Monday, January 26, 2009

A mob in a flash

Central Flash Mob
Flash mobbers at Central, Australia Day 2009

My friend Jonathan participated in the Central Flash Mob event today, and provided a blog entry about it. Well done, Jonathan! It would have been fun to be there. (That's not Jonathan in the above pic, of course. The Flash Mob organisers have started uploading photos, with more located on their Facebook page.)


Over our third annual Australia Day dinner tonight at Baia San Marco, my Star Trek Meetup group discussed the concept of flash mobs and, to my surprise, I discovered that our colleague, Adam, had co-organised the first such Sydney event in 2008! Small (stationary) world! Once again, the power of Facebook.

Motionless, but only because they're watching fireworks.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A rule is a rule

I've been thinking tonight that I'm still, pretty much, a stickler for rules.

When I was a kid, I used to see other kids breaking rules all the time. Used to drive me crazy.

Near my house there's some government land that provides a ten-minute shortcut to the train station. It's covered with "No trespassing" signs, but everybody uses it. During the Sydney Olympics in 2000 they officially opened it up, created bitumen approaches to the existing footpath that bisects the land, then locked it all off again afterwards. Although I did use it for a few months after the Olympics, I just can't stand climbing through the tin-snipped hole under that "No trespassing" sign...

However, there's something very... appealing about an event such as this:

Tomorrow, an event called Central Flash Mob is getting together a massive group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who will freeze for five minutes in the waiting area for CountryLink and intercity trains at Central Station in Sydney. They will place themselves in various culturally-united positions (handshakes, hugs, etc). The exact time of the freeze will be at 9:15am on Australia Day.

After the five-minute freeze they will then disperse abruptly as if nothing has happened. It would be amazing to see the bedazzled expressions of the unwitting staff, tourists' and commuters' faces as they see hundreds of people just freeze in time.

For law-abiding little ol' me, it's like rule-breaking without breaking rules. It's kind of like in the 80s, when attending science fiction conventions in Brisbane, we had to try not to look like a street march (banned by Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen) when groups of us went out into the Queen Street Mall for a late-night coffee.

I need to be in the CBD tomorrow afternoon, and I'm not so sure I want to be, ah, "stuck" there all day! So I can't attend the flash mob, although I'd love to be there. I'll be sure to freeze here, at the computer, and I'll look for the footage of their efforts on Youtube.

Oh! Here's one they prepared earlier! I hope there's a video for tomorrow's event.

Sunday's still too-high number: 96.4. Sigh...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Data's debut (again, or B-4?)

Great excitement this week, with the release of issue #1 of "Countdown", a four-issue prelude to JJ Abrams' "Star Trek" movie.

Countdown Data

Thanks IDW! Looking great. An explanation to the mystery should be here B-4 we know it!?

Update: Ah, the uniform matches with screenshots from the upcoming Star Trek Online!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Vale Sir Jasper

I heard today that Australian character actor Ernie Bourne has passed away.

More details on his career on

I was a little stunned to learn he was only 76. That would make him incredibly youthful when playing wicked Sir Jasper Crookly in "The Magic Circle Club" (which I first watched during my Infants school years) and flustered Fester Fumble in "Adventure Island" a long, long time ago. But I've since been advised that the IMDb site is wrong, and he was actually 82.

Decades later, of course, Ernie Bourne popped up as the hapless chef in "Prisoner", attempting to supervise the feisty female prisoners, and as the guy teaching Charlene (Kylie Minogue) how to be a mechanic on "Neighbours".

An amazing comedy talent! Now gone to Sir Jasper's Hideaway in the Sky... He will be missed.

Sir Jasper Crookly

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Klingon Kommercialism

I recently found this on Youtube. It dates back to the first-ever themed "Happy Meals" released by McDonald's in the USA, promoting "Star Trek: The Motion Picture"!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Back to Andor - boots 'n' all

The post office's parcel courier van arrived in my driveway bright and early this morning and I assumed it was my latest batch of "Star Trek" action figures, but no... it was a package all the way from Andor, via eBay!

