Thursday, November 30, 2006

The counter halts...

Well, NaNoWriMo, the (Inter)National Novel Writing Month, finishes up in this timezone in a matter of minutes - and I've been what is best described as a dismal failure.

I have written a lot this month: school reports, book reviews, emails, blog entries, a report on my student teacher, but - on the first two days of November - only some small chunks of a new novel.

As I said at the beginning of November, procrastination is alive and well. I'd have been more successful growing a moustache for a different charity event, Movember. Nah, scratch that. My moustache is all-grey these days...

Oh well, I understand that for people whose other careers interfere too much in November, there's also JaNoWriMo, January Novel Writing Month. Ah, a second bite at the cherry! Wish me more success, and less procrastination.

Who are you?

As I pondered here this time last month, I've found blogging to be quite confronting. People who know me in person know that I talk a lot and, when a writer writes, he or she is usually encouraged to write about what they know. Also, as a teacher of the writing process to children, I have to demonstrate how real writers research their potential audience first, then work out the most effective way to pitch their information.

All those attributes combine when I write my blog entries but, so far, "Who is my audience?" is impossible to gauge. Especially when comments are sparse - and even moreso when they are from anonymous strangers.

My quandary is, when blogging, I'm still sort of flying blind. I can just cast out what's on my mind at the moment, but I've also been using the blog to make a more permanent record of questions I attempt to answer on various "Star Trek" bulletin boards I frequent, since I found the trivia interesting the first time I encountered it, and blogging it catalogues it so I can refer to it next time the question gets asked again.

However, it means that, for you people who are regularly visiting this site for "Number 96" or "Star Trek" news, you may be disappointed when I go all Jack Russell on you. ;)

Did I mention that Jack threw up on my doona today? (The weekend's regurgitation episodes seem to be becoming a bit of a pattern this week. It's a new dry food, or rather, a hand-me-down dry food a friend passed to Jack when her dog rejected it.)

I'm washing the doona cover now, as I type. Oh, well, at least in winter Jack doesn't spend the day (and night) under the doona. Spoiled much, you ask?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Because I read...

On Monday, I was invited to join New South Wales Premier, the Honourable Morris Iemma, to a presentation for the conclusion of this year's Premier's Reading Challenge at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum. My principal graciously let me attend, in my capacity as a member of the reviewing panel, even though there wasn't much direct benefit to my school.

An innovation of the previous premier, Bob Carr, the first Premier's Reading Challenge's caused a bit of a scramble at Scan, when I worked there, digging through all our old book reviews to find the best of the best in children's literature, both classic and new, to help the coordinator draw up a reading list for school students in time to meet a tight deadline. Since then, the PRC has become a well-oiled machine, and I'm really enjoying being part of the review panel, which meets numerous times each yea, both in person and via email.

5900 students successfully completed the PRC in 2001, but 119 796 did so this year: a 40% increase! The number of students (Years K-9) signing up to take part in the project was almost 260 700. Between them, 3.6 million books were read.

All attendees, big and small, were asked to bring their "favourite book". I took my well-loved Cole's Funny Picture Book No. 1, a uniquely Australian publishing phenomenon, which still carries my paternal grandfather's handwritten inscription inside: "to Ian, aged 6." Whenever I riffle through it, being aged six years old seems like only six months ago...

My friend and fellow book review panellist, the prolific author Libby Gleeson, was a guest speaker at Monday's presentation, and I loved the quote she used during her speech. Quoting another Australian children's author, Paul Jennings, she recalled that when Paul was asked by a young fan, "Why do you read, and why should we value reading?", he replied:

"Because I read, I don't bash people up."

So eloquent! Reading allows us to see the world through the points of view of other people, and this helps children (and adults) to realize that all "other people" have thoughts, feelings and actions - whether they are the same as our own thoughts, feelings and actions or not. Reading literature grants us unique and valid perspectives that are not our own.

It would be difficult to sit through such an inspiring day and not be affected by the fact that everyone in that room - and many thousands of others who weren't - have made astounding differences in the lives of 260 700 NSW students in 2006. Amazing stuff.

Next weekend, 410 new book titles will be added to the already-impressive existing PRC booklist.

Cole's Funny Picture Book

(ed. E. W. Cole, 70th edition, purchased December, 1964. Originally published: 1879.)

Monday, November 27, 2006

"This is Big Sister..."

