Wednesday, November 28, 2012

More Hobbit premiere

Hi there

At a specified time yesterday when the audience were invited to count down, the Air New Zealand 'hobbit' plane flew overhead.  It has paintings of the Hobbit cast, designs, settings, etc, on it.  I was lucky enough to be walking around Miramar the other day and it went overhead as it left the runway, gaining height, and  so  I had a great view.  Not such a great view as it flew over at the premiere, naturally, because it was so high in the sky.   Actually, I can't understand why I'm even attaching a plane photo.  It reminds me of those photos we've all taken where we think we've got a shot of a beautiful island that's not that far away, and when the photo turns out, all you can see is a tiny dot way, way, way in the background.

Arriving in Wellington from England, the plane  had picked up Hobbit actors in both London and America to bring them here.  Personally, I think the designs on the original LOTR plane were more stand-y out-y.   Some flight attendants from Air New Zealand walked the red carpet.  Several of the women had added Hobbit tiaras to their uniforms (like in the Air New Zealand tv commercial).  The women were all beautiful, but the men, OMG, they were... gorgeous;  I wanted to vault the railing and ravish every one of them.

We edge-of-the-red-carpet-sitters-and-standers kept looking at the countdown clock on the top of the Embassy theatre to see how long it would be before the happenings started.  Here's a pic of the end- result clock.

"The Hobbit" World Premiere in Wellington, New Zealand

Okay, yes, I've now learnt that premier has an 'e' on the end of it so, henceforth, I will try to remember to type the word 'premiere!

I got down to Courtenay Place about 9.45 a.m.  Most of the front rows were taken but I managed to find a front row possie just around the corner from the red carpet and opposite the stage which was all done up to resemble a hobbit burrow in the side of a hill, and had two hobbit doors.  The band playing a couple of times during the wait was Neil Finn's who is singing the 'mountain morn' song on the soundtrack of "The Hobbit".  He's one of NZ's favourite top evergreen singers.  Check out his pedigree.

It was very very very hot.  There were over 100,000 of us squashed together.  There were lots of people dressed up, mainly as hobbits.  They looked so good.  Thousands upon thousands of tourists who had come expressly for the premiere.  Red Carpet Tours had a group there and they seemed to be really enjoying themselves.

 I sat on the ground, then stood up, then on the ground, then stood up... and it continued like this until 3 pm.    After the first few hours  a maintenance crew came out with ladders, tools and posters.  They immediately transformed the traffic lights in front of me into a giant Gandalf monolith , thereby blocking half my view.  I managed to squeeze sideways a couple of feet away from the monolith. After another couple of hours, a very very big camera on a crane took up residence in front of me in my new position,  blocking a lot of the stage.  Then some security guys stood in front of the one bit of stage that I could now see.   From 3 pm until 7.30 I stood up, and please remember I had a sore foot!

I hardly saw a celebrity on the red carpet because right beside me on the corner was a group of PETA animal rights campaigners complaining about mistreatment of animals on the movie set (this is complete rot because the SPCA was on the set all the time and they said the animals were treated very well) and they waved placards. They did not reveal themselves until the last second.  Naturally the stars scooted away from these people, so no star really came near where I was standing.  After a while, a group of security people stood directly in front of the PETA people holding up their own (Hobbit) placards trying to block off the PETA ones, but not before the press had had a field day taking pictures of the PETA folk.

I did spot James Cameron, director of "Avatar" for a brief moment.  He's a NZ citizen now and lives in the Wairarapa, somewhere near Peter Jackson's estate.  All the 'dwarfs', too, were there, but honestly, there were so many of them that I got all muddled up with who was who.

At 6 pm, the speeches began and I managed to get some photos (well about 50 actually and here's just a few of them) but by now the sun was lowering and it was shining in the wrong direction. Oh dear. I truly don't believe I'll go to any more premieres. It's just not worth it anymore, what with the long wait, the heat, and having waited 8 hours I only got to see folk on the stage for a short time and by then I was almost on the verge of collapsing (hey, old person here, remember?).

