Friday, October 29, 2010

The Nutcracker

I just went to see the Royal New Zealand Ballet's latest production of The Nutcracker. I last went to the ballet when I was about ten years old. It was Peter Pan. I hated it. I remember turning to my Mum (who'd taken my sister and I) and saying, 'Aren't they even going to sing?' (I'd been taken to a sung-through musical for my 8th birthday, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, during which I turned to my Nana and said, 'Don't they talk? Do they just sing?').

A couple of weeks ago I saw the poster for this production of The Nutcracker while walking to work one morning. I decided I'd like to give the ballet a second chance, especially with The Nutcracker as we used to have a record of the music and I liked dancing around to it when I was younger (not too enthusiastically though because the record would jump, this was the same with the Abba record, and if Abba ever came to town I would so be there). I bought a ticket for me and my step-sister for her 15th birthday, because she does every kind of dancing under the sun, including ballet so I thought she'd like it.

It was really good.

But I just don't think ballet is my cup of tea. I liked hearing the familiar music again, the costumes were great, the set was very stylised and strong, but I just got bored. And it wasn't even very long. I mean, there's only so many moves they can do, right? I thought maybe it was the no talking thing, but I went to a much longer show with no talking (The Sound of Silence in the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts) earlier this year and I loved it, so I don't think it's that. I think it's the over-the-top-ness of it. The show I saw with no talking worked because there was this dreamlike quality and the music did a lot of the talking and I got caught up in the detail of the movements and the relationships and the story (even though it wasn't entirely coherent), so there was no need for talking. In ballet it's like they want to talk or sing but they can't, so they do these giant gestures to indicate someone's getting told off or someone's grumpy; the naughty child does a whole lot of broad cliched naughty child movements, the matron bustles about and hitches up her boobs. I guess The Nutcracker, well this version anyway, is more of a pantomime than Swan Lake or something so maybe that's why.

Anyway. Me and ballet. I don't think we'll be seeing each other all that regularly. Maybe in another thirteen years.

(If you do like ballet though, I'm sure you'll love this production of The Nutcracker. The costumes and set really are awesome and the music is fun and pretty, and, from what my step-sister told me, the dancers are really good as well. At one point she said, 'Woah, he just caught her by her bended leg' and I said, 'Is that a bad thing?' and she said, 'No, it's amazing!')

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Just don't mention the buttonholes

Sunday just been, I did this:

The theme was 'Tomorrow When The Party Began'. This was our post-apocalypse costume offer (hazardous waste clean up anyone? It's a serious business). Now I own a giant yellow ski suit and highlighter pink shoes.

The Sunday before that, we watched Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for classic movie Sunday.

I hadn't ever seen a Marilyn Monroe movie before and to be honest, she didn't really do it for me. Her voice is too babyish and annoying. I liked the other lead, Jane Russell, much more. She was far wittier and a better singer. But it was a fun movie. Pure fluff, but fun.

Oh, another slightly fluffy but fun movie was 1000 Euro Generation at the Italian Film Festival. Last year some of us from my old work went to a cheesy Italian romantic comedy and it was so cliched and predictable but great because it was Italian. We went again this year, on Sunday, and our choice this year was less cheesy but still predictable and still so much better because everyone spoke Italian. Sigh.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Baby steps

On Thursday night I babysat the cutest baby in Hataitai. He loves looking out the window and pointing at everything and saying something that sounds vaguely like 'this'. Very cute. He got a bit over tired though so when it came time to put him to bed he cried and cried and cried and got himself all worked up, so I got him up again and the only thing that would stop him crying was sitting on my lap watching an episode of The Mighty Boosh...I like to think of it as expanding his horizons.

Someone else expanding their horizons is Katherine at work. We have been talking about sewing and things for a while and then earlier in the week I started trying to recruit her to knitting and Monday night Knitting Circle. Once she saw my scarf she was very enthused and rushed off and bought some yarn and needles and a little leaflet book that taught the basics. On Thursday night she apparently spent 5 hours learning to cast on and trying to knit with the book and YouTube. It sounds like she was doing some pretty interesting things, including somehow not slipping the stitch she'd just knit off the first needle to the second. I don't even know how that would be possible beyond a few stitches. Anyway, she bought her knitting in on Friday and we sat for over an hour, me knitting my sock and chiming in to help when she needed and her coming to terms with knit and then purl stitches. She picked it up so quickly and she was so proud, she even said to someone 'This has been the best hour of my life!' I managed to get someone from my old work to start coming along to Monday night Knitting Circle and Katherine is now keen so I'm slowing enlisting people in my travels. It's great!

