Monday, August 31, 2009

George keeps us postered!


Complimentary poster for "Gamer's quest" by George Ivanoff. George is a friend from my old "Star Trek" days who's been selling some professional kid lit lately! Thanks George! The students will love the posters and will pester me to get the book(s).

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Vale Les Gilbody (1958-2008)

Leslie Gilbody (1958-2008)

I found out today, while doing a Google search, that one of my best friends from high school, Leslie Gilbody, passed away almost exactly a year ago. I'd been trying to track him down for ages, but found his online obituary today. I miss you heaps, Les, and my sincere sympathy to Cathy and your family.

I dug through the old photo albums today, to find a pic of Les and Cathy's 1978 wedding, but I'd forgotten that Les had his eyes closed in the shot! So I kept digging and found two snaps from a much earlier time, taken at the end of our first year at Kogarah High School. Les's parents were a school principal and infants' mistress, and Les attended their school for his primary years; otherwise, he'd have probably attended my primary school, because he lived only a few metres from my house - even closer when he took the shortcut through the canal! We became very good friends at high school, and it's frustrating to think we lived so close to each other for so long before our first meeting.

Leslie Gilbody (below right in the b/w pic, and the tall one, in the green T-shirt, in the colour pic)
at my 13th birthday party, December 1971.

Les and I often walked home from Banksia Station together. The two of us developed a wonderful friendship with the woman who ran the newsstand in the subway, and, over several days, he taught me how to blow bubbles with bubble gum bought from her stall.

Being one of the "cool" guys at school, he was an effective bodyguard if ever I was being hassled by schoolyard bullies. In the September of 1971, Les volunteered his services to help my family move house (from Arncliffe to Rockdale). Les left school rather abruptly, halfway through 1974, if I recall correctly, but he made a point of reconnecting every few years, even when we moved house again. He tracked us down in Kingsgrove, turning up at the front door one evening, eager to take me for a spin in his new car, and out to the Shire to see his parents' new house.

One of my fondest anecdotes about Les was the afternoon that our pals, Jim and Greg (who were so much shorter than lanky Les), decided they needed to have revenge on him for some reason. Unbeknown to me (I guess I was in a different carriage that day?), they held him down on the train, preventing him from alighting at Banksia Station and taking him on to Arncliffe Station instead. While one boy pinned him to the train seat by his hair, the other sat on Les's chest and drew glasses, a beard, moustache, sideburns, scars and freckles all over his face with an indelible, thick, black Texta. I was chatting to Mrs Sheppard at the newsstand and Les arrived, having had to catch a train back to Banksia, and we had to walk all the way home with Les's face still decorated. He took the boys' prank in such good humour, and we laughed such a lot that day as we pondered how he'd remove the ink before a family wedding scheduled for the next day.

Thanks for the memories, mate!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Duck and run!

New Zealander header sheepdogs round up a brace of
Indian Runner ducks at the Penrith District Show.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Early bird


The early bird gets the grass seeds! I passed this cheeky and confident long-billed corella on the way to work this morning. He was quite unconcerned by my proximity to his breakfast.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pay back


On temporary display at Sydney's Central Station (before it moves off to the NSW Rail Heritage Centre at Thirlmere), here is the last surviving example of a recently-restored 1936 "Pay Bus". It was built at Smith & Waddington's, Camperdown (where my paternal grandfather once served his apprenticeship), and delivered fortnightly salaries to railway employees and track maintenance gangs.

Pop goes the displays!


Safari print balloons in our school library for Book Week. The theme this year is "Book Safari". I found these balloons earlier this year at a party shop in Melbourne, and was concerned that when the big week came I'd either forget all about them, or wouldn't be able to find them.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Inglorious misspellings

I saw "Inglourious Basterds" (sic) last night. Some really innovative moments, but captions were a strain over such a long movie. I was going to post a longer review this afternoon, but when I arrived home, there was an incessant alarm-like sound filling the house.

After checking all the smoke alarms, I finally tracked the noise down to the electronic timer on the oven. We'd obviously had a power outage during the day, and the silly thing simply refused to reset itself. No matter how many buttons were twiddled, it continued to buzz. You can imagine the stress it put on the dog's ears! (Not to mention mine.)

Over five hours later, I'd finally located the old instruction book, which recommended pulling out a fuse from the outside electrical box for ten minutes.

