Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Nugget of truth

Young woman serving behind counter at KFC, almost closing time this evening, about the five lonely chicken nuggets in the warming cabinet:

"Sorry, I can't sell them to you. We can only sell them in lots of six."

So they have to be thrown into the bin because someone miscounted earlier in the day when they were being cooked?

She considers that a moment and says... "Yes."

Friday, May 21, 2010

An unexpected archeological dig

My current school set up a little museum of archival material a few years ago, to coincide with the opening of our then-new school assembly hall. A piece about my research into epidiascopes was the focus of one of my very first blog entries (in 2006).

Since then, I've been on the lookout for a third-of-a-pint "school milk" glass bottle, without a lot of success. What used to be such a ubiquitous object in primary schools of the 1950s and 60s and essentially vanished off the face of the earth. Recently, I was given a few regular one-pint (600 ml) milk bottles and even a half-pint cream bottle, but numerous visits to antique stores proved fruitless. In 2007, the Royal Easter Show featured a special offer: plastic replicas of the "school milk" bottles (but marked 200 ml) - and I was beginning to think that was going to be as close as we could ever get. One of the teachers has a waxed paper drinking straw of the same bygone era as the milk bottles, which she has promised to donate if we can find a bottle, but yesterday we were doing the happy dance of an archeologist!

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.

The workmen excavating the ground for our new library's foundations found, on the site of the old library, two examples of actual 1/3 pint "school milk" bottles buried in the rubble. They are both embossed, in slightly different ways, with "1/3 PINT PASTEURISED MILK" in raised lettering.

The "Moment in time" episode (#37) of the ABC-TV series, "Can we help?", and the online transcript, explains that the "School Milk Scheme" was originally the idea of the British Medical Association, which had promoted that children under thirteen years of age needed a daily ration of milk. It "would be beneficial for school children’s physical and mental development", and by 1951 the Menzies' government had all Australian primary school students being offered milk daily. It was supposedly promoting "bone growth and well being and general good health", but more cynical types considered it was a program to remove a glut of milk from local sources. The scheme ended in 1973 under the direction of the Whitlam government, no doubt reacting to Nugget Coombes' full report into government spending. Supposedly, "one of the things he discovered when he looked at the school milk scheme was that it wasn’t doing any good at all. It had a marginal or very slight effect on the health of children" and the scheme was scrapped - just as many schools took delivery of fridges, if I recall, that would have kept the milk icy cold (for a change!)

Ask any adult who was at school in the 50s and 60s and they'll all have some wild and wacky anecdotes about school milk. Amongst my own is the solving of the mystery of the little black specks that began appearing in our classroom's milk supply one term. New milk monitors had been appointed, and it was their job to remove all the silver foil caps from the bottles and insert the waxed paper straws, thus encouraging even the laziest student to partake of his average daily allowance of dairy! After several frustrating days of putting up with the enigmatic black speckles, we finally caught Jeffrey, the shorter of the two monitors, standing atop the crate of opened bottles in his plastic-sandalled feet, spruiking his wares to all and sundry. Yes, it was little chunks of fine asphalt gravel, trapped in the crevices of his footwear, which had been polluting our milk.

School milk
Our amazing archeological find!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Today I picked up my professionally-framed Map of Middle-Earth (by JRR Tolkien), which I have had made up to match the 2010 "Premier's Reading Challenge" poster (starring my school students!). Both framed prints are destined to hang in our new school library when it's finished. The Middle-Earth map used to hang in my bedroom (from el cheapo 70s plastic poster hangers) from 1977-1984, then it got rolled up and shunted off to the garage, where it was badly water-damaged. Two house moves later, it looks even more "antique"!

The local framer has done a magnificent job. I'll post a pic ASAP.

Monday, May 10, 2010

#365 of 365


I contemplated what to photograph all day today, it being the final day of my 365 Photos project. With the natural light of the day rapidly failing, I posted about my desperation on Facebook. Suddenly, while crossing the overpass at Penrith railway station, I realised the last pic could be a self-portrait. (Channeling TV celebrity Andrew G, I guess, who is finishing up the same project, only 365 self portraits. And, I guess, if I was as good looking maaaaybe I could understand attempting that.) As I went to snap the pic, a message came through on the iPhone, from a Facebook Friend who'd read my panicked FB message, and suggesting... why not a self-portrait?

If you'd like to live through a year of my life in 365 rapid fire images, try this Flickr slideshow.

Or here's a "twelve (no, thirteen) of the best":

Day 18, MAY 2009

Day 36, JUNE 2009

Day 64, JULY 2009

Day 90, AUGUST 2009

Day 136, SEPTEMBER 2009

Day 153, OCTOBER 2009

Day 184, NOVEMBER 2009

Day 234, DECEMBER 2009

Day 248, JANUARY 2010

Day 282, FEBRUARY 2010

Day 300, MARCH 2010

Day 331, APRIL 2010

Day 356, MAY 2010

Clicking on each photo will take you to its Flickr page and a caption.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Dozey dog


One day to go...

Happy Mothers' Day

Happy Mothers' Day to all those Internet savvy Mums, and to all the mothers - including mine - who are perhaps more technophobic and thus will never see this message. (Gosh, I hope she remembered to switch her mobile on for today.)


Saturday, May 08, 2010

Out to dry

Kitchen still life - stainless steel drying rack.

Amazing Grace

I recently found a batch of misplaced photo albums, which I hadn't seen since moving house in 2000. One album had this lone Polaroid shot, taken by me, among a lot of science fiction media convention photos and newspaper clippings from the 1980s.

Grace Lee Whitney, Yeoman Janice Rand of the original "Star Trek" television series, was at a Brisbane ST convention a few weeks after "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" premiered here. She hadn't already seen the movie, because she was a little distressed she hadn't been invited back after "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" (as Transporter Chief Rand), but she knew the fans would ask her what she thought of the film, so she went to a local screening with the con committee.

