Friday, 30 July 2010
A quick stop at Burger Fuel in Lower Hutt on High St for dinner before the show. Rush, rush! We will be heading up to Palmerston North tonight after the musical as Jono has his rehearsal for his upcoming show Jesus Christ Superstar (this is a Palmy production) in the morning so we were running on tight schedule after work, going home to pack, grabbing a quick bite and off to see The Little Shop of Horrors at 8pm. Cost us $27.50 each and like the last musical production I've seen at this theatre (i.e. Cabaret – The Musical), it was cabaret-style seating and the audience were allowed to bring along their own food and drinks to the tables. It was a full house tonight (well, it was the 2nd to last show for this production – the show has been running since the 15th of July) and we were seated with another couple near the front of the stage whom Jono knew from one of his previous shows.
The Little Shop of Horrors turned out to be a rock musical with a mix of rock ‘n’ roll and soul music, more a high school-type musical rather than musical the likes of Cats or Phantom of the Opera (no such grandeur). Instead of having the pit (area where the band played) at the side or down the front of the stage, an additional platform was built shaped like a box, an extension of the front stage where the actors would be able to walk around with the band players boxed in the middle. This musical production was directed by Stuart James, the same guy who fantastically played the role of Emcee in Cabaret – The Musical although he did not perform this time round, which I was quite disappointed to find out. Hmm, I suppose you can’t really be the director AND a performer at the same time :/
The story of the musical was about a young florist named Seymour (played brilliantly by 19-year-old Jared Pallesen – he portrayed the character of a young, nerdy-looking hapless chap and sung very well) working in Mushnik’s flower shop on Skid Row (Downtown) who raised a plant that resembled a Venus flytrap he named Audrey II in honour of his work colleague Audrey (played by Serena Daysh) whom he was secretly in love with. Little did Seymour knew that Audrey II was no normal plant and having tried all ways and means to make it blossom, nothing worked until he accidentally pricked his finger on a rose thorn and Audrey II opened its pod thirstily. A few drops of blood and the plant thrived, soon became an attraction, generating substantial fame and fortune for the shop. The plant grew bigger and bigger as time passes (different sizes of the plant were placed on stage and the plants were ‘alive’ like puppets) but Seymour was finding it hard to provide enough blood to keep Audrey II happy (band aid on all his fingers!). During the night, the plant would cry ‘Feed me! FEED ME!’, taunting Seymour to find him fresh blood (the plant does not take meat from the butchers, picky little s^%t!), implanting ideas into Seymour’s head to find him humans that deserve to die. But who? No one deserves to die! Well, maybe one…and that person was Orin the sadistic dentist (played by Jeff Bell) who was Audrey’s abusive bf (this character was a blend of Elvis Presley and a bad-ass from Grease – the hair, the dance moves and tight leather pants – you know what I mean). Though Seymour had all intention to kill Orin, he just couldn’t go through with his plan. Lady luck was on Seymour’s side as Orin ended up gassing himself with nitrous oxide to death (he only wanted a bit of the gas to get him ‘high’ before extracting Seymour’s teeth but the helmet of the gas device was stuck) and Seymour watched him cry for help and die laughing from the gas overdose, then cut up his body to feed Audrey II! Evil, EVIL!!
A short 15-minute interval and the show continued on, now Audrey II getting even bigger! Mushnik (played by Chris Green, who was also the voice of Audrey II) found out that Orin’s disappearance was Seymour’s doing and urged Seymour to turn himself in but was briefly distracted when Seymour told him that the day’s earnings was hidden inside Audrey II. It’s a trap! Mushnik was chomped and swallowed by the beast of a plant when he tried to uncover the money, reaching deeper and deeper into the massive gaping mouth of the plant. It was cool though because Mushnik ‘disappeared’ sliding into the massive cushioned plant. I would love to slide down the plant too – it looked very comfy hehe :)
When Seymour learnt that Audrey would still love him without his fame, he promised himself he would destroy the murderous plant after his interview with LIFE magazine. Audrey, who overheard Seymour’s ramblings, was worried about him so went to see him at the shop at night but Seymour was out and she found herself alone, faced with the talking plant who begged her to water him. No, don’t go near it! The plant was chomping on Audrey as Seymour rushed in to save her but she was so badly wounded she asked Seymour to feed her to the plant after she’s gone so that part of her will always be with him. Aww, poor Seymour...he was absolutely devastated…
Some salesman came the next day asking Seymour for leaf cuttings of Audrey II to sell them across the country and Seymour suddenly realized that this was the plant’s evil plan all along – the plant had caused the solar eclipse and came to conquer Earth! He tried to kill the plant by shooting at it with a gun with no success, then attempted poisoning it with rat poison, and finally used a machete to rip apart its jaws only to be eaten alive. The salesman returned later that day to find no Seymour and helped himself to leaf cuttings, spreading Audrey II all over the world. Well, you can pretty much assume a sad ending where everyone dies…
The show ended around 10pm and I have to say, it wasn’t as good as I had expected. Given it was the 2nd to last show, the cast still didn’t quite hold it together well. Don’t get me wrong, the 4 main characters (Seymour, Mushnik, Audrey and Orin) were very good in their roles but I think it has something to do with the sound system – there were parts of the musical that were harsh on the ears, mostly when Audrey was speaking in her super high-pitched voice, or when the doo-wop girls – characters Crystal, Ronnette and Chiffon who sang throughout the show, commenting on what’s happening – were singing (they seems to be trying to outdo one another in voice rather than singing together). There were also several background characters which oddly only appear now and then with not much singing. Were they really needed?? Hmm, perhaps give it another week or so and the cast would perform much better…Gee, I sound like a musical snob now! Well, perhaps I’m a bit of a snob in that only musicals my bf performs in would I see them as awesome musicals haha! True given I’m a big supporter of my man but we also enjoy watching musicals together (ones he’s not in). I AM looking forward to see him perform in Jesus Christ Superstar next month :)
Wednesday, 28 July 2010
As with all the shifts, my shift starts 15 minutes prior to the film screening and us ushers would go around each aisle to collect any rubbish or items found, sort out glass bottles for recycling and carry the filled rubbish bags down to the basement where the large bins were located. Used wine glasses or cup and saucers found were returned to Blondini’s Café & Jazz Bar situated on the first floor foyer of Embassy Theatre, and scattered popcorn swept up. Some patrons were really inconsiderate, purposely pouring the popcorn all over their seats and the floor, even building a popcorn pyramid/castle on the floor with a bottle sticking out on one end. Just makes it a pain for us to clean up the place given the brief time. We even had someone puke on their seat one shift and the paid ushers on duty had to see to it, cleaning up the mess with warm water and smellies to rid the stench. Fortunately for the volunteer ushers, we do not normally have to deal with the difficult (and yucky) stuff. Lucky!