So my aunt decided to take my mother, who's visiting us from Perth, to the semi-regular craft show held at the Entertainment Precinct, adjacent to Fox Studios Australia, at Moore Park. My aunt got into making her own gift cards in a big way after her retirement, and when she went to the show in November 2005, the organisers had given her a flier with all the craft show dates for 2006.

When they arrived, the area that usually hosts the craft show was cordoned off, and the place was filled with young, beautiful people. After wandering aimlessly for a little while, Aunty Pat and Mum approached a security guard.

"We're looking for the craft show..." they tried to say.

"Come on in!" he exclaimed. "We need more people like you. Grey power! Sign up over here. There's a bit of a wait, but you're just what we're looking for. You'll really add some spice to the show."

Yes, my mother and her sister had stumbled upon auditions for "Big Brother 2007". (Obviously Network Ten had paid a high enough fee to oust the craft show from its regular spot.)

I can picture it now: "Attention housemates. This is Big Brother. This week, your task is to make greeting cards with the Barron sisters. Those of you who fail to glue your tinsel adequately shall enter the Punishment Room."

Who flung Blue?

My Mum and Dad, who retired to Perth in 1990, are over in Sydney for a brief visit, staying with my aunt in Malabar Heights. We had a big family reunion yesterday and, because Jack (my Jack Russell bundle of canine energy) was home all day while I was at the literary seminar, I checked with my aunt if it was okay to bring the dog with me.

Last time he was there, Jack was on his best behaviour, and really enjoyed playing ball in the backyard and hunting in the rockeries for blue-tongue lizards. This time, however, we both blotted our copybooks. Firstly, I put Jack's plastic bag of doggie accessories very close to a lighted oil burner and almost caused a fire. Then Jack coughed up excitedly - twice - on my aunt's carpet, and accosted my cousins' young children to steal their soccer ball. When my uncle opened a bottle of cold, sparkling red I'd brought, the wine fountained out along with the cork, covering no less than three of my uncles in sticky, blood-red stains. Then the dog went wacko (as in "Wacko Jacko"), desperately looking for the lizards he suddenly remembered sniffing out last time.

On what must have been our fifth visit out into the yard yesterday, when most of the smaller children had already gone home, Jack actually located a medium-sized blue-tongue. I saw Jack pounce, and before I could shout "Not for Jack!" (which usually causes him to "Drop!" the item he's just put in his mouth), I noticed him shaking his head violently, from side to side, ragging the poor lizard, just as he would his stuffed toy tiger at home. But then, just as suddenly, the lizard was gone. What a clever escape artist was that lizard!, I sighed in relief. The miracle of instinct and survival... The choice was "fight or flight" - and the lizard elected to flee.

By the time I reached Jack in my aunt's inaccessible, elevated rockery, he had realized he'd lost track of the lizard, and was now desperately poking his head into every gap, looking for it again. A human voice called up from the lower level of the yard. Whew! The lizard had been found and it seemed to be okay. Somehow the clever little thing had scuttled down onto level ground already, without Jack noticing.

I finally was able to retrieve Jack so he didn't reach the lizard before I got there. With Jack in my arms, still sniffing the air and struggling to keep searching out every nook and cranny, I clambored down. (Strange, I thought. The reptile was upside down, and presumably in shock, but it was still breathing. How did it get down here so fast, I wondered? And why did it flip itself over onto its back, exposing its more vulnerable side in time of still-present danger?) I returned the lizard to a secluded spot in the garden and Jack and I went inside, not sure if I should even admit to Jack's latest indiscretion to my aunt and uncle. Maybe we just wouldn't say anything, particularly after the oil burner, vomit (x2), wine and ball-stealing incidents.

Somehow, everyone already seemed to know what had happened. My Dad asked, "Jack found himself a bird in the garden, eh?"

"Ah, no, he was just hunting for blue-tongue lizards... He remembers he saw one last visit," I said, sheepishly.

"Oh, we all thought it was a bird," everyone said together. "It flew right past the window!"

Oh my. So that's why the dog's head-shaking action had ended so abruptly. Perhaps Jack can stay at home for the next family reunion.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

My Sassy friends


In November 1993, I was invited by Selwa Anthony, literary agent extraordinaire, to attend an all-day seminar and gala dinner for her little band of authors, and soon-to-be-published authors, at the Novatel Hotel in Brighton-le-Sands. It was called "Succeed Some More in '94" (and was a follow-up to a very successful dinner the previous year, "Succeed With Me in '93", named for a book she'd just written with Jimmy Thomson).

