Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The return of Will Decker!

Decker returns

Commander Will Decker arrived in my mailbox today. V'ger must have finished with him. He's a bit grey in the face, and has also misplaced his Perscan buckle and his shoes. But he's aliiiiiiiiiive!

I've had my Mego 12" "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" Klingon since 1980. He was bought from a local flea market by a friend but, when I raced back, any other figures had long gone. Then, in January 1984, I found the rest in the dealers' room at a New York Creation Convention. Kirk, Spock and the Arcturian were all $25 each and Decker and Ilia were $35 each. Sadly, they wouldn't take traveller's cheques and I couldn't spare the cash to get Decker and Ilia. Sob. Little did I realise how shortpacked was Decker!

Then, about twelve years ago, a beautiful, boxed Ilia turned up in a local collectibles shop for about $90. Opening the packaging, I was horrified that she had a large, dark purple spot on her bald head, transferred from the inner cardboard box liner. Luckily, that mark faded away, even as poor ol' Kirk and Spock's faces continued to take on the dreaded "Mego greying disease". This Decker is a bit grey, and was loose, with battered paintwork on his hair, no shoes or buckle, and a uniform needing some attention, but he was cheap enough - and it's great he can finally be reunited with Ilia. (I've lost out on a number of Will Decker eBay auctions over the decades; I love the "Buy it now" option.)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Comparing IDW and WP "Star Trek" comics!

A few months ago, it was announced that an Australian publisher, Wilkinson Publishing, had won a bid for the reprint and distribution rights to the current IDW "Star Trek" comics and trade paperbacks - and yesterday I actually spotted a batch: issue #2 of the US TOS mini-series, "Burden of Knowledge", in a local Sydney newsagent.

I guess the deal commenced with issue #1 last month. There were eight copies of #2 on the shelf, along with a few copies of "James Patterson's Witch & Wizard: Battle for Shadowland", another IDW title.

The "Star Trek" deal, IIRC, is the first time "Star Trek" comics have been printed locally since the DC Comics' "Star Trek III" movie adaptation by Federal Comics (Aust.) in the 80s.

Curiously, there are a few differences:

Comparing IDW and WP "Star Trek" comics

Above: The IDW logo has been replaced on the front cover by a WP logo. Issue/price details are different, lowering the creators' credits. The "R" registered trademark symbol after the title is smaller. The barcode is gone, along with Joe Corroney's cover art credit. Ah! An Australian barcode appears on the back cover.

Comparing IDW and WP "Star Trek" inside covers

Above: No comparison art, featuring the US alternate chase cover, is presented. Some of the type is shifted around to fit in extra details and the comic is noted as "Printed in Korea".

Inside back cover

Above: Some advertising pages are also different: The US back cover promotes "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero" #156. The Australian back cover promotes "Witch & Wizard: Battle for Shadowland". Instead of a promotional page for "Archie as Pureheart the Powerful", the Australian issue #2 carries a creator page (which had appeared in issue #1 of the US edition).

While I don't perceive a difference in internal paper or printing quality, both issue #2s have much thinner covers than the US #1. It will be interesting to see how sales go and whether WP gets the trade paperback omnibuses into general bookshops.

Captain's Log: Supplemental.
I found some WP copies of "Burden of Knowledge" issue #1! IDW's US edition had a choice of three covers, but Australia only gets Cover A, by Frederica Manfredi and the inside cover's text has been redesigned to eliminate the small insets of the three selections. The cover is printed on the same heavier stock used for the US edition of this issue. Again, the Australian barcode appears on the back cover, which has an advertisement for "Witch & Wizard: Battle for Shadowland" instead of "Ghostbusters Con-volution!" Manfredi's cover credit does not appear on the front cover, as it did on the US version of Cover A.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A monopoly on bootlegs?

A local bargain store has a stack of bootleg "Monopoly" games in their doorway. The shrinkwrap was so shiny, it was hard to get a decent shot. The box itself seemed to be made of the same waxy, corrugated cardboard as a fruit box from the grocers.

Now, I know we shouldn't support bootleg products, but they can make bizarre collectibles:

Bootleg Monopoly

Monopoly close-up

You, too, could take a "Chance" and land on the garishly-coloured "Park Place"!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

BER - the first tour!

Library - external

Yesterday, as I informed an outdoor assembly of the students of the results of the 2010 CBCA Awards for Book Week, work continued on our new BER (Building the Education Revolution) school library at my school. They are now starting to prepare the grounds for paths and covered walkways.

Last Thursday, I had my first tour through the site, and was able to get the inside scoop! It's really coming together in there!

Library - main doorway

These wooden boards are protecting the new glass double doors of the main entrance. Behind me, an external vestibule area - complete with a toilet (luxury!) and a staff/grade/"special programs" room - is taking shape. This meeting room has very generous storerooms, and will have a sink and an interactive whiteboard. We are getting this room because there was no way to use BER funding to overhaul the existing staffroom. Adding this area onto the library plan has given the building some character, especially when compared to the long, rickety tin box of a demountable library - which the school was so used to having around, for over two decades.