A few weeks ago, I noticed some Andorian Imperial Guard uniform boots up for auction, as part of the It's a Wrap! eBay auctions (of "Star Trek" props, costumes and set pieces from Paramount's soundstages and warehouses), which have continued running for longer than any fan could have imagined. I've been very cautious about peeking at the auctions. eBay is soooo addictive. I'd already won the Andorian ambassador's outfit from "Enterprise" in 2007, as regular readers of this blog would know - and I did buy myself some very cool farmed-crocodile skin boots to go with it, but now I know how Andorians prevent their robes from trailing on the ground... they simply wear very, very tall boots!

Look what I won last month, and which just arrived:

Andorian boots from Enterprise

They are purposely lightly "weathered" with grey paint, but otherwise are almost-new, commercially-available, leather boots. The big gamble was that the auction description omitted a size. They looked rather tiny. A tag inside each boot indicate that they were worn by one Chase Bandy, whom the Internet tells me has also been a stand-in on a Topher Grace movie, "Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!", has played a minor recurring character in TV's "Days of Our Lives" - and once attended the 2005 Hollywood celebrity gala premiere of "The Headhunter", at least long enough to be photographed by one M. Castner.

Chase Bandy
Chase Bandy,
up and coming Hollywood spunk?

Now that the boots are here, I can see that they are GBX brand boots. As they'd appeared online, and even when pulling them out of the box and bubblewrap, I was convinced they were quite small. Imagine my surprise when they had US size "10.5" marked inside! It's an optical illusion caused by the huge soles, I guess. Even placing my foot alongside the boots, there was no way I was going to be able to wear them, but... they are a perfect fit!

Chase Bandy's Andorian boots
No, I didn't blue my legs just for the occasion, Sorry.

Shran action figurewhiteCloseup Andorian boot
Art Asylum did a good rendition of the Andorian boots on their Shran action figure.

By wonderful coincidence, I also won some Andorian medical dressings, in a different auction lot, the same week, and the items arrived together. The bandage pads have Andorian script screenprinted onto them, and were probably created for the episode featuring the destruction of Shran's ship, the Kumari. Lots of gravely injured Andorians in that one. (Was Chase Bandy one of them?)

I guess the bandages will be perfect for my heels if my new Andorian boots cause some big blue blisters!

Andorian medical dressings

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Some friends on Facebook were reminiscing about the old television show, "Fawlty Towers". My favourite scenes included: the moose head snagging Sybil's cardie; Basil the rat - or Syberian hamster - in the ratatouille; the fire in the kitchen; the cat eating the poisoned meat and coughing up a furball; the deaf woman complaining about the view from a Torquay window... So many funny things in that classic series.

Which had me remembering:

I raised rats as pets during the early 90s. When I started at a new school as the teacher-librarian, several of the teachers were excited about the idea having one or two baby rats in their classrooms. The principal didn't like the sound of the idea, though, so we kept calling them Siberian Hamsters. The joke went on for weeks.

The principal went on leave and suddenly everyone had their cages ready! A few weeks went by, the kids were all abuzz, and everything was very positive. One teacher even made herself a sign for her pet corner that read "Our Siberian Hamsters".

I said, "Won't it be funny when the boss realises they're rats" and the teacher looked at me, surprised, and asked, "RATS?????"


Sunday's still too-high number: 96.4. Sigh...

Where the Hell is Matt?

A friend, Marianne, responding my post about the "Free Hugs" Youtube video, just sent me this new Youtube link. Somehow it totally slipped under my radar. I hadn't heard about it before, or maybe only vaguely... but I love it! In case it also slipped under your radar, here it is...

Fourteen months in the making, 42 countries, and a cast of thousands. And a supporting website.

The outtakes reel is wonderful, too:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

RIP Janeway


There is an hilarious debate raging over on TrekBBS regarding the seemingly permanent death of Admiral Kathryn Janeway, late of the USS Voyager, and promoted to an admiralty post sometime before the movie, "Star Trek Nemesis". Janeway's demise happened in 2007 (in "The Next Generation" novel, "Before Dishonor" by Peter David, and soon to be followed up in "Full Circle", the "Voyager" novel by Kirsten Beyer.)

