Thursday, December 30, 2010

Late for dinner!

Late for dinner!

Despite the enormous watch and chain he wears around his neck, the Hasbro "Kooky Spooky" patriarch, Daddy Booregard, tries to explain to Grandma Macreak just why he's 40 years late for dinner. And he's brought a freeloading ring-in, Gilroy from Avon, with him.

The Kooky Spookys are glow-in-the-dark finger puppet toys, designed in 1968. As a kid, I really, really thought I was getting a Daddy Booregard for Easter 1970, after my brothers and I scored Kooky Spookys for Christmas 1969. (But thanks eBay! Daddy and Gilroy both arrived today, from different locales in the USA. Gilroy contains 1977-vintage "Care Deeply" lip balm.) Everyone still glows in the dark like the year they were made!

Grandma Macreak, Daddy Booregard, Brother Mortimer, Baby Spook'em.

Still missing in action: Mama Kaskit and Teena Terror.

Captain's Log: Supplemental. Okay, I always assumed that Daddy Booregard's unique look was supposed to suggest "Father Time", but in recent times we've had rap artist, Flavor Flav!

Flavor Flav
Flavor Flav

Yes, Daddy Booregard was trendsetting Flav's look way back in 1968. In one early design, Patti Peticolas had Daddy wearing a pocketwatch-sized timepiece around his neck, then she jumps to the huge clock design. I had no idea about Flav until we had a nerdy young guy turn up on a season of "Australian Idol", a few years ago, emulating the look. So bizarre.

Spooky Papa: Glowing Phantom Spookies;whiteGlowing Spooky Papa
Spooky Papa: Japanese packaging of the "Glowing Phantom Spookies"

My PhotoPeach slideshow about Kooky Spookys is HERE!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Restuffed reunion

Bluegum at 50

I recently rejuvenated a Wendy Boston teddy bear (right) belonging to my brother. Both he and the bear turned 50 this year. I dyed him from a pale, faded, turquoise blue - which had become more greenish than blue over the decades - and restuffed the poor, pathetic, flat thing with fresh wadding. I sent it off to arrive just on Christmas Eve and my brother opened it in front of all his family. Hilarious!

The gold bear (left) is mine (aged 52) and is also a restuffed Wendy Boston (Photo taken 2010).

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas in Sydney, no, make that Nowra!

A last minute mercy dash to South Nowra - my mother had just come out of hospital and wasn't able to travel to the planned family reunion Christmas we'd planned for her, so I went down on the train to ensure she wasn't on her own - meant that I didn't get the tree out for Christmas this year. But that never stops me finding my two, new, dated ornaments. This season's two ornaments are:

A Hallmark gingerbread Noah's Ark (left), actually dated in very tiny, faint font as a 2009 collectible ornament, but I bought it the same week as finding last year's Christmas polar bear, which had a very prominent 2009 date on one paw, and was destined to celebrate the "Bear and Chook" picture books. So the ark went into storage, still in its box. The great SpongeBob Squarepants ornament (right) continues the "tied up with Christmas lights" theme already represented by previous years' Pinky & the Brain and Shrek & Donkey.

2010 - closeup
A closeup of Patrick, back-to-back with SpongeBob.

Previous ornament blog entries include:
  • Christmas 2009

  • Christmas 2008

  • Christmas 2007

  • Epiphany 2007

  • On the twelfth day of Christmas

  • On the eleventh day of Christmas

  • On the tenth day of Christmas

  • On the ninth day of Christmas

  • On the eighth day of Christmas

  • On the seventh day of Christmas

  • On the sixth day of Christmas

  • On the fifth day of Christmas

  • On the fourth day of Christmas

  • On the third day of Christmas

  • On the second day of Christmas

  • On the first day of Christmas.
  • Friday, December 24, 2010

    Secret Spock 2010

    Playtrek logo

    Every year, the members of Playtrek, the listserv for collectors of Star Trek action figures, can participate in "Secret Spock", in which Star Trek related gifts are sourced and sent to each other, without the identity of the givers becoming known (at least at first).

    Romulan and friends - closeup

    Although I don't usually participate, one Playtrekker had difficulty sourcing a new, carded, Romulan action figure - and I volunteered to forward one to the intended recipient, sending it back to the USA. I'd ended up with at least one duplicate, in my attempt to ensure I didn't miss out on a Romulan, which was seemingly going to be tricky for many to locate. At the last minute, I realised I had a rare opportunity to make the gift even more exciting.

    Romulan's Aussie accessories

    Using my own opened Romulan as the stand-in, I surrounded him with Aussie souvenirs ( which I later "carded" with Gladwrap onto the mint figure), created holiday snapshots in my backyard and even designed a Photo Peach slideshow. The slideshow requires that your volume is up.

