December 31, 2011

Weight Watchers

A recent study shows that Weight Watchers is effective for losing weight but I'm sure that everyone knows someone who has found them effective study or no. I certainly have and this has prompted me to give it a try. So you know it's effective but what's it all about?

The new ProPoints plan is similar to Points, Core, and Satisfaction. Essentially it takes the best from all of these previous plans. All food and drinks are allocated points dependent on their fat, carbohydrate and fibre content. "Healthy and filling" foods are emphasised and you can choose to eat them without counting points (but you only get to eat this classification of food). There is a daily allocation of ProPoints calculated on your gender, age and weight. The minimum number of daily points is 29. You can earn extra ProPoints by exercising. Perhaps the best bit is the 49 weekly ProPoints which you can use for special occasions, allocate throughout the week or just not spend and loose weight more rapidly.

Meetings are held in various venues throughout Wellington. The meeting format is the same as under the previous plans; each meeting starts with paying your weekly fee and getting weighed, then (should you choose to stay) a led discussion on a particular topic related to weight loss. Weight Watchers products are for sale at each meeting; exclusive food, recipe books, gadgets such as calculators and pedometers.

I found the new plan easy to use, much less prescriptive and more flexible than the previous ones. It was easy to fit into my life and only required a few alterations (mostly on portion size) to my regular diet. The weekly ProPoints allowance has been great, it allows me to have blowouts and stay within the plan. Like the Points plan it requires that you track everything you eat but fruit and most vegetables don't have a ProPoints value which makes this task easier. The mixture of freedom and constriction this plan provides can be tweaked to suit your personal needs - if you need to be strict you can track all points diligently each day, if you need a bit more flexibility you can eat more fruit and vegetables, increase exercise and eat meals of which you already know the points value.

I agree that talking with others helps but the people change at each meeting, even if you attend at a regular time. I recommend making friends with someone at your meeting or joining with a friend to help keep each other motivated (and attending meetings). Once you've learnt the plan it can feel a bit ridiculous to pay just to be weighed each week. If you have the discipline you could attend for a few weeks till you thoroughly understand the plan then continue on alone. Having said that, I think that this is probably where most people fall off the wagon. Going to meetings helps to maintain focus. I'm not a fan of Weight Watchers food but some people swear by it, I find it can be expensive and taste funny but it is easy to know the exact point value of what you are eating.

All in all Weight Watchers works if you follow the plan and it's flexible enough to suit anyone.

You can join online, at your local meeting or if you're lucky your work
Price: this varies and may include a joining fee

December 24, 2011

Carousel Cabaret December 2011

A smaller crowd gave a more intimate feel to this month’s Carousel.

The show had a rocky start with a few sound issues, however the performers affected (Pip E. Lysaah & Avian Belle) showed their professional side by continuing as if nothing had happened and were cheered on by the audience for their efforts.

After an intro for our emcee, Vinyl Burns, Magenta Diamond kicks off the show with Santa Baby tearing open presents to reveal rather naughty gifts. A sudden lighting and tempo change and hula hoops drop from the roof. She manages to strip while spinning hoops without a falter, a great start.

Next up is Pip E. Lysaah, a belly dancer who we’ve seen twice before on the Carousel stage. This month there is a smoke machine which adds some extra mystery to her already exotic acts. I enjoyed the way the smoke followed her twists and turns.

The final act of the first half is Avian Belle, who always brings a more artistic touch to the show. This time she enters the stage backwards, though you’d be forgiven for not knowing because she is wearing a mask on her head and has her hands pressed together behind her back (a feat beyond my flexibility!) so as to create the illusion of faces forward. Glitter and feathers fall from the roof as she dances. I loved this touch but I am a magpie so anything sparkly wins me over. A mention should be given to stage kittens everywhere who have to sweep the stage after so much glitter, it took most of the interval for one of the Carousel Cuties to clear the stage.

After the break Vinyl treats us to some of his magic tricks and gets a little friendly with some fake hands.
The show gets a high octane jolt from rock and roll couple Damon Rok and Li’l Minx. Dancing to Candyman, Damon tosses Li’l Minx around his body and up in the air like she weighs nothing at all. The two don’t stay still for even moment, it’s no wonder they currently hold the national championship title. The audience loves this firecracker of an act. As if a top speed rock and roll routine weren’t enough, the pair even manage to add burlesque strip elements and they finish with Li’l Minx tassle twirling while sitting in Damon’s hand as he hold his arm above his head.

Next up is Pip E. Lysaah for her second act wearing what looks to me like giant silver butterfly wings. The smoke is back and works well with the wings. I don’t know how she doesn’t fall over from dizziness with all the spinning and twirling in this act but it looks marvellous.

Our final act of the night is the last one from Rachel Rouge before she heads over to the Middle East. She comes on it a red sequined dress and performs a traditional burlesque routine but when the music ends her act changes gear. A projector screen displays images from her career so far while she removes what is left of her costume and make up to Gloria Gaynor’s I Am What I Am. She grabs a back pack which was hidden onstage and dresses into ‘day job’ clothes then runs out of the bar. A dramatic exit for a dramatic lady.

You can find Carousel on Facebook or the web - they'll be back in February

Venue: The Garden Club (Facebook and the web)
Date: 23 December 8pm
Tickets: $35 cash at the door

December 16, 2011

I, George Nepia

Awarded Production of the Year I, George Nepia returns to Circa for a second season.

I, George Nepia, another “one man” show was just great.  Whilst at times the language used by George as a young man was not what I would have expected, the rest of the script and story line was relatively easy to follow and Jarod Rawiri’s delivery excellent.

The changes in character from George, the young man, to George in his later years, to his mate on the ship across to Europe, to his coach / mentor at school and on tour were executed to perfection.

