December 31, 2012

Weight Loss: Resolutions

This is the time of year when we think about the last year, what is coming in the next year, what we want that year to be. We write our New Years resolutions; this year I will be a better person, I'll do more, I'll be more. "Lose weight" has been on my New Years resolutions list for quite some time. It's an audacious goal. This year I'm going to look at losing weight in a better way than I have been, a more manageable way.

Here are my goals for weight loss in 2013:

1. Write these posts
I have allowed life to get in the way of my deadlines as no doubt you can tell. I resolve in 2013 to do my very best to write a post every second week.

2. Weigh myself
I want to make myself accountable to my readers and myself by tracking my weight. I resolve to weigh myself and put my current weight in each post so you will be able to see my weight fluctuations loss. (Current weight: 93.6kg)

3. Keep going to pole dancing
I'm not very good at Pole dancing is a challenge but the people are lovely and I continue to make progress. It makes me feel more body confident; you wear little for pole dancing (because the more skin you have on the pole the better you grip) and I wear my skort when I do other exercise. I don't worry about what people think of me and so far no one has asked me what I am wearing.

4. Eat breakfast every day
I recently visited a dietician (more on that later) and my first goal with her was to eat breakfast each day.

5. Don't give up
As I've said before, had I not been writing these posts I would have given up by now. I think I've actually gained weight since starting this; Jenny Craig didn't work for whatever reasons, I may try it again but I'm working on more natural things at the moment; building my confidence and looking at how I eat. I've been pretty hard on myself so perhaps really this resolution should be 'be kinder to myself.' Which leads to....

6. Celebrate my sucesses
I beat myself up for the "bad" things I do. While there is a certain merit in recognising things that are not helping me get toward my goal, berating myself is counter productive; when I'm upset I eat more, I move less. I'm going to try to do something my psycho analyst spoke about in her newsletters: appreciation / gratitudes - at the end of each day look back at what good has happened, what I have done that is good for me. Then I can set myself up to do something good the next day. Every day counts, every time you take the stairs instead of the lift, every bit counts and it all adds up.

So, those are some pretty basic resolutions, small things that if when I continue to do them will have a big impact and help me towards my overarching goal; weight loss.

What do you think? What are your New Years resolutions? What little things have you built on to make yourself healthier and happier?

As always thanks for reading, keep at it and you'll see less of me next time.

Special thanks to: Ian Tilley PhotographyJenny CraigKiwi Pole Fitness

December 15, 2012

Carousel Cabaret December 2012

On Friday 14th December, Carousel Cabaret had their Christmas show at the San Fran bar with performances from Bonita Danger Doll, Phlossy Roxx, Ms Tittle Tattle, Galaxy Foxx, Willow Noir, Sabina Carmine and Gracie Hart.

Now this is only the second show I've attended, so I  had my reservations about what it would be like, as I felt the first show I saw (about the same time last year) was less performance, more get your tits out for the sake of it. But this show was thoroughly enjoyable, and I am looking forward to attending future ones.

The show opened up for us with 3 Christmas songs – a solo first by Gracie. She was then joined by Sabina to sing Santa Baby, and then Sabina was left to sing All I Want For Christmas. Their voices were wonderful individually as well as a duet, though their stage presence left a little to be desired. A little more – dare I say X Factor, would really complete the singing acts.

Piotr. Oh, Piotr, you were very good tonight. Good heckling, good amount of inappropriateness, and you moved on and didn't keep on talking when it should have been long past time for a performance. You had me in tears. In stitches. Top performance.

Miss Bonita Danger Doll from Christchurch - three words came to mind when watching her: beautiful, graceful, smooth. Stunning woman who had the audience hooked with boas, glitter in gloves and feather fans. She did all of her moves so smoothly it almost looked effortless. Wonderful start to the performances.

It’s easy to see why Willow is Miss Burlesque NZ. Her performances are well acted, entertaining and have thought, and tonight – shock, put into them. Her re-enactment of the Virgin Mary and her umbilical baby was a macabre but brilliant performance.

It was a tough performance to follow, so while Miss Tittle Tattle’s show was good, it needed that something extra to make it more interesting (perhaps a more upbeat song?).

Phlossy Roxx kicks off the second half with a sensual, almost belly-dance feel performance that is filled with sparkle and the hint of more – which is what, as a viewer, I want in a Burlesque performance.

Galaxy Foxx does something completely different to everyone else tonight – a 20’s swing and Charleston in a banana hula skirt! A nice change up and a very energetic performance.

Tittle Tattle comes back on to finish up the show. Overall, it was a fantastic night with great performances by all involved. Merry Christmas!

December 10, 2012

A Christmas Carol

To celebrate Christmas and 200 years since Charles Dicken’s birth Ray Henwood is doing A Christmas Carol as a "solo dramatised reading" at Circa theatre. It's the prefect time of year; the show runs until Christmas.

Unlike the panto (Cinderella this year) this show is for the slightly older crowd. Children may wonder where all the other characters are; Ray Henwood is the storyteller and then every character. At times he reminded me of Gollem as he talked to himself between characters but he managed it well with different facial and voice expressions.

The scenery was simple but well utilised, although I do wonder why they bothered to have a table when it was only used once. The lighting was integrated with the set to help create the different scenes and characters. The overall impression was simple but effective.

It wasn't what I expected from A Christmas Carol. I am glad that I read about it beforehand or I may have been disappointed as I had imagined a large production. Ray did an admirable job at keeping the audience engaged and remembering all of those lines (although he did refer to a book to maintain his role as storyteller). The greatest thing he has given me from this performance is the ability to see humour in the tale and being able to find something new in a story so well known is a gift.

Show Run: 7 December − 22 December
Tickets: $46

December 3, 2012

Bare and Back Again

The weekend of The Hobbit premiere Middle Earth Burlesque held their first show a blend of dance, song, comedy, and of course burlesque. I say first because they've bought the website so I'm hoping there are more to come (there are two more movies, we can hope). I was skeptical before hand that a) the concept would work and b) I would like it. The organiser Sadie von Scruptious was quoted as saying that people either loved the idea or were very unsure about it, I fell into the latter group. But you know what? It did work and I loved it.

The evening started in true Tolkien fashion with a poem (well done Sadie on remembering all those lines) and it went just about everywhere from there. I discovered that Orcs dance to metal and wizards dance to disco. There somehow managed to be three Arwens or at least three elves who looked a lot like her. Including Lila Loca's hilarious multimedia Middle Earth dating show, it was so good I sincerely hope she resurrects it for another show. That much preparation deserves to be seen more than once. Speaking of preparation I hate to think how much time and energy went into the exquisite costumes worn by all the performers.

I finally got to see burlesque comedy duo Fanciforia Foxglove and Siren Sweetsong perform on of their acts. They were worth the wait! I should have known by her name but I was surprised that Siren Sweetsong could really sing. Fanicforia is probably the most comfortable with being nearly naked on stage of any burlesque performer I have seen. Those two really commit to an act.

Other acts of note included Miss La Belle as a surprisingly convincing and attractive dwarf. The most beautiful display of belly dancing I have ever seen from Pip E-Lysaah as Shelob. Her students also did an amazing job as warrior elf ghosts (who looked more like gypsies) balancing swords on their heads as they danced.

The sound and lighting guy had a lot of work to do but I do wish he hadn't had some songs so loud that they felt like I was being hit in the head. I also wish that the background music had been softer or the microphone louder so that we could have heard Gracie Harts song about Gollem. He did however do an admirable job of handling the video for Lila Loca's act, it went very smoothly.

There was a hint of other fandoms as well; a certain other wizard appeared at curtain call. I would love to see more themed shows like this.

November 29, 2012

Bloody Murder

Last night was the premiere of The Hobbit, if you weren’t inconvenienced getting through town you would have seen it on TV or noticed the promotions for the last few weeks. In a much quieter way it was the opening night of Bloody Murder at the Hutt Repertory Theatre (Theatre 108). It was the first time the play has been performed outside of America and it opened to a full house.

It’s the classic setting for a good old English murder mystery; a house party with guests who are strangers to each other invited by a grand lady they have never met for who knows what purpose. The regular set of characters are assembled; the ingéne, the seductress, the wastrel, the faded actor, the foreigner, the maid.

Hutt Repertory’s production is by no means on par with the The Mousetrap* (the most recent theatre I have seen) but has its own charm. The choice of script was itself excellent; I don’t think many larger companies would dare to stage it. The show was carried by the strong female actors (Zen Nielson and Ruth Sarratt) or perhaps it was the strength of their characters – where does character end and actor begin? The set and costuming helped to create a timeless English residence for the characters to move about in.

