Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Let's go to your place

There is an increasing awareness in New Zealand of good design and an ever improving standard of interior decoration. This can be traced to a number of sources. Among these are the growing number of New Zealanders who travel and see high standards overseas, and the influence of television. Every night thousands of us see lively and decorative homes. It is not surprising that we want our own houses to look as attractive.

The architects who have designed the tall, new office buildings built in the last few years have also made their presence felt. Men who work all day in well-designed offices are not happy to come home to ugliness at night. Frequently, new styles in design are accepted in office furniture long before they become acceptable in the home.

Credit must also be given to commercial firms who have sponsored design awards and to federations such as the plastics industry, who hold their own design competitions. All have contributed to an increased awareness of good design among New Zealand manufacturers of furniture and furnishings.

But many New Zealanders do not seem to have noticed the great strides that have been made in the last few years. Old beliefs die hard. Some people are still unable to accept that furniture and furnishings do not necessarily acquire merit because they are foreign or bought overseas.

Years of colonial rule, followed by years when New Zealand produced little except primary products, convinced us that our manufactured goods were second rate in manufacture and design. We have become so accustomed to believe that almost anything produced overseas must be better than the local product, that we haven't noticed the improvements.

There are still people who return from an overseas trip with a precious roll of wallpaper under their arm, although an almost identical paper is manufactured in this country.


Most current books on interior decorating are published in America, England or on the continent. The reaction of the average New Zealander on looking at these books is to say "of course, you can't do anything like that in this country," or "if only we could have houses like that here."

In the following pages we have tried to show that these people are wrong. This book sets out to prove that New Zealand homes can be as well decorated, as glamorous and as comfortable as any in the world, and to create an awareness amongst home-owners of the interesting and exciting things that can be done with interior decoration in this country. It hopes to silence all those who decry our local products.

Jim and Judy Siers, and Vivien Shelton.
A Guide to Home Decorating in New Zealand:
A H & A W Reed, 1971.

Open slather, this weekend

Train trips will be free throughout Auckland's rail network during this weekend's motorway closure on Newmarket Viaduct.

The Auckland Regional Transport Authority - which already intended running extra trains during the closure of the viaduct's southbound lanes for up to 36 hours from 5pm on Saturday - announced late yesterday that it would also underwrite free rail travel.

"Aucklanders are concerned about getting around the city during this time - free train travel is a small way we can assist," said customer services general manager Mark Lambert.

But Mr Lambert urged people not to take open-slather advantage of the offer, saying they needed to consider whether their travel was essential as capacity on trains would be limited.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The bad taste of the town, once more

Good One (42 Douglas Street), off the uber-trendy Ponsonby Road, lacks a kitchen, but makes up for it with lamb sausage rolls and sardines on toast. This no-nonsense, post-industrial shed is a proper beanhead's mecca that leads the way in the lastest trend – filter coffee. Forget those clumsy, 80s, plastic monstrosities; this is how to imbibe single-origin beans.

I am presented with a wooden tray that holds a mug with a dainty ceramic filter, milk and a jug of hot water. Big in Japan, I am told, and the process hints at the elegance of that nation's tea ceremony. Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee has a burnt toast taste that is oddly warming.
In short, wank; Grauniad wank, but wank nevertheless. Since when was Ponsonby Road uber-trendy? It is the realm of the senseless: by day, the lumpen bourgeoisie roam, with their dogs and their high-tech pushchairs, in search of gifts of the kiwiana kind. Come nightfall, the ghastlies - men in striped shirts and women in not very much at all - overflow from bars which doubtless they think of as sophisticated.

In any case, what sort of writer says of anything that it is uber-trendy? And how about that filter coffee then? For the price of a small car you bought a coffee machine the size of a small car and now filters are the thing. That must hurt.

This morning's burnt toast had a burnt toast taste that was oddly warming.

Sunday supplement

Margaret Hadley, 57, is due to appear in the Auckland District Court on September 3 over threatening to kill her neighbour and former friend, Margaret Martin, on August 20.

She is also charged with intent to frighten and threatening to injure Martin and her guide dog, Aisha.

The women have been neighbours for about three decades in the Auckland suburb of Mt Albert, a neighbourhood filled with many grand bungalows valued near the million-dollar mark.
These people are not famous; why are we reading about them in the Herald on Sunday? But wait, there's more:
Friends of Hadley include businessman Clive Head and Titirangi identity Graham Gordon, star of a recent Film Festival documentary called Gordonia and owner of the property at which the TV show The Cult was filmed. They said Hadley was harmless.
Balance has been restored. The accused knows someone who recently has become famous. The golden triangle of Celebrity-Property-Tragedy is complete. Not much of a celebrity, unfortunately; the property angle - there are expensive bungalows in Mount Albert - is a bit weak as well; and even the tragedy - illness - is hardly earthshattering. But at least Rachel Grunwell tried to squeeze as much Sunday value as possible from a very slight story. There should be a Quantas Award category for this sort of thing. And Grunwell should get bonus points for the threatened dog.

