Wednesday, December 28, 2011

This blog entry will self-destruct in ten seconds...


I headed off to the cinema last night, originally hoping for a convenient screening of "Puss in Boots" in 3D, but ended up choosing to see "Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol", the fourth in Tom Cruise's revitalisation/reimagining of the 60s TV show (and 80s remake).

I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had quite liked the first one (1996), but I hated that they recast the Peter Graves role, even though there was an interesting, bizarre twist with the Jim Phelps (Jon Voight) character. The second film (2000) seemed more like a series of tedious car chases, but my main reason for seeing it was to recognise Sydney, Australia, doubling for various world locales. It was filming here for months and months; every Thursday night I'd stumble across the support vehicles or notice temporary new hoardings over our iconic buildings. I didn't bother with #3 (2006), although I did buy the DVD, still on my "To View, One Day" pile.

This new "M:I" movie, subtitled "Ghost Protocol", was excellent! Simon Pegg is hilarious, as always; the main team is very likable; the story had some great red herrings; and the action sequences didn't bore me to tears. Well worth it. "Mission accomplished". Very accomplished!

A highlight of this outing, though, was the exciting array of pre-film trailers:

* "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey", of course, which I had already seen previewed on Facebook, but was even more enticing on the big screen

* A young Jim Kirk (ie. Chris Pine of JJ's "Star Trek" film) vs the young Jean-Luc Picard clone, Shinzon (Tom Hardy of "Nemesis") as rival spies, vying for the affections of Reese Witherspoon, in "This Means War"

* and a seemingly funny Aussie-set comedy film, "A Few Best Men", which has some very funny sequences with Olivia Newton-John.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Number 96 DVD cover art!

Number 96: The Beginning and the Bomb

Next March, you can celebrate the 40th anniversary of Australia's classic TV soap opera, "Number 96", with a new boxed set of DVDs, presented by Andrew Mercado and released through Umbrella Entertainment. It's already up for pre-order at JB Hi-Fi. (Not a bad way to secure your copy, as not too many sets made their way to shop shelves last time.)

As you can see from the above proposed cover art, the infamous Mad Bomber episodes are a feature, but there'll also be discs of early b/w episodes. Full details of the episodes to be included are HERE. Thanks for the heads-up, JB Hi-Fi.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

'Tis the season to be meerkat!

Christmas meerkats
Christmas meerkats

More meerkats

Who can resist adding to a meerkat family, especially when they are at bargain prices?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Memories of Christmases past

Mum's ornaments

I realised a few nights ago, distracting my numb state of mind by resolving to put up the Christmas tree this year, just how many of the decorations were given to me by my mother.

Now, she knew of my annual purchase of two Christmas ornaments for my tree - which I may spend months looking for, then date them - but some years she'd slip an extra ornament or two into my Christmas gift, so the tree now has numerous undated "extra" ornaments.

Each one teased out nice memories as I set up the tree.

The other bittersweet find, when we were cleaning out my Mum's pantry, were the three boxed ceramic mugs that she bought, some time before going into the nursing home.
Mum mug

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Beware aliens bearing gifts!

Beware aliens bearing gifts
Ambassador Shras of Andor meets Kang and Kodos. The other Kang and Kodos.

Or indeed, Smurfs!
Christmas Smurf

Monday, December 19, 2011

John H Lee Memorial Award 2012

John H Lee Award, 2012

Dear Ian

RE: John H Lee Memorial Award 2012

On behalf of SLA NSW [formerly ASLA (NSW)], we are delighted to announce that you have been selected as the recipient of the John H Lee Memorial Award for 2012.

This is a joint Charles Sturt University (School of Information Science)/School Library Association of New South Wales Award presented to an individual or team of educators who is/are able to demonstrate excellence in leadership in innovative and collaborative teaching practice through the integration of learning technologies.

We extend our congratulations to you on this outstanding achievement.