Before we opened the doors to the public, we would always have a quick briefing to bring up any issues and if there would be reallocation of seating for the film (apparently Ticketek had messed up their online booking system and early birds ended up sitting in the front 3 rows of the theatre, which weren’t the best seats in the house). Ushers got to choose the sections they work at (first come, first served) and 2 ushers would station themselves respectively at the doors. I’ve worked at all the sections in the theatre and that helped me learn the seating plan quickly. The type of seats actually vary – the good ones, of course, were the comfy and large leather seats in the middle, and the worst seats would probably be right up the back of the theatre, fold-down seats that had cramp legroom, or those at the very front of the theatre though some film enthusiasts prefer sitting there. We had a woman just like that who would stake a claim for a seat in the front row with her bags before the doors open! “She’s a regular patron to the film festival so it’s OK to accommodate her special needs,” said one of the head ushers smiling. I’ve also worked at the door but found that it rather stressful when throngs of people eagerly wanting to get into the theatre tried to bypass me checking their tickets before they got in. I had a lady rushing into the theatre saying that her film had started but it turned out she was meant to be at Penthouse cinema which was in Brooklyn! I think I’ll just stick to my sections…
Film-goers were generally appreciative when we offered our assistance to help them find their seats in the theatre and it was imperative to seat people correctly, especially if it was a full house screening. Patrons get rather antsy if they turned up late AND found their seats taken, plus it was difficult to get people to the right seats in the dark anyway. And speaking of the dark, us ushers have a torchlight each and as latecomers come in through the doors, an usher would approach the person or group and guide them to their seats, light shone on the ground so they could see where they were going. This goes on for about 15 minutes into the film screening. Ushers who had to stay on during the shift would then take their seats in one of the reserved house seats to watch the rest of the film and keep an eye out for any issues that may arise during the screening (this includes informing the projectionist if the picture quality was poor).
On one of my shifts, I had a man coming over to speak to me about his seat just before the start of the film. He walked up so close to me and then paused, not saying a word, as if sizing me up. And then when he did speak, it sounded and looked as if he was having a fit or was being choked. The other ushers were baffled but I had a gut feeling that the man had a speech impediment and true enough, he was stuttering really badly as he proceeded with much difficulty to convey his sentence. He was one of the unfortunate early birds who got a seat in the first row and told me the view was making him feel rather ill. I had to get the head usher to see to him as it was a full house screening (I think the head usher gave up her usher seat for the man). Another incident we had was a power cut for about 20 minutes during one of the night shifts. Thankfully it wasn’t too problematic and all we had to do was make sure people were OK and got them back to their seats when the power came back on.
Steven Hay, one of the head ushers, was a jovial chap with a prosthetic arm – you would see him at most film festivals ushering (well, I have) and I have to admit, I’m quite intrigued about his arm and wondered what happened. I didn’t ask him – I hardly know the guy! Anyway, on one of the shifts that we were on, there was a young Asian chick that on every opportunity when she would walk past Steven, she would sweep her hand down his prosthetic arm, smiling. It was hilarious watching Steven’s behaviour change from slight shock to an embarrassed smile, then to somewhat disgust/bewilderment when the woman came back to ‘attack’ him. “Did I just get assaulted by her, AGAIN??” exclaimed Steven. Er, I think she’s got the hots for you bro…something about your arm…:P
I swapped shifts with volunteer usher Darren to free up my weekend (which is why I’m finishing up today and not Saturday as initially scheduled). Volunteers were free to swap shifts with one another and since Jono had plans to head up to Palmy this weekend, I thought I would try my luck getting my shift swapped. The shift was at Penthouse Cinema in Brooklyn and I had the opportunity to work with the head usher Debbie who was stationed at there. The cinema itself was way smaller in size than where I’ve been working most of the festival with only Debbie and myself ushering. Easy as!
Of the 11 movies I’ve seen, including the two I saw using my staff pass during the day, my favourites were Exit Through The Gift Shop: A Banksy Film (a brilliant documentary about Frenchman Thierry Guetta obsession with street art – a must see), Agora (a historical drama about religion and science during the era of Christianisation of the Roman Empire), and His & Hers (documentary of Irish women of all ages talking about the men they love). Though I got to watch many films for free and had fun working at the film festival, it made my day and week felt very long and exhausting, AND it also meant a lot of time away from my social activities and Jono. Not sure if I would return as a volunteer again next year but will definitely come back as a viewer. This film festival is definitely the film festival of the year you don’t want to miss – so many amazing films from around the world that will open up your mind and show you the lives of others, their religion, cultures and practices that you may or may not know existed.
Sunday, 25 July 2010
I headed over to St James Theatre where the event was held around 10am and there was already a queue at the registration desk. Had my name checked off and a stamp on my hand, then off to the upstairs foyer I went with my 10 items of clothing (20 is the maximum allowed) to the Shwop Shop to have them accessed for suitability. The clothes I brought along were taken out from my storage boxes in the garage, items I’ve posted on TradeMe for sale but still not sold. 8 of them were accepted and for each item of clothing, I was given a voucher which I would use this afternoon to ‘cash in’ other items available. It was rather amusing that the vouchers weren’t tickets but pieces of jigsaw puzzles! The volunteer shwopkeepers would check to make sure the clothes were in good condition and they wouldn’t accept common clothing labels e.g. Glassons. Strangely, they accepted a sleeveless black top of mine I owned since 18 which I had worn several times back then (a bit too tight for me now) and still kept in as-new condition. Hopefully the clothes I brought today would go to wardrobes of ladies who would appreciate them! This year, men were also able to participate in a men-shwop though I can’t see any men lining up in throngs at the male Shwop Shop, just the male shwopkeepers grinning at the sight of the number of women eagerly queuing up to get their items checked on a Sunday morning.