Elsewhere in today's paper, New Zealand has lost another dickhead:
On Wednesday, Tauranga man Dylan Hogg, who had seven drink-driving convictions and been to prison twice as a result, died after he crashed his car into a power pole near Te Puke. Police believe he had been drinking. Hogg, 34, was disqualified from driving and had been ordered by the court not to drink. "He did not take life too seriously, he sort of liked to take life at his terms and his pace," his cousin Reon Hogg said.
The power pole - which takes life at its terms and its pace - was unavailable for comment.

And finally, New Zealand's top models are less than the sum of their parts. You can tell by the pixels:
"It looks like they have purposefully tried to slim them down," said Lush, who has 10 years' experience in the graphic design industry. "With both pictures it is quite obvious they have done work on their legs. The calf muscle on [Amelia's] back leg looks a little thin in comparison to the front leg, especially seeing as this is the leg holding her weight. "If you zoom in [on Lara's legs] you can see that the pixilation is different above and below the join area. "It looks like they might have actually lengthened her legs a little."
If Amelia really has a front leg and a back leg, then the Mac operators deserve a Quantas for disguising her peculiar physique. More of this sort of thing can be seen at Photoshop Disasters.

Alison Goldfrapp next exit

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The glittering prizes

No more need to waist your time visiting university, get a diploma in no time.

Mauricio Rowell
to litterhare

You don’t have a diploma and that’s why your employer limits you in something or doesn’t want to increase your salary?
Or you don’t have some opportunities in life since your diploma isn’t of a famous university?
In this case you can and should use our service to get a new diploma faster without any cares.
You can contact us at a night to get a professional consultation from one of our employees through the following telephones:

Inside USA.: 1-718-989-5740
Outside USA.: +1-718-989-5740
Leave your first and last name and your telephone number as well (with country code) for us to contact you back.
There is no time left to wait, you just have to act, and the sooner you call us, the sooner your life will change to a better one.

But I like to waist my time visiting university, Mauricio. It's the place where everyone can spell my name.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Liminal urinals revisited

Mort has produced an excellent work of social and cultural history, overflowing with anecdotes and illustrations, exhaustively researched and thoroughly insightful. The tragedy is that to get to all that, readers will have to wade through the humourless cultural studies waffle that surrounds it. Like some literary equivalent of the Eighties revival shows on our television screens this spring, Mort’s book often reads like a throwback to some terrifying textbook from 1984, in which space is always contested, identities are always in flux and chapters have titles like “Pathologies” and “Governance”.

So when a policeman tells the Wolfenden Committee about cottaging, taking them through the process of going into a public toilet for sex, he is “promoting a cognitive shift” and “encouraging them to see urinals as liminal spaces”. Later, discussing the Profumo affair, Mort announces that he will pay “attention to the scandal’s urban locatedness” and “complex negotiation of the themes of sexual and cultural modernity”, and claims that the affair “generated a dynamic and unresolved atmosphere of cultural and geographical disturbance”. This sort of stuff was bad enough twenty years ago. These days, it is not only ugly and frustrating but downright dated. Academics often complain that too much attention is paid to “popular” histories rather than their own works. But if they continue to write like this, can they really be surprised?

Dominic Sandbrook reviewing Frank Mort's Capital Affairs: London and the Permissive Society (Yale University Press) in the Literary Review July 2010; the review is not online but was noted in Art Words.

Worse than the book's blunders, though, are its barrels of banana oil. In a chapter on the Rillington Place murders, Mort describes how Beresford Brown (the Jamaican labourer and handyman who happened upon the body of one of John Christie's victims) "rehearsed his story across a sensory borderline between smell and vision and through a spatial narrative that dramatized his discoveries as a journey from the external world into a small claustrophobic space or lair". In other words, the poor guy described what he saw and smelt after knocking a hole in the kitchen wall. Still, at least Christie's victims didn't die for nothing. Rather, their murders "performed significant cultural work... questioning... ethical and sexual values as a result of the activities of the main characters and the unravelling of their complicated plots." So they can rest in peace after all, then.

Christopher Bray, reviewing the same book in The Independent on Sunday.

  • Why,oh why, do academics persist in writing like that?
  • Who's that girl? It's Christine Keeler

And this is Alison Stratton:

Friday, August 20, 2010

Postcolonial Theory: meet Colonial Fact

This message came through on the Varsity wires:

A reminder of the High Commissioner's visit on Monday. The visiting party will include Brigadier-General Olivier Tramond, Commander of French Armed Forces in New Caledonia. This is a rare opportunity for students and staff to engage in discussion. Please disseminate widely.

