The Lorne Street Bingo Club

Our first ever meet was, I think, a success. Eight players made it to Lorne Street, which was fortunate as we only had eight chairs.

p1010117.jpgAs suggested everyone brought prizes which were thrown into the prize pool. We had a bag of Feijoas, a small bottle of bubble solution, two old microwave curries, a pot plant, a learning Greek CD and other bits and pieces. I’d like to thank everyone who came along and made the evening what it was.

The intention is to hold the Club on the last Sunday of every month. If anyone is interested in coming to the next meet email me at jfbarbosa@gmail.com.

p1010110.jpgWe’re already looking forward to the next meet. Discussions have revealed a desire to get some dabber action going and plans for an electronic scoreboard have been filed for the future.

p1010107.jpg

Open your own ’80s video shop

Remember video shops? Rewinding, fixing the tracking, due back by 12? As a lad, I’d spend hours in the corner video shop trawling the likes of Joysticks and Brewsters’s Millions to find the perfect tape for that weekend’s slumber party (it was a more innocent time back then, team).

If you ever wondered what happened to the films on those clunky black tapes, and struggle finding them nowadays among 50 copies of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, you’re in luck. Turns out they’re all available on DVD in the Queen Street JB HiFi‘s bargain bin for seven dollars each.

Today’s perusal uncovered sub-Top Gun flick Iron Eagle, featuring Louis Gosset and a kick arse Queen theme tune, Steve Martin’s The Jerk, which was technically made in 1979, but remains a stalwart of ’80s video shops nonetheless, David Cronenberg’s weird-ass Videodrome, which bought James Woods and Debbie Harry together at last, and, um, Streets of Fire. Ahem.

This bin is AMAZING, and if I’m heading past I have to cross the street for fear of enthusiastically emptying my wallet all over it. I picked up Friday the 13th and Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes on one particularly vulnerable day – I blame the “I’m Cheap, Buy Me!” stickers. The stock seems to turn over fairly regularly, and is fully worth a trawl if your self-control is any better than mine.

Movies in Parks

The Auckland City Council, with their fancy new triangle logo, are running a series of free outdoor movie evenings in February.

Every Wednesday evening at Takahi Reserve (at the foot of Mt Eden), an Aotearoan cimematic classic will be played, and you’ll be able to snuggle up with your sweetie/flatmates/whanau and have a good evening.

Timetable after the jump.

Continue reading

Five things to do in Auckland on Anniversary weekend

The Parnell BathsIt’s Auckland Anniversary weekend, where we celebrate the 168th anniversary of, uh, the Auckland province! (…which only existed for 26 years before being abolished in 1876, but it’s a long weekend in the middle of summer, so let’s not complain.)

After the jump, let’s have a look at five cool things happening in Auckland this long weekend. Something for everyone, I think.

Continue reading

From beneath you, it may devour

One thing that’s quite hard to forget when you’re in Auckland is just how many volcanoes are all around you – and they’re probably due for an erruption sometime soon. So say you’re a bit of a masochist and you really want to scare yourself. Get yourself to the Auckland War Memorial Museum in the Domain, pay the $5 “voluntary donation” fee, and head up to the first floor. Go to the Volcanoes permanent exhibition. Find the house model at #7 Pua Street. Wait for the green entrance light, and go into the lounge. Sit down and laugh at Kate Hawksby’s TVNZ newsflash on the TV screen. Then wait for the panic attack to set in as Rangitoto errupts outside the window…

Auckland vs. Wellington

A different long weekend away provides another opportunity to reexamine the age-old battle. After our first chapter, Secret Agent Robyn came down from Auckland to check out our city. This is her report…

Getting there: The airport bus runs past my place every 20 minutes. I waited for 30 minutes, but there was no sign of the bus. I started to panic and called a taxi. $50 later I was at the airport, but too late for check-in. Oh no! But fate smiled upon me — due to ‘weather’ in Wellington, the plane was late, so they could check me in after all. In Wellington, the taxi to my hotel was cheap, but slow in a way that proves the bypass was a dumb idea. Wellington wins this one for delaying my flight.

Hotel: I wanted to stay somewhere on Cuba Street, in Wellington’s rich bohemian heartland, and thanks to the power of the interweb I got a good room rate at Quality Wellington (worst hotel name ever). What I didn’t realise is that the hotel building development is owned by that guy who no one likes who is married to that lady who no one likes, so my indie cred took a blow. The hotel had some awful artworks in the foyer and some dull photos in the room, but I did get a top floor, corner room with spectacular views of central Wellington and that brothel on Vivian Street. Sadly Auckland’s rich bohemian heartland – K Road – offers no hotels, so Wellington wins this one by default.

Celebrity spottings: Damian Christie’s notorious Metro article complained that Wellington has no celebrities. Well, once, at my local shops, I saw this lady who once presented a sports show on Sky. On a good day in Auckland, I might see someone like Mark Sainsbury, but no one who’d make me get all giggly and excited. In Wellington, Bret Conchords showed up at Mighty Mighty, Giovanni Ribisi was also there (but I didn’t see him), and then on Saturday, Taika Waititi and Loren Horsley were at Hawthorn Lounge. Like, cool. Wellington glamorously wins.