Jarod was also required to “perform” a number of actions on stage, warm-ups, haka and movements as if he were playing the game on stage – all done well and adding to the storyline.
Jarod Rawiri was at times required to speak directly in individuals in the audience as part of the performance which he did with feeling.  

Overall, his performance was very well received, so much so that he was required back on stage at least twice to accept the applause from the very appreciative audience!

Written by Hone Kouka / Directed by Jason Te Kare
Shows: till 17 December, 7pm
Prices: $40 Adults / $30 concession
Venue: Circa Theatre (show information page)

December 12, 2011


Great service. Great food. Great atmosphere. And to top it all off...great prices.

When we arrived at Istanbul we were quickly greeted and seated with a smile. Despite the huge numbers they pack into a small space they don't leave you waiting. All night long you just had to look up and one of the many wait staff would be there to help you. The food arrived so fast I thought they must have mixed up the orders. But no it was ours and it was delicious.

I don't know about you, but when I go out I want to eat food I wouldn't make at home. Istanbul definitely ticked that box for me. I had the beef moussaka, it was full of flavour and more than I could fit in my usually spacious stomach! I'm not sure what they put on the side salad but it had me running my finger over the plate to get the last bit.

As I said, the place was packed and it was loud. But you could still hear the people around you and everyone seemed to be having a great time.

Thanks Istanbul, I'll be back.

Price: mains from $19
Venue: Istanbul, 156 Cuba Street, Wellington (web)
Hours: 5.30-10pm (11pm Friday-Saturday) 

December 8, 2011


Mystery, mahem and even… murder?!

The best way to sum up Toys is: think Toy Story, but for twisted grown ups (this is definitely not a show for wee-ones). The story focuses on a group of toys who have just seen their owner, Charlie, being driven away in “a big white Christmas van with blikny lights,” as the character Ball puts it.

We meet Ball before the show as she runs about on stage (and through the audience) thrilled to see people filling in, and giving a big hug to Santa Claus who was taking pictures with audience members while we waited to enter the theatre.

We meet the characters one by one, as they each have their individual time on stage, trying to solve the mystery of who they believe killed Charlie. All the toys have their own hilarious personalities and quirks, expertly performed by the various actors. From effervescent Ball to pants-less G.I Joe to a sexually confused Barbie and more. Toys very cleverly looks at Christmas from the perspective of the toys, the potential for new playmates, the threat of being replaced by a “stupid box with an X on it” and the ever looming fear of being sent to the dump. This is not an entirely new concept but it is done very well here, this is the first time I’ve seen toys plotting murder!

My personal top three characters would have to be G.I. Joe aka Snake Eyes, Ball and Jack in the Box. However, his jokes about having a black president did not strike a good note with the audience.  Otherwise a hilarious and highly entertaining show that I highly recommend to all with a sense of humour.

I make a special mention to BATS for having Santa and his helpers ready to greet us at the door with Foxton Fizz (a childhood favourite), Christmas mince pies and of course a photo on Santa’s lap. Little touches like that really top off the whole experience.

A warning to anyone heading to this show, avoid the front row unless you’re fond of audience participation!

Written, by Dan Musgrove and Natalie Medlock
Season: 7th December - 17th December 2011 (no show Sun/Mon)
Time: 9pm (7pm and 9pm from December 13th)
Price: $20 Full / $14 Concession / $15 Groups 8+
Length:1hr 40min
Venue: Bats Theatre (show info page)

December 7, 2011

Silent Night

I wasn’t sure what I was in for from this one woman show. All I knew was that it was about a pensioner on Christmas. I certainly didn't expect a rollercoaster that tears down the fourth wall and would bring tears to my eyes, both of laughter and sadness.

Yvette Parsons (Dan is Dead / I am a Yeti) takes the stage as Irene McMunn, an elderly widow spending her first Christmas alone in her retirement unit. It deals with all the ups and downs that come with age; friends passed on, family who aren’t as close as one would like, Christmas day spent with the cat. The set is simple and effective, a small lounge, ready for Christmas day lunch. This is a story told with words not fancy lighting effects or expensive props.

Over the hour, Irene directly addresses the audience to share with us memories from her life. The actress retells these tales with such believable emotion that I was unsure whether the character was simply retelling or actually believed herself to be reliving them. Some stories had the audience doubled over with laughter, while others had some people in need of a hanky. I found myself slightly unnerved by just how similar this character is to my grandmother.

The word rollercoaster really is fitting, the high points were hilariously high and the down points were truly saddening. As time went on I found myself wondering how on earth this story could end. One brief moment of terror as Irene clutches her chest, short of breath… but no, this story doesn’t end there. If I had anything negative to say it would be perhaps the emotions occasionally swing too rapidly between happy and sad.

The acting is brilliant. The story is touching and relatable. Though I originally thought the hour run time would leave me dissatisfied, my attention was held in such a way I felt I had been watching much longer.

I definitely recommend this show to all (though if you’re the sensitive type, take some tissues) and be prepared for the urge to reconnect with your grandparents afterward!

Directed by Stephen Papps. Produced by and starring Yvette Parsons.
Venue: Bats Theatre (play info page)
Showing: December 6-10 at 7pm
Price: $18 Full / $13 Concession / $14 Groups 6+

December 4, 2011

The Fright Before Xmas - Roller Derby

On the 3 December 2011 at 6pm, “The FRIGHT before Xmas” Roller Derby was held at the TSB Arena in Wellington.

The first thing that caught my eye was the reasonably long line outside for people to purchase tickets. There is the option of pre-purchasing tickets from which I would recommend to anyone thinking of going to the Roller Derby.

