Sunday, December 23, 2012

Book: Dark Matter by Michelle Paver

I cant say I enjoyed this book, but it was so damn well written it deserves mention.
Its a ghost story set in the encroaching 24 hours darkness in a land above the Arctic Circle.
The author brilliantly captures the encroaching mental claustrophobia of aloneness in a hut, in the dark, the sole companionship of a dog, and this, going to get worse.
I'll be honest, I do most of my reading in the dead hours of night, and I couldnt bring myself to do it with this book, right off from the first few chapters, things were going easily enough, but you just knew it wasnt going to stay that way.
A stand-out book because it was set so unusually. Wont let on how it ends.
Well done Michelle Paver, 5 out of 5.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Movie: The Hobbit

Trouped along, as we ALL have to see this one.
Saw it at Palmerston North's Cinema Gold, to catch it in 48 fps/3D. Two issues settled.
One, all those comments from people who felt nauseated/giddy, whatever, from the high frame rate, are just dribbling, I didnt experience any problem, although I think this movie would be better watched from seating further back and a bit higher. I was about 4 rows from the front and looking up.
Two, this is a long movie, whose 3 hour cause not at all helped by at least 20 minutes in this particular PN cinema, of puerile pre-movie advertising stuff. Its like kiddies from the local gamer graphics community having a show-off. In front of an expected and large captive audience. Totally pathetic.
The movie itself could probably be justly called another Jackson triumph, excellent camera work, the 48 fps did work to my mind, and Martin Freeman did the standout acting performance, although all the dwarves were good.
Everyone else looks 5 years older, except for Gollum, creepy as usual, but still fantastic, as was the scenery.
A quip doing the rounds about school kids studying The Hobbit in class, didnt go see the movie, they read the book instead.
So the storyline, this first movie of 3 covering only 300 pages total of book, was a bit of a doddle. Like with Skyfall's shortcomings, I WANT A STORY!!
4 out of 5, begrudgingly.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Movie: Skyfall

The best part about this movie was the opening sequence, but for those of us who've followed the franchise a lifetime, the rest of it was, OK, Bond............., but not as we know it Jim.
Daniel's a good Bond for sure, have picked up a few comments he looked a bit haggard this time, but then that's what the plot called for with his comeback from the "dead".
There wasnt any sex either, to speak of, and the best hint of it got shot.
And was the storyline a bit thin? Or was it no worse than the average other movie Bond movie?
Judy Dench was her usual attractive and good self/performance, and that and the camera work and backdrop were the other memorable carry-forwards.
Saw a recent snippet that Hugh Jackman once turned down an offer of the Bond role, but could get interested.
3 out of 5

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Movie: Fresh Meat

What initially beckoned as a tongue-in-cheek offering, has turned out being my choice movie of the last 12 months.
A dysfunctional gang of crooks hide from the law by crashing a suburban family home, but get more than they bargained for, and how.....
I went partly to support the NZ film-making industry, but this one could hold it's own anywhere, indeed Variety Magazine gives it the thumbs up prior to its US premier in LA tomorrow.
What struck me greatest was the eight main characters were extraordinarily well played, flawlessly, even dare I say, fleshed out, a credit to their acting ability and direction, (Danny Mulheron).
Briar Grace-Smith's script ran a few sacred PC cows and I dunno that Tem Morrison will escape the same criticism for the umbrage taken at some of Billy T's side-swipe to "mouldy" culture, but good on him for this lot.
The film's near as bombed on its opening weekend here, there were only a handful in last nights discount-night theatre, which only accentuated the guffaws and shrieks.
The NZ Herald gave it a bum review, but this only re-inforces my opinion most NZ reviewers dont know their arse from their elbow.
Variety Magazine compliments the movie's high energy, its not a long movie, but the introduction of the characters and pacing of the storyline are impeccable, and says it has "high production values". Indeed, the camera work and production design are pretty slick.
The sound-track's appropriately pacy, "from 60's spy to fast and furious rock", noticed a bit of stomping Gin Wigmore in there.
For all the theme of cannabilism might have detracted from this movie's opening success, the technical achievement inherent makes up for it, Variety's summation "thoroughly professional technical package" of a "high gloss soap gone berserk".
All roles were stars in their own right, but I give the edge to Hanna Tevita and Kate Elliott.
As for the latter, Kate Elliott, move over Rachael, we've got another kiwi sheila icon here.
12 out of 10 on this one.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Book: Ian Wishart's "Vitamin D"

Technically not a vitamin, but a secosteroid, Vitamin D has receptors mapped to more than 3000 human genes, and is instrumental in resistance to pretty near the whole gamut of human bodily disorder, ranging from alzheimers, asthma, allergies, a lot of cancers, heart disease, bones, to mental health.
Fortunately, the greatest source of it is generated by the body itself through exposure to the sun, simple as that, converting a form of cholesterol to the vital calci-compounds.
I bet the reason why rural kids have a lot less problem with allergies and asthma is that theyre outdoors more.
And Maori need to get outdoors more than anyone here, darker skin inhibits the process so we need more exposure.
Ian Wishart's done a service by bringing all this stuff together.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Movies: Looper, Dredd 3D

Looper, fair bit of gratuitous violence here, but it was an integral part of what made a good movie. Plenty to get your head round with the time travel thing, which got increasingly intricate as the movie evolved.
Despite what I didnt think was much advance publicity, the theatre was as full as I've ever seen it for the discount Tuesday night, and the conversations about what went on buzzed as the audience left, they got their bob's worth.
Bruce Willis brilliant as to be expected, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt pretty good also. Made of good job of aping Willis mannersisms as his younger self, similar to Josh Brolin taking off a young Tommy Lee Jones in MIB3. 5 out of 5.