At the time, I was deep into my proposal-and-sample-chapters for a book on the social history of the Aussie soap opera, Number 96, and the wonderfully encouraging Selwa was going to agent it for me. While that project did the rounds of the publishers - twice - and gathered a lovely collection of encouraging rejection slips, it was eventually seemingly accepted by Allen & Uwin (for two weeks) in 1995, who then declined to offer a contract on it after all. Sigh.

So, rather than try to self-publish the thing instead, I launched the briefest of details as a website and started working on some other book ideas. Despite the fact that, so far, I haven't earned Selwa any percentages, she keeps inviting me back. Yesterday was "Succeed, it's Heaven in 2007".

Selwa has faith in me that I'll eventually get my act together and complete something both literate and commercial! I did get an article published in a "Starlog" magazine for Star Trek: The Next Generation (an interview with actor Leonard John Crofoot, who played Data's little gold android offspring). Mind you, I have incorporated a lot of skills learned at "Succeed with Me" seminars into my daily life, and it's paid off in so many other ways than just financial and literary ones. There has been advice I've used to tighten my book reviews for Scan, improve my mental health and feng shui, lose many kilograms, and how to use visual clues to tell when people are telling the truth. I've also been part of Selwa's unique brand of networking, helping out numerous other authors with their various writing projects. And I knew all the right answers when being interviewed for my editing position at Scan.

From November 1995, when Selwa added her annual Sassy Awards to the night's entertainment, it really added some glitz and glamour to the nighttime activities. Ten or so trophies are given out each year, to Selwa's most successful authors or editors. (Feeling a bit like the ultimate phony, as Selwa's longest-attending "author" who's never actually earnt her any $$$$, I even received a Sassy myself, in 2000, for my "Positive Attitude", from that year's Sassy presenter, Harry M Miller.) Last night, Toni Lamond was back, along with Maria Venuti (this year's Sassy presenter), Jeanne Little, science fantasy author Ian Irvine, Jennifer Green, Barb Angell, Tara Moss... And so many more.

The most amazing thing about this year's seminar was the first sentence uttered in the first presentation. Helen Hope, an astrologer who has written 2007's twelve "Daily Horoscope" guides for Hinkler Books, asked for a show of hands as to who were the Sagittarians. Had we noticed that we Sagittarians seemed to have lost some of our magic in recent years? We all nodded "Yes".

It seems that yesterday, 25th November 2006, marked the return of Jupiter into the sign of Sagittarius! Pluto has been in Sagittarius since 1995, coincidentally(?) the year my "Number 96" book was rejected. Now, thanks to Jupiter, "a big year" is coming my way: one that "may forever see as crucial". My ruling planet of Jupiter returning is cause for great celebration - and Pluto's exit from Sagittarius makes 2007 "crunch time". (Notice how it ties in to my news a few days ago that I'm back in the school library next year?) Thanks Helen!

Time to kick in my "Positive Attitude" again - and finally redeem myself and earn that Sassy!

Ah, well, back to the manuscript...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Star Trek: the Aussie connection

Today, on TrekBBS, someone asked why none of the Star Trek series or movies featured a ridgie didge Australian character.

Nella DarenwhiteLiam Bilby

However, the poster had forgotten Wendy Hughes (left), aka Lt Cmdr Nella Daren, love interest of Captain Picard in "Lessons" (Star Trek: The Next Generation), is Australian, albeit without a strong accent. Born in Melbourne, Ms Hughes speaks (in most of her many TV, stage and movie roles Down Under, such as Lucy Sutcliffe's niece, Vanessa Harrison, on Number 96) with very cultivated English pronunciations, similar to many Aussie actresses working in Australia in the 70s. So, anyway, there's at least one Australian Starfleet officer.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Liam Bilby ("Honor Among Thieves") is also played by an Australian, Nick Tate (right), previously of Space: 1999 fame - and Holiday Island infamy! Since Bilby and his family reside at the New Sydney Colony - and a bilby is an Australian marsupial - I assume his character is also supposed to be of Australian origin (despite his American accent).

Tate was also a shuttle pilot called Dirgo on TNG ("Final Mission"), but that character is an early Michael Westmore humanoid "forehead alien". Bilby in DS9, though, definitely pays homage to Nick's human Aussie roots.

