Thursday, December 31, 2009

Vacation photo roundup, Part I

I'm back from vacation: a restful time spent with friends Maria, Peter and little Ben, as their house guest over Christmas and the New Year.

The Macbook Pro came with me, although there weren't too many opportunities to go online, although the last three days gave me several long sessions using a McDonald's free Wi-Fi connection, and it was a good way to wean myself back into the virtual world.

Part I of my special holiday subset of the 365 Photos project:

Jack begins to suspect I'm packing for a vacation without him. 20 December 2009.

Leaving on a Virgin Blue jetplane. Taken at Sydney's domestic terminal, Mascot. I actually had to restage this shot at the end of my holiday because it was lost in a computer program malfunction. Image representing 21 December 2009.


Golden, foil-wrapped balls, supposedly Fererro Rocher chocolates, are all individually suspended from the Myer Centre ceiling. Brisbane CBD. I lost this shot in a computer program malfunction, but luckily had already forwarded the image to my Facebook page, via my iPhone. 22 December 2009.

My Brisbane hosts' new Christmas tree, a bargain eBay purchase. I also had to restage this shot because the original was lost in the computer program malfunction. 23 December 2009.

My Brisbane hosts' three year old son, Ben, who had a ball dressed as a Santa's helper elf to ride the Christmas Express miniature railway at David Jones, Brisbane CBD. 24 December 2009.

Christmas Day canine visitor: Meg, the dog with a hole in her head. "Thar she blows!" (All her other spots are grey.) 25 December 2009.

Christmas fruit mince pies on Boxing Day. The chef complained they weren't "Women's Weekly Cookbook" enough, but I told her they were "rustic". And delicious. 26 December 2009.

Gorgeous blooms in suburban Brisbane. 27 December 2009.

I told people this was from a preview of "The Enemy Within" remake scenes of the next "Star Trek" movie. Twin transporting Kirks in the doorway of JB Hi-Fi, Brisbane CBD. 28 December 2009.

A rather self-conscious usher completes this art deco shot at a Hawthorne cinema, screening "Avatar" in 3D, Brisbane. 29 December 2009.

Frolicking polar bear at Sea World, Southport, Queensland. 30 December 2009.

Dreadlocked dog in the doorway of an art gallery, Bulimba, Brisbane. 31 December 2009.

To be continued...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

It figures: Flashback!

Flashback JanewaywhiteFlashbackJaneway

This exclusive Playmates action figure was the result of a 1999 online competition, held by NewForce Comics mail order firm, for members of Playtrek listserv to suggest a popular character that could be assembled/customized from existing Playmates' sculpts. I was the creator of the winning figure: "Captain Kathryn Janeway as seen in the 'Star Trek: Voyager' episode, 'Flashback'".

This figure was made from a regular Janeway head on a repainted ST II Saavik body. Playmates agreed to resculpt the rank insignia on the epaulet and cuff - instead of painting flat gold ones, as originally suggested. Both of these figures were originally shortpacks in their original release and quite highly coveted by collectors.

Flashback Janeway promo banner

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Howls 1, 2, 3


Can you spot the three malamutes, who pop their heads over this fence to howl at Jack, each time we go walking by? Those howls are tinged with jealousy, methinks.

Memories of Christmases past #1

Noddy and Big Ears

I had a great Noddy glove puppet when I was a little kid. The head and hat was rubbery, with a real bell sewn to the top of the hat, and the body was blue and red plush material. Santa brought him - I remember dragging him out of my "Santa sack" pillowslip, and this was probably the first puppet that started a rather large collection over the years (and it became a bit of a game to suggest puppet characters that my grandmother then probably spent months trying to find in toyshops all over Sydney!)

My younger brother received a matching Big Ears puppet that year, but he was very jealous and teary of Noddy's bell, so my grandfather ended up having to sew a bell to the top of Big Ears' hat.

There may have been no equity for Enid Blyton's golliwogs, but Big Ears achieved it at our house!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas approaches

Christmas trees at Central railway station. 17 December, 2009.

You can tell that Christmas is on its way. Just before I took this gorgeous shot yesterday, I was notified by my credit union that my credit card had been counterfeited and someone had cleaned out my account over two days! The credit union has reimbursed my account balance already, but it still feels like I've been violated. The paperwork I must now fill out is annoying beyond belief. The Christmas season tends to bring out the best and the worst in society. Sigh.

What's worse, I realised today exactly where I was when the card information was duplicated! The police and credit union have said these these cases are so prevalent they are highly unlikely to be investigated the way a murder would be investigated. So now I have to decide if I approach the (very large) shop concerned... Will the management actually listen to my suspicions? I wonder...

Christmas tree decorations for 2009. 18 December, 2009.

Customised "Bear and Chook" ornament - note the Santa hat on Chook's tail. They will share a branch this year with a collectible Mr Hankey the Christmas Poo ornament, from the animated TV series, "South Park".

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The end, but yet not the end

The school students finish up today, but New South Wales public school teachers have two more days on duty. Hard to think about planning for next year when you're tired from teaching this year...

