Power to the People of our fair city.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

New collections at Matapihi

Matapihi has added some new collections from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and the University of Auckland Library.

Auckland stuff is

Te papa/MONZ

4400 objects - not much retrieved by a search Christchurch - but some cool and eclectic stuff nonetheless
find them all via a search "Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa"

Monday, November 27, 2006

Council counselling

The Melbourne Age published a story on local councils on its blog and invited comments. There are some interesting contributions there.

There is a surprising amount of support for local councils and town planners like this comment: "If everyone did what ever they wanted, what would our towns look like? Unfortunately someone has to enforce the rules the State Government set, and the Town Planners are it. Just remember, being a Town Planner is just a job, they dont do it for a reward and they certainly don't do it just for the sake of putting obstacles in your path. Just be patient."

But, inevitably, there is also some criticism: "Unfortunately I do not agree with the proposal that councils only do good. They are the weakest form of government and there is no way to stop the major conflict of interest which comes up, namely them having the right to approve developments in which they have a direct or indirect interest."


Thursday, November 23, 2006

I still call New Zealand home

I've just stepped off an Air New Zealand A320 at Christchurch Airport after 12 days in Australia. For me, spending time across the ditch always creates a sense of friction. On one hand, Australia offers a wealth of opportunities and experiences not available in New Zealand. On the other, a visit is always a good reminder of why New Zealand is home.

Comparing NZ to Australia is all but inevitable. Although we don't always like to admit it, we have more in common with our neighbours than we haven't - our recent histories, our largely shared Australasian English language, our many joint businesses and institutions, our isolation from the rest of the world. The great trans-Tasman rivalry that both sides love to perpetuate is firmly rooted on our closeness and mutual admiration, in that true ANZAC spirit.

So, how do we stack up against Australia? First up, there's the weather. No matter how we try to dress it up, our New Zealand weather can leave visiting Aussies thinking they've landed in the UK by mistake. We cross our fingers and hope for a good summer while the Aussies bask in hot days, balmy evenings and warm seas for much of the year. Then there are the comforts of modern life (love them or loathe them). Let's face it, New Zealand is still stuck somewhere in the last century when it comes to buying, whether it's clothes, cars, petrol or furniture. The choices in Australia are endless and the prices so much lower (and that's even before taking the significantly higher salaries into account).

And then there's the culture - so much more of everything readily on tap, from arts and music to cutting edge digital TV - plus excellent non-commercial media in the form of the ABC and SBS. Then there are all the benefits of a more multicultural country - from a huge range of authentic foods to the vast melting pot of creativity and community diversity. There are trains (yes trains, definition provided) and long, wide, uncongested roads to make driving much less of the life-and-death experience it is in NZ. And of course there are the 400,000+ other Kiwis already living there.

And then there are the flies, crawling everywhere you don't want them to crawl, getting into your mouth, up your nostrils. Although give me flies rather than killer spiders or snakes any day. There's the overt national identity change going on which can leave you feeling that you've landed in the newest state of the USA - the unquestioning willingness to follow the American way, in politics, culture, diet and energy generation. And there are still all the true blue ocker Aussies with a distrust of anyone different to themselves. OK, I've held back long enough - there's also the coffee. Nobody makes coffee as good as Kiwis do. The Aussies are probably not too far behind us on the world coffee-making scale, but my flat whites over there just didn't do it for me.

Being on holiday is Australia is one thing, but coping with the daily grind isn't quite as easy. When I lived in Sydney a few years ago, my working day started much earlier, as I fought my way from a remote suburb into the central city on a packed train. I dodged the 38 degree temperatures at lunchtime to fight my way through the cafe queues. Then, after getting home later, it got dark earlier, and there was too much American rubbish on TV. And then there were the flies.

I still love Australia, but it's good to be home. It's reassuring to know that we haven't gone the same way as the Aussies - yet. Having more choices, better wages and warmer weather is all very well, but if the flipside is more people, greater loss of national identity and more flies, I know which side of the Tasman I'd rather be on.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

1980s cover versions

Grant Lee Phillips has released an album called nineteeneighties. (read a review - hold this item. His cover versions of songs by The Cure, Robyn Hitchcock etc are dreamily low key and evocative. He even takes on one of my favourite epics - Echo and the Bunnymen's The Killing Moon.

Coincidentally, Q magazine (August 2006) focused on the 80s music scene and came with a cd of cover versions.

And yes it is official - every 80s cover version album must feature The Smiths - Phillips does "Last night I dreamt that somebody loved me" and the Q magazine cd has Clayhill doing "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want".

I'm here

Well, this is my first contribution. I have been racking my brain about what to put on the blog and this is the best I could do. Sorry!
I love visiting this site every day for a quick chuckle.
Daily Dilbert

Best books of 2006

What books did you read this year that you just couldn’t stop telling people about? Now is your chance to share your impeccable literary taste with a very wide audience via our Best Reads of the Year list (see the 2005 list).

Tell us which books you loved in 2006 and why - preferably books that came out this year but there could be room for a timeless classic section if you are passionate enough about them.
The Library has kept lists of staff and customers' favourite books since 2001 - reading them is a great way to find out something interesting to read.

How to Green Your Supermarket

From the United Kingdom comes a very amusing article in the Guardian about excessive packaging in supermarkets and what to do about it. UK environment minister Ben Bradshaw urged shoppers to teach supermarkets a lesson by dumping wasteful packaging at the cash till. It's not often a member of the government recommends direct action. What would the big chains make of it?The Guardian sent three writers to find out and the results are very amusing - and instructive for New Zealanders who may see their produce exports under attack as not being green enough.

