Lex Petros: May 2009

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Surreal Morning

As I entered the lift at my condo this morning, I can't help but to listen to the conversation which took place between a little girl and her parents. The young lass, not more than 5 years old was pouting and whining. Then I heard the mother say:

"Girl, you must not stress yourself. We all go chill and relax okay? You can do your HOMEWORK when we come back"

I couldn't help it but look back at the young one. She was distraught la!

I thought the mother being a mother was merely trying to coax bambino into going to a family outing.

Then the father said :

"Don't worry la... you can do your homework later. Your teacher won't scold wan. It's only a Saturday?

OMG! This is a mirror universe. Parents telling a child NOT TO BE STRESSED? And a kid upset at not being able to do her homework??!?!?!?

It was hilarious though. I could not hold in longer. The moment the lift door opened, I dashed out and struggle to keep the guffaws in. I couldn't believe my ears!

I entered the Twilight Zone this morning!

Playmates USS Enterprise NCC 1701 Review

It finally arrived. After several weeks of placing my order, I got my hands on the long awaited Playmates USS Enterprise NCC 1701 starship (from the new Star Trek movie). It's about 13" long, with lights and sounds taken from the movie. The new toy features pre-recorded phrases from the movie and amongst others, include "arm phasers, fire everything we got" and "manoeuvring thrusters Mr. Sulu". There are about 4 movie phrases and 1 effect sequence at the touch of the bridge activation button situated at top of the saucer module.

The Enterprise features a light-up saucer array and warp engines. Surprisingly, the rear impulse engines light up too, which is a usual feature of Art Asylum (now known as Diamond Select Toys) products. Not only that, the lighting sequence is actually electronically controlled and will execute in tune with the pre-recorded movie phrases. Unfortunately, unlike Art Asylum's starships, you can't cycle through all the phrases and effects by pushing longer on the activation button. Playing with it, I found out that the activation button sticks. This is consistent with other reviews given by fellow Trekkers in forums. Playmates, you should really have a chat with your QC department.

I was amused by the sequence that goes "Captain, engineering reports ready for launch" where the warp nacelles are charged and followed by a 'warp boom' with the impulse engines coming on. I though to myself, shouldn't the impulse engines be at station keep when warp engines come online instead of the other way round? The markings on the starship is visible enough. I can see the registry number on the saucer and stardrive sections. They are also painted on the warp nacelles. There is also a delta shield with two lines tapering down on the side of the star drive section, typical of any Starfleet vessel.

I expected more from Playmates. There are no port and starboard flashing lights like the Art Asylum predecessor. That brought realism to the collectible. The saucer module features a lit-up bridge dome and lower dome. Lightning seems to be spilling through the plastic hull, unlike Art Asylum's stuff. The battery compartments...and I add an "s" is literally so. For reasons unknown to me, there are 2 battery compartments, one in the saucer section (bottom) where it nestles 1 AAA size alkaline battery and the other is in the stardrive section where it nestles 2 AAA size alkaline batteries. Oh...batteries are NOT included, unlike the AA counterparts, yet another minus point.

The Bussard scoops on the warp nacelles in my view, could have used more detail. Albeit ,it does have a nice blue glow in the dark. On the silver screen, I noticed that the collectors have a rotating internal scoop. They could have achieved this effect by incorporating rotating LEDs or pulsating ones, just like what Art Asylum did. It wouldn't have been too much to ask for little bit more detail since this thing retails for USD34.99.

To display, this scaled rendition of the legendary starship is mounted on a ball-joint which supposedly allows 360 degree rotation. But I don't think the ship can remain balanced if it's not aligned with the delta shield stand on which the weight of the starship is supported. Plastic looks a little bit flimsy, so I'm exercising care when mounting and dismounting the starship from its base. I don't want to wear-off the ball-joint so quickly.

The structure is injection-moulded plastic and the quality is somewhat mediocre compared with the older Playmates Star Trek star ships, such as the original USS Enterprise, which I've had siting on my display shelf for almost 12 years now. The finishing is so-so. A little too "clean" for a starship. The Art Asylum versions are complete with hull-plating effects and details. This version is somewhere half-way between a toy for a kid and a collectible for true Trek fans. I had hoped that Playmates would come out with something astounding as what the producers and director did with the movie.

