Archive for the ‘Films & shows’ Category

Today (4 April) marks the birth of Maya Angelou in Missouri in 1928.  She died in 2014, leaving a wonderful legacy of poetry and wisdom.

I first met her poetry in the early 1980s when I saw an inspiring film of her reading Still I Rise, and read her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.  This book became the first non-fiction bestseller by an African-American woman.

Because her friend Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated on her birthday in 1968, Maya didn’t celebrate her birthday for years afterwards, but we can honour her on this day.

Some quotes from Maya:

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.

If you’re always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away.



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Snark Show

Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, written 1874-76 is the inspiration for a book and an exhibition by David Elliot.  In his book Snark Elliot has taken Carroll’s fantasy further, and his meticulous drawings depict the characters and possible circumstances of the original story.  For the exhibition Snark: A Victorian Odyssey at the Ashburton Art Gallery Elliot’s drawings and text are shown under glass and accompanied by Victorian artifacts which all add to the experience.  Some items are on loan from the Otago Museum.  Others are from Elliot’s own collection and often constructed by him.

In Elliot’s book the Snark story is told from the journal of Boots, one of ten characters whose names all begin with B.  The original journal is displayed in a glass case together with an antique bicorne hat and hatbox.  There’s a photo of a Victorian gentleman who was zoophagous, i.e. he ate only wild animals.  Further on we see a decidedly steampunkish Snark Cooker.

Snark Cooker

Other cases hold a Beaver, and his lace-making equipment.


It’s suggested that the hunters’ voyage took them to Australasia, and the Borogoves are identified as being similar to a kakapo.  A Bird Chart estimates the size of a Jubjub bird, depicted alongside a moa (fossilised leg on display), and an Elephant Bird.  Elephant Birds, now extinct, once lived on Madagascar, and the name reminded me of Horton hatching the egg.

Art Gallery staff welcomed our group and are happy to show any visitors round the exhibition.  It will be on until 10 February, and is definitely worth the drive south.

‘Now Mister Elliot has made
a show which tells the tale
with artifacts and drawings that
depict a snark-‘type snail.’

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It’s a long time since I’ve won anything.  That may be because I rarely enter a competition.  I’m especially wary of online ones, and the prizes often don’t interest me.  Last week I succumbed to the temptation to enter a competition on Facebook.  The prize was two free tickets to a variety show at the Isaac Theatre Royal, and all I had to do was put the name of the person I’d take with me in a comment.

To my surprise I won, and I duly took Stephen to The First Bite, a Festival Gala that introduced many of the acts featured in Bread and Circus, this year’s World Buskers’ Festival, which is a kind of fringe theatre.  The comperes were the Daredevil Chicken Club who were good, although the stunts with bananas were not to my taste.  I’ve never liked the taste of bananas!

There were two contortionists, Sara Twister from Germany, and Penelope from Limbo.  Both were literally breathtaking, especially Sara’s act with a bow and arrow.  Pedro from Portugal juggled cleverly with a broom, as did a group with olives and a martini (I think they must have been Biggest Little Circus).  I liked Bayley Graham the local tap dancer.  Why do we see so little of this form of dance?  We both thoroughly enjoyed Cocoloco from the U.K. with their clever Alice act.  Other acts were The Raymond and Mr Timpkins Revue (U.K.), Hero-San (Japan), Piff the Magic Dragon (USA), and Le Gateau Chocolat (U.K.).

The show gave some excellent tastes of what can be seen throughout the festival.  It’s a shame that heavy rain today means outside events have been cancelled, but those in covered venues will continue, and the forecast is better for tomorrow.

‘This was an appetising spread
of circus interlaced with bread.

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This year’s Santa Parade took a route down Madras Street, very close to our home.  We sat in comfort on camping chairs with an excellent view of all the 130+ items on parade.  There were Storybook characters, Bands, Ethnic groups, Schools, and Youth groups.  The sky was overcast with some drizzle, but not enough for anyone to get really wet.  We were sitting by the Oxford Terrace Baptist Church which was offering free coffee and had a queue of people taking advantage of this.

Stephen was in the Parade for 30 years, even leading it one year.  More recently I joined him and we rode in style in an old model A.  This year ‘our’ Model A carried Bananas in Pyjamas.

Bananas in ‘our’ car

A more sedate couple in 2006

It was wonderful to have the parade back in the central city.  Events like this remind us of how special it is to live centrally.

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‘This grand parade was entertaining
despite the fact that it was raining.’

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The Natural Magic Pirates entertained at the Holy Trinity Fair yesterday, and they were great.  They perform a wide range of songs and  encourage anyone, especially children, to join in.  The leaders are Kerry and Mary, whose performances we’ve enjoyed for many years.  This time I was surprised to find my friend Gary there with his trumpet.  They told me they would all be at the New Brighton Community Gardens later that day.  If you’re ever looking for great entertainment for an event, these are the people to contact.

‘For music they’re the ones to thank
these pirates who’ve not walked the plank.’

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A popup theatre, Little Andromeda, is being created on the corner of Gloucester and Colombo Streets opposite our new library.

Little Andromeda

It’s planned to open tomorrow until mid November with a wide variety of shows.  Prices are low and some events are free.  It all sounds great.

‘This is a chance not to be lost
a popup venue at low cost’

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Crowds of people were enjoying the Extravaganza Fair yesterday.  It was similar to Gypsy Fairs we’ve seen here in recent years, but with more stalls, selling craft, clothes, soap, food, and more.  There was entertainment from a man with excruciating puns.  For small children there was the fun of a ride on the Pedal Go Round.  This  was a mechanical merry-go-round operated by a woman pedalling in the middle.

Pedal Go Round

The Kissing Booth was empty – maybe it’s not considered P.C., or maybe you have to supply your own kissing partner.

Kissing Booth

I wondered about the Pumas.  Actually pumice, I think.

Pumas pieces

The stocks were made for shorter people, maybe I should have sat on the tiny stool.

Ruth in the stocks

The bungy trampoline was very popular with a long line of children waiting their turn.

Bungy trampoline

This was a fun event to enliven the central city.  Hosted by Gap Filler, who plan to have more such events at One Central over the summer.

‘A lot to see at this bright fair
there’s even someone cutting hair.’

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