For the next five days I am in an area with no cellphone coverage and no Internet coverage. Hence I will be uncontactable, for anyone wanting to contact me.
This also means I will not be blogging obviously!Tags: DPF
For the next five days I am in an area with no cellphone coverage and no Internet coverage. Hence I will be uncontactable, for anyone wanting to contact me.
This also means I will not be blogging obviously!Tags: DPF
This is the exterior of the boutique hotel we were at.
A few blocks away was the Cerro Santa Lucía. A great area to visit, and get excellent views from.
After the initial climb, then some flat park like area.
We were going to pop into the Castillo Hidalgo, but there were Police everywhere. It seems a meeting of Latin American Finance Ministers was being held there.
The entrance to the Castillo Hidalgo.
Then another steep climb to the top.
A great view of the city from here.
Sadly there is graffiti everywhere, including on the plants!
A little ancient church on the hill.
Many of the Police around this area are on horseback. A majority of the officers are female, or at least the ones we saw.
Neptune’s Terrace towards the far end. Very beautiful.
And at the entrance at the far end.
This park stretches for several blocks, and is a popular place to relax.
It has one of their many museums and art galleries in it.
More of the park area.
A fountain and statue to Rubén Darío. He was a famous Latin American poet.
And the front of the fountain that is near out hotel. Took around three hours to do both parks, plus an art gallery.
Tags: Chile, DPF, Latin America
In Santiago for a couple of days. This is Barrio París-Londres, which is a nice cobble-stoned area.
In this area is a building called London 38. It was a detention and torture centre under Pinochet. Outside the building are the names and ages of those who died inside it. 219 people died or disappeared.
This is inside the San Francisco Church, which was consecrated in 1622. It is the oldest building in Chile.
A photo of some of the roof tiles.
This is the back of La Moneda Palace, the office of the President of Chile. It started construction in 1784.
Underneath the palace, is the Centro Cultural Palacio de La Moneda.
Two of the presidential guards. Note they have daggers, not guns!
Inside the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral which began construction in 1748. Its predecessors had somehow angered God who destroyed them in earthquakes.
A view of Santiago from the Santiago Metropolitan Park. It is very smoggy here, but still a great view of the city nestled behind the Andes. I’m told the view in winter is absolutely spectacular.
In the afternoon we did some wine tasting at Concha y Toro. It is the second largest wine producer in the world.
The best wine is kept down in the old cellars. Each barrel of wine is worth around $45,000.
In the old days, the owner spread a rumour that the devil lurked down in the cellar, and it seems this was enough to deter would be thieves. Today it would probably attract them!
Snakes on a plane!
This is the wine blackboard at the Bocanariz Restaurant. It is one of the top restaurants in Santiago, and we managed to get in without a booking. Highly recommended. Rated No 4 out of 1,404 on Trip Advisor.
This is in the Parque Forestal, which is opposite the hotel we are staying at. We’re at the Su Merced Boutique Hotel which has just nine rooms. The rooms are quite spacious and nice, and the location is right in the centre of town.
My first ever time in Latin America. Having a direct flight from Auckland helped.
Tags: Chile, DPF, Latin America
Pitmen Painters is a play based on the true story of a group miners in Ashington who went along to an art appreciation class run by the Workers Educational Association. The class soon turned from theory into practice, and the miners became sensations in the art world.
It is written by Lee Hall, who may be better known for Billy Elliott.
The Circa production was very well done, with a deft mix of humour, politics and art. Copies of the original artworks were displayed at various times on projectors.
The miners are deeply socialist, as most miners of that era were. The organiser has a tendency to revert to the rule book at every opportunity in deciding what is and is not allowable, including the offer of an attractive young woman to pose nude for them.
When one of the miners is offered a paid patron, this divides the group. Should one be allowed to stand out? The political theme runs throughout the play, but does not dominate it.
The play is reasonably long at two and a half hours, but it never gets stale. The continual conflict between the miners, but also the appreciation of the rarity of what they are doing, makes the play a very enjoyable experience.
It runs at Circa until Sat 8 November.Tags: Circa, Reviews
An Unseasonable Fall of Snow, at Circa, is one of those plays that grips you from the first minute and never lets go. It is a play full of mystery. Who is Arthur the interrogator? Is he a police officer? A lawyer? And what exactly is it that young Liam has done?
It is a who dun it, but not in the usual way. For 90 minutes you are intrigued and guessing, and then somewhat stunned and moved as it all comes together.
The play is a fest of Brophys. Well known Geraldine Brophy is the director. The other three Brophys are not related to Geraldine but are father Jed, mother Yolande and son Riley.
Jed and Riley play Arthur and Liam respectively, and both excel. They portray their characters with conviction and you the tension between them is excellent.
Yolande plays Toni, a brief but important character, and she is also the production manager.
For me to enjoy a play, I have to get an emotional connection, and this play not only made the connection but sustained it for 90 minutes. The sense of mystery, the tension between the two leads, the slow revealing of clues, and the, shall we call it, moment of truth. A simple yet effective set supported by sympathetic lighting all contributed to a great experience.
It’s one of those rare plays I’d quite like to go back and see a second time, to see what clues I didn’t pick up early on.