    Enjoy! I hope Secret Spock was kind to you all.

    Romulan action figure with Aussie accessories

    Monday, December 20, 2010

    Treemendous toy store memories

    In the 60s, our annual trip to a big department store in the city was to to have our photo taken with Santa Claus. We didn't spend too long in the toy section - and we knew that anything we saw that we really coveted had to be mentioned to Santa, then it was fingers crossed until Christmas. (As an adult, it always amuses me to hear and see liitle kids throwing tantrums in toy departments and getting really expensive stuff bought for them, on the spot, just to make them shut up.)

    One Christmas, Santa's grotto in Grace Bros was filled with old, gnarled trees (rather like the cranky ones that threw their apples in "The Wizard of Oz"), and my little brother was freaking out by the light-up creature eyes in some of the darkened, hollowed-out trunks. For several years, he refused to enter numerous department store toy sections for fear of meeting "big eyes"!

    I ended up going to teachers college around the corner from that Grace Bros store in 1977. For three years, it was my daily haunt for lunchtime bargains. During one huge sale, they opened up a basement-level department filled with boxes of LP records, books, toys, etc. I suddenly had a very weird, nostalgic feeling and lo, behind a trellis partition were the same old papier-mache and chicken wire trees (and many oversized thematic decorating props from decades gone by!) These days that kind of stuff is alway rented, never stored, restored and created by a permanent team of department store workers. Another day, I suddenly realised that the guy who sat behind a booth, and made the regular announcements over the sound system every day, was the old store Santa we'd meet annually in the 60s! I also saw him on a TV news segment once: every year, he ran the Sydney Santa School for prospective store Santas.

    A more recent department store anecdote: when Playmates had the boxed set of "Star Trek" action figures on the TV bridge, I wanted to buy a second set for customising. One big city store had created a basement level toy section (moving down from the sixth floor), and it was quite reminiscent of the basement toy grottos of old. I watched the price stay high on one last boxed set, then it disappeared. I'd waited too long. Then they had a massive "50% off everything sale" and the set was there again. I took it over to the till and a young salesman watched me buy it, helped to bag it, then said to the young woman serving me, "Those sets are so great. I've got one for me, put aside in the back room."

    My parting memory is of his stunned and disappointed face when she said, "That is the one from the back room."

    Thursday, December 16, 2010

    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    Deja vu

    Today I share my birthday with Michel de Nostredame (better known as Nostradamus).

    Somehow, I just knew that.

    Sunday, December 12, 2010

    Still building the online profile

    Edublog Awards banner

    Wow! My professional learning blog, "Booked Inn", has been nominated on a shortlist for "Best Librarian/Library Edublog 2010" in The Edublog Awards. Voting (please click HERE) doesn't seem too complicated; I would love your support. Many thanks in advance! It's such a buzz to make the shortlist. (Looks like all that work on Build Your Online Profile with Tristan Bancks, at the Sydney Writers' Centre in Term 3, is really paying off.)

    2010 Edublogs Awards nomination

    Also, as an update to the work done by Kindergarten students this term, the first of our Photo Peach slideshows for the "Travelling Fearless Project" garnered 726 views (and 40 comments, including Sarah Davis, the illustrator of "Fearless"). Simply astounding! And it gets better: I Just received an automated email, via Photo Peach, that someone had made my page a favourite of theirs. I was curious, so tracked back and ended up on the main search page. It seems that, of Photo Peach's 42 pages of "Recently Popular" slideshows, "Travelling Fearless" is on Page 1 (one of 15 image links sitting there, gathering even more views as I type). And the sequel, "Farewell Fearless!", is on Page 3!

    I have... Goosebumps!

    Saturday, December 11, 2010

    It's not easy being green...


    Alert all "Star Trek" action figure customisers!

    The latest batch of DC Direct action figures includes Brainiac (above) from the "Superman: New Krypton" comic storyline, and he'd make a great "Star Trek" Orion slaver with just some minor alterations.

    ENT Borderland
    An Orion slaver from the
    "Star Trek: Enterprise" episode, "Borderland".

    Which reminds me, I once bought a wrestling figure of Big Show (aka Paul Wight), who once also appeared as an Orion trader on "Enterprise", but I never got around to painting him green...

    Brainiac, Big Show and Vina.

    Big Show on Borderland
    Big Show (aka Paul Wight) as an Orion trader, with T'Pol on "Star Trek: Enterprise".

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    "Da plane! Da plane!"