Now, you must be wondering what if I didn’t use up all my jigsaw puzzles. Well, for starters, you won’t be getting back the clothes you brought in nor would you be getting money back. Instead, you will be given a voucher which you would be able to use in next year’s shwop. Hmm, what if I’m not here next year for the event? I had better make sure I get all my puzzle pieces ‘cashed in’ regardless I like the item or not, and just sell the ones I don’t like on TradeMe.
Stacey, Bronwyn and Liz turned up shortly and we headed over to Majestic Cuisine on Courtenay Place for yum cha brunch. Thankfully I had booked us a table earlier this week – the restaurant was fully booked today! Rissa and mum Daisy joined us shortly (Daisy’s visiting from Australia) and Chris popped in for a bit as well. We chatted and laughed over our food and Chinese tea, and I even took up Chris’ dare to try their durian custard roll, a sweet pastry filled with durian flesh. Ok, I still do not like durian, even made this way – it’s not the smell or texture that puts me off; I just don’t like the fruit in general. Eek, not trying it again…
Around 12pm, us girls headed back to the lobby of St James Theatre to redeem our free drink, a choice of a glass of MOMO wine (Momo means offspring in Maori and is a winery based in Marlborough) or a Tuatara beer. I had the wine – fruity though rather acidy. As we chilled out over drinks and listened to the event sponsors talk about their organisation and products, the shwop area was closed with busy shwopkeepers sorting the clothes into racks according to type and size. Oh, and if you brought along your non-Trilogy cleanser that’s less than ¼ full, the folks from Trilogy would happily swap them for a brand new Trilogy cleanser. How awesome is that? I must have missed reading this in my registration email so wasn’t aware of it until Rissa mentioned she was heading to the Trilogy desk to get her new cleanser! Doh!
As time got closer to 1pm, more and more women started to gather by the stairway, as if gearing up for a race. God, seriously, is there such a need to push around to the front??! There were SO many women concentrated in the lobby!! 1pm and all hell broke loose – the women were in a mad rush to grab clothes and running over to the changing room to try on their garments (maximum 5 garments each trip to the changing room). It was such a stressful sight to see the women. It was as if they were possessed or something – they were just raw, cave women-like fighting for food, their eyes all carnivorous/mean – it was rather horrific! Clothes were getting taken off racks like nobody’s business. Everything felt like a haze and so hurried. I just dodged the ‘crazy’ women (especially the bigger ones – I wasn’t in the mood to be tackled by them) and took my time looking for my own items. Just leave me alone! The event photographer, DJ who was there playing music for us in the background and some of the male volunteers were found smirking and shaking their heads when they witnessed the female carnage happening in front of their eyes. Not nice ladies anymore…
Huh, I thought so…as expected, the shwop hardly had clothes to suit my size (most were bigger) so the choices available to me were limited. I had to return to the racks several times just to see if more tried but unwanted items of my size came back. I did find a few nice pieces though on closer inspection, there were nicks or stains, the result of women in their rush and not handling the clothes with care. Hmm…I don’t think I’ll be having that one…The changing room was an emptied conference room that had full-length mirrors stood up all along the walls. Yes, that meant no covered changing area but a large room where women stripped away to their bare essentials (bra and undies, that is). So far, no dramas seen in the changing room and the women would take turns checking how they looked in their potential new clothes. Chris had warned me beforehand that some women can be quite forward and would ask to try the item in your pile of clothes regardless whether you have tried it on or not. Well, that happened to me twice when I was in the changing room! Oh, one woman got really upset (I’m not sure if it was the stressful environment or the fact she couldn’t find anything her size) and had to be calmed down by the volunteers as she was starting to make a scene and eventually stormed out of the venue!
I left St James around 2.30pm with all my jigsaw puzzles swapped (was somewhat disappointed as I didn’t find anything I really wanted but oh well, I was in for the experience so it’s ok). Once you’ve ‘cashed in’ your vouchers, you weren’t allowed back into the shwop area. Some of the girls were still in there finding items to swap! Every one who registered for the event was also given a bar of soap and packet of laundry powder from EcoStore as well as a Trilogy Everything Balm (RRP$22).
Personally, I think it would have been much better if the racks not only had clothing type labelled but also the sizes clearly specific. That would work brilliantly for everyone as you would head directly to those sections than skim through the entire rack. It was a really interesting experience though not something I would like to try again – it was just way too stressful an event for people to actually relax and have fun. Hmm, maybe us girls should get together and do our own little shwop at home, bring along nibbles and make cocktails.,.Photos taken today: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157624451579717/detail/
Friday, 23 July 2010
Miss La Vida, a prominent burlesque and cabaret performer based in Auckland, had contacted all title holders from the Miss Burlesque NZ 2010 several weeks ago, informing us that she would be coming down to Wellington to perform for the Burlesque Masquerade Ball this Saturday. Having recently returned from the Burlesque Hall of Fame weekend in Las Vegas, she was buzzing with excitement from meeting many famous performers and wanted to impart what she had observed and learnt there to us so organised a Workshop for Pro Performers tonight at The Studio especially for us. Cost $35 per person for the 1.5-hour workshop and several familiar faces were there including Grace and Amy. Catherine popped in and out of the room where we had the workshop in between teaching her burlesque class, and we also had belly-dancer Tria Manley from Christchurch who’s recently relocated to Wellington.
