Friday, October 31, 2014

Rugby in the United Sates

Hi  there

My American readers (all two of them?) may be interested in today's blog.  I am writing this on 1st November, New Zealand time.  This weekend, the New Zealand national rugby team, the All Blacks (since 1902 or thereabouts the team have been wearing 'all black') will be in Chicago playing the American Eagles, the United States rugby team.  The stadium is apparently sold out.   It is a big thing for us.  Not so much, perhaps, for America.  We hope that this weekend's game will be a giant springboard for the growth of rugby in the USA.

When the Eagles were in New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup a few years' back, they showed great promise.  At the time, I was sure that given a few more years they would become a team to be reckoned with.   I was a World Cup volunteer and met the Eagles.  Such nice guys....

9 swims in October.  One swim today, first for November.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

heaps of clothes

Hi there

The other day I was standing in the midst of a heap of clothes that almost reached as high as my knees.  What should I throw out and what should I keep?  Prime Ministers and Presidents have surely not had deeper problems to deal with.

Every now and then I feel guilty about the amount of clothes I keep that I don't often put on.  But, come on ... that luminous multi-coloured speckled glitter top?  I might wear it one day because my life is such a giddy round of disco evenings, yes?

The worst thing is that 90% of my clothes are beach-casual.  I have, maybe, three things that are suitable to wear when I go to town or have afternoon tea with my posh friends (my non-posh friends and I share tomato sandwiches at the beach, and we're in our bathing suits.  A sarong is about as classy as we get).

I love to haunt the charity shops.  I am always bringing home A Find.  The trouble is A Find that looks glorious in the mirror of the fitting room does rather tend to show off my big bottom or my sticking out tummy in my own mirror at home.  So most times, A Find goes straight-away into a charity bag.   Ah, the circle of  lifestyle.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Hobbit 3 movie: Air New Zealand Safety Video


The Hobbit:  the Battle of the five Armies

Here's Air New Zealand's latest safety video, all very Hobbit-y.  Richard Taylor and Peter Jackson are in it.  So is Wellington Airport.  Oh, there appears to be more real New Zealand scenery in this video than in any of The Hobbit movies!

(goodness, I wish I knew how to put the actual video on my blog.  Here's the link...)

My friend J is triumphant in her quest to bring The Good Life to hataitai Beach

Hi there

By now, my five readers realise that my friend, J, can get hot under her collar over several things.  The colour of the sea,  as a for instance.  Of course, she's completely wrong over that topic, but a few months ago she  started mumbling about the fading signage over the entrance to the ladies' changing shed at Hataitai Beach.

For quite some time the opposite sex, looking for a toilet,  have been wandering in to our shed by mistake, usually when J and I are hopping around trying to shove wet legs into damp trousers.  A couple of months ago,  J could stand it no longer, and sent a very nice email off to Wellington City Council, explaining the dilemma.

Her email was obviously too nice because nothing happened for a time.  Then 'voila!', or should that word be viola!'?  Maybe it's even 'violet!'?  - our reader who dances in France could no doubt tell me in a flash.  This week we noticed that not one, but two new signs have miraculously appeared.  The men's changing shed signage has had a brush-up, too. 

Of course J is beaming. It's not often WCC bows to a ratepayer's wishes.  Preen hard while you can, J, and bask in the glory.  The day will surely come when the rubbish truck misses out your street, or the road in front of your house springs forth a geyser,  or the guy next door blares out AC/DC at 2 am in the morning.   The response may not be as quick as a couple of months next time.

Oh, and the sea was so beautifully blue yesterday....

Friday, October 17, 2014

Weta talk by Richard Taylor at Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand

Hi there

Today was the last talk at Te Papa by Weta staff.  Richard Taylor, head of Weta Workshop produced a  light-hearted session.  He started off by showing pictures from babyhood upwards.  When he was just a kid he found mud in the stream at the bottom of his garden and started sculpting.   Now, he prefers to use Nelson White clay to create models.  The clay comes in immense blocks.  Most people would just see a lump of clay but Richard says he sees a monster, a creature, a castle....  And he can't wait to get his hands in the clay.

Richard said that though Weta dealt wth hardware, they preferred to call it 'heartware' because every image that was made up had to come from the heart of the person doing the creating.  He said that if young people wanted to work for Weta it was no use sending in just the typical portfolio that encompassed only things they had been trained to do in classes.  At the end of each portfolio book, he wanted to see the indvidualism, the heart, the imaginaton of the artist.

He showed shots from the New Thunderbirds series and also spoke of a projected animation tale about a bi-polar polar bear.

What a lovely man.  And still with a great love that shines through for his work.  I have hardly drawn a picture in my life and certainly never sculpted anything.  But listening to an ethusiastic Richard, I suddenly wanted to run out of Te Papa and start working on my very own lump of clay.


There is a dinosaur exhibition at Te Papa at the moment, with a transportation container in the forecourt.  Notices on the container say something like 'danger, live dinsosaur inside'.  And there are loud roars coming from within.  The kids love it.

attention: my laptop is playing up.  I can't seem to type properly on it.  It may break down completely soon.  If I havent downloaded a blog entry for, say, over a week, I hope you will understand...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hataitai Beach

Hi there-

..."it isn't."

"It is."



Honestly, my swimming friend, J, and I were bickering like a couple of five year olds.  We were standing on the footpath in front of Hataitai Beach, and contemplating the sea.

One of my favourite readers had left a comment about a photo I had recently taken of the beach.  She mentioned that the water was a lovely blue.