Dredd, well jees, I'm speechless. I suppose it was like one of those video games, sneek round a corner, boom, shoot somebody, sneek round another corner......, touches of Robo-Cop, and the eye candy wasnt too bad, even the bad lady. Dunno, 2 out of 5 at a stretch.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

All Blacks 32 Springboks 16

The AB's finished the southern hemisphere championship in good style, even though they didnt need to win this last match against the Bok's.
My impression of the last few games is how nicely they've shown they havent missed Sonny Bill.
Ma'a Nonu has excelled as in his usual line breaker capacity, with his distribution, and scoring the odd try.
The other Hurricane's cast-off, Andrew Hore has also had a great tournament, showing he's far from past it too.
Its a great backline that goes even better when Dan Carter's in it, not that Aaron Cruden's any slug.
We've worried that we'd miss Brad Thorn as the tight strongman, but the series has shown Retallick, Whitelock, and Romano are up for any opposition.
Exciting to read Thorn might sign up for the Highlanders next year, will make a great pack with Hore in there as well.
Have to mention Justin Marshall's emergence as a commentator of some credibility and, well, downright enjoyability. He says in his Dompost column of yesterday, its the AB's rigorous pursuit of excellence that makes them seem at once, so unsure but sublime, and so without standout individuality but so collectively brilliant.
I'm sure this is the legacy of Sir Graham I thought I gleaned from his book, supremely fit, skilled, game-planned, psyched, and ever pursuing excellence.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Movie: Two Little Boys

Some time elapsed since I went to this one, and its endeared itself with time for some contemplation.
Got a bit corny in the ending but hey, its a comedy. One reviewer's commented its a strange movie, and I'd agree it leaves you a little bit WTF, credit to the Sarkie's odd-ball/hilarious bent I guess.
I like how the Kiwi scenery was "there", but didnt intrude on the story, like it didnt make the movie an NZ poster.
Maaka Pohatu did a brilliant job with his very credible Maori portrayal, entirely natural somewhat detached and bemused by his mate's antics.
Actors have remarked that movie acting is all about close-up face shooting, and Bret showed a lot of potential in this department for bigger more serious roles, I thought.
Nice touch was the surprise, not so much in the final twist of the plot, but in seeing someone I know personally in one of the final scenes. Peter McKenzie claps very convincingly!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Movies: Hit and Run, Expendables 2

Hit and Run got a great review in the Dom so I had to take a look. The reviewer reckoned it was a well put together car chase comedy with bits of good dialogue, which I suppose it was.
Written by the lead actor, it was about a bloke breaking cover from witness protection to help his girlfriend get to LA, then coming to the notice of his erstwhile baddie accomplices via being ratted on by the guy ignored by the girl. Yawn, 3 out of 5.

Expendables 2 as could be expected got a bum review, but I loved it and so did everyone else in the theatre. Bruce, Arnie, Jason, Jet, Sly, and the other action blokes, it was great to see, and bugger me, up pops Chuck Norris with a big tongue in cheek.
Several thousand rounds got expended and heaps of baddies got deaded, and only one goodie got his beans in a dastardly way, triggering the revenge side of the plot.
Only downside was JC van Damme getting cast as the nasty, but at least in the one-on-ones we didnt have to endure the heroes getting beat to within an inch of their life, then making a miraculous comeback to prevail in the duel. 4 out 5.

Book: Graham Henry Final Word

I've always been a loyal fan of Ted, Shag, and Smithy, now I understand much more why.
I enjoy rugby as much as this team have tried to make it enjoyable to watch, fast, creative, demanding of the highest level of fitness.
The inappropriate open-cast groanings of Deaker and Lose after the 2007 World Cup failure only made me more loyal to the game, and appreciative of the judgement of the NZRFU Board in the coaching team's reappointment.
There's been a lot of criticism levelled at Henry for alleging match fixing over the 2007 RWC semi, but it only shows up those who havent actually read the book, he dosent. Mainly the chapter is an analysis of why the AB's failed, at the time it looked to me like the AB's couldnt adapt a game plan quick enough to cope with the 2nd-half French attack, we were even left wondering if Richie was up to the captain's task for not being able to do so. But the high misdemeanour count Henry points out the French were allowed to get away with would account for the AB's apparent stalling the way they did.
I searched the internet for full video of the game, to see for myself, and while pretty near any game you search for can be found, this particular game was pulled from view by the RWC Board on 'copyright' grounds.
Funny that.
The way the AB's game has evolved since is indicative of how the lesson learned has been applied, when you watch the 2nd half highlights the most remarkable thing is the exhilaration of the French game, and in some ways you couldnt hold it against referee Barnes for letting the game flow, even for the forward pass.
But not the rucking errors left un-penalised. More recent commentators have called it "brain freeze" on the part of referees not quite competent for games of this speed, Bryce Lawrence with the last RWC Wallabies v Springboks clash another case in point.
All the world loves a conspiracy, but in 99% of cases its more down to incompetence than conspiracy.
As with most high achiever's bios, the recurring theme is about a lifetime of application, dedication, and being as excellent as you can.
Salute Sir Graham. He knows more about the game than 99% of his critics.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Movie: Total Recall

Despite a fair bit of negative press I think this movie just made it as a stand-alone sci-fi, sufficiently divorced from the Schwarzenegger original, which happened long enough ago that nothing other than the mind-fiddling surfaced from my own memory recall.
The three pivot characters, Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsdale, and Jessica Biel, made the movie, a start-to-finish action romp that seems to be the go for flicks these days.
4 out of 5.