The reactions of the hapless check out chicks and fellow shoppers as the reporters determindly ripped shrink wrap from their cucumbers and cardboard from their chocolates were priceless. The final report from an Asda supermarket sums it up

"All this wrongness doesn't make the tutting any easier to bear. As the bits of wrapping begin to pile up, and I fall woefully behind with my unpacking and repacking, the checkout woman, still calm, tells me that she has thought about this before. "It is ridiculous, all this, isn't it?"
I tear open the Ready to Eat peaches (in November?) and ask what she'll do with all the rubbish I'm leaving. Asda has committed itself to send no more waste to landfill by 2010. "Ooh. I don't really know," she says. Her desire to get rid of me is peeking through now, but she still gives me a very kindly smile. As I walk away I clearly hear someone laughing. This is why you don't get a lot of guerrilla warfare in England."

6 word stories at Wired

Wired this month (Nov 2006) has a great little article wherein they've asked a bunch of, mostly sci fi and fantasy, authors to write a story in six words. In the printed magazine many of them have then been designed into artworks but print being limited in size they had to leave some out so pop along to the web site to read them all - and additional ones in the comments.

They are mostly pretty great so its hard to pick a favourite but I did like Joss Whedon's: "Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so." and "Dinosaurs return. Want their oil back." by David Brin.

Who Killed the Electric Car?

Not yet out in NZ but surely on its way, this very topical film covers the short life of the EV1 -an electric car made by General Motors that was leased to customers for a few short years before being recalled and sent to the scrap heap. No amount of money could buy you one of these cars and the leasees were not happy to part with them. One such person was motivated enough to make a film about it! The film looks at the factors that led to the demise of this promising solution to some very serious environmental/political (and fuel supply) problems.

My day with the GM EV1 - Road Joy An EV1 fan spends a few days with one.

The car that could : the inside story of GM's revolutionary electric vehicle Like books? A History of the EV1.

Who Killed the Electric Car a news feature on PBS' NOW show.

GM Responds to the film "Who Killed the Electric Car" and a response from General Motors that puts a slightly more positive slant on things.

Broom, broom...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Are you canine-centric?

Enhancing the lifestyle of your surrogate child/pet is a task requiring tireless effort.

For the superior social adaptation of your ward have a look at The Dog Listener on DVD.

Does your whippet find the winter a bit nippy? You can whip him up some winter woollens. See Doggy knits : over 20 coat designs for handsome hounds and perfect pooches for ideas.

Intellectual stimulation is as important as exercise for your 'dog of leisure.' With all the hours in the world to spare and no occupation Playtime for your dog : keep him busy throughout the day is packed with fun things to do. As is Doggy days : dozens and dozens of outdoor activities for you and your best friend - tricks and games, arts and crafts, stories and songs, and much more! so there's no excuse for hole diggers and shoe chewers.

And it's all worth it when puppy shows you his 'wy wuv ooo' face.

But if it's all for nothing

I stumbled upon All the roadrunning by Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris. Preview or Get from the library.

I have to admit kinda liking "Sultans of Swing" some time ago (long ago...) but havent listened to the dire one much since intentionally. However i am very fond of Miss Harris and her last record Stumble into grace struck a chord. Shame though that i dont seem to be the right demographic for this duet album. A couple of good songs but dominated by Knopfler - the best songs for me were by Emmylou.

This reminded me of the "Western wall: the Tucson sessions" a duet between Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris. This i liked a lot - the version of Sisters of mercy walks all over the stuff on the Hal Wilner Leonard Cohen record.

Some days later i stumbled upon Adieu false heart by Linda Ronstadt and Anne Savoy (also known as the Zozo Sisters) - this is great, and i remembered the shimmering record 'Round Midnight that Linda Ronstadt did with Nelson Riddle.

I think i still have that on vinyl...

Vote for more corporate boxes at Lancaster Park

Have your say with the floating rugby corporate box - help convince the goverment that Christchurch should get the game.

The New Zealand Government has given the residents of Auckland 2 weeks to decide on whether the Rugby World Cup Stadium will be built on the waterfront.

Your vote will be forwarded to the minister of rugby and the mayor of Auckland City via email. The votes will be collated and presented to the council in hardcopy before the decision deadline.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Audrey Goes Large

In the lead up to Canterbury Fashion Week and the fashion events of Cup Week in Christchurch the Reading Cinemas at the Palms Mall are screening the classic "Breakfast at Tiffany's". Audrey Hepburn radiates timeless chic and this is a great opportunity to view her on a big screen.

If you don't want the big screen experience the library has copies of the film on DVD, as well as the original book by Truman Capote and heaps of recordings of songs from the great soundtrack by Henry Mancini. For a complete list of what can be borrowed search the catalogue under Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Curb your enthusiasm

Larry David was the hidden genius co-creator of the comedy Seinfeld. The neurotic character George Costanza was based on Larry.

But in the series Curb your Enthusiasm he is the star - sociopathic, inappropriate, and living out all the dilemmas of modern day manners.

Not everyone will find his misadventures funny, but if you like your humour dry and bracing this is the show for you. Painfully funny and cringe inducing.

For more tv comedies at the library:
see Comedy - video recordings
and Television comedy

Our collection includes Blackadder, The Office and Extras by Ricky Gervais, and The Good Life.