Success. The silence is golden. Or is it? To tell the truth, the lack of buzz has now left me feeling rather nauseous, and emotionally fragile. It's worse than Chinese water torture!


Monday, August 24, 2009

On display!

Overhead shot of new growth from my
Silver Lady blechnum fern. 23 August 2009.

Great title for an upcoming movie! 24 August 2009.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

One more trailer for the road

JJ Abrams' "Star Trek" movie is coming to DVD and Blu-Ray very soon - and here's the trailer, including tiny snippets of the bonus scenes and docos.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Blue Team

Various blue action figures: Blue Devil (DC Comics), Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan ("Farscape"),
a Smurf, Dr Manhattan ("Watchmen") and Shran ("Star Trek: Enterprise").

Friday, August 21, 2009

Picture perfect

Historic Anglican Church of St Stephen the Martyr (consecrated 1839),
one of the oldest surviving buildings in Penrith, NSW.

I pass this beautiful old church almost every day, but this afternoon, on my way home from work, it looked particularly photogenic!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Renovation is now an event


Here's the George Street Cinema Complex, with marquee totally obscured by scaffolding during a renovation, but the show must go on! (It actually says, "Going to the movies is now an event" - see pic below.) Taken during my weekly Thursday night venture into Sydney CBD to buy comics and books!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Closeup on the "M" of "CINEMAXX" sign at the
Penrith Plaza Hoyts' cinema complex.

Just back from seeing "District 9", a new science fiction movie! Apartheid meets "Alien Nation" meets "Cloverfield", minus the shaky-cam. Riveting performances and SPFX! Highly recommended!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jack and the poppies

Last wee of the night; Jack requests re-admission into
the house to prepare for bed. 17 August 2009.

Spring can't be far away! Poppies in a Penrith garden,
a few doors down from my place. 18 August 2009.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Two cases of nostalgia


Bequeathed by an elderly friend clearing out her Parramatta house: a handmade, monogrammed wooden sewing case (c. 1925) and commercial cowhide case (c. 1940), with two glass 600 ml milk bottles (1970s) and an Imperial half pint cream bottle (1960s). For scale, they stand next to my plastic replica of a 1960s Dairy Farmers' school milk 1/3 pint bottle (from the 2007 Sydney Royal Easter Show).

Where are all the Trek book tie-ins for kids?

Over on TrekBBS, some fans of JJ Abrams' recent "Star Trek" are pondering the total lack of book tie-ins aimed at children.

Putting my teacher-librarian hat on here:

As children in the 60s, my brother and I both read his copy of "Star Trek: Mission to Horatius" by Mack Reynolds. We enjoyed it, and my brother's book secretly made its way into my growing ST collection in 1980, but the book's content wasn't anything Earth-shattering. At least not for us, although it may have piqued our curiosity for TAS when we found that in b/w on Saturday mornings in the 70s.

Having met many members of ST's "first fandom", those who were watching ST as kids and who also craved reading about ST were devouring the James Blish (TOS) and Alan Dean Foster (Filmation's TAS) episode adaptations. The selection of ADF as writer of the 2009 ST novelization was met with much enthusiasm from those ST fans who'd learned to read with "ST Logs" 1-10.


Although I have the delightful Lawrence Weinberg "ST III Storybook" in my collection, and have bought additional copies for all three school libraries I have taught in over the years, it never gets borrowed. Likewise, child interest in the Pocket/Minstrel YA books for TNG, DS9 and VOY has been minimal compared to the war SW kids devour SW YA books.

If you look back at other seemingly YA ST books, they are also more appealing to adults (as collectibles) than to kids (as reading material). "ST II Biographies", the matching short story collections and choose-your-own-adventures for both ST II and ST III, the ST IV YA ("Young Adult") novelisation, the TNG movie YA adaptations... how many sold to/for kids, and how many went straight into adults' collections? Ditto the old TOS and TMP pop-up books, and Daniel Cohen's "The Monsters of Star Trek".

I do know some kids who collect all the "Star Wars" YA books, but (like "Goosebumps" books and "Ben-10" books), they collect them as they would gum cards, and they don't necessarily use the books as reading matter.

Both SW and ST can appeal to young kids, but the ones inspired by ST seem to have no problem becoming consumers of the regular ST novels, thus skipping the YA stage completely.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Three in one

Through the security glass, at night.
12 August 2009.

Bear and Chook wait for a taxi. A big day
of filming at Caddies Creek Public School.

