Archive for the ‘DPF’ Category

A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay about the Death of Walt Disney

September 4th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Circa has put on a production of A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay about the Death of Walt Disney.

The play, written by Lucas Hnath started on Broadway, and I think this is the first time it has been produced in New Zealand.

I was excited to see the play, as it starred David McPhail as Walt Disney. However, despite some very good acting, I found the play overall under-whelming.

The four actors did well. I loved seeing David McPhail on the stage, and he looked and felt the part of a domineering boss. Maybe he was channeling his years spent playing Muldoon.

Nick Blake played Walt’s brother Roy. Roy was CEO of Disney for many years and was portrayed as the guy kept in the shadows by Walt, and even used by Walt as a foil. His depiction of Roy was very sympathetic .

Jessica Robinson played Walt’s daughter (Diane, but not named in the play). She had few lines but they were the best parts, especially when she said she didn’t want to call a son Walt, because “When I say your name, I think all sorts of things I don’t want to think. When I say your name, I think of you, and when I think of you I get all angry, and when I think of you and the way you act, and the way you yell …”

And Richard Falkner played Ron, Walt’s son-in-law. He was portrayed as a bit of a sports focused jock (and looked the part). He wanted a role with the Disney empire, even as a cleaner, but was not seen up to scratch.

The cast did well, and I liked the production details such as having Diane and Ron on stage through all the scenes where they didn’t talk, but reacting with facial expressions. Robinson especially conveyed as much with her expressions as her line.

But overall I found the play hard to get into. It livened up around half way through, but it did not emotionally engage me. There was some dramatic tension and humour, but you never felt particularly warm or repulsed to any of the characters. It almost seemed ordinary, except it was about the family of Walt Disney.

It could have been redeemed (and the fault is with the script, not the local production) if the play was based on real events. I like plays where you learn stuff about someone famous, especially a side not seen before. One could do a very good play about the darker side of Walt Disney. He was on the fringes of the anti-semitic movement, and he had feuds lasting decades with staff.

But the focus on the family didn’t work for me, as it seems to be more speculation than fact. While Disney may have been a difficult father, his daughter actually is very loyal to him, and has attacked other works criticising him. She even set up the family museum in his honour. And one of her sons is named Walter.

The son-in-law actually was CEO of Disney for many years, so wasn’t a thicko. And the stuff on Disney wanting to be cryogenically frozen is a debunked urban legend.

John Smythe at Threatreview commented:

It’s entirely possible A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay about The Death of Walt Disney could work much better in the relative intimacy of Circa Two – and I have a strong feeling Destination Beehive (in Circa Two with its cast of eight) is destined to sell out and leave many punters disappointed. If it was logistically possible for the shows to swap venues, I think they should.

I’d endorse that. This play is unlikely to have mass appeal, but it is still an interesting insight into the Disney empire.

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Destination Beehive

September 1st, 2014 at 4:32 pm by David Farrar

Went to Circa yesterday to see Destination Beehive, and I laughed almost non stop for 80 minutes.

It’s a great production that anyone who has even a small interest in politics will adore. Pinky Agnew and Lorae Perry have combined a topical hilarious script, with some great acting and some mashed up tunes that are very catchy.

The basic premise is that you are in a Meet the Candidates meeting for Port Nicholson. Through a combination of video, and live acting, you meet the ten local candidates, and their party leaders (or senior MPs).

The mixture of video, singing, music, acting and even weather reports are a fabulous combination.

A cast of eight play multiple characters. They all did really well, but the one that I must highlight is Jack Buchanan. His Colin Craig character was side splitting. He also played a leggy Jacinda Ardern and the ALCP candidate. some of the costume changes were done in less than a minute.

The play was updated to keep event of currents events. We went on Sunday, and they had a piece on Judith Collins’ resignation the previous day.

Labour had a secret surprise candidate for Port Nic, who may just turn out to be the next Leader of the Labour Party.

One audience members got dragged up onto stage to get a “political makeover”. What was very funny is that unknown to the cast, the person they chose is a senior ministerial staffer. She took her makeover in good grace!

All parties, leaders and candidates are mercilessly mocked. No on is spared. Kim Dotcom makes an appearance, and his local candidate is a very Bavarian Heidi Dotcodotnz.

Crowd favourite was Dame Kate Harcourt playing the NZ First candidate. She was, as always, just superb.

Whale Oil got more mentions than most MPs. Luckily Kiwiblog was mentioned only once!

There are many great musical parodies, including take off’s of Lorde’s Royals. The crowd really got into it, and started singing along.

There’s also a great dance number at the end that will surprise.

This is one of those plays that I can recommend you see without hesitation. It’s on at Circa until 20 September. You’ll kick yourself if you miss it.

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It seems the feminists work for me!!

August 27th, 2014 at 1:35 pm by David Farrar

Peter Zohrab has done an open letter to the Speaker of the House.

27 August 2014

The Speaker Rt. Hon. David Carter
Parliament
Parliament House
Wellington

Dear Mr. Carter,

On 26 August 2014, Human Rights lawyer, Tony Ellis, said in an interview on Television New Zealand that Human Rights are only paid lip service to. It was not clear whether he was referring to human rights in general in New Zealand, but that may well be the case! 

On August 1st 2014, some Men’s Rights activists, including myself, were mounting a demonstration outside Bowen House, Wellington, which of course houses the offices of many Members of Parliament.  Three security guards who were working inside Bowen House came out — one-by-one and later en masse — to harass us, by questioning us and implying that what we were doing was not allowed and that they had some authority over us, both of which was untrue.  They took our photographs.  I only got rid of them by taking their photographs and starting to phone the Police.  As you know, they have no jurisdiction over the footpath and so were interfering with our Freedom of Expression.

At one stage, an obviously Feminist woman appeared out of nowhere and started arguing with us. I assume that she was deliberately dropped off by car in front of us, because I had not seen her walk towards us from the side along the footpath, and she left by being picked up by car from the footpath in front of us.  She was obviously an agent provocateur, and it was after that that the three security guards appeared together and said that they had received a complaint, which appeared to be from her.  It was a false complaint.

Could you please 

  1. discipline your security guards for this arbitrary and totalitarian behaviour;
  2. find out from them the name and contact details of the woman who complained to them and pass this information on to the Police and to me;
  3. discipline them if they do not have a record of her name and contact details;
  4. ask the Police to investigate if the incident with the agent provocateur was instigated by David Farrar, who passed in front of us twice and is a Feminist.

On 7 April 2013 I wrote to you about another case of Parliamentary staff apparently interfering with my Freedom of Expression — with regard to Select Committee submissions.  On that occasion, you gave no impression of having got to the bottom of the matter.  I hope you achieve a better result this time.  I note that the senior of the three security guards was a woman, and that the [deleted by DPF] does a good impression of being a Lesbian woman.  David Farrar has mentioned that I have called New Zealand a Dykeocracy, so this may be a case in point.

 I attach photographs of the security guards.

Yours sincerely,

 Peter D. Zohrab


http://equality.limewebs.com/?p=1#comments
http://newmalestudies.com/OJS/index.php/nms  

Should I confess that I did indeed send in a feminist provocateur to argue with Peter Zohrab? Will he discover that the Wellington Young Feminists Collective is in fact a wholly owned subsidiary of DPF Group Ltd?

The vast feminist conspiracy claims another victim. Well done girls. Charlie is very pleased with your work.