Victoria Grimshaw aka Miss La Vida, is the woman behind Miss Chief Events in Auckland, a company that organizes events such as burlesque nights, classes, workshops, parties for ladies for special occasions and of course, booking Miss La Vida herself to perform at private events. Having been to Minsky Malone’s workshop earlier this year, I was expecting Victoria to be all dolled up in burlesque attire as her alter ego for her workshop but was greeted by a petite English lady dressed in casual attire and no make-up instead. And I was getting worried that I was dressed too casual for the class in my t-shirt and jeans – this is great! The workshop itself was very relaxed and casual, us girls chatting and giggling together over wine on our performing experiences and discussing through the notes from Victoria’s handout sheet of the dos and don’ts of a burlesque performer. Occasionally, Victoria would show us how a move is done but there was no practical involved in the workshop i.e. we had to show her what she has just taught us. Not quite what I was expecting though I enjoyed and appreciated it being so chilled out after a flat out week at work and volunteering at NZFF.
I’m not sure I dare call myself a ‘pro performer’ having little to no burlesque background (Martini who? A burlesque handbook??) – I was absorbing like a sponge listening to the others drop names of famous burlesque performers and sharing some tricks of the trade (did you know that wearing skin-coloured fishnets makes your legs look smooth and cellulite-free?). One item we discussed that was definitely outside my performing comfort zone was the increasing trend of performers wearing merkins (pubic wig – patches like nipple tassels but for the pubic area) instead of g-strings. Seriously?! NO!! I’m not even wearing a g-string for performances (ruffle knickers, thank you!) let alone merkins! I don’t know – the longer I sat in the room, the more I wondered if I was really cut out to be a burlesque performer. I love being the centre of attention, dancing, wearing costumes and playing characters but how long could I continue with routines and NOT take off my clothes? Even with tassels, I highly doubt I dare wear them in public. Probably take some time to work on my shyness…
Some key tips that I personally practice in my performances:
- Don’t just ‘go through the motions’ – perform FOR the audience and TO the audience
- Make eye contact and do not be afraid of the audience
- Work the stage – don’t just stay in the middle. Move around.
- Stand still or pose more – it gives the audience time to appreciate you
- Take off only 1-2 items of clothing. Don’t try to take off a pair of gloves, a dress, stockings, shoes and a bra in 4 minutes; you’re not teasing your audience!
Other new tips I’ve learnt:
- React to the audience’s reaction e.g. if one side of the room is cheering for you, go perform to them. Acknowledge them.
- If audience is not reacting to removal of costume, don’t take things off until they are. Repeat moves that are meant to be reactionary but which the audience didn’t respond to.
- Glitter – messy but like blings, they make you look shiny and worldly. Red glitter on lips makes them super sparkly!
- Don’t take off the same old thing. There’s nothing worse than watching a show where every performer takes off their gloves. Learn how to take your clothes off with your gloves on. Or construct a costume where a conventional bra isn’t necessary. PS: You should know at least 4 ways to remove gloves and stockings.
- Attention to detail – have matching jewellery, accessories, hair pieces.
Thanks Victoria for inviting me to the workshop and sharing the great tips! I’ll have to note to put them to use the next time I perform. I like Victoria – she’s lovely, has a great sense of humour and a straight talker, telling you exactly how she feels about things (it’s a positive characteristic and I appreciate the frankness). Looking forward to see her performance tomorrow night at the Burlesques Masquerade Ball!
Tuesday, 20 July 2010
Around 5.30pm, I went to pick up Mum from her hostel and then Jono from his office. “How are you feeling about this meeting?” I asked Mum in the car on the way and she said she was ok and looking forward to meet Jono. Well you’re fine but I’m not! I was feeling rather nervous about the meet for this was the first time ever that my parent was meeting my bf (my parents have never met any of my ex-bfs in person). I had asked Jono earlier if he was nervous about meeting my mum and he too said no. Really?? How can it be just me??!
Dinner tonight was at Southern Cross Bar and Restaurant. Jono and I had their 2-for-1 Stonegrill deal (only on Mondays and Tuesdays) with beers while Mum ordered a fish dish from the menu (couldn’t convince her to try NZ beef). I guess I just wanted my parent’s approval of the man I love thus all anxiousness about tonight. Frankly, I thought the dinner went quite and there really was no need for my initial worries – both got along well and were chatting animatedly and laughing together. Mum already liked Jono just from the conversations I had with her about him and our relationship – don’t think that has changed now that she has met him face to face. Besides, Jono’s very likeable ;P
“So what would you like Jono to call you?” I asked Mum at the table. One thing both Jono and I thought was quite peculiar is the fact that back in Malaysia, you would call your bf’s/gf’s parents ‘Uncle’ and ‘Auntie’; here in NZ, you would address them by first names. To be honest, when I first started addressing Jono’s parents by their first names, it felt weird in the sense I felt I was disrespecting my seniors by calling their name but got used to it over time. Mum decided since she was in NZ that she would follow the norm here and have Jono call her Donna (fyi, Donna’s the English name my dad gave her when they were dating but she rarely uses it in Malaysia – she’s better known as Miss Low back home). Hmm, what would Jono call Dad then? I’m not sure if Dad adopted an English name for himself too (though I seemed to recall the name Johnny scribbled in many of his old books…). I guess we would cross that bridge when Dad comes to visit in January. Another meet-the-parent dinner then!