Bloody Murder reminded me of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village with its capacity to confuse and entice as well as the ever present plot twists (but wait! there’s another one!). Much like The Village the entire storyline needs to be presented for any of the performance to be appreciated.

Ed Sala (the author) inspired by his own “odd, wayward thoughts,” Gosford Park, Agatha Christie and “other British murder mystery writers” has created something unique that looks at the very fabric of murder mystery – the plot, the characters and how it all seems a little contrived. It is a commentary on the relationship between creator and creation that almost waxes philosophical, but don't think it's dry - I spent a good half of the performance laughing.

Support community theatre and see Bloody Murder

*but much more affordable!

Showing: 28 November – 8 December
Price: $20/18
Bookings: or call 939 7529

November 19, 2012

The Mousetrap

Agatha Christie isn't known as the Queen of Crime for nothing. She is the most translated author, holds the record for the best selling mystery for And Then There were None and has the honour of being the playwright of the longest running play The Mousetrap. In its sixtieth year for the diamond jubilee (sound familiar? Who else had one of those this year?) the play is touring the world and it has come all the way down to New Zealand.

Christy Sullivan as Mollie Ralston
Courtesy of JPPR
The Mousetrap is a typical Christie offering; one location, a range of people from different backgrounds, secrets, disguises, murder and plot twists while on the surface it is lovely polite English life. The intricacies of her plots and characters are such that I find I can return to them sometime later as feel as though I was reading it afresh. I don’t want to ruin any of the mystery by revealing too much; in fact following tradition at the end of the performance the cast asked the audience to not divulge the ending.

The set was exquisite and genuine; it felt like there was real depth, rooms behind the one we could see. So detailed; down to the snow that swirls outside the window to the smoke stained paint at the top of the wood panelled walls. I imagine the set travels with the actors. The costumes added to the period while managing to not feel as though the costumers had been trying to hard. Overall the authenticity makes you feel as though you were in England, peeking through into the guesthouse living room. The St James Theatre is the perfect location for this piece of theatrical history.

The acting was compelling, or was it the storyline? The words were so well bought to life that it was all part of the same. All characters have their little quirks; my favourite was Christopher Wren whose bounces around the stage reminded me of a certain British comedian. My one complaint is that one of the actresses accents sounded forced but I soon forgot to notice as I was so caught up in the action.

If you like theatre, mystery, crime, drama, vintage… you will love this production. For this short time you have a chance to take part in a piece of history, seeing the worlds longest running play right here. It’s quite something to see it at home, in Wellington, but I still plan to watch one day in London.

Tickets: $65-110
Dates: 15-24 November
Venue: St James Theatre

November 9, 2012

Speights Ale House

If my husband had his way, eating out would involve fish ‘n’ chips at the beach. He thinks the more food you get, the better the deal. I’m a little pickier. I like my food to taste good, if there’s lots of it that’s a bonus. That is why our favourite place to eat at together is The Speight’s Ale House. My husband can have a plate full of food and I can satisfy my taste buds. However, if you are a real foodie looking for an exotic taste, this is not the place for you.

My other half and I also have different drinking habits. He sticks to beer, usually his favourite manly pint, whereas I like to experiment with different beers. I also enjoy matching my food with appropriate wine. Once again, that’s why we frequent The Speight’s Ale House. The menu even has suggestions for which beers go best with which meals.

So, if you are looking for a good kiwi meal in Thorndon or Petone make your way to the Speight’s Ale House.

October 29, 2012

Weight loss: psycho analysis

As you may remember I am on a break from Jenny Craig. This started because of a course of medication I was on. I have chosen to continue my hiatus to set myself up for weight loss; looking at the physical and psychological reasons I put on weight and have not been able to lose it. Continuing to work hard and not see any results was causing me unnecessary stress. I am doing what I think is the most sensible thing.

To set me on the right track I have started seeing a psychoanalyst. I won't mention her by name (yet) as I haven't discussed these posts to her. Our first session looked at my goals and the goals for us working together:
How do I want my life to be?
What do I want to get out of this experience?
It also acted as an in depth "getting to know you."
She is so lovely that it already feels like she is a friend who truly cares about me (and is just extra interested in me). We talked about each area of my life, identifying my satisfaction level and how that area would look if it were what I wanted it to be. The most interesting part was identifying my "captain" through a visualisation. The captain is my inner leader who will help me to better express who I truly am. I also think they will fight on my side when I'm beating myself up - in my head this is quite an amusing picture, reminiscent of Street Fighter (my captain and myself squaring off against each other). I think I'm off to a good start and I'm looking forward to where this takes me.

I have finished my visits with the anthroposophical nurse. I will continue to take the liver pills she has given me for a further two months. I am considering changing doctors to one who has anthroposophical training because my doctor keeps testing the same things even though they come up negative each time.

The pole dancing classes continue. I think I am working harder than I was; I get out of breath and I hurt after each class - it is much harder to get up the next morning.

In my next post I plan to talk about detoxifying body wraps. Can they really make you lose centremetres?  Tune in next time to find out.

Keep reading and you'll see less of me next time.

Special thanks to: Ian Tilley PhotographyJenny CraigKiwi Pole Fitness

October 25, 2012

Wellington Medi Spa

Tonight I had an hour massage at Wellington Medi Spa on the Terrace, and I think it was the worst customer service I have ever had.

My appointment was at 5pm and as soon as I arrived, I was greeted by a large man, slothed over one of the two chairs in the foyer, talking very loudly on a cell phone. I could only assume he was a relative of the owners, or the owner himself (I later found out he was the owner). Once I checked in for my appointment and had taken a seat, I was told I had been double booked. Great. It would be 30 minutes before I would be seen to. I went to get a coffee.

When I got back, it was 5.45. I was told that it would be 6.15 before I was seen due to "technical issues". Or I could re-book for Friday and get an extra 15 minutes. I decided to wait, because at this stage, I was so wound up, I needed that massage. Thank God for smartphones huh?

The staff (owners - family business from what I gather) were talking very loud at the counter, which I feel is really unprofessional and very un-relaxing for a day spa. There was audible displeasure from other staff about working there, and visual displeasure from other clients about the wait.

In the end, the massage was amazing, but I would never return.

[Editors note: We are always reluctant to post negative reviews but our reviewers experience at Wellington Medi Spa was pretty appalling, so much so that it overshadowed the treatment itself, despite the treatment being "amazing".]

October 15, 2012

Weight Loss: The Journey

I attempt to make my posts as positive as possible. This is a real struggle. I am frustrated at my lack of progress. I feel I am letting my readers down. I judge myself more harshly than others judge me; this woman is an inspiration.

My visits to the anthroposophical nurse have been peaceful interludes; all cocooned in blankets with my liver compress I take a wee nap. I haven't noticed any difference but I suspect it will creep up on me. I am on pills for three months to improve my liver function in addition to four treatments with a liver compress.

I struggle on with pole dancing. Much like my anthro treatments I think one day my progress will surprise me. Although I'm at least twice the size of the other students I never feel judged, I appreciate that.

This whole weight loss is a journey for me and appropriately I have just finished reading The Journey by Brandon Bays. My initial thoughts on reading this book were around cancer; not wanting to read about cancer and not believing someone can heal themselves of it. The more I read, the more it felt as though the author was talking to me. She talks about her tumour saying "I'd grown arrogant - thinking it couldn't happen to me"; that may as well be me talking about my weight. One of her first clients visited her because they wanted to learn from their illness, that it meant something. I believe this is true of my weight; I need to learn the lesson my body is trying to teach me.

I plan to attend a little retreat to go through the Journey process; a series of exercises to get to the root of my emotional issues around weight.

Keep reading and you'll see less of me next time.

Special thanks to: Ian Tilley PhotographyJenny CraigKiwi Pole Fitness

October 14, 2012

The Truth Game

Saturday night was the premier of the Simon Cunliffe play The Truth Game Circa Theatre.

The evening started with the full house gathering well before the performance to share, in anticipation, the new production. The crowd included a number of established artists, an MP and a head of a government department amongst others.

The set was great, the cast excellent and the story line intriguing and believable. We were given an English lesson as well.

Having worked in and for a number of corporates including one Australian owned, and another American, the corporate politics’ were realistic as were the inter-personal battles between the old times and the new; male versus female; corporate, management and other staff, and the couple who worked together but their relationship was at an end.

Without giving too much away, the performance flowed well with twists and turns, some obvious but others not so.

The performance on the night was excellent, the acting marvellous and quite believable as each actor fitted their role perfectly.