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How Hager got it wrong on The Princess Party

August 22nd, 2014 at 5:10 pm by David Farrar

One section of Nicky Hager’s book stated I had organised a Princess Party, and had dialogue from some unnamed people about getting girls drunk, with an implication I was part of that conversation.

hagerbook

I was not the organiser of the party, and was not a party to the conversation. Yet Hager published this as fact. It is reasonably defamatory as various people have smeared me over it.

I did attend a party in 2011 in Palmerston North held the day before a party conference. I was not the organiser. I invited two friends along, of similiar age to myself. Off memory it was called a Princess Party, because the Royal Wedding was occurring around then. As a Republican, I’m an unlikely organiser.

The e-mails have been released by Whaledump, and I quote from then below. I’m redacting the names of the participants, but of course the source e-mails are on Whaledump.

Name 1, 4/26, 12:02am

my email doesn’t get read

lol

Apparently Pinko is the main driving force behind the Princess party

Now this e-mail is presumably why Hager thought I was the organiser. But he gets it totally wrong. They are laughing at the fact that someone thinks I am the organiser. This is the problem where you write a book on stolen e-mails, and don’t verify, fact check, or interview a single person for it.

One must note the irony of the comment about e-mails not getting read though :-)

————————-
Name 2, 4/26, 12:03am

well i was going to say i have cleared the field for you, given you the most likely targets and will get them drunk for you
————————-
Name 1, 4/26, 12:03am

he has invited [REDACTED] to it and to the one the next night
————————-
Name 2, 4/26, 12:03am

righto, good cleint recruitment

he asked if he can bring Name 3, which i said yes to
————————-

Yep, I got invited to a party, and invited two friends to it – both of a similiar age to me – one male and female. I had no role in the conversation reported in the book. Yet the book reports me as the organiser, and implies I was involved in the conversation.

If Mr Hager is doing reprints of his book, I would appreciate it if he could make the appropriate corrections.

And perhaps this is a lesson to everyone out there, not to take everything in the book at face value. If he has got this wrong, what else has he got wrong? Again this is what happens when you don’t verify anything or give people a chance to respond.

UPDATE: I actually blogged on the party in 2011. To quote me:

Had a very fun night in Palmerston North last night (a sentence which some might say was unlikely to ever be uttered by me) watching the Royal Wedding. Yes I’m a Republican, but I can still enjoy a good wedding. The dress code was tiaras for women and black tie for men.

It was a hilariously mixed group of people. Three out of the five Kiwiblog editorial team were in attendance, plus I’d guess half the Don Brash coup committee. A wedding can be a good uniter :-)

We also had members of the Monarchist League and Republicans, so it was a very good fun night. Debating the constitutional reform at 1 am is so much more tolerable after many bottles of champagne.

Somewhat sad that it was a party, and I’m debating constitutional reform at 1 am at it. Also a very different impression to what Hager’s book implied.

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Some changes for Kiwiblog

August 19th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Over the last week or so I have seriously considered walking away from Kiwiblog. While some will take huge pleasure in what has happened, let me say that it is genuinely traumatic to have hacked e-mails to and from yourself (even if you were not the one hacked) floating around, and to also realise that because you are a blogger and pollster, it means you and your office is fair game. One of the worst moments was having a senior staff member of mine, who is also a very good friend, tell me that she had been worried that I might think she was the leak, as our politics are different. I hate the impact this is having on so many people.

Some of the revelations coming out, also do not show aspects of the blogosphere in a good light (to put it mildly) and I’ve thought quite a bit about how this impacts the wider blogosphere.

I don’t believe that the book shows me having acted in any way inappropriately. I have  gone out of my way to be open about my background and leanings and relationships, and I follow my own views when I blog – hence why I campaigned against the Government last year on the copper tax (despite being a Chorus shareholder!). I never have taken any form of money or kind for blog posts, and disclose even the mist minor gifts.

There is part of me that wants to walk away so I am no longer a target. Politics is far less important to me than family and friends. I’ve also considered whether to do what Cameron often calls me, and become a travel and arts blogger, and have less or almost no focus on politics. But the trouble is the blog for me is an outlet on what I think – what I like, what annoys me, what amuses me, what appals me. And I can’t imagine it can function as that, if I try and avoid politics. I do genuinely blog because I like having my say – that is my primary motivation.

Also I do like to think, without being immodest, that I do make good contributions to politics in NZ. I can data crunch, I have a 20+ year history of political knowledge which can put things in context, I have good relationships, and I generally get good feedback on my commentary in the mainstream media. I’m far far from irreplaceable, but there are not that many people who have the time, skills and employment situation that allows them to substantively blog.

So after some reflection, I have decided to carry on, but to make some changes. I want to improve trust in myself, Kiwiblog, and perhaps the wider blogosphere. So I’ve decided on the following.

  1. Kiwiblog is sending in an application today to join the Online Media Standards Authority. I’m not doing this so I can be called media. I don’t intend to label myself as media. I’m a blogger. I’m doing it so I can be held accountable to a public code of ethics and standards, and an independent complaint procedure. The code of ethics and standards will apply to both myself, and all guest bloggers here.
  2. I receive up to a dozen unsolicited e-mails a day, suggesting stories to me. Most are from people who are not politicians or staff – just ordinary readers. Some are just links to stories, some make some points on a topical issue. I sometimes quote these e-mails in posts. I have always been very careful to distinguish between content I write, and content people may send me (which I quote as coming from a reader). But I’m going to go a further step and if any content substantially comes from a parliamentary, or political party staffer, source I will state so when using it. I will not name individuals, but if I quote someone I will include information on their affiliations, when relevant. You will find this is very infrequently.
  3. There has been a culture of sharing stories in advance with others who may be interested in the story. Nothing wrong with sharing information. I don’t do it that often, but have when I think I have a particularly relevant story, that others may want to also blog on. This isn’t a conspiracy, it is simply information sharing. However I’m not going to do this in future. Generally no one will gets a heads up on my stories. The exception will be if it is an explicitly co-ordinated campaign such as happened in early 2009 over the pending changes to the Copyright Act, when I contacted blogs from the left and right to take part in the Black Out campaign.
  4. When I have disagreed in the past with stories Cam has run, I’ve tended to say so directly to try and influence him. The joke is my 1% success rate is higher than most.  On the recent case of Tania Billingsley, I said in a phone conversation that I didn’t think speculating on her motives was a wise thing to do. I made contact after a friend of Tania’s asked me to have a word. But I accept that having a direct conversation doesn’t mean I shouldn’t also publicly say when I think something is wrong. So in future I will more often. One can be friends, and say I think you are wrong with what you are doing. And yes we are friends. When I had some health issues a couple of years ago Cam was there for me in a big way, and on a personal note, I know he will remain there for me, and I will for him. But again, it doesn’t mean I can’t say I think you are wrong and shouldn’t do it, just as he regularly calls me out for being a pinko, or the such!
  5. After the election (ie when I have more time) I am going to consult on a tougher moderation policy for the comments. I want them to be robust and forceful, but focused more on issues than people. I have very limited time to read them myself, so probably will ask for some readers to step forward as moderators. We’ll have that discussion in October.

I hope people will appreciate the changes. I welcome feedback on them, and other suggestions. I believe political blogs can play a very valuable role in political discourse, and want to do what I can to be a constructive part of it.

