Posts by Gabor Toth

  • Hard News: On youthful indiscretions,

    The first thing that went through my mind when I heard the story on the news this morning was "Black Mirror". A quick scan of the UK media indicates that a few million Brits thought exactly the same thing. Life imitates art.
    The Black Mirror series didn't get much of a look-in in New Zealand but it had a big impact in the UK. The episode in question is called "The National Anthem" (it should be easy enough to find on-line) but note that the Black Mirror series is "not for those of nervous disposition".

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 126 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: Into the River/Interim Restrictions,


    Another interesting historic example I've recently come across is the film Secrets of Life.
    The attached image shows crowds outside the Embassy Theatre in Wellington in May 1950. The film was screened to segregated audiences (women and girls at 2pm and 6pm, men and boys, 8.30pm, all youth to be over 14) and was supposedly about the dangers of venereal disease. It was written by American "sex therapist" Elliot Forbes who presented a Q&A session at the end of each screening.

    In reality, the whole thing was a sexploitation fraud. The film was marketed in a titillating way to give the impression that there would be some serious rumpy-pumpy to be seen so the distributor deliberately introduced segregated screenings and included the Q&A session to turn it into a sex-education "event" (thus avoiding the ire of the film censor). "Elliot Forbes" never actually existed and was one of several actors that travelled with the film around Australasia, the idea being that they would get in and out of town before word of mouth spread that the film was complete rubbish.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 126 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Anzac Day II, in reply to Tinakori,

    The Wellington dawn service was very big and the only two speakers aside from the padre running the show were the two Governors General. Aside from the size the service was exactly the same as all those I have attended...

    That and the fact that it was held at the new National War Memorial Park for the first time did make it quite special and I thought quite different from the dawn services normally held at the Wellington Cenotaph. We parked up at the southern end of the Terrace at about 5.10am. Walking down Abel Smith Street there were a few others strolling in our direction - and then we hit Willis Street to see literally hundreds of people walking down from Aro Valley. We were then joined by another couple of hundred students coming up from the hostels in lower Willis Street. With little traffic, many streets closed off to cars and most people walking near silently it was quite surreal experience. By the time we got to Pukeahu it was the largest crowd (c. 40k) I have seen on Wellington's streets since the LOTR premiers. The large screens made everything easy to see and though the NZ GG said a couple of things that made me wince, I'm still glad I went.
    Even better though was the service at the Ataturk memorial on Wellington's south coast in the afternoon; small, intimate, very moving and equal consideration given to the Turkish side of the story.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 126 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The other kind of phone tapping,

    Tapping still works folks, though alas not with pay phones (when you can find one). I recall trying it a year ago on a home phone in a fit of nostalgia and was surprised that it still worked. The exchanges can still read pulses for the few remaining old phones which still use them (some 1980s Telecom push-button "PERT" phones had a switch on the bottom with which you could select either tones or pulses). All you need is a home land-line and an old-school (wired and corded) phone that doesn't use any auxiliary power. Every home that has a land-line should have such a "dumb" phone anyway for emergencies and power outages (cheap as chips from the Warehouse etc).
    Our exchanges still interpret pulses back-to-front from the international standard, so take your number, subtract each figure from ten (best to write the whole thing out), grab your land-line and tap the resulting number rapidly on the "hook" button with a short pause between each figure. I called my mother earlier this evening to check if it would still work and it still goes fine (and it felt as if I was 12 years old again!). I had a huge grin on my face when the call went through and my mum picked up the phone.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 126 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Public art is no place for committees,

    Each public art work should have its own project manager. This is not a job for a committee

    Sadly, this is most readily seen in the private sphere rather than the public one though there are private collectors who do defer to committees (though undoubtedly they also choose the members). Last year I was fortunate to spend a fair amount of time on the Gibb’s Farm. Whatever you think of his politics (which I doubt would receive much support on this forum), what Alan Gibbs has created is nothing short of extraordinary. Wandering around (with mouth open in amazement) I also got the feeling very quickly that bringing together such works would have been virtually impossible under a committee selection / project management structure. With works of such scale, it’s not only the art to be considered but the engineering which is often pushed to the limits of what is physically possible (not something that a risk-adverse committee is likely to tackle). Serra’s Te Tuhirangi Contour and Bernar Venet’s 88.5° ARC x 8 are in my mind the two finest modern works of sculpture that exist in New Zealand. Venet’s work is normally located in nice sedate city squares. Sticking 88.5° ARC x 8 on an exposed wind-swept facing the Kaipara Harbour involved deadening chains hanging inside the columns to prevent the Aeolian effect of the wind shaking them to pieces and a 300 tonne base buried underground to stop the thing toppling over. Gibb’s thoughts on how he commissions the works is nicely summarised in the first three minutes of Lightening Dreams.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 126 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Friday Music: The Two Sevens Clashed,

    Something similar to emerge from the local archives recently is this cheap-as-chips RTP video dating from 1979 of Iggy Pop badly lip synching I'm Bored while on a promotional tour to Wellington. Again; this really is another world though with the Beehive under construction, Bowen Street looks remarkably similar to how it appears today with work currently going on around the war memorial.
    But it is invited audience at the reception (with Phil O'Brien and Roger Gascoigne in attendance) that just screams culture clash. If anyone can identify the venue, I'd love to know where it is. Now Iggy already had a bit of a reputation for sure but it almost seems like the promoter hit upon the idea of "lets trap the Godfather of Punk in a room half full of Elton John and Eagles fans and see if he bites". Being the gentleman that he is, Mr Pop duly obliges...