J disputed this.  She gazed across to the sea.  "It's not blue. It's never blue."

"Come on, it is."


"What colour is it, then?" I demanded.

"It's .... green/grey."

"It's blue.  Soft blue."


"Tisn't."  I was barely an inch away from a tantrum.

It seemed, so was J. "Tis...," she said determinedly.

And we were off again.  Goodness ... friends have split up over lesser subjects.


Here's a picture I took today, after our 6th swim for the month.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Hi there

Yesterday, I went to the latest talk at Te Papa Tongarewa (the Museum of New Zealand/) by Weta personnel.  I learnt a great deal about digital work.  Again, I was surprised how often digital doubles are used in The Hobbit movies, especially for close-ish shots.

 Luke, who appeared in lots of the movies in all different guises was made-up and dressed as an Orc whilst a video presentation on make-up was shown, and a talk given.  The audence had been told last week not to take photos, so this week I left my camera and my phone at home.  Naturally, this time we were told we could take photos!  I did think of photo-bombing all the photos being taken and then asking for copies to be sent me but I thought this would be taking my sitcom queen reputation a little too far. 

Today (Sunday, NZ time) my swimming friend J and I trotted down to Hataitai Beach and had a positively wonderful swim.  The water was calm and clear, the sky was blue, the weather warm, and we got carried away discussing world affairs.

 I explained that years and years ago, I went to a hand-writing expert.

I said to J:  "The woman asked me 'How do you doodle-?"

J broke in on my tale, sporting a big grin.    "I'm fine, thank you.   How do you do-odle?"

Don't give up your day job, J.....   Oh, wait, you're retired.  Maybe they will accept you for a stint at the Comedy Club after all.

Here's a pic of Hataitai Beach taken today.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Scott Bakula and Kate Mulgrew

Hi there

You know that I like Las Vegas, right?   I love television and movies, too.   Las Vegas and show biz go  together.  Celebrities gravitate to LV.  I mean, Celine Dion ... Rod Stewart ... Jerry Seinfeld ... Olivia Newton-John.... Penn & Teller ... One Direction ... Faith Hill .... Tim McGraw ...Grumpy Cat ...

I missed out on Grumpy Cat last August but, my goodness, I caught up with a few others who were appearing there on publicity jaunts.

Here's a happy me between Kate Mulgrew (she plays 'Red' in the series "Orange is the New Black"), and Scott Bakula who is the star of the new "NCIS: New Orleans", which is starting up on our Prime channel tv screens this coming Friday.  They were both lovely people, and so natural.

Kate said to me that she wished someone would invite her to New Zealand.  Any offers?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Weta at Te Papa Tongarewa (Museum of New Zealand)

Hi there
Today, I trotted along to Te Papa to listen to talks by Weta Digital worker, Matt Aitkin and Weta Workshoppers Dan Falconer, Paul Tobin, and Ben Hawker.   Many videos were used showing Weta projects.  We saw, for instance, how a dragon was made:-  first an un-detailed flying and flapping image, then skeleton, followed up by muscles, skin folds and wrinkles, etc.  Fascinating.

 In answer to a question from the audience Matt admitted that 'making miniatures are a part of history now'.  It is so much easier to go straight to the computer, he said. This statement was in direct contrast to that of Dan, Paul and Ben who later said they were still sculpting miniatures.  Disagreements, lads?

Dan said that they were re-booting 'Thunderbirds".  Using miniatures.  They have to whip up props in a matter of days.  They've gratefully rescued toner tubes, bits of Lego, and broken hairdryers to build vehicles. 

It was acknowledged that LOTR was filmed with a great deal of real scenery, but 'The Hobbit' has hardly any; it's practically all digitally done.  Judging by the examples we saw, I was surprised how many times digital doubles were used in The Hobbit movies.

Honestly, it appears to me that give it - what? -  20 years, and there will be no actors.  Everything will be digitally controlled.  That's sad.  I loved LOTR because the movies showcased NZ.  'The Hobbit' showcases ... where?

The Te Papa theatre was booked in advance and sold out.  An off-shoot room was, I believe, used for live streaming.  But about 50 people didnt turn up at the main theatre so I suggest that if you can't register for these free sessions and want to attend over the next two Saturday afternoons, roll up at Te Papa, and hang around the theatre doors after the main wave of people have gone through - you may be allowed in .

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

hailstorms and swims

HI there

J and I managed 10 swims during September.  We trotted down to the beach on the 1st of October to find the sands all but inundated with people (well, there were a couple of families).  It was the Spring school holidays.  Half a dozen wet-suited swimmers were in the water and some toddlers were playing in the shallows.

J and I swam in our bathing suits, revealing bare shoulders and legs.  We tried to look sniffily down our noses at the wet suited ones but actually they went further out than we usually do, and swam with really powerful strokes and, so, I'll give those guys a point or two for professionalism.  The trouble with us is that we get carried away talking to each other during our swimming sessions and sometimes we stop swimming to expound on a theory, gesticulating wildly to prove a point.  Oh dear. 

Bright spot, however:  we did stay in longer than the wet-suited ones.

Oh, a couple of weeks ago, Wellington had hail.  I was surprised when I looked at the photo that I took from out of a relative's front doorway.  There appear to be fairy bubbles floating around.  Or did my cheap ratty camera actually capture the hailstones mid-flight?

I see that Te Papa Tongarewa (Museum of New Zealand) here in Wellington are celebrating 20 years of Weta.  Everty Saturday this month there will be talks by Weta personnel about the making of Lord of the Rings, Planet of the Apes, and The Hobbit.