a-million, luck-of-the-draw shots, while others have been scenes I see every day, or every week - and yet I never know till I glance at them what will entail my one-shot-only shot.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Simultaneous sheep

"Pete the Sheep"

The annual National Simultaneous Storytime happened today at 11am: "Pete the Sheep" by Jackie French & Bruce Whatley, as a PowerPoint presentation on my school's new interactive whiteboard! Thanks ALIA for a fun event!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sold out!

Packed to the rafters! The 4.00pm Sunday session at IMAX Sydney, the world's biggest rectangular cinema screen - "Star Trek" is sold out! All 540 seats! Not bad for a movie in its third weekend of release.


Just as well we bought our tickets online.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


I decided to try to capture some wisps of smoke from my ceramic smoking dragon incense burner!


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"With my big balls of string..."

Giant silver string balls, suspended from the ceiling of the food hall
in the newer wing of Westfield Penrith Plaza, Penrith.

"...I can do anything, anything at all!"
(A Big Ball Of String by Marion Holland.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Night moves

This afternoon, after the staff meeting, I was supposed to look for a photographic subject on the way home. The light was failing and, when I reached the site of yesterday's photo, I realised that the light was failing and unless I found a cool indoor subject, my chances were fading along with the available light.

I was still sitting here, subjectless, when my gaze fell upon a battery-operated "two dollar" bargain shop disco pendant!

A psychedelic self-portrait!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunny Smurfday

The things you find in the yard on a gorgeous, sunny Autumn Sunday...


I wonder, does a Smurf turn navy blue when he "tans"?

I scanned some new Star Trek movie tie-in stuff this morning. My overseas Trek colleagues were asking about Australian stuff:

Trek mobile

Trek drinksTrek drinks

Australian mobile advertising the "Star Trek" (2009) movie tie-in aluminium water bottle from Hoyts cinemas. Lenticular plastic movie poster drink cup and lid from the Greater Union cinemas. (There was also a matching cardboard popcorn satchel.)

Trek figures

Left: International packaging of Plamates' "Star Trek" (2009) movie tie-in 3.75" action figures. Note presence of belt accessory, but Uhura is not actually wearing her belt (as in US version), and there is no bonus playset piece in the package! Right: US packaging.

Trek figure cardbacks

Left: Back of international packaging. Note there is no diagram of the separate playset. Right: Back of US packaging.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Scaredy cat

It's windy outside and my dog's being a scaredy cat... on my lap.


Okay, so I lasted five days before an obvious dog shot came up.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The hole truth? Can do!

I pass this hollowed tree almost every afternoon and often wonder
if any native wildlife lives in it.

And now we know: a squashed aluminium soft drink can!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The rocky road to dieting?

Rocky Road doughnut from Krispy Kreme, Central Station.

I first saw this delectable new, limited edition Krispy Kreme variety on Monday afternoon, and I realised today that, if it was still in production, it might make a great subject for a photo. The one I had my eye on was actually right at the front of the glass display cabinet - it had twice as many marshmallows! But I was a little reluctant/guilty to insist on buying it.

I have since eaten the evidence. All in the name of art.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cat in a hat in a tree

Commemorative "Cat in the Hat" pen with artificial bonsai tree.

These sit beside my work computer every day. I figure, why not share them?

"It's fun to have fun but you have to know how..." (The Cat in the Hat/Dr Seuss)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Seminar aftermath - returning from a day on the Central Coast.

Today I had a very restful and scenic train ride to Gosford Station, to attend a teacher-librarians' gathering at Brisbania Public School. I was presenting a session on wikis, blogs and Web 2.0.

Many thanks to the organisers and attendees for making me feel so welcome. It's always fun to share innovative educational strategies with others and even more rewarding to get feedback that one's work has already been inspiring others!

And thanks also for the gift, which doubled as the subject of today's "365 Photos" project, winning out even over glimpses of the majestic Hawesbury River.

Monday, May 11, 2009

365 photos - Day #1

Train carriage interior - Blue Mountains train to the city.

Over the last few days, I've run into several mentions of a project called "365 Photos". Bloggers resolve to take one digital photo per day for a whole year, and to use them as inspiration for blog entries.

As I was travelling into the city this afternoon - to collect my copy of the "Star Trek" movie novelisation, just arrived at Galaxy Bookshop - I found myself admiring the reflections of other reflections on the train carriage's windows and other shiny surfaces, as day turned to dusk.