At the convention, I was essentially representing the Sydney club for some national convention decision-making and was lucky enough to be at GLW's table for the con banquet - and she bought champagne for the whole table, but drank only mineral water herself.

Grace Lee Whitney
GLW in 1982, Sydney.

For her return trip to the US, she had to pass through Sydney and I offered to organise to pick her up from the domestic terminal and get her across to the international terminal in time for her flight (above).

Years later, in an interview with "Starlog" magazine, she discussed her amazing ups and terrible downs of her showbiz career - and credited her wonderful experiences with the Aussie fans at that convention with her decision to go teetotal. We had no idea we were seeing Grace's new beginning at the time! (Either that or she was so appalled by Aussies that we drove her from the drink!)

Grace at Conquest
Grace is carried off by alien fan Scott Sullivan at ConQuest '82, a few days earlier.
Photo by Australasian Post's Clair Jolliffe.

(Sorry about the vertical lines from the 80s-era photo album.)

Friday, May 07, 2010

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Bearly there

I'm deep into storyboarding for digital stories again this week! This time with Stage 1 (Years 1 & 2) students in the area of fairy tales:

A labelled bear ready for the Year 1 students to write their information reports.
School mascot, Robbie Rules, is in bear headgear.
5 May 2010.

The Three Bears commence their morning constitutional
while their porridge cools.
6 May 2010.

Only four more shots left in my 365 Photos project after today. How do I make these last days count? Am I going to be anywhere interesting?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

May the fourth be with you!

New robotic timepiece for the lounge room. 2 May 2010.

Random polystyrene still life. 3 May 2010.

Darth Tater says, "Happy Star Wars Day. May the fourth be with you!" 4 May 2010.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Is this Thorin Oakenshield?


Today I was invited to speak about "the old days" of science fiction media fandom at an event called Freecon, held at Hotel Gearin in Katoomba.

Now, this hotel is famously owned by iconic Australian actor, Jack Thompson - and he was there! Not only was he not charging us for the use of his pub's facilities, but he happily talked about his role as Cliegg Lars in "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones".

Hotel Gearin, 1Hotel Gearin, 2

It was great catching up with acquaintances and friends from my early days in fandom: model-maker Lewis Morley, his partner, artist Marilyn Pride, and cover artist and Archibald Prize finalist/exhibitor, Nick Stathopoulos, among others.

Lewis & Nick
Glowing-eyes Yoda bust, Lewis Morley and Nick Stathopoulos at Freecon.

Freecon attracted about 25 science fiction fans and hopefully will lead to the development of regular events in the future. Many of the attendees are currently planning for the upcoming Worldcon, Aussiecon 4, in Melbourne later in the year.

Jack Thompson discusses Vader
Jack Thompson discusses his role as Cliegg Lars in "Attack of the Clones".

Jack Thompson: May the sauce be with you!
"May the sauce be with you!" - Jack promotes his own brand of steak sauce.

Jack Thompson discusses Thorin
Jack discusses with Freecon host, Garry Dalrymple, Jack's (hopefully) upcoming role
as Thorin Oakenshield in "The Hobbit", which will be
directed by Guillermo del Toro.

Jack's name isn't on IMDb for the project as of this post, so this news might just be an exclusive! ;) Sounds promising, anyway.

In other exciting news, SF fan Laurie Strathdee is planning a science fiction movie and TV festival in Lawson, in the Blue Mountains, later this year! Watch this space!

Captain's Log: Supplemental. "The Hobbit" scoop about Jack Thompson as Thorin - from my own blog site - has apparently been carried by "Ain't It Cool News" this week, which gave me a bit of a thrill but, yesterday, I noticed that "The One Ring" at theonering.net/torwp/category/hobbit/hobbit-movie/hobbit-casting/ was acknowledging it as some kind of "Ain't It Cool News" scoop by Quint(?) and even running one of my own pics!

Credit where it's due, please, guys. My name is Ian McLean, aka Therin of Andor. Jack Thompson is a huge star in Australia, a recognized talent in TV and film since the 60s. We are very proud of him. I'm a little surprised so few people here seem to be aware of him, but I guess many Aussie films aren't as well known internationally. Check his extensive credits on IMDb sometime.

Thank you!

Captain's Log: Even more supplemental. I've been asked to elaborate a bit on the "scoop" (which has now been hyperlinked back to here from AICN, I'm glad to note). Firstly, none of us in the small audience realized we were going to be hearing any kind of scoop on "The Hobbit". Jack was there to discuss his participation in "Attack of the Clones" - and "Spyforce" (the 60s TV show he did with fellow Australian, Peter Sumner, himself a "Star Wars" alumni) - and I fully expected to see Jack's name on the IMDb "The Hobbit" web pages, when I got home, at least.

Jack Thompson already has a connection to Guillermo del Toro. Jack has been working with the man during the lensing of "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" in Melbourne. It's currently in post-production, and del Toro supposedly pulled Jack aside and said, "I want you to be my Thorin Oakenshield".

There really wasn't much more revealed in Jack's "Freecon" talk about the role, although we did sort of mob him after he left the podium, to congratulate him and wish him well in the upcoming role. It was a weird experience because, after he finished his spiel, he was suddenly "Jack Thompson, local publican", very much at home in his own pub, so it felt a bit like hotel gossip.

Jack did say to me, personally, after I mentioned that I was really looking forward to his Thorin performance, that "You know what it's like in show business - anything could still go wrong..." Here's me hoping he's already signed a contract. None of us thought to ask crucial stuff like that, not realising we were hearing such totally unknown "news".

My fingers - and antennae - are crossed.