13 August 2009.

The Fool, or court jester, Shakespeare Collection
series of figural Toby jugs. Staffordshire Ceramics.

14 August 2009.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tiptoe through the tulips?

Or the aspidistras, even - a garden at Penrith Bowling Club.

Parody time - times three!

I love these new Youtube finds:

"JJ Abrams" reveals his plans for "Star Trek": a parody, of course.

"The Lord of the Rings" movie... of 1940!

An ingenious parody of "The Lord of the Rings" by O. Sharp. With Humphrey Bogart as Frodo Baggins, Sydney Greenstreet as Gandalf and Marlene Dietrich as Galadriel.


How "Lord of The Rings" Should Have Ended!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Wicked Witch of the Trek?


Here's my customised Gaila the green Orion figure, from the recent "Star Trek" movie, made via a simple clothes swap between a Mattel's Barbie as the Wicked Witch of the West ("The Wizard of Oz") and Barbie as Uhura (JJ Abram's "Star Trek").

Obsessing over this idea for several weeks now, from when I first saw the Oz figure in a collectibles shop, with her green complexion, arching eyebrows and tufts of curly hair under her pointy black hat, I realised she seemed to be the shortpacked figure in a range of Ken & Barbie "The Wizard of Oz" dolls.

Gaila the Orion
Gaila the Orion.

I then lucked across a cheap(er), spare Barbie Uhura, but now the Target toy sale catalogue was featuring the "Oz" Barbies even cheaper (but sold out). I did a fairly good eBay deal, but hadn't anticipated that the witch Barbie might not have been green all over. So, there's a little more work to be done.

There are plans afoot for the spare (now near-nude) Uhura.

Uhura and Witch

Star Trek Barbies 4
Click: My Flickr slideshow (Seven images)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Photo catch-up

Still life - tortured willow and grass-tree spike. 7 August 2009.

Deja vu - Devonshire St pedestrian tunnel, between Sydney's
Central Station and Broadway. On my way to University of Technology
Sydney to deliver a seminar on wikis. 8 August 2009.

Jack, just before midnight - again. 9 August 2009.

Friday, August 07, 2009

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Yes, it's exactly 12hrs:34mins:56secs on the 07/08/09, or 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9. At least in countries that list the day before the month.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Last-minute photos

Close up on lace curtain. 5 August 2009.

Ooops. I had intended to photograph the lemon and sugar pancake
I'd ordered, then accidentally ate it! 6 August 2009.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Chuting the breeze

Parachute novelty event, school sports carnival.

A perfect day for the annual school sports carnival today. Thank the heavens for the inventor of the Thermos, though.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Harry Potter by twilight

Pretty mini lights adorn all the leafless trees in
Penrith's outdoor restaurant precinct this winter.

I was heading back from my viewing of the latest "Harry Potter" movie, "The Half-Blood Prince", when I clicked off today's picture for my 365 Photos project.

Mmmmmmmm, bit of a mish mash of a film. The acting was fine. I certainly couldn't see it six times like I did JJ Abrams' "Star Trek" movie! Like the last "Harry Potter" film ("The Order of the Phoenix"), characters simply wander into a scene, briefly say something, and then swan out. The best one has been the one with the time travel conundrum, whichever that one was - "The Prisoner of Azkaban"? No, that was a fun movie, and a great use of the extended cast, and with an intriguing twist that took me by surprise.

Ah - deja vu! - I'm just realising that "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" was the novel upon which I was asked to do a professional review, when the book first came out. Now I'm remember why I felt like I already knew the fates of Snape and Dumbledore, and the newly-festering romantic entanglements of the kids. It's a bad thing when a film barely pays lip service to its source material; it's a long movie but I don't recall the book being as disjointed as this movie seemed to be. (I do own all the books but "The Chamber of Secrets" (on a friend's recommendation) and "The Half-Blood Prince" are the only two I've read.)

I'm sorta, kinda, looking forward to the concluding chapters of this film saga - it's been amazing to watch the child actors mature into adults before our eyes. Malfoy seemed like a grown man in this movie! I'm sure he was just a spooky, little, white-headed kid in "The Philosopher's Stone"...

Sunday, August 02, 2009

On the tiles


Sydney Opera House closeup

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Yep, good guessing. It's not a NASA space shuttle's heat tiles in close-up, it's... the Sydney Opera House!

Saturday, August 01, 2009