We would like to share in the excitement of this achievement by inviting you and your guest to a Celebration Ceremony to be held on March 10, 2012 at the State Library of NSW, Macquarie Street, Sydney. The Award Presentation will begin at 9.30am.

You are also welcome to stay on as our guest at the SLA NSW’s first Professional Learning Day of the year.

Once again, congratulations on becoming the John H Lee Memorial Award Recipient for 2012. We look forward to seeing you at the Awards Ceremony.

Yours faithfully,
Ms Nicole Deans
Chair, Awards Committee
SLANSW [School Library Association of New South Wales]

ALF's Christmas wish

ALF's Christmas wish

Dear Santa,

I have been good.

For Christmas I would like a kitty.

Love ALF

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Welcome to the family, Teena!

Kookys and house

My Teena Terror "Kooky Spooky" eBay purchase (lower left of the above image) turned up recently, replacing the custom Teena I'd made earlier this year, but wasn't happy with. Teena came without her original, reversible sign accessory (a heart shape with "Love"/"Fun" written on it), but I'd already made a customized one. I had to coerce a US penpal to do the transaction for me; fewer and fewer eBay sellers will ship overseas these days, and when one pays by PayPal the item has to go to the address recorded by PayPal. Thanks Melissa!

Teena now joins her family. I'm quite pleased with my customized Mama Kaskit, so I don't feel a yearning need to hunt up a real one.

Kooky Spooky - the elusive Teena Terror
The elusive Teena Terror; not my one, but notice the
brittleness of her broken-stick accessory.

These cool Hasbro toys are from the late 60s: I've added to the family of six (five originals, one custom-made replica) with some customs made of glow-in-the-dark Fimo, derived from early Patti Peticolas designs. Also Gilroy the ghost from Avon. Note that my Baby Spook'em has a "death rattle", an optional accessory suggested in Patti Peticolas' design sketches, from a time when her ghosts were planned as Colorforms-style paper/vinyl dolls that little girls could dress up and change hairstyles.

My Photo Peach slideshow, The Kooky Spooky story, tells the history of this 1969 phenomenon.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas 2011 approaches!

I put the Christmas tree up. Decorating it was quite carthartic after the eventful weekend. Even though I collect and date two new ornaments for the tree each year, I realised how many extra ornaments I have, tucked into my Christmas gift by my Mum.

Of course, last year, it was impossible to put up a tree when the lounge room was full of dog cage!

Christmas 2011
Christmas 2011

Spock angel
Closeup on my customised Spock angel tree topper

This year's new ornaments are:

Wild Thing and Max
Wild Thing and Max

Mary Poppins' umbrella
Mary Poppins' umbrella

Mini View-Master
Hallmark View-Master ornament from 2008, not a normal size View-Master!

I couldn't resist buying one more this year! This is a teeny, tiny Hallmark limited edition Keepsake ornament from 2008, not a normal size View-Master, but the 3D specialist mail order firm I deal with found a few in their warehouse. They are sure to vanish quickly, though. The three reels feature "A night before Christmas" in 21 stereo pairs.

Andorian koala

And this powder blue Andorian koala turned up in the mail from an old "Star Trek" friend on Friday!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Vale Margaret McLean

Lunar eclipse

Eastern Australia hosted a rare lunar eclipse in the wee hours of this morning. As much as you might think this only a spectacular natural phenomenon, it also marked my Mum's departure from Earth.

Watch out Sto'Vo'Kor - and Dad - here comes another proud and confident warrior.

Mum passed away peacefully not long after midnight. How amazing that the heavens gave her a beautiful lunar eclipse as her finale. (My apologies for anyone finding out first via this blog or Facebook. It's still early on a Sunday morning here and I have only just begun to ring people.) And thanks everyone for your responses to my Facebook updates on the Friday night, as I sat with her. The gentle buzzing of my iPhone kept Mum, Jack and me company on Friday night, as your messages of support were coming through.

Jack and ALF
Jack and ALF keep a vigil.

Ian & Mum
R.I.P. Margaret McLean

Friday, December 09, 2011


It's the annual school talent quest. I am judging.

