Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Show: Elizabeth Marvelly and the NZSO

This young lady, now 21, made her first appearance in Wanganui with Sir Howard and Dame Malvina's Knight with a Dame show 4 years ago, as one of the first promising young stars selected for their newly formed support program.
Given the finesse and control in her voice she's obviously attended to her lessons well, recently touring Europe as supporting artist to tenor Paul Potts.
The Wanganui Home Tour performance was the last of a series of 5 in the North Island, and a nice opportunity to see and hear the greater part of the NZSO as well.
Carl Doy arranged the music, (has probably assisted with both her CD's, also backed by the NZSO), and in a great show of versatility, conducted the orchestra. I've got both his piano and guitar by Candlelight CD's from way back.
The orchestra did a Phantom medley and The Final Countdown on their own and Elizabeth filled the rest of the program with a well-received selection of popular songs including, Over the Rainbow, Dont Dream its Over, Cohen's Hallelujah, How Great Thou Art, Amazing Grace, I Vow to Thee My Country.
And my favorites for the evening were The Judd's Love Can Build a Bridge, the Caccini Ave Maria, the Delibes Flower Duet, and Edith Piaf's La Vie en Rose.
There were a couple of maori numbers in the mix, her pronunciation was perfect, and the jazzing up by NZSO well done. She also handled the other languages very well, good french with La Vie en Rose.
I always judge shows or movies by how effective theyve been on my memory, with this one I bought both her CD's on the way out the door. They're still on carousel on my car CD player, and will be for some time yet.

Been a bit of a festive music week here in Wangas.
A couple of days prior was High School's annual show, this year, Guys and Dolls.
They pick quite adult shows to perform, and pull them off magnificently. A couple of years ago it was Blood Brothers.
All the leads were big roles, well executed. Not to take anything away from them, I thought the performance of Alice Crowley playing Miss Adelaide was outstanding.
The Fugue for Tinhorns is always a fun number, and the boys playing Rusty, Benny, and Nicely were excellent, and top comedy.
As with Blood Brothers, there's a bit of girlie stuff doing can-can style dance routines, you sort of wonder if its going to be raunchy or what, but choreographed so well and done so enthusiastically, I can only say it was a delight to watch.
In fact, at about 70 odd performers, again like with Blood Brothers, the stage management was supreme, the Opera House stage isnt all that big.
The High School roll's about 1700, and 150 turned up to audition for the 70 odd parts. Lot of talent there.
All the back-stage work is done by pupils too, good education.

And that left Amdram's Godspell running a week before, as a bit of a poor relation, but nonetheless another well executed Lynne Whiteside direction.

A top week of music for Wanganui.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

AB Circle Pro

These things have an almost cult following, so I've found, an AB "Circus" Pro more like.
They retail for something over $400 NZ, I had to bid $330 on TradeMe for mine, thats about the middle order quoting on the site for units in good condition second hand. Have since heard of successful bargaining with the retailer on return units at better than the above.
There seems to be a few sharks in the TradeMe pool too, same listings under different names.
Real question is, why are they so popular?
I was attracted because on TV, it looked like a 15 minute hell, and like all exercise disciples, I want to do something about my mid-riff, you can do it indoors when its too wet for other outdoors stuff, and it dosent rark up the carpet.
Does it work?
Another torture rack
A mate spotted it while visiting the other day, and he said none of them do, that's why they continue to sell!
Cant follow any logic in that, but for my two-bob's worth after 4 weeks, yes, I think there is some value.
First, 10-15 minutes on it hurts.
I do 8 exercises, 3 sets of ten as prescribed on the support DVD, with 6 sets of ten push-ups on it, spread between them.
Often I do this twice a day.
Second, I havent gained a hole on my belt, but its definitely easier doing up the trouser top button.
Third, I swim twice a week most weeks, and thats definitely coming easier, swimming's a lot to do with twist of the trunk towards the leading hand. So much of normal daily exertion gets easier with core trunk fitness too.
Fourth, you can get pretty warm after just 5 minutes on it, saves on home heating!
Just a couple of proviso's.
One, the old hoary chestnut, specificity. Its a big help, but its not a whole fitness spectrum panacaea. Drop running in favour of time on this machine and you'll lose aerobic levels.
Actually, to update on this comment, my running, like the swimming, is coming easier with improved core strength, just the huffing and puffing to work on now.
Other comments:
I weigh over 110kg, I'd say that's close to the machine's weight limit, the rollers creak a bit under me on some of the exercises. I'm also limited to the middle effort setting, (there are 3 settings determined by slope of the circle, flat to steep), my knees get some damage on the steep setting, which a lighter person probably wouldnt experience.
If youre buying one, get a later generation version with 2 rollers under each knee-pad.
For those that believe these things dont work, I'd comment that the torture level would have the average feckless Joe giving up in a week. Theyre also a bit boring, you cant watch TV while youre doing it, like you can with a treadmill or stationary bike.
On the other hand, 10-15 minutes isnt a big time impost, just do it enough for the hurt, but not so much it kills the motivation.
Train, dont strain.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Bella's Cafe

Had a nice feed last night, worth noting, as much for how it came about as it was in the eating.
During the week, Dompost's Life insert carried a story about Palmerston North's MasterChef NZ contestant, Michelle Berry, and her penchant for the pork loin main at Bella's, 2 The Square, PN.
If you're a late diner like me, you can usually find a park in George St, or the little street that joins George with the sw corner of the Square, but enter from the Square.
As she says, the dish is actually 3 servings of pork, a serve of fillet, a square of belly, and some perfectly done crackling, resting on a base of mustard slaw.
I had mine with the vegetable side, carrot, cauli, and something else, but not forgetable on account it was fresh and crunchy, just how I like it. Other sides, eg stringcut fries, salad, to name a couple are also available, $5 ea.
All menu mains were $35, and although a little lonely looking on a huge plate, I left the table pretty replete.
I chose a glass of Kingsmill Tippet's Dam 2007 pinot noir, and was delighted with the match with the meal. Critics have described this wine as dense and powerful, and amongst pinots I'd have to agree, solid rather than over-powering though. Also said to have a savoury edge, I'd call it more a slight age/fume, giving the long finish. Now one of my favorites anyway. $15 a glass here, but no regrets about that.
I'd forgotten about Michelle's recommendation of the chocolate cheesecake, but the maitre d` kindly offered a serve in a take-home bag, which I accepted, but didnt really need, the main was so enough on its own, and the cheesecake a bit too rich for me.
The service was excellent.
So was the coffee.
It was a dear enough meal for one, but I'll be back. Michelle says her hubby wont go past the eye fillet.
They even asked if I'd like the paper to read while I waited.
9 out of 10.