Book: Riding the World by Gregory Frazier

An interesting read for anyone into epic motorcycle journeys, with heaps of tips on bike and gear selection, and the trials and tribulations encountered biking different continents.
The slant is more to the independent, economy minded, sleep anywhere traveller, and how to load a bike with everything bar the kitchen sink.
I found the chapters on selection and preparation of the bike interesting, apparently not too many of them can survive an epic journey, which surprised me as a farmer who's used bikes on hills on an all-day everyday basis, several of which I think would have done the touring job admirably, although I would have travelled a lot lighter. We do share the common sentiment that for weather protection while on tour, its hard to beat a motel room.
Having enjoyed biking across Montana and learned much of the plight of the North American Indian, it was special to note and salute the author's Crow heritage.
The book is well illustrated with good pics, some even of NZ, and others somewhat recognisable of similar paths across USA.
A not too taxing read with lots that a touring biker can relate to, and pick up useful stuff from.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Book: Piri : Straight Up

A good read worth a mention, despite following a trend for those who've done well to release a bio before their careers are done, Piri's one of those guys a lot of us enjoy seeing run onto the paddock, and I hope we keep seeing more of for some time yet.
Heather Kidd's done a great job of maintaining the conversational style easy to associate with Piri as he lays out his beginnings, and progress through life and rugby, the familiar path from a family and community steeped in sport so often associated with those who reach the highest level, and a youth marked by leadership and excelling at many stages.
The coaching detail explained was most interesting, almost you'd wonder at a revelation of trade secrets in the AB's instance, but I guess all international level teams operate on a basically similar strategy these days. Certainly very interesting if you were involved in school grade level as a parent or coach.
As a Wellington Lions and Hurricanes follower I enjoyed the book, a good easy read too.
Following Piri and Ma'a to the Blues wasnt without its hitches this season, and not without due acknowledgement to Pat Lam for his efforts over the last few years, we'll look forward to next year to see what difference Kirwan, and the technical assistance from Henry and Byrne, makes.
For a good easy interesting read, 10 out of 10.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Movie: The Dark Knight Rises

Here's another example that one should never take notice of a media movie review.
I enjoyed this one despite a lot of the comment I've seen over the last few weeks.
Several mention the plot is wanting, I thought it was great, with a good twist at the end, in fact there were at least two or three plot threads and you have to wonder whether it was all a bit beyond the average bozo commentator.
Christian Bale played a good Batman, and Anne Hathaway a delicious Catwoman. The baddie was appropriately reprehensible, or should I say baddies, but wont elaborate further.
Its great to see the fatherly faces cropping up now and again, Morgan Freeman and Alfie Caine, and yes, I twigged onto how Robin gets into the picture.
Some reviewers have said this is the worst of the Batman trilogy, I think its the best, didnt have anywhere near the same psychosomatic drivel and dark gloom of the previous. Only one small hitch to my fervour, I cant deal with heros who take a hiding and Bane dishing it out to Battie went on a bit too long for me, and made the return bout where Battie turns the table rather easily after all the physical trauma he'd been through, a bit less believable, I mean crank transporter Statham wouldnt put up with crap like that.
Great action sequences, good camera, light on the emotional drivel, impression still in my head next day, even had me remembering the Batman comics I bought as a kid, 9 out of 10.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Book: Fifty Shades of Grey

Dunno what I'm doing admitting to reading this book, lol...
Bought it as a walk-by, while picking up a lotto ticket in an Otorohanga bookshop.
Frankly, I'd just about stalled on it by the halfway mark, and struggled through to the end, waiting for something to happen.
For a really good review, go to:

Instead of a score out of 5, I'd say you'll have more fun with your money at the TAB.

More on Pies

While the country went off last week on a national pie-making contest, we here in Wangas need do no more than call into Carlton Takeways where Bruce and Jo have added another couple of beauts to their fillings repetoire, a tripe number, which Bruce says he's touching up with a little curry addition, and a chicken, cranberry and cheese. Have had both..., yum!
They're a standard size pie, but chock full, light fresh pastry.
The shop's half a km west of the motorway bridge roundabout, on the main route round town.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Tour de France Bikes

Been following the TdF, mySky each stage live overnight, then get on my stationary trainer, ride with them next day
an hour or more before breakfast, half or so at lunchtime, finish off in the evening, whenever I can fit a bit in
with them on the climbs and descents, and stretches between till the finish line,
but I have a few more drink stops.... lol

Grand Alps 2011
Going downhill is amazing, theyre doing up to 90 kph
got me to wondering, having ridden those roads last year on the Suzi Bandit
I know I'm not the fastest thing on a motocycle,
but maintaining that sort of speed in the Alps is a real stretch on a moto, let alone on a push-bike
and there are the press corp, threading through the field, at times passing the peloton, two up with the cameraman on the back

So researched a bit more...
the roads are not so much closed, as declared a sort of national territory
such is the French support of a sporting spectacle that's become a national treasure
The policing is done by the motorcycle division of the Republican Guard, an elite corp that among other duties protects the President,
escorting high ranking motorcades etc
European police motorcycle skill is legendary, look up on You-Tube
They ride mostly BMW's and Yamaha FJR, and have been doing TdF support so long, their knowledge how to fit around the cycling field is part of the landscape 