As they tweet on Twitter, #amjudging.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Andorian interlopers, 1983

"Return of the Jedi" Australian premiere

Haha, I recall the Andorians got a few nasty glances from the "Star Wars" fans for intruding on their gala premiere! Yay Therin and Tharrah of Andor!

20th Century Fox video of "Return of The Jedi" fans when the film premiered in 1983 in Sydney. Previously, some of this footage accompanied an amusing review by Di Morrisey and Kerri-Anne Kennerley on TV's "Good Morning Australia".

Therin of Andor at Jedi premiere
Therin of Andor

Therin and Tharrah at Jedi premiere
Therin & Tharrah

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Trekking in 3D?

3D USS Enterprise at Smithsonian

Paramount's goal with the forthcoming "Star Trek" movie sequel from JJ Abrams is said to be, "... to finally attract more filmgoers overseas since the franchise had never done $100M international before." The US release date is set as May 17, 2013. In 3D!

I have no problem with 3D, and fully expected it for this one. We want ST to be successful and popular, and most recent successful, popular movies are in 3D. I've seen some great 3D movies in recent years - both filmed-in-3D and converted-to-3D - and if that's the way to draw in even more general cinema-goers, then why not? The ST fanbase alone does not buy enough tickets. "Star Trek: Nemesis" proved that.

3D also means there will be a 3D TV Blu-Ray release alongside the regular DVD and Blu-Ray discs.

TOS in syndication prime time reruns had a big, reliable following because it was accessible to the general public over many years. TNG in first-run syndication built a huge audience that ensured that the franchise sold lots of merchandise.

People also forget that "ST III: The Search for Spock" was, at one point, announced as being in 3D. There were plans for funky, collectible, ST 3D Starfleet glasses, too.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How does this Smurf smell?

Smurf with no nose

How does this Smurf smell? Terrible!

(Remember the stuffed Smurfs I photographed recently, whose noses were sewn on upside down? Well, on the weekend, I bought a blue plastic toadstool containing a little toy Smurf - and he emerged from the container with NO NOSE.)


Friday, November 18, 2011

Trash Santa

Trash Santa

Seen today in Penriff, outside the bottle shop.

"OMG, they trashed Santa!" (He found a Claus in his contract.)

Trash Spider-Man

Look familiar?

Saturday, November 05, 2011


150th anniversary book

My contribution to Arncliffe Public School's 150th anniversary book:

"My first year at Arncliffe Public School, 1964, was spent in the quaint sandstone building (now the staffroom) that straddled the infants and primary school playgrounds. Sometimes, when it rains, I can almost recall the smell of damp, wooden verandah, plastic raincoats, warm fingerpaint, and school milk in 1/3 pint glass bottles. The infants' Mothers' Club used to turn our school milk allocation into hot cocoa on winter Cocoa Days. All you had to do was remember your plastic mug! Other early, strong memories include child-height blackboards all around the walls (decorated chalk friezes by Miss Jones, our Upper Kindy teacher), little white chairs and tables, and an old wooden highchair, which was our Birthday Chair.

Kinder building, 2011
Kinder building, 2011. Now the staffroom.

"For the record, my other teachers were:
1A: Miss Dignan, replaced mid year by Miss Walters
2A: Infants Mistress, Mrs Ruth "Meg" McCarthy
3A: Mrs Robyn James, replaced by Miss Esther "Esie" Witheridge
4A: Mr Milton Mercer
5A: Primary Principal, Mr James Brown
6A: Mr Robert Young.

"In the 60s, boys' and girls' Infants playgrounds were separated by big trees down the middle (with bench seating around them). The boys had the 'Gully' side, near Avenal Street. If any boy attempted to play with the girls, he would be sent to sit quietly 'in the circle', a painted ring in the middle of the girls' playground. The primary department kept boys' ball games to the grassed area (when it wasn’t a dustbowl for marbles). The Segenhoe Street buildings, including Teluba, used to be the separate Arncliffe Girls' High School (until the girls moved to Tempe Boys' High in the mid 70s). Friday afternoon sport for Years 3-6 was always over the footbridge to the fenced paddock on the other side of Princes Highway. Between lunchtime and sport, there were weekly films, shown on a reel-to-reel projector by the 'film boys' in the assembly hall.