Sunday, 18 July 2010
The movie I ushered for today was a French film title Lourdes, by far the most depressing movie I’ve seen at the festival, not because the movie was bad but the story just made me and other cinema goers walk out feeling hopeless. The movie was about a group of people on tour, some sick or disabled, taking pilgrimage to the religious shrine Lourdes, in hope God will answer their prayers. The main character Christine has multiple sclerosis and was wheel-chair bound but was able to walk for a few days, to which her ‘miracle’ was embraced in celebration of God’s almighty power by the tour group only to find out it was short-lived (she was back on the wheel-chair on the last day of the tour). A movie was really sad, and it just makes non-Christian believers further hold true that there is no such thing as God (and Christians feel doubtful of their beliefs). Not a movie I would recommend to end the weekend…
Rush, rush, as usual. Headed home at 6.15pm, dropped in the prunes and a few tablespoonfuls of honey into the slow-cooker (finishing ingredients for the dish) and drove out again to Southern Cross Bar with Jono to Antje, Ramnish and Annie’s farewell party. The day has finally come for friends to say goodbye to these three – Antje & Ramnish heading off to Germany and Annie embarking on a new adventure on her OE in UK. So many people turned up and huddled in the outdoor area that was booked for the party. Lots of photos and two large cards for friends to pen in their well wishes (where did Lily get so many photos taken over the years that had me in it??! It was printed on the card!). We’re going to miss you guys heaps! Best wishes in your new adventures and keep us in the loop on what’s happening in your lives! Photo taken of us at the farewell party:
Jono, Antje, me and Ramnish
“You guys have to come visit us in Germany,” said Antje and Ramnish to me and Jono. Hmm, Germany…We’ve got what, like 6 or 7 of you in Germany now? That would be a great opportunity to head over to catch up with old friends and have a local show us around. Ooo, feeling the travel itch…Being at the farewell reminded me of when I said goodbye to many of the same faces back in 2007 and I’ve now been back for almost 3 years! They would be back soon enough, I’m sure :) Left the farewell for home around 7.30pm. Going to miss you guys…lots of hugs…no tears, no tears!
Gee, my whole weekend has just whizzed by so quickly – there’s just so much going on and I’m knackered! But for now, let’s dig in and devour the yummy lamb shanks we’ve made!!
Saturday, 17 July 2010
Friday, 16 July 2010
I applied to become a volunteer usher when I first saw the event poster in town some 6 months ago and went to the website to see if there were volunteer roles available. Most festival events in town often seek volunteers to assist in all sorts of jobs and in return, the volunteers would get free tickets to the show(s). I’ve done similar volunteer roles for WOW and the Brazilian film festival last year and was so happy when I received an email from the NZFF event manager, Erin, informing me that I’ve been selected to help out this year! Yay!!
My job as an usher mainly is to seat patrons for the festival screenings and cleaning up the cinema after the session. I’m rostered on for 9 sessions (minimum 8 sessions per volunteer) across the 2-week period with all of the screenings at the Embassy Theatre, the main venue for the Wellington festival. Prior to the start of the festival, all volunteers had to attend 2 induction briefings: the first session was a briefing to get to know everyone (there were about 30-40 volunteers, some of whom I recognised from other film festivals but none I knew personally), informed of the code of conduct and what our responsibilities were, as well as given a festival t-shirt and volunteer pass which we had to wear during our shift; the second session was to orientate us on the venues where we would be working in, where the fire exits and cleaning items were located. Wow, I never knew Embassy Theatre could fit up to 700 patrons and had a whole downstairs storage area hidden behind the thick drapes next to the large screen!
Oh, and we also got 10 free staff vouchers to non-bookable screenings during the festival – this meant movies that were on BEFORE 5.30pm on weekdays, which didn’t really work out for some of us who have a day job. And the vouchers weren’t transferable either so pretty much most of the vouchers would be put to waste :( Hmm, I’ll have to re-jig my work times to fit in a movie or two during the daytime…
Rushed home after work to drop off my stuff and get changed to head back to town for my 7.30pm shift at The Embassy Theatre only to find that my car has disappeared!!! I was walking towards home from the bus stop and had a strange gut feeling that my car was missing and when I looked towards Wilson St where I had left my car parked yesterday, my car was not where it was meant to be! ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! Where the HELL is MY CAR?????!!!!! There was no note, no mark, nothing, NOTHING at all to give me any clue who had taken the car or where it had gone to. Oh my god, oh my god!!! Ok, ok, calm down, Angelica, you can work this out…I headed back to the house after leaving a frantic message on Jono’s mobile informing him of what had happened and proceeded to look up Wellington City Council – Parking, ringing up Illegal Parking Complaints to check if my car was towed (my car getting towed was my first guess as I highly doubt some hooligans would dare lift my car and take it away in broad daylight). “Oh, is it a silver Yaris? Yes, it’s currently down at the waterfront on Barnett St by Te Papa,” said the man on the other end of the line. On further inquiry, it turned out that the reason my car was ‘relocated’ was because it was blocking the Wilson St driveway of the Pacific Islanders’ Presbyterian Church. What?! I’m sure it was NOT blocking the driveway at all! The man on the phone continued on to say that I wasn’t parked 1 metre away from the sides of the driveway so it was pretty much my fault. What about the car that has its butt sticking out on the other side of the driveway? How come I’m towed and not that person’s car? Seriously, this is just bullshit! There weren’t any markings on the street to indicate so and really, do drivers make sure they are parked 1 metre away from the driveway?? No one does! Argh, I can’t believe the church people would do this to me!! This is a photo of the driveway:
How could I have blocked it when the driveway is that wide, even if I really am parked near the edge of it? Unbelievable! Worse, I sounded like an absolute nutter on the phone when Jono re-played the voicemail I left him on phone. How embarrassing… :/
With the car now located, I headed back into town for my 7.30pm usher shift. Cinema-goers were just leaving the theatre and I joined in the existing ushers from the earlier shift helping to pick up rubbish, glass items etc and sweeping up popcorn before the next lot of patrons arrive. Each usher had to sign out for torch lights from the box office downstairs and before we opened up the doors to the patrons, the head usher for the shift would gave everyone a quick briefing and allocated us to our areas to seat patrons for the session. I was quite nervous as it was my first shift and my head was still trying to remember the seating numbers but it wasn’t that hard and I was having fun ushering :) People were generally happy, cheerful and appreciative of our help finding them their seats though we also have some who brushed off the ushers, insisting they were fine to find their own seats. Ok, if you insist…
Tonight was the world premiere of movie The Predicament, officially opening the festival with a short speech by director Jason Stutter before the movie was played. The theatre was fully packed with cast and crew of the movie including actress Rose McIver, and the general public who managed to get a ticket for this one-showing only movie. I was expecting to see Jemaine Clement but I don’t think he showed up…Of course, as part of my shift, I had to stay during the session and got to watch the movie for free! The first 15 minutes were somewhat interrupted as I was still ‘working’ – we had to show late-comers to their seats illuminating their path with our torches. Ushers were not required to stay in the theatre during the whole session but most of us did – free movie, why not? The movie itself was strange, dark with its own interesting twists and humour but quite good overall. Us Kiwis are really tapping into the movie industry :)
Did another clean up with the ushers for the 11pm session which was a horror movie (thank god I wasn’t rostered for the horror flick!). Yawn, what a long day this has been…Headed off to Barnett St parking area to collect my car after my shift and the car looked in perfect condition which was good news. The bad news though was I now have to pay a fine of $92.50 for the offence and towing. Great, Jono just got a fine earlier this week for an expired Warrant of Fitness (he had been away and left his car parked on the street so the ticketing person who walked past issued him the ticket) and now me. That’s like $300 between us poofed into thin air! Argh, I can’t believe our luck!!