Ditto with the press corps whose official mount is...., wait for it Geoff..... Kwaka Concours
I spotted a beaut yesterday, white, with red flash-work
There's as many motorcycles involved in total, police and press, as push-bikes, around 200
the TV live-coverage is high level art work synchronising roadside cameras, pillion cameras, and two helicopters in the air full-time
fed to 290 TV outlets world-wide, they estimate 3.5 billion people see at least a part of the 3 week race

Fantastic tourism promotion for France......
and me just one tourist lured there last year
France takes its road safety issues in quite a nice way
you see motorcycle schools all over the place
its compulsory to carry an approved breath-tester in your car

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Great Sight in the Morning Sky

Great sight in our southern hemisphere morning sky, Venus in the head of Taurus beside Alderbaran, with the Pleiades just off to the left, and Jupiter in between.
Be great if you're born a Taurean, all that love and power in one hit, lol.
Except, if you're an astrological purist ascribing to what the Sumerians brought to the table of knowledge over 4000 years ago, and due to Precession of the Equinoxes since.......
you're in the wrong house!
Astrologers will maintain that what you're born under is what's in their tables, but for me, I like what you see is what you get.
Have a happy time Taureans!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Book: A Walk in the Woods

This the first Bill Bryson I've read, should have been on to him years ago.
This book describing his assault on the Appalachian Trail is an hilarious read, particularly if you've done some bush-whacking and have sampled the delights of getting on with others on the quest.
Similarly, I liked the backgrounder detail, again having sampled a little of the Great Continent and its people.
My simple farmer observation was that the bush there wasnt very old, the trunks weren't big enough to be of much greater age than 40 or 50 years, and indeed he explains the countryside was once all cleared but its agriculture lost competitiveness when the Mid-West eventually opened up.
He cites the large combine harvesters couldnt handle the small dales of the mountain country.
Its much simpler than that mate.......
Farming's a mugs game in any environment, but hell on earth in a place where winters are 9 months of the year, and summer's only 3 months.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Practical Francais

A note in yesterdays Dompost reminded visitors to the Olympic Games, who were thinking of slipping over to France for a drive around, that its compulsory to have in the car an approved breath-testing device.
On last years tour I found the driving environment most amenable, the signage was helpful and expressive of concern for your safety, rather than heavy fist of the law stuff like here.
I dont doubt however that it could be, the fines for DIC are pretty substantial, but a glass of wine with a meal is part of the nations fine culture, and the carrying of the breath testing device an elegant solution.
That motorists are given, and take, responsibility for their own actions is a nice touch

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Movie: Safe

Phwoar, boy's night out here, non-stop gratuitous violence, shootings and punchups, Statham at his best.
Interesting to note Kevin Spacey one of the producers.
9 out of 10.
And also caught a trailer of Expendables2 in the pipeline!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Movie: Prometheus

So, us humans are the product of an ancient race who came to Earth and seeded the place with their DNA and around about 2093 some archaeologists figure out where they came from, and technology has advanced enough the spaceship Prometheus can warp out to whence the star-map says they came.
Only when they get there the welcome aint so hunky-dory.
Noomi Rapace has settled into a better role than the western thing she was in a while back, I hope she carries on as the new "Ripley" in any sequels, the yarn certainly ends leaving an opening for one.
Despite the critics giving this movie a hard time, I liked it. Sci-fi that has an aura of possibility do it for me.
8 out of 10.
Charlise Theron's in here too, exhibiting yet again her versatile cool. I see she's in a remake of Mad Max this year.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Transit of Venus 6.6.12

Didnt give this much fore-thought, seeing the weather was so bad, but around 2-3pm the cloud peeled away.
An article in the local rag stated no-one alive has seen a transit in NZ, they come twice in eight years, every 100 odd years apart, the last one was in 2004 but you had to be on the other side of the Earth to see it, and the next one isn't due for another 105 years.
That was enough motivation for me.
The old boyhood telescope somewhere up in the attic would have taken too long to set up, wouldnt have a clue where the smoked sun-lens would be, so it was down to the workshop and the arc-welding mask. I used to map sunspots as a kid by projecting from the eyepiece onto a sheet of paper. I burned holes through a few bits of paper before I got things right, lucky I still got my eyes.
Actually, it took two welding lenses to shut the light down enough, and sure enough, there was little dot Venus. So there, I saw it.
Even tried taking a pic with the cellphone, Venus is the little dot down near the bottom, lol.
Rather fortuitous the sky clearing, just imagine being old Capt Cookie sailing halfway round the globe, if the weather had been inclement when he got here.

Movie: MIB3

Well, have to say it dragged a bit at the 3/4 mark, but the story-line was great and Josh Brolin did a top job depicting the young Agent K.
Jemaine Clement was an impressive baddie, nice to see the Kiwi boys doing well, following Bret McKenzie's Oscar.
Will and Tommy good as ever.
7 out of 10

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hosea Gets 100

Congrats to Hosea Gear on attaining his 100th first class game try.
I'm in the camp who can't understand his continually being over-looked for All-Black call-up.
Even though I think Deaker's the biggest nong in sports media, I have to agree with his assessment of Guildford, (who got the current call-up to cover Cory Jane's injury instead of Hosea), no nous under pressure, cant kick, and given his RWC performance, suspect under the high ball.
I thought Hansen was particularly mean to say they were going to give preference to players who showed committment to staying in NZ, when there's been the rumour going the rounds Hosea might be looking at a move to Japan.
Hosea was distinctly gracious accepting the honour post-game last night, adding there were some aspects of his game he still wanted to work on, and NZ was the best place to do it.
Meanwhile, the AB's spot goes to the kid, short of talent, and who cant behave in public.
(Now rectified thank goodness).