 Elijah Wood  (See a PETA placard being held a-high over to the left?)
 James Nesbitt
 Peter Jackson emerging out of hobbit burrow onto the stage.
 Peter Jackson with MGM and Warners reps.  Thank you reps for finally letting us make "The Hobbit" in New Zealand.  But you almost gave us all nationwide heart attacks for a week or so!
 Peter Jackson with Hugo Weaving
 Peter Jackson greets our Prime Minister, John Key.
 James Nesbitt and Martin Freeman.
 Cate Blanchett emerging from hobbit burrow.  She showed a leg first!
 Sylvester McCoy and Barry Humphreys.
 Andy Serkis
Richard Armitage (Thorin) in centre


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Weta Collectables

Today I went down to the Weta Cave.  It's the Weta Workshop shop/mini museum/small theatre that shows a great film on the growth of Weta.  Surprise, from today they'd opened a new section that takes you skirting around the inside of Weta Workshop for $20.  We saw loads of props, costumes, sculptures,  weapons, models used in the movies like "District 9", Narnia Chronicles, LOTR, "King Kong", "Meet the Feebles", etc.  We saw the armoury, and there were also two sculpters working on Weta collectable sculptures.  We were told by the guides that they didn't know how long the display would be open for, maybe just this week or a little bit longer.  It looks pretty permanent to me.

Here is a photo of the two guides (notice the LOTR sword) in front of the newly painted outside wall of Weta (the design wasnt there a few days ago).  Guides are rotating a bit this week.  The woman works in Costuming, the guy in Armoury.

I bought a new t-shirt advertising the world premier of The Hobbit.  Here is front view (hobbit burrow) and back view stating premier date, etc.

Also, too,  there was a pin (that I heard about on the grapevine) advertising the premier, but you had to ask for it.  Apparently it's a collectable.   I wouldn't be surprised if they passed some of these out to the crowd by the red carpet on Wednesday.

The Hobbit is getting closer

The World Premier of "The Hobbit - An unexpected journey" is on Wednesday in Wellington.  Along with, hopefully, thousands upon thousands of people, I'll go to the city and try and see something.  I loved the atmosphere surrounding the three LOTR premiers.  For one of them, I decided to get a bleacher seat but waiting-in-a-bleacher turned out to be a bit boring.  I loved it when I was with the 'ordinary' people down on the street.  However, one good thing about the bleacher seats:  the seat-ees ran from their seats down to the front railing and the stars - knowing what high-rollers bleacher seat-ees are - trundled over and signed autographs.  I didn't have a digital camera during LOTR premiers.

I also went to the "King Kong" NZ premier.  Here are some pictures I took of Peter Jackson and also a pic of  Andy S (Gollum) 


About 19 months ago, I went to "The Hobbiton" set in Matamata.  I thought it had been closed off for public tours because the very day I passed through Matamata, was the day Peter Jackson was supposed to start filming there.  But, wonder-of-wonders for me, but so sad for Jackson, the set was open because Jackson had been taken to hospital a few days before. 

I saw the set in it's pristine magnitude.  Sunflowers and pumpkins growing in the gardnes, roses around the doors, swans on the lake.  One would swear it was a true village.  It must have spread out for km upon km.    It was so hard to believe there weren't hobbits living behind the doors in the houses.  I stood under the 'party tree', knocked on Bilbo's door, wandered along the flagstone path leading down the hill from said house, swung on Rosie and Sam's gate, and almost tripped over a grass-hidden chimney.    Even the fences were growing fungus (a mixture of yoghurt and something-else for realism). I took a great photo looking down a sort of grassy rock-sided alley, and showing a hill topped with Bilbo/Frodo's house in the far distance.  This exact shot was in one of the end stories of "Return of the King" as the hobbits return home,  and it is also in the trailer for "The Hobbit".  In all, I took about 80 photos.  I may be allowed to show them after the premier.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hobbit Artisan Fair, Wellington.,

Today, I thought I'd go down town to Waitangi Park.  For the next week there is a Hobbit Artisan Market there, with Weta Workshop showing off things.  There's the guy who 'loomed' the cloaks the hobbits and Gandalf wore in LOTR,  there's LOTR jewellery, sculptures, Weta t-shirts, the armourer from the film selling knives.   There was a maypole, and a throwing-horseshoes game.  Also a huge screen that showed all the video log entries for Peter Jackson as he has worked on The Hobbit, as well as the Air New Zealand middle earth tv commercial that I absolutely positively adore.  Families were eating their sandwiches in front of the screen.  It was a lovely picnic day for people. 

