Sunday, November 28, 2010


Our local cinema complex holds Sunday afternoon screenings of what I can only describe as 'cultural events'. They are sparsely attended.
In 2004 I paid $4,000 to travel to and attend the Adelaide production of Wagner's Ring Cycle, all four operas. They were magnificent but last month I paid $28 to attend the screening of New York Metropolitan Opers's production of Das Rheingold, the first of the Ring Cycle and it was even more magnificent that the Adelaide experience. Brilliant photography put us right on the stage of the Met, looking at Bryn Terfel's tonsils, we were so close.
So yesterday I, and six other people watched and listened to Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov which ran for 5 hours 30 minutes. My head is still ringing with the music, my eyes are still dazzled from the opulence of the production, and my mind is still grappling with the complexities of a plot straight out of Aristotle's Poetics.
Boris Gudonov ruled Russia in the sixteenth century. He was a kindly, well intentioned man who did not understand the hugeness of his task. He wanted to be loved by his subjects so he handed out scraps of bread to a few beggars be but had no concept of the reforms needed to make a real difference. He was gullible, believing the fairy tales fed to him by corrupt boyars and greedy churchmen.
There is a lot of subtle political comment, for example the itinerant friars who rob a sleeping guest in a wayside inn, the shallow bitchiness of the Polish court,and finally the dying Boris who advises his son to rule Russia by 'heeding the simple wisdom of the common people and to trust in God,' while outside those common people are rioting and welcoming the false pretender Dmitri, and the military arm of the Roman church including those two venal friars who have swapped from Orthodox to Catholic.
What I found tragic was the thought that four hundred years later people have still not learned 'simple wisdom'. But the sight of two horses being ridden on to the vast stage at the Metropolitan Opera House was worth every cent of the admission price.

if you want to learn more google

Saturday, November 27, 2010


ADDIE ACCIDENT by Shirley Corlett Scholastic ISBN 078-1-86942-971-2 Shirley sent me a review copy which will go to my ten year old grandaughter. It deals with self esteem, how to overcome bullying and using one's imagination all packed into a fast action slightly improper story.
A SINGULAR SKYLARK by Shirley Grave ISBN 978-0-473-18043-3. Shirley is dedicated to rhyme, which would usually turn me off, but these verses are entertaining and funny,
with often a thorn amid the hearts and flowers, like 'Phasing Out Home Support' and 'The Farmer's Wife.' Fun to dip into.
TOM PEPPER'S DOG a Geraldine anthology collected and edited by Jan Hill. ISBN 978-0-473-15973-6; Pleasant Valley Publishing. I love good anthologies from writing groups. It's like eating home baking after a diet of factory food. Another one for dipping into at odd moments.
ARISTOTLE'S POETICS FOR SCREENWRITERS by Michael Tierno, Hyperion, ISBN 978-0-7868-8740-8. This is going to grandson Tom, 2nd year University classics student who was having stories broadcast on EARS at age 4. The chapter headings alone are worth the price of the book. His brother, who was making films at age 11 is getting Robert McKee's STORY.
FROM BEIRUT TO JERUSALEM by Thomas L. Friedman. Farrar, Straus & Giraux ISBN-13:978-0-374-15895-8. A personal account of the Arab-Israeli-Lebanese-Palestine conflict written by a real newspaper correspondent. Real, as in what John Ralston Saul calls 'the faithful witness.' This is going to ex-soldier son Terry when I have finished reading it myself.
THE WRITER'S JOURNEY MYTHiC STRUCTURE FOR WRITERS by Christian Vogler published by Michael Wise Productions ISBN 978-1-932907-36-0. This one is for me. I am sick of lending it and never getting it back so this time it is mine, all mine.


Deck the malls with plastic holly
Fa la la la la la and razz ma tazz
the season's come for retail folly
cards maxed out and all that jazz
sun is sizzling
kids are grizzling
carol muzack rapes our ears
feeling anything but jolly
we'll do it all again next year.

1. a gadget for my car which automastically debits a farmer's bank account when I drive over the shitty mess left by his cows and have to get the car cleaned again.

2. a set of shelves which automatically tidies books away.

3. a toy boy that hangs on the wall beside my apron and only comes down to mow lawns, dig the garden and change light bulbs.

4. a computer that does what it's told, does not lose whole swadges of my text and does not refuse to upload images when I tell it to.

That will do for starters.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


The phone call came from an acquaintance who asked in slightly boozy tones'why did I wrie a blog. Nobody would bother to read it.
'Right,'I decided 'keeping a blog is a bit like talking to oneself, or shouting down a black hole. If nobody is bothering to read I shall concentrate on real writing, 'and I did for a couple of months. Then the e mails began, not many, but enough to give me heart, and friends started asking what had happened to my blog, so here I go again, with details of my rivetting ocial life.
By the way I am not responsible for what happened in Christchurch a week after I came home. It was not caused by tremors from me getting off the plane. I have lost too much weight to endanger anything.
After shivering throughout September, bewailing the fact that I should have still been in Crete I spent a day with Glenavy Women's Institute on their mystery bus tour.
The photo at the top of this posting is from the Annalong gardens, near Makakihi. It seems there were three tearaway brothers named Quinn who did something dreadful in Ireland. Their father collected rents from Annalong villagers for the absentee landlord. The brothers stole the rent money and took of to Liverpool. When they heard the landlord was after them they stowed away on a ship to Australia and finally reached New Zealand. They started a brick works and prospered, built a homestead which has endured inspite of being damaged by fire. We enjoyed tea and hot scones in the farm kitchen, as well as hearing some cracking stories about the house, like the priest's room. An itinerant priest travelled from Timaru to Oamaru, and stopped for a night at Annalong homestead in a room set aside for him.
Annalong was only the first stop on a busy day, I shall continue this saga on another day; lunch at a millionnaires playground, an Ashburton craft village where the clothes are NOT made in China, but right there on the premises, a garden which won a gold medal at the Ellerslie Flower Show and what Par Lap's statue in Timaru is resting its foot on.
Stay tuned.