But I’m not sure what OSH would have to say about the second story of the set!

We would certainly recommend a visit to Circa to view The Truth Game.

13-10 November: Tuesday, Wednesday 6.30pm, Thursday to Saturday 8.00pm, Sunday 4.00pm
Price: $46/38

October 5, 2012

Le Burlesque Au Moulin

Le Burlesque Au Moulin! is a good musical with fantastic singing, a great live band, brilliant choreography and costumes, yet if half of the acting scenes were left out, it wouldn't be any less of a show than it is.

The set up of the stage area is nice, yet small. It is taken up mostly by the presence of a live band, and I wonder where the scenes will take place, yet they fit it nicely without over crowding. There are some tables close to the front set out for the audience that fit in with the scene design, yet there is some confusion if patrons are allowed to sit there as some are reserved, some are not. They are a nice touch, but it had a "not allowed to sit here" feel.

The show kicks off with the band playing a number and the eerie narrator (Benjamin Priest) telling the story, introducing our burlesque girls. The girls are great with a good dance number that is well structured, they are very mesmerising as they should be.  The leader of the burlesque girls (Janelle Pollock), who I shall call Mistress Rouge as no one in the show had a character name, has great stage presence and a great voice. She, throughout the whole show, holds every scene.

Next up is our introduction to our main male protagonist, the Ewan McGregor character (Jesse Finn); the two guys who are just always around (Jeff Bell and Sam Benton); and the girls who will prominently be the backup singers (Kirsty Moir, Ingrid Dyer and Bonnie Riley). I found this scene very awkward to watch, it feels clunky, which isn't helped by the following scene where the group after getting drunk and singing Children of the Revolution together, head to the Moulin Rouge where a big mash up of songs and characters happens. It's over the top and a bit awkward.

The main female protagonist is introduced now - the Nicole Kidman character (Cassandra Tse). She is overshadowed big time by Mistress Rogue simply because she is so great. Our next character is shortly introduced and I discover that Mistress Rouge has some competition - Diva Nicole Kidman (Sheree Moanaroa). Sheree plays the bitch fantastically, and her voice is amazing. Her duet with Cassandra for Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend is great and I want to see more. She is over the top - but in a good way.

Three of the burlesque girls (Kirsty, Bonnie and Hannah Bain) have a song to convince Cassandra that she needs a gimmick to get through in the business of burlesque. It's a good laugh, but Bonnie could do with being less stiff - she is like this as a back up dancer too, whilst Kirsty is a little too excited in her moves (good to see, but there's no consistency between the three girls. Their singing styles really compliment each other, but their movements could be more in sync).

Jesse a.k.a Ewan McGregor, has his first one on one scene with Cassandra a.k.a Nicole Kidman. It's sweet, and it's the famous Your Song, which has a lovely opera backing voice by Master Moulin (Chris Green). Chris's voice really adds a beautiful element to it. Yet the scene is let down by the lack of chemistry. Cassandra claims she's falling in love. She's not really portraying that very well. It's the same with their other duet - Come What May - a great scene that was hindered by the lack of 'love'.

And to close off Act One, of course Lady Marmalade was performed. Great performance there - but was there a piece missing? It was noticeable. And the narrator presence was creepy.

Act Two kicks off with a good song number by Marley Araiti, good opening after the interval, yet the next few scenes lack excitement - Ingrid Dyer brings it all back with a great hit I'm a Good Girl - well sung, well acted, very funny.

While the characters worry about the state of the Moulin Rogue's finances, Master Moulin starts up with Queen's famous The Show Must Go On. I was nervous about this - anyone doing a Queen song has got to nail it. But it was wonderful. There was tension, intensity, beautiful harmonies. Wonderful.

The 'evil' character is brought on - the investor (Waylon Edwards) to save the Moulin Rogue, yet at a price. Roxanne is performed to a Tango with Stacey Neale. Brilliant Tango and brilliant tension in the scene as well. There is fear brought on by Waylon, and a slight craziness. The song is added to by Jesse, distraught his love is caught up in this. Adds very nicely to the scene.

To finish things up, Diva Nicole (Sheree) has a solo which is very strong yet reflective of her character. The show wraps up its characters paths and ends with, of course, Lady Marmalade, but on a very strong note - a note which has been the strongest the whole show; that Sheree and Janelle were the best in every scene and that this could have stood as a musical with much less of it's acting scenes, and still be fantastic. Nonetheless, it was a fun show to watch, and the singing and dancing was amazing.

A Speakeasy Theatre production.
Showing: 4-13 October, 7.30pm at the Gryphon Theatre

September 27, 2012

Weight Loss: exercise, inspiration and unpronounceable words

I made good use of the beautiful weather last weekend by going for several walks. I have also kept up the two walks I have each week with friends. I am continuing with my pole dancing. I don’t feel like I am making much progress but my teacher is really supportive. There was a piece about one of her students recently in the Hutt News*. Seeing the male ballet dancer on Sunday’s New Zealand’s Got Talent inspired me. He suffered from childhood obesity. He trained for only four years to get where he was. Maybe I can get there too.

I’m still on a break from Jenny Craig. It has been making me think that I need to look at the root cause of my weight problems because I haven’t addressed those and they may be why I haven't been losing weight. I have some tough decisions to make because I’m not in a financial position to afford to do both.

This week I purchased clothing a size bigger than what I have been wearing. Like so many overweight people I have been squeezing into clothes that are too small and fooling myself. It was an awful wake up call and produced disgust at myself, my body. If I do put Jenny Craig on hold for longer I worry I will feel that I'm not doing anything to lose weight.

On the recommendation of a friend I visited an anthroposophical nurse which is a bit of a mouthful. She was so friendly that I felt at ease even though I had no idea what it was about. We did a full medical history and managed to link all of my problems to my liver. My treatment was a ginger patch, a compress on my back, while I was cocooned in blankets for three quarters of an hour. I'm as sceptical as the next person about these sort of things but the patch burned. It didn't hurt but it felt like it was burning, seeping warmth into my body. Afterwards the area wasn't even warm to the touch. There are three more treatments, I am interested to see how they will progress. And my only homework was to ingest something something bitter; I now have lemon in my water. That is the sort of homework that I can handle.

Next time I hope to have some clarity about what I'm doing next and I will review a book called The Journey which I have read in preparation for a retreat I am taking once I've saved up enough.

So, keep reading and you'll be seeing less of me next time.

Special thanks to: Ian Tilley PhotographyJenny CraigKiwi Pole Fitness
* Page 65

September 24, 2012

Carousel Cabaret September 2012

Magenta Diamond was the host for September's Carousel Cabaret. I think this is a first time the show has had a female host(ess). If it is possible she was more risque than either of the male hosts I have seen, but somehow less offensive. Maybe it's because she exhibits such joy in being on stage; in getting the crowd to yell; in shaking her (initial emblazoned) arse; in getting to ride three ponies (the two stage kittens, excellent actresses with whom she had a charming repartee, and an unsuspecting male audience member) while using a voice like a kindergarten teacher.

Gracie Hart opened the evening with her beautiful voice. It was a shame that her microphone was too loud and made the audience cringe. Luckily it was fixed for her song later in the night, Fever. She was elegant in manner and dress...and undress. I missed her last performance at Carousel but am so glad I caught this one. I hope she returns.

International starlet Miss La Vida came down from Auckland to perform. She repeated her 'Big Butts' act from her last visit, this time it was even better. I love how she does classic burlesque but puts a comedic and often modern spin on it. For her first act she danced for a blow up doll gentleman then took offense at his attitude and dealt with him to the adoring roars of the crowd.

Fanciforia Foxglove performed to her strengths with a naughty/nice act that she refers to as 'Sweet Old Fashioned Girl' which reminded me of her debut. Her outfit matched perfectly from hat, gloves, socks, fan all the way down to undergarments. My favourite part was the exquisite jewelry. She is heading off overseas for a couple of months and I really hope she comes back. The Wellington burlesque scene will miss her.

Do you remember the guy who gave an impromptu half time show, fully dressed, on the pole at the last Carousel? His name is Andre Corey and on Friday he was on the main stage. Dressed as a sad hobo clown he bounced across the stage, did a headstand on a chair, then showed the audience a smiley face painted on his bottom. Magenta reminded us that someone had to paint that...and she watched.

It looks like Carousel won't be a monthly event anymore, I imagine because Venus is so busy. The upside (downside?) of this is that the starved fans will fill the seats at every event. The San Francisco Bath House can accommodate more people than previous venues. I was glad this time wasn't as packed at the last but you never know what next time will be like. See you there?

