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 www.huttrep.co.nz/bookings

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