Friday, 30 November 2012

The Celebration - Hobbit Fever

Okay - if you live in Wellington, unless you've been hiding under a rock, you'll know that the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was held on Wednesday. The whole of Wellington has been suffering from what can only be called "Lord of the Rings Fever", or LOTRF for short.

I hate to say this, but it's getting to the ridiculous point. Wellington was renamed "The Middle of Middle Earth" for a week, and they have also renamed Air New Zealand as Air Middle Earth. But on the other hand Wellington is a relatively small capital city (and New Zealand is pretty small too), so it's not very often we get worldwide attention. Thus, while part of me thinks: Oh my goodness, this is getting ridiculous, another part thinks: Wow, there's a world premiere 100 metres from our house - that's pretty cool! I'm sure my 16-year-old self would have almost fainted at the thought of Orlando Bloom being in such close proximity.

So I thought I'd share my Hobbit experience with you, through the medium of photos (of course).

This Hobbit-themed market was set up in Waitangi Park, close to Te Papa, and ran during the days just before the premiere.

The market looked almost like a fairground in bygone days.

The stalls were mostly selling beautiful handmade crafts, which were unfortunately all a bit too expensive for us. The Weta Workshop makeup crew were there doing face painting, which I thought was a fun idea. There were also some more unwelcome sights, such as the Hobbit collectible stamps and coins.

I think these guys were supposed to be gypsy musicians, although the guy on the right is a bit too well-dressed. Perhaps they're Hungarian hobbits.

They were showing the Lord of the Rings movies on an open-air screen near the market. So on Monday evening, we went to see The Two Towers with our friend Alys, who is a massive Tolkien fan.

Cold but enjoying ourselves!

The market looked really beautiful when all the lights were switched on.

And here I am on Wednesday morning. We normally walk to work along Courtenay Place, which is where the red carpet was laid. Much better visiting at 8 o'clock in the morning when nobody but the diehard fans were there!
Check out the giant Gandalf and hobbit hole on the front of the Embassy cinema! They also seem to have attempted to build a miniature Shire in the middle of the road. I hope they keep this after the premiere, though I'm not quite sure where they'd put it.

Another miniature market.

One and a half trolls lumbering around on Tory Street. It was almost like a miniature theme park in the heart of Wellington.

Bet you didn't think I would actually get to be on the red carpet. They were still allowing people to cross it at this time of morning.

And this is what greeted us when we tried to walk back along Courtenay Place at about 5:30 that evening. Probably not as packed as it could have been, but the only way to see any of the action was definitely on the giant screens. Intermittent hysterical yells told us that some famous personage was probably making their way slowly along the walk.

You don't see this every day.

Until next time :)

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Verse - Joel 2:23

“Be glad, O children of Zion,
    and rejoice in the Lord your God,
for he has given the early rain for your vindication;
    he has poured down for you abundant rain,
    the early and the latter rain, as before.

Joel 2:23 (ESV)

My dad is pretty awesome, and I know I don't show my appreciation for him as much as I should. He quite frequently sends me Bible verses throughout the day to encourage me at work. He sent me this verse the other day, and since I had also just finished reading Joel myself, I thought I would share it with you.

Joel is part of a group of twelve prophetic books known as the Minor Prophets. This book is a bit difficult to date given that it makes no reference to contemporary worldly powers, although most scholars believe it was written during the late 9th century BC, during the reign of Joash. However, despite this the message of Joel is timeless and can be applied to any age.

The theme of Joel is the Day of the Lord. This term refers generally to periods of wrath and judgement uniquely coming from the Lord, and may specifically denote the last days that are described in the Book of Revelation. The Book of Joel reveals God's character - His might, power and holiness - in a magnificent way.

The book can be arranged into 3 sections:

1. Contemporary Day of the Lord (1:1-20)
The land of Israel is suffering from massive devastation caused by a locust plague and drought. Details of the calamity are followed by penitence and reformance.

2. Eschatological Day of the Lord (2:1-17)
The narrative moves from the historical plague of the Lord to the judgement in the last days. Using the plague of locusts as a backdrop, Joel paints a vivid and forceful picture of the impending final Day of the Lord (2:1-11) and calls for repentance (2:12-17).