The curtain raiser was the Wellington based team RCRD Convicts against the Hamilton based team Hellmilton Roller Ghouls Raggedy Angst. The main game was the Wellington based team the RCRD All Stars against the Christchurch team Dead End Derby All Stars. In both games the Wellington teams won.

Being new to the Roller Derby scene, it was a great experience. The programme explains the basics of the game so without fully understanding the game anyone can enjoy watching.

The only downside to the night was during the three intervals the wait seemed to feel quite long due to no form of entertainment, and that the main event started approximately 45 minutes later than indicated on the programme. During the interval between the two games there was a 5.7 earthquake that shook the building. In the half time during the main game raffle prizes were drawn, money raised from the raffle tickets that were purchased went towards supporting the local teams.

The Roller Derby sport is not a sport for the faint hearted. There is a lot of pushing, shoving and falling over which all adds to the excitement of the game....most of the time someone was in the penalty box for some form of penalty.

Each team has their own theme and colours. The costumes are particularly interesting and each player seemed to have something on their costume which helped the audience to identify players as the games do move quite quickly. The players and officials all have nick-names that play on their team theme.

I would recommend the Roller Derby for those who enjoy getting behind a team and dressing up to support them  It was a fun night out and overall an enjoyable experience.

You can visit RCRD on FacebookTwitter and on the web.

November 27, 2011

Carousel Cabaret November 2011

Frills, sequins, feather and corsets; tattoos, coloured hair and elaborate stage designs. Welcome to Carousel Burlesque Cabaret.

Being my first Burlesque show, I wasn't too sure what to expect - perhaps some seductive entertainment in the forms of dancing, maybe some singing and some lovely costumes. And whilst I did indeed get all of that, I wasn't expecting a stand-up comedian show with some performances in between, which is what disappointingly Venus Starr's Carousel Burlesque November Show was.

Before the show starts, there is a soundtrack of your typical jazzy-seductive music - what you'd expect at a show like this. The stage is set up with a big background drop of a cartoon version of a burlesque girl on a carousel pony. The MC comes to the stage with some dance moves that are well desired by some. The crowd loves him and he goes to tell us this is the one year anniversary of Carousel. 15 minutes later, he finally introduces the first act: Penny Pinns. 

Penny comes on, dressed very conservatively; acting Queen-like. Yet there's something about this conservative girl ... she wants to let loose and get her inner tease out. She slowly shows more flesh throughout her song, stripping down to her underwear, yet keeping the air of "I shouldn't be doing this, I'm a naughty girl" which is delightful. 

The next act (after another 10 minutes of the MC) is a duo sing-and-bash by Fanci and Siren. Fanci is on the hide from Siren and this act has Siren singing and bashing Fanci for being trash, while Fanci does all she can to take Siren out - in the end taking off her bra and smothering Siren with it.

The final act of the first half is Galaxy Fox, a stunning woman with long legs and long purple hair. Tonight she is performing a femmebot routine - involving cake. While well done (Galaxy Fox breaks down from the cake), I found this act was just not quite my cup of tea, though the crowd loved it. This was one for the food fetishes out there. 

I find myself feeling rather bored every time the MC is on for more than five minutes. His jokes, I feel, fell into four categories: hilarious but very crass and probably offensive; flat; regular audience related (the crowd was a feeling of familiarity and almost communal); and putting down hecklers. The latter was probably my favourite of his jokes as the hecklers were well put down, and deservedly so. 

After the interval and being charged $6.50 for a can of Red Bull (what the hell, Garden Club?), Gracie Hart is introduced. She comes on in a full length red dress and she sings for us "I Never Talk to Strangers". Her voice is just stunning and her seductive strip is well done. My favourite so far. 

Ah, he's talking again. I like you, MC, but you have been talking for another 15 minutes now. Venus Starr comes and tells him to "Get the f*ck on with it", something we all agree with. Andre Corey is up next; Wellington's famous Boylesque dancer and Semi-Finalist in the International Pole Championship. The audience goes nuts. He is the favourite - especially among the men in the crowd from all the yelling going on. Andre comes on with overalls and a swandry top. Not looking sexy at all. That is set to change while he does a strip off to "Peaches" while of course, eating peaches. Including some dried ones used as his nipple covers and down his pants. His acting for this performance has a very teasing air to it and the audience are just lapping it up.

MC is quick this time in his introductions, we're already running 30 minutes over the scheduled time for the show. The second to last act for the evening is  Cyn Furneaux. Cyn is one of maybe two of the acts who didn't give off a amateur-vibe. And while I think her facial expressions during her performance could be improved, her act was one of my favourites - as she actually did more than just strip off. She played with fire. Setting a trail on each arm slightly alight then blowing it off and eventually swallowing the fire out in a sword-down-your-throat trick. 

Penny comes out for one final act, very similar to her first one. I feel this is anti-climatic and perhaps Cyn or Andre should have been the final act.

As this was my first show, I get the feeling that if you go to another one or two, you really start to love it, especially if you are dressed up. It would be good though to see a bit more variety and a bit more circus/magic tricks as that's what I get from the title of "Carousel", but unfortunately didn't really get that on the 25th of November.

Next Carousel - 23 December
Venue: The Garden Club
Price: $35 door charge (cash)
Dates: 25 November
Time: Doors open 7pm, show starts 8pm

November 18, 2011

Wellington Home and Garden Show

There were some good stands but seemed sparse for the area available for displays.  However, this may work better for the expected weekend crowds. Whilst there were a number of interesting items exhibited, we were disappointed that there was only one flooring stand (carpet only). Several stands employed presenters with microphones - some of them rather charming, who attracted patrons to their particular exhibit. There was food to taste - cheese, wine, chocolate, salt, seed etc - along with food being made with products that were for sale.

It wasn't as good a range of exhibits as we had expected but we realised that we were comparing it to the House and Home Show previously held at the TSB Arena.  But there were plenty of opportunities to win prizes, including a 46 inch wide screen TV!