    Grug & Khan

    I loved the bizarre juxtaposition of travelling home with two new toys for the collection yesterday. Grug, on the left, is a toy tie-in to celebrate the re-release of a hugely popular Australian picture book series from the 1980s, Ted Prior's "Grug". The "Grug" books were little miniatures, rather similar to "Mr Men" books. Grug was a cave creature who spontaneously evolved from a native Australian burrawang plant, and in subsequent adventures, began learning about the world around him. I recently met a full-sized Grug HERE. Boxed sets of Grug are popping up in Aussie bookstores as Christmas stocking stuffers.

    On the right is Khan Noonien Singh, a rather cool, licenced "Star Trek" plush doll (from "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan") by the Toy Factory, a tie-in to IDW's Khan comic mini-series, which serves as a bridge between the episode "Space Seed" and the plot of the second movie. The staff at King Comics hadn't been sure if they were going to be able to source any Khans, but I'm glad I pre-ordered him and had people looking out for him for me!

    As Khan knows, who needs a Tattoo when you have... Grug!

    Thursday, December 09, 2010

    Time for a recharge

    Battery change
    Now I know what's been wrong with Jack. Battery change needed!

    Batteries closeup

    Seriously, it's been a long eight weeks, and there are probably another eight weeks of treatment to go, but Jack has been recovering from "non-infectious, mild meningitis". If that's what "mild" meningitis is like, I don't want to see anything worse. He seems to be making a great recovery now, but the task of "keep him calm" was the most difficult aspect of his prescription for a return to normality. Keep a Jack Russell terrier calm? They don't do calm. The hair won't start growing back until the run of cortisone tablets is finally over. So, yes, his back still looks like his "battery cover" has been removed (tapping of spinal fluid), and his tummy is still bare from an ultrasound many weeks ago now.

    It also seems that the time I usually update this blog has been subsumed by medicating the dog morning and night. Every day, a different plan of drug administration must be coordinated, lest the wily Jack Russell suspect that something is afoot.

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    A meeting of the Supermen? PRC 2010


    Only a few days after hanging up the framed Premier's Reading Challenge poster of our students in our new BER school library (our students were selected this year's Challenge "poster kids", below), and opening the library to its first timetabled week of visitors, I was off to represent us at the annual reception. This year, the PRC celebrated another successful year at the Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour.


    My official job this year was to be the minder for football heroes, Mario Fenech and Hazem El Masri (that's Hazem in the background of the first pic, behind those two handsome superheroes). Mario and Hazem had a great rapport with the students attending the event, and slipped in plenty of references to the value of reading, as each group wound its way through short, meet 'n' greet activities - with a host of popular children's authors and illustrators, including Duncan Ball with Selby the Talking Dog (who stayed mute), and Kim Gamble sketching yet another "Tashi" masterpiece as we watched, gobsmacked.

    Kim Gamble draws Tashi
    Kim Gamble draws "Tashi".

    Snow White was also there, making balloon animals, and there was a very gregarious Superman, who, at the event's close, did additional duties - as Selby's minder and Grug's wrangler!

    Yes, Grug is back! Remember that shaggy caveman creature from the 1980s, in Ted Prior's hugely popular little picture books? Well, Grug is back in print, and many of the younger students found their own little stuffed Grug in their goody bags (look out for them in bookstores this Christmas!) Several of the adults noticed, just before the Premier's car was due, that a huge blue vinyl bag had arrived in the foyer. Normally, such an occurrence may have caused a security alert, but we were abuzz with "It's Grug! Grug's in that bag! What else is that shape like that? That'll be Grug!" (Well, we had noticed his name on the guest list, which helped immensely.)

    Grug undercover
    Grug arrives undercover!

    Grug uncovered
    Grug unleased!

    Selby has left the building
    Selby unleashed!

    PRC GoH Kristina Keneally
    Premier of NSW, Kristina Keneally, spoke passionately about the joy of reading, and the many rewards that books can bring.

    PRC GoH Andrew Daddo
    Children's author Andrew Daddo sums up. Boori "Monty" Pryor is in front of me!

    Superman is asked to round up the overheated Grug and Selby.

    Superman escorts

    Grug has left the building
    Grug has left the building!

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Destination 2011: Guided inquiry

    I'm off tomorrow to a teacher-librarians' seminar on "Guided inquiry", presented by Dr Ross J Todd!

    Teacher-librarian Lee FitzGerald, a former editor of "Scan", is also presenting and last time I heard of her experiences trialling "Guided inquiry" under Ross's guidance, I went back to my school and made a point of recording more often student pre-test and post-test results and tracking the emotional side of my students' self-evaluations, thus gaining very solid statements of the students' analyses of their learning, in their own words.