The screen and the market will stay in the park until the 'The Hobbit" world premier.  The big screen will show the red carpet arrivals and speeches.  Waitangi Park is only a block away from where the premier will be.  I can't really see people preferring to watch it on screen when they only have to wander around the corner to see the real thing.  But, then again, they'll probably see more on the screen.  Our main tv channels will also be showing the red carpet from 3 pm or 4 pm right through for several hours.

I took the bus to the market.  It didn't open  until noon, so I wandered around Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand.  My sore foot was okay until I got off the bus on my return home to hobble the block back to my house.  The rest of the day, it was truly sore, darn it.  My foot just has to be better for my trip to Ohope Beach/Whakatane.  Cross fingers.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

five swims at Hataitai Beach

Bingo!  J and I have  done it.  'Five, five, five swims for the month of November. 

The other day as I got into the water, there was a woman sunbathing on the deck, the first  sunbather we'd seen since last summer.  I'd earlier spoken to another woman who had told me that the sunbather had been in the water for about a minute.  As I exited the water, the sunbather said to me, "That was quick".  I was floored!  I mumbled something about, "I don't think 21 minutes is all that quick" and scuttled away. I can only put it down to the fact that the sunbather had been so engrossed in her book that she hadn't realised that I'd been in the water for so long in the November cold Wellington seas. 

When we first started swimming over the winter a few years back, we were no more than a couple of minutes in the water.  Non-swimmers just don't realise how bad Wellington winter waters are, what with our cold and windy climate.    Especially when one is just in a bathing suit and not a wetsuit.


Come December, it's all systems go, swimming-wise for  J and me.  Our 'rule book' says we can go anytime without letting the other know.  Summer-summer-summer, la-de-dee-dah!!!

R and her dog Pinot were at the beach yesterday.  A sure sign that summer is coming.  It's so nice to meet our summer friends once more.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mt Tongariro Eruption

Oh, goodness, Mt Tongariro erupted an hour ago. See   Or   They've been talking about Mt Ruapehu (Mt Doom, where filming was done for LOTR) maybe erupting over the next few weeks and as a sort of afterthought, the scientists have mentioned Tongariro.  Mts Ruapehu, Ngarahoe, and Tongariro are all side by side on the edge of The Desert Road in New Zealand.   It doesn't seem an overly bad eruption as of this moment.  Scientists also said that there seems to be some sort of activity on White Island also.  White Island is a good four hours drive away from Tongariro and is off the coast of Ohope Beach.

Guess where I'm driving to very soon?:  Yes,  (1) Ohope Beach!   Oh, and  (2) The Desert Road! 

Wellington Airport - Hobbit stuff

As planes glide to a stop  at Wellington Airport the passengers are faced with the top sign.  As they leave the airport by road, they're met with the above fence.  Okay, here goes with what's on the fence in close-up:  ......

Monday, November 19, 2012

Wellington Airport Carousel

The luggage conveyor belt/carousel at Wellington Airport is now Hobbit-orientated (see below).

Because of my sore foot, I had to take my car to the airport instead of walking the  approximately one kilometre to get there.  I was parked inside the terminal carpark.  It seemed like many many kms away from the entrance. 

I got into the terminal with the express idea of photographing everything Hobbit .  I took one photo of the luggage carousel and the battery on my camera conked out.  Still, I had lugged along with me my Calvin Klein suitcase (containing two cushions) to see if the bag would fit in the 'compartment' where one gauges to see if their bag is allowable as 'cabin' baggage.  My bag did fit - just .... Don't tell anyone that one wheel stuck out a fraction!  I'm off in the summer on two separate holidays:  Queenstown and Waiheke Island (whoopeee), so I want to be sure  any bag that I take is of permissible size  (I don't take 'hold' baggage).   I don't want to be turned back at aeroplane door.

I couldn't have been more than 20 mins in the terminal and it cost me $5.  I am so furious with my foot for not allowing me to walk there.   Naughty-naughty-naughty foot.   However, my lounge cushions, I'm sure, did go on a smashing adventure.