My take on it?

Poor Janeway, the sap, she is dead,
Her katra has gone on ahead,
Of course now her fans want to veto
'Cos the Borg ate her - and Pluto!
Join the Q. Another time, another thread.

Flashback Janeway

Friday, January 16, 2009

MIXing it up with VEGA

I finally switched over to Tony, Bec and Mikey on Sydney breakfast radio, VEGA 95.3 FM, this week, and I'm so glad. I really like what VEGA does with its music and all three hosts are a real hoot. (Two days of Sonia & Todd back at MIX 106.5 FM were really forgettable and underwhelming, and I've been with the old 2UW since the Malcolm T Elliott & Peter Shanahan days.)

I followed Tony and Bec on the very funny "Big Brother: Big Mouth" last year. And Mikey I've enjoyed on TV for years! Some really good laughs. And Jason Baumann, Penrith local boy and former MIX breakfast announcer, turned up as the traffic reporter!

I tried switching to VEGA a few years ago, when Nathan Hardy started there, but the signal out to Penrith was very weak. My housemate could get it in the car, but the reception here in the house was awful. Seems much improved!

Well done guys! You have a new listener!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Juan Mann in a million

A young friend, Ben, and I were wandering through the Pitt Street Mall in the Sydney CBD today, pondering where to eat lunch - and there, like clockwork, was the Free Hugs Man, or indeed, Mann (as in his pseudonym, Juan Mann). Musta been Thursday because there he was, giving out his free hugs and being - as he says - "a friend to Sydney". A friend in a distinctive maroon(?)/puce(?)/scarlet(?) velvet jacket, and holding up a big sign with an obvious message.

Free Hugs

Meeting Juan six months ago, despite having noticed him on the Mall for the four years leading up to that meeting, was an amazing experience. I came home so enthused to research his now infamous endeavours, and immersed myself in his various TV interviews (by Oprah Winfrey and Andrew Denton), the highly popular Youtube video (rated #1 on Australian Youtube, I noticed recently), and the controversial Internet invitation for the world to visit him in his flat, at any time...

As I said to Juan and Ben today, I'm a firm believer in the concept that, in our lives, we can run many parallel levels at the same time, and sometimes the tiniest positive or negative experience can bump us up or down onto a different, but similar, track. My free hug with Juan last year put me on a very high plane for several weeks.

To think that - for four years - I'd just passed him by, bemusedly. Today I made sure to get (and give) my free hug and I made sure Ben took up the offer as well. (I have to discover if a free hug made a lasting impression on Ben, but for me it was a comforting reinforcement that the next time I'm feeling down, I can at least try to link back those thoughts to a time - like now - when I'm feeling confident, positive, and very pleased with the way my life is unfolding.

Thanks Juan and Ben for a great day of stimulating conversation (and window shopping), without the thought of those back-to-work responsibilities that will very soon click into place.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The customising bug returns!

Mego custom templates

Retro Mego Star Trek action figures are back! And now I have the customizing bug again. There were some very easy and obvious customs that can be created with minimum effort; just a little clothes swapping! This Keeper figure is destined to become a customised Reman ("Nemesis"), hence he's already in a spare Romulan uniform. The barefooted Sarek is a Romulan sans gold helmet (conveniently both characters were played by Mark Lenard), but wearing a spare Keeper's robe, which I have to dye. The Andorian is a holy grail of mine: an original Mego Andorian, now as Commander Thelin from "Yesteryear" (TAS). This figure has faded over 30-odd years to a grey colour - he seemed the best to use for Thelin, who was rather grey in the animated episode.

Mego alienswhiteMego Enterprise crew

The commercial figures, as most people buy 'em. Andorian, Mugato, Khan Noonien Soong (an all-new figure in this retro release), Romulan, Keeper (loosely based on Balok's false image and Ruk), and Klingon. Uhura, McCoy, Kirk, Spock, and Scott, all of TOS.