These two actors are certainly not the only Aussies to have worked on Star Trek, but Dame Judith Anderson (as Vulcan High Priestess T'Lar on ST III) and ex-Neighbours' Alan Dale (as Romulan Praetor Hiren in "Nemesis") both appeared on the silver screen in pointed latex ears!

Onya guys!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Back to the books

As I mentioned here, I recently applied for a transfer - to my own school! - as the next teacher-librarian.

On Friday afternoon, I tried to ascertain just where in the continuum my application had progressed, but to no avail. Yesterday, my principal tried to find out the same information. While at first he had no news, later in the day he was contacted about what codes were required for the filling of the classroom teacher position I'd be relinquishing.

Today the confirmation came through: I've been appointed to the position of teacher-librarian. It's a four-day position, with the additional day per week being made up from our Priority Schools Programs (PSP) funding budget. This means that our school library can be made available to the school population five days per week, a similar strategy to the one I suggested at my first school (when I "fell" into the job as an untrained teacher-librarian, after I'd been doing the relief-from-face-to-face (RFF) teaching position the previous year).

So I start the new job in 2007. The last time I was in a school library, as the fully-trained T-L, was in 1997, before I was seconded to Scan as editor. A decade ago?

I shudder to think how much has changed. But I can't complain; my teaching colleagues are excited for me, and I'll be back in the unique teaching and learning niche that I find the most rewarding and exciting. Teaching is certainly a job that opens many doors and new challenges, often without even leaving the security of the Department of Education and Training.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Bluetooth, the whole Bluetooth and nothing but the Bluetooth

Ah, the wonders of modern tech. My mobile phone comes with Bluetooth, a supposedly wonderful wireless connection that enables my phone to share data without the cost of a phone call, and to communicate with others people's phones and even my computer. If only it was easy to do.

Actually, my phone has been able to pick up several friends' phones with Bluetooth - just not my friend's mobile of the same make and model as mine, which was bought on the same day, in the same shop! Anyway, I've since downloaded a batch of very nice high resolution photographs (that were way too large to send by email), but last week, after several head-scratching attempts to read the manual and learn how to make the phone talk to my iMac, I was able to Bluetooth my Big Brother 2006 House collection of pics to another friend's PC... and have them emailed across town to my computer! Phew!

See them, at last, here!

Anti ants!

You can tell New South Wales is still in drought! The ants are invading the house and making a point of investigating the dog's food bowl every day. Poor Jack always keeps a few morsels for later, but he gets very miffed when the ants swarm over even the tiniest stray piece left in the bottom of the bowl.

I thought I'd outwitted them by placing his food dish into a shallow pan of water. Jack was, at first, rather threatened by seeing his food as an island. But it didn't thwart the ants. Not one bit. They simply marched a few centimetres to the right and took up residence in his bowl of dry dog biscuits!

After several days of racing a swarming mass of insect life and Purina One Lamb & Rice out into the backyard, I decided to buy a much bigger tray - and now both food dishes are jammed against each other and surrounded by water, like some gourmet's bizarre archipeligo.

Jack's reaction to this? He drank the water.

Now I have to keep refilling the tray. I guess the next thing will be like in that awful jungle movie (was it 1977's Empire of the Ants with Joan Collins? Or was it 1954's The Naked Jungle?), where the tricky killer ants get across the river on floating leaves to devour the cast?

Captain's Log: Supplemental. Dammit! More ants! (Because Jack drank the moat again!)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

ST Magazine UK/Aust vs ST Magazine US

I've seen a few questions as to whether there are significant differences between the UK "Star Trek" magazine from Titan and the version that has now been made available to the US as a niche replacement for the US Official Fan Club's still-on-hiatus(?)/defunct "Star Trek Communicator".

I've always had a standing order for the US "Star Trek Communicator" from a local Australian comic collectibles shop, mainly because I've seen a lot of friends' mail-ordered subscription copies get badly damaged in the post. I've bought every issue since the small format, from the days leading up to ST IV, through its revamp for TNG, and until its final issue.

The Titan "Star Trek" magazine turns up in Australia on newsstands in the month following the UK release. It gets renumbered on the cover, following a relaunch of that magazine a few years ago, but I have tended to only pick up those issues with interesting articles.