UPDATE: The hone of mainly anonymous bloggers, The Standard, has a go at my decision to have even more transparency than I currently do. And what is hilarious, is the post is anonymous.

Also they print an extract from the book which is totally factually wrong. The party they cite was not organised by me, and I did not even invite anyone to attend. I went to a party in Palmerston North. Around 30 to 40 people attended the party, and they can all attest I was not the organiser. It’s just a smear.

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I’ve either been hacked or spied on

August 15th, 2014 at 7:40 am by David Farrar

I started reading more fully the Nicky Hager book yesterday, and the footnotes in the book. To my shock I realised that Hager had info in the book that could not have come from the hacking of Cameron Slater, but could only have come from my computer, my apartment or my office.

Specifically he refers to copies of two scripts used by my company, Curia Research, this year. There is absolutely no way they could have come from Cameron Slater’s computer systems, as Cameron doesn’t have them. No one has them but me and my office.

I thought about how this could have happened. The two most likely scenarios are that my computer systems have also been hacked, or that someone physically removed the scripts from my office (or possibly apartment). All of these scenarios make me feel sick, and make me worry about the security of the 100+ staff working for me.

Some of the material is very recent – from June 2014 – just two months ago. I think the most likely thing is that someone joined the staff (we recruit often) with the purpose of acquiring material from my office. There’s no evidence of a break in, and I tend to keep my computer systems fairly secure.

I am sure the official explanation will be that the scripts just turned up in an envelope somewhere, and they have no idea how they got there. I think that is bullshit. Most of my staff are young students, who I can’t imagine would suddenly decide to send a copy of my scripts to Nicky Hager in the post.

I consider this outrageous, just as I hope people would if someone from the right infiltrated the offices of the Labour Party pollsters, to steal their material.

There is no public interest defence to the stealing of the material belonging to my clients. There was nothing sinister or inappropriate in it.  In fact one of the scripts detailed in the book is of some questions we did for Family First, who published the results on their website, including the full questions. But I know Hager has a copy of the script as he has quoted the question numbers, which are not included in the published results.

I do not accept that because I am a blogger, and my company has National as a client, it makes it all right for me to be hacked or spied on, and material stolen from me.

This is the second Hager book that has e-mails from or to me. In 2008 (off memory) a left wing activist gained entry to a social function I was at, and covertly tape recorded conversations. My office has been infiltrated. To be honest, I’m pretty disgusted at the moment as I consider the pattern over several years.

I don’t hold the left generally responsible. I have many many friends involved in politics on the left. I’ve appreciated their support in recent days. They are good people. I think most Labour and Green MPs are good people. But there is an extreme segment of the left who do think that it is okay to hack, steal, record and spy on others, because we are of the right.

My gut reaction last night was to give up politics, if it means that I am going to have to worry about spies infiltrating my company, my communications being hacked, people recording private conversations with me. I regard my family, friends and loved ones as far more important to me, than my involvement in politics. But I’m not going to do that in haste.

Instead with huge regret I’m going to have to stop being so trusting. I’m going to have to pay what will be possibly a fair bit of money to check my apartment, my office and my computer systems for anything that shouldn’t be there. While my assumption is that the scripts came from someone who had physical access to my office, I can’t be sure. If people regard hacking and stealing as fair game, I don’t have the confidence they’ll stop at that.

I could introduce systems in my office where staff get personalised copies of scripts, that must be handed in,and have security cameras to record people. But I’m not going to do that. I value my staff too much to insult them. All but one of them will be as offended as I am, by the fact someone has betrayed their trust by stealing material (if my assumption is correct).

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the cleaners stole it. Should I check out my cleaners also? I hate the fact I’m even having to think about this. I’m sure again that there will be some official version offered in which no one did anything wrong to acquire those scripts, but pardon me, if I have some disbelief.

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The Hager book

August 13th, 2014 at 8:13 pm by David Farrar

Rather bemused to find an entire chapter of Nicky Hager’s book is on me, and also how banal it is. Almost everything in there is in the public domain, as I live a pretty open life. But what Hager has done is wave his normal conspiracy theory through everything and make the fact that bloggers and other talk to each other, some sort of sinister thing.

Basically the chapter is a revelation that I am a member of the National Party! I didn’t realise this was a big secret.

He seems to have no curiousity at all over all the bloggers on the left who don’t blog under their real names, and are rumoured to actually work in Parliament. He also doesn’t worry about one blogger who has been on multiple party payrolls and never declared it, until outed.

What is very interesting is that his source is once again stolen e-mails. In The Hollow Men, he claimed they were leaked to him by an insider. In this book they are obviously hacked from Cameron Slater, which to my mind raises huge disbelief over his claims that the previous set of e-mails were leaked.

I’ve had a quick read through the chapter on me, and a few things I’ll point out.

  • Hager thinks my setting Kiwiblog up was due to my involvement in the IDU. That’s nuts. I’ve been debating politics online since 1996, originally through Usenet. I set Kiwiblog up because I like debate. It was not encouraged by anyone, and I was surprised it has turned out influential. In fact in the early days quite a few in National put pressure on for me not to blog.
  • I get e-mails from numerous people, including Jason Ede, pointing stories out to me, or suggesting things I may want to blog on. I get them from lots of ordinary blog readers, from friends, from some staff, and sometmes even an MP. But I decide what I blog, and they always accord with my political views.
  • A tiny proportion of what I blog comes from National sources. Way under 5%. I write Kiwiblog, and people send me ideas – and this is somehow a conspiracy. Very very very occasionally I might proactively ask for some info – maybe every couple of months, if that.
  • Most of what I blog is pro-National, as you would expect. But most weeks there is an issue I disagree with them on. I did multiple posts attacking the Government on the proposed copper tax, and even had Kiwiblog join an aggressive campaign against National on this. I have several times lobbied minor party MPs not to support National on bills or amendments. I recently said I think John Key should have accepted Gerry Brownlee’s resignation.
  • When Curia first set up, it of course had only one client. Since then it has grown nicely. At last count around 60+. The initial staff were mainly people I knew through National, as I took over what had been some internal polling, but today we have well over 100 staff and I don’t think any of them are Young Nats. The 2ic for Curia is a Labour supporter who told me the first time we socialised together that for a right wing bastard, I’m not totally bad. We poll for many clients, whose politics I do not share. I’ve polled for former Labour and Alliance MPs. I’ve polled for Family First, and disagree with them on 90% of their issues.
  • Nicky seems to think it is a secret I am National’s pollster. A bloody badly kept secret. It’s on my website. It is referred to often.
  • He is also excited that my staff do some canvassing work for National candidates or MPs. Yep. It creates extra work for my staff which is great. But we don’t just do it for them. While most of our work is polling, if people want to utilise our call centre, and pay for it, they can. Just last week I had one client contract our call centre to make 18,000 phone calls on their behalf – this is a totally non-political client. I’ll work for pretty much anyone who pays (so long as not a conflict of interest)

Most of the book is on Cam. Cam does some great stuff and he sometimes does some appalling stuff. Cam does not work for anyone, or even take guidance from anyone. He is his own force of nature.

Hager basically doesn’t like the fact the right now have voices. He basically says no media should ever use me as a commentator. He is threatened by the fact we finally have one organisation (Taxpayers Union) arguing for less government spending, to counter the 2,000 or so that argue for more.

