Thursday, April 30, 2009

PARTY, PARTY, PARTY


Had some drinks at my place tonight. Lynn was out so I invited a few cronies around. Things were going OK until Atiila the Hun Guy started to break things. Fucking vandal. Luckily Beowulf was here. She went a bit berserk and threw Attilla out. That was OK for a while but then she got pissed and started causing trouble. If she had been pregnant I could have abused her. As it was I was stuck in the corner with The Boring Guy. I couldn't get away. He was rabbitting on about Evah pirazzi strings and finger positions - weird and boring. The Curmudgeon stumbled about complaining about everything. The only thing he was useful for was telling those gatecrashers Bunny and Bill to Fuck off when they arrived. They pretended to know someone at the party. It was when they said they knew Richard that was their undoing. Curmudgeon threw them out. They were last seen being harangued by Attilla the Hun Guy out on the street. To be honest I wish that Curmudgeon had thrown out the Boring Guy and he could have gone off with Bunny and Bill. The wines were good (at least the ones I drank were. I put out the crap stuff for the others).

Saturday, April 25, 2009

COFFEE AND RUM


An early memory I have is of attending Anzac Day Dawn Parade at the Cenotaph in Wellington. In those days (1960's) there weren't as many attendees as nowadays and I was always able to get a good view of the proceedings. I felt very special and proud of my Dad who had service medals (stars) for Crete, Africa, Italy and other Dominion medals for the 1939-1945 war. Dad was not one of those ex-servicemen who frequented the RSA and who talked a lot about the war. He attended the Dawn Parade each year to remember the friends he lost during some of the bloodiest campaigns of WW2. As a child it was a big adventure being woken in the dark and sleepily dressing (warmly) to be driven down deserted streets to the assembly point. Familiar landmarks assumed an ethereal atmosphere in the dark, cold and mist. I remember shuffling feet, muffled coughs, the spark of a match and the smell of cigarette smoke. Always, the firing of the gun (howitzer which made an almighty sound so close to the crowd) would make me jump even though I was expecting and looking forward to it going off. They don't do that now, another casualty of the modern age whereby firing it at 6AM would affect the sensibilities of the inner city dwellers. Shame. After the parade the attendees would gather in the foyer of Wellington Railway Station, a short walk away to get warm, chat and to drink the coffee provided free. This came out of huge urns and was poured into those chunky, rounded NZR cups. It was warming and had a delicious illicitness about it due to it being liberally laced with rum. One of these with an Anzac biscuit then home to bed for a couple of hours sleep.
I attended the Auckland Dawn Parade at the Auckland Museum as usual this morning. I think of my Dad a lot but especially so on these mornings. The feeling that he is beside me is palpable. I carry his medals in my pocket. There is no howitzer salute nor coffee laced with rum being served afterwards but I still feel a connection with those Wellington days and am so pleased that the Dawn Parade is being strongly supported with the younger generations assembling, taking their children who will hopefully have good memories of the experience.
When I got home I brewed up a cafetiere of coffee and had a cup liberally laced with rum (Appleton's 12 Y.O.). To you Dad.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

PROFITEERING



"A British honeymoon couple from Hong Kong have paid what is believed to be a record price for a bottle of New Zealand wine.
They shelled out $1000 for a bottle of Gibbston Valley Wines' world champion 2000 Pinot Noir at Gantley's Restaurant near Queenstown.
Now a rare find, the standard 750ml bottle came highly recommended at the restaurant, where there are only four or five bottles of the treasured drop remaining.
Restaurant co-owner Brent Rands told the Southland Times the last bottle he sold was last year for $750 and with very few bottles remaining he increased the price to $1000 in January.
"I thought it's getting so scarce now, if it's gonna go, it's gonna go..."
Gibbston Valley Wines managing director Mike Stone said yesterday the wine's latest feat "felt pretty good".
"To the best of my knowledge it's the first (750ml) bottle by a New Zealand producer that's ever sold for $1000."
The wine sold at the cellar door for just $65 eight years ago, Mr Stone said."