The first US version of Titan's Star Trek (#1 SEPT/OCT) turned up at my comic collectibles shop (Kings Comics) last month so I put it on my standing order. The Australian version (#86 OCT/NOV; #128 UK) of the UK edition has only just hit Australian newsstands - the same week that US "Star Trek" #2 turned up on my standing order. Since I'd seen various inaccurate posts from people quoting page counts etc, and speculation about whether the wording of the US articles suffered any changes (none that I have noticed), I bought one so I could compare them satisfy myself that the content was identical.


Both versions have 98 pages. The main differences are size (the UK version is 2 centimetres taller and one centimetre wider, and has improved paper quality over the previous dull finish) and the placement, and sometimes wording, of the full-page glossy advertisements. The US magazine has a big "#1" in the Starfleet delta shield logo, while the UK mag reads "New look" instead. The one-sided pull-out poster, advertising the cover of Pocket Books' new "Ships of the Line" hardcover art book, is folded and stapled colour-side out for the US, but white-side out (and slightly larger) for the UK.

* Inside cover: "Lost" magazine ad (US version has different subscription details, of course, and a sample of alternate cover art)

* Inside back cover: US Diamond/Art Asylum's Kirk in command chair action figure vs UK "24" magazine

* Back cover: US "Star Trek: The Animated Series" on DVD vs UK "Stargate: SG1 & Atlantis" magazine.

Other differences in advertising pages:

* US 40th anniversary convention vs UK "Dreamwatch" magazine

* "Battlestar Galactica" magazine (different sub details)

* US "24" magazine vs UK "Star Wars" magazine

* US "Stargate SG1 & Atlantis" magazine vs UK Titan "Star Trek" reprint collections of the DC Comics ST line

* US "Dreamwatch" magazine vs UK "Buffy & Angel" magazine

* US Titan magazines & books vs UK "Charmed" magazine

* US "Angel featuring Buffy" magazine vs UK subscription information for "Star Trek" magazine

* US Titan "Star Trek" reprint collections of the DC Comics ST line vs UK US Titan magazines & books

* US two-page mail-in ST readers' survey vs UK two-page "Tower of Commerce" mail order catalogue of Star Trek products (Note: the US version uses a Klingon teddy bear from the UK catalogue as an illustration for its readers' survey)

* US subscription information for "Star Trek" magazine vs UK "Star Trek" magazine back issues

* US "Next issue (ie. #2): 24 Oct" vs UK "Next issue: 12 Oct". (Note: the UK ad boasts that the next UK version of the mag will contain "Free 'Voyager' supplement", including interviews with Robert Duncan McNeill and Rick Berman, plus Tim Earls' 'Voyager' designs.) I only have the US #2 edition so far, and it has only 66 pages. While there is some commentary from Berman on the casting of Janeway within the main text, it does appear that the "free" UK supplements are NOT going to be a regular part of the US magazine. This may be Titan UK's way of ensure that its regular UK and European readers aren't tempted to order in the US version of the magazine from distributors of American product when they place their comic orders.

I'll be interested to see how many extra pages will be in the Aussie version of the UK edition - and which version I decide to make my regular purchase.

Captain's Log: Supplemental
Cool! Paul Simpson, incoming editor on the Titan "Star Trek" magazines, addressed the above blog entry over on Psi Phi

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The circular transfer

It seems a bit weird, but yesterday I had to fill out an Application for Transfer form - but only giving a choice of one school - so that I can transfer back to my own school, as a teacher-librarian. These days, most of the transfer process is done by computer; they enter all the data and the computer spits out your new destination.

After my job as Scan editor finished up in July 2002, the Department of Education and Training had no vacancies for teacher-librarians in my nominated districts, so I ended up back in a classroom, first as a supernumerary and then as a permanent teacher. I really like this school and, as much as I've enjoyed teaching Year 1 and 2 students the last few years, there is lots to miss about being the gatekeeper of information in a school library. Our current teacher-librarian has announced her retirement, and so - if all goes well - I will be moving into that position.

I've always felt that teacher-librarianship was my niche, where I could do the most good for the students and my colleagues in education. I'm looking forward to my return. (But it's daunting after so long away from the OASIS computer network - and budgets, stocktakes, book fairs, lost library books, etc.)