Dancing to Blam Blam Blam

Entertainment: Within a couple of hours of arriving in the capital, I was off to Mighty Mighty for the Wellingtonista / Public Address shindig, and what a shindig it was. Not only did I get to dance my arse off to Blam Blam Blam (better than their gig at the King’s Arms in September, I reckon), but I met all these cool Wellington people who I’d previously only known online. The rest of the weekend was spent having other splendid adventures, including taking photos of graffiti and sticker art, checking out the Toi Te Papa exhibition at Te Papa, a $100 art sale at the Thistle Hall, attending the Madame Fancy Pants VIP evening, and there may also have been a bit of drinking involved somewhere along the way. Auckland can be just as awesome for entertaining, but that weekend, Wellington was the winner.

Eating: Well, there was the kebab restaurant on Courtenay Place, where skill and cunning was required to be able to eat our crappy 3am kebabs at a table. And then there was the bright yellow corn fritter from Viggo Mortensen’s favourite fish ‘n’ chip shop. And the conveyor-belt toast and warm orange juice in my hotel’s continental breakfast buffet. There was some good, cheap Thai food, but I was mostly let down by Wellington’s food. But in the magical land of Auckland, where reasonably good food is available 24-hours a day (yo, Denny’s!), Wellington let itself down in this category.

Poached pear punch

Drinking: Well, yeah, I had a few drinks. There was the delicious peachy Wellingtonista drink at Mighty Mighty, the poached pear punch at Superfino (sans the poached pear, but still perfectly refreshing), the negroni with mandarin-infused gin at Hawthorn Lounge (which I couldn’t finish, but it was still lovely), lemonade at Alice, and a few other fruity delights. I was absolutely tickled to experience the knowledgeable bar staff at Superfino and Hawthorn Lounge, who would happily discuss the ins and outs of cocktails. It’s a fact: Auckland’s drinking spots are nowhere near as good. Wellington is the clear winner.

Final result: Wellington 5, Auckland 1. I really ought to go there more often.

Wellington vs. Auckland

A long weekend away provides the perfect opportunity to re-examine the age-old battle. In our first chapter, our agent goes to Auckland. In our next chapter, an agent will go to Auckland…

Airport access: Getting to Wellington Airport, from Thorndon via a quick stop in Hataitai to pick up my suitcase took less than half an hour, and the only cost was some grovelling to my mother. Getting to the CBD of Auckland via a shuttle took an hour and cost $26 – that’s 15 minutes longer than the actual flight, and only $13 less than the ticket. Wellington 1, Auckland 0.

Airports: Wellington airport has only one terminal, which is blissfully fast food chain-free and it’s a sexy big space. You can get Fuel coffee, and Wishbone food (which caters to a wide range of dietary requirements) but it’s loud and bustly, and the stools they have at counters are shiny metal and you slip off them. Meanwhile, Auckland Airport may have Burger King and MacDonalds, but they also have a juice bar with those posh award-winning recoverable design style chairs. A tie.

Quadrant hallwayThe hotel: With a special Wotif.com mystery deal, my ‘studio’ at The Quadrant was $99 per night. That’s $8 less than the $107 I pay in rent per week, but the whole studio, including kitchen and bathroom was approximately the size of my bedroom. It was much much tidier though, and, as a special bonus, I discovered I could watch TV from the toilet. Why would I ever need to leave? The Quadrant makes a big deal about its architecture, and they’re right, it is pretty sexy. I guess the nearest equivalent to it in Wellington would be the new Holiday Inn, but I’ve never been in it, and apparently its toilet doors freak people out, so I guess I’m going to have to call Auckland the winner on this one. 1 all.

Entertainment: I went up to Auckland to see Muse play, and if someone had given me a free ticket, I would gladly have gone along to Justin Timberlake as well. In addition, I got to go to the wrestling at the Lynfield YMCA, have lots of spas, and watch naked chicks on the television in my hotel room. Fine, Auckland gets the entertainment points. This time.

canton foodEating: A key feature of any trip to Auckland is assembling a large group of my friends to gorge ourselves silly at Canton in Kingsland. Wellington, quite frankly, does not have a Chinese restaurant that makes me drool this much. But the coffee is universally better than that which I drank at the hotel cafe, Gloria and Rueben, and coffee is important. Despite all the booming growth around Symonds Street, there’s still not a huge range of cafes in the area, so I’m going to have to give this one to Wellington.

Drinking: The choice of bars to go to in Kingsland after dinner at Canton was either Ruby – a small bar playing hits of the ’80s very loudly, or the big hulking Kingslander, with a TV screen in every single line of sight, affecting conversation. And yes, that’s right, I’m going to judge all Auckland bars on what was available in Kingsland. Wellington for the win, again!

Final result: Wellington 3, Auckland 2. It’s good to be home.