The play is set in Wellington, which also adds to the enjoyment and familiarity. It is on until Saturday 4 October.Tags: Circa, DPF, Reviews
Poor David Farrier from TV3 has been getting abused on Twitter by angry lefties. To help reduce the confusion we posed for this explanatory photo.
It would be preferable if angry lefties didn’t abuse anyone at all (or just self abused), but if they do have to abuse someone, at least get the right person.
David Farrier writes at 3 News about the confusion:
On Twitter, things were more violent. Left-leaning members of society were less puzzled and more angry:
“Are you happy now you National twat”, and “F**k you and Whaleoil”.
On Sunday morning, no doubt after a rousing night out on the town, I got a message from Farrar:
“So sorry for all the abuse you got, meant for me. If you’re around this pm, I’ll shout you a drink.”
It seemed like a good idea, if only for the chance to figure out a way to spread the message that we are two very different people. The evening rolled around and I was given the address of the private residence where he was staying.
Now, this was all a sort of off-the-record affair, but what I will say is that I walked in to a beaming array of National Party faces: all radiant, all excited, and all victorious.
They were well-groomed and smelt delicious. I was an unkempt mess, dressed in jeans and a hoodie. I felt like I had taken a wrong turn somewhere. I believe I got a small pang of what Goldilocks perhaps felt as she walked over the threshold.
I was welcome with open arms. I wine was put in my hand and a wonderful spread awaited me at the table. It looked like a feast fit for a king. I was later informed it was leftovers.
For me – not particularly well-versed in the intricacies of politics – it was a fascinating insight.
We talked bloggers, TV coverage, left, right, Dotcom, Colin Craig. We all seemed to be having fun. I felt like I had teleported into someone else’s body, sitting at that table. I imagine that to them, I was like an amusing jester who’d arrived for some light relief.
Towards the end of our evening, I got out some post-it notes and a vivid, and then we took a photo in the kitchen.
As you can tell, we are definitely different people. But like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in Twins, we had a nice time together. Our movie probably wouldn’t do as well at the box office though.
Hopefully there will be less confusion in future!Tags: David Farrier, DPF
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.Tags: Circa, DPF, Reviews
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.Tags: Circa, DPF, Reviews
Peter Zohrab has done an open letter to the Speaker of the House.
27 August 2014
The Speaker Rt. Hon. David Carter
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
- discipline your security guards for this arbitrary and totalitarian behaviour;
- 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;
- discipline them if they do not have a record of her name and contact details;
- 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.
Peter D. Zohrab
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.Tags: DPF, Peter Zohrab
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.
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
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.Tags: Nicky Hager
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.
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.Tags: DPF, Kiwiblog
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.Tags: Curia, Nicky Hager
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.
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,Tags: DPF, Nicky Hager
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:
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.Tags: Circa, Reviews
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.
Tags: Circa, Reviews
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.
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!Tags: football, Steve Braunias
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.
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.Tags: Circa, Reviews
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
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.
2b or nt 2b
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.
4 Billion Likes
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.
Tags: Circa, Reviews
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.Tags: fibre
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some general issues, taken from Lonely Planet guide:
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.DPF, Nepal
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.
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.Tags: Circa, Reviews
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.
Just after the main entrance is this museum.
Durbar Square – one of four major squares in Bhaktapur.
One of many temples.
Wonderful old sculptures.
I love the elephants.
Now that is how I’d like to travel about!
A pottery maker near Pottery Square.
Wares being made for later sale.
This poor goat has lost his horns.
Some great artwork, even if not quite right for my apartment.
A typical street in Bhaktapur.
The sun was too much for these dogs.
The snake has gone fishing.
On the way back to Kathmandu, we passed this motorcycle with a very young kid sitting happily at the front of the bike.
Back in Kathmandu, a typical street in Thamel. What you don’t see in this photo is the cars swerving up and down them.
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).
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!Tags: Bhaktapur, DPF, Kathmandu, Nepal
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.
The sun just emerging on the peaks by Lukla.
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.
We got back to Kathmandu Guest House. They have an outdoor library which is a great way to relax in the afternoon.
Kathmandu Guest House is in the busy Thamel area, but despite that has some real solitude to it.
In the afternoon, I popped into the Garden of Dreams which is a nice little attraction around ten minutes walk away.
Quite a few people come here just to enjoy the sun or have a bite or drink.
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!
Lots of statues and artwork on the way up to the temple.
But it is a long way up. Around 350 steps.
A good view of Kathmandu from the top, marred somewhat by the smog.
The main temple.
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!
And of course there are monkeys.
Lots of monkeys.
Walking home, came across these pigs, penned in next to the river.
Have one more day in Kathmandu, before we fly home via Malaysia.Tags: DPF, Everest Base Camp, Kathmandu, Mt Everest, Nepal
This was the final day of trekking. A pleasant walk through the valleys back up to Lukla.
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.
Again many more crops grown down here.
But still the odd snow covered peak.
The final valley.
The final ascent. I estimate we claimed a total in excess of seven vertical kilometres over the trek.
Great to have colour back in the bush.
And after 16 days we are back at Lukla, where we started.
The English in the local bars can be amusing. See the above “tit bites” instead of tidbits!
And not sure Coca-Cola appreciates that spelling! I wonder how many people tried to order a cock before they changed it
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.
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.Tags: DPF, Everest Base Camp, Mt Everest, Nepal