Next show: 14 December
Price: $35 (cash)
Venue: San Francisco Bath House

September 17, 2012

Information Security Awareness Day

Last weekend in2securITy hosted the Wellington Information Security Awareness Day at Victoria University. This weekend the same event was meant to be held in Dunedin at the University of Otago but unfortunately was cancelled. An earlier event in Hamilton was successful and next weekend one will be held in Auckland.

in2secruITy is a not for profit organisation that exists to help interested people get experience and work in the information security field. They have been running for less than a year and already have some great sponsors but they can always use more. The event last weekend was part of their tour of New Zealand; giving free talks to let the community know they exist and what they do.

The audience were of all ages, male and female. The speakers were professionals in information security, well respected and some of New Zealand's best. The talks were fun, informative and interactive. At the start of the day they showed a venn diagram which showed different aspects of security and all the professional roles. The talks throughout the day covered each of these different roles.

This was a really good all around introduction to information security. It was surely not CPD course as one disappointed attendee had expected. Information security is vitally important but not much understood.

If you are interested in computer security you could also check out ISIG (Information Security Interest Group) who meet the last Thursday of every month in Wellington and Auckland. The next meeting will be next Thursday. Kiwicon, New Zealand's own hacker conference, is coming up in November, tickets are on sale now.

September 12, 2012

Weight Loss: lots of updates

Jenny Craig
I have continued to have health problems. I am taking another break from Jenny Craig while I finish a round of medication which I hope will fix some of my health concerns. I am trying to keep up healthy eating and exercise in the absence of the Jenny Craig eating plan.

My consultant has been very supportive. She mentioned that some clients have problems with the preservatives in the dried food so we removed them from the equation. When I am back on the programme I will be planning my own menus.

As everyone knows, exercise is an important part of weight loss and general health. It is something I detest so I struggle to motivate myself in this area. I am very lucky that two of my friends have offered to walk with me each week. So I get half an hours exercise along with socialising twice a week. Their support is important to keep moving.

I have started pole dancing lessons once a week at Kiwi Pole Fitness in Lower Hutt, the only pole dancing studio I know of outside of the city. The class is a mixed beginners which means that some girls are able to climb the pole while others get dizzy from spinning. I'm not a fan of the décor or lighting but some students appreciate not having to see themselves in glaring lights, I can't argue with that. I enjoy watching the more advanced students and the instructor perform moves though I find it difficult to believe that I will one day be able to them as well.

Here is my updated photo. I don't think it looks any different from my previous photo which isn't surprising considering the progress I have (or haven't) made.

All in all a lot has happened but I feel frustratingly like I am still in the same place.

Keep reading and you'll see less of me next time.

Special thanks to: Ian Tilley Photography, Jenny Craig, Kiwi Pole Fitness

September 10, 2012

Docteur Sketchy - Les Folies de L'Amour

The September edition of Dr Sketchy gets all French ‘n’ fancy with Wellington’s brand new cancan troupe, led by local star Courtney L’Amour ( if you don’t speak the lingo, it’s pronounced “le folly de l-amour”).

First of all, I’d like to point out the added touch of having a bowl of sweets always waiting for us at the door (this month it was mini Whitaker’s chocolates). The little thingscan really make something extra special.

Numbers were down slightly from previous months, the horrendous weather no doubt to blame, I was extremely grateful to the staff for letting me come up early to take shelter! Mighty Mighty is the perfect venue for a show like Sketchy, though working with such a small stage must prove a challenge to performers, especially with four ladies up there at once!
The upside of a smaller audience was better views of the models on all sides and having an entire troupe of cancan lovelies to draw meant plenty of choice for models and poses to give our artistic muscles a work out, it also allowed the performers to rotate and have breaks, it can’t be easy to perform then hold poses on and off for 3 hours.
The routines performed by the troupe were everything one could hope for from a cancan; cheeky, lively, and above all fun. There was a red headed songstress and accordion player (her stage name escapes me) who sang beautifully, despite having only arrived back in the country at 3 am and having learned one of her songs that morning. I hope we’ll see more of her about the place.

For me personally, this was one of the best Dr Sketchy shows I’ve been to, I had a brilliant time watching the performances. I think my art may even be improving!

The next Dr Sketchy show is 13th October featuring Atomic Ruby and Optimus Fine in “Robots vs Aliens”
Tickets on the door: $14 ($12 if you have a studen id/community services/Grey power card)

August 28, 2012

Pole Class - a second review

PoleClass is tough. But like any great work out, the reward - strength, confidence, flexibility, friends - are well worth it.

I've been attending pole classes at PoleClass since they first opened in Jan (2012). At a burlesque show in late 2011, I saw the two owners handing out fliers - I'd been on the look out to start pole classes again and having tried the other two studios in Wellington that I knew of and not liking them, I was excited for a new place to be opening.

I spoke to the awesome Erin and instantly had a friendly connection there - being able to have a social side with your teachers makes such a difference. I signed up as soon as I could.

The classes are run by both Erin and the lovely Tild who have more than 13 years experience between them. Classes are $150 for 6 weeks and Erin and Tild usually teach a class each week for you so you get the benefit of both teaching styles, which compliment each other and help you in the best ways.

I also highly recommend Conditioning classes as well. These are on a Thursday evening, and the immediate strength you feel by the time its your next class - what you couldn't do last week, you suddenly can do now - just because of one conditioning (strength training, essentially) class. These are $15 each and anyone can attend if you booking.

Of the three pole studios I've been to, I will always recommend PoleClasss. Erin and Tild are so helpful and friendly; you never are made to feel like you're useless for not being able to do something.

Pole is tough, but the empowerment you feel in yourself is amazing.

August 22, 2012

I was super excited to do a six week beginners pole dancing class at Pole Class. Venus Star, producer of Carousel Cabaret, teaches burlesque and hula hoop and Willow Noir, Miss Burlesque NZ, trains there!

I had a wee panic my first night that it was somehow related to Dream Girls which is a couple of doors down. Thankfully, it isn't. The building is a bit old, but what building in Wellington isn't? Up a flight of stairs is the studio, shaped like a wide corridor with a stone floor. You'd think it would be cold but we only used the heater one night. Pretty touches like chandeliers and paintings of burlesque dancers (some of whom looked familiar but the titles underneath did not match the performers I thought they were) add to the atmosphere. The pole set up was impressive. The poles are slim, silver, able to change from stationery to spinning and to be swung up onto the ceiling to provide more space in the room - yet somehow manage to be perfectly secure.

There are two teachers with different teaching methods and backgrounds. One learnt on the job and the other learnt through classes. One is better at the connecting moves; the other at pole moves. Neither of them looked like I expected a pole dancer to look; they were both down to earth. They share the teaching though we had one teacher for five of the six lessons.

The classes were really well structured. Each move was shown by the instructor, once fast though so you could see what it looked like, then step by step. The students did the move step by step with the instructor, then twice on the left, twice on the right. Each move was practised leading with the left and right to keep you honest (or was it modest?). Before you could get sick of it, or too caught up in how well you were doing, it was on to the next move. Classes started with a full warm up and ended with a cool down comprised of yoga based movements.

Classes at Pole Class are organised into sets (beginner level 1, beginner level 2, intermediate 1 etc) which stretch over six weeks. Each set of classes leads on to the next; moves from the previous set are used as part of the warm up for the level above. Even at beginner level you start building your skill set for further classes, attempting to pole sit (wrapping your legs around the pole and sitting there), and pulling your legs up onto the pole (above your head) from a standing position.

I found the first half of the set of classes fun, doing spins and floor moves. The second half were more technical and preparation for future classes. To be honest I wouldn't have kept going if I wasn't writing this review because it was hard. I'm glad I did continue. I did progress but was jealous of the other girls in the class who seemed to find it so much easier. I was sore after each class, not so much that it hurt to move but enough to make it hard to get out of bed in the morning.

In addition to the six weeks of classes students have the option of having an individual lesson as part of the package. I didn't take up this option as I didn't want to embarrass myself in front of the teacher, when there was a class of students it was easier to hide.

There are a limited number of poles so it is always best to book for classes to ensure they have room for you, this also means that classes are small and you get individual attention from the teacher (not so good if you are like me and prefer to hide). I do think that it is confidence building so taking more classes would probably be good for me.

I would recommend Pole Class because they have well thought out classes including proper warm up and cool down, a structured training program, trained teachers and an excellent facility.