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Opera: Rigoletto

Bravo to NBR NZ Opera for this one, at Wellington's St James Theatre.
The modern setting rather than the classic operaone was unexpected, and fantastically well done, minimally uncluttered revolve stage but very effectively lit, with an overhead front drop for the colonnaded palace scene. Great touch with the reflective marble.
AJ and I are no opera buffs, we simply enjoyed the whole thing. I thought Warwick Fyfe was better in the second half, AJ revelled in Emma Pearson's voice. The Duke was a real prick, which goes to show the role-play was outstanding, and emotion thoroughly evoked. Minor leads enhanced the entertaining difference with solid performances
We'd swotted up the plot beforehand and once accommodated to the setting twist, the range of human foibles and consequences well illustrated and easy for us amateurs to follow.
That Mr Verdi was obviously no mug.
In the impression test, still in my head 3 days later...  and that's something.
The better view and seating over that of the Opera House was appreciated too.

For afters we chose Monsoon Poon.
Big ups here too, uncomplicated menu, but fantastic flavours, AJ went for the fried fish and prawn, staple sweet and sour for me, plus rice and pita.
We opted for cocktails from a pretty extensive list, hers rhubarb and raspberry liqueur base, mine, tequila and cointreau, $14 a throw, but OK when you compare with the cost of a bottle of wine, which we didnt want for in the circumstance.
We fell for a closing dessert cocktail, hers khalua based, mine..., I forget!!
Cold as, creamy ice, maybe a bit of menthe, would be great following a hot curry.
Comfortable, easy atmosphere, you can watch the chefs at work and there's a mirror above the servery where you can see your order on its way, driving background musak, out the door for a tad over a hundred.
Would do here again anytime.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Movie: Good for Nothing

Whatever way you view this Kiwi "Pavlova" western, serious, tongue in cheek take-off of the spaghetti's, or anywhere in between, it worked.
I guess all the actors were Kiwis, and all credit to them for putting on the faces, particularly lead man, Cohen Holloway. The Dom reviewer commented he should go far, not just here in NZ, and it'd be hard not to agree.
Congrats to the producers Mike Wallis and Inge Rademeyer, (also leading lady).
The Central Otago backdrop played a major role, ably supported by the NZSO, and Raetihi's Mellonsfolly supplying the western town, should gain some increased patronage for their part.
This movie was big on imagery, and theyre still with me a day later...
5 out of 5.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Movie: Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Didnt intend seeing this movie, the one I wanted to see wasnt on, so went in default, not a fan of British comedy anymore.
So help me, finished up enjoying it, the begrudging feeling soothed away by the gentleness of it.
Nice lesson in this flick, as the team of oldies get their vision of what future remains shaken up in the kaleidascope of India.
Two lessons actually, one, you're never too old, and two, you only live once, so dont sit around.
Standout acting, Judi Dench one very attractive Dame, even at 60-whatever.
If you're an India-ofile you'll probably enjoy the sensory jog too.
4 out of 5.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Movie: The Avengers

Much has been made of the cleverness of the studio to release this movie world-wide, before release at home, reported in todays paper already having grossed $180 million, thereby establishing to the American public, its a blockbuster.
That'll be because the American movie-going public is smarter than we are, and they dont have to crave Americana.
Frankly, I thought this movie was tedious, and my date got through her coke, an ice cream, her bag of popcorn, and the 3/4 of mine I didnt want, plus started twiddling with her cellphone, all in an effort to stay awake.
Why is it that the modern super-hero has to be mentally and emotionally idiosyncratic?
Yawn.... give me a Jason Statham or a Daniel Craig who can straight-faced get on with the job anyday.
Here I am not 2 days later and I've pretty much forgotten what it was about, so you'll have to punt-up and go yourself.
I'll give it some points for being 3D.
2 out of 5

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fat free? Yeah right...

Couple of times recently have remarked to friends while visiting, how good their coffee is.
Finally flicked its the full-cream milk enhancing the taste experience, so changed my weekly order to include a carton of Farmhouse traditional rich and creamy. Non-homogenised too.
Heck, even my fresh fruit and muesli is quantum enhanced.
The big impression I'm getting, is simply.... satisfaction.
The major problem with the diet culture is you're forced into foods that are so bland you're forever searching for that something missing, and you fill the gap with stuff you shouldn't.
I've just had a chunk of grilled brisket for breakfast, 70% animal fat, and if you mention food to me before 5pm tonight, I'll puke. Now isnt that where we should be heading with eating plans?
In the same vein, have been a disciple of that bloke advocates the olive oil diet, couple of dessert spoons a day. Some literature tells you grape-seed oil is the go, so alternate with that, for cooking too, but jees, read the label, its got trans-fat in it!
So butter's back in my fridge, even though I use that Flora Pro-active plant sterol stuff to help the old cholesterol situation, which incidentally has trans-fat in it too.
There's something oxymoronic about having eggs for breakfast to get some brain-food cholesterol, then greasing your toast with Pro-active to block it.
The cat's started drinking milk again too.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Movie: Battleship

