Sunday, January 29, 2012

Busker's World First

Mild-mannered plate-spinning
Peter Mielniczek
On the last show of the last day of the World Busker's Festival, no one could predict what was going to happen. Add to the tension a cooling rain, a red beret, and a precocious 4 year old, and the inevitable transpired. Dry-humoured plate-spinning Brit Peter Mielniczek created history (we think). For a full seven minutes, Mielniczek (pronounced "Mielniczek") worked two crowds, two shows at two venues, two sets of gags, and wowed everyone, including (it seemed) even his fellow buskers.

Le Tigre Bleu, Group Show @ 4.30
Well into his plate-spinning, chocolate bar stomping, topless dashing routine, it appeared he was losing control. A young boy named James was stealing the show. Precocious, cute, but a little annoying, James wooed the audience with his cute philosophising. Mielniczek was visibly shaken by the boy's clever responses. Time was running out. He was losing the crowd (not really, but it sounds more dramatic that way. The kid was adorable and Mielniczek was working it like a master). But time was running out. Mielniczek was due in Le Tigre Bleu, an indoor stage opposite the CocaCola Stage where he was, for a bit part in the group show.

So, with time against him, and after two (good-hearted) warnings from fellow buskers, Mielniczek did the unthinkable (at least, to the uninitiated, I imagine such a thing would be unthinkable). He told his audience to wait. He'd be back. Yes. He told the gathered crowd, who had not paid to see him, who were sitting in the cold spitty rain, and from whom he was expecting/hoping to get money as long as they stayed there, to wait. Just let me do this little thing, over there, and I'll be back.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Another Gap Filled

SHAC co-ordinator Tim Bishop on the site of an innovative new project

Gap filler, "a creative urban regeneration initiative" which was born in the wake of Christchurch's September 2010 earthquake and really took off after February's (2011), is building an office in Colombo Street Sydenham. The office will be relocatable, but initially on the site of the old Ascot TV shop, next to Coffee Zone.

Printing plates from The Press will clad some of the
walls of Gap Filler's new office
SHAC (Sustainable Habitat Challenge) is overseeing the project which will see a less than 10 sq.m space made almost entirely of recycled materials. SHAC co-ordinator Tim Bishop says its fun to work on an experimental project like this. The innovative building project brings together a team of volunteers, and the finished office will be up and running in a week (by the 28th).  The innovations are Mark Fielding developed pallet walls using recycled polystyrene for insulation. Recycled carpet lines the inner walls, and outside walls will be clad with recycled printing plates from The Press.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Stupid Facebook wouldn't let me post the link to this video, but I thought it was worth sharing. Who says FOX doesn't have a sense of humour?

Monday, January 16, 2012


What a beautiful day today in Christchurch. The Breeze Lazy Sundays had lined up Mundi, a "world-jazz" band. Awesome. That's what I'd call them. It was a kind of Paul Winter meets Jethro Tull feeling on the lawn. Mellow yet invigorating; jauntingly earthy.

Several hundred people lined the shaded area of the Archery Lawn in Hagley Park's Botanical Gardens. Chilly bins, deck chairs, wine coolers and tanned bodies slowly filled the grassy amphitheatre as Mundi warmed up and tested sound.

I knew as soon as I saw the banjo I was sold.There's not enough banjo music in New Zealand. If I'da had twenty bucks I'd have bought the CD (Mundi's latest album, In the Blink of an Eye) just on the back of the banjo. Founding member Tyson Smith (right) also plays guitar.

Front woman (and also founding member) and brilliant flautist Tamara Smith charmed the audience with some haunting tunes, her funky cool glasses, and did I mention some brilliant flute mastery? Having studied classical music, according to NZ Music Teachers Online, a love of world music, jazz, rock, and blues brought her to Christchurch Polytech Jazz School where she received a Bachelor in Musical Arts and a Diploma in Teaching and Learning from the College of Education.

Mundi captured the Lazy Sunday crowd in an hour and a half set, accompanied by guest singer Roslen Langton, and dancer extraordinaire Emily Napolitano.

Some of Mundi, and many other bands will be performing at The Drum Festival at the Little River Campground on January 28-29. Check out the LRC website for more details.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Things should me made as simple as possible, but not any simpler 
                                 - Albert Einstein

I'm not the stupidest guy around. I used to feel like I was, but nowadays I feel I can hold my own on a lot of topics, but I am hardly an "expert" on anything.

Especially when it comes to technology. Technology vexes me. Greatly.

It's the 21st Century. I've already given up on the promises made last century by those "in the know" that by now we'd have flying cars, light-speed travel, and transporter machines. Now my hopes and requirements are much simpler. For now I'd just like to have a toaster that doesn't burn crumpets.

It seems to me, though, in my simplicity, that "technology" is not all that it's cracked up to be. The oft used example is that if fridges ran like computers consumers would be up in arms about the inefficiency. But, of course, it's not just limited to computers.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Coffee 2 go

It's commonly known that I am not a coffee connoisseur. I'm an instant coffee guy. And I mean that. A few years ago (quite a few) when friends and I frequented a certain Muffin Break (in the old Northlands Mall), I talked the proprietor into keeping a bag of instant coffee in the bottom cupboard just for me. So every day he'd make me an instant coffee, charge me four dollars and laugh all the way to the bank.

I still drink instant coffee, and the cheaper the better. I like the Home Brand and Budget brews. Why pay ten bucks for a bag of Nescafe when the cheaper stuff for two ninety nine a bag, sometimes as low as one sixty nine, taste just the same?

When I go to Coffee Culture I wish I could get a decent cup of instant coffee. Not perked either. That stuff's just nasty.

Saturday, January 07, 2012


Sumner Sunrise
"For me optimism is two lovers walking into the sunset arm in arm. Or maybe into the sunrise - whatever appeals to you."
         - Krzysztof Kieslowski

I think I'm a sunrise person. It appeals to me (more than sunset). Is it simply the colours, or is it something more ethereal, in all senses of the word? The freshness of the air; the promise of an entirely new day, an opportunity to start again regardless of what happened yesterday; the feeling that no matter what, today just might be the day when existing ceases, and living begins.

I took this in 1982. It's probably one of my favourite photos. It was sunrise in Mount Maunganui and looking at it now - 30 years later (OMG!) - I can remember it like it was yesterday. For some reason every second of this moment is burned into my memory. I don't remember what happened an hour before it or an hour after it. But I keenly remember that twenty seconds when I placed Christine, pushed the shutter button and sprinted the twenty meters, in cowboy boots, to her waiting arms.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Dance the Night Away

I'm frequently nostalgic. Usually it's about a girl. Every now and then I get a bit obsessed about things from my past, and, as if to satisfy a tiny wee voice inside me, I hit the google machine and look for evidence that I did actually exist "back then". Sometimes my memory tricks me. Sometimes - quite frequently actually - I think did that really happen? So it feels good to see some old photographs, or faded letters, or (in these modern times) to see proof-positive on the Internet that my memory does indeed serve me well (most of the time).

So it was the other night when I got to thinking about my old dancing teacher, Irene Oliver. I remember Irene was well over a hundred years old when she was teaching in the 70s. Well, she seemed to be well over a hundred (I was a teenager so anybody over 30 seemed ancient), but in reality she must have been in her 60s or even 70s. And I've often wondered over the years if she has died, and when. But equally it wouldn't surprise me if she were still alive and is actually now well over a hundred. She lived for two things, as I remember. Dancing, and caring for her elderly mother. Probably in that order. But it goes to show that longevity is in Irene's genes.