There was some discussion about whether it was worth the entry fee, if you had to pay the full fee you may decide perhaps not - but two tickets for the price of one vouchers seem to be readily available (try Pak N Save).

Venue: Westpac Stadium
Dates: 18-20 November 10am-6pm (5pm on Sunday)
Prices: $8

November 11, 2011


Hutt City Musical Theatre held the Wellington premier of Spamalot last night. The award winning show, released in 2005, is a mix of Monty Python's Search for the Holy Grail and several of their skits along with some new material. You may have seen Eric Idle discussing it with Graham Norton on his show recently. The Lower Hutt group hired all of their costumes from a Christchurch troupe who were unable to perform due to earthquake damage.

The venue, a neighbour of the Hutt Repertory Society, was arranged in cabaret style seating with a limited bar and BYO. The small space was decorated well with hanging flags and wall coverings, if it hadn't remained cold throughout you might have forgotten you were in an old hall. A live band was squeezed in next to the stage, interactions with the actors ensured they were never merely part of the furniture.

The show included all the necessary elements; a King, a Diva who was "off stage for too long", a rescue, singing, dancing and, a wedding. The singing was, for the most part, excellent and far better than I had expected. In some places singers battled to be heard above the music as did the accented narrator. Arguments about kingship and democracy ("I'm King of the Britons." "I didn't vote for you.") seem particularly fitting so close to our own election, it is a shame that local references were not added here. Surprising modernisations included the Lady of the Lake and her Laker girls, the Knights Who Say Ni singing Mmbop and the revelation that you need a Jew to stage a good Broadway musical (there was an entire song about it). One surprising omission was any reference to the current popular usage of the word spam. The surprising addition was Always Look on the Bright Side of Life but I should have expected it as it is the song Monty Python are most well known for - even if it doesn't really fit in this show.
Of course it was good, it was Monty Python, you stupid twit! And all the better for being an amateur performance. It looks like this will sell out like the groups rendition of Grease. They only do one show a year so don't miss out.

Price: $27.50 you can buy tickets here
Performances: 10-12, 17-18, 24-26 November
Venue: Epuni Community Hall, cnr Oxford Terrace & Mitchell Street, Lower Hutt
Performers: Hutt City Musical Theatre (find them on Facebook and the web)

November 9, 2011

Drowning in Veronica Lake - 2 reviews

I grabbed a coffee, presented my ticket and entered into the darkened theatre to watch the performance of Veronica Lake, apparently the story of the life of an actress who was thought of as a star at one time but faded in later life.

In front of me was a figure in a white dress with a skirt that spread out by two metres or so around it.  Funny I thought, how is this going to work?

As I settled back to sip my coffee, the figure moved slightly; then I realised that the figure in front of me was real!

When the lights dimmed down and the spotlights came up the music started and the figure began to move and sing and slowly turned around to face the audience.  I was sitting in the front row so I had one of the best seats in the house to view the performance.

Alex Ellis was brilliant, telling the story of Veronica Lake from “her” point of view and that of her mother, as well as a number of other characters who appeared over the period of her life of fluctuating fortunes!  The delivery was strong, forceful when necessary, and the changes in character quite believable, especially whenever the mother “appeared” on stage.  Alex’s changes in accent, delivery, and mannerisms all helped to make us believe that the mother was speaking.

Veronica was “fixed” to the centre of the stage but still managed to move around to portray the principal character in various stages of depression and under the influence of alcohol.

Veronica Lake was a one “man” performance by Alex Ellis, very well performed and most enjoyable, something I would recommended to any lover of theatre.

I thoroughly enjoyed the play. It was well  staged and beautifully portrayed with the help of appropriate music and lighting.

Alex Ellis captured the essence of the true Hollywood starlit of the time with her alluring stance, movements and speech. This was shadowed by the time of  hopelessness and depression of her declining years. She was at times totally alluring, at others angry and, still further, pathetic and wasted (in more ways than one). Her change in character and in the lighting when she was portraying her mother was distinctive and such a contrast to the young confident starlit.

A one woman show which did not leave the audience a moment to lose concentration, with many times of anticipation. Well done Alex, the script was well written and the music most appropriate for the differing stages in the life of Veronica Lake!
Dates: 1-12 November, 7.30pm
Price: $22-30
Location: Circa Theatre (web and Facebook)

November 3, 2011

Carnival Hound

Downstage is known for staging alternative shows and Carnival Hound does not disappoint. I read several articles about Carnival Hound before the show but attempted to push them to the back of my mind so I could make my own interpretations. I needn't have bothered, even with my prior knowledge I had no idea what was going on.

It was surprising to find the cast were already on stage when the audience filed into their seats, they never really left, merely faded into and out of the background. The scenery was simple but the lighting certainly wasn't - it created windows, dramatic shadows and was almost a character or narrator. The music changed from militaristic, to polka inspired, to rock, and there was a little music box tune.

I recognised Maria Dabrowksa from Monster Burlesque, not from her appearance but from the certain way she has of flinging her arms around her body when she dances, it must be a signature move of hers. The choreography used a lot of interaction; pushing and pulling one anothers bodies with feet and hands - using them like puppets and shields from bombs. Dead bodies moved differently from live ones but still occasionally moved on their own.

I don't know much about dance, if I did I may have enjoyed this more. It's probably not something to take your male partner to unless they are interested in dance. It was visually interesting but intellectually confusing or perhaps it was just over my head. I think it was partly about possession of objects and other people. There were people like floppy dolls, strange synchronised dancing, chair fights and mannequin parts.

The show runs for just under an hour, if you like dance or something alternative go have a look - them come back and tell me what you thought it was about.