My final comment is to note that people thought his book may be on the NSA and GCSB intercepting electronic communications. It would seem the person who is the biggest recipient and publisher of intercepted electronic communications is in fact Nicky Hager. If someone published a book of e-mails between a group of left-wingers, he’d probably call it a police state, and demand an inquiry,

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A View from the Bridge

July 21st, 2014 at 4:46 pm by David Farrar

Another Arthur Miller classic has just started at Circa, A View from the Bridge.

The promotional tagline is “Love. Loyalty. Family. Revenge” and that is a fairly pithy summary of the play.

Eddie and Beatrice Carbone are an Italian-American family in Brooklyn. Gavin Rutherford and Jude Gibson both do excellent jobs of emulating the distinctive twang we associate with such families.

Eddie and Beatrice are guardians to Eddie’s niece Catherine, played by Acushla-Tara Sutton. Catherine’s parents are dead and her mother was Eddie’s sister. She’s 17 and debating whether to stay at school or enter the workforce.

Eddie, Beatrice and Catherine are a loving family. They argue, but they are there for each other. Then the family extends as they take in two cousins of Beatrice’s from Sicily. Marco and Rodolpho are illegal immigrants who have come to America as there are no jobs or income back home. Marco has a wife and young children back home. Marco is single. they are played by Alex Grieg and Paul Waggott respectively. The sixth cast member is Christopher Brougham who plays the lawyer and narrator Alfieri.

As with almost all Miller plays, they are dramatic portayals of the tensions within a family. And this has tensions in all directions:

  • Eddie’s over-protective attitude towards Catherine goes from paternalistic to creepy
  • Eddie and Beatrice’s strained needy relationship
  • The blossoming love between Rodolpho and Catherine
  • The suspicion that Rodolpho may be more interested in a green card than Catherine, and may not even be that interested in women
  • The protective attitude of Marco to Rodolpho
  • The Sicilian and Italian attitudes towards family and honour

Susan Wilson directs a very faithful and compelling recital of the Miller play. The 80 minute first half sets the scene, with the tension building slowly, and the 40 minute second half is full of explosive tension, which keeps you on the edge of your seat.

The play was once banned in the 1950s by the UK Lord Chancellor. Today it would not even get a PG rating.

This is a play about passion, and the cast succeed in portraying this. You feel yourself swept into a maelstrom of emotions. You wonder about whether the over-protectiveness is sinister or just inappropriate. The question of Rodolpho’s intentions tease you throughout the play. I suspect if you polled the audience, they would be divided 50/50 on whether he loves Catherine or not.

The play has a dramatic conclusion, yet it also (deliberately) leaves many questions unanswered. If Miller had ever written a sequel set ten years later, I think that would also have become a classic.

This is the 5th Arthur Miller play directed by Susan Wilson. It was an excellent production as good as you’ll see anywhere. A very good night’s entertainment.

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The road that wasn’t there

July 14th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Road That Wasn’t There is a smart, short delightful production at Circa.

The play starts with Gabriel furiously stamping papers in an office job in Australia. He rushes through them to try and grab the phone, but always missed it and it goes to voice mail. The fact the phone is a 1950s type phone just makes the incongruity fun.

The set is a collection of cardboard boxes that get turned over or removed to announce each new chapter. One of the boxes also double as a projection screen, where a series of shadow figures are creatively displayed.

The plot is simple, yet convoluted. Gabriel returns home as his mother seems to be going nuts, including stealing maps and hanging them all over her house. The mother eventually tells Gabriel the story of his father – which is a fairy tale involving paper roads, Blanket Man, monsters and and a theatrical company.

Everything works well in this play. The three actors entertain wonderfully. The shadows and the puppets are delightful, and the story captures you. You want to know how it ends.

A great play that appeals to all ages. On until Sat 19 July.

 

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Steve Braunias’ World Cup Diary

June 20th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Metro is running a compilation of thoughts on the Football World Cup. Day 7 includes me:

I’m backing Germany to win the World Cup. It’s only fair as they get so grumpy having to work hard, paying tax, to fund the lazy Greeks and Spanish, so winning the World Cup would cheer them up a lot.

Of course a cheerful German is still much more grumpy than a pissed-off Kiwi, but just like poverty, it’s all relative.

I’m hoping Sami Khedira will score the winning goal for Germany in the final, as it will lead to celebrations throughout the Muslim world, and stop the civil war in Iraq.

Also it would means lots of close-ups of Lena Gercke, who is one of the smarter wags.

Also Martyn Bradbury:

Who d’you think will win the World Cup?

My brain says Brazil, my heart screams Tyrion Lannister.

Seen any heroes or villains so far?

Why are the commentary team on TVNZ so obvious and dull in their commentary?

Is football a socialist paradigm, a worker’s collective, or a capitalist model, which rewards individual excellence?

It’s an opiate for the masses that distracts them from solidarity against hegemonic power structures ruled over by a corrupt sports bureaucracy who make drug cartels look civic-minded.

For once I agree with Martyn.

And the Ruminator:

Who d’you think will win the World Cup?

Germany is looking pretty good.

Have you seen any heroes or villains ?

Wayne Rooney is an ugly bloke, isn’t he.

Is football a socialist paradigm, a worker’s collective, or a capitalist model, which rewards individual excellence?

Football is the perfect capitalist model. In theory, every team could win it, couldn’t they? Oh my god! Costa Rica beat Uruguay! Goodness! Costa Rica could go all the way!

That’s football giving false hope to the proletariat. Give them a slice of glory and watch them gobble it up and be satisfied.

But then by the end of the tournament, the elites (Brazil, Germany, France, Italy, Argentina) will rise to the top and take it away. Because screw the poor. Screw them. It’s as if Milton Friedman designed the tournament.

It would be far better if Milton had designed it.

And Whale:

Is there a World Cup on? Football? I’m too busy playing a combination of House of Cards and Game of Thrones in the truly best game there is on this planet…politics.

Politics is a fun blood sport!

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Equivocation

June 8th, 2014 at 8:19 pm by David Farrar

Just got back from seeing Equivocation, at Circa. It’s on for two more weeks until Sat 21 June.

The play is about telling the truth in difficult times, with a fictitious setting of Shakespeare having been commissioned to write a play based on Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder Plot. Does Shakespeare tell the truth about the plot, or the version the Government in the form of Sir Robert Cecil wants?

The cast has five men who play multiple roles each, and one woman – Tai Berdinner-Blades who plays Shakespeare’s daughter Judith.

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Andrew Foster plays Shakespeare – still grieving his dead son (Judith’s twin) and having to choose between choosing to lie or choosing to live.

Paul McLaughlin play Shakespeare friend and troupe actor Richard. he also plays Jesuit Henry Garnet.

Tom Eason plays young actor Sharpe, and King James I.

Jason Whyte plays an older actor Nate, but also the sinister Sir Robert Cecil.

And finally Gavin Rutherford is at his comic best playing Armin and many other roles.

It’s a long play, almost three hours long (including an interval). The first Act was a bit slow, but the second Act was fast paced and often funny.

The play breaks pretty much the first, second, third and fourth walls. You’re never quite sure if you’re seeing the play, seeing them play a rehearsal, seeing them play a play – or just seeing them talk to the audience. There’s lots of audience interaction – especially for those in the aisles.

The acting was first class, with all six cast playing their roles very well. The costume changes were non-stop, and the overall plot very cleverly done with many allusions to other plays – especially the Scottish one. It was a fun thought provoking night.

