Local Culture: The Air Force in Concert at the Whanganui Opera House

It’s been a while since I had a local cultural experience to blog about, but my Significant Other’s birthday provided the perfect excuse to head along to the Wanganui Opera House and hear the New Zealand Air Force band in concert, performing music from, and inspired by, the stage and screen.

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Continue reading “Local Culture: The Air Force in Concert at the Whanganui Opera House”

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Random Poem: ‘This Be The Verse’ by Philip Larkin

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A good parent makes all the difference. In Roald Dahl’s ‘Danny the Champion of the World’, the close relationship between Danny and his father is an integral part of the story.

“Tell me about Danny,” (not his real name, obviously), the social worker said.

I smiled. “You know how we’re not supposed to have favourites?” I told her. “Well, he’s one of the favourites that I officially don’t have.”

Danny was a kid with a lot of challenges, but he was lucky: he had mum firmly on his side, determined to get him the help he needed. Not all kids are so fortunate, a subject which the social worker and I touched upon before she left. Modern British poet Philip Larkin captured this reality all too well in his funny, offensive (the f-word, so don’t click ‘Read More’ if that’s something that will offend you), and heart-wrenching poem ‘This Be The Verse.’ Continue reading “Random Poem: ‘This Be The Verse’ by Philip Larkin”

Wine Tasting 101 (Part Four: Oenophilia!)

concise-world-atlas-of-wineOkay, so it’s actually ‘oenophily’ (‘loving wine’), but I like my version better. Two years after I started The Culture Project, people seem to believe three things about me:

  1. I know a lot about wine.
  2. I’ve read a lot of books, listened to a lot of classical music, and generally know a lot of stuff.
  3. I know what I’m talking about.

Here’s the thing: I don’t, I haven’t, and much of the time the things I say represent the sum total of all my knowledge on that particular subject. Oh, and I absolutely could not write this blog without Google and Wikipedia. So, how does one go from actually knowing nothing about wine to giving the appearance of knowing something about it? Continue reading “Wine Tasting 101 (Part Four: Oenophilia!)”

Recommended Read: Female Artists in History (Facebook page)

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Into the Light-14, by Marion van Nieuwpoort, 2007. Love the contrast in this painting: stillness and movement, washed-out neutrals and bright pinks.

I’ve been following the Female Artists in History Facebook page for several months now, and wanted to share it here for anyone who might be interested. Curated by two women, Christa Zaat and Carel Ronk, the page presents works, primarily paintings, by women artists along with brief biographies.

And it turns out there are a lot of them. All the well-known names are there: Artemisia Gentileschi, Frida Kahlo, Mary Cassatt, Georgia O’Keefe… but there are also heaps of names that I (and probably you) have never come across before. Continue reading “Recommended Read: Female Artists in History (Facebook page)”

Ta Moko: a contemporary Maori perspective

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Heeni Hirini and child, 1878.

Something a little different today: follow this link to a recent article by New Zealand’s NewsHub on Ta Moko (facial tattooing), including a brief history of ta moko in New Zealand and a video where Maori people with ta moko discuss the significance of the art in contemporary Maori culture and their own lives.

Originally posted to mark Waitangi Day 2017 (the New Zealand public holiday celebrated annually on February 6th to mark the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between representatives of Maori tribes and the British crown), it’s definitely well worth checking out.

Let me know what you thought.

Wine Tasting 101 (Part Three: The Five Basic Characteristics of Wine)

how-to-taste-wine-step-3.jpgApart from confirming whether the aromas you identified at Stage Two of your wine tasting are reflected in the flavour, there are five basic elements to look for once you actually take that first mouthful of wine: the sweetness, the acidity, the tannins, the alcohol, and the body.

It can be helpful to hold that first sip of wine in your mouth before you swallow, moving it around and letting it coat your entire tongue. This doesn’t have to be an ostentatious, somewhat gross swishing – it isn’t mouthwash – but can be done subtly and discreetly without undue display. Continue reading “Wine Tasting 101 (Part Three: The Five Basic Characteristics of Wine)”

Opera in my Pyjamas: Rossini’s ‘The Barber of Seville’ (1816)

the-barber-of-seville-video-coverThis was another opera that I really did watch in my pyjamas, one Sunday night before a recent public holiday, because I get really wild on the weekends. It’s basically the story of Rosina, the teenaged ward of Bartolo, a doctor prone to fits of rage who is effectively keeping Rosina under house arrest until she’s of an age that he can marry her for her dowry. And, probably, the sex.

Possibly on the basis that almost anything is likely to be a more attractive option than marrying Bartolo, Rosina falls for the poor student Lindoro, who is really the young Count Almaviva, who has disguised himself in order to test Rosina’s love by concealing his wealth. Continue reading “Opera in my Pyjamas: Rossini’s ‘The Barber of Seville’ (1816)”

Treasure Trove: This Really Cool ‘Prize Bound’ Book Awarded By My Old High School Nearly A Hundred Years Ago

While browsing one of the second-hand book-stalls at my local market, as I am wont to do on a Saturday morning, I found… THIS!

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The cover caught my eye immediately: while my school crest has changed over the last hundred years, the school name – Wanganui Girls’ College – hasn’t. (The spelling of ‘Whanganui’ has changed, but that’s a don’t-mention-the-War kind of thing). Continue reading “Treasure Trove: This Really Cool ‘Prize Bound’ Book Awarded By My Old High School Nearly A Hundred Years Ago”

Wine Tasting 101 (Part Two: Name That Smell)

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The second stage of wine tasting. (c) Wine Folly

In the first post in this series, I talked about the five stages of wine tasting. In this post I’m going to focus on Stage Two: Smell.

You may have noticed that regardless of their size many wine glasses share a common ‘tulip’ shape, being wider at the bottom and narrowing slightly at the top (they also have a stem, which I’ll hopefully remember to talk about in another post), and that they are much bigger than the 100mls which is a standard drink. This is quite deliberate: the extra space in the glass allows the wine to interact with the air, releasing the aroma, while the tapered shape then concentrates that aroma close to the drinker’s nose and mouth. So, what should you be smelling? Continue reading “Wine Tasting 101 (Part Two: Name That Smell)”

Composer Profile: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

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Seldom in the history of classical music has a name been linked so thoroughly in people’s minds with a particular style of music than the way Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s name has been linked with ballet. Ask any layperson to name a ballet and the odds are fairly good that their answer will be one of Tchaikovsky’s most famous compositions – ‘Swan Lake’ (this link is to ‘The Dance of the Little Swans’, which is amazing) or ‘The Nutcracker’. Continue reading “Composer Profile: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)”