3. The Lord Speaks to the Repentant (2:18-3:21)
Here the Lord speaks directly to the people who have repented, and he replies to their earnest prayer. There is a reversal of calamity into blessings. The Lord gives promises of material restoration through divine healing of the land, spiritual restoration through the work of the Holy Spirit, and national restoration through divine judgement on the unrighteous.

In the passage quoted above we see a specific reversal of the judgements described earlier in Joel (1:18-20), where the prophet talks about famine and lack of rain.

In verse 2:23, God tells us to be glad and rejoice in Him because He has given us "the early rain" for our "vindication". In Old Testament times the first rains came in October-December to prepare the seed-bed and assist germination, while the latter rains came in March-May to provide ample moisture for the grain and fruit crops to be rich and full. Here we can see that while there will be judgement in the End Days, after the judgment comes a time of great blessing as the land and spirits are revived. 

What an amazing God we have! Not only does He save us from our sinful state, but He also promises blessings if we repent and trust in Him.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Dress - Sedate Sixties

I can't believe I've been writing this blog for more than a year with 40 outfit posts and I have never posted this outfit before! It's incredible, since I wear it at least once a week. Why? Because it's so comfortable. The material of the dress is like a giant stretchy T-shirt, yet if you accessorise it correctly it looks smart enough to wear to work. Note to self: must buy more clothes like this. Sorry about the grainy photos - let's just pretend the photos actually come from the 60s, okay?

Dress: Tokito
I bought this dress from Myer at least 5 years ago. It was an impulse buy - and a damn good one. I love the design, which always makes me happy. In addition, it's comfortable and looks good (I always get compliments in this outfit), so what more could a girl want? Oh, and I think it was on sale when I bought it.

I normally pair this dress with my purple cardigan, black belt and black tights, but today I've gone for the reverse: purple tights and black cardigan. I suppose you could also highlight the yellow in the dress... that could be fun.

Cardigan: Mango
Yes, here it is again folks - the black cardigan. I honestly couldn't live without it, and am kind of dreading the day it eventually falls to shreds. Maybe I need a black cardigan contingency plan...

Tights: Gifted
No idea where the tights come from. My mum got them for my birthday last year. As you can see from this photo, they have a zigzag pattern, which is fun but it means I don't wear them as often as I should. I know, I know... I have to get over my "only allowed to wear one pattern at a time" phobia. But I can't help it.

Beret: Gifted
All the way from Paris, brought back by my dear friend Sarah. It gets lots of use, especially here in Wellington, where the wind in winter means you can't wear anything with a brim. 

Shoes: Top End

A word to the wise: This is what you have to do to keep your hat on your head in Wellington!

Until next time :)

Monday, 26 November 2012

The Inspiration - Ann Miller

I love Ann Miller. I don’t think she’s a very famous Hollywood actress, but once you've seen her on the screen she is unforgettable, and in my personal opinion she steals every movie she appears in. 

Ann Miller was born on April 12, 1923. She was originally named Johnnie Lucille Collier, since her dad had expected her to be a boy. She changed her name to Ann Miller because she was often called Annie as a child. Miller is best remembered for her roles in Hollywood musical films from the 1940s and 50s.


Ann Miller was the daughter of Clara Emma (nee Birdwell) and John Alfred Collier, a criminal lawyer who represented such infamous gangsters as Baby Face Nelson and Bonnie and Clyde.


Miller took up dancing to exercise her legs and thereby help her rickets. She soon became considered a child dance prodigy.


At the tender age of 13, Miller was hired as a dancer at the "Black Cat Club" in San Francisco, after lying about her age and telling them she was 18. How you can get a 13-year-old confused with an 18-year-old I’m not quite sure. It was at this club that Miller was discovered by Lucille Ball and talent scout/comic Benny Rubin, which led to her contract with RKO (she again told them she was 18 instead of 13). The next year Miller signed with Columbia Pictures and starred in 11 B-movie musicals from 1941 to 1945.


The 1948 movie Easter Parade was the ticket to Ann Miller’s fame, followed by On the Town (1949) and Kiss Me Kate (1953).

When dancing with Fred Astaire, Miller had to wear ballet shoes because she was so tall.

Miller popularised pantyhose in the 1940s (having been wearing it from 1938 onwards) as a solution to the continual problem of tearing stockings during the filming of dance production numbers. The common practice had been to sew hosiery to briefs. If torn, the entire garment had to be removed and resewn with a new pair. At Miller's request, hosiery was manufactured for her as a single pantyhose.