Mego redshirtswhiteMego customs - clothes swaps

Redshirts on the away team: someone is doomed! Therin of Andor (ie. my fanfic character), Scotty, a blond redshirt (being played by a John-Boy Walton figure from "The Waltons"), Janos the sentient Mugato (or, at least, inspired by the "New Frontier" novels' security ensign), and Uhura. The not-yet-completed customised Reman, Sarek, Thelin, Therin of Andor (ie. my fanfic character), the blond redshirt, and Janos.

Mego landing party

I uploaded a video clip! Wheeee!

I only noticed recently that my Flickr account now permits the uploading of video clips. A perfect place to test out uploading my ElfYourself video from Christmas, which would otherwise be disappearing from the template in a few more days.

Party on dudes! (Mmmmm, that wasn't very 70s. But this sure is:)

Ian, Therin of Andor, and Jack outdo John Travolta and Orlando Bloom!

Fun to have with your pants on... perhaps

Okay, this is utterly disgusting school kid humour, and I followed the link intending, and expecting, to be mildly outraged.

I ended up with tears streaming from my eyes and having a good few hearty belly laughs. Someone's been very creative here, and it's a cut above most of the fart fanfilm mashups that have been seemingly mass-producing themselves on Youtube in recent years. In fact, I think it was the homage to the 1960s "Batman" TV show that gave me the most smiles.

Ladies and gentlemen, here is the future of the Internet:


Sunday, January 11, 2009

The little black pantha who tried

Alas poor little black pantha (lower half of image, centre). He tried and tried but just couldn't make it. Already a "late bloomer", with all his much taller blue brothers and white sisters long turned to garden mulch, it seems he's not going to make it. Four days of high temperatures appear to have crisped his unopened deep purple agapanthus blooms. RIP.

Black pantha agapanthus
There he was!

Sunday's not so magic number: 96.5 - Oh dear. Too much post-Christmas cheer. Hey, it's just been too hot to do much walking! Mind you, I was out walking all day on both Thursday and Friday.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Countdown... to Star Trek XI

idw Countdown mini-series

A website called Comics Continuum has posted links to the covers, alternate incentive covers - and completed internal artwork for the first five pages of issue #1 of "Star Trek: Countdown", a comic mini-series prequel to the upcoming "Star Trek" movie.

"Star Trek: Countdown" #1
is scheduled to arrive in US comic stores on January 21 from IDW Publishing. The story of the prequel has been developed with the writers of the movie, and the first 32 page issue is written Tim Jones & Mike Johnson, with art and cover by David Messina.

IDW describes the issue thusly:
"The countdown to the motion picture event of 2009 begins here, in the exclusive comics prequel to the upcoming blockbuster Star Trek! JJ Abrams, Roberto Orci, and Alex Kurtzman present the origin of Nero [the character being played by Australia's Eric Bana in the movie], the mysterious Romulan who will ultimately threaten the survival of the entire universe."

Scroll down Comics Continuum's page to thumbnails of the first five pages, or use these links:

Page 1

Pages 2/3

Page 4

Page 5.

More info from and here.

Looks great! What a fun way to make the waiting for JJ's "Star Trek" movie just a little easier. (Or does it make it harder?) The movie premieres worldwide in May. Of course, "Star Trek" completists will want to buy all the various designs of cover art, plus the omnibus reprint version in graphic novel trade paperback. (Who? Me?)

CATch of the day...

Racing past the venerable, old Mitchell Wing of the State Library of New South Wales yesterday, I simply had to stop and take some snaps of "Matthew and Trim", featured characters in a great graphic novel I read to my Stage 2 students last term.

Matthew Flinders statue

Trim sign


Trim sign 2

Friday, January 09, 2009

Wonderful Wollemi!


Finally, after years of admiring them, and waiting for the prices to come down just a tad, I bought myself a Wollemi pine tree from the Royal Botanical Gardens in the Sydney CBD.

I heard that they were dinosaur-attracting plants, and it looks like they really are!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Thursday is Zooday

After four days of sweltering Sydney summer temperatures, today was a perfect overcast day to go to...

Taronga Park Zoo!

Free-flight bird show

My Flickr account hosts a slideshow here.