The silver lining : at least I can add another one to the rest of my starship collection.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Summer Blockbusters Not So Blockbuster-ish After All

Summer blockbusters are always eagerly anticipated by the movie buffs and the studios which produces them. The former can't wait to see what's in store on the silver screen and the latter can't wait to see how much the weekend openings will gross. Whether it's on 3-D, WIMAX or any other format of presentation, the question which always beckons is whether the movie will be a blast.

As you would know from my previous postings, the "opening ceremony" for me this year is Star Trek. Previously, I have been to all the Trek movies. None of them will surpass the euphoria for this one. The story was good and the elements in the movie was perfect. The reboot of the entire franchise was for me, an ingenious way of ensuring its continuity for posterity and Trekkers like me. It was clever to reset the whole timeline in the Trek universe. A clean slate to start off with. An escape clause, if I may.

Then came the silver screen rendition of Dan Brown's Angels and Demons. Naturally, as I was on the roll, I had to watch it, in anticipation that the entertainment value would closely linger behind the Da Vincci Code. To my dismay, the plot, although supposedly getting thicker, didn't quit cut it for me. It was like watching a modern day Sherlock Holmes mystery relegated against a backdrop of the conflict between the clergy and science. Nothing really fresh. Reading christian literature on the subject, one can find more intrigue. The 'god particle' controversy did not appeal to me all that much at all. In fact, I thought it was a suttle means of convincing the masses that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a machine of 27 miles in circumference would safely smash atoms at near the speed of light without any dire consequences on planet Earth.

So, a change of taste into Marvel comic characters would do the trick? A resounding NO. X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a forgone conclusion. We all know that Logan will remain alive at the end of the movie. We all know that he's skeleton was infused with adamantium. A man conflicted by his carnal instincts and his will to remain 'human'. A depiction of a constant struggle of a man whose neither here nor there. It's all been played out before in comics and other literature. It's akinned to retelling a story with CGI and SfX. Nothing novel about this rendition of the animal-in-a-man epic. Why don't they make a movie on Charles Xavier (Professor X) or even Erik Magnus Lehnsherr (Magneto)? But of course, violence and action sells more, doesn't it?

Terminator Salvation was next on my list. There was more entertainment value than the preceeding two movies I mentioned, but the again, we all know that Judgment Day was inevitable and John Connor would rise to lead the resistance against Skynet with an outcome unknown till now. The battle rages on. It was the same story told on a another vantage point. We all know he sent his future father, Kyle Reese into the past to protect his Sarah Connor, his mother and the salvation of the human race depended on the events that have past and events to be. A temporal paradox where one cannot exist without the other. Something which would compliment a Star Trek episode very well. Why do they have to unravel the same conclusion over and over again. The machines and humans will remain at war which is seemingly far from any resolve.

Well, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is playing in June. As the title suggests and what more the give away in their latest trailers... Megatron can't die. It's ludricous that the arch nemesis of the Autobots remain "inoperative". I'm keeping my fingers crossed. If this one doesn't do it for me, I'm minded to avoid going to the silver screens for a while...

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

MYMP - Absolute Acoustic

Check out this album.
It's just one voice and one guitar.
Very soothing especially during those traffic hours.
The album retails for RM49.90 in a two-disc cover.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Car accidents are really a pain. On a fateful Friday night last month, I was unfortunate enough to "get acquainted" with a Ford Escape. Driven by some drunk bai fella. Doctor some more. I was on my way home on Jalan Ma'arof on the left lane when Dr. decided that the road belonged to him. Flicked right into my left on right and right into the left side of the road. What to do? At that distance I might as well have not applied the brakes. Post-collision practice dictates that both drivers confront each other. The driver, obvious by his stagger that he had one too many, alighted. I could smell the alcohol a mile away. The following conversation ensued:-

Me: Hello? Friend. Where's your signal?
Driver: Aie.. put my signal. You din see yawr problem.
Me: You were on the right lane. You just swerved into the left. Have you been drinking?
Driver: Er...Nawt reallly.
Me: So, is it more to the "nawt" or the "really"?

