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.