On Friday night I had eight people plus me for dinner. I was slightly nervous because I've never cooked for that many people before (plus I slightly stupidly starting drinking at 3.30pm with one of the teams at work, so instead of leaving at 4pm-ish - everyone was going home early because it was a long weekend and we finish early on a Friday anyway - I left at 5pm and had to rush to the supermarket and come home and clean the bathroom before I even got to start cooking, all with the added bonus of being a bit lightheaded thanks to the two wines I'd had). Anyway it was very successful, everyone ate, drank and was merry. I made a giant bowl of pasta, vaguely following the recipe for this tomato and basil sauce with courgette and mushroom added in.

It felt a bit like Christmas day because we had to push two tables together to fit everyone and improvise some chairs, but it was a really fun time and I was quite proud of my efforts. Cleaning up the next day wasn't so much fun, mainly because after dinner we'd gone to someone's house and played Singstar and drunk a lot more and I was not so well the next morning. I had to take frequent little breaks whilst doing the dishes, vaccuuming, and putting the furniture back in its place. Needless to say, not a lot else was achieved yesterday but do I plan to finish the baby pinnafore buttonholes this weekend. I really do...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Like like like

So I attempted the button holes on the baby pinnafore last week. It didn't go terrifically well, but I think I can rectify the situation. I hope so anyway. I'm going to try to this weekend and will report back.

I mentioned last week that I was reading a book that I was really loving and now I have finished it I can reveal all. Like Water for Chocolate. Amazing. And I don't even know why I loved it as much as I did. I thought the translation was a bit clunky at times (I am assuming the clunkiness lies with the translation, but maybe the original Spanish text is actually the culprit), random changes in tense do not a smooth read make and some words made me think, 'Really? Was that the best choice?' but overall it was the first book in ages I kept wanting to read and got through relatively quickly (not that it's very long).

It centres on Tita, the youngest daughter of Mama Elena, who, in keeping with family tradition, is forbidden to marry so that she can remain in the family home and care for her mother until her mother's death (I don't understand why she couldn't marry someone on the condition that they live at the family house with her mother but whatever, no one argues with Mama Elena). Tita has been brought up in the kitchen by the family cook, learning all the traditional Mexican and family recipes. She is in love with Pedro who decides to marry her older sister in order to remain close to Tita (stupid idea). Around this time, Tita's cooking starts to have powerful effects on the people who eat it, as her emotions while cooking become part of the food.

The novel is broken into 12 chapters, one for each month, with a (fictional) recipe at the beginning of each. I'm sure I remember reading a post by Alicia at Posie Gets Cosy about how she once tried to make one of the recipes from the book when she was first seeing her now husband, to impress him, not realising the recipes were fictional, and it went very wrong, but for the life of me I can't find the post. The novel's style is magic realism as Tita's food doesn't just make people feel sad or happy or wistful, at one point her sister feels a raging fire within her and rushes to the shower to cool off and the sparks from her body set the wooden shower shack on fire...

It's basically the story of Tita's struggle to be her own person within the confines of her family, her relationship with her mother and sisters and with Pedro. At times I felt like I was reading a Mills and Boon novel, because it's set on a Mexican ranch, there are revolutionary soldiers and passionate sexy times involving a bit of bodice ripping. But I have been recommending it to everyone!

I'm going to try and watch the film this weekend. Potentially with a giant plate of roast yams next to me. Not exactly common food to accompany movie watching but I am in love with them at the moment, especially if they've been roasted with a little bit of chopped garlic sprinkled throughout. Yum. Actually very fitting for a book that features food as such a significant theme.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Rambling through the avenues of time

I went home for the weekend as it was birthday central. On Friday night we went out for dinner for my step-sister's 15th birthday.