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 126 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Vote for Water,

    It's all a Communist plot...

    Which in 1990 Genesis P.Orridge sampled and somehow managed to turn into a poignant tribute to Ian Curtis (though it also works quite well as a pro-water anthem...)

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 126 posts Report Reply

  • Feed: Fulminating and fermenting, in reply to steven crawford,

    Why do supermarkets refuse to sell non alcoholic beer to under eighteen year?

    They also won't sell home-brew kits from the beer / wine section without I.D or after 11pm even though they contain 0% alcohol. However they don't have any issue with selling 1.5kg tins of Maltexo malt extract from the health food section + yeast which (minus hops) is essentially the same thing.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 126 posts Report Reply

  • Feed: Fulminating and fermenting, in reply to Peter Darlington,

    I think that despite our beer tastes becoming more sophisticated, in New Zealand we still expect a high pissed-ness to dollar ratio. One result is that certain styles of craft beer end up being much stronger here than they ever were traditionally. Not helping in this regard is that we probably pay about a 1/3+ more for a pint of decent beer in NZ than you would in central London.

    The high cost of good beer in NZ was what drove me to (or rather back to) home brewing. I had dabbled in it as a student back in the late 1980s but the results of my kit-and-kilo brewing ranged from crap to unremarkable. Returning to the craft two decades on armed with the internet, higher quality ingredients and access to well-stocked home-brew shops, I was surprised to find how easy it was to produce a damn fine pint for a fraction of the cost one would pay at an on / off license.

    I really admire the work that some commercial craft brewers are doing, but the price we have to pay in this country for a good quality pint of beer once everyone has taken their cut can be eye-watering. Beervana appears to be in the same club; $45 a ticket to attend a five-hour session and the beer is $6 - $8 per 250mls glass on top of that. Those sorts of prices may be being used by organisers as some sort of anti-munter mechanism, but Dramfest costs only $59 per session with over 250 single malts and blends to try at no additional cost.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 126 posts Report Reply

  • Feed: Fulminating and fermenting,

    so I can use my own honey from my own honey bees as the sugar

    You have to be careful when using honey in brews; too much and it can taste pretty horrible. I learnt my lesson in this regard when I made a true ginger ale (i.e. an ale using root ginger instead hops) and used far more honey than the recipe called for (it's honey so it's got to taste good right?). The problem is once the yeast has gobbled up all the sugar in the honey, what's left can make the brew quite sour. You just have to use it in moderation.

    I can’t say I’ve ever had a lager I’d call “nice” (although some are good for lagers). Like a good pilsener, though. And stout.

    Lagers are funny things for the home brewer. For what is probably the most popular style of beer in the world and which lacks much in the way of taste (decently hopped Pilseners exempted) they are actually quite difficult to make well. Also, for a style of beer best drunk in hot weather, you can only really make them in winter (unless you have a way of chilling down your fermenter) and then you have to "lager" it for weeks on end (conditioning at a low temperature of around 4 - 6 c) before bottling / kegging.

    Stouts on the other hand are great for the home-brewer; you can use just one hop and simply boil the hell out of it without having to worry about the timing of additions. Here's a great Chocolate Milk Stout recipe if anyone wants to try it. It's a partial-mash so is a good first step for those who want to move up from "kit and a kilo" brewing but not as complicated as doing a full-mash.

    Chocolate Milk Stout

    1 x 1.7kg tin Black Rock dark liquid malt extract
    1 x 1.7kg tin Black Rock light liquid malt extract
    500g Lactose
    100g good quality Dutch cocoa powder
    200g of Black Patent grain crushed
    250g of English Chocolate grain crushed
    70 grams of Fuggles hops
    1 packet good quality English ale yeast (e.g. Safale S-04)

    Any decent home-brew shop should have all of this.

    1) Heat 10 litres of water in a 15 litre stock-pot to 70 c degrees. Add the crushed patent and chocolate malt grains in a grain bag or muslin. Hold the 70c temperature for 25 minutes.
    2) Remove the grain bag and bring the pot to a boil.
    3) When boiling, add the 70 grams fuggles hops, malt extracts and lactose. Boil for 90 minutes. Apologize to your other-half for the smell enveloping the house.
    4) Add the cocoa powder 10 minutes before the end of the boil.
    5) At the end of 90 minutes cool the pot in an bath of water. Pour into sanitised fermenter and top up with cold water to 23 L.
    7) When temperature is down to c.20 c, sprinkle over yeast and ferment at 18 - 20c for as long as it takes (normally about 7 - 10 days or so)
    8) Bottle or keg as usual when the specific gravity has been stable for 48 hours.

    OK to drink after a couple of weeks in the bottle but longer is better.

    That will give you 23 litres of damn fine stout for about $50 worth of ingredients

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 126 posts Report Reply

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