The elephant shots, from 2007, have been added at the end. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Epiphany 2009 - and down it comes...

Two friends called in yesterday, and that means that somebody beyond this household actually saw - in person - that I really had decorated for Christmas! And today, down it all comes for another year.

You know, I really miss the smell of real pine needles but, not having a car - and only actually seeing one real tree on sale this year at the local fruit shop - plastic Christmas trees are just too convenient. Maybe one year...

This season's two ornaments were:

Christmas 2008: The felt koala riding a seahorse is one of my new Christmas ornaments, purchased from a souvenir shop in Circular Quay, Sydney, one day last January while heading around the harbour to the Sydney Opera House. The other features the three main characters (Fry, Leela and robot Bender) from the "Futurama" animated television show. They originally came in a boxed set, bought several years ago from Kinokuniya bookshop, in a year when I simply couldn't resist them - despite already having bought my "Superman Returns" ornament. I glued the characters around a mirrored disco ball ornament, essentially to consolidate them as one item, after Bender's leg broke and I figured that all three figures needed some support.

Previous entries include:
  • Epiphany 2008

  • 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.

  • Packing up Christmas each year always reminds me of my dear friend and former work colleague, Patsy. She doesn't even undecorate her artificial tree any more; just wraps it up in a huge plastic dropsheet, four corners tied at the top, and bundles it off to her back shed. It was a ritual originated by panic one year, when her Easter dinner guests were pulling up in their car, and she realised the house still had evidence of the previous year's Christmas cheer! The next December, the same guests were arriving... and with one tug of a ribbon: instant Christmas!

    Monday, January 05, 2009

    Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

    Escaping the string of high-temperature days out here in western Sydney this week, some friends and I went off to see the animated film, "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa", sequel to the popular and successful "Madagascar".

    Predictably, it was a clever mix of slapstick humour for the ankle-biters in the audience, and some clever parodies and homages to famous films and TV shows for the adults. Again we follow the misadventures of a lion, zebra, hippo and giraffe (and some manic penguins and a few monkeys). Last time they escaped Central Park Zoo and ended up, not in Africa but Madagascar. This time they try again for Africa.

    Certain sequences were tips of the hat to films such as "West Side Story", "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Born Free", and classic TV's "The Twilight Zone" (William Shatner's oft-parodied "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" episode).

    Voice actors Chris Rock (Marty the zebra) and Ben Stiller (Alex the lion) did a very funny promotional interview for this film on "Rove", a few months ago, and they mentioned how weird it was when their voices get dubbed into foreign languages, and yet they're still the headline stars who travel the world to discuss the film. Essentially they are promoting their names on the film poster! (Mind you, the fictional characters have inherited lots of quirky traits of all the cast. Melman the Giraffe is a close cousin to Ross of "Friends", thanks to the contributions of David Schwimmer.)

    Some will say it wasn't as funny or fresh as the original, but for me it certainly pushed all the right buttons. Well worth a look. Escape... 2 the cinema.

    Sunday, January 04, 2009

    Getting fleeced

    Here are some sheep thrills!

    The Sheep-Pig
    Jack's screen test for the upcoming motion picture,
    "Babe the Sheep-Pig III: Frozen Moments".
    Photo taken at Wentworth Falls Garden Pottery.

    Shaun the sheep Esky
    Shaun the party sheep Esky,
    Every home should have one... near their baaaaaaaaaa!

    Then we heard a herd of cows.

    So, was Twon naughty or nice?

    Blame Twon. We all do.


    Sunday's not so magic number: 95.5 - Oh dear.

    Saturday, January 03, 2009

    "Good afternoon, good evening and good night"

    The Truman Show

    I have often blogged about the phenomenon of eerier coincidences, but today I was convinced that, for the last two days, I've been squarely trapped in "The Truman Show".

    Not only is Sydney's CBD, and many suburbs, almost littered with giant posters of a leering Jim Carrey (promoting his new movie "The Yes Man"), but I'm now convinced I'm being followed by a small Truman-esque group of professional actors and extras - or perhaps spies and Internet stalkers?

