Friday, July 31, 2009

Itchy eBay trigger finger!

After selling 40 Hoyts' "Star Trek" logo aluminium water bottles to my friends at the Playtrek toy collectors' listserv, I had some Paypal funds just sitting dormant and burning a hole in my pocket - and my finger just sorta, kinda hit that pesky, tempting eBay "Buy it now" button.

I had accidentally come across a thread, on the Star Trek Prop, Costume & Auction Board I now rarely seem to visit, about someone selling off a "Star Trek: The Next Generation" Pakled costume. With the "It's a Wrap!" eBay auctions no longer running, I keep forgetting to go back there and chat with my fellow costume collectors. It's been to long, but my visit tonight was rewarded!

Now, as a long time Data impersonator in my heyday, a Pakled costume (rather like Data's lookalike evil twin, Lore, wore in "Brothers") was way too hard to pass up. Sadly, I'm carrying enough weight, and am jowly enough, to do the full Pakled these days! (As I found out when I bought my "Enterprise" Tellarite Ambassador costume - and I can wear it without the fat-suit undergarment that came with it!)

From "The Samaritan Snare":
Grebnedlog the Pakled
(He looks for things to make us go - and spend up big.)

The exciting "It's a Wrap!" eBay auctions finished up many months ago now, and I must admit to some withdrawal symptoms. Tonight was chance to grab a fantastic, authentic Trek outfit, at an excellent price, and considerably lower than the seller had paid for it himself two years ago!

The original "It's a Wrap!" listing said:


An elaborate Pakled costume featured in the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episode "Samaritan Snare" for wear by Chris Collins in his portrayal of "Grebnedlog". The costume is a series of thickly padded tan and brown elements consisting of texture patterned trousers, a thick woven sweater, a quilted jacket with brown trim and affixed brown leather straps and buckles, a pair of brown painted rubber boots, fabric gloves, multiple brown leather straps with buckles, and a sash with straps. The costumer's tag reads #143 TNG "Samaratin (sic) Snare" PAKLID (sic) – Grebneblog (sic) Chris Collins. This costume is believed to be one of the last two remaining Pakled costumes. Chris Collins is also known for his portrayal of the voices of "Cobra Commander" in the "G.I. Joe" animated series, and "Starscream" in "Transformers".

The late Christopher Collins did his animated voice work as Christoper Lawrence Latta.

Pakled costumewhitePakled jacket

Pakled boots

Pakled gloves

Today's photo of the day, to continue the theme: my Pakled customised action figure from the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episode, "Samaritan Snare", accompanied by an official Playmates' Lore, from "Brothers":


Two Pakleds
We look for things to make us go - broke.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

"Would you like some donut with your sprinkles?"


I was concerned that my 365 Photos project is only up to #81 and I'm repeating myself. Deliciously. But really, Krispy Kreme doughnuts are sooooooo photogenic.

I used my iPhone to send a pic direct to Facebook, and it garnered ten funny comments before I could get it onto my Flickr account. Food gets attention, what can I say?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Look up!

Ceiling detail of Food Court, Westfield Penrith Plaza.

By the way, good ol' Penrith was declared "Suburb of the Week" by breakfast radio announcers, Tony, Bec and Mikey. These posters were popping up all over town:


Monday, July 27, 2009

At home in the school library

First day of Term 3. Bear and Chook have moved into my school library
and made themselves right at home!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

What season is it?


These azaleas seem to be going from strength to strength this winter. Just can't kill 'em!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lifting the roof from the sex cauldron

96 King's Cross

This 1972, "lookalike", light porn cheapie paperback novel attempts to cash in on the popularity of prime time Australian television soap opera, "Number 96". It turned up in the mail by a reader of my blog entries and website dedicated to "Number 96", for which I'm grateful - for completist reasons only, of course. The novel, "96 King's Cross" by one Ricki Francis, was published by Scripts Publications of North Sydney in 1972; described as the "risque arm" of publishing company Horwitz. Francis also supposedly novelized the raunchy Aussie movie "Alvin Rides Again", although she wasn't credited.

Some characters seem loosely based on "Number 96" characters: Emma Rawlins, like Vera Collins, is a high class prostitute. And there's the obligatory homosexual couple, Jay and Lee, who fill the same controversial niche as Don and Bruce. I love how this book - and all eight of the official Arkon "Number 96" novelizations, in fact - featured pink spines, perhaps attempting to emulate Mills & Boon romance novels.

Strangely enough, Horwitz had another imprint, Stag Publishing Company, that released an original novel called "Number 96" in 1976, which was based on the TV show! (That one was supposedly penned by Carl Ruhen, who later did the early "Young Doctors", "Sons and Daughters" and "Neighbours" novelisations, although his name doesn't get credited in the "Number 96" book itself. For another coincidence, Carl Ruhen's pseudonym, Peter Brand, shared a collection with Ricki Francis; his "Devil's Outriders" was printed in the same volume as Ricki Francis' 1972 novel "Bikie Vengeance", in the 1977 reprint for Scripts.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Communing with the merpeople


Dugongs munching cos lettuce - 90kg per day! - at Sydney Aquarium, Darling Harbour.