Venue: Downstage Theatre (find them on the web and Facebook)
Price: $20-25
Dates: 3-5 November 8pm

October 29, 2011

Carousel Cabaret October 2011

This intimate Carousel experience was hosted by Vinyl Burns who entertained with a surprising vocal range, escaping from a strait jacket, and his usual self mocking audience banter. The audience was treated to two performances from most of the performers and those who only performed once I would not have minded seeing again. I hope the trend for multiple performances continues at future Carousels.

Patti Cakes played four amusing, and I assume original, songs accompanied by her ukelele Pork Chop. She is cute, she can sing, and her lyrics kept the audience on their toes wondering what she would sing next.

During Lily Loca's first act she interacted with the audience via her facial expressions. There was more tease in this act than we had grown accustomed to - performers usually lose their clothes much quicker! Her second act was a peacock inspired fan dance. She talked with her fans rather than her face. The music track was fascinating beginning with a Shakespeare quote spoken over a pan flute.

Sadly Miss Burlesque NZ 2011 Bettsy Rose Lee was unable to attend due to a back injury. Miss La Belle (her predecessor) filled in for her with a dance similar to one she teachers her students. Dressed in an exotic bright pink outfit she owned the stage and seemed to be genuinely enjoying herself. From a simple teaching tool she performed a stunning dance.

For Miss La Vida's first act she managed to undress while covering herself with fans which I found rather impressive. Her second act was the same one she gave to the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas. She began a lady in an elegant gown with an impressive hat dancing to a slow song and ended a modern woman in knee high boots, suspenders and tassels shaking her rear to "I Like Big Butts."

Little Miss Broadway is striking both on stage and off. Her act was a dramatic and elegant dance to "Be Italian" in which she hits herself with a tambourine - much less disturbing than it sounds but I'm pretty sure that she'll have bruises!

The best dressed competition winner was a man dressed as a devil who narrowly beat out a woman dressed as a homage to this months promotional poster in suspenders, pearls and top hat.

Do not miss this months Carousel or you will regret it! Look out espeically for Little Miss Broadway and Miss La Vida's "Big Butts" routine, two such unique performances will be hard to match.

See you next month, November 25th and 26th.

Venue: The Garden Club
Price: $35 door charge
Dates: 28 & 29 October
Time: Doors open 7pm, show starts 8pm

October 24, 2011

Diwali Wellington (Diwali Mela)

The second day of the Wellington celebrations of Diwali was called Diwali Mela and was held on Sunday 16 October at the TSB arena. The event included retail stalls, speeches, dances and food.

The event was well organised; there were signs up listing the timing of performances, security controlling the flow of people into the food hall and a separation between the retail and stage area. It would have been useful to see the programme beforehand but information about the Diwali events was difficult to find. I think the door charge was fair but, considering the experience we had, I would not have been happy to pay any more.

There was a huge selection of food in Shed 6 including (confusingly) Mrs Higgins Cookies amongst the many Indian restaurant stands. Unfortunately we managed to buy from a stall that didn't have very good food and ended up throwing most of it out. The small stage in the food hall had an area in front of it for people to sit on the (concrete covered in tarpaulin) floor. The kids were looking forward to the puppet show but weren't that interested in it though I thought that having the puppet stall next to the stage was a great idea. We missed any performances on the main stage as the speeches seemed to drag on for quite some time.

Obviously the event was well patronised as it was a squash to get to see anything of the retail stalls. The kids were happy to look at the shiny things, they were particularly enamored of the 3D pictures, but didn't have much patience to wait and push through a crowd. I would have liked to see more of the stalls but it was too difficult.

For the Festival of Lights it was lacking in the lights department, there were fireworks in the evening but reports were that they were far from spectacular. I think perhaps the best way to sum this up was something an Indian acquaintance said; "We used to go, but we don't anymore. It's not worth it." Sadly accurate.

Venue: TSB area
Date: Sunday 16 October
Price: Gold coin donation

October 3, 2011

Carousel Cabaret - September 2011

Carousel is the brainchild of the incomparable Venus Starr and has been running for almost a year. The show started at Estadio but has recently found a new home at The Garden Club.

A long wait was relieved by Vinyl Burns who described his hosting skills as a 'long uncomfortable road trip to a mediocre destination.' The screaming audience who fought over winning his whistle disagreed.

Bonita Danger Doll on loan from Christchurch in fluffy skirt and matching fans moves like a dancer. She had beautiful music and movement (although we missed her floor work due to sight restrictions) but it was sadly somehow lacking in expression.

Fanciforia Foxglove performed the same act she did at her graduation ceremony, from Miss la Belle's classes in July, though this time accented by red rather than orange. She was one of the two or three who performed there that looked polished enough to go professional - congratulations on her for following through and doing it. Her act was a mixture of vixen and sweet girl, not many performers can pull off both but she can.

Gender bending Billy Black performed an alternative and much more entertaining NZ idol both unaccompanied and to a soundtrack. He has obviously had extensive waxing and can rock heels, stockings and a g-string. The second musical act of the night was Emily Fairlight who played in even less clothing - a pair of boots and a guitar - and possessed a beautiful breathy voice.

Ruby Ruin in ruff collar and mismatched outfit was a jerky expressionless clown urging the audience to 'join in the circus, apocalypse is drawing near.' Her act was more disturbing than erotic but fascinating all the same and illustrative of Venus Starrs passion for broadening the horizons of burlesque.

The most seductive act of the night was Athena di Lure judging by audience comments of arousal. Despite the purple mermaid hair she managed to have a regal bearing (her necklace and tiara helped too). The only disappointment was the end of the act where she shot blue/purple liquid on herself which not only seemed out of place but you had to squint to see. 

