Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The rest of the first weekend in NZ

Saturday, the 23rd: hit the gym & pool in the morning, then met up with Peter - grabbed coffee & went motorcycle shopping. Saw a really nice Suzuki Bandit, though at the top side of my budget; another store had a couple much-older bikes for not much cheaper.
Then had high tea with Raine & Ben, catching up with them. Stopped by to visit with Malcolm (might have a chance to do some Massive work with his freelance project). Then took a ride out to Island Bay to see one of their rental properties.
Came back, rested for a bit, decided to take a walk down to Cuba St before catching the Banksy film - ran into Sandip on Cuba St, and Chad at the movie. Then back & more organizing (and a replay of the English - Kiwi rugby match). Capped off with a chat with Bonnie!

Sunday the 24th : slept in a bit, but hit the gym & pool. Then found college football on ESPN, so I watched some of the OK St game while I sorted paperwork and cleanedup. Then took the car out - test run to see the old offices. Discovered one of the buildings had become the Weta Cave, a mini-museum and gift shop. Then shopping/exploring at Kilbirnie grocery stores & Asian market, then stopped at Real Groovy for CD shopping & got my Phoenix Foundation ticket!
Back to regroup & watch another college football game. Then a waterfront walk to the Diwali Fest, and a visit to Te Papa (heard a piper, and saw a family with an army of Leonberger dogs). A bit more strolling along Courtenay Place, got Nando's (they have a whole range of veggie choices!), eating in the room, then a nap before chatting with Bonnie.
Monday is the Weta start day - checkin, crew assignment, begin housing search & begin training.


Friday, October 22, 2010

First Day back in NZ

Wednesday evening, leaving SFO. We were delayed from leaving the gate because of a 'hydraulic' malfunction, they eventually got fixed, then we taxied out to the runway, in line for takeoff, when the Capt'n said they had to return to the gate to fix the same thing. Fortunately, a few minutes later, they said the engineer had talked the pilots through it, and plane was OK to go, an hour late.
Flight wasn't bad (except for one of the numerous Texas retirees reclining practically into my nose). Despite heavy cocktails & a couple Sominex, I didn't sleep much, but it was OK due to the massive entertainment selections (I watched Prince of Persia, Get Him to the Greek, Crazy Heart, Winter's Bone, A-Team). Mid-flight the concierge informed me she had booked me on a later flight AUK-WLG. It still only left 90 minutes from landing til the departure of my connection - I had no real expectations that I would make it, so I didn't stress. Also, I took my Chapman Stick with me, as oversize luggage. At SFO, I had the brand-new case wrapped in protective plastic. When I picked it up in Auckland : the plastic was long gone, and there were several slices & gouges on the case, where it looked like someone took out their frustrations with a box cutter. Think I may lodge a complaint with Air New Zealand, but everything else on the travel was grade-A...
Anyway, it indeed took over an hour to pick up my baggage & get through customs (TIP : don't bring honey into NZ). By the time I got to the domestic terminal, I had to re-book myself on a later flight to Wellington. That worked fine, made it there & was greeted and assisted by the Weta PA, who joked about getting worried when I was originally slated to be there 90 minutes earlier... There was one other Weta starter, a TD from Toronto, who had recently been at Animal Logic. (he later griped about how difficult and expensive it was to live in Sydney, so that's a plus in the Weta vs. Dr. D dilemma).
He got to the Museum Hotel, then told us since Monday is a bank holiday, it would behoove us to get out bank account setups done today. Not a problem, since I wasn't feeling tired then. Got my bank account set, then the rest of the day was mine. I walked around town, hit up some local snacks, tried out the hotel's fitness center, and got my mobile phone taken care of.
In one of those great Wellington moments, I happened to hear on the radio about a film event tonight : Malcolm le Grice, a UK experimental filmmaker, presenting his work & performance. Very unique - not just interesting nonnarrative films, but the presentation on 2 or 3 screens, with personal interaction and dance. And, at 70, it was his first time in New Zealand. Great to see things like this.
After the show, grocery shopping ($10 for a 2 liter of Dr. Pepper??), some more snacks :O. Then chill & organizing & TV watching in the room (can't go wrong with shows like "The Naked Office", and the metal music video show "Steel Mill"), until chat w/ Bonnie. Loved seein & hearing her again! Then sleeeeeep... feels like it's been one long day since Wednesday morning...