Library circulation
This will become the spacious library office and circulation areas.

An IWB (the second one in the building) shall be installed on the far wall, about where that ladder is standing.

Library office
I venture into my office for the first time!

Library - internal
Circulation, as viewed from the location of the library's IWB.

Library exit
Yes, we will still have a second door for faster exits.

Down the other end of the school, a matching building, comprising a modern double classroom, with wet areas, storerooms and a glassed-in, shared withdrawal teaching space, is almost complete!

Hand-over of the new buildings may be only about six weeks away, but I'm not holding my breath. I know that many school libraries are ordering shelving and furniture at the same time and I guess some delays will be inevitable. But the new library is really coming. We can almost smell it!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Vale Dad, aka "Robbie"

Here's a tricky blog entry to make.

This is to acknowledge my Dad, known to many as Robbie (and to some, affectionately, as "Rotten Robbie"). He's been battling chronic back pain for most of his adult life, and incurable lung cancer and then a secondary cancer/brain tumor for the past four years.

Dad's been in palliative care for the last month or so and - thanks to some very powerful drugs and even some prescribed nips of red label Scotch - has actually been pain free in recent weeks, which has had the unexpected bonus of seeing a return to his old, witty, cheeky, wicked personality, much to the bemusement of his nurses, visitors and family. He even got to vote in the Federal election this week, and passed away just as polling booths were closing - and we realise he's smirking right now, knowing he's not the only Australian who doesn't yet know the identity of the new Prime Minister!

Thanks to everyone for their ongoing support. My Dad made sure he resettled Mum back into NSW after their 20 year retirement in Perth and, essentially, he went to a better life content that he'd managed to achieve all of this life's goals, and to have had three satisfying months in their beautiful, new abode in Nowra, plus a relatively comfortable last few weeks.

We'll miss you, mate! Happy memories, deep appreciation, and much love.

My Dad, the grey nomad, back in NSW after two decades and watching television. 31 January 2010.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Originally uploaded by Therin of Andor
Huey dates back to 1977. The tag reassuringly claims he is filled with "new materials, agrashell, shredded clippings". He reminds me more of a Moomin than a hippopotamus. Manufactured by Wallace Berrie & Co.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Homework for Tristan!

On Monday night, I will be attending the fifth and final night of "Build Your Online Profile", a course presented by author/filmmaker Tristan Bancks, at the Sydney Writers' Centre in Milson's Point.

And we have homework! We are to present "a plan for our online future", by answering three key questions in five minutes.

1. Where do you want your online profile to be? Show us the kind of profile that you want to establish and why. If you like you can show us examples of people/companies who are already there now.

2. How will you get there? Priorities? And when?

3. How have your plans changed or developed since the beginning of the course?

Number 96 Home PagewhiteHave Phaser: Ian's Star Trek Memories

Andor FileswhiteHave Phaser, Will Travel - Blog

Booked Inn - BlogwhiteAndor Files - Blog

Penrith PS Library's WikiwhitePenrith PS Rappers - Blog
An evolution of my web presence.

My strengths/interests are teacher-librarianship and TV historian. Both present opportunities for imparting knowledge and skills to others, but my current online presence is fragmented across many small sites. My recent 365 Photos project reminded me of the importance of established routines for blogging, to keep things current and fresh, and to bring browsers in for return visits. Site Meter indicates that Google Images searches of photographic material on the World Wide Web continues to be an important drawcard to blogs.

However, since starting this course, I have already:

* Bought a domain name, www.number96.tv.

* Revitalized my Twitter page - and added "Facebook" and "Twitter" buttons to my blog.

* Designed an "umbrella" webpage that will unite all my random web presences.

* Finally signed up as a channel owner on Youtube.

* Created a user profile for Creative Commons music at ccMixter.

* Created my first book trailer on Keynote, added a soundtrack from a Creative Commons site, exported it as a video podcast via iWeb, uploaded it to MobileMe and promoted it on Facebook, Twitter, Yammer, two teacher-librarian listservs and the NSW DET book rap being held to celebrate Book Week 2010.

I still need to:

* Create and upload the umbrella webpage for www.number96.tv. (Time frame: immediately.)

But, as a result of this course, I will also...

* Brainstorm with Andrew Mercado(?) and begin to create a series of podcast fan commentaries for episodes of "Number 96" which could be hosted on iTunes? (Time frame: next twelve months?)

* Create more book trailers to export as video podcasts. Students to be involved in the productions. Closer ties with a range of children's writers and illustrators. A renewed focus for collaborative teaching and learning with Web 2.0 in our (almost completed) school library. (Time frame: next twelve months?)

* Complete new, unrelated, picture book project - which is currently needing to transfer from my brain to paper. Exploit the online possibilities that will arise with publication and promotion of book. (Time frame: ASAP.)

Penrith PS Podcasts
"Mr Chicken goes to Paris" book trailer

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bonjour, Monsieur Poulet!