This was on the Yahoo news web this morning.
It is a good example of the blatant profiteering that some restaurants indulge in. The co-owner seems to be proud of the fact that he just added $250 to the price of a bottle up from the usurous price of $750. He is very naive. There's no way that I or like minded people will go to his establishment in the future.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

LUCINDA WILLIAMS


We went to the Lucinda Williams concert on Friday. Auckland Town Hall is a great venue. Whilst I've seen some good concerts at the bigger places its nice to be in a smaller one where you are closer to the stage. I liked about a third of the songs so it wasn't the best concert I've been to recently but hey, it was a chance to put on my jeans and cowboy boots. Our ears were ringing afterwards as the music was loud and she belted out the songs. Not bad for a 56 year old.
I drank beer (Steinlager Pure since I'm boycotting DB).

Monday, April 6, 2009

THE CHERRY ORCHARD


We went to see The Cherry Orchard on Saturday night. This was a Tom Stoppard adaptation directed by Sam Mendes. It is one of the 'Bridge Project' which is a series of co-productions from Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Old Vic, and Neal Street Productions. Each year a combined British/American company will perform classic plays in New York and London and selected international venues. It had a great cast with the likes of Simon Russell Beale, Sinead Cusack, Richard Easton, Rebecca Hall, Josh Hamilton and Ethan Hawke.

The American/ British combination was pretty interesting. We seem to expect more from the British when it comes to classical drama but the Americans put up a pretty good show. It was good that the actors used their own accents (except for Selina Cadell who adopted a German accent as she in the play was the only 'foreigner')instead of cobbled Russian ones. Checkov supposedly wrote the play as a comedy although most of the early performances were done as tragedy. Stoppard and Mendes have done this adaptation as foreboding with ominous portentous events about to happen. The sets are gloomy and worked really well with the themes of potentially violent change (even though the main characters are oblivious to it).
Checkov's turn of the 19th to 20th century Russia could well be turn of the 20th to 21st century any where else. The aristocrats still ponce about. The Merchant classes (bourgeoisie)and nouveau riche forget their roots and struggle to find fulfilment beyond making more money and the poor stay hungry.
Checkov wrote this just before he died and his hopes for positive change with improvement in conditions for the peasant classes in retrospect was wishful thinking. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.
We bought tickets for A Winters Tale which is on next Saturday with the same actors and producers. Unfortunately we didn't check when Easter weekend is so will miss this as we will be away. Bugger.

A wine reference?
At the end when the peasant-become-merchant Lopakhin sets out sparkling wine to farewell the aristo's he mentions that the inferior tipple cost 8 roubles a bottle. This was handy as context because he paid 80,000 roubles over the mortgage to secure the cherry orchard property. The wine was said to not be Champagne. In today's wine market a cheap Aussi bubbly might well be $8.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

SEX AND RELIGION (with a bit of wine thrown in)


"A former Queenstown brothel has a new owner -- a Christian church group.

Queenstown Christian leaders Chris and Janet Barraclough have moved their Vineyard Church into the former Candy's Gentlemen's Club in Shotover St.

The former brothel, which offered spas, sauna and massages, closed in December when the building's lease ran out.

The first Vineyard church was founded in California in 1974 and there are now more than 1500 churches globally.

A sign outside the building described Vineyard Churches as "orthodox and evangelical in belief, while at the same time practising Pentecostal power".

I was intrigued by this story on the news web this morning.

Seems to me a combination of sex, wine and religion. All it needs now is a birthing clinic on one side and a funeral parlour on the other and the cycle would be complete

Thursday, April 2, 2009

MIRACLE OF THE EUCHARIST


I heard a spokesperson from St Matthews in the City church today saying that it was a miracle that the Erubus family book that was stolen from the church was returned on the same day that they found the key which will enable them to lock the display cabinet.
Now I was at St Matthews last Saturday and took communion bread and wine. Does this mean that God was pleased at my wine review and so took pity on the church?