On Saturday my little brother had a ten pin bowling outing with friends for his 10th birthday. I can't believe he is 10 tomorrow. I remember bursting into tears when my Dad and step-Mum told me the baby was going to be a boy - I couldn't imagine how a boy would fit into a family full of girls. I also remember sitting in my 3rd form maths class and a messenger coming with a note telling me to take my bag and go to the office; I turned to my friend and said, 'That means he's been born!' Then I stood up and packed my things up and some loser behind me said, 'Sit down, I can't see' and my friend turned around and said, 'Shut up, her step-Mum's just had a baby.'

This was his first day of school five whole years ago. He is actually the cutest child ever. He hates it when I call him cute now and I love it because I know it annoys him. I might have cried when I found out he was going to be a he, but now I couldn't imagine it any other way.

I got the fun task of dropping his friends home after the party on Saturday. When Dad said, 'Do you mind dropping these boys home?' he failed to mention that one lives in Greytown and another in Martinborough. An hour in the car with five 10 year old boys is not one I want to repeat in a hurry. Although I got to see one of my favourite views - Martinborough as you descend down towards it from the West.

There were so many flowers and blossoms around - I miss not living somewhere that has a garden. I like how the tulips have a secret blue inside them that you can only see if you go close up.

Like The Witch in the Cherry Tree, only it's a moon!

Clearly this was trip down memory lane weekend. When I was little and lived in Martinborough, we had a tree house constructed out of 4 boards up in one of these type of trees. Every spring it would produce these pink flowers and they would slowly fall off and create a pink carpet in the tree house (it didn't have a roof) and I would flounce about and pretend I was decorating my house and tell my sister, 'The carpet man's come today.'

Some long-time family friends built a new house next to their very old house on their farm a few years ago. They haven't yet demolished the old house and it's become overgrown with whatever this is that smells amazing.

The food is always good in the Wairarapa.

(Which is where Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords is from - the title of this post is from their best song ever. Best because it has my name in it of course.)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Clever friends

I love this!

Anita Pitu Photography

(And not just because I'm on it, although that does have something to do with it... I hadn't seen the photo of me taken ages ago for one of Anita's assignments and I love it, the light is so beautiful and I have my favourite thing with me - a cup of tea! But me aside, there are so many beautiful and clever photos, I love the ones at The Well House, and the Personal Series, and the Landscape ones...okay I just love them all. Snaps for Anita!)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

In my humble opinion

This park behind parliament (and about 3 minutes walk from my work) has the weirdest sculptures. To me they look like a door knob sticking out of the earth, a carrot, and a lying down half moon/a banana. But look how sunny it was today! After Monday feeling like the middle of winter again, with it so cold and wet and windy that I couldn't walk to Monday night Knitting Circle, it's so nice to see the sun again.

A couple of months ago my flatmate Tui and her friend decided to start a book club; so far we've read one book I didn't like all that much and one I really enjoyed.

The Book Thief came highly recommended by a lot of people I used to work with and some people in our book club enjoyed it, but I found the narrator (Death) patronising and irritating. While there were some well-drawn characters, I knew most of them were going to die towards the end of the book (and I'm not giving anything away by saying that, Death brings it up every five minutes - lest we forget and actually start enjoying the story) so I never really got attached to any of them. I struggled to finish it.

I did, however, enjoy The White Tiger a lot more. It's very humorous and while the narrator has questionable morals, he is very charming and has the reader on his side from very early on. It's also a pretty eye opening book in terms of the India it depicts - from the state of the villages, to the Government in general, to the rigid and unquestionable family structures and hierarchy. So much corruption in so many ways. There were nine of us at the last book club meeting (they're held the first Thursday of every month) and we had a really good discussion about this book which made me appreciate some aspects of it even more.

Right now I'm reading a book I've been wanting to read for a while; it was published in 1989 so it's not new or anything, it's just that I only first heard of it last year and have wanted to read it ever since. I am LOVING it. It's the first book I've read in ages that I can't wait to pick up again and have avoided doing other things so that I can read it. I won't give away the title until I've finished and can explain why I love it so much. But a clue is, it was first published in Spanish by a Mexican author and was made into a film in 1992.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bobby is my hobby and I'm giving it up!