    Powerful stuff! The Kinder students who were part of a wiki project in 2007 still talk about those experiences to this day, and the Stage 3 students who did a bushrangers WebQuest in 2008, and recorded their learning on a blog, are being represented in a text book very soon!

    Both of those successes occurred without the benefit of now seemingly-indispensable elements such as IWBs and the Connected Classroom. Looking forward to tackling the next stage!

    Ross Todd
    Ross J Todd presents the election speeches of Obama and Cheney... as Wordles!

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Entering the literary garden of delights!

    Frog Prince & golden ball
    Student comment: "I saw the Frog Prince and his golden ball in a bowl,
    but I think that is the same bowl Chook used last year when
    he was being an astronaut!"

    Today, the students at my school had their first experiences in our newly built school library. I've spent three weeks unpacking the book stock (from long-term storage) and decorating with new and nostalgic elements. The students were full of questions, but I used Circle Time to maximise and equalise all the the talking and listening. It was a great day. The looks on their faces, as they explored (hands free) all the new nooks and crannies made all the planning and hard work worth while.

    Archeological dig
    Our historic school milk bottles are now enshrined in a shadow box.

    The quote from a framing store, to have the bottles placed into a customised shadow box was $200 but I did it for about $40, thanks to parts bought from Spotlight. The inside text reads: Penrith Public School’s library stands on the site of a portable library building, and before that a previous portable building. In 2010, workmen excavating the foundations found these "school milk" bottles buried deep in the rubble. One is embossed "1/3 PINT PASTEURISED MILK". See the original blog entry of our archeological find HERE.

    48 more photos of display elements ready for today's opening are HERE!

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    A tale at 3.20 - a.m. that is.

    "Don't blame me, it was Tiger. (Who only looks like a platypus. Made of sheepskin.)"

    Okay, a new spooky story for you:

    My Jack Russell terrier is on medication for meningitis at the moment, and needs to visit the backyard more often than normal. In the past he's had quite an affinity with a ghost in the house (who was here before he was, and has done numerous freaky things both before and after the dog arrived). This morning, I started dreaming about dog poo and awoke to realise the smell was still there. I fumbled around for my glasses and the bed lamp to get the dog outside. I noticed that the desk clock was flashing - there had been a power outage during the night. The clock was flashing 3.18am.

    I found the dog poo way down the end of the hall, neatly stepping over it to put the dog out to complete his task, then returned to check the time on my watch and clean up the mess. It was now exactly 3.20am.

    So.... did my dog doing Number Twos at 3.18 cause the power outage, or did the power outage cause him to need to poo?

    Or was it the ghost - but she smells like fish, not dog poo, but the dog often barks at the exact spot in the family room where we used to encounter her fishy smell, months before the dog arrived as a pup?

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    Sunday, November 07, 2010

    First one in... is a leaf!

    Newly renovated pool 2

    Mmmmmm. How does that happen? Somehow I should have known that the leaves would beat the humans into the newly-renovated pool, before it's even finished filling up. Now it'll probably rain.

    Newly renovated pool 3

    Newly renovated pool 1

    Ah! Found a "Before & After" shot!

    Pool in November 1999
    Pool in November 1999

    Newly renovated pool, November 2010
    Pool in November 2010

    Tuesday, November 02, 2010



    Here's something hilarious! Jack, who hates being locked up in his "recovery cage", has taken to entering his cage voluntarily! He's sitting in there now, with his blankey piled high!

    The vet (and hundreds of dollars in tests) says that Jack's chronic neck pain is unlikely to be a slipped disc, bladder infection or arthritis, but possibly mild, non-infectious meningitis - or perhaps a rare brain lesion. Hope this new medication works. We're treating for meningitis and hoping for the best. The hardest part is keeping a Jack Russell terrier calm. Jack Russells don't do calm. Hence the cage.

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Superman (It's not easy)

    Five for Fighting sing "Superman (It's Not Easy)"

    GJoves put this great Five for Fighting song together with images from the 2006 movie, "Superman Returns" to create a very cool Youtube music video. The distinctive Martin Place fountain, in the Sydney CBD, is glimpsed.

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    A cameo for Therin

    An interesting use of Youtube and photo editing tools to present a "Star Trek" fan story as a photostory:

    "Angels of Acheron, Part I",
    a photostory sequel to "Star Trek: The Motion Picture"
    by pauln6

    Spot the cameo by Therin of Andor in Part II:

    "Angels of Acheron, Part II",
    by pauln6

    Thanks Paul! Looking forward to Part III! And, in case you mised the cameo, here it is:

    Therin cameo

    The central character in this still is a female Andorian security guard, utilising Suzie Plakson's "Tarah" head (from "Star Trek: Enterprise"). She'll feature more in Part III, Paul informs me.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    The joy of unpacking

    When we last left Ian, like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives..., he said, optimistically, "looks like the unpacking will be up to me (which I'm quietly pleased about, because I need to do lots of culling)."