"The canteen was only open for lunch orders on a Monday, run by a parent, Mrs Mullampy. The cream buns and pineapple donuts were impressive! On the other days, a woman from a nearby 'tuck shop' would arrive in the playground with a bundle of paper bags to take our orders. When her shop closed down, the owner of 'Angelo's' Italian milk bar, delivered lunch orders. Eventually, our canteen was available five days per week. I'm old enough to remember when Sunny Boys, Razzes and Glugs - ice blocks in triangular pyramid-shaped Tetrapaks - were just five cents each.

"Coronation Hall was the venue for annual Speech Nights. A highlight of my time in 4A (1968) was when Mr Mercer greatly expanded 'The Mummers' Play of St George', in which I played a pompous doctor who raises up the seemingly-dead evil knight, Bold Slasher, so he can challenge the mighty St George in battle. We were the finale of the evening, and our parents weren't expecting the amazing greasepaint makeup jobs we all received backstage. The next year, 5A performed 'Alfie at the Circus', and I was thrilled to be cast as naughty schoolboy, Alfie. (I've used the script in schools many times since.) The whole class was seated on stage in rows, looking out onto an imaginary circus. I had to run out a side door, supposedly eaten by a huge, angry lion, go into the darkened street, around to the front of the building, and down the main aisle, to announce that I'd let out the snake charmer's pets.

Ian, Brian, Keith, 1970
Ian with Mr Chips, Brian, Keith with Mac, 1970

"There was also a visit from 'Skeeter the Paperboy'! In 1970, we had a fancy dress night, also held at Coronation Hall. The surprise judge was James 'Skeeter' Kemsley, whom we all knew as the host of Channel 9’s 'Cartoon Corner'. I was a pirate that night and my brother, Keith, was a skeleton (it took my family several nights to paint white bones onto black material). Actually, we both wanted to dress as characters from “The Wacky Races”, to impress Skeeter, but we couldn't work out how to make life-size, working racing cars out of cardboard. Between his career as Skeeter and his untimely death, James Kemsley was the cartoonist on 'Ginger Meggs' comic strips.

James 'Skeeter' Kemsley

"The school’s own hall, where Mr Mason’s classroom is today, was the venue of weekly primary assemblies, and numerous lunchtime plays. In 1968, 4A’s students adapted a Classics Illustrated comic of Shakespeare’s 'Hamlet'. During 1969, Miss Witheridge organised an operetta of "Snow White". There were two night performances for parents. While most roles were filled by Year 6 students, I was cast as 'Max', the head dwarf. Along with six younger students of small stature, we were told to wear our 'jammies' for dwarf outfits, and to make our own beards.

Miss Witheridge's piano
Miss Witheridge's piano

"I was sick with the flu the week of the 1970 school photos, and missed my big chance - as School Captain - to hold up the little 'Class 6A' sign. I was devastated that boys' Vice Captain, Peter Vandine sat in my place, alongside Jenny Hinton. I still can't believe there were so many of us in that class! How did ever fit into the classroom? Luckily, I guess, in those days the wooden desks were still bolted to the floor!

6A in 1970
6A in 1970

"Other memorable staff members during my time at Arncliffe were scary Mr Pearce (who used to serialise an amazing, original science fiction story each week to 3A, when Mrs James took on an interschool netball team), friendly Mr Proudfoot, my Year 5 craft teacher - and my first teacher-librarian, Mrs Janette McKenny (1967-1968), with whom I exchanged Christmas cards and phone calls for several decades. What a surprise when she married Milton Mercer, who had been my Year 4 teacher! In 1990, I retrained as a teacher-librarian, and still consider Mrs McKenny to be my inspiration!