My greatest fear: remembering to write the correct four-digit school code on my form. That's no time to make a typographical error, and finding myself posted somewhere else more, um, scenic. Or my circular transfer ending up in the circular file.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The truth about Efrosians

Pardon the geeky Trek trivia, but I've answered the Efrosian conundrum in many posts on TrekBBS, but they keep disappearing, so here's a more permanent version:


The makeup guys who worked on "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" called these orange-skinned aliens Efrosians, after Mel Efros, the Unit Production Manager of Paramount Pictures' movie.

The USS Saratoga's Efrosian, assuming he is typical of his race, had an orange complexion, long white hair, a Fu Man Chu-style moustache, and white irises (an effect produced by making the actor, Nick Ramos, wear white contact lenses). There was also at least one young, short haired, white-eyed Efrosian usher, wearing a United Federation of Planets badge on his uniform in the Earth-based. Although he's not visible onscreen, a FASA roleplaying manual of the time showed him to have white makeup (or tattoo?) streaks on his cheeks.

Now, of course, since most of this information didn't get conveyed that way onscreen, it is not what is known as "canonical". The novels, comics and new "Star Trek" series and movies are free to ignore the term "Efrosian", and some do. Novelizations are not canon. Vonda N McIntyre, the author of the ST IV novelization, was not aware of the new alien species term coined by the production because she hadn't seen the captions on the official stills. Being a term coined by the production, it perhaps carries as much canonical weight as the numerous alien species names coined by the costumer and makeup artist of ST: TMP.

The FASA role-playing people did see the caption, though, which is why they used the term in the licensed "ST IV Sourcebook Update", which is of equal canonical weight as the tie-in novelizations.

But a good alien design is worth revisiting. For the United Federation of Planets' President in "ST VI: The Undiscovered Country", the actor Kurtwood Smith (of "That 70s Show" fame) was given the familiar white mane and orange skin colouring of the ST IV Efrosian, plus solid blue-irised contacts. Since his pince-nez glasses have very dark lenses, as featured in one scene, we may assume that Efrosians see different light frequencies than most humanoids. Indeed, the text commentary on the ST VI DVD explains that the UFP President was originally intended to be blind.


Perhaps Efrosians are blind under our "normal" conditions, but can see better than us in ultraviolet or infrared situations. That would also explain the Saratoga's dark lighting on the bridge (in ST IV). Maybe the lighting wasn't just due to the invading Probe; it was already shifted to the red end of the spectrum to assist their helmsman to see?

Not everyone calls them Efrosians, though. In Decipher's "Aliens" sourcebook, that supports their "Star Trek" roleplaying game, the ST VI UFP President's photograph represents the Atreonids of Atreos IV. Before that, JM Dillard, in her novelization of ST VI, assumes that Federation President Ra-ghoratrei was a Deltan, no doubt due to a previous reference (in the ST IV novelization): that Deltan males actually had hair, so she simply followed the Vonda N McIntyre naming conventions for Deltans!

The more recent Efrosian names in ST novels, such as Ra Mhvlovi ("In the Name of Honor"), Hu'Ghovlatrei ("SCE: Home Fires") and Ra-Yalix ("Articles of the Federation") do sound similar to the exotic full Deltan names of Jedda Adzhin-Dall and Zinaida Chitirih-Ra-Payjh (in McInytre's novelization of "ST II: The Wrath of Khan").

The ST II Indian-sounding names were probably a salute to planet Delta IV's Ilia (and Bombay actress, the late Persis Khambatta) of "Star Trek: The Motion Picture". From what we saw of Deltans in TMP (and some extras dressed in TMP Deltan robes and headdresses in ST IV), and from what we were told in the media releases of the day, all Deltans are hairless, except for eyebrows and eyelashes. For those who've not read the ST II novelization, Zinaida was an original-to-the-novelization bald female partner of Genesis Project scientist, Jedda. The ST II script actually refers to Jedda being a Deltan - even though actor John Vargas wasn't required to shave his head. (We know that director Nicholas Meyer was trying to avoid all comparisons to TMP; by the time of "The Next Generation", the empathic Deltans had morphed into Betazoids.)

Above: Deltans, Ilia (ST:TMP) and Jedda (ST II), and the Betazoid, Deanna Troi (ST:TNG).

Their other two "partners" of Jedda and Zinaida are introduced and named in McIntyre's ST IV as: female Verai Dva-Payjh and male Kirim Dreii-Dall, who is described as having fine, rose-coloured hair down to his knees. Ah! The male Deltan with hair I mentioned earlier!

