Lex Petros: November 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Leslie Nielsen (1926-2010)

I remember the man in Airplane (1980) as the hapless, bumbling doctor slapping a delirious passenger about to calm her down. Then there's the Naked Gun (1988), Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear (1991) and Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994). Detective Frank Drebin, the slapstick humor and the satire.

A part of me phased out when I learnt of the legend's death.

I suggested to one of my buddies that the most appropriate way (if we so wished) to commemorate his contribution to comedy and entertainment is to have a Leslie Nielsen marathon. Airplane would be a good choice seeing that was Nielsen's first comedy. The outlandish spoof 2001: A Space Travesty (2001) would be a good seconder, followed by the Naked Gun trilogy. A good laugh out loud session I reckon

Leslie Nielsen, God bless his soul. He brought us lots of comedy and kept us in stitches. He is irreplaceable.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Books or eBooks

Another milestone in the media world has started to replace traditional book reading. Go to a local Starbucks or just stroll though a mall and you'd bound to see some tech-avid reader nestling an iPad or a Kindle or whatever digital reader or multimedia devices pervading the consumers' world these days.

Textviewers is just another name for a book replacement. I really cannot fathom the sense in spending close to $200=$400 (RM800 to RM1200) for a device to enjoy one of the most basic pleasures in life, reading! Granted, eBooks go for anywhere between $1.99 to $10.99 or more, depending on the product. You can even "bookmark" the pages and write notes on the marginal notes or whatever configuration is designed, but for me, nothing surpasses the tactile feel to wood pulp and the smell of ink on good ol' flippable books.

Try bring your Kindle or Iriver near a pool or into your bath.

Reading in the dark? Backlights and LEDs a good way to do it? Or simply just nesting in a cozy corner in your room with your book, a cup of your favourite beverage and a book. One which you can choose to fall asleep to and NOT risk cracking the LCD screen.

Reading just goes beyond text. It's the feel of the pages as you flip them forward or back and the satisfaction of occupying your self space with rows of paperbacks and hardcovers. You know the illustrations and print on the covers can be a collector's item? Not to mention to presence of colour, form and characters to draw perspective from which the contents derive it's substance from.

Not Eco-friendly to print books? Well, don't drive to work and stop using electricity then. Being immensely naive and altruistic about eco-conservation certainly will not spell the demise of books.

I doubt I'll be prepared to switch over to a textviewer device in the near future. As it is, the job requires my attention to a computer screen almost half the day. I would rather read from paper after a long and tiring day. Besides, I am still entitled to $265 (RM1,000) tax relief for book purchases. I don't think the Malaysian IRB recognize eBooks as a tax relief item in the meantime.

For these simple reasons, I don't believe that Borders or MPH will phase out anytime soon.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Rittenhouse Star Trek 2009 Movie Costume Cards

Over the years embarking on collecting Trek merchandise and collectibles, little is done about actually owning a part of movie history until now. I've always been a great fan of William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. Now, I have a piece of costume by Spock and an autographed photo of Bill Shatner is being dispatched to me as I blog. Of course, that would probably be in the next few postings in which the rest of the captains' autographs will be subject of discussion.

Back to the issue at hand...I ordered almost a dozen costume cards, made by Rittenhouse Archives. They come layered in gloss-coated cards which houses the vaunted fabric...those worn by the very people who portrayed the legendary crew of the USS Enterprise.

These fantastic non-sporting cards are affordable now and most can be found on eBay. If not for the sentimental value, they'd make a great investment. In years to come, I'd probably be able to ask for 2-3 times the value, possibly more on the rarer ones.

But I noticed prices going up. Released end 2009, they were between USD15-20, but now easily goes for USD25 and above, depending on which cast member or character. They're the next best thing to autographs, which incidentally Rittenhouse carries also. Naturally, they come at a premium now and are scarce. I would however, love to come into possession of a JJ Abrams autograph. The man behind the alternate reality in Trekkers' lives.

The other reason for expanding into these collectibles is the uniform material pattern. Trekkers have always known and been sharing that they're tiny delta shields in a repeated motive. If I so wish, I could do some more research to acquire the correct uniform replica to be added to my personal collection. Having these costume cards now gives me the perfect excuse.

