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?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Nostalgia news!

Ad in Tri City Herald, Oct 20, 1969, p85
1969 Halloween toy advertisement in Tri City Herald, Oct 20, p85.

This daily newspaper, based in Kennewick, Washington, USA, carried a very cool Halloween promotion way back in 1969. Notice the discounted listings for several glow-in-the-dark phenomena: a Green Ghost Game for $US 6.66, Daddy Booregard representing the Kooky Spookys finger puppets at 87 cents, and Glo-Juice varnish for 77 cents a bottle! "Things for Halloween to make the night 'spooktacular'!"

I seem to recall that, in Australia, Green Ghost retailed at $12.99 at Christmas; I can almost picture the price sign at Coles in Rockdale. (I received it that year as a birthday present.) I think the Kooky Spookys retailed here for $1.69 each. I just checked and the US exchange rate was 0.90008 in 1969. That would be about right, with freight charges added.

Ad closeup

My PhotoPeach slideshow about Kooky Spookys is HERE!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Who am I?

I went to the Dept of Main Roads today, armed with my birth certificate, several utility bills, Medicare and VISA cards - and forked over $50 - so I can finally prove who I am for the next five years, especially when sending parcels overseas at the post office.

Unless you drive in Australia, you're a non entity. Even a passport isn't "valid ID" because it has no street address on it. So now I have an embarrassing pic on a laminated card just like all the drivers out there.

I tried to get a "Proof of Age" card a few years ago, and the woman at the DMR laughed at me. "Proof of Age" photo ID cards were only available to non drivers between the ages of 18-26. Later, they changed the scheme to a more general identification card. The had sent me to the office of Births, Deaths & Marriages for a "Birth Card", but there was a 14-day waiting period to receive it, and a "Birth Card" really did the same as a passport, without the option for traveling overseas.

Mind you, I was one who voted in favour of the Australia Card a couple of decades ago. Even after that proposal was resoundly defeated, the government instigated the wider use of personal tax file numbers to do things like open a bank account, or apply for a job, so they achieved what they wanted anyway. Except I still couldn't prove who I was, unless I was willing to study a manual of road rules, pass a computerised test, and obtain a learner driver's permit I had no intention of using for that purpose.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What possum?

HushwhiteHush invisible
Hush from "Possum magic" (left); and Hush turns invisible (right).

Hush the baby possum from "Possum magic", a children's picture book by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas. He stays visible only by regular intake of "people food" such as Vegemite sandwiches, pavlova and lamingtons.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Obsessed, Vault, Rules: three new Star Trek book purchases

Star Trek Vault contents

A big haul of Star Trek books this week, thanks to Galaxy Bookshop:

The "Star Trek Vault: 40 Years from the Archives" (Abrams) is by Scott Tipton, and follows the trend set by previous Marvel, DC and Star Wars vault collections. I've only had a chance to skim the fairly meaty, 126pp, contents (will Tipton throw up any factoids I don't already know?) but if you're interested to learn what collectibles have been replicated, they are: mini version of the "Planet Ecnal's Dilemma" TOS coloring book, three b/w Leaf trading cards, iron-on transfer of the Enterprise (on a cel), a sheet of four TMP gum card stickers, ST II Spock pennant, Japanese ST IV poster, Locutus's Borg arm diagram, page of "Generations" storyboard, "First Contact" captain's chair schematic, page of "Insurrection" script, invitation to DS9 Season 5 wrap party, b/w page from IDW's "TNG: Intelligence Gathering" comic, and two Rescue Emergency Evac set stickers from ENT. These items slide into little pockets, or are fastened at one edge to the pages.

ST III prototypes
ERTL's "Star Trek III" prototype action figures!

Page 45 has a colour version of a pic (above) I've always wanted: the ERTL 3.75" ST III action figure prototypes, with a Terran collie dog filling in for Kruge's Klingon pet (below)! Prior to this, I'd only had a small b/w version in an old Star Tech mail order catalog.

ERTL Kruge and pet from Star Trek III
ERTL's Kruge and Klingon pet from "Star Trek III"

You want to take on 2500 ST trivia questions? The new trivia book, "Obsessed With Star Trek" (Chronicle Books) by Chip Carter, comes with an attached, electronic randomizer device that keeps score as you answer questions, and can be configured for two-players. Every double page spread also has a b/w photo from one of the many ST productions, with some interesting, obscure factoids and a question based on the event illustrated.

Also out this week: simultaneous hardcover and trade paperback editions of "Shatner Rules: Your Guide to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large" (Dutton) by William Shatner with Chris Regan. If you can survive the chapter where Shatner slags off on TOS actors for slagging off at him over recent years, it has some fun stuff in it.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Geeks and magnets stick together!

Star Trek Magnetic Adventure Set - Side 2

A parcel van turned up this morning with my brand new "Star Trek" Mix 'n' Match Magnetic Adventure Set from Ata-Boy Inc, via the ThinkGeek mail order website.

Similar to the old Colorforms sets of the 60s, only using magnetic material, the reversible background allows Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Kor the Klingon ("Errand of Mercy") or the Gorn Captain ("Arena") to play out scenes on the Enterprise bridge or the iconic Vasquez Rocks!

Star Trek Magnetic Adventure Set - Side 1

I'm realising there's some potential for some cross-pollination with other magnets on my fridge...

Ata-Boy Inc's Mix 'n ' Match Magnetic Adventure Set
"Mmmm, pointed ears, but the tricorder readings don't register him as Vulcan."