Cut the story short, we exchanged particulars and got on our way. Da fella didn't admit to anything and making out case against him would have been futile. Belakang mari into a bai isn't what I had in mind in light of the weekend. On hindsight, I should've taken out my camera phone to record the conversation...the man can hardly articulate his words!! Well, that's history now.

You know how miraculously how fast the tow truck fellas arrived? Well, one did just minutes after the incident. I called my friend, Gerard Anthony. He came with Vincent, another friend of mine. Some call agent named Vijay attended to me. It was late and I was tired. Decided to let them take care of the matter and was advised to make the report the next day, save as the 24-hour period had not expired.

Well, car's back after nearly 7 weeks. Took too long for the workshop people to work on it. The call agent that attended to me was suddenly bereaved. It took 2 weeks for anyone to attend to the claim with my insurers. Now you're asking, "why didn't you make a case with the other driver since it was his fault?" Well, I had no witnesses and by the time we made the report the next day, all traces of alcohol in his body would have long since dissipated.

The adventure does not stop there. After I got my car, the alternator went bust. Francis had taken me to retrieve the car. The idiots, having known that the car would be sitting for weeks did not detach the battery terminals. So, the battery was almost gone to. When they purportedly charged up my battery, they told me the alternator was giving way. Francis noticed how they tried to show that by removing one of the terminals when the car was still running. THIS IS A NO NO> doing so will cause the voltage to spike and potentially leading to the diode in the alternator to overload and consequently, burn out.

To makes matters worse, my car stalled on the LDP AT the bloody toll plaza. So embarrassing. Caused a jam like a mile long. Am I so lucky to have Francis who swung around to exchange batteries with me. That affair lasted about 40 minutes. And mind you, we were doing this in the searing heat!! Once the battery was in I had but 20 minutes of drive time left, so I promptly drove the car to my workshop.

The events which transpired during the next 2 days were even better!

After rectifying the electrics, I lost cooling in the air conditioning. Went back to my workshop again and discovered that the magnetic clutch plate of the compressor had lost its screw. Had a screw replacement.

Never mind....the next problem on route back from the office...the car just jerks whenever I accelerate. Thought it was the drivetrain or the injectors. Francis took it for a ride last nite and notice the jerks too.

Today, on route to Court, the bloody thing lost cooling again and this time a very distinct sound of something coming off in the engine bay. Very metallic. Figured the screw went flying off again. But lo and behold. This time, the magnetic clutch plate was missing altogether! So, what to do? Brought it in again for a check- up. The replacement screw had broken inside the compressor. That's it!!! Compressor's gone. So, have to drive with the windows open. In the current heat wave, that's really something to be reckoned with. But, the silver lining was that the foreman discovered the cause of the jerks...a filthy throttle body. He purged the thing with petrol and she launches like a stallion again...thank God for that.

So, next thing to do on my to-do-list: get compressor replaced.

Can't wait to see what's coming next..NOT!


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Constitution Class

As an ardent Trekker, I still am fond of the Constitution class starship. Born in the 1960s, the design parameters, even going through a refit has not lost its character. It was made to traverse into the unknows with a fulsome compliment of crew and equipment.

The redesigned USS Enterprise NCC-1701 (2255) (3rd ship from top) can't be said to have departed from its previous permutations. Compared to the pilot version (2254-2264) and the largely identical original Constitution class starship in The Original Series (TOS) (2264-2268) the change are substantial (1st ship on top). One stark similarity is the saucer section compared to the Refit version NCC-1701 (2271) and NCC-1701-A (2nd ship from top). Constitution Class heavy cruiser with a maximum warp capacity of factor 6.

The saucer section follows suit with its predecessor, the Refit version on screen. The stardrive section on the other hand boast twin, augmented nacelles with spinning Bussard collectors, slightly balooned front, a huge collector and tapering down toward the aft section with a brightly lit tip. But still, I miss the surreal blue glow emanating from the side of the nacelles like in the TNG series. Gives the ship somewhat a livelier persona.