I went to this movie because the reviewers panned it, comments like "dim-witted alien invasion romp". Others said it was just a pick-up from the arcade game of the same name, which means nothing to me, I've never played it other than the old one that looks a bit like naughts and crosses.
And like so many other panned by the critics movies, I enjoyed it, I was entertained, I got my punter's bobs-worth.
I think these critic guys suffer from intellectual snobbery induced seizure, thinking that a decent shoot em up appeals only to teenage boys, fact is the snobberati have been so talked out of it, that the genre is a raging success anywhere else.
That said, this movie didnt get it quite right, but it was damn close.
This one scored in my book because the aliens were recognisably mammal and humanoid, I mean, bio/evolutionary science has suggested for yonks that protein molecules can only ever come together in the way they do, the way we recognise.
Second, it had a triumphant ending for us guys, and this one included some grudging friendly ethnic rivalry. Stuff the tragedy genre, I want to buy hope with my weekly movie spend, like with lotto, with the will, strength, and ingenuity, to overcome. I'd never bother with re-visiting Titanic, even in 3D, the lesson should have been learned a century ago, only a dick would charge through a field of ice-bergs.
The one area it slipped up was having a hero with mental foibles, they make such problematicly unbelievable leaders in crisis situations, and while the media might take every opportunity to splurge the opposite, I have a lot more respect for the quality of American military leadership than that.
Oh, the eye candy was fantastic in this flick too, Brooklyn Decker, and Rihanna, so maybe I am still a teenage boy, LOL, and yeah, Liam Neeson was nicely cast as the Admiral.
4 out of 5, and stuff the critics.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cape Palliser

CB looks back toward Wellington
Every now and then you strike a "Best NZ Ride", and this is one of them, giving the CB an outing to catch up with the Ulysses weekend excursion to Lake Ferry, South Wairarapa.
Had to work Sat morning, and duly arrived at the Lake Ferry Motor Camp just in time for the BBQ being knocked up by the committee, good chow...
The cabin as expected was pretty spartan, I guess fair value at 4 bunks for $60, but the 50 metre bare tootie dash in the night to the external ablution block was a bit of a trial.
There are also motel type units available at $80 per night, and the hotel's just a couple hundred metres away if you want a bit more style.
Sunday morning saw the mist clear off the lake, and if it wasnt for a couple of us defying the mob and taking the no-exit to the Cape we could have missed the jewel in the crown completely. Its a 30km odd trip to Palliser on a sealed road, plenty of bends, some with bumps that need watching for, but the view's fantastic. Might be different in bad weather though, so exposed to the south it is.
Palliser is the fishing community where scores of bulldozers and tractors for boat launching line the road and beach-side. There's a small golf course too.
From the village to the lighthouse is 4km odd of unsealed road, but the surface is smooth and free of loose metal in the wheel ruts. Vehicle traffic could be heavy, so a bit of care is needed.
There's a heap of seals out there, takes a bit of looking to pick them out even from close quarters, so good are they camoflaged on the rocks.
Spot the seals
The lighthouse was commissioned in 1897, the Cape and adjacent coastline having been the scene of several shipwrecks, one 6 months prior resulting in 12 of the crew of 21 drowned. The lens in the light is still the original, flashing twice every 20 seconds, and visible up to 48km away. The tower is one of two on the NZ coastline painted candy stripe to distinguish it from the backdrop hills, and there are 258 steps which can be climbed up to it.
If you like walking you can take a DOC track to Putangirua Badlands. We didnt do it, but the pics show something resembling the real deal like in USA. The area is remote enough you'd feel confident your vehicle wouldnt be interfered with while you were away.
Sam and I happily left the others going for it on the way home, opting to take in the Taxidermy Museum at Kahutara, well sign-posted off the Martinborough/Featherston road. Plenty of interesting stuff here, at a very modest fee, $5 donation.
Well worth the journey down this part of the island. Be sure your tank is full, its a fair step out to the Cape and back. You even get to take your bike through a ford!

Sam and the CX500 through the ford

Friday, April 20, 2012

ANZA - Giving credit where its due

Took the Dyna in for its 6000 mile service yesterday, the first since I bought it 3000 miles ago.
Stu did the workshop stuff, and obviously a tune up, because on the way home, it felt like it had found another gear, and low down running in the higher gears was much improved.
I was so impressed I phoned them soon as I got home to compliment them on their work.
The cost including a WOF, was very reasonable, and the wash-down before pick-up was appreciated too.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Great day out

Raukawa stop
Yesterday was a Ulysses ride to Whakapapa Ski Field. It was supposed to be an economy run so I took the LowRider for a look-see on the fuel usage question, but in expectation of a low turn-out, the ride was reverted to just an outing.
Never should have feared, it was a good turn-out, and I did my own fuel consumption test anyway.
So, off up the Parapara, where I was quickly into my usual spot at the tail of the field, been on bikes all my life, even did a patch of hill-climbing, sprinting, and minor racing in my 1500cc Anglia years ago, but I simply cant keep up with these guys.
The Parapara hills are in fine order with the good summer rain we've had, but not enough to feed Raukawa Falls, they were the lowest I've seen, when we stopped for the leg stretch. The road surface is pretty good these days too, with all the re-alignment and re-surfacing been done, lots of bikes going both directions.
In to National Park Rail Station for morning smoko, which like Ohakune Station has had a bit of a historical tourist attraction facelift. The food was excellent, choice cabinet stuff. The scones are legendary, and a few of the team lapped into the jam and cream, I had soup of the day, mushroom and noodle I think, not too bad.
Then it was up past the Chateau to Top o' the Bruce.
At National Park I was starting to get doubts about how much gas I had left, the gauge showing about quarter remaining, but when we started the climb, the needle dropped down to the empty post. Pulled over and had a discussion with Rob, not sure about which way the fuel cock should point to be on reserve or not, and decided to punt it was the climb that had sent the needle ballistic and carried on to the top of the road.
Most of the team had never been on the chairlift before, reminding me of the thrill and wonder of my first time on it. We negotiated a bulk discount for lift tickets, feeling pretty smug, then along comes Keith, pulling his gold card and getting the same for half the price!