A pleasant aside:   We have now done 4 swims for the month.  Last week's one was so cold I thought I was going to come down with a bout of hypothermia afterwards.  My feet were hurting so much with the cold that I told my friends I was probably going to get frostbite and that would turn to gangrene, I'd no doubt die, and I wanted the theme from (Star Trek) "Enterprise" to be played at my funeral.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Embassy Theatre - The Hobbit premier

The below photo is the just-erected Weta Workshop sculpture on the front of the Embassy Theatre in Wellington, New Zealand, in preparation for "The Hobbit" world premier on 28 November.

It is Bilbo Baggins' house with Gandalf knocking at the door.  The hobbit house frontage is almost identical to Bilbo's house frontage as was filmed on the location site in Matamata.

Lots more Weta stuff being built, sculptured, on flag poles, and on sides of buildings.  Wellington truly will be the Middle of Middle Earth next week.  Stand by for more pix.

Third swim for November, hooray.  But we're trying for 5!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Stealing from hotels? - Hotel Babylon

Today, I've been re-reading one of my fave books:  "Hotel Babylon", written by Imogen Edward-Jones  who also wrote the fantastic "Air Babylon.  A word of advice, don't, for goodness' sake, read "Air Babylon" just before you're going on a flight?!    Both books have had an anonymous person in the industry reveal all the scams, tricks, what-goes-on, etc in both the air and hotel business.  The happenings have been condensed into a 24 hour period.

Edward-Jones says most definitely that everyone steals from hotels.  I can tell her, most definitely, that when I was at the Las Vegas MGM Grand in August, I didn't.

When I arrived, I glanced down on the vanity in the bathroom.  No soap, shampoo, etc.  I immediately rang Housekeeping.  The woman said she'd send up some toiletries, and she did.  As I got into the shower a few minutes later - oops, there was soap, shampoo on the shelf inside the shower.

I rang Housekeeping to apologise.  The woman was spanish-speaking and obviously didn't understand my kiwi accent because about a half an hour later, another bag of soaps and shampoo arrived.

I rang Housekeeping again to explain that I felt terrible about it all, and the following day, another bag arrived!

Because I was only carrying cabin baggage to America, I was only allowed 7kg of weight in total on the plane.  I had to leave all the toiletries behind.   Darn it!  I could have run a stall.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Twilight - Breaking Dawn Pt 2

Oh dear, I'm now admitting a terrible secret.  I like the audio books and movies of the "Twilight" franchise.  Yes, me, a retiree!  And if I have to listen once more to friends and strangers saying to me, "... but vampires don't sparkle", I'll rip my hair out.  Vampires don't exist.  There, I've told you all something that you probably didn't know.  As far as I'm concerned, this means that writers can deal with vampires however they want to deal with them.  Sparkling?  Sure, why not?

About 15 years ago, I wrote a short story where a vampire fell in love with a mortal and I entered the story into a competition that was taking place at the annual national NZ Science Fiction Convention.  I was told by the judge that "vampires don't fall in love".    I must have been a pioneer because soon after, vampires leapt from the horror genre over to the romance genre.  By that time, I'd already sold the story to Radio New Zealand.

Back to "Breaking Dawn Pt 2".  I went to the midnight session which meant that, because of the time difference,  I saw the movie before it hit American or British shores.  I slinked into the theatre trying to look 16 years old, pretty difficult seeing as I am a pensioner. 

 I enjoyed looking at the beautiful actors (though the vampire eyes got more and more creepy to watch as the movie progressed).  However, shame on the studio for breaking the last book into two movies; it didn't warrant it.  I loved the angst and emoting in the books and the earlier films.  This film didn't seem so emotional.

Toward the end, the movie turned absolutely completely, horrifically, away from the book.  When it came back to the book plot again, there was a huge collective gasp of surprise from the audience.  I didn't care for the way the movie makers toyed with the viewer's feelings at this point.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Prince Charles at Weta Workshop, Miramar

Prince Charles and Camilla are in Wellington today.  Prince Charles visited Weta Workshop in Miramar, home of movie sculptures, models, replicas, etc.  Though it's probably less than a km from my place, I had to take the car because of my bad foot.  I thought director Peter Jackson might be there.  And he was.  But he purposely kept to the shadows whilst waiting for the Prince to arrive and it was very hard to photograph him because the great unwashed public were not allowed to set foot inside Weta grounds.