6 week beginners class
Price: $150
Location: Pole Class, level 2, 39 Dixon Street
Next set starts: Wednesday, 29 August, 6.45pm
You can find Pole Class on Facebook

August 16, 2012

Weight loss: back on track

When I was in high school I got sent to the principals office for passing notes in an exam. In my defense it was a practice exam and I had finished. I did not cheat. At the end of the year I discovered that I missed out on an award because of this. It wasn't worth it.

This week I ate off programme. It wasn't worth it.

It is awful that of all the things that have happened this is the one I focus on. So, let me start again.

I am back on Jenny Craig after two weeks off. I have new consultant (not that there was anything wrong with my last consultant) who I feel more comfortable with. I think we are more similar to each other. The biggest news I suppose is that I actually lost some weight. I didn't gain anything during my hiatus and my first week back, despite my hiccup, I lost 800 grams - that's close to a kg! I am really excited about it but it doesn't seem that important. Isn't that funny?

One thing my consultant has been drumming into me is that it's not just about the weight loss its about adjusting my body to the program and being in better health. I do feel better. I am eating, as I said previously, so much more than I used to. I don't get hungry the same. I do still want to eat junk food but it's less craving and more habit. This is something I will have to work on.

What bothered me the most about eating off program was that I was meant to be exercising. Saturday was the Nighttime Madness evening walk to Butterfly Creek. I had been looking forward to this for quite some but an old injury started playing up and I only got to the start of the course. Instead of going home my walking partner and I went to get coffee which became dessert. Sadly, it wasn't even good dessert. Having read this article I have a better understanding of my mindset at the time. In future I know to chose something healthier or to share, either way it is less damage to my goals.

In other news I've found a new site to encourage me to write my posts. It shows you a picture of a kitten every 100 words. How cute is that? Maybe next time I won't be day late (which has been becoming a nasty habit).

How do you get yourself back on track when you make a mistake? I'd love to hear from people who actually completed the walk/run on Saturday too. What was it like?

Keep reading and you'll be seeing less of me next time.

Special thanks to: Ian Tilley Photography and Jenny Craig

August 10, 2012

Charlaine Harris author talk

If the settings of her novels didn't clue you in then her Southern drawl and excellent manners would; Charlaine Harris is a true Southern Belle. The South tends to be portrayed as backwards and racist but Charlaine says they are now only five years behind the rest of America (instead of 30) and inclusionism is a theme of her most popular series.

The Sookie Stackhouse books, which have garnered her international fame as well as a television series, were initially rejected by publishers. I can smugly say I knew of her before True Blood thanks to a copy of Shakespeare's Christmas I found in the return section of Wellington Central Library.

The TV show is not how I envisioned the books. The differences bother readers more than the author. She is careful not to criticise the work others do; saying several times that Allan Ball (True Blood's creator) chooses the best actors for the parts. She also declines to sign True Blood graphic novels (comics for those who aren't up with the lingo) because she has no part in making them.

Unlike some writers Charlaine doesn't start with an outline, her writing process consists of sitting at her computer and letting the story take her where it will (I think she would disagree with my wording here, in answer to a question whether her characters surprise her she replied that it was the ideas in her head the surprise her because that's where they come from). Her husband, who would love if she described him as 'studly', has been a great support. She wrote full time before it was profitable and now she has returned the favour; with a wife as a successful author he is able to retire early. On her 34th Wedding Anniversary, it was good of her to be with us rather than celebrating with her husband, though no one asked, she might have brought him with her. Her next novel is something new and will involve several of her previous characters at a cross roads in Texas, I assume the cross roads will be metaphorical as well as physical.

The function was held at the Amora Hotel, which try as I might I still think of as The Duxton, in one of their ballrooms. There is a stage with a podium that Charliane didn't use, a distractingly shiny ceiling and a bar where you could exchange your ticket for a drink. The back of the room had a Whitcoulls table with copies of Charlaine's books you can purchase for her to sign if you dared the enormous queue.

The Dominion Post also did a live chat online with her. My one complaint is that I wish it were better advertised, I only saw it because I subscribe to Livewire the Dominion Post's email newsletter, I didn't see advertising anywhere else. It's not often we get international authors here, although Jodi Picoult was in the country recently she only visited Auckland. Thank you to the Dom Post for bringing Charlaine here, I'm glad she tried again after cancelling last year.

Look out for the last book in the Sookie Stackhouse series Dead Ever After in May next year.

August 2, 2012

Weight loss: I watch too much TV

I am a day late posting this because.... I didn't want to post. I had thought this whole thing would be easy, that I would merrily go along losing weight each week. But it hasn't been like that. As you know my first week did not go as planned, my second was worse. In addition to only losing 200gms, my condition (the one for which I take medication) got worse. The only thing that had changed was starting Jenny Craig. My doctor suggested that I go off Jenny Craig until I stabilise. Already being behind where I had planned to be I was disappointed. But, as we all know, life does not always go as planned. I took my doctors advice. I am off the programme for the moment but I hope to be back on it next week.

One reader asked about the qualifications of the Jenny Craig consultants. The consultants at the office I attend have been there 5 years (with the exception of one who has been there 3) so they are very experienced. They have full knowledge of the programme from being on it themselves and they have continuing training throughout the year.

You may wonder what I have been doing. Um, not what I should have been. I have been enjoying the freedom to eat what I like and watching a lot of TV. There are some great shows about being overweight, although what I think is great is probably different from what other people think.

On Saturday afternoons there's a new show called More to Love which is pretty much a plus-sized (how I hate that term) The Bachelor. I'm not sure why they needed to have a new series. Why could they not have a larger than life Bachelor? I think every female contestant cried at some point during the first show, because it's so hard being fat. After five minutes of them being on screen you forget that they are "fat" because they all look perfectly normal; like someone you would see in the street rather than the stick figures that usually feature on TV. The show has more diversity than you expect from these sort of shows; in addition to the weight thing not everyone appears to be white (though there are no obviously Asian or Black participants) and one girl is a little bit goth (punk? I’m sure someone will set me straight).

Another show also on Saturday afternoons but shortly coming to an end is Too Fat for 15: Fighting Back a reality show (do you notice theme here?) about teens at a fat camp in America. I will miss this when it has gone; I feel attached to the teens the show follows.

Did you happen to watch Golden while it was on? I saw the previews for the show at the time I was thinking of losing weight. I had hoped it might follow Shelly’s weight loss but instead it joked about her size and the size of her trainer (and ex-boyfriends) appendage. I did watch the whole series but overall I was disappointed.

I haven’t only watched TV. In the last week I have organised with two of my friends to walk with them (separately) once a week. And coming up next week I have the Butterfly Creek Nightime Madness. There is still time to register if you want to participate.

What sort of weight loss TV do you like? Will I see you at Butterfly Creek?

Keep reading and next time you’ll be seeing less of me.

Special thanks to: Ian Tilley Photography, Jenny Craig

July 25, 2012

Nuclear Family

Nuclear Family is a one act, one woman play exploring not just immigrants to New Zealand; their dreams, illusions, and failures but also human nature and how the characters use their own skills and nous to survive in a new world away from family and other social support.

The New Zealand dream of green hills, space and sheep is fulfilled when they arrive but they must also face obstacles. Each finds fault in some way with their life in paradise but that is overshadowed by the news of the Chernobyl disaster.

The various characters, Russian, Venezualan, and New Zealand are very ably portrayed by Yael Gezentsvey. She quickly changed from the grandmother, Babushka, to the younger members, switching from one accent to another and from female character to male character. Changes in lighting enhanced the character switching and was well executed.

This story is told with humour and sensitivity. It is a serious story of how people live, their needs and expectations whether real or imagined. It was played with energy and creativity by a talented young actress.

Written by: Desiree Gezentsvey
Directed by: James Hadley
Venue: Circa Two
Dates: 24 July − 4 August, 7.30pm Tuesday to Saturday, 4.30pm Sunday
Price: $35 / $30

July 23, 2012

RCRD Roller Derby Final 2012

Saturday was the intraleague final for Richter City Roller Derby, a much awaited clash between one of the original teams, Smash Malice, and relative new kids on the block Comic Slams. It was Slams second season as a team, and their second time in the grand final bout, a highly anticipated rematch against the champions of the last two years.

Much like last year, and earlier in the season, the match up between Slams and Malice offered an excitingly close bout, an almost constant fight for lead, which both teams managed to snatch from the other several times each half. Malice started off strong with an immediate power jam, racking up a quick bucketful of points in the first dozen jams thanks to a few deft moves by core Malice jammers Skandal Lass, Tuff Bikkies and Orange Ruffie.  Slams grabbed a point here and there throughout those jams, until a couple of power jams about twenty minutes into the game put the cobalt and silver superheroines in the lead. Ella Kazam, who I felt was last season's star jammer for Slams wasn't featured as heavily this year, after playing only a part season due to injury, but was more than adequately supporting this years stars J'Knee Dodgem, Anna Pave-U'Ova, and the unexpectedly awesome petite seeming relative newcomer to Richter City, Volcanic Ash.