Last I read, all cast members of ST09 has signed up for ST XII (2012) and JJ Abrams has been very very tight-lip about the whole thing. No one knows for sure the plot that awaits intrepid Trekkers worldwide, but I suspect that the sequel to the alternate reality franchise will not be a let down. The suspense kills me everyday with speculations flaring in my mind. But as one great captain once said...all things have their place in time.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Skyline (2010)

I am partial to alien invasion flicks even if they were alleged ripoffs from successful predecessors. In Skyline, a Brothers Strausse winter release, an alien invasion (with no attempt to test audience's guessing) nothing so original as War of the Worlds (the original one) or Independence Day (1994) (ID4).
The visitors' modus operandi? An irresistible light which burns your veins and draws you helplessly into the tractor beams of mammoth mother ships, harvesting homo sapiens to extract their brain (stem included), presumably as a source of energy, nourishment. My theory: neural energy amplified, explaining the apparent regenerative abilities of a mother ship having been taken down by a deployed nuclear bomb.
The airborne jellyfish-like extractors reminds of the drones in the Matrix trilogy, tentacles trailing and the behemoths roaming the grounds bears a striking resemblance to the ghostly aliens appearing in Final Fantasy.

The aliens' hostile intentions? Harvest all human life, much like the theory which unfolded in M. Night Shyamalan's (not so box office material) Signs. The harvesting mother ships look like an inverted version of Nero's dreadnought, Narada in Star Trek 2009 and particle weapons in the likes of the alien fighter crafts in ID4.
I actually enjoyed the movie despite it's blatant similarities with so many alien invasion movies. I can only try to justify the liking as a result of a long-time affair with science fiction, but this movie is no "sleeper" like District 9 (2009).

If one is critical, a DVD review would suffice if parting with money offends the economies of scale in entertainment enjoyment.

I'd give this a 5.0 out of a possible 10.


Saturday, November 20, 2010


Click on the poster for the official website
Based on true events, this 1 hr 40 mins flick relives the tale of a 28-year train engineer on the brink of retirement, Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington) and newly paired with Will Colson (Chris Pine), a train conduct fresh out of training and trying to win back his wife on an ordinary route hauling cargo in Pennsylvania whose day turns out to be a test of heroism and valor.
Locomotive no. 777 whose engineer fails to implement air brake connections during a routine taxi results in a coaster-turned-runaway train which takes the 39-car load ploughing through the main line to Stanton, a town housing hundreds of thousands in what experts predicted a 25 to 40 mile event radius. The unmanned half-a-mile long behemoth and notching 70-80 mph had in its compliment, cars of toxic chemicals which would certainly wreck havoc of unimaginable proportions.

Colson and Barnes were the town's last hope of avoiding certain catastrophe after a daring attempt involving another locomotive, a helicopter and derailers went awry.

It's no easy task keeping the audience glued in a contained environment but director Tony Scott takes keeps the suspense levels up in this high speed drama. Reminds me of Speed in 1994. Oddly enough, this is probably one of the noticeable films with Denzel Washington out of uniform.

Unstoppable is inspired by the "Crazy Eights" locomotive accident in 2001 during which a train left its Walbridge, Ohio yard and began a 66-mile journey through northwest Ohio with no one at the controls, after the engineer got out of the originally slow-moving train to correctly line a switch, mistakenly believing he had properly set the train's dynamic braking system, just as his counterpart in the movie did.

I'll give this one a 7.0 out of a possible 10.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Harry Potter 7

Click on the poster to the official website
The first of 2 parts of the latest rendition of J.K. Rowling's tales of the boy who lived opened just last week with fans apparating at cinemas nationwide... Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

With Albus Dumbledore dead, the plot continues with Harry, Hermione and Ron running from Voldermort's minions who is after Potter and at the same time, the trio goes hunting for the 3rd Horcrux and the rest of the Horcruxes to destroy them believing that would diminish Voldermort's powers and give them a fighting chance to defeat the evil wizard once for all. Right now, the Ministry of Magic has been taken over by Voldermort's kind and the world beckons to see the life of a muggle or mudblood spared from the relentless prosecution of the new regime.

The movie is enchanted with spells and wizardry closer to the books as I am told and the mood certainly bears closer to winter in London; certainly a diametrical contrast to the innocent and brighter days at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

As a matter of fact, audiences hardly saw much of Hogwarts. Much of the storyline moved across the country-side, with the trio operating in subterfuge to evade the Snatchers to Harry's home town in Godric's Hollow which is incidentally the place of his parents' murder also, the Ministry of Magic in which the 3rd Horcrux was stolen from Umbridge (the traitorous Defence against the Dark Arts teacher in HP: Order of the Phoenix).

