RENT the Musical Saturday, May 8 2010 

When I saw that the musical RENT was playing at the Civic in Auckland, I thought “Hmm, might be interesting.” I soon forgot this little inclination, to be perfectly honest, until one of the girls I work with piped up and said “I want to go to RENT – anyone else keen?” So we got together a group and bought tickets. Well. Best decision EVER!

RENT is an avant-garde rock opera, based around a group of young, down on their luck creative types living in New York and trying desperately to survive (and pay their rent, of course!). This story could very easily tip towards being quite depressing, as it touches often on poverty, death and HIV. And yet… it is woven together in such a way that it becomes a story of hope, endurance and love, without becoming overly sentimental. You fall in love with the characters, you understand that their mistakes are what make them so wonderful and offbeat. You are sucked into their world, and even though you know there can’t be a fairy tale ending, you sit there desperately hoping for them to be touched with happiness even for just a moment.

And the music… ohhh THE MUSIC! Beautiful, haunting, catchy… Obviously, many actors/singers have played these brilliant parts all over the world during different productions of RENT, but the songs themselves are pure gold. And the New Zealand cast of Rent? Didn’t let the show down at all. They were exceptional.

When I got home, I went straight onto iTunes and downloaded the album (from the film that was made based on the musical) and I have the film itself on order, too. This musical left me buzzing… It just was so riveting, dark, honest and thought provoking. I recommend anyone, anywhere in the world, to go see this show if the opportunity presents itself. It isn’t light and fluffy, but it is utter brilliance.

Can you tell I really enjoyed the show? Haha 🙂

Watch a few scenes here from the musical RENT!

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Abra Cadavre Jewellery Monday, Apr 5 2010 

Recently, a New Zealand graphic designer started up his own jewellery collection. And I’ll tell you what – it’s bloody amazing!

The name gives you a hint at the tone of the collection (Abra Cadavre Jewellery – clever, isn’t it?) but for those of you that don’t get it, it’s a nod towards the macabre. Some of the pieces include Voodoo Doll Earrings, a Zombie Cameo and Severed Skull Studs. Dark, sexy, but still beautiful. Also, each piece is handmade and finely crafted.

I am lucky enough to have purchased a few things so far from the Abra Cadavre website, something for me and something for a friend. I don’t know who was more pleased, me or her!

The pieces aren’t expensive, starting from NZD$10.00 and going up to NZD$110.00. There are earrings, pendants, bracelets and cameos, with more being added to the product range all the time. If you like your jewellery with a bit of attitude that strays from the norm, then this is the range for you!

Abra Cadavre Jewellery

Safe As House Is Monday, Nov 30 2009 

When you have to go to hospital, don’t you just WISH for a vicodin popping, abusive genius with a limp for your doctor?! Okay, maybe not, but it certainly makes for good TV viewing!

The show House stars actor Hugh Laurie as Dr Gregory House, the abrasive, insulting, sometimes cruel genius of a medical diagnostician. At this point, we are up to series five with series six about to air – and let me tell you: I’m totally hooked! House is not just another medical show like E.R. and the like, but a brilliant show about one man and the impact he has on the people around him. Greg House is a Doctor like no other – he is completely politically incorrect, sometimes so disconnected from people that he treats them like dirt for their show of humanity, but makes up for it with acerbic wit, obsession to diagnose patients, intelligence which is so focused its awe-inspiring and a rebellious nature which just makes his character fun to follow. He is a maverick in the true sense of the word. 

The character House works at Princeton‑Plainsboro Teaching Hospital as the Head of Diagnostics, and for the first three seasons had three Doctors on his team whom he abused, taught and challenged into being better doctors. They then all quit, being replaced by a new team, with Foreman (From the original team) coming back into the fray while his other former teammates continued to work at the hospital in different roles. House’s boss, the Dean of Medicine Dr Cutty, is the only person who is ever able to reign House in, but often by trickery due to the fact House follows no rules other than his own. Cutty and House have a sexual tension that dances through the plotlines, never quite turning into anything (Yet!) but adding a scintillating depth to their characters tug of war over right and wrong. House’s only friend is another Doctor at the hospital, the head of Oncology, Dr James Wilson who is almost the opposite of House. Wilson is caring, decent and thoughtful. The friendship makes no sense and yet they both need each other, play off of each other, gain strength from their friendship. 