We're looking forward to seeing what is in store next month. Come along and make sure you dress up - you could win prizes (it pays to have a contingent of supporters in the audience if you want to win). Did you see Venus Starrs costume? It was made by Purdy Corsetry (look out for a review on them in coming months) who let us have a close look as it was being made, you can't tell from the pictures but those are diamante studs down the front.

You can find Carousel Cabaret on the web and on Facebook

Price: $35 (cash door sales)

Date: the last Friday of each month, doors open 7pm

Venue: The Garden Club (who you can find on the web and on Facebook)

September 24, 2011

The Film Archive - Soup and Seat series

Last week we checked out the National Archives so this week we thought we'd check out the Film Archive.

The Film Archive is currently running a series of films and documentaries on Friday lunch times called Soup and a Seat. Why? Because you get a cup of real soup to eat, with a slice of bread, while you watch your film. The price isn't bad either, only $8 for food and entertainment.

Surprisingly the theatre is like any other theatre; huge screen, dark room, and comfy seats. The soup was good but not great and the bread was small so don't expect this to fill you up - you'll probably need to get lunch after. The films on offer are of a variety, something to interest everyone and most relatively recent. If you find something you want to watch we think it is worth it.

There are only two Fridays left in the Soup and a Seat series so get down to the Film Archive soon.

Full details about the Soup and Seat series here.

Visit the Film Archive on the web and on Facebook.

Location: The Film Archive, 84 Taranaki Street, Wellington

Price: $8, $6 (students)

Both Archives are open to the public free of charge. You can request to see their holdings for research or interest.

September 16, 2011

Sufferage Day 19 September

You always knew NZ women were awesome but did you know they were the first in the world (as a country) to be allowed to vote? We celebrate this each year on the 19th of September.

So what does Wellington have planned for Sufferage Day? We discovered not much.

There is an exhibition at Archives NZ

The exhibition is open to the public till 26 September 9-5 Monday-Friday at the National Archives, 10 Mulgrave Street, Thorndon.

You can even view or order a scanned copy of the petition online.

There is an exhibition at the main Hutt City Library

The exhibition is open to the public 12-26 September during normal opening hours.

These two exhibitions are essentially the same: a copy of the petition for you to flip though, a series of posters and a dummy with a sandwich board. The sandwich board is the most interesting part. It is an advertisement (presumably from the Archives) saying the proprietor will not serve women seeking the vote and instead they should go home, feed their husbands and look after their children. The only difference between the two exhibits is that the actual petition is on view at Archives...or at least it is meant to be, it certainly wasn't earlier in the week.

Overall this is disappointing, calling these exhibitions is a bit of a stretch. Wellington is the political capital of New Zealand, the first country to grant women the right to vote. New Zealand is currently hosting visitors from all over the world surely we can do more than this to showcase one of our proudest moments in history?

For more information on Suffrage 2011 check out the Ministry of Women's Affairs.

You can even search the petition online to see if one of your ancestors signed.

If you want to read a cheap book on Sufferage here is a recent deal for Leading the Way. How New Zealand Women Won the Vote

September 15, 2011

Mr Green - home cleaning

According to the Mr Green website they offer home cleaning and garden maintenance. We have tired their home cleaning package.

They do a thorough clean; everything is wiped, dusted and vacuumed (they can even get those rings out of the bathtub!). What they don't do is tidy and I don't know about you but that is my major problem. Perhaps this is just part of the package deal we bought if it's not please let us know. Mr Green asks you to prepare before they turn up by clearing all benches so they have the space to wipe down as they don't sort or tidy. Your place will look good, clean but may still be a mess (with things pushed to the edges).

Mr Green has an online booking site which allows you to chose day and time but staff are known to arrive up to two hours early! This is great if it is an urgent clean, but not so great if you aren't home at the time. A text will arrive to tell you if they will be early but even if you say no they can still turn up earlier than planned. The other downside is that you can't often book on short notice so you may need to wait one or two weeks for your clean.

Mr Green offers free quotes; you can ask online, call or email them. They have contact details available nationally, you may chose to speak with the head office or the local representative.

Mr Green has been known to offer full home cleans for $55 on Groupy.

They have yet to reply to a request for a quote, we will update when they do.

You can find them on the web

September 14, 2011

Final Burlesque Class

Last night was the final in the six week Teaser course of burlesque classes taught by Miss Busty la Belle (and Crystal Mischief). If you are planning on missing any classes don't let it be this one - hell just turn up for this one!

After a brief warm up the rest of the class focused on a routine danced to Istanbul (not Constantinople), which is the routine Busty demonstrated to the class on our very first week. It was a great way to end the class, bringing it full circle and including everything we had learnt.

The class dressed up for the occasion; all that was called for was a button top and skirt with rear zip, although some members chose to wear clothing beneath these items there were some who only had undewear, stockings and corsets. (Is it weird that Crystal Mischief looks more normal to me out of her clothes than in them?) Obviously some of us had been shopping!

There were a couple of downsides:
- nerves at taking clothes off (even though we are all girls)
- the night was freezing
- students weren't familiar with some of the moves
- the music and moves were a little out of synch (this could be because we were slow as we were learning)
- it was the last class!

All in all I would reccomend this class to any woman of any age as it is great fun and helps build self confidence, you never know you might suprise yourself.

Check out reviews for week one, two and weeks three-five.

September 10, 2011

Monster Burlesque

I am still reeling from the strange fabulousness of Monster Burlesque. Want to see zombies dancing to Missy Elliot? Want to see roosters dance a paso doble then literally cock fight with their giant cocks? Want to see blood wresting? Want to see aerial hoop and fabric dancing? You'll see it all and more at Monster Burlesque.