The half time scores were 99 to 76 to Smash Malice. We were left with an awkward display from the Wellington Bike Polo Club.  Yes, polo played from a bicycle.  The men in the group I was sitting with were intrigued with the idea, and could see the attraction, the women not so keen.  As I've felt  the last year or so, it seemed there was little interest in the half time entertainment from the audience who remained in their seats.

The second half started out with fresh ambition from both teams in getting to lead jammer position, and it was barely three minutes into the half when Jem Molition, a solid well skilled blocker for Smash Malice, went down to an ankle injury after a tussle with Comic Slams jammer Anna Pave-U'Ova.  Malice appeared to tease Slams over the next series of jams, seemingly letting Slams close the score gap, before widening it again.  With just under ten minutes on the clock there was 12 points in it, and Orange Ruffie got sent to the bin, leaving J'Knee Dodgem to rack up a 29 point jam, bringing parts of the crowd to their feet screaming in support for the underdogs.  I don't think I have ever heard the Wellington derby crowd yell so much, and it barely abated until the end of the final jam.  What a final jam it was too. I may add, a storybook finish some might say?  Malice started with two blockers in the bin, and Scarface Clawdia jamming up against Scary Maclary still in the bin from the last jam.  Before Face got through the pack, a Slams blocker was sent off to join the other, leaving veterans Ma Whero Mischief, Suffer Jet, and Evilicious Diva to keep Face in check.  A big slam from Jet sent Face out of bounds, and some well placed backwards skating meant Face had to
re-enter the play almost half the track back, giving Scary enough time to get out of the penalty box.  While Scary didn't manage to score any more points for Comic Slams, Scarface Clawdia managed some, but not
quite enough to get Smash Malice the win.

Final score was 156-144 to Comic Slams, the new champions!

This was the last public roller derby bout for the year in Wellington, but on the 25th August, The Swamp City Roller Rats (Palmerston North) are hosting NZ's first ever tournament.  Check their Facebook to be in the know when tickets go on sale.

July 17, 2012

Weight loss: Jenny Craig

Why Jenny Craig?
I chose Jenny Craig mostly because I am lazy. The program takes all the thinking out of the equation for me. The menu is set, some of the food is provided (which you pay for), all I have to do is follow the plan.

Once a week you visit your consultant to be weighed, talk about your week, and buy your food for the next week. Each week the menu changes and there is so much variety there is no chance to get bored.

The best offering is the Platinum membership. You can restart the program any time within 7 years - so if you have a baby you could go back to lose the baby weight - and you are monitored for the year after reaching your goal weight. This monitoring is a monthly visit which includes a weigh in to ensure that you are sticking to what you have learnt and have integrated the principles into your everyday life.

At my first meeting the consultant told me it would take me 33 weeks to lose the weight I want to. I cried. That's less than a year!

My First Week
Eating to the menu does take more forward thinking than I am used to. In addition to the Jenny Craig food I buy staples like bread, milk, yoghurt, fruit and vegetables from the supermarket. The additional food equals what I was paying for food previously but probably saves me money as I spent extra on junk food and takeaways. All of that food still manages to fit in the tiny freezer above my fridge.

Each night I organise my meals for the next day. This involves making a big salad and assembling the rest of the food to take to work. Most mornings I had toast before leaving the house then a more substantial breakfast at work. Each of the meals are so large I tended to have two lunches and two dinners as well.

At the end of the week I had my second weigh in. I thought I would lose several kgs, this is what normally happens to me when I start a weight loss program. I gained 100 grams.

Am I hormonal? No.
Have I eaten off program? No.
Have I had bowel movements? (Ew) Yes.
Am I on any medication that causes weight gain? It turns out, yes. But I have lost weight on this medication before with no problems (and I don't want to change my medication unless it stops working for me).

I was (understandably) upset. My consultant called in another consultant who had clients with the same problem. Sometimes it takes the body a while to adjust. I was eating more than I had been. It may be reflective of the week before I started the program.

This was not the start I had expected and certainly not what I wanted. Had I not been doing these posts I would have quit (in addition to being lazy, I am a quitter). But I will continue and hope that next week brings better things.

Keep reading and here's hoping that you'll be seeing less of me next time.

Price: Food - around $170/week. Membership - varies (talk to your nearest office) or the Dame Edna Special is $99 for 3 months membership.

Special thanks to: Ian Tilley Photography, Jenny Craig

July 11, 2012

High Tea at Hippopotamus

If you want to look at beautiful things, go and have high tea at Hippopotamus at the Museum Hotel. The entry foyer is gorgeous, Hippopotamus is sumptuous, the view is stupendous and even the toilets are a feast for the eyes.

The service at Hippopotamus is wonderful. When you arrive they take you to your table, pull out your seat, and place a napkin on your lap. You may only have a few teas to choose from but your cup never runs dry. Most of the waiters speak with a engaging genuine French accent that makes you feel as if you had left little old Wellington and traveled to the continent.

The table is beautifully presented, the cups and saucers are delicate fine china. When the food arrives it is set out tastefully and the waiters are quick to explain what everything is. They cater to different dietary requirements. However, this writer really likes the staples of high tea; like scones with jam and cream, and cute little cucumber sandwiches. The food at Hippopotamus was delicate and decadent. It became a little bit too much as every flavour was overpowering and incredibly rich. For an afternoon tea it felt as if the chef had perhaps tried too hard.

The space in the room means you can have private conversations and hear each other clearly while enjoying paintings on the walls and the picture window with an iconic view of wellington. When the overflowing tea gets a bit much and you head for the bathroom the decor is a pleasant surprise. The tasteful surroundings of the restaurant have followed you into a place that is usually associated with functionality. This writer suggests that you go to the toilets on the ground floor as you leave the Museum Hotel. If you have a young daughter take her there one day when you are in Te Papa as she will enjoy the princess like atmosphere.

Overall it is an aesthetically pleasing experience to have high tea at the museum hotel. If you are looking for good old kiwi food your palate will get a surprise that you may or may not find appealing. For the same price as other places serve high tea you do get spoiled and made to feel like someone special for the afternoon. I will be back.

Price: from $30

July 7, 2012

An Ideal Husband

An Ideal Husband tells the story about discovering the husband you thought was ideal may not be and that everyones idea of ideal is different. Although Oscar Wilde's story was written over 100 years ago it still rings true as relationships between husbands and wives are the same throughout time. What could be a simple comedy about love has many dimensions involving scheming, scandal, government secrets and the importance of wealth.

The crowd scenes were very well done. Actors in the background were talking, not so much that you could hear what they were saying but enough to make noise and make it feel like a genuine crowd. The dialogue in general was handled well, actors spoke over each other during heated arguments and stumbled lines were covered well adding to the authenticity.

The female actors, in particular Miss Chiltern and Mrs Cheveley, carried the play. Lady Markby had a voice like a very grand lady. There was good chemistry between Miss Chiltern and Lord Goring (the character I think Oscar Wilde wrote for himself).

The costuming left me considering how I could work some of the same style into my wardrobe. The only thing that let it down was a strange rainbow dress worn by Miss Chiltern in one scene. 

This the first production I have attended at Theatre 108 which had curtains. They were used throughout the evening to change scenery which was distracting as it occurred more than just at the interval. The set itself was versatile, allowing for several different rooms including options for four different entrances.

The theatre was shamefully half empty the night I attended, such an excellent production deserves a better attendance but by the looks of things tickets for other performances are selling fast!

Showing: 4-14 July 8pm, 7-8 July 3pm (no performance 9 July)
Price: $20 / $18
Bookings: 939 7529 or

July 6, 2012

Weight loss: decisions, decisions

I had expected to make more progress by this point than I have. I could tell you that I've been doing nothing, which is true. But, I have decided which weight loss program I am going to do so that's something.

I wanted to try a local program if I could so I met with Healthy Inspirations. The program was created by an Australian and is run in both countries. It includes exercise, on their special equipment, alongside a dietary plan. I thought this was good but the people I saw there didn't seem to be working hard, it almost seemed like cheating to me. I was unable to get a clear understanding of the dietary plan, there are "several" but they were not elaborated on. The sophisticated sales patter of the person I spoke with make me feel uncomfortably like I was buying a used car.