However, lovely Richard Taylor, head of Weta, came outside and spoke to people.  I saw oscar winner Tania Roger there as well.

Now, wait for it.........   Prince Charles shook my hand!  I said 'Good luck' to him.  The woman beside me said to give her best to Camilla.  Prince Charles thanked us.  And do you know what?  He was smiling the whole time, and he was so gentle and insisted on talking to lots of people.  He was so different from how I thought he would be, i.e. stiff and formal. 

Photos from top to bottom:  Richard Taylor, me alongside the Prince's car, Prince Charles, VIPs (including Peter Jackson) waiting for the Prince to arrive.

I'll bet the Prince enjoyed his visit to Weta because he's a movie buff.  He was about five minutes late arriving, but about a half hour late leaving.

J and I had our second swim for the month today.  Whoopeee!  We stayed in water about 25 minutes.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hobbit Banners, Cobham Drive, Wellington Airport area

Boy, it's cold and windy today.  I wonder why?  Oh, yes, I'm in Wellington now, not Auckland.  Today I decided to have a wallowing-in-my-own-misery day in bed.  Because of my stupid sore heel.  I won't be able to walk properly for months so people (and the doctor) tell me.  I've gone to the chemist and bought the loads of the required gel heel-cups and foam pads and whatever.  They don't seem to be making any difference. 

To make matters worse, my car is in the garage for a couple of days having a makeover.   And I'm the woman who always said I could make do easily without my car, that I'd take the bus everywhere.  Huh, it would be a chore to hobble to the bus stop.


Anyway, I did hobble down the road to snap a couple of photos (I hit 'delete' by mistake and wiped the best one) of the Hobbit banners that are now billowing at the foot of the airport runway on the corner of Cobham Drive (Highway  No 1). In the background, you can see other Hobbit posters, but it was more difficult to get the right angle to take their photos in the wind.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Mary Poppins, Auckland and my foot!

Well, I'm back from four days in Auckland.  I went up there to see "Mary Poppins - the musical".  What a magnificent theatre the Civic in Queen Street is.  I can't think why they don't charge a few dollars (when shows aren't on) for sightseers to pop in and ooh and ahh over the wonderful decor.   It's a heritage building and has a sort of Arabian Nights theme, with a bit of exotic India thrown in.  I guess it's how the architects of the day visualised Arabia and India!  The theatre was built in 1929 and if you wikiopedia it, you will see some pictures that don't do the theatre justice.  When it used to show movies, I remember sitting there to see Elvis in "Love Me Tender".  I can still recall the moment waiting for the movie to start and the stars in the night-sky-ceiling came gradually on and twinkled down on me.

As usual, the tallest bloke in the theatre was sat in front of me (happens every show I go to).  But  I still thought the special effects in "Mary Poppins" were wonderful.   Most of the songs from the movie were there but some had been switched around and came in different places,.  New songs were added that didn't seem to have the pep of the originals but this was probably because I was unfamiliar with them.  Some songs were missed out, eg the that lovely votes-for-women song that Glynis Johns sings in the original.  Dancing, singing statues were in place of the 'penguins'.

A few days before I left for Auckland, out of nowhere, I got a sore foot.  I had to wear trainers the whole time in Auckland and this meant that all the wonderful female-type floaty summer confections I was going to wear had to go out the window and I had to dress down to match my shoes.  Oh, well, there'll be another day to be all feminine..

I figured my sore foot would only last a few days but several people (a stranger at the airport, plus a friend - are you reading this, J?) have gleefully announced that they had the same symptoms and I'll have my sore foot for a year!  All I could do in Auckland was sit in cafes.  I could hardly hobble across my hotel room.  I was so embarrassed when the Jetstar flight attendants ushered me and my hiking stick (vanity wouldnt allow me to use a walking stick) onto the plane first.

