Sunday, November 04, 2012

Fame is fleeting... and Blogger is slow!

Maybe you've been wondering where I've been?

Well, a few months ago, an automated message told me that neither Firefox nor Safari web browsers would be supported by the latest upgrades to Blogger and that, if I wanted to be able to keep posting efficiently, I needed to switch to, or at least install, Google Chrome. Then Google Chrome strongly suggested that I make Google Chrome my default browser. Mmmmmm.

Problem is, I really, really like Firefox - and my first attempts to upload (or link) to things like slideshows made with Flash suddenly weren't being supported by Google Chrome. Mmmmmm.

And everything seems to be running sooooo slow. Aaaarrrrrgggghhhh!!!!

These days I do spend quite a bit of time over on on Facebook and, when a FB thread would become noteworthy, I was often turning that into a more polished blog entry, but these recent changes to Blogger - and the agonising slowness of Blogger to load (especially when keyword searching for a previous blog entry in my History) - has stripped out all the spontaneity. If I can't find an efficient way to auto-synchronise Blogger, Twitter and Facebook, without my entries looking like bizarre cut-and-paste jobs filled with bad formatting and "@" symbols all over the place - I'm afraid time just runs out for well-considered, longer, funnier, blog posts. The art of commenting on blog posts also seems to have dried up in recent years. Again, the same anecdote or pic on Facebook will garner many more responses, even though my potential audience there is much smaller.

Anyway, braving the current mire that is Blogger and Google Chrome, I shall persist, and, if it works, I might try to find time to retro-add some old blog entries that have been stockpiling in my memory.

Ian 2012

A friend emailed me this morning to ask, "Did you read about yourself in 'Good Weekend' this weekend? I think you were the man in the leopard skin suit (jacket) in the story on Selwa Anthony."

OMG? The leopardskin print shirt I wore at last September's Sassy Awards? Off to the newsagents I went! Joe Bananas (of QVB) did say, when I bought the shirt on his strong recommendation, that it was a shirt that no one would forget. It kinda rubs it in, when I'm so far behind on blog entries. That shirt is old news now.

Okay, I'm back from the newsagent! He gave me the supplement for free because it was yesterday's news! Page 9, "Never-Ending Story"; Tim Elliott's article on Selwa in the "Sydney Morning Herald" magazine supplement. I guess I'm the guy in the "full leopard skin suit" who "nods hungrily" at Selwa's suggestion that we be "ready to dance". Never let the truth get in the way of a good anecdote. (Mr Elliott is in good company here!) Ha ha!

It's not my first time being featured in leopard skin, either, thanks in the first instance to Geoffrey McSkimming when he put me in a "School Magazine" play!

Lost librarians

Above: Thanks to writer, Geoffrey McSkimming, and artist, Tohby Riddle, I once featured in a "School Magazine" play ("Touchdown", Vol 87, No 10, Nov 2002, pp 341-346). The character of "Ian, the lost librarian", a Tarzan memorabilia fanatic (instead of "Star Trek"), appears in "Mr A at the Floor of Heaven, or, Not Quite Yeti".

"The misguided librarians are lost in the snow,
Dewey's their system, but snowy they go..."

Ian the librarian wears a spotted loincloth over his snow-pants, of course. He is one of those tiny silhouettes in Tohby's artwork, and was joined by my real life workmates at SCIS & "Scan": Anne (aka "Mrs Dowling"), Wendy and Deirdre.

Yes, fame is fleeting! And Google Chrome is slow.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Star Trek: The Complete Unauthorized History

It's out!

Star Trek: The Complete Unauthorized History

"Star Trek: The Complete Unauthorized History" has arrived at Galaxy Bookshop.

Trek Ewok
The Trek's not over till the last Ewok falls!

Written by Robert Greenberger and edited by Scott Pearson for Voyageur Press. For those playing at home, it features a few photos from my own collection. Look out for my Arex and M'Ress Filmation TAS customized action figures (page 58), yours truly as Maltz the Klingon, introducing Bjo Trimble at Eccentricon (page 135), the "Star Trek"-themed Mr Potato Heads I bought from Kings Comics (page 135), Lana Pennington-Brown's beautiful artwork of Data and Tasha on a Mike McGann-printed sweater (page 145), and my "United Federation of Paramount" t-shirt from Lincoln Enterprises (page 146).

Star Trek customized action figures
Customised Tuvix, Dr Selar, Arex, M'Ress and Trader Worf with tribbles.