If you have some time to kill in Sydney's Darling Harbour, you can't go wrong visiting Wuru and Pig the young dugongs in Mermaid Lagoon at Sydney Aquarium.
My slideshow of ten pics

Mermaid and dugong

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A hair-raising tale

Yeoman Janice RandGorn captain

Yeoman Janice Rand cast a furtive, desperate glance over her shoulder - she could see the approaching, remastered Gorn as it lumbered towards her, blinking in magnificent CGI, over a dusty vasquez of rocks. Janice looked about, but could see no diamonds, coal or sulphur to make herself a cannon, so she detached her basketweave hair bun and tossed it at the Gorn, knocking him out cold.

Janice smiled. Hair today, Gorn tomorrow.


Smooth nuts?

When new packaging gets bizarre?

I never thought I'd live to see peanut butter get rebranded. I assume the latest way to prevent people suffering accidental allergic reactions due to peanuts is... SMOOTH NUTS:


The old jar, from my pantry, is at the left. The new one, bought yesterday, is at right.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Sixth Sense - are we ready?

Having just attended the two-day NSW DET "Connected Learning 2009" conference (and presenting in a session last Wednesday), I'm internalising a lot of new ideas that will need to be interpreted and translated into my daily professional practice.

This year's conference was subtitled "Transforming Learning and Teaching". Colleen Foley and I were pleased we had plenty of school principals at our session! But there was so much information to convey in a 50 minute session of a two-day conference - at which all attendees were giving up two days of their vacation. Which is hardly ideal.

Some of the points raised by the keynote speakers were so important, thought-provoking and challenging. The presentations by Mark Treadwell and Peter Blassina, particularly, were quite mind-blowing. If you haven't seen the TED talk on "The Sixth Sense" by Pattie Maes (MIT Media Lab), as discussed by Peter Blassina at the conference, it's a must-see:

After that video, we were all feeling more than a little inadequate, and yet incredibly excited by the possibilities. As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, here I was thinking my iPhone was pretty clever, and a harbinger of how students of the future would still be needing the help of teacher-librarians to plough through our information world. If "The Sixth Sense" becomes a commercial reality, the learning curve starts anew before the current one is even finished. Are any of us ready for the next paradigm shift?

Outside the Novotel Sydney Hotel, Brighton-le-Sands,
for the Connected Learning conference.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Six times dizzy?


Just back from viewing #6 of the Star Trek movie at Glenbrook, in the lower Blue Mountains. Still just as good as the last five times. I got to meet Sam (pictured!), my email penpal (of over a decade!) and a fellow Playtrek listserv member - and he loved his first screening of the new movie. (He drove two hours to get there, and another two hours home. I was coming from the other direction.)

While I loved "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" both in 1979 and 2009, many other fans complained bitterly, in those months after TMP's premiere, that it was slow and plodding (they called it "Star Trek: The Motionless Picture"), but many have come to an (almost-begrudging) appreciation of the film. Boosted along by the DVD-DE ("Director's Edition"), of course, but the film is no longer derided with the same gusto as in the early 80s.

With today's sixth viewing of JJ's ST, I think I've made as many return visits to this film as I did to TMP in 1980. It was as engaging to me, this time, as it was the first time I saw it. It is thoroughly entertaining, with so much rich detail that I see something new every time.

Kinda like TMP - where it took me two viewings to even notice the alien ambassadors (San Francisco) and crewmembers (rec deck) who were depicted in my glossy cinema program - remember those? - and then four viewings just to find all five Andorians!

JJ's ST is probably more entertaining than TMP, although nostalgia wins out so it doesn't displace TMP on my ultimate list. But I can see this movie staying popular over time - at least until the next one kicks its arse. We'll see.

Happy anniversary, Apollo 11!


I've spent the last few weeks demonstrating some of the joys of my school's new interactive whiteboard (IWB), and browsing on Google Earth has been addictive for most of the school's population.

But, in similar vein, NASA has just released some very cool pictures from their Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (or LRO), which has returned its first imagery of the Apollo moon landing sites, just in time for the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. "The pictures show the Apollo missions' lunar module descent stages sitting on the moon's surface, as long shadows from a low sun angle make the modules' locations evident."

Apollo 11

The online comments added by moon hoax conspiracy theorists are hilarious.

I really liked the appended comment from a NASA Moderator: "This is just the first glimpse of many more images to come. When we're in the operational orbit of only 31 miles, resolution should be two to three times better, and we should be able to get the right lighting conditions to identify the rovers."

All images credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University.

Boy, sitting in the school hall watching a fuzzy black and white television in 1969 (Year 5) at Arncliffe Primary School seems sooooooo long ago, but it also seems like it was only yesterday. Happy Moon Day (on a Monday, even!).

Apollo 14

Also worth checking out: The Moon in Google Earth

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Brunch at Mash

What a great way to spend a sunny winter's morning:

Open fireplace - Mash cafe, Glenbrook, in the Lower Blue Mountains.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Thank God for the Salvo's!