As usual and expected, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint's performance surpasses their previous mark. Radcliffe appears on several Broadway production whilst Emma recently appeared in Burberry's new Spring/Summer 2010 campaign. Grint has lent his voice for several BBC radio series and voice overs The young lads have done well for themselves, raking millions of pounds at such a tender age.

For die-hard and not so die-hard audiences, this film is the 2nd last installment to the silver screen rendition.

I'll give this one a 7.5 out of a possible 10.

Part 2 of HP7 opens in July 2011.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Peter:1, Tooth Fairy: 0...for now...

Looks like I won't be needing an extraction after all...
I had 3 options from the dentist:-
  1. Option 1: Do filling @RM320 but may last only 2-3 years
  2. Option 2: Root canal with crowning @ RM4,000 which lasts 15-20 years
  3. Option 3: Extraction @ RM300 but with a redundant top molar
I guess I like it cheap and will take the risk...
Option 1

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Tooth Fairy is Waiting...

Must lay off the Deepavali sweets...this is the second time my molar
cracks. The nerves are now, cold and sweet drives
shivers down my spine

It's a good thing Citibank has a decent dental plan...ouch!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

RED: Retired and Extremely Dangerous

Warning: May contain spoilers

A refreshing action-comedy flick worth every penny in a long time. Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Dame Helen Mirren leads this top heavy cast in this Robert Schwentke film. Alongside are Richard Dreyfuss, Mary-Louise Parker, Karl Urban, James Lemar, Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck) and Brian Cox.

RED tells the story of a retired CIA Analyst, Frank Moses (Willis) who after 2 years away from the field, spends his time getting to know Sarah Ross (Parker) on the phone from the pension office everytime he receives his cheque. She dreams of a life away from her mundane desk-bound job and he seeks to revel in her penchant for romance in novels. All is well up until a unit of "wetworks" operatives storms Moses' humble abode.

They naturally ended up dead ...

Moses' makes his way to Atlanta and abducts Sarah for her safety knowing that their conversations were monitored and suspected her life would be in danger as well. From there, they team up with retired intel operative, Marvin Boggs (Malkovich), Moses' old time friend and ex-colleauge, Joe Matheson (Freeman) and former assassin, Victoria (Mirren) to seek out the people behind the plot to wipe out the men who were behind the cleaning-up operation after a massacre in Guatemala in 1981.Agent William Cooper (Urban) who is makes his appearance as a resolute agent with no less determination to carry out CIA orders without question pursues the uncanny team until his loyalties are questioned by facts and evidence Moses' managed to retrieve from the CIA's "non-existent" archive, manned by Records Keeper, Henry (Ernest Borgnine). Moses et all sought out the government contractor, Alex Dunning (Dreyfuss) who has dealt with the US' most implacable enemies and he seems to hold information to reveal the real plot behind the attempted murders of ex-CIA and Special Forces personnel in Guatemala.

As the movie unravels, the conspiracy leading up to the White House underscores the story with Vice President, John Stanton (McMahon) having a minor role. The highlight of this movie is Moses and Sarah breaking into CIA headquarters at Langley which is the watershed event. The next question is whether loyalties will be changed and whether the truth be made known. Keep your eyes on Malkovich. He is the comic relief in this action comedy.

Firepower, stunts and action will keep you thrilled whilst the slap-stick humor and interplay between this star studded movie will keep you in stitches. Certainly a fantastic summer addition to this year's selection of silver screen entertainment.

I give RED a 8.5/ 10


Friday, November 05, 2010

Les Aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec...

or "The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec" and Luc Besson's latest film, Adèle: Rise of the Mummy is the start of a trilogy of Adèle's adventures.

Who says only British humor is blokey?

The tales of a young, investigative reporter setting across the globe in search of myths and new discoveries with which to revolutionize the world; which one of us who were once "Adventures of Tintin" readers would resist this.

Rise of the Mummy stars Louise Bourgoin who, as you would have guess, plays the title character.

This film sets it's pace in the early 20th century, where a pterodactyl flies over Paris one fateful night and starts a chain reaction of events that lead to our heroine, a hot tempered and cynical headstrong Gallic cross between Lois Lane and Gertrude Bell, with a taste for high adventure, with the knack of finding herself in the strangest scrapes possible.