I've only had a chance to do some quick riffling so far, but there is some really great stuff in here! Nostalgia plus for fans of any era, but particularly those who remember the original TV series of the 60s with fondness, the Filmation animated series and the six classic movies. Later chapters look at the tie-in novels, collectibles and the expansion of the franchise with "The Next Generation", "Deep Space Nine", "Voyager" and "Enterprise".

The ideal book for Christmas gift-giving to that hard-to-buy-for Trek fan in your life?

Oh! I had forgotten that I can claim responsibility for another pic in the book, although it wasn't taken by me. On page 199, there is an image of the Playmates' "Flashback" Janeway action figure. I was the winner of a design contest by Playtrek listserv and New Force Comics, who needed an exclusive figure that could be achieved by a simple headswap and repaint, so I suggested Kathryn Janeway's head on Saavik's body, in Janice Rand's ST VI and "Flashback" colour scheme. And I won, I won!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Friends of Phyllis Wong

Phyllis Wong cover

Today, at The Children's Bookshop, Beecroft, Paul Macdonald introduced the irrepressible author Geoffrey McSkimming, of "Cairo Jim" fame, to a young audience who'd come to celebrate the start of Book Week with some magic! Geoffrey read from his new novel, "Phyllis Wong and the Forgotten Secrets of Mr Okyto", the first in a projected series of six books. His professional magic adviser on the book, Sue-Anne Webster, performed some wonderful feats with the help of members of the audience. There were autographs and collectible lapel badges for all!

Paul Macdonald introduces Geoffrey McSkimming
Paul Macdonald introduces Geoffrey McSkimming

Geoffrey 1

Geoffrey 4

Sue-Anne Webster

Geoffrey and Sue-Anne

Geoffrey's imagination
Author Geoffrey McSkimming is about to unleash his "Saturday imagination",
and magician Sue-Anne Webster prepares to catch it in a paper bag
at The Children's Bookshop. (For his weekday imagination, Geoffrey
would need a bigger container.)

Geoffrey 3whiteGeoffrey 2

A highlight of the event:
Geoffrey: "Any questions?"
Comment from audience: "What's behind that black cloth?"
Geoffrey: "Books I didn't write."

Monday, August 13, 2012

To kill a mockingbird in 2012

State Theatre - To kill a mockingbird
Old and new: 1963 Sydney premiere of "To Kill a Mockingbird" and today's presentation
at the same theatre (2012), to celebrate 100 years of Universal Studios.

Yesterday, I was off to kill a mockingbird. In glorious black and white.

What a coincidence that this movie played a reprise screening. I am deep into the original novel at the moment, in preparation for a course in creative writing with author Jeni Mawter, at the Sydney Writers' Centre, Milson's Point.

The State's publicity blurb said, "Screen legend Gregory Peck stars as courageous Southern lawyer, Atticus Finch - the Academy Award-winning performance hailed by the American Film Institute as the 'Greatest Movie Hero of All Time'. Based on Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about innocence, strength and conviction and nominated for eight Academy Awards."

And it was a great film. The little boy beside me was quaking in his seat, but watching through his hands. So much of the music was familiar, especially the suspense theme.

To kill a mockingbird (2012)

Prior to the screening of the main attraction, a b/w Cinesound newsreel from 1963 was shown. It started with the Christmas Parade of 1962, down the main street of Adelaide, then a gala day for the fire brigades, the triumphant return of the new Miss Australia to her home atate (SA), and included a festival on the Great Barrier Reef. Quote of the newsreel: "After [tennis champion] Rod Laver declares the [Great Barrier Reef] festival open, all the towns go gay."

Sunday, August 12, 2012

R.I.P. Gene DeWeese


Awww. Sad.

I just heard that "Star Trek" and science fiction novelist, Gene DeWeese, passed away last March.

If I recall correctly, Margaret Wander Bonanno (garamet on the TrekBBS message board) was a friend of his. Certainly, Gene himself briefly joined several conversations on the old Psi Phi bbs if/when anyone began discussing his books, sometimes only minutes after someone mentioned his name.

I swapped a few email exchanges with him about his contribution to "Star Trek" over the years. Always witty and chirpy. I'd really enjoyed the early "The Peacekeepers", the second orginal novel featuring "The Next Generation" characters, although "Chain of Attack", an original series novel, felt a little too techy to me; I was thrilled to notice it was actually a followup to Lee Correy's "Abode of Life". I know that, for many fans, "Chain of Attack" was their first original ST novel experience, being part of a major design rejig by Pocket Books - the first on shelves after the release of the much-hyped, international hit, "ST IV: The Voyage Home". "Chain of Attack" was released in the UK as Book #1 of a new publishing program (Titan Books).