With all of the players now in place, let me tell you a little bit more about the show. Basically, every episode introduces a new medical case in which no one can diagnose what is wrong with the patient. House will only take on the most interesting or bizarre cases, and doesn’t care much for the patients themselves. His main goal is ascertaining what ailment the dying patient has and treating them. Quite often he breaks ethical rules to gain this insight, pushing his team to work alongside him. House is brilliant, and picks up on things that no other Doctor would ever notice. He saves people in the most fantastic ways, and comes across illnesses and complications which just boggle the mind. It makes you really appreciate the amount of things that can go wrong with the human body, I’ll tell you that much!

It’s not easy – Even House gets things wrong. Due to his cases being so difficult, sometimes the diagnoses are wrong. Sometimes this is because of the circumstances surrounding the patient, wether they have lied to him, wont let tests be done or freakish environmental factors. Sometimes it’s because of House’s state of mind, or that of his team. Wilson and Cutty spend a lot of their time trying to keep House in check, for the sake of the patients and the hospitals reputation, but also to look out for House himself. Despite his acidic nature, they care for him, and even though he doesn’t quite accept it himself, he cares right on back. It is a startlingly dark look into the human psyche, into pain and suffering. These characters make you think, make you laugh, make you cry. They each have their own personal demons, their backstories which unfold across the seasons. In each episode you learn another little piece about every one of them, you understand their motives more and you marvel at the brilliance of each medical case and what they bring to it.

This series isn’t about heartwarming moments (Although there are a few), it’s about the darkness in life, in sickness and self hatred, but finding a place within that. Finding a reason to BE. The acting is flawless, the plots absorbing. It is never boring, always insightful and totally addictive. I highly recommend it to anyone with an attention span. You wont “Get It” if you don’t follow it closely. You wont understand its REAL brilliance unless you catch on to the undercurrents. But man, this show is so worth watching. Hugh Laurie is one of the best actors ever, and his character House is a surly, selfish genius that you cant help but love. House is safe in my top five shows EVER.

 

House

 

 

Gentry Does It Tuesday, Nov 17 2009 

I love books that are embroiled in fantasy – supernatural creatures, other worlds, you name it, I love it. One of the best authors in this genre (In my opinion, of course) is Laurell K. Hamilton. 

Laurell has written a massive series about a vampire slayer called Anita Blake (17 and counting) This is no Buffy wannabe series. Anita is a short, impatient necromancer (raises the dead) who also works for the police. She carries a gun, she hates girly things and she is absolutely against dating men of other “species.” She goes on to fall for both a powerful vampire and an alpha werewolf. Life isn’t simple for Anita. She fights for her life, bones are broken, scars are earned and friends are lost. Every book leads her dangerously into a world she can never escape from. 

Thats one series by Laurell K Hamilton. The other, is about a woman named Meredith Gentry. She works for a fey detective agency in the human world. In this series, there are also faeries. The Fey, the Sidhe, the Seelie. The world knows of them, treats them like royalty, like celebrities. There is the Dark Court and the Light Court. Meredith is a Princess from the Dark Court, and ran away to the human world to escape the vicious full-powered fey from her court. Meredith’s powers are little and few, and she finds her life threatened in her mythical world. But then she is hunted down by both courts and is dragged back, given the opportunity to become Queen of the Dark Court if she can get pregnant and finally give the Fey fresh blood.

These books are gorgeously dark, violent and filled with sex. This is a series about a people who have been around for thousands and thousands of years – with histories unlike any we could ever imagine. There is beauty and horror, love and betrayal, pain (Lot’s of pain) and pleasure (Lots of that too!). Eight books in this series so far, and not ONCE do you get bored. Not once do you think “Oh this has been done”. This is so amazingly different, so well written and so powerfully character driven that I hop up and down with excitement whenever I hear a new installment is coming out. I never know which direction Meredith is going to go in this story. She isn’t perfect, and with so much threatening her, things get confused and change quickly. But you just can’t help but read on to find out what happens next. Will she live or die? Will she get pregnant before her sadistic cousin Cel knocks up someone else and kills Meredith just for kicks? Who is more evil? Meredith’s Aunt, the Queen of the Dark Court or Meredith’s Uncle, the King of the Light Court? Who should she trust? Who should she help?

Absolutely wonderful, beautiful, enthralling writing that changed my literary life. I advise anyone who enjoys reading, especially this genre, to give it a go.

Laurell K Hamilton's Books