Thursday, 15 July 2010
Around 2pm, I headed to Random Films Ltd on Tory St for the music video shoot and was met by animator Lucy Edwards and creative director Charlotte Larsen in a studio room that had a green screen set up on the wall for the shoot. More volunteer extras turned up, 4 adults and 2 kids in total, all of us dressed in dark colours of navy blue, brown or black as requested and we were strategically placed in various standing positions and directed to do certain actions by Lucy while she took photos of us. Most of the photos had us peering into the floor at an invisible huge hole that had opened up in the ground (the music video had a part about the entire world’s junk filling up the hole or something along the lines). There were several shots of me pointing into the hole looking shocked too! Hehehe…:P
It was a very relaxed 1-hour shoot with loads of laughs together throughout– I love getting involved with the arts and performing scene in Wellington. It’s always good fun! Here's the link to the music video (you can see silhouettes of me): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EG4jIfYUHC0
Oh, and you can rent video equipments from Random Films Ltd too at affordable rates - yes, those proper ones for filming, even a boom pole for the microphone!
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
Isn't it adorable? :) Jono was visiting the Hoonah Packing Company that once was the largest cannery in Alaska and they had a service of canning your gift using the same machines that canned millions of salmon in the early 20th century. Jono witnessed the whole process of how my gift was canned and even took photos of it. How cool is that!
The other gift was a Baltic amber pendant (amber is made from petrified tree resin that is at least 1 million years old) and each amber piece is unique as it has its own inclusion of air bubbles, plant matter, or fossilised insects. Here's the one Jono selected specially for me:
I would have loved to join him on the trip but I promised myself that I needed to first clear off my previous travel expenses; I've a keen passion for travel (obviously!) but going on the trip would just set me back financially again - I'll just never get out of debt! Hard as it may be to decline a once in a lifetime trip, I had to be strong and say no, even though it feels painful as if I'm missing out on a great opportunity. Hopefully I'll have the chance to visit those countries in the near future but for now, I'll have live vicariously through the many magnificent photos taken by Jono and interesting stories from his travels.
I'M SO HAPPY HE'S BACK! :)
Saturday, 10 July 2010
Cost $10 cover charge and only juices and soft drinks (and water, of course!) were available on site served by Lily’s husband, Carlos, who welcomed guests with his broad smile and a warm hug as people arrived at the door. Robert and Lily alternated DJ-ing Latin tunes as us dancers twirled and grooved on the wooden dance floor. This was my first time dancing at this new venue and I could actually dance tonight! My sprained ankle hasn’t healed 100% but since the physio gave me the green light to continue on with my activities, I’m doing exactly that! It has been such a long time since I last danced salsa and it was fun getting back onto the dance floor – I had several awesome dances with the usual misfits including a sexy Bachata dance with Rodney which I had to hike my dress up (a bit only, really!) just so I can move with ease. We laughed after the dance when he saw me pull on the hem of my dress haha :P I also did a silent rueda with Ramnish and gang. That’s right, you heard me – no one did the move calls during the dance and the leads just passed the girls around went the opportunity came up. Us girls had no idea what was going on but followed the leads moves accordingly. What a mess it was but good fun!
Lots of catching up with friends and rest in between dances for my slightly sore ankle (the physio said it’s normal to feel sore after activities and the tenderness will subside with time). As I sat by the steps watching people dancing the night away, I felt a pang of emptiness and this seems to be a common occurrence these days whenever I attend salsa events. I wonder if it was because of the years of history that had unfolded while I was active in the salsa dance scene (memories from the past sometimes creep into my head), or more the fact my close friends were leaving one after another that the dance scene now feels foreign to me, in the sense whenever I turn up to an event, I hardly know anyone. It didn’t help that Ramnish and Antje were leaving too for Germany in 2 weeks to start a brand new life there. I will miss them dearly – though I know of their plans to move for awhile now, it still saddens me when good friends leave :(
Oh and if you were wondering what’s happening to Salsa Therapy with Ramnish’s departure, not to worry, Ramnish’s dance double, Robert, will be stepping into Ramnish’s role and continue teaching classes and organising events with Lily. I’m not surprised that we’ll hear from Ramnish in a few months that he’s started his own dance classes somewhere in Germany!
Around 11.30pm, the party took a pause to sing the birthday song and Ramnish and Lily cutting the birthday cake. Lily also had a star-shaped piñata filled with candy and several free class vouchers stuffed in it that she got Robert and Rodney to put up. No one in the crowd came forth to hit the piñata so Rodney stepped up to the task in hand, smacking it with a broomstick blindfolded. We all cracked up at Rodney’s spectacular whack, sending the piñata flying to one corner of the hall and bent the broomstick! It was such a hilarious sight haha! I guess that concluded the piñata game and the dancing continued on after people scrambled to collect the lollies scattered on the dance floor.