For many ST fans, "Chain of Attack" is as revered as Vonda McIntyre's "The Entropy Effect". Or James Blish's "Spock Must Die!" Or Mack Reynolds' "Mission to Horatius".

The most memorable aspect of Gene's "The Final Nexus", a direct sequel to "Chain of Attack", was the feisty female guest character depicted on the cover, plus his very welcome reuse of Ingrit Thomson, the non-canonical female security officer shared by several other TOS writers of the day. "Renegade" I read, but don't really remember much about it now.

I do recall expressing my frustration, once, on Psi Phi, with how frustratingly dull and slow "Into the Nebula" was - so slow that I'd quite forgotten any details of the plot. To my initial embarrassment, Gene suddenly popped up - from a long bbs absence - to admit that he, neither, could remember anything about that novel's plot, except that the Enterprise-D crew went into a nebula.

Discussions by the regulars on Psi Phi and TrekBBS about the mysterious "Engines of Destiny" (listed in Steve Roby's online "Lost Star Trek books" archive after someone noticed several unpublished draft manuscripts that Gene had donated to a public library's reference collection), led to garamet summoning Gene to the bbs again to tell us more about it - and, ultimately, to then-Pocket editor Marco Palmieri reactivating Gene's contract to publish it.

R.I.P. Gene.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hold on to your pointed ears!

How does fifteen discs of soundtrack music from the original series of "Star Trek" sound?

For more about STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES SOUNDTRACK COLLECTION, visit now and join the STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES SOUNDTRACK MAILING LIST to receive important forthcoming information and announcements regarding the release, such as the official release date, the number of units pressed, pricing and much more!

It is "licensed by CBS Consumer Products and produced in cooperation with GNP Crescendo Records, the longtime home of pioneering classic Star Trek television and film soundtracks. GNP Crescendo’s Neil Norman has allowed for episode scores previously and exclusively released by Crescendo to be newly expanded and remastered for this box set, in order to make the collection as comprehensive as possible."

How cool is that?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Therin again!

Titan: Fallen Gods
Star Trek: Titan: Fallen Gods

I picked up a new "Star Trek" novel from Galaxy Bookshop yesterday - and just discovered that my Andorian alter ego, Therin (from 1980), has once again been saluted.

"Titan: Fallen Gods" by Michael A Martin has a ship named after Shantherin th'Clane (aka Therin), a character first introduced in the pro novel, "Ex Machina" (Christopher L Bennett, 2004), and namesake of Therin Park and New Therin Park in five other novels!

REL Therin Park

Thursday, July 26, 2012

25th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation

TNG 25th poster
Sydney's cinemas hosted the 25th anniversary of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" event last night. Several venues around Sydney (and other Australian capitals), in fact, and the Dendy, Newtown, managed to fill two cinemas in the one complex. So pleased I'd dieted enough to fit into this old favourite top again! It seemed a fitting sweater to wear.
TNG 25th anniversary
The cinema showed "Where No One Has Gone Before", which introduces the Traveler (and is loosely based on Diane Duane's Trek novel, "The Wounded Sky") and "Datalore", which introduces Lore, Data's evil brother. Selected by Mike and Denise Okuda as good examples of the greatly enhanced special effects footage for high definition Blu-ray. Also showed some "making of the HD" footage and a preview of enhanced "The Measure of a Man" (Season Two) for which they've added previously cut scenes.
Data shirt
And, I just found out that this fan-printed Data "sloppy joe" from 1988 (artwork by Lana Pennington-Brown) is to prominently featured at the beginning of Chapter 12 in the forthcoming book, "The Complete Unauthorized History of Star Trek" by Robert Greenberger!
Complete Unauthorized History

Monday, June 11, 2012

Marathon efforts

In the 70s and 80s, Sydney- and Melbourne-based fans of "Star Trek" ("the original series") owed a lot to each other in keeping their fandom alive.

Communal watching of episodes was often reported from US university dorms in the 60s, and Australians living in our two biggest capitals were able to tap into that phenomenon with Bob Johnston's "Star Trek" Marathons at ANZAC House in College Street, Sydney, opposite Hyde Park. Bob would send episodes down to the Melbourne fans to run monthly Marathons, too.