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A helpful taxi driver

May 26th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I was in a taxi in Wellington this morning and the taxi driver asks me if my kids are grown up.

I tell her that I don;t have any kids, trying not to panic at the the thought that if I did have kids they could possibly be adults.

She asks if my wife didn’t want any. I reply that I don’t have a wife or partner – that I’m single.

She asks why not, and I reply that I’ve yet to meet the right woman.

She then tells me that I need to pray to God and God will deliver the right woman to me.

While I could take this in a negative light, as suggesting my dating life needs divine intervention, I prefer to see it as a suggestion that my next girlfriend will be an angel :-)

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2b or nt 2b

May 18th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Went last night to the opening performances of 2b or nt 2b and 4 Billion Likes!

They’re two different shows, but both performed by 1st Gear Productions Youth Theatre and written and directed by Sarah  Delahunty.

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This was a well acted and produced performance of six iconic fictional characters in the modern world.

Bronwyn Ensor plays the manipulative Hedda Gabler.

Neenah Dekkers is an emo like Masha.

Michael Trigg is a woeful Hamlet.

Alice Orchard is Irina Sergeyevna Prozorva.

Sylvie McCreanor is a very angry and bitter Antigone.

Georgie Sivier is a babbling lovely Helena.

The play starts with them all ringing various companies for assistance, and there is much humour with some very well known automated call systems trying to cope with their requests.

Then they discover an online bulletin board, where they get chatting to each  other. Hedda convinces them all to meet the Bridge to Nowhere (now in the Hutt!) and go out in style. Their meeting is both dramatic and funny. Antigone and Hamlet compete for who has the worst uncle (she wins) while Masha is hilarious talking about how miserable her life is working in the Foxton PostShop.

The play is 60 minutes long, and was very enjoyable. The six actors all succeed in bringing their characters to life, and the blending of historical fiction with the modern world is nicely done.

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Neenah Dekkers returns after the interval to play Chloe Anderson from Hamilton in a sole performance. I’d call Chloe a dumb blonde, if she wasn’t brunette. But her character is wonderfully played as a self-obssessed teenager who blogs about her attempts to lose 2 kgs in a few days. Lots of humour as she complains that the webpage that told her she can do it by just drinking water didn’t mention she needs to exercise also – and how can you exercise if you have only been drinking water!

The play is almost non stop laughs for the first two thirds. Dekkers nails the role, and her trite observations have you cracking up. But in an excellent turn of events, the play then deals with a very serious issue, and you go from laughter to breathless silence as the final scene plays out. A real emotional roller coaster.

What is nice is how trite observations at the beginning of the play, turn out to be very meaningful towards the end – and it forms a nice homily to the power of social media to do good, as well as the social.

The two plays combined to produce a very enjoyable, but also thought provoking, night.

 

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Whangarei now fibre connected

May 9th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The roll-out of ultrafast broadband as far as the street has been completed in Whangarei, Communications Minister Amy Adams has confirmed.

The city, where fibre has been laid by a subsidiary of lines company Northpower, is the first to complete the communal roll-out. Chorus is not due to finish laying UFB in the 24 cities and towns for which it won its roll-out contract until the end of 2019.

Adams and Prime Minister John Key visited Manaia View School in Whangarei to acknowledge the milestone. “As the first fully-fibred city in New Zealand, Whangarei is in the enviable position of getting a head start on the rest of the country,” Adams said.

Well done Northpower and Whangarei.

Around three days ago I told Google drive to back up around 7 GB of photos to the cloud. The result has been my Internet connection has been a trickle for the last 72 hours.

Copper based broadband can do reasonable decent download speeds, but the upload speeds are just inadequate for proper cloud use such as backups. Hence I will be moving onto fibre in the near future.

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Trekking the Himalayas

May 8th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Have had quite a few people ask about how to go about doing a trek in the Himalayas, so here’s what we did – for those interested.

Choose a company

Almost everyone sensible uses a company to arrange guides, porters and accommodation. On a personal recommendation we used Himalayan Encounters, and they were excellent. I can recommend them without reservation.

The cost was around US1,500 each and this covered:

  • Three nights accommodation in Kathmandu
  • Flights between Kathmandu and Lukla
  • 16 nights accommodation in tea houses on the trek
  • A guide and two assistant guides (for a party of five)
  • A porter per two people (they can carry up to 30 kgs) so three porters

Our guides were top class. They were incredibly safety focused, and were very helpful to me when I got altitude sickness. They were also informative and a lot of fun. I recall at one stage I had to take a leak on the way back from Everest Base Camp, so went behind a large rock. They yelled out that it was a holy rock, just to freak me out (it wasn’t). Lots of fun chatting to them in the evenings also and playing card games etc.

Airfares

The company covers the internal airfares. We travelled Malaysia Airlines (booked before they lost a plane) to and from Kathmandu. They lost or delayed my luggage both times, and their planes are old and tired. The service was pretty average. I would not use them again.

Other costs

  • Food tends to cost around US$25 a day per person, but we actually ended up around $30 a day. Prices increase the higher you go, but very reasonable for three meals a day.
  • If you want hot showers, electricity, wireless Internet then the cost is around $3 for a shower, $2 an hour for electricity and wireless ranges from $5 flat rate to $12 an hour near the very top.
  • Tips for the porters and guides. We tipped a pretty significant amount because the service was so good. Lonely Planet has some general guidelines.

Route

It takes around 12 days to go to Everest Base Camp and back if you go directly up and down. If you can spare the extra five days, I highly highly recommend the 17 day route via Goyko and the Cho La Pass. It is harder, but the views are even more spectacular – and you get to do a loop, rather than up and down the same way.

Health

I joke that our biggest achievement was none of us got Travelers’ Diarrhea. Nepal has the highest prevalence of this in the world. If you’re trekking up to eight hours a day, you really don’t want this.

We were religious with disinfecting our hands constantly. We used water purification drops or tables on all our water – even for teeth cleaning. We did not eat meat above Namche.

I did get altitude sickness. The rest of the party didn’t. You won’t know if you do, or not, until you get there. Make sure you have a spare day in the schedule, and once above 3,000 metres don’t climb more than 500 metres a day (or technically don’t sleep more than 500 metres higher than the night before).

Generally need to immunise for Hep A, Hep B, Polio, Tetanus, Diptheria and Typhoid. Malaria not a high risk trekking. Rabies is more a risk in Kathmandu than trekking.

General

Some general issues, taken from Lonely Planet guide:

  • Monkeys are holy, but also aggressive and have rabies. Avoid, but do not kill!
  • If a bear attacks, lie face down in the ground
  • Do not give money or food to beggars, but you can donate to schools or monasteries
  • Purify water with iodine – do not buy bottled water. Drink 2l to 4l a day
  • Do not wear leather (shoes or belt) inside Hindu temples and wear long trousers in all temples, and no photos in most temples
  • Always pass on the left of religious objects, not to the right
  • Ask people before taking photos of them
  • PDAs are frowned upon
  • Don’t point soles of feet at people
  • Do not touch children on the head
  • Give or receive money with your right hand and touch left hand to elbow as show of respect
  • Lukla Airport has been rated the most dangerous airport in the world – seven crashes since 2004 with 36 fatalities
  • Nighttime temperatures can be as low as -20 degrees
  • Never get between a yak and the ledge as they may knock you over!
  • Power surges common so voltage guard with spike suppressor recommended
  • Nepali culture uncomfortable with the display of the female leg
  • Viagra every 12 hours can help prevent altitude sickness!