New Caledonia: from the troubles of the 1980s to today

A lecture by His Excellency, Mr Yves Dassonville, French High Commissioner to New Caledonia

The High Commissioner is keen to engage with staff and students

· to explain the political situation in New Caledonia and its relationship with France to a wide New Zealand audience, and

· to discuss, and arrive at a deeper understanding of, issues around 'partnership with indigenous peoples' and 'self government in free association'

Monday 23 August 10am to 11.00am

At the Fale Pasifika

All welcome

A rare opportunity indeed; for once we can stop beating ourselves up about our own race issues, and witness old-fashioned colonialism in action.

What's more, it is being held at the Fale Pasifika, the most patronising building on campus, the one that says to the Polynesian students "look, we built you a fale, just like you have at home." Apparently, the building - by JASMAX of course - is a functional disaster. The envionmental controls simply do not work: it is too hot in summer, too cold in winter. The acoustics are awful as well, which is something of a shortcoming for a building designed for meetings. In any case, speakers cannot hear themselves speak because of the motorway nearby. The building has none of the usual environmental controls because its designers were determined to make it look like a building type which is quite unsuited to modern use and to a temperate environment. In short, it is an epic fale.

I do hope they have vin et fromage.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

From Fulchester to Walmington-on-Sea

Apropos my previous post, I decided I should add to the small number (two) of Sci-Fi films with titles taken from the Book of Common Prayer.

My contribution, Evil Liver, was inspired by the Rubric on confession before Communion. But then (read, mark learn and inwardly digest) I remembered the time I wrote The Last Starfighter; well, not so much wrote the film, but wrote a synopsis for a screenplay which had an identical plot to The Last Starfighter - a film which I had not seen, although it had been made some twenty years earlier. So, I did the Google thing, and found that Evil Liver was an episode of Crown Court, one written by New Zealand's own Dame Ngaio Marsh (any gentle reader who does not know Crown Court clearly did not grow up in Britain in the 1970s, an admirable accomplishment in itself but one which might cause the reader to be a little confused).

Speaking of court, what a wonderful thing it would be to have a counsel like Guyon Foley, who represented Mr Roger McClay thus:

In his defence submissions, Mr Foley outlined McClay's record of "tireless" public service and said the fraud was baffling in comparison to that background.

If convicted, he would lose his ex-MP travel entitlements - 12 domestic flights and one international, worth up to $30,000 a year.

"That is not inconsequential for Mr McClay. That is in effect a fine of $30,000 every year for the rest of his life," said Mr Foley.

If any rhetoricians among the gentle readership should ever be looking to explain the word "specious," this example should suffice.

I am still waiting for the Sensible Sentencing Trust to be outraged at the community sentence given to Mr McClay. After all, he was already working for the community, and look what he did there.

On the other hand, I am pleased to discover that the Vodafone Warriors have a Captain Mannering.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Anglican Sci-Fi

My friend Tony told me I do not blog enough about religion. So here is a question. Is World Without End the only Science Fiction film to take its name from the Book of Common Prayer?

Image from Wrong Side of the Art

Thursday, August 12, 2010

House of want

"It will be bereft of the technology and comfort people expect to see."Mr Davies confirmed yesterday what peer reviewers reported in 2008, that aspects of the facility - kitchen fit-outs, turnstiles, scoreboards and replay screens - were "not in the base build", and he expected the final figure to pay for all he required would be a seven-figure sum.

Asked about the issue, Carisbrook Stadium Trust chairman Malcolm Farry said last night he accepted any funding from trusts or other providers would mean other organisations could miss out.

That included the Otago Youth Wellness Trust, of which he was chairman.

"That's the way life is, I suppose," Mr Farry said

Really? The costing for Dunedin's new stadium did not include provision for a few things - kitchens, turnstiles, scoreboards, replay screens; and so a trust which "supported 11- to 18-year-olds with case management using social workers, and provided mentoring, educational support and health services liaison and information" might lose out on funding . That's just the way it is?

How are they going to explain this to the kids? "Sorry son, we can't help you; but look on the bright side: at least they have toilets at the stadium." And how can Mr Davis be so blithe about the matter? The base build lacked several items which are pretty basic for a sports stadium, which looks like pretty dishonest costing from where I am sitting (in a building which includes toilets, incidentally). Yet Mr Davis is confident that he will receive funding for such items. And Mr Farry thinks the money will come from trusts.

If I were a sports commentator I would say something hyperbolic like "this is a felt-pen moko on the face of our national game" but instead I will move right along to the latest results.

Stadium: Millions
Dunedin: Nil

Tally Ho:

Bad Taste of the Town

Editorial cartoonists, by custom, are allowed a degree of freedom which other newspaper staff do not enjoy. That said, one has to wonder why nobody at the Herald told Rod Emmerson to go away and draw something else when they saw this cartoon. Or is the typical Auckland reaction to any crisis - "yes, but what about our house prices" - now editorial policy at the Herald?