Pinnacle Ridge..., they ski down there too
  So, up two levels of lift, was able to point out the Wanganui Ski Lodge where late member Ulyssian Hugh Gilberd and brother Richard were so devout in earlier years, and having a marvel at how the Waterfall Quad chairs derail onto an idler slow enough for you to get on and off, then clamp on for the acceleration out of the blocks. The food at the top cafe was sparse and expensive, so we just had a coffee while we marvelled at the steel and exposed beam structure of the new building, (the previous one burned down a couple of years back).
There were quite a few hikers and day trippers around, one of the cafe staff told us it was a 6 hour round hike to the Crater Lake and back. I recall once doing it with skis on my shoulder off the top of the Knoll Ridge poma in about an hour and a half to get up there, and a nice leisurely ski down, in my shirt sleeves on a sunny spring day.
However, today it was nippy enough, and a novel experience for me to look down at all the exposed snow-less rock, hard to imagine how there'd be enough snow to fill it in.
Anyway, bit of trepidation trying the around $15-17 menu items back at the Top o' Bruce Cafe, but we were in for a pleasant surprise, the tucker was good, Lou's mussel meal was 3 fat fritters, Sandra gave her piece of quiche the thumbs up, Chris got a big plate of lamb meat balls with salad, couple of the blokes got decent bowls of chips or wedges for $6 and $11 respective, and my burrito had enough mince and chilli to give me a fat tummy and fat lips all in the one go.
They've got a real chef in there, hand delivered our meals. 8/10. Good espresso too.
So, back off down the hill, the guys liked the good surface on the mountain road, and my fuel gauge shot back over 1/4 full, the change in gradient obviously playing havoc with the sender unit.
Just to be sure I topped up at G.A.S. at National Park, 11 litres to fill the tank, for 189 km travelled thus far, 5.8 litres/100 km. Quick check with ANZA this morning, they tell me the tank holds 18.2 litres, so even when the needle hits the red zone, I've still got plenty to go on. Interesting my workshop manual dosent say what the tank capacity is anywhere, but I have deduced from it I still had the fuel cock reserve to come and go on.
Another great autumn April day out, sharing with ex-Brit Chris on the chairlift, how fortunate us Kiwis are in access to stuff that's out of reach to a lot of folks in other countries.
And enjoyed his birthday shout at the Celtic de-brief too, but we all skipped on the chips.

Ngauruhoe from the chairlift

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Show: Fairytale High School

I put this up because the show was well...
It was Wanganui High's Junior School production, rotated second yearly with the whole school's major musical.
Having followed a couple of nephews through their time at the school, I'm amazed by the depth of theatrical and musical talent they showcase, ever a major thumbs-up for Wanganui youth talent.
This show was an hilarious hotch-potch of fairytale characters, Beanstalk Jack, Peter Pan, Goldilocks, Snow White, the dwarves, Mary, the Giant, the Wicked Witch, the Ugly Sisters, you name it, very well written.
The kids acted with great infectious enthusiasm, and portrayed their respective character nuances to much amusement by the audience, maybe even extemporising a little of their own.
For a school production, the costuming was outstanding.
And as always, the orchestral contribution was sure-noted and talent ridden for so young a group.
Well done Wanganui High, and another feather in the cap of the tutors involved. The school's been blessed with an exceptional music/drama dept over recent years.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

New Road Rules

Four days in, and everythings going pretty well I'd say.
On the face of it, the only obvious difference is being able to keep going when you're in the left lane.
Fantastic. No hold up for through traffic, just stay in the left lane.
This rule change is just so obviously good for our modest NZ roads and streets where 2 lanes approaching an intersection is all you're most likely to get.
There'll probably be some inconvenience surface having to sit out in the right lane waiting for a chance to proceed, but around city blocks a little bit of fore-thought on the route, to avoid right-hand turns, will be useful.
Certainly, the increased circumstance to sit out in the middle lane on a bike, waiting for a right turn, is something to be avoided.
Riding USA and Europe has been an edifying experience. In UK you find the old right hand rule, which we've just changed back to, has persisted, and driving on the right hand side of the road in USA and France is the same, but round the other way as a left hand rule, except dear old France have one zany exception, vehicles coming in on your right have the right of way!
I think our authorities have covered this pretty well by giving priority to through-traffic at T junctions, "top of the T goes before me".

BRONZ and ACC have put out a very useful website for motorcyclists, recommend it highly.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Movie: John Carter

This one was a must see on account, despite being a record expense production, bombed on release.
It was entertaining, but just a day later, near forgettable.
The story its based on was written 100 years ago so I read recently, that's around 1912, and the flying contraptions certainly looked like it.
Maybe that's why its failing to gain traction. The story would have been more believable without the clunkers.

Monday, March 26, 2012


We havent had a decent summer but this week's been as good a spell of weather as we've had, and the 400 km swoop down to Tauherenikau on the CB today, to watch one of the nags run was total joy.
Southern Wairarapa's really swinging as a tourist destination, sign-posts point the way to a multitude of off-highway diversions, including local museums, wineries, farmy stuff, and even NZ's own Aotearoa Stonehenge, a plywood mock-up.
Carterton, Featherston, Greytown, and Martinborough have pursued the boutique shopping/cafe experience, and even for a Monday, were quite busy.
Going over there feels like a trip to another country, its got that Canterbury feel about it, without the South Island extensiveness. Its looking a picture this year, having got its share of the good rainfall the country's had.
Well worth a long weekend.
Or two.