Gear

I’ve included my gear list below after the break, for those interested.

If you don’t plan to tramp or trek a lot, then it will be far cheaper to buy most of your gear in Kathmandu or hire it in Namche. They have absolutely everything and it is exponentially cheaper.

But if you want top quality gear that you can keep using for other treks and tramps, then you end up spending a lot of money at Macpac, Kathmandu, Bivouvac and Mountain Designs.

The one thing you must have in advance are your boots, as you do not want to try out new boots on a 17 day trek.

(more…)

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Other Desert Cities

May 2nd, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I saw Other Desert Cities at Circa this week.

It’s a local production of the play written by Jon Robin Baitz, which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and nominated for five Tony Awards in 2012. Baitz wrote some episodes for the West Wing and created the Brothers & Sisters TV show.

The play is set in 2004 (and 2010) about the Wyeths, and the family, social and political tensions that threaten to tear the family apart. It is directed by Ross Jolly

Lyman Wyeth is the retired father who is a likeable patrician. He is a former senior GOP Chairman and US Ambassador, and his conservative views are not shared by his New York based daughter and to a degree his son. Lyman is ably played by Jeffrey Thomas (played  Thrór in The Hobbit) and you really would think he is America (actually Welsh) with his accent and mannerisms.

Polly Wyeth is the “hard arse” mother who is pretty unlikeable, and pushes her children hard as she thinks weakness means they will fail. She is reputed to have once reduced Nancy Reagan to tears, and Catherine Downes does well in bringing her to life.

Polly’s sister Silda adds a lot of comic value. She lives with them as she is a (recovering) alcoholic. Emma Kinane has fun with the role, and she is a real contrast to her sister.

The son, Trip, doesn’t have as key a role as the others. He is the peace maker between his sister and his parents. He’s a reality TV show producer (court TV) and even his parents admit he is addicted to porn and sex. Paul Waggott makes Trip the likable character that everyone tries to get on side.

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Photo by Stephen A’Court.

The protagonist is daughter Brooke. A New York based writer who had a breakdown, partly caused by the suicide of her brother after he took part in a terrorist bombing of a military installation. She has finally written her second book, but what her family don’t know is that the book is about the death of her brother – and what drove him to it. Michelle Langstone excels in portraying Brooke as both strong and vulnerable.

The family feel betrayed by her writing about such a personal tragedy to them, and even worse her parents feel they are being blamed and vilified for it.

As with all good plays, there are some wonderful surprises and twists in the plot. The play is two and a quarter hours long and has bucket loads of drama, and a reasonable dose of humour.

The US accents are near flawless, and the director told me they had a special voice coach for them. You really would think it was a production with US actors.

The acting is excellent, both with the script, and the body language.

I found the portrayal of the parents slightly too stereotypical for comfort, but stereotypes are often false – and the play is a good reminder of that.

Overall a very good drama, and a satisfying – if somewhat mysterious ending.

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Bhaktapur

April 27th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

 

 

Headed out early to Bhaktapur on the final full day in Kathmandu. Bhaktapur is a historic city that was capital of Nepal until the 1400s. It’s only 20 kms from Kathmandu and is a must visit. One thing that makes it very nice is that most parts of it are closed to traffic.

By comparison, going through Thamel in a taxi is incredibly scary. You’re driving down narrow streets dodging pedestrians and cyclists every few seconds.

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Just after the main entrance is this museum.

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Durbar Square – one of four major squares in Bhaktapur.

 

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One of many temples.

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Wonderful old sculptures.

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I love the elephants.

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Now that is how I’d like to travel about!

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A pottery maker near Pottery Square.

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Wares being made for later sale.

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This poor goat has lost his horns.

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Some great artwork, even if not quite right for my apartment.

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A typical street in Bhaktapur.

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The sun was too much for these dogs.

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The snake has gone fishing.

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On the way back to Kathmandu, we passed this motorcycle with a very young kid sitting happily at the front of the bike.

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Back in Kathmandu, a typical street in Thamel. What you don’t see in this photo is the cars swerving up and down them.

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For our final evening we went to the Babarmahal Revisited complex in Kathmandu. It’s a former palace that is now a small shopping centre with some very high quality restaurants. Made a change from Dal Bhat (which actually was pretty good).

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Then the next morning it was a quick trip to the bakery for a final breakfast. Thee coffee is what they call a Latte!

Then we flew out of Nepal on Friday. Once again Malaysia Airlines were incapable of having my bags travel with me, so the 36 hour stop over in Kuala Lumpar turned into a quick shopping expedition for emergency clothes for all of us. We were told 25 bags were not flown due to over-loading, but I’m sceptical as the planes should be able to carry a full load of passengers and gear.

We made the Pavilion shopping plaza with just 30 minutes to spare before it closed, so was a very hasty shop.

Saturday saw a bit more shopping, and just enjoying the hotel (Hotel Istana) swimming pool. Then out to the night markets tonight and two flights back to Wellington to arrive Monday.

Loved pretty much every moment of Nepal, and already planning my next trip there in a couple of years. So many mountains to see – or climb!

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Lukla to Kathmandu

April 26th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The final day is arguably the most scary – flying out of Lukla Airport. The runway is just 460 metres long and slopes downwards ending in a massive cliff. We got up at around 5 am to be at the airport by 6 am.

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The sun just emerging on the peaks by Lukla.

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The view from the airport. Planes turn left and head down the sloped runway over the cliff!

We had to wait two hours for our plane (which is about normal) but fortunately it took off with no problems. You achieve lift off around 20 metres before the runway ends, which is somewhat terrifying.

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We got back to Kathmandu Guest House. They have an outdoor library which is a great way to relax in the afternoon.

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Kathmandu Guest House is in the busy Thamel area, but despite that has some real solitude to it.

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In the afternoon, I popped into the Garden of Dreams which is a nice little attraction around ten minutes walk away.

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Quite a few people come here just to enjoy the sun or have a bite or drink.

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The following day decided to head out to Swayambhunath . It’s around a 30 minute walk. Navigating your way out of Thamel can be a bit confusing but once you’re out, it’s very easy to spot!

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Lots of statues and artwork on the way up to the temple.

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But it is a long way up. Around 350 steps.

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A good view of Kathmandu from the top, marred somewhat by the smog.

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The main temple.

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Had a drink at a roof top cafe up there, which also got a good view of the nice parts of Kathmandu. One can even see a swimming pool below!

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And of course there are monkeys.

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Lots of monkeys.

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Walking home, came across these pigs, penned in next to the river.

Have one more day in Kathmandu, before we fly home via Malaysia.

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Everest Base Camp Day 16

April 25th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

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This was the final day of trekking. A pleasant walk through the valleys back up to Lukla.

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Different views to higher up, but still incredibly beautiful. Also nice to be tramping again in shorts and one layer – not in below freezing conditions.

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Again many more crops grown down here.

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But still the odd snow covered peak.

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The final valley.

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The final ascent. I estimate we claimed a total in excess of seven vertical kilometres over the trek.

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Great to have colour back in the bush.

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And after 16 days we are back at Lukla, where we started.

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The English in the local bars can be amusing. See the above “tit bites” instead of tidbits!