Seeing TOS (six episodes, later five episodes plus a TAS ep.,) on the big screen at monthly gatherings was how our original fans got their Star Trek fix - and how new fans, drawn into fandom by ST:TMP, caught up with what had gone before. Our TV network holding the rights had sat on them, rather than repeat the episodes (only about eight when colour TV debuted in 1975).

The marathons in the CBD offered a regular meeting place for fans, a place to buy the rarer merchandise and fanzines, and two intermissions where shy and gregarious fans alike could strike up a conversation with a new friend over a devon-and-cheese sandwich (later - toasted as jaffles!) and a paper cup of Coca-Cola. And know they would have at least an appreciation of Star Trek in common, if nothing else.

A few months before ST II arrived in cinemas, a rival network snapped up the rights to TOS... and fandom just got stronger. The marathons survived - barely - two moves after ANZAC House (and its theatrette) was demolished. But even the TV network realised that TOS worked well in large, communal groups, hence:


The phenomenon of diehard fans getting "trekked out" was common enough. Sometimes otherwise-passionate people either vanished, for years at a time, or forever. Or, they'd give away all their memorabilia and tell the rest of us - very loudly - we were all idiots for liking TOS, the movies, TNG, or DS9. (I very nearly faded away myself with the earliest eps of DS9.)

As much as I love the ST novels, there was a time when they were coming out two-per-month, and now most of them have doubled or tripled their word count. Even though only one-per-month, its still more books than I can get a chance to read, plus the comics keep coming.

Staying a Star Trek fan really does take hard work, and local support networks have changed radically since the early 90s. About the time Bob stopped doing his Star Trek marathons. Sigh.

MOV Therin meets Grol
Literally beside myself: Therin and Grol at ANZAC House,
at a monthly Star Trek marathon

Sunday, June 10, 2012


To promote his new Star Trek-esque book "Red Shirts," author John Scazli and publisher Tor created a new song called "Red Shirts" by Jonathan Coulton:

The tribute music video was created by TrekPropGuy.

See more information about the book (and forthcoming audio novel, narrated by The Next Generation's Wil Wheaton), by checking out the link.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Friday, June 08, 2012

Federation: The First 150 Years

Federation, the First 150 Years: cover and pedestal

There is an exciting, forthcoming "Star Trek" reference book from 47North and becker&mayer! publishers (November 2012). Written by David A Goodman, the hardcover book will feature illustrations by Joe Corroney, Mark McHaley, Cat Staggs and Jeff Carlisle, and will be presented in a unique pedestal display including audio by George (Sulu) Takei.

Federation, the first 150 years
(Above:) Captain Jonathon Archer of "Enterprise" (NX-01), with Vulcan, Andorian and Tellarite ambassadors, presumably making his infamous gazelle speech. Believe it or not, I own both the Andorian and Tellarite robes depicted in this picture.

Federation: The First 150 Years

More information about this publication can be found at Memory Alpha.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

In the news...

Star 2012

Pic by Gary Warrick. Penrith City Star's coverage of my John H Lee Memorial Award for "excellence in leadership in innovative and collaborative teaching practice through the integration of learning technologies". Presented jointly by School Library Association of NSW and Charles Sturt University. See the full article HERE.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Geronimo in library

A famous literary mouse adventurer, Scholastic's Geronimo Stilton, dropped by our book fair today, to see how his royalties were faring.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The very cranky bear

NSS Lion, Zebra, Moose and Bear

Today, our whole school participated in the annual ALIA National Simultaneous Storytime with a reading of Nick Bland's "The very cranky bear".

NSS Sheep and Bear

The hearing support unit used a Youtube presentation in Auslan. It was so well done that, after I'd read the book to the Stage 1 group who'd used the school library as their venue today, we decided to play the Auslan performance as well.

NSS National Simultaneous Storytime 2012

NSS IWB presentation

NSS Auslan presentation

National Simultaneous Storytime is an eagerly-anticipated annual event!

NSS Ian and puppets

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Unexpected Honor

Either I missed something, or nobody on TrekBBS had mentioned that there is an original short story, derived from the "Star Trek Online" game events and characters, in Titan's recent "Star Trek Magazine", no 40, Summer 2012.

Va'kel Shon
Captain Va'kel Shon.

Author Christine Thompson continues storylines from "Star Trek Online" and features the handover of the Enterprise captaincy from Data (IDW's "Countdown" comic mini-series), now in his professor role from "All Good Things..." episode of "The Next Generation", to the Andorian, Shon, for the launch of the Enterprise-F. Also clarified is the fate of the B-4 ("Nemesis").