I met with two personal training gyms; Studio 41 and the Results Room. They both recommend exercise and a dietary plan. I will write a full review of Studio 41 at some other time but briefly I can tell you that, although the gym is nice and  the staff appear well trained, I did not have a good experience. The trainer I spoke to about losing weight wanted me to go on a diet with no carbohydrates (including simple carbs like the ones in fruit) for at least two weeks, after which we would assess the plan going forward. I tried for a day. I was grumpy and starving. The Results Room had a more sensible approach; you note everything that you eat and try to eat whole foods. I don't have much of an excuse for not going with the Results Room, except that it seemed like hard work and we have reviewed them before.

In the end it came down to the two big weight loss providers worldwide; Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig. Weight Watchers has been reviewed here before so I wanted to try something different.

I want to say thank you to the people I spoke with at Weight Watchers and Results Room; you were very helpful and supportive, you made it hard not to chose you.

In my next post I will tell you about the Jenny Craig program, why I chose to go with them and update you on my first week or so on the program.

Keep reading and you'll be seeing less of me next time!

Special thanks to: Ian Tilley Photography and Jenny Craig

June 30, 2012

Carousel Cabaret June 2012

Carousel is back with a bang! Following a six month hiatus Carousel returned Friday night at their new home The San Francisco Bathhouse.

The place was packed. I'm not sure whether it was because people really missed Carousel or the excellent line up. Local burlesque personality Venus Starr, the shows producer, made her debut at Carousel. Also making appearances were the current Miss Burlesque NZ, Willow Noir; and first Miss Burlesque NZ, Miss la Belle; NZ's only burlesque troupe, The Alltogethers; and audience favourites Tinka Lovelocks; and The Magenta Diamond. The large number of people there meant the street was crowded (compounded by the narrow entrance) and inside it was difficult to see unless you had booked your tickets and therefore had a seat.

The San Francisco Bathhouse was certainly not big enough for the crowd.  If attendance stays at this level I hope Venus would consider a second show on the Saturday night; she did try it once before. However, towards the end of last year attendance was dwindling so this may be temporary spike. The huge space is not well laid out for a show. Everything was focused on the stage. The lounge area at the back could have been utilsed to give the ladies from Poleclass room to demonstrate (and not have a stream of people walking across their stage to access the bathrooms). The artist who was painting throughout the night may have had more chance to engage with the audience.

Everyone was excited to see Venus Starr perform. Her energy lit up the stage and her professionalism carried her though a wardrobe malfunction smoothly. I'm surprised these things don't happen more often, corsets are tricky things. I was not terribly impressed with The Alltogethers though they have improved since I saw them last; one smiled nervously through both acts which I kept focusing on. Their second act was better than the first but I would have preferred another performer twice. Miss la Belle impressed with highly detailed fans and a shiny wing/cape for a fan dance inspired by the movie Metroplis (thank you for pointing this out as I have never heard of it!). Willow Noir scandalised the audience with her title winning naughty nun act. The Magenta Diamond performed two strange acts with a creepy sweet little girl smile on her face. The messiest act of the night was a visual feast from Tinka Lovelocks the set up for which meant extra (dirty) jokes from the MC Pitor. Aesthetically this act was well placed but the logistics of the set up and clean up bored the audience, it may have been better placed at one side of a break.

Apart from getting a sore neck from straining to see, and sore feet from standing, it was a great night. And we even managed to raise money for charity. I'm already planning my outfit for next month. I'm so excited Carousel is back!

Venue: San Francisco Bathhouse
Date: Friday 29 June, 8pm
Price: $35

June 24, 2012

Dick Smith Electronics - Featherston Street

I went into Dick Smiths looking for a specific cord to match an item that had lost the cord for. I wandered around looking lost but was not approached by any staff members. I had to walk directly up to one sales assistant and catch their eye. I commented on my wait and was told there weren't many staff on the floor - even though I had walked past three idle people at the counter. The layout of the shop may be partly to blame as the checkout in the middle obscures staff views of customers, including the view of the entrance.

The staff member found me exactly what I wanted. I wouldn't have been able to find it for myself as it was tucked away in a back corner. I did however point out a cheaper product which tuned out to also be more appropriate as I didn't need to alter the voltage manually.

I smiled sunnily at the staff member who severed me at the counter (who had been there when I walked past earlier) but only got a tight smile in reply.

I wasn't impressed with the service overall but I did end up with a product that performed the function I required.

June 20, 2012

Weight loss: Before photo with Ian Tilley Photography

I’m thrilled to tell you (a little belatedly) that we have secured a photographer for the weight loss project.

Ian Tilley is based in Upper Hutt but happy to travel around Wellington for his work. Photography is his passion, not his full time job. About 10 years ago Ian documented his own weight loss which is why he is so excited to be part of mine.

He had the great idea of photographing me in silhouette. This way you can get an idea of my body shape and eventual weight loss but I can maintain my privacy. Well, let’s be honest, it’s not privacy I’m worried about, I’m just shy.

I am really happy to be working with Ian. He understands where I am coming from because he has been here. I felt comfortable throughout the process despite the fact that I was letting it all hang out.

So, this is my before photo. We have planned to take a photo each month to track my progress. Then you’ll know that I’m doing this and not just writing about it.

When I look at this photo the word that comes to mind is grotesque. This is not how I look in my head, or even in the mirror. I don’t think that I could leave the house everyday if this was what I looked like in my head.

I had hoped by this point to have started my weight loss. But, we are still talking with weight loss companies so haven’t come to an official decision. Unofficially I know who I want to go with; they have good structure which I need. At the end of this week I should know and then be able to tell you all. There are whispers that other reviewers also want to do this.

I’m looking forward to starting. I have been noticing the problems that my weight causes; I feel unattractive, I get breathless easily and my stomach gets in my way. My stomach is larger than a friend's who is six months pregnant and I weigh more than a full term pregnant woman. How much do I actually weigh? You'll have to wait to find out when I do my official first weigh in.

Come back next week to find out which weight loss program I will be following.

Special thanks to: Ian Tilley Photography and Jenny Craig

June 12, 2012

2012 Wellington Home Exhibition (Homeex)

We are in the midst of renovating our bathroom but really we only went to this show because we got free tickets. Unless you are wanting to do something major, spend big money, there isn't any point in attending.

The TSB arena is a good venue; well heated in comparison to the outside. The set out was easy to follow and they have good toilets too (a necessary evil when you have kids). The stallholders overall were firendly but not pushy about buying. There were quite a few competitions but again, no one was pushing you to enter them. Because of this there was a lovely atmosphere. There was good variety of stalls and it was great that they had little seminars at different times during the day. Experts were available which you could book a time to speak with which I think is an excellent idea. It is unfortunate that we are too far into the process to be able to take advantage of this.

One of the best things was that the third stall from the entrance served coffee. The vibration training staff were helpful and knowledgeable; putting people on free demonstrations and talking them through, answering all the questions patiently. I was grateful that the two photography places catered to children because you have to take your kids to these things, it's hard to get a babysitter for the day. Photographing families is also their market. One photo place was giving free fridge magnets (created from photos of the kids). They say there is no such thing as a free lunch but actually there was a free fridge magnet. Several of the other places had lollies for the kids, having these diversions becomes important when you want to have detailed conversations without kids pulling on you and breaking your concentration.

I didn't see a lot of advertising beforehand; it was only because we were given free tickets that we knew this was on. It would have been helpful if more stalls had business cards with the website listed. It is impossible to take everything in, I would want to go home and research. Big pamphlets can be bulky, wasteful and expensive for the business to print. Having a a laptop with their website up would have been useful too, they can point out where to look when you go home.

When: 8-10 June
Where: TSB Arena
Price: $8
You can find out more on the exhibition webpage

June 6, 2012

Weight loss intro

Have you ever mentioned something in passing and the person you mentioned it to not only remembered but took it seriously? Well, that happened to me. Which is how I've ended up here.

Here is intending to share my personal weight loss journey with who ever chooses to read about it.

Why am I doing this? (Apart from my boss telling me to) I have three reasons:
1. I'm 30 (ahhh!) and I am aware that it gets harder to lose weight the older you get.
2. I want to have kids. Being overweight lowers your fertility. I'd also like to be healthy during my pregnancy (and lose the weight more easily afterwards).
3. When I have the aforementioned kids I would like to be a good example.

I don't know how this is going to work. My boss is still figuring that out. There have been talks about me working with a personal trainer, taking photos every week (ek!), or simply having every review that contains anything physical thrown at me. It is dependent on who wants to work with me on this, you will get to read all about them in my posts. If your business would be interested in participating or you have a recommendation then message Wellington Reviews and let me know.