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And not sure Coca-Cola appreciates that spelling! I wonder how many people tried to order a cock before they changed it :-)

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We then had the final farewell dinner with the five of us, and the porters and guides. I couldn’t resist ordering a Yak Steak. Yes they’re cute adorable animals – but they also taste quite good.

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And then we drank. To paraphrase, what happens in the tea house says in the tea house, but it was a lot of fun. The fact we had to be up at 5.00 am for an early flight did not deter us. A great 16 days trekking, with views you really won’t get anywhere else in the world.

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Everest Base Camp Day 15

April 24th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

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A wonderful late 10 am departure from Namche and this view as we depart.

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The final view of Mt Everest, partly obscured by clouds.

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We spent around an hour descending around 600 metres from Namche. Very pleasant trail in the woods.

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The view of the valley we head back along, once we descend. Very different to the icy peaks, but still very beautiful.

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The view of the river from the high bridge we cross first.

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What happens if a porter is crossing the bridge, and a mule decides to cross the bridge also? A very tight squeeze for the porter! At least it wasn’t a yak!

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Then we have three hours or so of walking alongside the river.

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At the 4th of five bridges, there’s this kid riding a mule. Very cute.

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The vegetables are growing now we’re lower down.

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Another bridge crossing.

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In the final stages, you pass through a lot of villages, where the path is separated from the homes.

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A blossoming tree near the bottom of a small waterfall.

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And finally Phakding, which can be seen in the distance just beyond the 5th bridge.

A fairly easy four hours of trekking. While we passed through this area 13 days ago, you get quite different views when walking through it in the opposite direction.

Tomorrow is the final trek to Lukla, where we stay overnight before flying to Kathmandu.

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Everest Base Camp Day 14

April 23rd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

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Day 14 was a rest day in Namche, and for once an actual rest day – no hikes up mountains for a couple of hours. It was also my first shower, shave and non-vegetarian meal in 11 days, and I really can’t say which I enjoyed most!

This is the after photo of me having showered, shaved and changed. You really do not want to see the before photo!

Somewhat amusingly, Namche is probably the area where I came closest to doing myself a serious injury. I walked down a pathway without noticing a yak coming the other direction and almost collided with it! It takes a while to have to get used to look for livestock as you walk out from your lodge.

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Saturday is market day in Namche, so we went along to have a look at the wares. People come from all over the region to trade and sell goods. If it isn’t here, you probably won’t be able to get it anywhere. Managed to buy a few things for nieces and children of friends.

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Later popped into the Everest Bakery (the bakeries in Namche are excellent) and thought Mark Unsworth would be excited that even there they have a Manchester United fan photo.

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During the afternoon we went to one of the local bars for a free film showing. It was Sherpas: True Heroes of Everest. A great documentary on how basically no one would ever make it to the summit of Everest without the Sherpas who go up in advance and lay down the ladders, set up the camps etc.

In relation to the issue John Stringer raised, I don’t think a five year ban of climbing Everest would benefit the Sherpas. In fact some years ago the Nepalese Government did try and restrict the number of expeditions up Everest, and it was the Sherpas who complained that it left so many of them without income.

Also worth noting that even if Nepal tries to ban expeditions, then China can still allow them from the Tibet side – and again this is exactly what did happen when Nepal did restrict them – everyone just started climbing from Tibet.

The best thing that can be done for the Sherpa guides and porters is to place pressure of climbing companies to pay good wages, to have a strong focus on safety and to make sure all Sherpas are insured against accidents or death, so their families are looked after. You can’t however make Mt Everest a non-dangerous mountain.

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Our guide had his 24th birthday today, so we arranged a surprise birthday cake, and the assistant guides made up some drinks which were a combination of whiskey, coke and orange juice. We had a very fun night celebrating.

We’d had a drink or two at the bar earlier , then the drinks over dinner, and then hit another bar after dinner. Was a very good night, and suffice to say that when I had a headache the next morning – for once it wasn’t altitude sickness.

Also very funny was just after we crashed, I heard my room mate’s phone suddenly say in an American female accent “What can I help you with”. This set us both off with a fit of giggles and laughter that could be heard several rooms down.

Was great to have a relaxing recovery day. Much needed. Two more days of trekking to go.

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Everest Base Camp Day 13

April 22nd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

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We stayed overnight at Orsho. It isn’t on most maps as it basically consists of one sole teahouse. However it was one of the best places we stayed at. The dining room was upstairs so we got a great view of the landscape, and also all the people going past.

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This is the view looking up, from Orsho. Magnificent.

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As we were preparing to leave this man rode past on his horse.

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Our route ahead, along the valley on the path on the right.

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Once again we had a couple of dogs follow us. But this time they were less endearing. On a narrow path, they were darting in and out around our legs and you had to be careful not to trip on them. But worse, yaks will often attack dogs and so what happened is that when yaks turned up, the dogs hid behind us. That had the potential to end badly for us!

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At this stage we’re dropping below 4,000 metres but still lots of snow covered peaks.

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The view as we pas through Pheriche.

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It was a long day trekking. We covered 15 to 20 kms.

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You can see Tengboche in the distance, with peaks behind it.

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The remains of a bridge that collapsed. I think they tried three times to have a bridge here but it kept collapsing on the far side due to the unstable rock. Finally they did an alternate bridge down at river level.

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Getting back into walking through bush and trees.

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We got to Tengboche for morning tea. You can see the famous Buddhist monastery.

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Inside the monastery.

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The front entrance of the monastery.

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The Nepalese porters carry incredible loads. Those working for trekking companies have weight limits of 24 to 30 kgs. Each porter tend to carry two bags or packs. But the independent porters have been known to carry loads of over 100 kgs, as they get paid per kg. Here is the load being carried by a porter up a 600 metre vertical ascent hill.

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The path down from Tengboche to the river was one of the few parts I really did not enjoy. It was hot, dusty and a rocky surface.

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At the bottom we had a bridge to cross. As you can see you really want to let the yaks get off the bridge first, rather than try and squeeze past them!

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Then we had a 400 or so metre ascent, but this was actually more pleasant than the downhill.

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You can see here the path we took down from Tengboche.

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Readers with good memories may recall this from Day 4. This is where we diverted from the main Base Camp route to go up to Gyoko. So the loop was now complete.

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We had a late lunch (2 pm) at Khumjung. Pretty hungry as had been trekking since 7.30 am. This crow decided to help itself to some of the leftovers. What happened next was hilarious. Another crow flew down next to this one, keen to share in the food. This crow then made a sound which everyone one of us heard as “Fuck Off” and the other crow flew away. We were in near hysterics at this.

Then around an hour to Namche Bazaar. Despite being a mainly downhill day, was a reasonably tiring one. We got in around 3.30 pm, so were on the trek for around eight hours.

Tomorrow is a rest day at Namche, and then two more days of trekking back to Lukla.

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Everest Base Camp Day 12

April 21st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

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I thought this marathon might be of interest to Matthew Hooton as he couldn’t make the Southern Lakes Half Marathon last month. He’s a great lover of the region and it raises a lot of money for charity so I look forward to viewing his registration.

The course is incredibly nasty. Apart from the cold, it has lots of rocks and uphill. The fastest time last year for a non Nepali was a bit over six hours!

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As we headed down from Gorak Shep, we again saw the glacier.

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I had a small fall on the way to Lobouche, where we had morning tea. I was okay, but as you can see one of my drink bottles did not fare so well. It’s quite annoying as it now only holds around 700 ml instead of a litre!