    Library 7

    Well, here we are at Day #2 of Project BER and things are going swimmingly. On Tuesday I wandered around my new BER library space in a daze for about two hours, tinkering here and there, unpacking a box here, having lessons in lights and door locks there, but I was able to coerce a teacher-librarian colleague to check out the job facing me and we agreed things weren't too bad at all. But what a challenge!

    The previous library was hideously overstocked and over-furnished, so looking at the bare minimum new library furnishings allocated to a school of our population, and the hundreds of cartons needing to be unpacked, was very difficult. The Principal's first comment was that there seemed to be "lots of shelves" but I knew immediately there was much less than we'd had before. I resolved to let that panic aid in my cull. A friend commented tonight that it was appalling that a TL had to do his own unpacking, but I explained that it's my job to do the decision-making on what I cull - and I'd much rather cull as each box is emptied, and do so methodically. There certainly won't be enough shelves to take the full capacity of all the boxes. (We had a team of eight pro packers to pack up the old library, but it happened so fast I couldn't cull as we went. I could barely keep up with labelling. Just imagine the mess if they had come back to unpack and only got halfway through before running out!)

    I realised today that, had I tried to cull stock in the old library, I couldn't have been this ruthless. In the new library, surrounded by the wonderful smell of newness, culling is easy. "Do I really want this old, wrinkled, stained book (that I recall borrowing at my own primary school in the 60s) on the new, pristine shelves?" Nah. Easy! Imagine if we'd received exactly the replacement furniture that we'd had before: I wouldn't have culled much at all, and we'd end up with the same problems we'd had before.

    Yesterday on my own, Junior Fiction A-C then back to teach a class of school camp leftovers. Today all day plus a trained helper, Junior Fiction D-Z and Fiction A-O, culling all the way! Good progress, methinks. The Principal has taken me off most of my teaching responsibilities for the time being, our head clerical sourced a trained library assistant for two days (to start), my regular SASS person is ducking across at every spare opportunity (library is only one-fifth of her weekly duties) and we are aiming to have the library open for Week 7, running to the usual timetable. This being Week 2 of the term, my door-to-door wandering minstrel act is finally over. This strategy will give the students their first taste of the new library before 2010 ends. Normally I'd be stocktaking the last three weeks but I'm going to try to get the disposed items noted in OASIS (and to complete a stocktake) after getting all the boxes unpacked.

    I'm blissfully happy, but dusty, after a full day of drudgery that is unpacking. Books, books, books, a bear, a chook (great help, not - see above pic), and more books. Tomorrow I'm on my own again, and in the afternoon I'm back teaching the class of school camp leftovers. On Friday, my trained helper is back. Two parents have also popped in today, offering their services whenever I need it. We are getting there! Wish me luck!

    Towards the back is a small selection of the many boxes yet to be opened.

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    "Always Jack" launch at the Hughenden!

    "Always Jack" launch

    I was thrilled to have been invited to the book launch of "Always Jack" tonight - for the third book in what is now a trilogy of wonderful, hilarious, bittersweet, relevant children's novels written by Susanne Gervay. While the first book, "I am Jack" dealt with the issue of school bullying (and has also become a play), "Super Jack" concentrated on the issue of blended families and this new one has a strong focus on family reactions to a mother being diagnosed with breast cancer.

    The launch was at the atmospheric Hughenden Boutique Hotel in Woollahra. While my feet haven't really forgiven me for my brisk/strenuous walk there (and back!) from Central Station, I always enjoy that journey, if only for the window shopping along Oxford Street (Darlinghurst, then Paddington, then Woollahra) to get there.

    Susanne & Cathy

    Susanne and the book's illustrator, Cathy Wilcox, were busily signing copies near the front entrance when I arrived and I made sure to get a personal copy and one for the school. Special thanks to Cathy for adding a bonus "Jack" sketch to her signature.

    Lisa & LisawhiteSusanne & "Rob"
    Left: Lisa Berryman, publisher, looks on while Lisa Forrest launches "Always Jack".
    Right: Susanne Gervay is photographed by her husband (the model for "Rob" in the books).

    Thanks to Susanne and all her helpers for a fun night! On the way back to the station, I managed to miss my fast train home, by mere seconds, because I paused at a Paddington cake shop to photograph these:

    Elmo & Joker
    Two designer cakes to keep you laughing?