"Why not take a picture and kick off my own '365 Photos' project?" I pondered. So here goes...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Worth repeating: "Star Trek" in review

I caught the Sunday repeat of "The Movie Show" tonight. First nine minutes of a 27 minutes episode. Very positive. Four out of five stars each for the new "Star Trek" film - and reviewers Margaret and David rarely agree. Lots of footage, JJ Abrams and Eric ("Nero") Bana interviews, and more interview clips and text on the ABC-TV's website!


Saturday, May 09, 2009

Hanging out for Andorian shingles: "Star Trek" reviewed

Star Trek casts

Mmmmm, well now that the new "Star Trek" film is out throughout most of the world, I can attempt to review it, but where to start?

I loved it, but then, I knew I was going to love it, based on the fact that I really appreciate JJ Abrams' (and friends') storytelling style on TV's "Lost", and the quirky hit movie "Cloverfield". I trusted that JJ knew what he was doing, the trailers looked great, the marketing and secrecy has maddened - and tantalised - diehard Trekkies everywhere, and the feedback from several sneak previews and gala premieres was so overwhelmingly positive. "Countdown", the prequel comic tie-in from IDW, also cemented in my mind that I'd enjoy the film proper.

Last night I saw the movie for the third time. I have no complaints - except where were my Andorians (a cameo in dialogue only)? - and there are many, many scenes that thrilled me.

The pre-title sequence with George Kirk Sr (Australia's own Chris Hemsworth, below left) and his wife, was excellent. Accompanied by one of the most emotional tracks on the movie soundtrack, it threatened to coerce a tear or two - and this was the opening few minutes of a film, with characters we'd never actually met before!

Chris HemsworthEric Bana

I loved Eric Bana (above right) as Nero the Romulan miner-turned-pirate, too. Many fans were critical of his often-relaxed delivery, but I found it added to the character's quirkiness and unpredictability.

Spock's childhood evoked memories of the animated "Yesteryear" (TAS), and his retraining in "ST IV: The Voyage Home". There's a Kirk bar room brawl that never sounded too good in descriptions but everything fitted together in its context. Karl Urban was channeling DeForest Kelley as Doctor McCoy. A running gag with a spray hypo is hilarious! Scotty and Chekov got plenty of laughs, and Uhura, Sulu and Pike were also given plenty to do, and offered lots of surprises. (One of Pike's costume changes was a wonderful, unexpected salute to "The Motion Picture", the movie that made me a Star Trek fan way back in 1979.)

As a collector of Star Trek soundtracks, I reckon Michael Giacchino's music is unmissable, and the themes grows on me with every play. Beautiful stuff from the composer of "The Incredibles", "Mission: Impossible 3" and "Lost", and plenty of little salutes to Alexander Courage (TOS theme), Jerry Goldsmith ("Ilia's Theme") and others!

At the three screenings I've been to, the audience was mesmerized. Laughing in the funny bits, sniffing in the sad bits, jumping in the scary bits, but otherwise totally engaged with the screen. I know there are a few diehards who absolutely hate what JJ has done, but hopefully the overall increase in Star Trek's popularity as a franchise will hang around for a few years more now. Fandom has needed new, young blood for a long time.

I noticed a great quote on one of the online message boards: "There was a few minutes there where I was really angry at [MAJOR SPOILER REMOVED] ... and that's when I realized how great this film was turning out to be. I was supposed to be angry... it made Nero the great villain that he needed to be. I wanted to see Spock and Kirk take this guy down hard... and they did just that."

It's so heartening to see the movie getting such great professional and fan reviews. I can't wait for the next one. Maybe we'll get more than just Andorian shingles next time.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film As 'Fun, Watchable': "The Onion"

Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film As 'Fun, Watchable'

This is wonderful! Well done to "The Onion".

Now I really want to hear about the rescue of the Andorian ambassador from the surface of Sylax IV.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Of mammoth proportions

Mammoths on display at The Australian Museum, Sydney. Teachers' preview last night!

Baby mammoth

Mammoth skeleton


Mammoth hut
Recreation of a 300-bone Mizyn hut made of 273 mammoth bones, from 30 different mammoths (plus deer antlers and animal skins) on display at The Australian Museum, Sydney.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

I know what I did last midnight...

Star Trek (2009) poster

Currently downloading my first "Star Trek" album, JJ Abrams' motion picture soundtrack composed by Michael Giacchino, purchased via iTunes!