Mr Chicken closeup on the Eiffel Tower

Mr Chicken on the Eiffel TowerwhiteMr Chicken's ascent

Leigh Hobbs' infamous Monsieur Poulet, of "Mr Chicken goes to Paris", climbs the Eiffel Tower and then (below, in my version of the story) seemingly meets an appreciative, time-travelling artist. (I'm actually working on a book trailer for this CBCA Awards nominated picture book. I hope. I have to produce something exciting for Tristan Bancks' final class on Monday night.)

Mr Chicken meets Leonardo

Monsieur Poulet was crafted from yellow, black and white FIMO Soft oven-hardening modelling material. Background artwork is from "Mr Chicken goes to Paris" by Leigh Hobbs (Allen & Unwin, 2009).

Mr Chicken and the Mona Lisa

I bought my copy of "Mr Chicken goes to Paris" the day it came out. It was one of those books you just couldn't leave behind in the shop. Earlier this year, when the CBCA shortlist came out, I grabbed a copy for school. At first, I thought I'd have to forfeit mine. Mai non!

Mr Chicken in Paris
By the way, the French chair (above) is an actual miniature prop
from the 2001 Australian movie, "Moulin Rouge!"

"Mr Chicken goes to Paris" cover

I must explain, too: I was reading "Mr Chicken goes to Paris" today to a group of K-2 students, one of who just *could not* cope with me calling the main character "Mr Chicken" - especially since we read "Kip" (about a rooster) and "Bear & Chook by the sea" yesterday. Every page, the poor kid kept putting his hands over his ears and yelling, "There. Are. No. Chickens. In. That. Book!"

His young colleagues were telling me, "We all have to just ignore him." We kept reading, but I had to avoid saying those magic words, "Mr Chicken", hence the main character was "Monsieur Poulet" throughout!

UPDATE: Okay, I think I've just managed to upload my book trailer as a VIDEO PODCAST! Music: "Parks On Fire (California Burning Mix)" by DJ Rkod (feat. Trifonic). http://ccmixter.org/files/DJ_Rkod/14745 is licensed under a Creative Commons license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/nc-sampling+/1.0/.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Pakled at the Pedlars' Fair

Pakled at Pedlars' Fair

Today was our school's annual Pedlars' Fair. Glorious winter sunshine, amazing costumes from the younger students, all dressed as pedlars to parade with trays full of edible and collectible wares (to sell for just 1 Pedlars' Penny each ( =50 cents), and the older students running fairground games, activities and competitions, again for just 1 Pedlars' Penny each. There was also an exhibition of students' model making skills (bridges and buildings) in the hall.

Pakled with a fairy and Mini Minnie Mouse

How great is it that all I have to do is open my "Star Trek" wardrobe and select an alien costume to wear on the day?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Star Trek 365


I am now the proud owner of "Star Trek 365: The Original Series", a massive house-brick sized book filled with big colour pics, sketches, memos - and lots of info. Written by Paula M Block & Terry J Erdmann, the book is introduced by Dorothy "DC" Fontana and published by Abrams Publishing (no connection to JJ).

I've barely done more than flip through the wonderful rare and familiar pictures so far, but this looks to be a wonderful publication! Just when you think no more could possibly be left to see or read about "Star Trek", Paula Block & Terry Erdmann have scrounged out those last(?) remaining bits of trivia!

A few random pages of the 365 double spreads:

Page 83

Page 107

Page 126

Page 163

Page 220

Page 275

Lug a copy home today!

Captain's Log: Supplemental. I was lucky, even though living in Sydney, Australia, to find a copy of this Abrams Publishing "365" in a local bookshop - as it turned out, many weeks before the jealous US readers started to report seeing copies!

Paula Block & Terry Erdmann have done an incredible job of fossicking through all those years of material on Star Trek and presenting a blend of iconic, familiar and extremely rare photographs and facts about Gene Roddenberry's "Star Trek". The "365" format is certainly unusual and modern. I laughed out loud at early Amazon.com reviewer comments complaining about the unique design features; features which I immediately thought were wonderfully retro and modern at the same time. (In fact, my great experience with this particular edition convinced me to go back and pick up a shrink-wrapped "Star Wars 365 Days" from the same publisher - and I'm not even much of a "Star Wars" fan.)

I've had the "Star Trek" book for weeks now (it's 9th September now; yesterday was TOS's 44th anniversary), using it exactly as intended: as a coffee table book, but safely on a coffee table upon which food and drink are never served! I feel like I've barely done more than flip through the wonderful rare and familiar pictures so far, or yelling out factoids to anyone who passes. Stunning photos! Glorious colours! I stop riffling every so often to absorb brand new (and sometimes well known) trivia in the text. There are even some great mini interviews and quotes from people we haven't seen in the limelight for decades! It's a wonderful publication!

Just when you think no more could possibly be left to see/read about the original "Star Trek" series, Paula & Terry have scrounged out those last(?) remaining bits. And now... I want more! Bring on the movies book, TNG and beyond, and the Abrams' book of JJ Abrams (no relation)!