Note that McIntyre does add a Deltan science officer to the bridge of USS Saratoga, Chitirih-Ra-Dreii, in her ST IV novelization. While not in the same console position as the canonical/onscreen, white-haired, white-eyed Efrosian helmsman, McIntyre would have been working from the script only, and a few random stills of characters. I guess JM Dillard, when researching for ST VI, assumed that this guy, in the ST IV novelization, was meant to be the same race of alien. Thus, for a string of novels featuring cameos by President Ra-ghoratrei, he became a male, hairy Deltan - bumpy forehead notwithstanding. And I guess one can use it as an attempt to rationalize Jedda having a mop of onscreen hair for the ST II movie.

The recent novel "Titan: Taking Wing", the first of a new novel series, reaches a great compromise. Its Efrosian engineer, Doctor Xin Ra-Havreii, is said to be from... Efros Delta!

There was a Memory Alpha history/discussion recently where someone actually rang Mel Efros, former ST IV Unit Production Manager, to confirm the story about the race being named after him. At first Mel denied it, because he really had no idea. Then he mentioned the phone call to his son, who made Mel ring the guy back a few days later. They confirmed that yes, official Paramount publicity photos of the alien Saratoga helmsman had been captioned "Efrosian" by Kirk Thatcher, IIRC (who also played the punk on the bus and wrote the "I Hate You" song). The alien race was named as a salute to Mel Efros. But noone thought to mention it to him.

By the way, just for fun, the President's Efrosian consort was seen fleetingly in the trailers for ST VI - in a brief, cut scene from the final print of the movie:


Efrosian 2

Can you tell I'm procrastinating? :)

Shop till I drop

You know, I'd often heard about these wacky "shopping trips" - whereby a busload of shoppers are toured around a variety of factory outlet stores one Saturday before Christmas - but I never dreamed I'd ever be on one.

What a hoot. I was saved from being the token male because one woman brought along her husband - and the coach drive was also male - but the rest of the gang were female work colleagues, former work colleagues, and many of their friends and relatives, all armed with huge shopping bags and a purse full of credit cards. most were very experienced. a few had been joining this annual event for at least fifteen years.

The idea, I guess, was to raise funds (through commissions for dollars spent, and raffled prizes) but it was also an great excuse to bond with work colleagues, find some great bargains, enjoy a nice lunch, and have many laughs.

I am also thrilled with my purchases: some large Egyptian cotton bath towels, a glass wine decanter, an electric knife, cool new sneakers, a huge bag of assorted chocolates (based on the results of numerous free taste tests), a Homer Simpson Christmas decoration, an hilarious Batman Christmas stocking, and something I've been searching for, for about eighteen months: the elusive Julian MacMahon "Doctor Doom" action figure from "The Fantastic Four" motion picture! (What is more, he was only $8.95.)

Explaining my excitement for some of these unique finds was... interesting. I've already hung up the Batman stocking in case Santa visits early. Merry Christmas and my bats regards.


Thursday, November 02, 2006


Okay, I started to realise I wasn't going to get a clear run at writing a slab of my NaNoWriMo novel on my computer on the very first day of the project, but I did find time to hide away in a corner with a lecture pad and scrawl numerous pages in longhand. I haven't typed it up yet, so I'm not sure if I made my first daily target.

Then an email from Chris Baty, Director of National Novel Writing Month, arrived. He said, "... you should be writing 1667 words per day. In Week One, try to get 2000 or 2500 a day, and beg, borrow, and steal as much of the first weekend as possible to write."

Oh dear. And there's only 56 minutes left of Day 2... Make that 55. Ah, 49?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The counter starts...

NaNoWriMo, the (Inter)National Novel Writing Month, starts today. I was having a wonderful dream, which featured the beeping of a mobile phone, only to awake at about 5.45 am to the sound of my mobile phone telling me the battery needed recharging. Hey, thanks phone!

So, I'm actually up early enough to write.

Here I am, just catching up with emails, the "Star Trek" bulletin boards, reading a few friends' blogs, having breakfast, making lunch for taking to work, a little "Puppy Milk" for the dog, feeding the birds, getting a coffee, time for a shower...

Mmmm. Procrastination is alive and well.

I also need to polish some late book reviews and post them off (reviews by email; the actual books by post) and type up the report on my current student teacher.

Now I have to write the start of my novel when I get home from work (and then after the staff dinner). Oh dear. Good start, eh?