But I do like what they did with the navigational deflector which on screen, seemingly deploys or wides out as the vessels transitions into warp, suggesting that the unit is energizing and expanding to discharge a deflector field wide enogugh to 'sweep' space dust and meteorites away from the path of travel. A fellow trekker of mine, Kenny Gordvyn pointed this out to me. To my amazement, his talent for spotting details have not faltered over time. He mentioned also the nacelles aft tips do moves as if an afterburner on a ramjet.

For me perhaps, the only feature of the new ship that doesn't augur well with me is the straightened out pylons supporting the nacelles, just like the TOS version . I've always thought tthat he swept-back design of the pylons made the ship looked like an arrow coiled against bow, just waiting for the archer to release the tension. I suppose for me, it gave the ship a more dynamic and forward-moving look. But then again, the purpose of this movie is to potray a break in continuity from the franchise as we've known it to be.

The pictures above are no doubt taken of the Playmates toy, by reason yours trully have not found many good screen shots of the ship yet. Further, I thought the long exposure in those pictures are a good way of highlighting the new features of the ship.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

To all mothers

Create Your Own

To all mothers and mothers to be. We owe you our lives, our ways and our success. You have taught us to be who we are and how we should treat others. You stood by us in our worst of times and the best of times. You will always be our universe. We love you mum. Live long and prosper.

I have been Trekked!!!

Create Your Own


Friday, May 08, 2009

"Ensign...ahead full..."

He he...Someone actually got me at the special screening of Star Trek on Tuesday nite. I was posing on the Captain's chair for a free poster and some ST goodies.
Fun fun fun!!
(click on the picture to go to the link)

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Star Trek Movie

A complete re-boot of the Star Trek franchise.

I caught Star Trek on Tuesday night and that was the conclusion. It was a breath of fresh air, an entire saga re-written on a new temporal platform and done so ingeniously like no other! AWESOME movie! Kudos to JJ Abrams. His direction was simply magnificent. When the movie startted, I JUST LOST CONTAINMENT! Was totally blown away by the immense cinematography in just the first few minutes! Like really!!!!

An ENTIRE new genre of Star Trek story-telling, an ENTIRE new USS Enterprise NCC 1701 (she is beauuuuttiiiffull, with her glistening duranium hull and her two sleek warp nacelles, nestled be her gently position pylons and her ever glowing deflector dish is just something else), an ENTIRE new cast line-up and an ENTIRE new dramatism to the whole movie was more than an ardent fan like me can ever asked to be beamed aboard!!

The casting was perfect. They redefined the parameters, but still maitained the character personalities of age-old. Nothing much really has changed cept for the new faces. You will see Uhura like you've never seen her before.

I was just totally immersed into Kirk and Spock dichotomy. Chris Pine was a spot on choice for James T. Kirk, but I personally feel Zachary Quinto played Spock like no one else can, 'cept legendary Leonard Nimoy, who reprises his role as ...well...Spock in this 11th installment in the Paramount Studios, Spyglass Entertainment and Bad Robot production.

Albeit, Spock's human attributes were more prominent in this movie than ever before...and the overplayed Spock-Uhura (Zoe Zaldana) romance was just one more suprise to the myriad range set out in this pre-quel. I cannot think of a better way to start of the beginning of the future (gravitas of the tag-line) than to have a hybrid-human romance chapter...and don't talk about Kirk and his many romantic exploits. There's Simon Pegg who portrayed Scotty (chief engineer) as it was meant to be and John Cho played a perfect Hikaru Sulu (helmsman).

An explosive beginning to a whole new line in the franchise. I wouldn't have imagined something like this.

Trekker or not, it's a movie of blockbuster quality (and probably already is), enough to keep your inertial dampers to maximum.

Space, the final frontier. These are the NEW voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Her ongoing explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisations, to BOLDY go where no one has GONE before.

Live long and peace be with you.

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