The money saved by the government on those two days of students' free travel (ie. because they won't be coming to school those last two days) was diverted to pay teacher salary increases earlier in the year. But with everyone looking so weary this week (party days, report cards, room clean-ups, Year 6 farewells, library stocktakes) I'm not sure how enthusiastic we'll be about two days of professional development when the rest of the world is seemingly off Christmas shopping.


Today's pic: Superman cap given to me as an end-of-year gift by two of my most enthusiastic young library patrons! They know me too well.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Snowball fight!

Not exactly snowball season Down Under, but great fun.

In 2008, my ElfYourself video had a disco theme:

Today's pic: Pirate theme Jolly Roger flags for the Year 6 farewell.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A sign of the times?


Looking around for photogenic, inspirational subjects on my birthday - and I noticed this example of urban art: an arrow of plastic Cafe Bar cups, wedged into a metal mesh fence at Croydon railway station. Not too sure I want to contemplate its possible meanings!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The nostalgic smells of Christmas

I wish my iPhone did smell-o-vision!
Nothing like the smell of real pine needles
wafting out from a green grocery.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The trouble with collecting

Still on a "Star Trek" bent today, I was asked about the provenance of screen-used tribble props, and their relative rarity. These days, screen-used tribbles are more likely to be from the "Deep Space Nine" episode, "Trials and Tribble-ations".

Well, when it comes to tribble ownership, I guess I'm ahead of many others...


Supposedly, fan visitors to the set of TOS, in the weeks following the episode being filmed, were given a tribble as a souvenir, and the fuzzy little props were also often sent to conventions for charity auctions throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s. There were tribbles popping up all over Desilu for months. No one thought to create certificates for them at the time, so it can be hard to prove a supposedly screen-used tribble as truly genuine. Writer David Gerrold took home lots of them, and they lived in his garage, slowly dwindling down over the years. The genuine tan ones easier to identify, as the director was apparently unhappy with the pale colour and ordered the fur to be dyed darker with toothbrushes, giving a unique two-toned effect not seen on commercial, fake-fur, acrylic fabric. It's much harder to identify the small white TOS ones, since that acrylic fur is "off the rack" and easily found in fabric stores.

The ones sold by the Roddenberry's Lincoln Enterprises mail order firm were commissioned out to cottage industry people and these were facsimiles, and none were overdyed. Many had squeakers sewn inside. The catalogs did not claim that they were genuine, screen-used props.

I helped David Gerrold auction off a small, genuine, screen-used tan tribble, to which he'd attached a small pet collar, a lead, and a yellow plastic "Tribble on Board" sign. At that New Zealand convention, he discussed how to identify the genuine tan ones, and how there are many replicas which people attempt to sell as originals - hence he'd started doing letters of provenance when he sold them for charity fundraisers.

Although that baby tribble went for a tidy fortune (for charity) and I missed out, I do now have a 1967 TOS tan tribble: supposedly the very last one of its type, found in the back of a drawer when David Gerrold and his son (aka "The Martian Child") decided to clear out their garage. David wrote a wonderfully-worded certificate for it and sold it on eBay, along with an autographed first edition copy of his "Trouble with Tribbles: The Making of the TV Episode" book, and newly-printed, signed, replica scripts of his TOS and TAS tribble episodes. A friend of mine bought the package deal, then regretted the many US dollars he'd spent, so I bought it off him.

From the certificate: "Over 500 prop tribbles were made for the show, and reused throughout. This tribble is one of the actual tribbles used in the episode. It was given to me by one of the prop men for the series after the show was completed."

By the way, when the package arrived, I quickly emailed my friend to admonish him that he shouldn't have packed any quadrotriticale inside for the tribble to eat because, when I opened the box, it was now filled with tribbles - and I wasn't sure which one was the original! ;)

Tarah is coming!


"Star Trek: Enterprise": "Cease Fire". A military conflict erupts between the Vulcans and Andorians over Weytahn, a Class D planetoid near Vulcan, which was terraformed and colonised by Andorians almost a century earlier. We learn that the Andorian colonists were forcibly relocated to refugee camps to enforce the Territorial Compromise. Now known by its Vulcan name, Paan Mokar, the strategically-located base is again claimed by both sides. When the Vulcans announce they wish to discuss terms for a "cease fire", Imperial Guard Commander Shran believes the only person he can trust to mediate such a negotiation is Jonathan Archer. The captain and the Enterprise are called into the fray.

Shran is assisted by a tall Andorian female, Lieutenant Tarah (played by Suzie Plakson). Tarah is Shran's first officer, but is her loyalty in question?

Suzie Plakson, who won many Star Trek fans' hearts as Selar and K'Ehleyr on "The Next Generation" (and a visit Down Under for a rather controversial convention called "Holodiction"), and then as a female Q on "Voyager", notched up her fourth "Star Trek" alien as Tarah.