"So many memories - and I didn’t even get to the excitement of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969!"

Ian McLean,
School Captain, 1970
(now teacher-librarian at Penrith PS)

Jim, Peter, Ian, 2011
Jim, Peter, Ian, 2011

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Loyalty and truth

The Gully, 1966

My old school, Arncliffe Public School, is turning 150 on Saturday. I'm Class of 1970, and was school captain - and very excited to be going back to check it out. I've tempted two of my former teachers to go, and hoping to catch up with old classmates. Was also asked to contribute a double page of memoir for the souvenir book.

The pic is me in 1966, standing in front of "The Gully" that ran through the then-Infants playground.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


Smurf knows

A Smurf nose all. Is it just me, or did someone at the toy factory sew those Smurf noses on upside down?

Astro boy?

I know the central figure is supposed to be Astrogirl, but the packaging logo reads "Astroboy". Presumably, there are other figures in the series of "Astroboy" toys and they all have the one series logo. But he looks so cute in the pink skirt.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Halloween ghosts

Australia doesn't really embrace Halloween all that much, but it always pays to have a stash of candy at the front door on Halloween night, just in case any trick or treaters pass by. Most years, I don't get any visitors - so I have to eat the evidence.


Twisties' Bag of Ghosts
Twisties' Bag of Ghosts!

Just in time for Halloween 2011, these crunchy and "spookily flavoured" snacks (above), from the makers of regular Twisties, are spiced with paprika. Yum! It's unusual for Australian food companies to bother with Halloween-themed foods.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Seahorse on the wall!

Seahorse mural

After many, many months, the seahorse mural is finally completed and grouted to the wall of the shower recess.

Originally traced from a 3D carved wooden seahorse my parents once brought back for me from a Pacific Island cruise, the eyes and bubbles are glass hemispherical "stones". When the white background started looking too stark, seaweed strands and a school of fish were added.

For a time, I was flummoxed about the grout. With white tiles for the background, white grout would have looked wrong. I considered adding a grey coloured oxide, but how much would be needed? Then I found green ready-made grout in a squeeze bottle (now a deleted item, sadly) from Riot Art & Craft in Penrith. They also had vibrant pink.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Trivia night - themed table
My table went jungle theme for the second annual trivia night!

Trivia 4
Pith on or pith off?

Trivia 3
Recycled materials maketh the hat.

Trivia 2 - themed table

Our team managed to retain our crown as trivia champs. We did tie with another table, but they had poached our sport and music expert from last year. A fun night!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Not-so-Magic Art Reproducer

Magic Art Reproducer

Mmmm, after seeing these ads in US comics over many, many years, it finally turned up in our local Magnamail mail order catalogue. My mother agreed to order me one for my birthday (I was about 14 - 1972?), and the result was very underwhelming, especially the tiny box it arrived in! While it appears to be a large, commercial overhead projector (only just starting to become popular in schools in the 70s), it was extremely tiny and required no power source to operate.

The ad misleadingly shows the artists using the device from a distance, but the barely-visible superimposed image you are supposed to trace can only be seen on the paper if you press your eye to the viewer. (Then you can't really control your pencil very well.) Mine had a hairline crack in the base, where the upright pole was supposed to connect, so there was enough wobble to be annoying. When copying a 2D artwork, the source material had to be pinned upside down on a wall. It was hopeless trying to get enough light to fall on a 3D object. The trickiest thing was directing light across the source material to illuminate the image clearly - I spent a long time trying to direct a goosenecked desk lamp at the right angle (that I had to return to to my Dad's desk as soon as possible).

I used the device once, then hid it in a drawer. My old pantograph was definitely more fun.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Jack in Nowra

Jack in Nowra

Speed limit = walking pace only, Shared roadway, Don't forget your hat. ;)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Rapture replay?


Who woulda thought I'd be able to reuse this pic (first posted: 21st May, 2011).

Post-Rapture billboard
Post-Rapture poster

Should I pre-empt myself and repost this one as well?