I don't know if this is going to work either. I've tried losing weight before and I quit. I like food. I don't like exercise. I do not intend to put my health at risk by doing one of those diets where you eat next to nothing and take drops or drink shakes. In my mind the perfect balance comes down to diet, exercise and some sort of support or counselling.

Very tentatively I say I am going to do this. I can't guarantee that I'll stick to it or get the results I want but I am going to try.

Let me know in the comments here or on Facebook if you have any questions or suggestions.

Special thanks to: Ian Tilley Photography and Jenny Craig

May 30, 2012


Reasons to love Bluebridge:
- it’s cheaper than the other options
- the Wellington terminal is right across from the train station (and the backpackers)
- free movies

Do you remember when Bluebridge first started taking passengers? Well, passengers that weren’t truck drivers. You might remember that they weren’t so fancy. Not so now. I was lucky enough to sail on the Straitsman, the newest ship in the Bluebridge fleet and on the Cooks Strait.

The Straitsman is beautiful, it reminded me of a cruise ship. And they even have cabins that you can book! (Or if you’re lucky, and some aren’t booked, get one for free). It is a huge step up from what I remember.

I was planning to nab one of those cabins on my return but was sadly on another boat. They still had free movies to entertain me the whole trip (the same movie on two screens – the other boat played different movies so you had a choice). My one complaint was that the toilets blocked on this sailing. Honestly, I think the passengers, me included, were too embarrassed to tell the staff otherwise it would’ve been fixed. I know people complain about the price of food but it is comparable to a café on shore.

This was the first time I drove my car on the boat. As you can imagine I was nervous. Both terminals were very well organised though it is much easier at the purpose built terminal in Picton. They do a great job of working with what they have on the Wellington wharf. I was most worried about actually driving on the ship but whenever I wasn’t sure where I was meant to go a staff member would appear as if by magic.

Both sailings were fully booked full everyone was well behaved. We were lucky to not experience adverse weather or any delays that it could have caused.

The Bluebridge sails daily between Wellington and Picton
Prices vary

May 20, 2012

RCRD Game 2 2012: Smash Malice vs Brutal Pageant

As a long time fan of Roller Derby - a regular when it started gaining attention 2-3 years ago - I feel that there's just something that's *changed* about Derby. The *feel* of it has gone almost. I still enjoy it - people still dress up (someone going full out in an Elmo costume) and there are still prizes for home-made signs, but the little things could just make it so much better (explained further below).

The night starts off only 7 minutes late - a nice change as other games I have been to usually start about 15-30 minutes late. They have new sponsors in ZM and each team has bigger and more official banners.

Instead of the MCs explaining how derby works while the teams warm up, they asked people to pair up with those who have never been before. I really think the explanation of how the game works could be done better - people I knew there who had never been before had no clue what was going on.

An avid supporter of Brutal Pageant, it's going to be an awful lose to Smash Malice. This team used to be so good! What happened?! Where has Perky Nah Nah gone? She hasn't been in this team for a long time I can say one really good change to the Derby community - the fact that Boston Backlash no longer MC's.

So on the subject of MC's - last night they felt awkward. They didn't fit together as a group, didn't have a smooth flow, and were quite hard to hear at times.  They had a hard time getting a response from the crowd.

The half time entertainment was local ceroc group performing to a couple of songs. They had a good response from the audience, though I still miss The Hot Bitches - the cheerleading squad from a couple of years ago. They were just fantastic and always funny. Bring them back.

Brutal are still losing, badly. . Referee DangerDanger keeps the crowd entertained with some of his specialist roller dancing whilst an official time out is taking place. There's about 10 minutes to go. The MCs keep insisting that Brutal may make a come back.

And with a lose of about 200 to 90, it's time to go home.

May 10, 2012

Pole Dance Aotearoa

Every Tuesday night Pole Dance Aotearoa holds a free introductory class to give everyone a taste of pole dancing. The studio is hidden in Edward Street, off Victoria, a street I didn't even know existed (though it has some great looking establishments down there that I'll have to investigate). A steep flight of stairs leads up to the studio, it is unfortunate that only the top half of the staircase is lit, especially on a dark Autumn evening. I would not like to navigate them in heels. I liked the practice rooms - big windows, wooden floor and mirrors. However, it required a good clean - as did the poles (ew! we practiced moves that put our crotch right up against them) - and the dying plants were gasping for water. There was writing all over the mirrors; no doubt this was useful for instructors taking the class but it just looked messy.

The moves taught were quite complex. The teaching technique was step by step which was very effective. They also developed the moves they initially taught later in the class so it felt like we were improving. We were proudly informed as we arrived that we would be instructed by the best male pole dancer in the country. He wore boxer briefs and spoke to the class in the mirror which I found weird. He made me feel uncomfortable, I'm not sure whether it was because he was male or because he was wearing minimal clothing or because he didn't face the class. There were also three female instructors who walked around to give pointers to students individually, they were obviously very talented but also made me uncomfortable, I don't know why.

The class was overfull; in some cases there were 3 people to a pole. But as this was a free introduction class, it was expected. I assume that if you are paying (and booking) you get your own pole to work on.  My fellow students were young, very young. I overheard some of them discussing how they would explain their bruises (from smacking themselves on the pole) to their parents.

Overall I feel this was a good introduction to the basics of pole dancing, but think that much could be done to the place and the teaching to make improvements to help newcomers feel welcome and comfortable, the class did not tempt me to want to go back.

Venue: 19 Edward Street
Class: Tuesdays 6.30
Price: FREE

May 5, 2012


I remember theatresports from high school, back when they measured by forms rather than years. It is more popularity recognised through Who's Line is it Anyway? I attended the opening night of The Improvisors season of of Theatresports at Circa last Sunday night. The show is performed in Circa Two (where I did actually watch high school theatresports once) a more intimate theatre than Circa One.

You may have never been to the theatre and had to call anything out before but that is what is expected here. Each show is different; the performers rotate (from what i understand) and the content is based heavily on audience suggestions.  You could attend every show and have a unique experience each time. Audience participation is key "the show you get is the show you deserve."

Two teams of three performers compete to win the night. Scoring is based off audience applause, a system I prefer to that of the high school scoring which was based on technique (I want to enjoy the show, don't you?). I am sure that at certain points the performers tried to make it harder for each other; one example I remember was a rhyming interview about soccer playing elephants which was interpreted (hilariously) for the hearing impaired.

John Banks was a recurring theme of last Sundays show throughout the different games including a love song created just for him. The highlight was the gibberish opera; the two performers who were selected to do this game could really sing, I was blown away by the pipes on the female performer especially. 

Tonight was the final night of another Improvisors show, History Never Repeats which I didn't get a chance to see. The second show in the Theatresports series is on tomorrow night, go check it out and let us know what you thought.

Written and Directed by the Improvisors
Circa Two
29 April - 1 July
Sundays 7pm
Price: $18/15
See the Circa information page here

May 2, 2012

TJ McDonald: My Life Has Been a Series of Poorly Made Decisions

I was lucky enough to attend the debut of this show last night and I think his decision to chose comedy as a career was not at all a poorly made one. TJ is not as fat or funny looking as he thinks. This is a bit of a backhanded compliment as he uses both of these as part of his act. I found him quite charming with a nice easy manner, he spoke with good diction and a lot of intentional cheese. Some of the jokes missed their mark but that depends heavily on the crowd.

The set up is very simple: 3 boards on a stage.
1. lessons I have learnt
2. things I will not apologise for
3. Dad Jokes (you know the ones)
He used the boards to punctuate his jokes throughout the show. I hadn't seen a comedian use props before unless they were specifically part of the act (like the boy with tape on his face) but it worked really well.

I'm not sure what to say without ruining all this jokes. The theme music was over the top and added to the humour. TJ warmed up the crowd well and was fairly gentle on them but then I don't think you can be too mean in such a small venue, the crowd was in return very receptive.

As to the venue itself, well, I've been there before. I knew to get their early so I could get a seat and wouldn't end up stuck on the couches at the back. I was not impressed with having to pay for water but perhaps I should've asked for a glass of tap water. The free condoms in the bathroom just made me feel old but well done for providing them. The ticket collecting at the door was a bit disorganised, this probably had more to do with TJ's generosity with tickets then anything else. They are squeezing in the shows with another comedian on half an hour after TJ's set finished.

All in all it was a great show with something to offend everyone and "if you don't like it you can go back to your own country...your marae...or your kitchen."

Venue: Fringe Bar
Time/date: 1-5 May, 7-8pm (15-19th in Auckland)
Get your tickets here