Some gratuitous photos of the sock to prove it still exists. At the moment it makes me think of a Snork, even though it doesn't actually look like one. It's like it has a weird little mouth - clearly I am so bored of knitting this I'm having to give it personality traits to keep me going. A girl at Monday night Knitting Circle was saying she's onto her 7th pair of socks this year. That's almost a pair of socks a month. And she's not knitting with big needles and chunky wool - a while ago I posted a photo of the amazing elaborate sock she was working on at the time. Sigh.

The original Broadway production

Yesterday I went to the Toi Whakaari cabaret at the Museum Hotel; this year it was an actual musical (Stephen Sondheim's Company) rather than a collection of songs and I LOVED IT (the title of this post is from a song in it). I hadn't heard of Company before and almost wasn't going to go but I'm so glad I did. I got the original cast recording out from the library the other day so I would vaguely know some of the songs because I always like musicals better when I know the music, and I liked what I heard but when I actually saw the show and how the songs worked with the story and characters I got a little bit emotional because I love musicals and people singing great songs well just makes me really happy. It's weird. I found this amazing clip from a documentary about the recording of the original cast recording. They all look so intense and serious - including the guy smoking while singing, and the 70s fashion is great.

I have been listening to the original cast recording all morning and it's making me jealous. I want to be in a musical. Although I don't envy the girl who had to sing the song called 'Getting Married Today' which is so fast but one of my favourites, sung by a crazy bride who's about to get married and decides she's changed her mind. The woman on the original cast recording is unbelievable, she does an amazing job.

On Friday night I went to a gig at The Palace and I wish I'd taken my camera because it is this massive house on Oriental Terrace that must have been pretty awesome in its hey day (it's a bit run down now), it has a basement and rooms on the ground level, then two storeys above with a million rooms. It's still pretty awesome now, I wish I could go explore it in the daylight. I love being nosy in old buildings. I once took a drawing class at Inverlochy Art School partly because I just wanted to be able to go in and have a good look around the house.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Last night I went to the opening of 'Chromotose', a 'collaborative exhibition of works created by the final year Diploma of Photography class at Massey University, Wellington.' Anita is in the class so some of her work is being exhibited. The exhibition space is really cool, it's a big empty commercial space in the city currently up for lease. There are some really awesome works and some not so awesome works - but I guess a lot of it comes down to personal taste. Anita's are very clever and interesting though and if I was rich and had a nice hallway, I would definitely have bought the series, but then I expected no less.

I didn't follow through with my threat to dress all in black with giant dark glasses and a black beret and bring a small poodle. I just don't have easy access to many small poodles.

The exhibition is on from 11am - 6pm until Tuesday 12th October, on the corner of Hunter and Victoria Streets. If you are in Wellington and bored on your lunchbreak or looking for an outing on the weekend, go check it out.

Last night I also had another sleepless night. By which I mean I tossed and turned in bed getting angrier and angrier at life and (as the time changed from 1am, to 2am, to 3am, to 4am) my inability to get to sleep. So today I decided I needed something to keep me going. It definitely tasted as good as it looks (a black and white brownie pie from Pandoro).

I have only had three truly sleepless nights in the last few months, which I guess is pretty good considering the various break-up potholes I've encountered, but overall I have been getting much less sleep than ever before just because I am so busy all the time. I once read that when Helen Clark was Prime Minister, she got an average of 5 hours sleep a night. Maybe I should get into politics, because it's surprising how little sleep I seem to be able to function on these days.

I am so looking forward to it being Friday evening and the weekend in general, I have lots of fun things planned, I just hope I can stay awake for them...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Innocence, fish, and birds

Publicity image for Innocence - image source here

So I just went to see a play with a whole lot of nakedness in it. Pretty much everyone got naked at some point.

It's not like I haven't been to a play with a naked person in it before. And it's not like I haven't been to a play with a naked person I know in it before. And I don't consider myself particularly prudish. I think it was just the fact that so many people got naked and I know many of them that I'm still recovering.