Miller was famed for her speed in tap dancing. Studio publicists concocted press releases claiming she could tap 500 times per minute, but in truth the sound of ultra-fast "500" taps was looped in later. Because the stage floors were slick and slippery, she actually danced in shoes with rubber soles. Later she would loop the sound of the taps while watching the film and actually dancing on a "tap board" to match her steps in the film.
 Miller’s legs were insured by RKO for $1,000,000. 

 For the majority of her career Miller refused to do movies with nudity or sex scenes.


She claimed her difficulty at maintaining relationships with men was due to her being an Egyptian queen in a past life and executing any men who displeased her.

Miller was known, especially later in her career, for her distinctive appearance, which reflected a studio-era ideal of glamour: massive black bouffant hair, heavy makeup with a slash of crimson lipstick, and fashions that emphasised her lithe figure and long dancer's legs.

 Her film career effectively ended in 1956 as the studio system lost steam to television, but she remained active in the theatre and on television. She starred on Broadway in the musical Mame in 1969, in which she wowed the audience with a tap number created just for her.


Miller died aged 80 from lung cancer.

“At MGM, I always played the second feminine lead; I was never the star in films, I was the brassy, good-hearted showgirl. I never really had my big moment on the screen.”

“I never played politics, I was never a party girl, and I never slept with any of the producers.”

"Honestly, I have had to live like a high priestess in this show. It is a very, very lonely life. When you work the way I work - that means hard - there's no time for play."

 Love this photo :)

Until next time

Sunday, 25 November 2012

The Review - Ponyo

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this on my blog, but I love Hayao Miyazaki’s films. I was first introduced to “Howl’s Moving Castle” a number of years ago during an Asian Studies course at university, and I've loved his work since. Known as the “Disney of Japan", Miyazaki makes movies that are the absolute pinnacle of imagination. The animation is beautiful and often unbelievably detailed. If you haven’t seen any of his work, then I highly recommend it.

This week gone, we watched Ponyo. I had heard it was good and we had an afternoon to kill, so four of us decided to hire it out and watch it. Ponyo is loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Little Mermaid. It was released in 2008. 

One day, 5-year-old Sosuke finds a beautiful goldfish trapped in a bottle on the beach near his home. He decides to save this goldfish and make her his pet, naming her "Ponyo". However, Ponyo is no ordinary goldfish; she is in fact the daughter of a masterful wizard and a sea goddess. Ponyo becomes infatuated with Sosuke and uses her father's magic to transform herself into a young girl. However, the use of such powerful sorcery causes a dangerous imbalance in the world, and only if Sosuke returns her love can the balance become normal and Ponyo will become a human for good.


Fun Fact #1: The opening 12 seconds, involving vast schools of fish and undersea creatures, required 1613 pages of conceptual sketches to develop.


Fun Fact #2: The seaside village where the story takes place is inspired by the town of Tomonoura in Setonaikai National Park in Japan, where Hayao Miyazaki stayed in 2005.

Fun Fact #3: Hayao Miyazaki stated at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con that he was inspired to create the film after watching Disney's animated adaptation.


There are many references to Richard Wagner's opera series "Der Ring des Nibelungen" scattered throughout the film. Ponyo's real name is Brünnhilde, one of the leading roles in Wagner's "Die Walküre (The Valkyries)". Brünnhilde is also a "supernatural" being who falls in love with a human (Siegfried), much like Ponyo falls in love with Sosuke. When Ponyo is chasing after Sosuke and his mother during the giant storm scene, you can hear a musical tribute to Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries".


Ponyo: Ponyo wants ham!

 Miyazaki drew most of the sea and wave imagery himself, experimenting with making it as expressionistic as possible.

Lisa: So, Ponyo, what's your Dad like?
Ponyo: He hates humans! He keeps me in a bubble, so I swam away from home. 
Lisa: So what's your Mother like, then?
 Ponyo: She's big and beautiful, but she can be very scary!
Sosuke: Just like my Mom. 

The level of detail in the animation resulted from 170,000 separate images - the most that have ever appeared in a Hayao Miyazaki film.

The trailer for your enjoyment:


Until next time :)