Author Archives: Les Bessant

September 2014 Round-up

September seems to be slinking off into the distance, so it must be time for this..

Weight

More random fluctuation this month…

September 1: 214.5 pounds (15 stone 4.5 pounds, 97.3 kg)
September 30: 217.6 pounds (15 stone 7.6 pounds, 98.7 kg)

That’s an annoyingly large rise of 3.1 pounds (1.4kg), and as happened last month, the start weight was unusually low, and today’s might just be a blip.[1]

Eating

I’ve been mostly well-behaved this month. Lunch has mostly been a single sarnie from the shop over the road from the office.

Exercise

I’ve managed a few weekend walks, but not much else.

Posting

This exciting report brings the monthly total to 46, which is probably about enough

Stuff

Not a lot of stuff this month.

[1] Hence my theory about the scale having malicious motives

Star Trek: The Original Series Complete Blu-ray set

I have, of course, bought this before in DVD format, which on digging through the Losing it archives, I was mildly surprised to learn was ten years ago. A couple of years after that, I did some muttering about the plans to remaster classic Trek and upgrade the effects. So when the Blu-ray sets initially came out, I wasn’t in any hurry to buy them. Well, I’d have to check the dates[1], but it’s quite possible that the initial release came before I actually had a Blur-ray player, which would account for at least part of my lack of urgency.

But a few months ago, I began to consider the possibility of getting the set. Well, that was until I looked at the prices. Now it’s usual for box sets to be priced quite high when they’re first released, but this usually falls quite a bit afterwards. But looking around showed prices of £60 or more for one or more of the three seasons. That struck me as more than I wanted to pay, so I  didn’t do that. Then I spotted this on Amazon – all three seasons for a not unreasonable £80 including delivery. So I ordered it. And then noticed that it was coming from Australia  :eek:

It’s not the distance or delay that’s the issue – it’s the usual thing of buying from outside the EU. I was expecting to get a customs bill of £mumble + VAT, which would have made the set less of a bargain. But it seems the customs guys must have been having a “be nice” day, and I got my parcel in a quite reasonable time without extra charge. Your experience may vary, of course…

So, what do we have here? Well, all the episodes of the original series which can be watched either in “just nicely remastered” form or “nicely remastered with enhanced effects” form. And that’s the key – if they’d only issued the enhanced version, I’d still be muttering about messing around with classic material, and so on. But as you have the option of ignoring and never ever ever seeing the improved versions, there really isn’t anything to object to.

So yeah, I watched the improved versions. Apparently with appropriate pressing of remote control buttons you can toggle between old and new effects, but I didn’t bother with that. The new effects were overseen by people who’ve worked on various Star Trek shows, and were done in an interesting way. New effects could only be inserted where there was an existing shot – no extensions, no extra scenes, no Kirk shot firsts, oh, sorry, that’s something else, isn’t it? Anyway, what’s generally been done is replace models with high-def CGI ships, make phasers look better, make planets look more planet-y, and well, generally make it all look nicely shiny and more detailed. The original series tended to reuse the same shots of the Enterprise (filming was expensive, so if you had a perfectly good progress shot, you’d keep using it), so here they’ve taken the opportunity to show the ship from more angles and in much more detail.

Special features are largely recycled from the DVDs – no bad thing, as some of the interview subjects are no longer with us. Additional material includes some “Starfleet Access Episodes” on the first two seasons – these show the episode with an in picture video commentary from Mike Okuda and others, where they talk about the new effects and how they decided what to enhance. It would have been nice to have more of these, but never mind.

That all-time favourite episode The Trouble With Tribbles gets special treatment, given a disk of its own which includes the Starfleet access stuff, an audio commentary from writer David Gerrold, plus its sequel from the animated series  More Tibbles, More Troubles, the gloriously silly Deep Space Nine cross-over episode Trials and Tribble-ations, and two documentaries.

And on the final disk of the third season, you’ll find the original pilot episode (the one with a completely different cast apart from Leonard Nimoy), presented in suitably remastered form, and also in an archive 1986 version where it’s introduced by the Great Bird of the Galaxy himself, Gene Roddenberry. At the time, large parts were in black and white, and quite apart from Gene’s interesting intro, it’s worth seeing if only to remind yourself how far restoration and remastering has come.

The set is well worth watching, especially if you haven’t seen the original series in a while. Or if you’ve somehow never seen it. But I’d watch for a good price…

[1] Which I may get round to one day

Toy Confidential – Aled Lewis

I was alerted to this lovely bit of silliness by a selection of its contents on one of those sites that publishes lots of other people’s work with minimal credit. Fortunately, another such site did lead me to the actual source site Toy Confidential. Well, most of the actual stuff can be found on the Facebook page, which you need to look at now[1].

So what’s it all about? Well, Aled Lewis, a London-based designer type person, takes small toys, positions them in more or less silly ways and produces this lovely little images with added captions, many of which are based on geeky and general popular culture references. Others are just nicely silly.

I was so impressed that I ordered the book almost immediately[2]

You can see a small selection here. The book is nicely presented, with each picture on a separate page with a title on the back – and the pages are perforated so you could tear them out and cover a moderate area of wall with them should you be so inclined.

But whatever you do with the pages, you should at least enjoy them. Good silly fun.

[1] This may be the first time I’ve ever said that about anything on Facebook…
[2] See? I can find tuits sometimes!

Weight and Stuff Report – 27 September 2014

Weight: 215.9 pounds (15 stone 5.9 pounds, 97.9 kg)
Steps taken: 8,530

Down a bit today, but not by enough to be of interest.

I went to Tynemouth Priory this afternoon – I hadn’t been for a while, and it’s always a good place to wander around with a camera, which is what I did. Photos of ruins and stones will follow, but for now, here’s a container ship leaving the Tyne, closely guided by the pilot boat:

Heading Out

Heading Out

Camera: X-T1
Aperture: ƒ/5.6
Shutter speed: 1/250s
Focal length: 93.2mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 27 September, 2014

And despite not being even slightly sharp, I like this one of a young gull:

Rapid approach

Rapid approach

Camera: X-T1
Aperture: ƒ/5.6
Shutter speed: 1/160s
Focal length: 122.6mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 27 September, 2014

More to come…