So cool getting it "hot off the press!"

Cast of Star TrekQuinto as Spock

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The thrill of the hunt: a cereal serial

Warp Speed Ball

Okay, luck was on my side last night. Last week I bought two huge boxes of cereal, but no toy in either box. The new Star Trek movie premiums are only in one out of every two boxes of certain Australian cereal types, and in large-sized boxes only. Although I still had one and a half uneaten boxes of Sultana Bran (ie. a Raisin Bran analog - but residents of the USA should see the size of Aussie raisins!) in my pantry, it was time to try again.

I trudged off to a different supermarket and found the Star Trek Warp Speed Ball offers on both large Corn Flakes (Game #3) and Sultana Bran (Game #2 again). Both previous cereal boxes came with Game #2 board printed on the back. I just opened both new boxes and scored a blue planet Warp Speed Ball in the Sultana Bran and an orange-ringed planet version in the Corn Flakes. So my score has evened out again and I might even try for the third colour/design.

Essentially, it's a funky little elliptical stopwatch that counts up to 99.9 seconds. You can use it in two modes: as a "Speed Challenger" (set it, throw it, run to it, stop the counter, check the speed of your throw); or as a "Stop Watch" (set it, throw it, run to it, stop the counter and check your running time in seconds). Although the cereal box art makes it look like a solid key chain thingie, it has a printed padded material cover. The movie logo, Starfleet insignia and planet are screen printed. The instructions warn that the included battery is not replaceable.

Game #2 is the "Supermassive Black Hole Game", in which you try to toss the Warp Speed Ball through a small target hole you cut out of the box art. Game #3 is simply a set of score cards to do team relay games with the Warp Speed Ball.

I have so much Kellogg's cereal to eat, it seems rather cruel to try testing my running speed at the moment.

Cereal boxes

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Trek stuff, of course

Star Trek 2009 poster at Hoyts Penrith

I have been very reluctant to say too much until the new "Star Trek" movie goes into general release next week. Even listing my favourite scenes would be like a list of spoilers for others.

At the free advance screening I went to (last Monday), the audience of competition winners was mesmerized. Laughing in the funny bits, sniffing in the sad bits, jumping in the scary bits, but otherwise totally engaged with the screen. I still haven't read a bad review, and it's also heartening to read comments from people online saying they went in fully expecting to hate the movie and ending up loving it. I know there'll still be people who absolutely hate what JJ Abrams has done, but hopefully the overall increase in ST popularity will hang around for a few years more.

I picked up a ticket for local evening screening on Thursday, and have a theatre party booking in the CBD with friends for Friday night. Maybe IMAX on the weekend?

As for the action figures, I'm just not understanding the hatred for them I've seen so far on various collectibles listservs and TrekBBS. I've now seen examples of most Playmates figures in 3.75" and 6", and they are great! (6" Uhura is still elusive). Even the 6" Kirk, which looked a bit odd in some preview pics, looked fine in the package.

The 3.75" figures are soooooo cute. They are way more articulated than Mego and Galoob 3.75" figures, and more cleverly-jointed than ERTL ST III figures. (Uhura's bare knees don't have ugly silver pins in them!) I can't wait for my huge mail order packages from Rick at NewForce to arrive, so I can assemble the tiny crew onto the bridge and transporter playsets. (Gosh, I think I ordered the playsets. It was soooo long ago.) The local 3.75" figures are not having bonus bridge pieces in their packaging, but these bits will come with Wave 2 figures later in the year, I've been informed.

Every figure I picked up had excellent painted detailing; I'm not seeing the poor face applications people have complained about. Others have mentioned that Uhura and Pike were the shortpacks in the US, and I only saw one of each on Thursday night at Hobbyco in the CBD, so I grabbed them for future customising. I'm thinking that I might end up securing any cadet uniform-outfitted figures I ever see on special and using them to make a roomful of alien cadets!

Ah, and my eBay-ordered "Buy it now" Funko Andorian "Wacky Wobbler Bobble-head" turned up yesterday. Very cute, but it doesn't talk. Many online references claimed that he was supposed to, but that's only the Kirk and Spock, I understand.

Now I want the Gorn, I think.

Action figures
Funko "Star Trek" Andorian Wacky Wobbler Bobble-head
meets Playmates' 2009 movie Uhura (3.75"), evil Nero (6")
and evil Nero Mini-Me (3.75").