Last time the Star Trek Props, Costumes and Auctions Board sent me a reminder to come back and check out all the new info, I ended up buying a handsome Pakled outfit. (Not that Pakleds are handsome, but their grotty uniforms certainly are, in that rustic kind of way.)

This time, as I mentioned on Facebook the other afternoon, I did a very naughty thing on Thursday morning. I accidentally discovered the below Tarah the Andorian costume for sale there. Then I accidentally confirmed US shipping with a trader named Federation Surplus and accidentally organized payment via PayPal. Accidentally. Well, it goes so well with the wonderful Andorian general/ambassador's costume I bought via the "It's a Wrap!" eBay auctions a few years ago. (Thanks FedSur, and thanks "Star Trek Props, Costumes and Auctions Board"!)

"This costume was worn by Tarah's stunt double [presumably Katie Rowe?]. The jumpsuit is metallic copper and blue vinyl with a crimson chest, shoulders and striped accents down the limbs. Around the waist is a brown vinyl midsection, the shoulders are pleated and there is brown cross stitch trim. Worn over the jumpsuit is a black and gray harness with two pouches and a gun holster attached. The harness needs repairing in the back. The accompanying knee high boots are heeled black leather with accents over the toes and around the top section. Also included are black gloves with two fingers. Costume comes complete with costume tag."

Front Tarah

Back Tarah

Boots TarahwhiteCloseup Tarah

ENT Tarah

Happy birthday to me. ;)

Friday, December 11, 2009

The lion and the mouse

More playground hijinks as the students and I do a
photoshoot for the fable of "The lion and the mouse".

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas in the library


When I scrounged around at home, I found many more picture book-related toys to take into school to add to this year's Christmas tree. You might spot the Grinch, Selby, Max, Arthur, Captain Underpants, Bear and Chook, the Frog Prince - and many others.

I am again indebted to the neighbours across the road, who did a moonlight flit not long after their Midwinter Christmas party one year, dumping their huge, second hand, artificial Christmas pine tree onto the footpath. Looks much better in our school library, although storing it between outings is tricky.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Last-minute photo, again

Closeup study of mushroom LED bedside table light.

The grass is greener...


An old photo, but I just saw this bunny again. On my front lawn. Someone had just mown his favourite clover patch across the road - and I guess he was hoping that the grass really was greener on the other side.

He's rather purplish in this photo, but less bizarrely coloured in real life.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Slow and steady still does it...


Today, a hare once again raced a tortoise for a medal and a gold trophy - this time in the intense Penrith heat. Tomorrow, my Kindergarten bloggers will create a jointly constructed retelling of the famous Aesop's fable.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Kang in da house!

Kor to Kang: "I shall set you free, we shall have our revenge... and it shall be glorious!"

My latest "Star Trek" action figure, via a US penpal, due to its supposed rarity! This one was a US Toys R Us exclusive figure. I had one ordered from the website, but orders went unfilled while the short-packed Kangs were turning up on stores' pegs, but only at a ratio of one Kang per case of figures.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Kookaburras and ants


I have two of these Australian Depression era metal wall plaques, cast by my grandfather. The two kookaburras decorated my grandparents' kitchen during my earliest days, and later the lounge room of their home unit in the 70s. (I remember my grandfather routing and French polishing new wooden bases for them in the 60s.) I finally got around to sanding them back and freshly varnishing them in 2000. They adorn my toilet and bathroom doors. 5th December 2009.


I needed a photo of "ants having a party" for school on Monday. Luckily I had just the props handy. 6th December 2009.

Friday, December 04, 2009

I know where the wild things are


The movie of the famous Maurice Sendak children's picture book finally opened in Australia these week. I saw it tonight. It was... satisfactory. It could never rival the book, of course, but it definitely hit lots of the right chords.

I had no misconceptions. The film was going to need some "padding" because the text of the picture book is typically scant, and it was always going to be a pal shadow of the original material. The US reviews were lukewarm, but it got a great review in Thursday's Sydney newspapers and I thought it did what it needed to do. (Certainly not the disgrace of "The Magic Pudding" animated film of a few years ago, which changed things for the sake of changing them.)

"Where the Wild Things Are" certainly adds lots of new imagery, while saluting so much of the original book. Was there a sea serpent and I missed it? I always liked how he was the first indication of what Max would find when he arrived on the shore.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Christmas pay bus!

Christmas Paybus!

I featured this 1936 "Pay Bus" before (and pic below).
(It was built at Smith & Waddington's, Camperdown, and delivered fortnightly salaries to railway employees and track maintenance gangs.) This month it's decorated for Christmas!


Premier's Reading Challenge vs Premier's Leadership Challenge


This is the spectacular view from Government House, Sydney, venue of the annual Premier's Reading Challenge presentation - with an absent Premier, who was fighting a losing battle to save his own job.

Government House, Sydney, NSW

Internal shot, Government House, Sydney

Internal shot, Government House, Sydney

Internal shot, Government House, Sydney

Internal shot

Government House, Sydney, NSW

Water lillies


The neighbours
The next door neighbour is some weird, white, noisy building! ;)

Sydney Harbour view