I swam at Mission Bay watched by, oh, about a hundred people.  I was the only one in the water, then I had to trudge up the beach to the changing sheds with every eye upon my big fat thighs.  It was my own personal hobble of shame.  The water was lovely.  Everybody in the city were in shorts and three-quarter pants, and t-shirts.  Come on, Wellington weather, don't show me up.  When are we getting summer?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hobbit postage stamp and NZ Post Building

Today, in the most atrociously cold and drizzly weather I went down to the Wellington wharves to photograph the NZ Post Building, roughly opposite the Railway Station.  It has a GIANT picture of Bilbo Baggins on one side of the building and on the other side are sillhouettes of the dwarves, all from Part 1 of The Hobbit.  The photo of Bilbo (Martin Freeman) is actually a postage stamp put out especially for the arrival of the movie.  Sorry for the bad quality of the photo but what with the weather and trying to photograph long distance, and everything (excuses, excuses....)  The second picture is a truly long-range one, taken from across the other side of the harbour, in front of Te Papa Tongarewa (the Museum of New Zealand).

P.S.:  J informs me that we did 6 (count them, six!) swims last month October, at Hataitai Beach, Wellington, New Zealand.  I said earlier that we'd done 5.  Goodness, we do so many nowadays, it's hard to keep count.  It's hard to remember that a few years ago, we were doing one a month and staying in for only a few minutes because we were scared of getting hyperthermia (or is that hypothermia, I never know!)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Signs. And how we interpret them.

Signs.    A few years ago, out walking, I came across a politcal sign for the Act Party, promising to lower the crime rate.   A graffiti artist had scrawled all over the sign.  Oh dear.

When in Las Vegas last American summer, I noticed a sign outside a restaurant that was inside the MGM complex stating that patrons were required to wear 'Seasonal Chic'.  This got me thinking.  No particular 'season' was stated.  In the height of a 42c heatwave, could I roll up in winter ski-woolly hooded anorak-and-Ugg boots chic?  Or if it truly was summer that was meant, what if I wore a jewelled bikini straight from the catwalk of Victoria's Secrets?.  On second thoughts, maybe I wouldn't turn up in a bikini;  I'd clear that restaurant out in a trice.

 One person's 'chic', surely is another person's poison?  Personally, my own personal summer 'seasonal chic' is shorts (most shorts are three-quarter pants, anyway, on me because I'm not that tall) crazy-patterned t-shirts, and rubber sandals.   In winter, it's dreary old black, black, and more black, along with  a smattering of brown  (hey, designers, why don't you let us wear colours in the winter?)

There is a sign at Brisbane Airport in Australia directing folk to the baby-changing room  (aside:  hey, how many parents out there would love to change - if only temporarily - their screaming babies for a quieter version?  Wouldn't a true baby-changing room be a hoot?) 

A couple of German young folk, laughing their heads off, and taking photos of the sign, explained to me that it looked as as if the depicted male was 'interfering'  (!) with the baby.     After that, I must admit, I did feel a trifle uncomfortable.  It just goes to show, again, that different people read different messages in signage.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Potted Potter stage show Wellington Opera House

Last night I went to see "Potted Potter" . a parody.  The seven Harry Potter books condensed into about an hour and a half.  Put on by Don and Jeff.  I think - I could be wrong - that it's a franchise which indicates to me that actors buy into it.

Anyway this particular show got rave reviews in Auckland and Wellington (google 'Potted Potter review a night of fun' from

It didn't rate much with me.  So children's pantomime-ish.  Only two actors on stage with props, e.g.hand puppets (dragon, Dobby).  wigs/hats/glasses: Hermione, Ron, Harry, etc.  Toy car for the Anglia Ford that flies.  I saw a bit of it the day before excerpted on tv's "Good Morning" and wondered what I was getting into.

There were mainly adults in the audience. Some books were acted out, for one there was a power point cartoon-y presentation, and for the quidditch match, the audience was divided into two house teams (Griffindor and Slytherin) and given a big beach ball to try to hit into the respective goals.
Some people like all this sort of stuff, but I don't

My main criticism was that one of the actors had a thick heavy Irish accent and because of trying to get the 7 plots out in the allotted time, he was gabbling really fast.  I could hardly understand him.  A waste of $65.

PS:  J and I got in 5 swims for October (phewww!) and we've done one for November.