Think how this one might play in Karam Pur, a village in the Sindh province. Not that well, given that the village no longer exists and I expect this family have more to worry about than property prices. Perhaps the Herald should talk to one of the 14 million people affected by the floods, such as mother of six Sabhagi Khatoon:
"We have nothing to eat, nothing to live in. We've been starving for days, so the start of Ramadan doesn't bring any joy.

"We used to celebrate Ramadan in a big way in our village, but my children and I are already starving. We need food, so we're already fasting in a way."
So what might someone Pakistan think of Aucklanders? Might it be something along the lines of "you selfish, whining pricks? [Wrong] And what might they think of our Government, which has donated nothing? [/Wrong: see Terence's comment]Might it be something like "obviously, we are only good for cricket?

I think we should be told.

Art historical note: my title comes from a much better satirist than Rod Emmerson: William Hogarth

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tomorrow belongs to topiary

And this I know: if I attempt to say something about some important thing, I shall probably offend somebody. So, instead, here is a photograph of Mr Al Stovall and some topiary animals at his Inn of Tommorrow in Anaheim, California. Who would have thought that ornamental shrubs would have a place in the sci-fi future? Of course, they did not, and neither did the future have a place in the future.

These pictures come from the Googie wonderland that is Synthetrix

Thursday, August 05, 2010

An institutionalised racist

Professor Mutu said it was important that Mr Harawira's comments were taken in context. Her first husband was Pakeha and her mother is English and Scottish. But she defended the mindset of those Maori who continued to feel prejudice against Pakeha. "They know that when these [Pakeha] kids come in, they bring Pakeha attitudes. And not all Pakeha are bad - you'll always hear about a lovely Pakeha daughter-in-law. But when they first come in, [the Maori family] are suspicious - and those suspicions are grounded."
I don't mind so much about Hone Harawira. As the Mr Rudman observes, he is old and in the way, a relic of an unkinder past. As Mr George reveals, Mr Harawira and he have much in common.

No, it is Professor Mutu who bothers me. She has a real job, a position of responsibility at the University in which I have the honour of being a student. Had she been Pakeha, she would have been sacked for making similar comments about Maori. Professor Paul Buchanan was sacked (unfairly) for less.

Let's face it, Professor Mutu is a racist. Of course, many white folks will not face it. Instead they will contort themselves to avoid the fact, claiming (as some do) that it is only white folks who can be racist, or that we have to view such bile in some wider context that exonerates the Professor from responsibility. But no, she is a Racist. And something of a sexist as well - those lovely daughters-in-law. And what are the Pakeha attitudes to which she objects - the propensity to form relationships with people of other races, the unwillingness to preserve bloodlines? I think we should be told.

And she should be sacked. We don't want her kind around here.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Carpetbagging , redefined

Auckland District Court Judge Jan Doogue delivered her not guilty verdict at noon today, the directors, Tim Saunders, John Feeney, Peter David Hunter, John Hagen and Peter Thomas, were each charged with two breaches of the Financial Reporting Act.

Doogue said the directors were "all honest men" who had conducted
themselves with integrity.

The Crown alleged the directors failed to disclose the company was in breach of its A$100 million loan with ANZ, and that the company's debt with the bank was current, meaning it was on call.

The directors all concede now that those details were not disclosed in the accounts to December 31, 2005, but they claim at the time
they believed the statements met all the necessary requirements under the accounting standards.
It was only an 'undred million, guv; hardly worth mentioning, so we didn't mention it.

Or, to put it another way, believing that one's deceit meets all the necessary requirements of the accounting standards is now considered to be acting with integrity, the action of honest men. Although those men knew about the default on the $100 million debt and chose not to tell the shareholders of the company they were mismanaging, their apparent belief that the accounting standards allowed them to do so makes their deception a matter of integrity.

In effect, the phrase "they thought they could get away with it" is now synonymous with "they thought they were doing the right thing."

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Short, controlling and abusive.

Weatherston stabbed and cut the stunning 22-year-old Dunedin student 216 times in January 2008 after a short, controlling and abusive relationship.

During his trial he revolted Kiwis by trying to claim she had provoked his murderous rage.

Sophie Elliott's Auckland-based cousin Linda Curtis said she had recently stopped sobbing "every other day" over losing her cousin in such horrific circumstances but the TV2 weeknight drama had made her "re-live" the nightmare.

Shortland Street student Sophie McKay, played by Kimberley Crossman, had recently entered into an on-screen relationship with lecturer Ash Fuller (Bryce Langston), which has been short, controlling and abusive.
Sub splutters: Shortland Street stalker storyline shocks fans, family. Just in case you did not get the message, that this story is really important because it is about Sophie Elliot and Shortland Street (tragedy + celebrity = significance), I have emboldened the key adjectives.