Today I found the perfect stuffed polar bear I need for a school project (for the book rap on the children's picture book "Bear and Chook") at a local Salvation Army "Salvo's" charity store. I've been pricing toy polar bears all week, and this one was just $2. He was even dressed for Christmas (in July?), but even his garments are worth way more than $2! Boy, am I glad I didn't buy the one I saw for $130 during the week!

Even better, Bear's the perfect scale for my battery-operated "Choke-a-Chicken" (below left), who'll be standing in for the character of Chook. (Remember "Choke-a-Chicken"? A real novelty hit several Christmases ago. He does the Chicken Dance, and squawks in agony when you pick him up by the neck!)

It was the most amazing day. I was dropped off at the station today, to head into Darling Harbour and have lunch with friends at the Meat and Wine Co. I just missed a train, so I headed off to the shops for a while, and then decided to check out the stuffed toy section of the "Salvo's" charity store on High Street. Sure enough, there was Bear, waiting on a couch and looking resplendent in his Christmas outfit. You could have knocked me over with a feather when the woman serving me said, "$2 please"!

Of course, I then had to take Bear into the city with me - and pay an extra 95 cents for a recyclable carry-bag - but who cares when I'd just saved $128! I also missed the next fast train into the city, which was also frustrating, but again - who cares when I'd just saved $127.05!

I even managed to send profile updates and the pic (above) direct to my Facebook page from my iPhone! In the time it took to get into the city, there were many hilarious comments coming in from friends making puns about the polar bear that had made me late for lunch!


Introducing "Bear and Chook by the sea": Emma Quay, illustrator, and Lisa Shanahan, author.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Her Majesty's majesty

Queen Victoria statue outside the QVB (Queen Victoria Building) in Sydney's CBD.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"When you're on a good thing, stick to it"

Perhaps it's time to tidy up my fridge magnets?

Schrodinger's Cat and Pavlov's Dog (complete with bell to cause salivation) are recent acquisitions.


Not All Dogs Go to Heaven

I happened to catch this "Star Trek" parody episode of the cartoon "Family Guy" last night, not long before bed. Spotto the Andorian, with his blue antennae, in the audience!


The episode was titled "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven", and the "Next Generation" crew (Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Levar Burton, Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn, Wil Wheaton, Denise Crosby and Marina Sirtis) provided guest voices, as the Griffin family heads to the annual Quahog "Star Trek" convention.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009



This wooden (and batik fabric) elephant hangs outside my back door, but it seemed an appropriate subject this week to celebrate the birth of Taronga Park Zoo's first elephant!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Fenced in

I pass this tree almost every day but today it reminded me of an alien, especially as it appears placed behind the barbed wire fence. Is it to keep us out, or the alien tree inside?

Day of the Triffids?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sickbed round-up

I've just spent a week very under the weather with flu symptoms that threatened to overwhelm me. Luckily, I seem to have thwarted it, despite everyone around me sniveling, coughing and complaining.

I haven't felt too much like blogging, but I have kept up with my daily photographs for the 365 Photos project:

Part of a very large pile of parcels I had to send out, containing
aluminium Star Trek water bottles. 5 July 2009.

I (stupidly?) volunteered to buy them up for 37 US members of the Playtrek action figures and collectibles listserv, and I'm hoping it pays off in plenty of toy karma. (Now I know why firms charge postage "and handling" - the time it takes to package up things and get them to the post office is deceiving. Every package has required flashing my Medicare card each visit, three signatures: on the parcel, the customs declaration, and a form attached to the declaration - and my address has to appear twice.)

Jack on the lounge, a few minutes to midnight. 6 July 2009.

Cover art of the picture books "Bear and Chook" and "Bear and Chook by the sea". 7 July 2009.

I spent the day writing programming notes for a book rap. These books by Lisa Shanahan and Emma Quay will be the focus of a book rap in Term Four.

The Shopping Trolley Graveyard, where lost and abandoned Penrith shopping trolleys
congregate before their ultimate demise. 8 July 2009.

View through a balcony rail at the Queen Victoria Building, Sydney CBD. 9 July 2009.

My cute new set of "Cosbaby" Nightwing, Robin, Batman and Batgirl figurines. 10 July 2009.

A cheeky poolside willy wagtail left behind a mess on Pan's head at sundown today!
He was using the statue as a springboard for his bathing expeditions.
And driving Jack crazy! 11 July 2009.

View behind the laptop, a few minutes to midnight. 12 July 2009.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Snuffle, splutter

Getting me through a miserable weekend: cake, coffee, Codral cold tablets, Betadine throat gargle and Turkish apple tea.


Wish me luck.

Let's just hope some swine didn't give me more than I bargained for.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Green and gold

It's not 1st September (Wattle Day) yet, but Penrith is already blooming with gold and green.


Thursday, July 02, 2009

Cover story

Tellarite robeswhiteThe Romulan War

Trekmovie has previewed a new batch of Star Trek novel covers and blurbs. I'm excited that I own the Tellarite costume ("It's A Wrap!" eBay auctions), that appears on the cover of "The Romulan War"!

Staff dinner - Harness racing at Club Paceway, Penrith.