Monday, March 19, 2012


The night in Wellie wasnt a write-off by any means.
Great company, with a quick redeemer dinner at Hummingbird, lamb shoulder, maybe a little tough but flavour just right with nice vegies, and the seafood platter at $30 odd, scallops, mussels and shrimp mostly, a grand enough meal that alone would do for two. And you could skip the bread and dips appetiser.
Wellington was pretty much booked out with last weekend of the Arts Festival, and the Hurricanes playing Highlanders same night, but through stalwart got one of the last rooms at Century Apartments, Tory St, smart room at a very reasonable price, and drive-in parking building adjacent.
Eventful trip home too.
Police breath-test road block at 7am along the waterfront, detour from Mana over Paekakariki Hill due to a fatal at Pukerua Bay, but at Levin, Raewyn's Cafe was open for a 'small' steak and eggs, one of the best steaks you can get in NZ, but be careful to be super hungry if you order the 'large'. She's open about 6 am weekends, and 2am week-days, closes around 2pm, best breakfast place, down-home quality, serve size, menu, and value, in NZ in my book.
Another detour around central Levin, big shop fire, and another police road-block in Sanson for rego/wof check, drop off mate, and back over the Saddle Road to Woodville Clay Target range for the bi-annual match between Wanganui and Wairarapa Ulysses, with a big thanks to Woodville for their assistance with the shooting, and a top cold beef, salad, spud and peas lunch.
Quick look at the windmill power farm on the way home, hundreds up there now, hard to believe all these stories you read about the technology being suspect, more nimby drivel I suspect.
Top weekend.

Show: Hohepa

I always judge a show, book, or movie on the impression it's made on me, and whether the impression remains strongly in my head in the following days.
This opera, part of the NZ Arts Festival, 2 days later still is, but I'm struggling for reasons why. I guess in the final analysis, art is in the eye of the beholder, and maybe I don't possess enough "art" boxes to adequately tag it.
The score was melodically bereft to my ear, despite some of NZ's best voices being in cast, Phillip Rhodes, Jonathan Lemalu, and Deborah Wai Kapohe, but this couldnt have been a reference surely, to polynesian song being more dirge than melody prior to european influence, or was it just matched to the seriousness of plot?
The set was just OK..., un-extravagant, but the film-over backdrop did work reasonably enough.
So then, you'd rely on plot to lift the game?
Well, compared to the history books, was accurate, but too belaboured in the first half, and too fast in the second, although the show's tempo got a welcome lift from the latter.
Under the 'all art is a political statement' criteria, this production reeked, but there is a nuance in the subject of the opera, Hohepa's imprisonment story, that deserves to be retold, around the unjustness and circumstance of the incarceration, and the care and concern of his old neighbours.
There were unexpected elements of humour, and I cant decide whether they were incongruous in the telling of a sad and serious story or not.
Certainly, with my maori upbringing, I was throughout uncomfortable with the publisation of a death and exhumation private to the family and tribal connections, and I guess all kia kaha to them for the bravery in permitting this story to be presented this way, but there again...., politics?
Frankly, even as a well-descended maori, I'm getting pretty annoyed at the continual reminder of past injustice and land theft.
Do all the packed-house cooing and ahhing grey-haired liberati expect that if push ever came to shove, they'll get to keep all their nice Khandallah homes in return for their sympatico, while all us despised farmers get booted off our farms in the Great Reparation?
Yeah right....
In conclusion, courageous, and obviously not without impact, or I wouldnt have written this. It made me think, but I'd struggle to say I was entertained.
Would I see it again?
Not for the $100 a good seat, and nor for the cheaper chance to perch in the uncomfortable, ill-view affording Gods in Wellie Opera House either.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Book: Now You See Her

Now she vanishes. A crime yarn set in Florida.
Heard a lot about James Patterson, this is the first one I've read, and he's great.
The short chapters are odd to get to grips with, but actually make for an easy read.
The pace is a real ride, and all credit to this author, is faultless. The plots swirl, then come together neatly.
With the short takes, this'd make a fantastic movie.
Oddly enough, came across another Patterson in the same week, "Lifeguard". Same setting, a lesser version of the above, but another worthwhile read

Monday, February 20, 2012

Book: 11.22.63

What can you say?
I thought Green Mile was a crowning glory for favorite author Stephen King, but this one really does it for me, playing on his portals into a different time and place, supreme intelligence building and holding the plot, and suspense throughout, more a sort that has you wishing and hoping, rather than the frightener one.
The word-smithery and craftsmanship are all there, some of the dialogue streams had me laughing, well done American dialogue can be such a delight.
For those of us Americanophiles, and who grew through those times, the read's a nostalgic treat.
And, inside the back cover, advance notice of another novel in the Dark Tower, gunslinger series!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Movie: War Horse

This one's been panned a bit by the local critics, but seems to still be drawing an audience.
I went, wearing my horse breeder/handler hat, to see what it was all about, and OK, the horse stuff was likable, if a little contrived and shmaltzy.
Spielberg's influence on the battle scenes was as impressive as ever.
I guess in the final analysis, its a kid-dult movie, with a close to fairy-tale story, but a bit too gruesome for a child.
I'll give it a thumbs up, the anthropomorphic super-horse thing might have been a bit of a stretch, but us horse-breeders all harbour a fantasy that our geese might grow into swans.