The film kicks into high gear we first see our heroine goes on a tomb raid in Egypt like a turn of the century Lara Croft and seeking out a centuries-old Mummy to take back to France, where she meets her rival, the evil Professor Dieuneveult (Mathieu Amalric) and invents a daring escape on the level of any feat Indiana Jones has ever attempted. Evil Arabs, avaricious fellow Europeans, a headstrong heroine ahead of her looks like we’re set for a good colonial adventure along the lines of Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

I can imagine that the books and comics written and illustrated by Jacques Tardi would be imaginative reading, just as Tintin books and comics were. This is as close as I can get to a female Tintin. The difference? Adèle is about 70 years after Tintin, lacks a side-kick dog and fewer action scenes and car chases.

From my reading further, there are several more titles in Tardi's collection:-
  1. Le démon de la tour Eiffel (The Demon of the Eiffel Tower) (1976)
  2. Le savant fou (The Mad Scientist) (1977)
  3. Momies en folie (Mummies on Parade) (1978)
  4. Le secret de la salamandre (The Secret of the Salamander) (1981)
  5. Le noyé à deux têtes (The Drowned Man with Two Heads) (1985)
  6. Tous des monstres! (Monsters All!) (1994)
  7. Le mystère des profondeurs (The Mystery of the Abyss) (1998)
  8. Le labyrinthe infernal (2007)
I can only hope to see more of Luc Besson's work on a sequel. A refreshing change for once as I've seen enough of a lone, buffed-up ex-marine courier-for-hire wrecking nice German cards and imitating Jet-Li's moves on the silver screen.


Restoring Old Toys

About 2 weeks ago, I picked up these two relics from eBay for just over GBP10.00. A real bargain in deed. They arrived early this week. The package came with a 1992 Playmates Star Trek Federation Type 5 Shuttle craft (No. 15, aka Goddard) and check this out...a 1989 Galoob Star Trek Federation Type 7 Shuttle craft Galileo.

For those of you who aren't really aware, these are amongst the USS Enterprise, NCC 1701-D's compliment of support and executive shuttle transport.

Goddard looked okay
I tested the electronics which works fine and
the hull and decal application was left more to be desired

Galileo on the other hand needed work
Notice the cellophane tape over the windows and warp nacelles?

The seller emailed me about the condition of these 2 shuttles...left in a loft too long and from the browning and discoloration, I'd say they had been exposed to UV rays at some point in time. There were signs of moisture damage on the decals, especially with Galileo. She was, amongst others, Cmdr. Riker's executive transport of choice for medium range destinations.

Galileo had what appears to be water damage

The roof needed a good cleaning

The first task was to wash them down. With Galileo, it was easy. Since it didn't contain any electronics, I brought the hippopotamus-looking craft into the kitchen sink and rinsed it out, followed by a good scrub with dish washing detergent and warm water. When that was done, Goddard was wiped down with a damp cloth and lather.

Later in the night, I applied lighter fluid to facial cotton and gave Galileo a good scrub! Zippo worked liked a charm as I noticed the shine on her hull began to show.

After a good clean-up and the painting detail, I added a couple of
black landing pad supports for Galileo's warp nacelles. Notice the
transporter annular confinement targeting scanners on
the front...

That's more like it.

Phase two involved restoring the details; bussard collectors and the field release grill on the warp nacelles. Aerosol spray cans and a paintbrush mostly. I did some masking and started repainting the details. It was actually quite therapeutic doing this after a long day's work. Nothing like spending some quality time indulging in my Trekker moods.

Galileo's blue field release grills warp nacelles
are actually automotive stickers cut-to-shape

For phase 3: decal replacement, I kept a decal sheet containing various Trek fonts with which to give Galileo her identity back. I also recycled some used automotive stickers to add the port and starboard navigational lights. Of course, no Federation shuttle craft is complete with Starfleet's delta shield logo and stripes!

After I was done with Galileo, I started work on Goddard. She didn't need much work. A simple clean-up job was required and some detailing. I added a gold tint to the warp nacelles and removed the cheesy decals. I replaced some of them with recycled automotive stickers.

There was however one thing that irked me. Enterprise's registry number on the bow was lobbed sided. I applied some Zippo magic and peeled it off slowly to correct the alignment. Thankfully, the sticker was salvageable. Much better.

After replacing some stickers with new ones and
giving a good polishing
, she "rolled out" of
Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards looking spic and spam.

The Type 6 shuttles are favorite away mission landing crafts during the first 2 seasons of Star Trek:Voyager and also their favorite shuttles to crash or destroy!

Finally, the two former derelict shuttles are restored to their proper glory

Soon to come: How to repaint a TOS classic Phaser.

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