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Seeing double? Spooky!

Kaskits and Spook'ems
A set now complete! For those who've been following my Kooky Spooky adventure over the last year or so, here is my customized Mama Kaskit "Kooky Spooky" (far left) meeting... the real thing: a recent eBay "Buy it now" find. She arrived this morning.
To the right is a little guy I've renamed Little Formaldehyde, with customized death rattle (both concepts mooted by Patti Peticolas in her notes). He is meeting a pristine Baby Spook'em, complete with mint condition "Help" sign, thanks to the same eBay seller. (On the back, the sign reads "Boo!")
Looks like I'll have to add at least one more slide to my Photo Peach slideshow!
I was recently asked why I avoided bidding on packaged Mama Kaskits.
Toys should be free of their cardboard and plastic sarcophaguses! If I'd bought a Mama Kaskit mint-in-mint-box, I'd have had to remove her, to join her family, no matter the huge amount paid. I used to keep lots of my toys' boxes (from the 80s, 90s and 00s - we never thought to do that in 1969), but I've simply run out of room for all that packaging - and the stored boxes were getting putrid with dust in my garage under the house.
Also, many MIMB Kooky Spookys have "melt marks" where hands and noses have had 40+ years have been in contact with 1969-vintage acetate windows.

My PhotoPeach slideshow about Kooky Spookys is HERE!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Nice hat!

Sequel cap
The sequel to JJ Abrams' 2009 "Star Trek" movie, preparing to wrap principal photography in Los Angeles?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cruelty to colourblind teacher-librarians!

Speedminton Fun Speeder

Part of Term 2's pupil-free day was learning to play Speedminton. I could barely see the orange colour of the so-called "Fun Speeder" (shuttlecock), and it was even worse when it was on the grass!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Fat free forever - again (sigh!)

Tee hee. Nine kilograms in fifteen weeks. Not the kind of numbers they get in "The Biggest Loser", so woulda been voted off by now, but slow, steady progress.

This is my third - no, fourth - serious go at the diet plan known as "Fat Free Forever" (book by Diane Barker, now Wilson). I have a success letter in the second edition of her book. I sometimes joke that I should write my own version of this book, called "Fat Free for Five Years", since that's about how long it takes to fall off the wagon - and you always end up putting on even more weight that has to come off.

Of course, it also gets worse with age as your metabolism keeps slowing down. First time on this diet plan (early 1990s) I went from 90 kg to 78 kg from one Christmas till the Easter, and it was so easy. Next two times, in about 2005 and 2007, I went from over 101 kg down to about 82 kg. This time I've had to start from a record-high of 105 kg. I really can't afford for there to be a "next time". This time has to be the one that holds. No more "yo-yo" dieting.

The key to Diane's diet is to treat your body like a car. You never wait till your car runs out of fuel, you keep it topped up. So... huge, sensible breakfast, sensible morning tea, medium-sized sensible lunch, sensible afternoon tea, small sensible dinner. No starchy carbohydrates (bread, cereal, pasta, potato, rice) after 3pm in the afternoon. Walking every day. Celebrate with a Junk Food Day meal once a week and, in fact, your body loses weight after that junk food because you've shocked it and your faster metabolism works extra hard to get rid of what you just put in!

If you think about it, it's exactly how we ate as skinny kids in the 1960s. If we were really, really good we got takeaway fish & chips on a Friday night, or a rare dessert on a Sunday after the baked dinner, or a bag of sweets when grandma visited. There were only about six Kentucky Fried Chicken stores (now KFC to hide the "Fried" bit) and one McDonald's to cause us to nag for junk food. Sigh. Life used to be soooo easy.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

What's cookin'?

What's cooking?

Any idea what's bubbling away on my cooktop? I'm dyeing two customised puppets!

Giraffe/dog composite & spare tiger puppets
And this becomes...

Bat & Panther
... this!

Yes, they are a pair of customized puppets, now dried in the washing machine spin-drier. The completed bat has wings cut from brown felt and the new eyes are flat beads in a pink plastic, Supaglued over the original black giraffe eyes. 50 cents for a packet containing lots (of future replacement eyes?) I love bargain shops!

The panther's eyes are some teardrop-shaped yellow plastic "jewels", originally bought for a different project. The only reason for turning a tiger into a panther was to give the bat a dunking buddy, and use up the leftover dye.

Cat & Frog
These two new additions (above) look rather sedate after the cooking pot episode!