Left the party around 12am, dropping Chris home on the way. Hmm, feels odd and sad coming home to no one and climbing in to an empty, cold bed. 2 more days, just 2 more and Jono will be back…
Taking in Kirsty's advice, I decided to treat myself to a day to beauty therapies, starting first at The Finishing Touch on Lambton Quay with a half hour Brazilian wax appointment at 11.30am. "Ouch!" I hear you say but it was too good a deal to pass up - $20 for a Brazilian wax (normally $70)! You will NOT find anything cheaper than this, trust me! Gf Kim had sent the girls an email earlier this week about the $20 Brazilian wax promotion on the Dailydo website, a website that features daily deals of services in your city of choice, saving you between 50-90% off normal retail prices. Cost nothing to register to the site (and I highly recommend you do if you're like me, always up for trying new things AND keeping an eye out for great deals) and you can subscribe to the daily deals which gets sent directly to your email. Ah, but of course, there are some constraints such as the quantity of vouchers you can purchase for a particular deal and an expiry date in which you need to use the voucher. With this one from The Finishing Touch, I had to also be a new customer which works perfectly for me since I've never been there before!
The Finishing Touch is predominantly a spa for hands and feet (they are a professional manicure and pedicure beauty centre) and have recently hired new beauty therapist Nicola to expand their services thus used Dailydo as a way to promote her to existing and new customers. Y-eow! F&*K, that hurt!! Of course I wasn't cursing at her but at the sharp pain in my head. The last time I had a Brazilian wax was probably about 2-3 years ago (?) so I totally expected it to hurt when Nicola went R-R-R-I-P! But it does get better the more often you wax, really!
You must be wondering why on earth women put themselves through such pain for beauty - plenty of reasons from the increasingly tiny and skimpy lingerie and swimwear (pubic hair sticking out is a no-no) to "because it excites him". Personally, I just like the clean, smooth feeling of nothing down there. Nicola was really lovely and did an amazing job at the waxing, completely removing hair from the pelvis to the buttocks. She did give me the option of leaving a landing strip (a trimmed narrow vertical strip within two inches from the top of the vulva) but I decided let's just take it all off this time! It is recommended to have a repeat wax every 4-5 weeks if one wishes to maintain the Brazilian and regular exfoliation to prevent ingrown hair. I am not kidding you - she told me the easiest and cheapest way to exfoliate down there is by using exfoliation gloves in the shower, which she added, should be something every woman uses to exfoliate their whole body as it smoothes the skin. Ladies, I highly recommend Nicola to you for Brazilian waxing - it's not easy to find a beautician that does a superb and clean Brazilian wax and when you do find that person, YOU STICK TO THAT BEAUTICIAN!
Next stop, Cathy Davys Hair Design & Day Spa on Wakefield St for my massage and facial appointment at 1pm. Cathy Davys is currently promoting a winter deal for the first 36 customers to book in a Best Massage package which included a 1-hour massage and a choice of a 30-minute Japanese/Essential facial, or eye brow sculpt and tint, all for the cost of $99 (normally $189). Another great deal and it popped up in my email just when I was thinking of booking in a massage :)
Upon arrival, I was met by a lovely and highly enthusiastic Japanese beautician, Minako, who turned out to be a trained practitioner of shiatsu, acupunture and reflexology. Do not be fooled by her size - she has the strongest hands ever! With me fully clothed, she was able to apply pressure on all my sore spots, giving me a deep tissue massage - she was shocked to find how tight I was especially on my upper back and wondered how I even put up with it given my active lifestyle. Well, I really just put up with it, period.
Minako would press on a pressure point on one part of my back and the pain would shoot straight up to my head. "It is all connected," she would say, in English with a strong Japanese accent. God, it hurt A LOT when she pressed the area between my thumb and forefinger! I shall not let myself carry all these unnecessary stress and tension in knots on my back. Makes going for a massage feel like torture though I did feel much better after Minako worked relentlessly on my body. I asked her how she managed to build such strong hands for massage and she told me it took her 10 years to build such strength. "When I first started, it was so painful and sore and I cried, nearly giving up," she continued, but her preseverance definitely paid off and now her job brings her places.
I think it was a mix of sheer pain from the massage, need to rid my tension and curiosity that got me agreeing to Minako's suggestion to add on a $30 acupunture treatment to my session. This is the first time I'm trying acupunture and though I'm not afraid of needles as such, the idea of having several pinpointed on my back did make me nervous. She applied some alcohol on parts of my body and started inserting disposable sterilised acupunture needles to points (not sure how she decides where to prick), gently tapping the needles in. I had one needle on each calf, about 5 on my spine and 2 on my neck stuck on for the next 15 minutes or so. It was weird - I felt a bit like a porcupine with needles sticking out of me...She proceeded to break down 'dead fibre' on my back, lightly pricking points with a needle, some points causing sharp pain to shoot up and down my spine. I was pretty much at her mercy and had to trust her fully at what she was doing.
Once she removed all the needles (it felt like I was waiting for this moment forever!), we continued on our session with a Japanese facial which I chose from the 3 choices given. I had chosen the Japanese facial as it sounded interesting and was new to me, only to be informed by Minako that it was a no-product facial and uses acupunture needles on the face. Er, I don't think I'll be comfortable seeing needles being stuck to my face...Minako kindly modified the facial and used acupunture massage instead. Phew!
About 1.5 hours later, I walked out from Cathy Davys feeling way more relaxed, lighter and happier than I first walked in. Arigato, Minako-san! Ah, bliss...You know, I think Kirsty is right - I should treat myself more because I totally deserve it! Need to love myself more!
By the way, there was no prick marks post-acupunture. All I had was spots that looked like little mosquito bites in those areas and they were a bit itchy, and Minako had assured me it was normal. Was told to come back in about 3 weeks for another deep tissue massage session so she could help me further work on those tender areas and gain flexibility on my back. Need to re-jig my budget to see how I can work another session in!