    Yesterday, my housemate and I had some time to kill while waiting for his car to be returned from its regular wheel alignment. We had intended to travel into the city by train but, when we arrived at the station, the next fast country service to Central wasn't for another 48 minutes. We realised that, with travelling time in both directions, our window of opportunity for, umm, window shopping (not to mention the important stuff, like collecting two weeks' worth of my new comics, books and magazines) would be minimal, and we went to Blacktown instead.

    On our train was a rather portly, visually-impaired man in his early 40s. He had long dreadlocks - and a guide dog (a typically diligent and contented labrador). Now, I did think at the time that the guy's hairstyle was distinctive. It's certainly not a common style to see on anyone over the age of about 30 in Penrith, but this guy didn't fit the mould for any number of reasons. Vive la difference, and IDIC*, and all that.

    However, we passed this guy several times in the Westfield shopping centre at Blacktown, again when he was eating lunch in a restaurant and, sure enough, later that afternoon, he was on our train back home again.

    But today: I went into the CBD for my second attempt to collect my standing order of comics, etc, from Kings Comics. Firstly, I had exactly 48 minutes to wait for the train. Spooky enough. When I arrived at Central station, who was coming up the ramp, presumably to catch a train? The guy with the dreadlocks and the guide dog!

    Surrounded by Jim Carrey posters at every turn, I ended up passing two other people, in separate sidewalk cafes, who'd been on my train that morning. With comics in hand, I quickly hurried back to the station, where the next train wasn't due for... 48 minutes.

    I think I'm going to start checking the sky over Penrith for signs of a secret entrance.

    * IDIC - "Infinite Diversity, Infinite Combinations" - Spock of Vulcan, "Star Trek".

    Friday, January 02, 2009

    Cocoon cow

    Cow Angel - repaired!

    My 1995 cow angel ornament's ceramic wings broke when it was being removed from the Christmas tree in January 2007 so I had to make a repair. The new silver sequined and feathery wings belonged to a craft shop butterfly, which was on special in last year's January sales. The packet has been sitting unopened in my Christmas decorations ever since. Cost: $1.

    A metamorphosis!

    Cow angel originally looked like this:


    Thursday, January 01, 2009

    Happy New Year!

    NYE - Farewell 2008

    It somehow seemed very appropriate, at age 50, that I drink in the New Year with a bottle of 2003 Krondorf chardonnay, labeled to celebrate the 100 year birthday of my now-deceased friend, Edna Blackshaw.

    I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to Perth for Edna's landmark birthday in 2003, as she was quite an inspirational person in my life. When I first met her in Sydney, sometime in the 1970s, she was already a retired Infants headmistress, living in French's Forest on Sydney's north shore, and was the beloved grandmother of Shane, a little girl my brothers and I used to babysit. We called Edna "Grandma", too. (For several years before she actually met us, she knew us only as "IanBrian&Keith", and she was probably surprised there were three of us!) Later, she moved to the little hamlet of Brooklyn, on the Central Coast, and later to Perth, in Western Australia, and I spent several very memorable interstate holidays with her and her family over the years. In her 80s, Edna went back to university study, and created some new records for that WA institution when she graduated.

    In early 1980, though, Grandma Edna had generously donated one of her several vintage white wigs to an important project of mine: one Therin of Andor. At the time, I couldn't buy a suitable white wig for all the tea in China. (If it wasn't a very expensive, long-haired platinum blonde women's wig, then it was a Captain Cook wig or a judge's wig.) Edna had one that was perfect, but it couldn't just be a loan, since the Andorian's antennae would require permanent changes being made to the wig.

    I gave Edna a framed picture of blue-skinned Therin during my last visit, which she kept on her mantelpiece in the nursing home, and her quite lucid explanations of the Andorian species (and her unusual relationship to this important Starfleet captain) sometimes caused her visitors and carers to express concern about advancing Alzheimer's Disease.

    Anyway, the wine was a special gift to all attendees of Edna's centenary celebrations. Last night seemed the perfect occasion to pop its cork. Thanks Edna!

    Happy 2009!
    Andorian mannequin closeup