At times the show was arty to the point of confusion but this disappeared as each act progressed. The costumes were interesting mixtures of fur, feathers and standard burlesque fare (corsets, stockings, pasties). It was sometimes difficult to tell the males from the females, especially as some males were dressed in traditionally female clothing, the females were often so thin as to be androgynous and the faces were often indiscernible through thick makeup and masks.

This experience is not likely to be equaled and should not be missed.

This is a late show so make sure you organise transport home before the show eg. taxi, midnight bus, train (1pm are the last ones!)

On tonight and Thursday - Saturday next week!
Time: 10.30pm -12am
Price: $46
Venue: Paramount Theatre, Courtenay Place
Buy tickets here

September 9, 2011

Burlesque class (Teaser weeks 3-5)

I had intended to write a full review of the venue for the classes but I think the content is of more interest. The classes are centrally located in Cuba mall, great if you want to grab dinner before or after. The venue itself leaves a lot to be desired; it has creaky wooden floors, wonky stairs, dingy bathroom etc etc. Not at all glamourous as you would expect from this sort of class. I just hope the rooms get renovated soon, even the Wellington Performing Arts Room have finally been done, surely Tarrant Stuidos can't afford to be left behind.

Here is a recap of what the class has been learning:
Week three - gloves. Who knew that long gloves could look so elegant but be so dirty? Moves include the trumbone and necktie. Tip: pull the fingers out a little so you the gloves don't get caught and you don't end up biting your finger!
Week four - cheesecake / good girl / dolly routine. So sugary sweet your teeth will hurt, and your face from smiling so much. Track: Honey
Week five - vixen / bad girl / bombshell routine. Track: I Put a Spell on You
Week six (upcoming) - removal of clothes other than gloves involved (gasp!), some costume required - what a way to end the class!

Miss la Belle has a graduation performance coming up in October for her level 2 class. Unfortuantely anyone wanting to attend a level 2 class will need to wait till next year. But for all of you who have yet to find the courage or time to attend a level 1 class next term (starting 11 October) Miss la Belle will be offering two classes! One at 6pm and one at 7pm, that means more people can attend. Check it out here.

Anything else you'd like to know? Just ask!

Check out reviews for week onetwo and six.

September 8, 2011

Rosemary Killip - Passion for Life

Recently this reviewer attended a free seminar run by Rosemary Killip the topic (as the title indicates) was Passion for Life. As it turns out the title is not just the title of the seminar but also of Rosemary's philosophy and new found business.

Held at the Bolton hotel the food was excellent (including shots of fruit juice) as was the rest of the venue. The only downside was the lack of advertising around the hotel which meant there were no directions for attendees to follow.

The seminar covered some of Rosemary's story, how she got what she wanted out of life and come to be living her passion. One member of the audience maintained her scepticism and Rosemary handled those comments well. As far as I could tell it was a meeting to promote her business; she provides individual coaching and has several workshops coming up.

Rosemary spoke with passion and certainly inspired me to live a better life but as much as I would love to attend one of her workshops in this economy can I really afford it?

You can find her on Facebook and the web

August 31, 2011

Results Room

As the name suggests the crew at Results Room focus on results. The trainer specialist gym opened this year and although they have a limited number of clients they are fast headed toward full capacity.

The trainers are young and rather attractive which is at least partly to be expected from a personal trainer. Don’t let their looks fool you, they are also very good at what they do. They use functional training with varying activities to train and test. Every six weeks they will reassess your fitness compared to your goals, if you are trying to lose weight they will weigh you fortnightly. Oh and the best bit, you don't have to join and they'll make you a programme for your gym.

Results Room is conveniently located in Featherston Street, the building isn’t terribly nice but the gym is. The equipment is surprisingly minimal, for the small space you would expect it to be packed in, it is all top of the line and functional – nothing without purpose. The toilets (at least the womens) are separate from the changing rooms which is a bit odd but probably due to space constraints. The changing rooms themselves are small but like the rest of the gym pleasant and practical.

The price is a bit prohibitive (the cheapest around $70) and there is unfortunately no option to see a trainer less than once a week. The price is made up of your membership fee (should you choose to join) and your trainer fee (discounted if you are a member). The shortest period you can attend is for six months (even if you aren’t a member).

We think it’s a great concept especially if you can afford it. We recommend it for anyone who has a specific goal in mind; these guys will get you there.

See them on facebook or the web.

August 11, 2011

Burlesque class - week two

I crept into my second class, more nervous than the previous week, feeling like a spy. Thankfully my review was not mentioned (at least within my hearing).
The class is women only, all appear to be in there 20's and 30's. There was at least one perfect specimen of womenhood amongst the varied shapes and sizes (all beautiful in their own way). The assistant teacher Crystal managed to appeared half dressed though all that was missing from last week were her shoes and fascinator, how strange that I now consider full underwear (including corset) to be dressed! I spent the class wishing I had Miss la Belle's looks (her talent and wardrobe wouldn't bother me either) unable to agree with comments that she looks like an average woman.
This week we reviewed everything from the last class and improved on it by adding facial expressions. I don’t remember when I last felt that ridiculous or embarrassed. New moves for this week were hip movements including the bump and grind, front bumps and the washing machine - all designed to draw attention to your hips and buttocks. Posing was great fun, learning to stand like Marilyn or in the bombshell pose (the secret is if it is uncomfortable then you are doing it right).
Our homework for the week was to gasp (which lifts the breasts) and watch peoples reactions. Now I just need to find someone to flirt with...
Next post I will discuss the venue. If you have any questions please comment or email me
Check out reviews for week one, weeks three-five and six.

August 7, 2011

Miss la Belle's House of Burlesque -Teaser Class

The two things in vogue amongst my group of friends are burlesque and roller derby (though enthusiasm for the latter seems to be slipping). As I am a bit on the heavy and unfit side of things both seem quite daunting but at least with burlesque I'm less likely to break any bones so I decided to give it a try.