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We’re walking alone the narrow trail, with the valley stretching below us.

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Then you end up in the valley itself which is much easier trekking.

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There is an area with scores of memorials to fallen climbers. This one is for Scott Fischer who was a famous guide and mountaineer who died in the May 1996 disaster.

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You can see many of the other memorials lined up.

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Then it’s more narrow trails to descend on, but with great views to look at.

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Then we hit more wonderful valley walking with peaks in the background.

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A baby yak. So cute.

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We descend almost 1,000 metres over the day.

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Two huge landslides as a reminder of the instability of the region.

We spent the night at Orsho, which is very small and not on most maps. Will blog more on that tomorrow.

Spent around six hours trekking today, but much more relaxing as it was mainly flat or downhill, and the wide valley sections are so easy. Just what we needed to recover from a pretty tiring previous day.

Despite the descent I still had a very mild headache from the altitude sickness, but almost inconsequential compared to previous days.

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Everest Base Camp Day 11

April 20th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Today (Wednesday in real time) is the day we head up to Base Camp.

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Another early start. Up at 4.45 am and away by 6 am as we have to trek to Gorak Shep, have a wee break there, then go to Base Camp and back to Gorak Shep. It was good to get away early as we avoided most of the crowds going from Lobouche.

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Those peaks in the distance are where Everest Base Camp is.

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If you look at a map of the area and see a reference to a pyramid, well this is it. Part of some Italian research facility.

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Those peaks again getting closer. I could stare at them all day. In fact I did!

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One of several memorials to dead climbers we passed.

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A great shot of this peak with the sun rising behind it.

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On a very narrow part of the track, some yaks came down as we were going up. Their horns got rather too close for comfort!

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I like this photo of the shadows of the eight of us trekking along. There were five Kiwis from Wellington in our group, and we had three Nepalese guides.

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Remember that dog from yesterday? Well him and a mate decided to follow us today. The two of them trotted along with us all the way to Gorak Shep, presumably hoping we would feed them. They never pestered us and were quite lovely, but the guides joked that if you gave them even one bit of food they’d then follow you all the way back to Lukla!

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You can see the famous Khumbu glacier that stretches down from Mt Everest.

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A fairly unsturdy bridge.

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Gorak Shep ahead. The tea house we will stay at bills itself at the highest in the world at 5,180 metres above sea level.

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Apart from yaks and mules, they even have horses here.

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After a one hour break, we carried onto towards Everest Base Camp. A very rare directional sign. This is not like NZ tracks with marker signs everywhere. It would be very easy to get lost here without a guide.

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This is actually the site of the original Everest Base Camp that Hillary and co used. I’m not sure when they swapped sites but it was many years ago.

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Another cool shot of part of the glacier.

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Recall the advice that you should always be between a yak and the wall, not the cliff. Well on this section it was cliffs on both sides so we just moved a bit off the track for them. During the morning we saw well over 100 yaks move a huge amount of gear to Base Camp for teams planning to attempt the summit.

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And that is Mt Everest in the background. The best view of it is around an hour before Base Camp.

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You can’t really see it from here but that is Base Camp to the left of the glacier.

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Another shot of Everest.

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Now you can start to see the tents at Base Camp.

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A close up of some of the glacier.

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And we are at Base Camp. It is considered very rude to go beyond this point and wander around the tents without an invitation.

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You can see most of the Base Camp tents next to the glacier.

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Me at Base Camp. A long 11 days to get here.

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Posing with Mark Russell from Ideas Shop (you can see their logo on my borrowed hat if you look very closely). Mark organised the trip and did a great job making it all happen. He has been a great companion (along with K, H and J) despite our slight variation in political preferences!

And no he did not trek in that shirt – put it on just for the photo!

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Mark Inglis commented on an earlier post that while Base Camp is (sort of) the end for us, it is only the beginning for those who are going on to ascend the summit like he has done. The ledge above is the initial climb for those going up to Base Camp 2.

At times during the trek I flirted with the idea of how amazing it would be to actually try and ascend the summit one day, after a few years of training. However during the trek I was also reading “Into Thin Air” on my Kindle, which is the first hand story of the very sad 1996 expedition/s which saw 12 people lose their lives, including Rob Hall. It’s an amazing and captivating book.

Of course two days after we were here, the avalanche occurred near Camp 1 (not Base Camp) which was another sobering reminder of how dangerous the mountain is – not just up in the death zone above 8,000 metres.

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On the way back we passed through this rockslide area, and just as we entered it there was a very minor rockslide. Small rocks, so wouldn’t have seriously hurt anyone. But it did make us move quickly through that section in case any larger rocks decided to come down.

On the way back it started to snow, which made us very grateful again for our early start. We set a fair pace going back and got to Gorak Shep again around 2 pm.

The day wasn’t as tough as the Chola Pass, but it was still reasonably challenging. Six to seven hours trekking is tiring, and most of that time was above 5,000 metres so it only took a small ascent to get out of breath.

Very satisfying to have made both the Chola Pass and Base Camp. Also I decided that I wanted this to be an Ibuprofen free day so didn’t take any pain killers for the headaches. There were a couple of times when I regretted this, but overall they were not too bad, and less severe than when ascending to Gyoko. So you do acclimatise – but different people at different rates.

Tomorrow sees the start of the descent. That doesn’t mean all downhills though – a mixture of up and down – but with more down than up. We hope to be back at Namche Bazaar in two days.

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Everest Base Camp Day 10

April 19th, 2014 at 2:16 pm by David Farrar

As I had mentioned the afternoons, evenings and nights can get bitterly cold. Ironically you tend to be less cold outdoors when trekking as the activity warms you up, and also you may have sun on you.

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Most tea houses have a burner like this. They don’t use wood though, buy yak dung. Yaks are very valuable – in fact a yak costs more (US$200 to US$900) than the average annual income! The burners hep heat the common areas up a fair bit but they often don’t start them up until 5 pm or so.

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The guidelines for the trek said you sleeping bag should be good for -10 degrees. Mine is rated for +2 degrees only so I purchased a thermal liner which adds 11 degrees on which would mean I should be good for -9 degrees or so.

However when we got here the guides said you really want something that can handle -20 degrees so at Namche I hired this huge sleeping bag for 12 days. A very good investment as it only cost $2 a day and it really did make a difference.

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This is it rolled out. It definitely did the job keeping me warm. However I still found I needed the thermal liner and slept with icebreaker leggings and top plus socks and hat.

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We got underway around 8.30 am and this is the local peak by Dzongla.

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Most of the day was a narrow slightly ascending path. It was largely snow covered and slippery in parts. Unlike yesterday when a slip would mean a fun slide down a snow bank for 20 metres, here a slip would mean a 100 to 200 metre slide down snow and rocks. Best to be avoided.

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We had morning tea here this amazing view of peaks in the distance.

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These tents belonged to a group of climbers who were ascending the nearby Lobouche peak. We could see them in the distance making slow but steady progress.

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We then rejoined the main trail up to Everest Base Camp, which is much wider than the narrow paths we had been on.

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And here’s Lobouche. Height around 4,920 metres.

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Have to love the energy efficiency. Why waste good heat!

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In the afternoon we did a quick 40 minute climb up a hill. This dog decided to come with us.

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Our destination tomorrow. Everest Base Camp is at the foot of those peaks.

Very exciting to now be just one day away from Base Camp. Was also good to have a more relaxing day than yesterday!

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