Thursday, 8 July 2010
We spent the late morning packing up most of Mum’s stuff into my car (for a newbie in town, she sure has loads of stuff – my car was jammed-packed!) and headed over to the Tay’s to collect kitchen utensils they have kindly donated (the Tay’s have been most helpful to us, showing Mum around and introducing her to new friends in the last 2 weeks). Around 2pm, we headed to Loafers Lodge to meet property manager Luke to sort out the paperwork and collect Mum’s keys. Luke is a friendly young chap who runs the place and I’ve meet him a week ago when I came by to view the room. He offered Mum the choice of another room on Level 2 today, this one much nicer and brighter than the first we saw previously – we said yes straightaway! I wasn’t sure what it was with the other room that was on Level 1. From memory, it was a corner room, darkish and it gave me a grim and lonesome feel. Very different from this one that felt cheerful and the bathroom conveniently located exactly opposite the room! The room itself was a good size for 1 person and came with a double bed, a wardrobe, study chair and desk, and wall heater. Photos taken on my mobile of Mum’s new place:
Mum with her small alarm clock showing her check-in time
Oh, and I've had many yummy home-cooked dishes the last few days (Mum has time in her hands and has been cooking most our meals). Photos of fried beehoon (fried rice vermicelli) and teh halia (English tea prepared with milk, sugar and crushed ginger slices) Mum made this afternoon:
An upfront 2 week’s rent and another 2 for the bond were required when we signed the contract. Interestingly, Mum’s communal area key (she’s got 2 keys, one for her room and one for all other areas) only provides her access to her floor and not the others which was ok since every floor has its own communal kitchen, bathroom and laundry facilities. And you need to use the same key for the lifts too! I hope she’ll settle into her new place quickly and enjoy her stay at Loafers. Possibly even make a few friends too :) She’s beginning to get her head around how things work NZ which is great!
So with her accommodation now sorted, we have a few more things still outstanding including getting her set-up on wireless broadband internet and a bank account (this is pending receipt of her IRD number), and then it’s time for her to look for a job. Given that she’s not had to formally apply for work for over 25 years, writing a CV and cover letter has been quite a challenging task. Even for job mentor me, I’m pulling my hair out reading and correcting her drafts – they did not fit the NZ writing style and it was easier for me to re-write the whole thing (but that defeats the purpose, really, as she wouldn't learn a thing if I did it for her). We spent a whole evening re-writing her CV to suit and she’s since used them for a few job applications. Hopefully she’ll find work soon so she has some extra money and work to keep her occupied.
Mum making us fried beehoon for dinner
Dad, miss her cooking yet? I bet you do :P
You know, it felt weird when I left Mum at Loafers and drove home - I felt like a parent whose 18-year-old kid had just left home the first time, this gut-sinking feeling that my dependant child has now grown up and left home for good. Bizarre...
Sunday, 4 July 2010
Popped over to Costume Cave after my swim to find a costume for the parties I’m attending tonight. Yes, parties, plural – Colm’s going away party which had an Adventurer/Heroes theme, and Stacey’s Dirty, Flirty, and/or Thirty 30th birthday party. You can see that my friends like me have a penchant for costume parties haha! Hmm, Catwoman would suit both themes nicely and I’ve always wanted to play Catwoman. M-e-o-w! :P
Some 8 costumes later which included Catwoman, nurse and army girl, I ended up leaving the place in a space air hostess costume – there wasn’t anything that would fit both the themes AND fitted me (everything was just too big)! The folks at Costume Cave were so excited, clapping their hands happily when they completed my costume with a light blue wig, short gloves and white boots, even asking me if they could take a photo of me to use on their website. Er, sure, why not? Here’s the photo they took:
Friends arrived in dribs and drabs, most of them NOT in costume tsk, tsk :/ Colm was dressed up as Che Guevara and Karen had the perfect Dora the Explorer look – she even had the backpack and telescope to suit! Oh but best of all, she brought everyone a little goody bag of chewy candies!! Something to snack on as we waited for our steaks to be served :)
Stacey's party was a joint birthday bash with Amalia, both celebrating their 30th this year. Almost everyone at Vespa Lounge (located on Allen St) was dressed up in a costume of some sort, dancing salsa to the Latin tunes Ramnish was DJ-ing. Stacey looked smokin' hot in her red long-haired wig and shimmering red dress as Jessica Rabbit, Rodney was dressed up as a stripper fireman while Willy-John came in a full cat suit haha! Several of the girls were dressed up as feline characters and in high-school uniforms - definitely dirty and flirty :P
I attempted to dance to a few salsa songs but the many turns and spins was just putting myself at risk of further injuring my ankle so I ended up sitting on the couch with the rest of the swing dancers watching boredly as the salsa folks danced the night away. Sigh...
"Come on, let's go for a walk," suggested James and we headed out and ended up in The Apartment Bar a few doors away for a drink. The bar is the latest addition to the lounge bars in town and one I've not been to. As you step into the bar, it feels as if you've entered a luxury suite filled with leather couches, a fireplace, a massive bookshelf, plush white towels in the bathroom and there's even a bedroom! Plenty of space for people to chill out and relax after a long day in the office, I'm liking it! Oh, and they have nice jazz music playing in the background :)
We sat by the bar chatting and laughing away as we sipped our cocktails. I looked very much like an air hostess having a drink at the bar awaiting to board my next plane hehe...James told me that the men in the room were totally checking me out as I beelined through the crowd from the restroom towards the bar. My hem line, you mean? ;P James and I always dress our best for costume parties and both got several compliments from random strangers on our outfits! Oh yeah!!
The place gradually got busier as the night went on and the place turned from a relaxed lounge bar to another ordinary bar where young people get themselves plastered. People around us were getting rowdy and people were standing shoulder to shoulder, pushing about as the swayed the more they drunk. Okay...I think this is our cue to leave...
James headed off for home while I returned to Stacey's party to find that Vespa Lounge has now opened its doors to the public, a sign that it must be past midnight (Stacey and Amalia had the venue booked out till then). A mix of friends and randoms in the crowd, I caught up with a few friends and around 1am, headed home too. Yawn...way past my bedtime...Photos taken tonight: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157624300100505/detail/