Having seen Miss la Belle on her website, Facebook, performing at Carousel and her own students graduation I was (I thought) prepared to be taught by her. In person she is just as charming as on stage, with encouragement and a laugh for each student. Miss La Belle and her feisty assistant led the class through the basic movements of burlesque: shimmies, walks, struts, hip movements, beautiful arms, posture and eye contact ("Am I looking? Yes I am."). The most challenging part was walking in heels for an hour - the one required item of costume though I covet the outfits of our teachers (heels, fishnets, suspenders, corsets and bejeweled bras).

Having tried several styles of dancing (Latin, Ballroom, Rock n Roll, Jazz, Ballet, Tap, Belly Dancing) this is definitely my favourite; it is fun and I feel beautiful. I think by the end of the six weeks it will have done wonders for my self confidence...perhaps not so much that I'd be willing to do it in front of anyone though.

If you are interested in classes the next round starts in October and costs $100.

Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions - if there is interest I am happy to review each of the six classes.

Check out reviews for week two,  weeks three-five and six.

July 26, 2011

The Cambridge Hotel

The Cambridge Hotel is a glorified pub with rooms above it much like you expect to see on English television. The accommodation could only be described as adequate even in their deluxe rooms. The noise from the gathering in the next room and the partygoers on the street indicates that the soundproofing is almost non-existent. The staff are more friendly than professional though a warm mumsy type would fit better with the surroundings, with a father type manning the bar. The cheap breakfasts are edible and must be very popular with the backpackers.

Overall it is cheap and I would not go back but it must be great for travellers or men kicked out by their wives.

July 10, 2011

Jenkins Gym and Les Mills Lower Hutt

Wherever you exercise you will find people with annoying gym habits but finding the gym that suits you will do a lot to alleviate the annoyance.

Though it will be a while before the trains are up and running in all their glory I found them helpful getting to and from Jenkins Gym. Station village doesn't seem convenient for people living in Petone or Lower Hutt but the complex backs on to Western Hutt station on the Melling line which, if your office is in town, makes the gym a stop on your way to or from work. Les Mills is in the middle of Lower Hutt which may or may not be on your way home from work, there are also branches in town (The Terrace and Tarankai Street).

Jenkins Gym plays music that makes you feel young again (Eye of the Tiger, Bad, Can't Get Enough, Do You Wanna Get Funky) while Les Mills plays modern music rather loudly. Both offer cardio equipment and weights. Jenkins runs a limited range of Les Mills classes as well as Pilates and Ab classes, the venue isn't flashy but the teachers are good and there are always spaces. Les Mills runs the full range of Les Mills classes in a large studio with coloured lights, classes tend to be very busy.

Points of difference between the two: Les Mills has a womens gym and sauna, sophisticated cardio equipment with headphone jacks and TV channels, straighteners and TV screens on the mirrors in the changing rooms. Jenkins gym is cheaper and for two hours each weekday morning for $2 you could use their childcare which would equal the price of a Les Mills membership.

If you are looking for no frills fitness then Jenkins Gym is the place to go, if you want and can afford something flashier then Les Mills is for you.

You can find Jenkins Gym and Les Mills both on the web
Price (weekly): $10 (JG), $20+ (LM)

July 7, 2011

Caffe Italiano Molesworth Street

Following recent deals on Treatme and Grabone we thought it was time to try out Caffe Italiano. At a recent lunchtime on Molesworth Street the Caffe was full and warm compared to the rain outside.

The prices are more than I would normally pay for lunch: $15 for pasta, but this is more of a restaurant than a cafe despite the name. Two of the four vegetarian dishes were unavailable and I didn't bother to ask about gluten free (I'm sure they would accommodate but I never bother when it's mostly pasta). The food and staff were authentic Italian; you can tell the tomatoes are from Naples as they are sweeter than you would expect, you can tell the staff are Italian by listening to them speak.

I recommend Caffe Italiano if you can afford it and enjoy authentic Italian.
The secret to authentic Italian at home: Parmesan.

Price: $10-20
You can find them on the Web

June 27, 2011

RCRD - Comic Slams vs Brutal Pageant

Girls speedskating in short skirts. What could be better?

Winner of the 2011 Dominion Post Wellington Sports Awards sports personality of the year Richter City Roller Derby held the penultimate bout of their short season last Saturday. New team Comic Slams continued their winning streak by slaughtering Brutal Pageant at almost double the points.

TSB Arena continues to be a good venue; ample room for fans, good but expensive food, the only complaint would be the sound but that isn't likely to have anything to do with them.

All the players were good but no one player stood out as exceptional. Suffer Jet who last year put the brutal in Brutal Pageant and now plays for Slams had only one bout as jammer, Princess Slayer who slayed at the last game didn't get much jamming time for the opposition either. Scary Maclary had the dubious honour of being the first seriously injured player.

The halftime show was disappointing but the audience was very polite. Following on from the last bout it was circus oriented but more family friendly this time. Perhaps the sport has become too family friendly all around - the number of unattended children climbing over seats and falling down stairs was distracting.

Attendance peaked at the season opener triple header, as has been mentioned elsewhere the mainstreaming and ‘uni’form as well as constant reshuffling of players may be why support for the sport is lagging as evidenced by the continued low turn out. The players are difficult to tell apart on the track without their unique uniforms, less skirts, more shorts, less personality. The number of derby virgins at each match indicates the sport itself is still interesting or new enough to get butts in seats but obviously the hype doesn't deliver.

The Comic Slams versus Smash Malice final is 16 July following which the team will travel to play Sydney, Palmerston North and Auckland.

Price: $13-15

Tickets: Under the Radar

You can visit RCRD on Facebook, Twitter and on the web.