The set was cool though, lots of height and billowing fabric. And a fish tank that I didn't notice until it was lit and then it looked really cool. Anita didn't like the fish tank, but maybe she just doesn't like fish. I used to want a goldfish when I was younger but my Dad wouldn't let me, he said he doesn't like animals in cages, no matter what kind of animal it is. I did have a bird for a while once when I was in my third year at university, I needed a live bird in a cage for a short play I directed. I think it was a budgie. I named him Frances. He was supposed to be a girl but when he started singing my friend (whose parents were going to have him in their aviary when the play was over and had asked that it be a female so that it wouldn't breed with the budgie they already had) said, 'I'm pretty sure only male budgies sing.' Luckily her parents still took Frances and he is living happily in Palmerston North, making eggs with his partner but not managing to get them to hatch.

Anyway, the play I went to tonight was called Innocence by Dea Loher. I wish I had a name that rolled off the tongue like that (assuming the 'h' is kind of silent). Maybe one day I will.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Oh, hi summer, you should stick around

I love Wellington. A little while ago I was feeling a bit down about August next year being so far away, because it feels like everyone is going off on exciting trips and some of us have to stay and save our pennies before we can go too. But on weekends like the one we've just had, I feel like it's not going to be so hard hanging out here, especially now that summer feels so within reach.

On Saturday morning Anita and I went to the World Press Photo exhibition in Shed 11. I've been the last two years in a row so I was prepared for some of the more horrific images that make you want to have a big cry at how awful the world can be. There were some amazing images but overall I didn't think it was as good as the last two years' exhibitions, there were some photos that didn't really seem to fit with the 'press' angle, they were interesting but they didn't really capture anything specific to events or situations of the last year. Well worth a visit though, especially as a reminder of what a comparatively safe country we live in.

Then I spent the afternoon sitting in the sun on the balcony at the house of some friends' in Hataitai, drinking and laughing and getting my nails painted 'off orange'. When the sun went down and it got a bit chilly we went inside and had a massive jam session in their upstairs attic space that was actually such an amazing time. There were so many instruments that even people like me who can't play the guitar or the drums or the keyboard could join in with the maracas, the triangle, or the xylaphone. I did get a turn on a bass guitar and the drums though so I felt very authentic.

ItalicThere was even this amazing accordian. Not being played by me, my fingers are much fatter, but they are sporting the same 'off orange' nail polish.

I got a bit movie crazy today, after lunch in the sun (ANOTHER day with sun, so good. Someone said today, 'We go through months of wind and rain and crappy weather, and then as soon as we have a nice sunny day, we forgive everything and remember why we love this city'. It's so true, even though I don't think our winter was that bad this year), I watched Wall Street at my friend Fiona's. I don't think I've seen anything with Michael Douglas in it before and it was nice to see Charlie Sheen outside of his stupid sitcom. Some of the '80s glamour was very funny - the apartment Charlie Sheen's character has refurbished with fake brick walls covered in wall paper with bits artfully ripped out so it looks all distressed - and the massive cellphones which seem like they should be kitchen appliances. Now I want to see the sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps that has just been released, so we are planning an outing to the movies sometime soon.

This evening for classic movie Sunday (in Ed's new dream attic bedroom - so many attics in Hataitai, I wish I lived in a house with an attic) we watched Pollyanna. Mainly because Alex and I wanted to take a trip down memory lane. It was a lot longer than I remembered and everyone in the town is so grumpy and rude to Pollyanna when she first arrives, it's quite infuriating. Also Pollyanna is so gawky, she seems to spend most of her time squinting and/or making some other weird facial expression. But I loved it. There were so many bits I remembered (I watched it quite a few times when I was younger, it was one of the many movies my Mum taped off TV and missed the very beginning of) and it's still awful watching her fall towards the end. We were shouting advice at her to no avail, 'Just go in the front door, what's the worst Aunt Polly can do? Get in the window and then try to get the doll! Hold onto the inside of the window frame! Aim your landing into a bush!' (that last piece of advice was from me, I quite like the idea of someone being able to aim their landing as they fall).

Obviously there was no time for knitting or sewing this weekend, but I feel like I won't abandon my knitting over the summer. In fact, sitting in the sun with a cool gin and tonic and some knitting wouldn't be a bad way to spend many a summer day.